Historic views of the area

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Sunday 29 February 2004 3.13pm

Over the years I've gathered a bunch of information, drawings and photos about Bermondsey St and the wider area. Its by no means comprehensive but it does offer an insight into where the area has come from in recent years.

I'd be pleased to share this information with anyone who is interested.

Maybe tea and biscuits at my place one evening? Email me on or off group and, if there is interest, I'll arrange a suitable date/time.


Niall Connolly
Sunday 29 February 2004 4.55pm
I would like that!
Monday 1 March 2004 10.00am
That sounds great!
Monday 1 March 2004 10.33am
Sounds interesting...
Monday 1 March 2004 12.46pm

3 takers so far and its only Monday! To give you an idea of the information available, I know that I can organise:

- A complete set of drawings of Bermondsey St elevations at 1:50 scale done in 1979. This shows a lot of what used to be on Bermondsey St and, with the current development frenzy, much of it will soon be gone.

- A VHS tape chronicling the work of the Bermondsey Lampost, a free school for local children who were constant truants. This tape was made in 1970 and there are glimpses of the wasteland that Bermondsey St was at that time.

- A VHS tape documenting the work of the Industrial Improvements Scheme, run by Southwark Council in 1979/82 in the north of the borough

- Copies of the original Bermondsey St Conservation Area designation and the supporting documents presented (1970/71) by the Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Society.

- Numerous photos of the area between 1975 and the present day plus other images from a variety of sources documenting the area's history.

If anyone else can organise other documents or photos it would be good to try and co-ordinate.

Having given it some thought, I'm going to make photos of Bermondsey St as it is today and put the historic drawings and contemporary photos together in a slide show type presentation. This will take time and if anyone would like to help, I'd appreciate it.


Niall Connolly
Monday 1 March 2004 1.18pm
I recall walking along Bermondsey Street about 6 years ago [yes I know, I'm an arriviste and newcomer] and loved the feeling of the setting and mix of warehouses and smaller scale residential / long established businesses. I was so fired up with enthusiasm I resolved to come back over a period of time and draw an elevation of the whole street, property by property. I started, but then inertia set in and the project got put to one side never to be resumed. I'm not sure I like all of the changes I've seen since my first enjoyable stroll.
Monday 1 March 2004 2.30pm

One of the reasons that I was interested in documents of the area was that, when I looked in the Local Studies Library (John Harvard - Borough High St) there were plenty of views of Tower Bridge but few of the ordinary streets.

Between 1890 and 1905 a French photographer (Eugene Atget) made 1500 or more photographic images of Paris. His books are available today and it is fascinating to walk through Paris and, by using landmarks still visible, find your way to the exact spot where Atget stood to make his view.

Photographing the ordinary parts of the borough was my way of contributing to the wider record of its history. It also helps dispel some of the myths that arise about buildings and sites. The current 'naming' vogue for developments will eventually lead to a rather quaint and themepark view of this area because the names will be taken as some historic indication rather than the estate agents froth that they are. But that is progress.


Niall Connolly
Monday 1 March 2004 7.31pm
Really interesting point about photographing ordinary streets. I started doing exactly that, a few years ago when it was obvious that the place was changing fast and every little detail was going to get sanitised if not removed. I took to walking round with a little tiny camera and every time I heard of a new area being developed I took a few snaps. I wish digital had been as cheap then as it is now, I would have done much more, instead I stopped after two or three years. Have not looked at the pics much since, some have yet to acquire any interest whatever but some are already looking like long-lost SE1, just a few years later.
Monday 1 March 2004 9.12pm
TULMJ et al

The pace of change in this area since around 1994 has been, with the benefit of hindsight, breathtaking. Almost any view of Bermondsey Street at that time will show radical change when reviewed today.

What is remarkable is that a small number of photographers have, on their own initiative, walked through the borough, made relatively random photographs then donated copies to the Local Studies Library. This means that there is, at least, an occassional record of the ordinary corners of the borough. Afterall, who wants to see another view of Tower Bridge when we all know what it looks like.

In comparison, who will remember that in 1994 the site of Trocette Heights was mainly derelict apart from a pub. Equally, who will remember that the site of Teracotta Heights was similarly occupied by a pub or that the apartments on the other side of the road were the site of the Vinegar vats in Sarsons?

The march of time.


Tuesday 2 March 2004 12.53pm
I think I have some old photos somewhere of the Alaska building as it was being demolished, must dig them out.

and the porcine element takes to the sky...
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