From Academic Kids

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Surrey
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:LONDON
Postcode:SE1, SE16
Dialling Code:020

Bermondsey is a place in the London Borough of Southwark. It is a south-eastern district of inner London, containing much of the docklands to the south of the river Thames. It was in the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey from 1899 until 1965, since when it has been a part of the London Borough of Southwark.

The area was originally named "Beormund's Ey" (Beormund being a Saxon personal name, "ey" being an old, Norse word for "island"). At this time it would have been little more than a marshy riverside island. A community of Cluniac monks established Bermondsey Abbey on the site in 1082 and began the development of the area, cultivating the land and embanking the riverside. They turned an adjacent tidal inlet at the mouth of the River Neckinger into a dock, naming it St Saviour's Dock after their abbey's patron saint.

The Knights Templar also owned land here and gave their names to one of the most distinctive streets in London, Shad Thames (a corruption of "St John at Thames"). Other ecclesiastical properties stood nearby at Tooley Street, where wealthy citizens and clerics had their houses, including the Priors of Lewes, the Abbots of Battle and the Priors of St Augustine, Canterbury.

As it developed over the centuries, Bermondsey underwent some striking changes. After the Great Fire of London, it was settled by the well-to-do and took on the character of a garden suburb. A renowned pleasure garden was founded there in the 17th century, commemorated now by the name of the Cherry Garden Pier. Samuel Pepys, the diarist, visited it in 1664 and recorded that he had left it "singing finely".
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Former Alaska factory in Bermondsey
In the 18th century, the discovery of a spring in the area led to Bermondsey becoming a spa. It was from the Bermondsey riverside that the painter J.M.W. Turner executed his famous painting of The Fighting "Temeraire" Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up (1839), depicting the veteran warship being towed to Rotherhithe to be scrapped.

By the mid-19th century, however, parts of Bermondsey had become a notorious slum with the arrival of industrial plants, docks and immigrant housing. The area around St Saviour's Dock, known as Jacob's Island, was one of the worst slums in London. It was immortalised by Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist, in which the principal villain Bill Sikes meets a nasty end in the mud of Jacob's Island. Dickens provides a vivid description of what it was like:

"... crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it - as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob's Island."

The area was extensively redeveloped during the 19th century and early 20th century with the expansion of the river trade and the arrival of the railways. London's first passenger railway terminus was built by the London to Greenwich Railway in 1836 at London Bridge, connecting Bermondsey with Greenwich. The line ran for four miles on 878 brick arches, with the linked Croydon Railway opening in 1839. Bermondsey also gained the first underground tube railway, the Tower Subway of 1869-1870. This was supplanted in 1894 by Tower Bridge, which links the westernmost edge of Bermondsey to the City of London.

Immediately to the east of Tower Bridge, Bermondsey's 3½ miles of riverside were lined with warehouses and wharves, of which the most famous are Butler's Wharf and Hay's Wharf, now Hay's Galleria. They suffered severe damage in World War II bombing and became redundant in the 1960s following the collapse of the river trade. After standing derelict for some years, many of the wharves were redeveloped under the aegis of the London Docklands Development Corporation during the 1980s. They have now been converted into a mixture of residential and commercial accommodations and have become some of the most upmarket and expensive properties in London. In 1997, US President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the area to dine at the Pont de la Tour restaurant at Butler's Wharf.

Despite the presence of London Bridge station, Bermondsey's transport links with the rest of London have historically been remarkably poor. This was remedied in 1999 with the opening of Bermondsey tube station on the London Underground's Jubilee Line.

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Bermondsey Antiques Market

Places of interest in Bermondsey

Nearest places

See also


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