Posts Tagged ‘Tim Smith’

Bermondsey Equinox 2015

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

Bermondsey Equinox: Spring, or rather Astronomical Spring, officially starts today, 20th March, though meteorologists see things differently and start it on March 1st and the weather has its own ideas. Botanists too make up their own minds by looking at plants.

Bermondsey Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox, which I always assumed meant equal lengths of day and night, but checking the tables I find that today we get 24 minutes more day than night.

Bermondsey Equinox

The actual definition of the Equinox is apparently the moment when the Sun is directly above the equator and the Earth’s rotational axis passes through from being tilted towards the southern hemisphere to the north. So it really is just a moment, this year at 3.06 am UTC 20th March. Most years it falls on 20th March, but in 2007 it was on the 21st in the UK, and this year will be on the 19th across the USA.

Bermondsey Equinox

But watch out for Druids, particularly should you be near Tower Hill, where in some previous years I’ve photographed their celebrations which begin at noon, I think Greenwich Mean Time.

Bermondsey Equinox

It’s an interesting event to watch, and doubtless important for those taking part, and also good to photograph at least once or twice, but when you’ve done it a few times difficult to find anything new to say.

So I won’t be there today. And I won’t write about it here, as last year I posted Druid Order – Spring Equinox at Tower Hill and you can still read all about it there as well on the various other posts here and on My London Diary.

Back in 2015 I didn’t go to Tower Hill but was instead on the opposite side of the River Thames in Bermondsey, out for a walk around one of my favourite areas of London with a few photographer friends.

As I wrote then, it was “really just an excuse to meet up, go to a couple of pubs and then end up with a meal” and though it was a fine afternoon I don’t think any of us took many pictures. I’d photographed the area fairly extensively in previous years and had even written a leaflet with a walk for part of it.

The leaflet came about back in the dark ages of computing, when Desk Top Publishing had more or less just been invented and I was teaching an evening class in the use of Aldus Pagemaker, bought up by Adobe in 1994 who then killed it and brought out Indesign, more powerful but far more difficult to use. West Bermondsey – The leather area was an industrial archaeology walk which I made use of to illustrate some of my lessons.

Over the next few years I printed hundreds of copies on my Epson Dot-Matrix printer – which accounts for the crude illustrations – and sold them at 20p a time – hardly a money spinner but it covered my costs. They were bought and given out by local historian Stephen Humphrey (1952-2017), chief archivist at Southwark’s Local Studies Library for 30 years on his local history walks and sold at the Bermondsey festival. I met Stephen who wrote a number of publications on the history of the area a few times – and had visited him in the Library when researching the leaflet, which also relied on information from a walk led by Tim Smith for the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society where it is one of a very long list of interesting walks in London.

The area has changed considerably since I wrote it, but most of what is mentioned remains despite considerable gentrification. You can find several hundreds of my older images of Bermondsey in colour and black and white on Flickr – including those used in illustrating the leaflet in much better reproduction.

There are a few more images from my 2015 walk on My London Diary at Bermondsey Walk.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Dockhead, Sarsons, Tanner St and Bermondsey Square

Friday, July 29th, 2022

The previous post on this walk was Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988

Dockhead, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-26-Edit_2400
Dockhead, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-26

I walked past Dockhead and along Tooley Street, turning down Tower Bridge Road and on to Tanner St making a few photographs, but have only digitised the two shown here. Dockhead is of course at the head of St Saviour’s Dock and until a bridge was built across the mouth of the dock walkers by the river had to take the route past Dockhead – and I often took a picture looking down the dock towards the Thames and this was no exception, but I haven’t yet digitised it.

The building with the circular window on its top floor was Jacob’s Biscuit Factory – another of whose buildings on Wolseley street featured in the previous post.

Tower Coachworks, Tooley St, Lafone St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-64-Edit_2400
Tower Coachworks, Tooley St, Lafone St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-64

And although I made half a dozen exposures on Tooley St, one on Fair Street and several on Tower Bridge Road, this is the only one on-line. I do sometimes find it hard to know why I’ve not scanned some images and perhaps one day I’ll come back and fill in the gaps. But for the moment this is the only picture here from this section of the route.

