BERMONDSEY - Route & What to see

Bermondsey has been the location of a major abbey, the centre of the country's important leather industry and 'London's Larder'. It is bisected by London's first railway. In WWII bombs fell more often and more continuously than almost anywhere in the UK killing 709 civilians. Over 3000 homes were destroyed and nearly all damaged. Despite post-war re-building much of old Bermondsey remains and can be seen on this walk. It gives the opportunity to view at close quarters buildings glimpsed from the train.There are places to eat around London Bridge and in Bermondsey Street.

A 4 mile linear walk from London Bridge Station (Jubilee, Northern & mainline) to Bermondsey Station (Jubilee). The circular walk is from London Bridge Station - 2 miles mostly pavement walking.

From London Bridge Station exit into St Thomas Street
In this street are the remains of St Thomas’ Hospital (north side) comprising the Old Operating Theatre in the attic of the church building and an adjoining row of houses built for officals of the hospital. Guy’s Hospital still exists on the south side. In the old courtyard is a statue of its founder Thomas Guy and the chapel on the right hand side is worth a visit. Detour into Great Maze Pond Road to view some attractive ironwork relating to the hospital.

Return to and continue along St Thomas Street
Notice the brickwork of the arches supporting the railway. Street (tunnels) to the left indicate the large area occupied by railway tracks.

Turn right into Weston Street and first left into Melior Street
On the right is Our Lady of La Salette (1861) and at the end the Horseshoe, formerly the Horseshoe & Wheatsheaf, pub of 1897

First right into Melior Place then Snowsfields
On the right is an old Mission building & ragged school (see plaques) and on the left flats provided by the Guinness Trust (1897)

Left around Ship & Mermaid Row
Guy Street Park opposite was originally a burial ground for Guy's Hospital.

Left into Weston Street
Further along on the left is the Leather Hide & Wool Exchange of 1879. Carved reliefs depict the processes of leatherworking which was a major industry in the area from the Middle Ages. The area surrounding the market, the site of the park just passed and other areas of Bermondsey were at one time tanneries.

Walk through the Leathermarket back into Weston Street
This was established in 1833 but parts were bombed in WWII. It has been restored and let to various businesses and trades including glassblowing.

Continue along Weston Street and left into Long Lane
A few old houses are still standing.

Detour into Bermondsey Square
Bermondsey Square would have been an inner courtyard of Bermondsey Abbey. The area has been redeveloped but a few old houses remain in the south west corner. The New Caledonian Antiques Market is held early Friday mornings.

Return to Bermondsey Street
Opposite is an impossing Methodist Chapel of 1900, rebuilt in 1968.

Left into Grange Road
The Grange Centre college building was once Bacon’s School founded and endowed by Josiah Bacon in 1703 for some 50 poor scholars and rebuilt in 1891. Further along on the right the impossing former Alaska Factory was the premises of Martin’s the fur merchants, rebuilt by Wallis Gilbert in the 1930s. There is a seal and the date 1869 on the original gateway. The Grange to the left marks the site where the abbey had its farm.

Continue along Grange Road and go across to the park
This park covers the site of Bermondsey Spa run by Thomas Keyse and operating between 1768 and 1805 during which time entertainment was provided. In the Victorian period the area was covered with the terraced houses of Ernest and Alfred Streets. The park has recently been re-landscaped.

Follow the path through and exit into Spa Road
The Central Library opened in 1892 and closed in 1989. One Stop Shop occupies the site of the Town Hall, bombed in WWII when the mayor was killed. There were public baths on the corner until 1926, when they were replaced by council offices.

Left into Neckinger
This marks the site of the Neckinger Stream a tributary of the Thames which was at one time navigable to Bermondsey Abbey. The name comes from the Devil’s neckerchief (a noose). The Neckinger Estate built in 1938 stands on the site of tanneries.

Right into Abbey Street
The railway arches are supported by fluted columns. Beyond these are the former Bevington Mills, initially used to produce paper from straw but becoming leatherworks and operating until about 1981.

Return to Neckinger and go right into Grange Walk
The cobbled Bridewain Street on the right at one time led to a dairy. There are two school buildings, one a girl’s charity school of 1830. This replaced a schoolroom in the church porch. Some old houses on this street include a fine double-fronted house at number 67 built in 1700. Numbers 5 –11 are late 17th century and number 7 incorporates the remains of the east gatehouse of the Abbey.

Go right along Tower Bridge Road and cross Abbey Street
This would have been the site of the Abbey church which was sold and demolished at the reformation.

Go into the churchyard
A obelisk records that this former burial ground was made into a public park in the 1870s. It includes the tombstone of the Rolls (of Rolls Royce) family. The watch house of 1810 in the south west corner was at one time used by Ashford’s Laundry.

Exit into Bermondsey Street and go right
The church of St Mary Magdalen is the oldest building in Bermondsey, originally built for the lay folk of the abbey and re-built in 1680. Next door is the early 19th century Rectory. This street has a wonderful mixture of interesting buildings both old and new. Notice at 187-9 the Time & Talents Settlement of 1907-8, the former premises of Christy’s, the largest hatters in the world, at 175 and number 78 dating from the late 17th century. About halfway on the right is a small park on the site of Kinross Street and the Tanner Street Workhouse. Dr Alfred Salter planted a tree to mark its opening in 1929 (see info board). In the south east corner is a fountain made from the top of St Olave’s Church. The striking pink and orange building is Zandra Rhodes' Fashion & Textile Museum. This former cash and carry warehouse was designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.

Turn right into Crucifix Lane (left will take you back to London Bridge) and cross Druid Street into the grounds of the former St John’s Horsleydown Church
The London City Mission was built on the base on the bombed church. On the west of this site was the St Olave’s Workhouse

Walk through the grounds towards Tower Bridge Road and go right across Druid Street into Roper Lane
On the right the extensive former premises of Sarsons Vinegar Works with a number of listed buildings are now being converted and added to for residential use.

Cross Tower Bridge Road left into Tanner Street and follow this round into Jamaica Road
Cross to view St Saviours Dock which is where the Neckinger entered the river. This would have been where the abbey landed goods and in nearby Mill Street were its corn mills.

Left into Dockhead
The Roman Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity was re-built in 1960 by Goodhart-Rendel after the original was destroyed by bomb damage.

Right along Wolseley Street
On the right is the Dickens Estate with blocks named after characters in his novels

Right into George Row and left along Jamaica Road
There are three schools in this section

Right into St James Road
St James's Church is one of the ‘Waterloo’ churches built in 1827-9 which could seat 2000. The bells were cast from cannon captured at Waterloo and the tower is topped with a dragon. The church was saved from demolition in the 1960s largely due to the efforts of Sir John Betjemen. The area around the church is being developed.

Continue along St James Road to Priter Road on the right
Here you can see the remains of the first railway terminus in London - Spa Road (1836-1915)

Take William Ellis Way opposite, left into Storks Road, right into Collet Road and left into Keetons Road. At the end is Bermondsey Station (Jubilee line) 2009

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