Diverse and full of character, Bermondsey is “old London” writ large. It has some of the last neighbourhoods in the capital where the full fruity twang of the cockney accent can still be heard - including among the fishermen who sit patiently in the sun on Bermondsey Wall East waiting for a Thames eel to bite.
These days, many Bermondsey old-timers no longer recognise their manor. Over the past 30 years, as the docks and the old industries such as tanning and printing have closed, well-heeled incomers have filled the vacuum, buying up fashionable homes in converted warehouses, old factories or in new riverside developments.
James Hyman, manager of estate agent Cluttons’ Tower Bridge office, says that Bermondsey property prices vary greatly, stretching from as much as £1,400 a square foot in the Shad Thames area, east of Tower Bridge, to £300 a square foot for a flat in an interwar council estate south of Jamaica Road.
Properties: a great mix, with no overall architectural character. Grange Walk, off Tower Bridge Road, has houses dating from 1700. There are grand converted Victorian warehouses (left) around Shad Thames in the shadow of Tower Bridge; smaller, converted industrial buildings including tanneries and printworks around quaint Bermondsey Street; new riverside flats east of Shad Thames; and many interwar council estates.
The area attracts City workers and retired couples moving back to London who can walk to the Festival Hall and the National Theatre on the Southbank.
According to Hyman, the Shard, the Renzo Piano-designed spire at London Bridge, is attracting Middle Eastern buyers south of the river for the first time. When it is completed in 2012, the Shard will be Europe’s highest building.
Best streets: converted warehouse flats are found in the cobbled area straddled by imposing iron bridges around Shad Thames and Butler’s Wharf, east of Tower Bridge. In the early Eighties, Terence Conran brought smart restaurants, delis, loft-style flats and the Design Museum to the neighbourhood when the surrounding area was still crumbling.
Up-and-coming: Bermondsey Spa is a major regeneration scheme set among interwar council estates between Spa Road and Jamaica Road. In a joint venture between Southwark council and housing association the Hyde Group, more than 2,000 new homes (40 per cent affordable) are planned in a number of blocks around the area.
Savills is selling one-, two- and three-bedroom flats in the Bolanachi
building, on Spa Road, with prices starting at £254,000 for one bedroom.
INplace, the Hyde Group’s home-ownership arm, has affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom flats in Davoll Court on Old Jamaica Road under the Government’s New Build HomeBuy scheme. For further information about all flats at Bermondsey Spa, contact the marketing suite on 020 7231 1200.
What’s new: Chambers Wharf and Potters Field are the last two remaining undeveloped sites in Bermondsey. The Potters Field developer, Berkeley Homes, is proposing 356 flats and a cultural space.
At Chambers Wharf on the eastern edge of Bermondsey, developer St Martins is proposing nearly 600 new flats plus a new section of the Thames Path, but although the site is cleared there are no plans to start building.
Proposals by the council to zone the northern end of Bermondsey Street for high-rise buildings, and some tentative proposals from Shard developer, Irvine Sellar, are meeting with stiff local opposition.
Schools: education is not one of Bermondsey’s strengths. The following primary schools get good results: St Joseph’s RC in George Row; Riverside in Janeway Street, and Boutcher CofE in Grange Road. But there are no top-performing secondary schools. The two private City of London schools, both north of the river — the boys’ school in Queen Victoria Street and the girls’ school in the Barbican — are a popular choice for families living in Bermondsey.
Shops and restaurants: Borough Market at London Bridge is every foodie’s delight. Interesting independent shops in Bermondsey Street include Cockfighter for unusual one-off T-shirts; Pussy Willow for bespoke women’s fashion and for the pampered pooch there is Holly and Lil.
Le Pont de la Tour in Butler’s Wharf (right) is where Tony Blair took the Clintons for dinner; other offerings include the shabby-chic Garrison and minimalist Delfina in Bermondsey Street; Champor Champor, a Malaysian restaurant in Weston Street, and many chain restaurants in More London, a new office development west of the Greater London Authority building.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK:
For more local restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas or attractions; or to book a table or tickets for a night out, visit LondonLive.co.uk/Southwark.
Search properties, jobs or dates in any London boroughs.
Open spaces: there are lovely riverside walks including the green spaces of Potters Field Park close to London Bridge. Southwark Park is a large, shady, well-maintained park with a bandstand, café and lake.
Leisure and the arts: the Seven Islands leisure centre on Lower Road, Rotherhithe is the nearest council-owned swimming pool. Bermondsey residents only have a short walk along the river to Tate Modern and the facilities on the Southbank.
Shunt is an immersive theatre company based in vaults under London Bridge station. There are two adventurous modern art galleries in Southwark Park, including Dilston Grove in a restored church.
Transport: Bermondsey is in zone one. An annual travelcard covering zones one and two costs £1,032. London Bridge is on the Northern and Jubilee lines and Bermondsey is on the Jubilee line. London Bridge railway station offers a quick escape to the south coast.
Council: Southwark is under Labour control and Band D council tax for 2010/2011 year is £1,221.96.
Average sale prices: SE1
One-bedroom flat: £307,500
Two-bedroom flat: £400,000
Three-bedroom flat: £602,000
Four-bedroom house: £820,000
One-bedroom flat: £190,000
Two-bedroom flat: £280,000
Three-bedroom house: £400,000
Four-bedroom house: £546,000
Average rental rates: SE1
One-bedroom flat: £350 to £400pw
Two-bedroom flat: £450 to £1,000pw
Three-bedroom flat: £650 to £1,500pw
One-bedroom flat: £225 to £275pw
Two-bedroom flat: £300 to £375pw
Three-bedroom flat: £400 to £450pw
Two-bedroom house (away from the river): £400 to £450pw
Two-bedroom house (on the river): £650 to £700pw
Pictures by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (16 June, 2010)