It has been an absolutely mad couple of weeks but I am happy to say that I survived! I’ve completed the handover between my old and new positions and from tomorrow, I will no longer be working in Southwark but permanently in the centre of London near Charing Cross. In the five years that I have been in Southwark, I have fallen in love with this historic, quirky little area which was the stomping ground of none other than Charles Dickens and the Bishops of Winchester. It is home to Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, Guy’s Hospital, the Cross Bones Cemetery, Red Cross Way, the St George the Martyr Church and, of course, the Shard. I spent some time exploring this area but for some reason, I never really ventured east and into Bermondsey. That might have something to do with me getting hopelessly lost there one lunch time back in August 2007 but nevertheless, it is an equally historic area.
Bermondsey was once a notorious slum and it is the area where my favourite of all Charles Dickens’s works, Oliver Twist, was set. Bermondsey was famous for its tanneries and trade in leather, hides and wool. There are parts of Bermondsey which are still not very nice today but overall, there is a great deal of regeneration and renewal going on and some areas are looking pretty trendy.
Aware that my days in Southwark were numbered, I recently took a walk through Bermondsey and Southwark to see what I could see. All photos were taken on my iPhone 4GS. Do click on the photos below for enlargements.
I started my walk underneath The Shard and for just a little way, that was the most interesting thing to see. Instead of heading straight through Guy’s Hospital, I turned left into St Thomas Street and was soon pleased at my change of route. It is the strangest thing, even when I don’t really feel like walking and exploring, I remind myself that I’ve never once regretted one of my adventures and I am walking more and more each day.
I soon noticed an abandoned warehouse on Vinegar Street which had a ghost of a ghost sign on the facing walls. I wasn’t able to find out much about the history of this warehouse but did find out that locals are fighting against its demolition and the erection of three smaller Shard-like skyscrapers. The fight has been going on for almost 2 years so they must be putting up a good one!
I turned into Bermondsey Street and noticed the intriguing door above. It says “temporary door” and I couldn’t quite figure that out! Anyway, it is part of the headquarters for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust who specialize in educating people about wine and spirits and offer courses and wine tastings. Hmmm, maybe an idea for a meet up?
Next door was The Tanneries on Bermondsey Street, a historic Victorian building that has been recently redeveloped. It is currently home to Shiva Limited, a property investment company.
Across the road was the old Wool Yard, a development of offices and workspaces. Everywhere you looked there were ghost signs and evidence of the history of the area but I soon decided to turn off the main road and head through Leathermarket Gardens and Guy Street Park. I saw the ridiculously overpriced Leathermarket Court residential complex, which I presume are on the site of the old Leathermarket. The gardens were actually quite peaceful and extremely well kept, although the Bermondsey Village Hall looked like it could do with a cash injection.
I think it was when I crossed the road between the two parks that I crossed from Bermondsey into Southwark, although it is all vague anyway as Bermondsey and Southwark both fall under the London Borough of Southwark.
Nevertheless, Southwark did feel different. It was less trendy and commercial and more residential. The Courages Fine Ale & Stout sign above left is actually a ghost sign because the pub below has long since been converted into flats. The Britannia was just a couple of doors down and seemed to be doing a roaring trade. There were photos of the Queen, Union Flags and bunting everywhere so I bet they are pretty excited for the upcoming Jubilee weekend!
My last stop was Plantain Place which has intrigued me for years. I can’t find any history on this area but it is obvious from the signage and the street name that it is of significance . I wonder if it isn’t an acknowledgement of the rich Caribbean history and culture in the area? If any locals read this, please do shed some light on this tiny pocket of trendy apartments in the middle of Southwark.
I'm not too sure yet how serious this is, but I cannot switch my PC on this morning. Le Husband thinks it might be the graphics card and I am trying not to worry but all of my music and photographs are on that PC. I also only have Photoshop on that PC and can’t run it on the laptop. I last backed up the photos at the beginning of the year so I wouldn't have lost everything anyway but this is the reason for another iPhone / Instagram post! I refuse to worry about it just yet.