Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988

Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988 continues the walk on 30th October 1988 which my previous post, Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988 left at Chambers Wharf.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-51-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-51

I walked back to the eastern end of Bermondsey Wall West in 1988, where the road had been cut in two in the 1930s by the building of the giant Chambers Wharf cold store. This shows the warehouses to the east of East Lane on the river side of the street. On the https://maps.nls.uk/view/101201658 1896 OS Town plan this was named as Vestry Wharf, which had a dock, and beyond it East Lane Wharf.

I can’t remember if the East Lane Stairs leading down to the foreshore were still open here in 1988. They are Grade II listed and still exist but are now behind a locked gate and look unsafe. Vestry Wharf was opened in 1874 and the vestry – then the local authority – used it and East Lane Wharf to ship out refuse collected in the area. The dock there was previously a dry dock.

These buildings have now been replaced by modern buildings and when I walked around here in 2019 it was possible to walk out to a riverside patio here, the street now ends at the Thames super-sewer works on the former cold store site.

88-10p-55-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-55

Taken from roughly the same spot as the previous image but facing in the opposite direction along Bermondsey Wall West, so the range of buildings on the right of the picture are on the river side.

The warehouses on the left of the street – of which only a small corner is in my picture have been replaced by a modern building, while the row along the left still at least look fairly similar, although there has been extensive refurbishment between the street and the river wall. I think these are all now a part of the Tempus Wharf redevelopment, though in 1896 they were Brunswick Wharf (Grade II listed as Chambers Wharf at 29), Seaborne Coal Wharf and an unnamed wharf closest to camera. East Lane Stairs went down beside the wall of this wharf at the extreme right of the image, though I think they may have been closed by a gate, as otherwise I would probably have gone down them.

George Row, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-56-Edit_2400
George Row, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-56

Prominent on the left is St Saviour’s House on the corner of George Row and Bermondsey Wall West, written about in a previous post on this walk. The three or four storey 20th century building at the centre has now been replaced by a block of flats, River View Heights, a modern gated development with 24-hour porterage on the former site of Slate Wharf.

Closer to camera, the street name is handwritten as Chambers Wharf, though this was and is Chambers Street. The site is now occupied by a modern brick building. You can see from the wall in the picture that this building predates Chambers St, cut through here when Bermondsey Wall was split in two by the huge Chambers Cold Store in the 1930s.

I can’t read the notice on the wall entirely. At the top I think it has two words, the first ‘Daily’ but the second illegible. Under that are two sails and the word ‘Mailboat’ and below more clearly ‘COLLECTION CENTRE’. Perhaps the top line once read ‘Daily Mail’, and this advertised a mail service for sailors moored at the wharves nearby, some of which served vessels from the North of England and the continent – and once the cold store opened further afield.

Moorings, Jacobs Island, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-45-Edit_2400
Moorings, Jacobs Island, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-45

Back in 1988 there were only two boats moored at what are variously known as the Downings Road, Reeds Wharf or Tower Bridge Moorings off Jacobs Island, close to the mouth of St Saviour’s Dock. By the last time I was there this had grown to a cluster of around 40 houseboats and a few smaller vessels stretching around 165 metres downstream from the narrow access at the corner of Bermondsey Wall West and Mill Street.

The ancient moorings were bought by architect Nicholas Lacey in the 1980s and he “is committed to maintaining their historical usage” as moorings. The interconnected boats have a series of roof gardens and there is a stage for cultural and arts events. They also still provide temporary moorings for other boats.

Southwark Council fought a long an mostly legal battle to get rid of the barges, issuing eviction orders in 2003 and 2004. They were rebuffed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone who told Southwark that moorings fitted in with the London Plan and that these ones were broadly acceptable to long as appropriate amenity and environmental safeguards were in place. It was probably a great disappointment to Labour Southwark Council’s property developer friends, but welcome to most Londoners who like the colour the moorings provide.

New Concordia Wharf, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-41-Edit_2400
New Concordia Wharf, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-41

In 1988 there was no Thames Path – it was approved in 1989 but only opened in 1996, and the bridge across the mouth of St Saviour’s Dock only built in 1995. Instead I turned down Mill Street to photograph the splendid chimney and warehouses of the nicely preserved New Concordia Wharf.

Built as a St. Saviour’s Flour Mill in 1882, the mill had to be rebuilt after a fire twelve years later. These Grade II listed premises were converted to residential use in 1981-3, one of the earliest warehouse conversions in the area.

Office Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Wolseley St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-34-Edit_2400
Works, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Wolseley St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-34

I’d previously photographed the OFFICER and WORKERS entrances to the former biscuit factory of W & R Jacobs on Wolseley St, but this time took a picture of the entire frontage. Jacobs had at least two factories in the area as well their main works in Aintree, Liverpool, and on the wall it also names Manchester and Dublin where the brothers William and Robert moved to shortly after founding the business in Waterford in 1851. This factory was an extension of their earlier works in 1907 and has been demolished. The building at the end of the street on the right of picture is still there.

I’d long been confused over this building being in Wolseley St but the next street to the north off of Mill St being Jacob Street – getting its name from that of the area, Jacob’s Island. Biscuits were also made in Jacob St but for dogs, by Spillers.

Workers Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Jacob St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-21-Edit_2400
Workers Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Jacob St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-21

The Workers entrance was rather small on the previous image, so I took another picture of it.

Tower Finishers, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-24-Edit_2400
Tower Finishers, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-24

Tower Finishers is on the corner of Mill St and Wolseley St, and its address is I think 1 Wolseley St. The street got its name from the Field Marshall parodied as a ‘modern major general’ in the Pirates of Penzance. “Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC (4 June 1833 – 25 March 1913)”, had many victories in Canada, West Africa and Egypt and modernised the British Army and was Commander-in-Chief from 1895-1900. For a time the phrase “everything’s all Sir Garnet” became a common way of saying everything was in order.

Tower Finishers were cutter makers and printing trade finishers. The building is still on the corner, very much tidied up and I suspect rather different behind its exterior wall.

My 1988 walk around Bermondsey will continue in a later post.


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