10 things you never knew about Elephant & Castle

1 Elephant & Castle gets its name from a long-since-gone pub popular with ivory merchants in the 18th century. The area began life as two villages, Walworth and Newington, which were set among market gardens and fields.

2 Elephant & Castle used to be referred to as the “Piccadilly Circus” of South London because of its importance to the transport network. Many buses run through the area, and there is both a Northern and Bakerloo Line tube connection.

3 In the 1800s there was a zoo in the area called the Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens. The zoo had a range of exotic animals including giraffes – the first ever to be seen in England by paying members of the public.

4 In medieval times, Elephant & Castle used to be part of a much larger Surrey in the manor of Walworth, which is listed in the Domesday Book as belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

5 Michael Faraday was born in the area in 1791. After receiving a basic education he taught himself scientific principles while working as a book-binder. Faraday went on to become one of Britain’s most venerated scientists.

6 Elephant & Castle’s notorious shopping centre has long symbolised the area’s aesthetic shortcomings. It has undergone many makeovers, the most famous of which has to be the decision to paint it bright pink in 1990.

7 Elephant & Castle got a name check at an international climate summit in 2009. Bill Clinton commended the area’s plans for green regeneration. “I’ve seen the future, and these carbon positive buildings are it,” he said.

8 Just off the Elephant resides one of the capital’s greatest hidden treasures. The Cinema Museum holds screenings of classic films run by local volunteers and it hosts a wealth of memorabilia to excite any cinephile.

9 One of the greatest ever rags-to-riches stories started in the area. With little money and an illegitimate brother, Charlie Chaplin spent most of his childhood bunking off school and wandering the streets of Southwark.

10 Michael Caine, born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, was born and grew up in the area. The son of a porter and a house cleaner, Caine named his autobiography The Elephant to Hollywood.