Posts Tagged ‘Brunswick Wharf’

Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988 continues from the previous post Bermondsey – Rubber, Antiques, Murals & A Martyr 1988

Sr Saviour’s House, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o24

I walked up George Row, following what had been the main course of the River Neckinger to Bermondsey Wall and St Saviour’s House, where I made one of my favourite images of London. The building, as No 21 Bermondsey Wall West, gets a short mention in Southwarks St Saviours Dock Conservation area appraisal from 2003 which notes it “has recently been restored and extended, losing some of its character“, though perhaps the main loss has been of its view of Tower Bridge with all that is now visible being the street side of modern riverside luxury flats.

Information I’ve been able to find on-line tells me only what the eye can see (though not all in my picture) which is that it has a “white rendered wall punctuated only by a large door with a classical segmental pediment, and a simple circular window above it.” It obviously gets its name from St Saviour’s Monastery and from its appearance I think was possibly a Catholic institution of some nature. When I posted on-line a view showing the rear of this building (since obscured by an extension) in 1983 a year or two ago I wrote:

“Google maps describes St Saviour’s House as a ‘Religious institution’ and it looks rather like a convent or convent school but it appears now to be expensive flats – around £1m for 2 bed – and one estate agent describes it as a ‘warehouse conversion’.

The road by St Saviour’s House is still narrow and with a slight curve rather like that in the picture, possibly originally following the bank of the river or a tidal canal. The front of St Saviour’s House is on George Row, where the River Neckinger ran, with a bridge over it here. The tidal canals had water let in every few days to for the mill immediately to the west, and the Neckinger, the Thames, St Saviour’s Dock and a canal alongside Wolseley St (then London St) formed the boundaries of the slum notorious in the early 19th century as Jacob’s Island, used by Dickens in Oliver Twist.

River Thames, Tower Bridge, Pier, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-26-Edit_2400
River Thames, Tower Bridge, Pier, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o26

Much of the riverside here is now full of luxury flats and is private here. On Bermondsey Wall West there is an area where you can look out along the river to Tower Bridge but a new block on the end of the older warehouses restricts the view.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-12
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-12

This warehouse block, now converted to flats and offices as Tempus Wharf is still there at 29 Bermondsey Eall West, just to the east of the junction with Flockton St. This five storey warehouse dating dating from 1865-70 and is Grade II listed as Chambers Wharf, a rather confusing name as there was a much larger building known as Chambers Wharf a short distance to the east.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-14

On the 1896 OS Town plan this is named as Brunswick Wharf. It was built on the former site of Murrell’s Wharf as a granary. Later it was combined with the Seaborne Coal Wharf next door on the east as Sterling Wharf for paper and card. Chambers bought up many of the wharves along here in the 1930s and erected their large cold store (demolished in 2008-9) a little to the east. I think the name Tempus Wharf is just a little bit of Latin added to give it a little more class.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-15-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-15

A more distant view of the east side of St Saviour’s House from Bermondsey Wall West shows the large area of blank white rendered flat wall. In the redevelopment this was stepped out into George Row and perforated with windows and garage doors, with only a short section of the original now visible. It also gives an impression of the state of the area back in 1988

Robson Road Haulage, Chambers St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988

This building and the taller ones behind were a part of the Chambers Wharf Cold Stores site.


When Chambers Wharf and Cold Stores Ltd built their giant cold stores in the 1930s they were in a vaguely Deco style, but those parts rebuilt after wartime bomb damage were rather plainer. The buildings were huge, and resulted in the closing of a section of Bermondsey Wall, dividing it into West and East, with the frontage here on Chambers St. The river frontage had 3 berths and there were frequent services from the continent bringing meat and other perishable goods here. It closed as a cold store in the 1980s and was briefly used as a gold bullion & document store.

Various plans were put forward for its redevelopment, including as a heliport for London, which the graffiti here, ‘BUILD YOUR HELIPORT IN YOR BACK GARDN NOT OURS’ shows was not welcome in the area and a strong local campaign by CHOP saw an end to that proposal. Finally planning permission was given for a residential development. The cold stores were demolished around 2008 but progress on the site has been held up by the Thames Tideway Tunnel super-sewer works for which it it a major site.

Chambers Wharf, Chambers St, Bermondsey, 1988 88-10p-65

A final picture for this post of another part of the Chambers Wharf site, still with its sign. I turned around and walked back to Bermondsey Wall West, where the next post on the walk will begin.