It shows the two buildings on the corner with Lafone St, which runs north from Tooley Street to Shad Thames. Tower Coachworks has been demolished and replaced by new flats, but the large warehouse blocks at left, which run across the whole block to Boss St and up Lafone St to Queen Elizabeth St was refurbished by the London Docklands Development Corporation into a large residential development, Boss House. Q’s Ltd Snooker & Pool Club with its line of arrows to guide even the most shortsighted or inebriated to its entrance at rear has long gone. The three warehouses dates from somewhere around 1900 and there was a short street across the middle, Goat St, whose name can just be seen above the van parked on Lafone St, at least on a larger version of this frame.

Sarsons, Vinegar, Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-43-Edit_2400
Sarsons, Vinegar, Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-43

Sarson’s vinegar works were on a large site on Tower Bridge Road with these vats viewed from Tanner St. Their presence was very apparent by the smell which pervaded the area – I couldn’t walk past without thinking of fish and chips – although according to Wikipedia production had moved to Manchester in 1968, it actually continued through the 1980s and the works only closed in 1992.

Thomas Sarson is said to have first brewed his malt vinegar in 1794 in Shoreditch, though apparently this date is unlikely and probably Sarson’s only made cheaper ‘wood’ vinegar until 1894. Sarson’s vinegar was briefly sold as ‘”Sarson’s Virgin Vinegar’ but that name was soon dropped. There is a very detailed article Just Say Sarsons by Tim Smith in a GLIAS Journal about the company with descriptions and photographs from a finely detailed recording visit. The vinegar works were begun by Noah Slee and a Mr Vickers around 1814, but later greatly expanded. The works were run by the Slee family until a merger with Champions in 1908 and their family connection continued until the formation of British Vinegars Ltd in 1932. Later they became a part of Nestlé and the Sarson’s brand is now owned by a Japanese vinegar company, who also own my favourite Hayward’s Pickled Onions.

The site was redeveloped from 2000 on, with its Grade II listed buildings being converted into flats and other buildings such as these vats being demolished and replaced by modern flats.

Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-32-Edit_2400
Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-32

Further west along Tanner St are these three adjoining buildings at 1-3 Tanner St. The Bermondsey Wire Works name has faded a little more but otherwise that building looks much the same, while Neon Manufacturers at No 2 is rather more tidier, has lost its original windows and all signage and has a new door and porch. No 3 has also had something of a face-lift but retains most of its former character, but the hoist no longer has a bucket attached.

Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-33-Edit_2400
Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-33

These buildings were still very obviously in commercial use back in 1988, but I think now most are studios, offices and residential, and I think I went to an exhibition in one of them a few years ago. Tanner Street was originally known as Five Foot Lane and most of it was on a map by 1544. The second part of the story by Richard Miller deals with it after it was renamed Russell Street in the late 18th century when it contained the Bermondsey Workhouse, and part 3 looks at it after Bermondsey Parish Council renamed it Tanner Street in 1881, reflecting the main trade then carried on there. The workhouse closed in 1922, and the site was bought with funds from selling St Olave’s Church in Tooley Street to Hay’s Wharf – and a part of that church’s tower, now Grade II listed, was installed as a drinking fountain in Tanner Street Recreation Ground which opened on the site in 1929. The park got a little larger in the 1990s.

Cockle & Co, Bermondsey Mesh and Wireworks were at 109 Bermondsey St from 1903-1919 and their works stretched around the corner here into Tanner St. According to the Bermondsey Boy web site, No 3 -7 were built in 1838 for three separate businesses but were bought by the Simmons Company, makers of perambulators, mail carts and stretchers in 1888 and later they also owned No 1 – you can see some of their advertisements on thesite. Simmons sold No 1 in 1952 and closed the business in 1959.

Bermondsey Square, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-14-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Square, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-14

Bermondsey Square looks very different now to when I took this picture in 1988 and I think the actual position where I was standing may now be inside the ground floor of the Bermondsey Square Hotel. My shadow in the foreground shows me looking across the grass area towards the corner of Long Lane and Bermondsey St. The building then the Bermondsey Antique Market is still there – as is St Mary’s Church, but rather than antiques it is now ‘Flour & Grape’ which Google now tells me is an Italian restaurant and “A 3-min walk from the White Cube“. What is left of Bermondsey Square is now paved and although there is a small green area with seating at the front of the hotel it looks very plastic.