This week, all eyes are on Bermondsey as the torch relay of the Paralympic Games makes its way over Tower Bridge, loops around City Hall and heads off down Tooley Street and Jamaica Road.
Bermondsey’s tanneries have long disappeared and its warehouses are gone but this historic London quarter won’t be embarrassed in the limelight.
Regeneration has given it not just new homes but bars and cafés — and restaurants where you’ll never find an unbooked table at weekends. There are also galleries, quirky independent shops and even a couture dressmaker.
The former warehouses in Shad Thames, with their landmark iron bridges, and the old industrial buildings in the alleys around Bermondsey Street now house wealthy professionals who can walk to work in the City or More London, the new business district west of Tower Bridge.
That said, the Bermondsey of old has not vanished: you can buy a four-bedroom penthouse in Butler’s Wharf with views of Tower Bridge, for £4.25 million (or £1,400 a square foot), but you can also find a one-bedroom flat in Lockwood Square, close to Bermondsey Tube, for £150,000 (£440 a sq ft).
Tom Griffin of estate agents Cluttons’ Tower Bridge branch says that in the two top areas, Shad Thames and Bermondsey Street, one-bedroom flats start at around £400,000 and two-bedroom flats at around £600,000.
Property for sale in Bermondsey
Warehouse conversions, modern flats and former council flats predominate.
The area attracts: professionals, both singles and couples, love the quaintness and cobbled streets of Shad Thames; the Bermondsey Street area appeals to a slightly younger and more creative crowd. First-time buyers go for the shared-ownership flats which are available on many of the new-build schemes, or an ex-council flat.
Staying power: there are many long-established Bermondsey families, but newcomers tend to move out once their children reach primary school age.
Postcodes: Bermondsey shares the SE1 postcode with Bankside and the SE16 postcode with Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays. SE1 is the more desirable.
Best roads: Shad Thames in particular is now one of London’s premier addresses.
What’s new: Bermondsey is still a work in progress and regeneration is still the name of the game. The Bermondsey Spa project is in the process of bringing 2,000 new homes to the area scattered around Spa Road and Jamaica Road.
In the current phase, housing association, the Hyde Group is selling flats in the Parker Building (020 7231 1200) on Jamaica Road where prices start at £290,000 for a one bedroom flat. There will be 50 shared-ownership flats available later this year.
The next major project is Grange Walk where housing association Notting Hill is building 205 studios, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom flats, plus duplexes and townhouses of which 102 will be shared ownership and 59 for private sale. The development will be in the summer of 2014. Contact Notting Hill on 020 8357 4444.
Housing association, L&Q, is currently clearing a prominent site between Tanner Street, Riley Street and Maltby Street for a mixed-use development of shops and 154 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats. Prices are yet to be confirmed but for more information contact L&Q on 0844 406 9000, extension 5000.
South Bermondsey is one of the last pockets within Zone 2 to have escaped the attention of developers. Currently an industrial wasteland, the area around Millwall football stadium is to be transformed by developers Renewal into a new sporting village, with facilities for national sporting bodies, a multifaith centre and eventually up to 2,400 new homes. Planning permission was granted this year and Renewal expects to start on the 30-acre site towards the end of next year.
Up and coming: there is an attractive enclave of two- and three-bedroom Victorian cottages between Southwark Park Road and Lynton Road where in the last year houses have sold for between £350,000 and £470,000.
Schools: the following primary schools are judged “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog Ofsted: Boutcher CofE in Grange Road, St Joseph’s Catholic in George Row, Riverside in Janeway Street and St James’s CofE in Old Jamaica Road. The area also has a number of “outstanding” comprehensive schools. These are: St Saviour’s and St Olave’s CofE (girls ages 11 to 18), St Michael’s Catholic College (co-ed, ages 11 to 18), Harris Academy Bermondsey (girls ages 11 to 18).
The two nearest top-performing private schools are in the City: City of London School (boys ages 10 to 18) in Queen Victoria Street and City of London Girls (ages seven to 18) in the Barbican.
Shops and restaurants: Bermondsey Street is where independent shops and restaurants have flourished, and where old Etonian Jay Jopling has recently opened an outpost of his Hoxton White Cube gallery.
Look out too for Bermondsey Fayre which sells “beautiful things made by hand”; Tin Lid for children’s clothes and toys; and Pussy Willow, a couture dress designer.
There are plenty of places to eat, including Zucca for interesting Italian food; Pizarro, for Spanish food and its sister José for tapas; Delfina restaurant and art gallery, and two gastropubs — The Garrison and The Woolpack. Magdalen is a feted restaurant on nearby Tooley Street.
In and around Butler’s Wharf there is top restaurant Le Pont de la Tour with its outside terrace overlooking Tower Bridge, and the Blueprint Café above the Design Museum.
In the newly enclosed Bermondsey Square, where the Friday antiques market takes place, there is a hotel and more restaurants and cafés including Del’Aziz, serving food from the Eastern Mediterranean. And in nearby Southwark Bridge Road there is M Manze, a traditional eel and pie shop. The Saturday market in and around Maltby Street is becoming a serious rival to the crowded Borough Market.
* 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.
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Where to walk: the riverside walk from Bermondsey to the South Bank is one of London’s greatest pleasures. Southwark Park is a much-loved local park with two art galleries — the Café Gallery and Dilston Grove, with an adventurous programme of modern art exhibitions.
Leisure and the arts: Theatre is one of Bermondsey’s strong points. The Unicorn on Tooley Street is the country’s leading children’s theatre; the Southwark Playhouse in Shipwright Yard is a long-established fringe theatre; while Union Theatre on Union Street is a relative newcomer. Shortwave is a 50-seat independent cinema on Bermondsey Square. The Seven Islands Leisure Centre in Rotherhithe is the nearest council-owned swimming pool.
Travel: London Bridge is on the Northern line and the Jubilee line (Zone 1); Bermondsey (Zone 2) is on the Jubilee line; South Bermondsey (Zone 2) is on the rail network and is a few minutes from London Bridge. An annual travelcard covering Zones 1 and 2 is £1,168.
A new station on the East London line on Surrey Canal Road is promised as part of plans for the regeneration of South Bermondsey.
Council: most of Bermondsey is in Southwark (Labour-controlled), although the regeneration around Millwall football stadium is in Lewisham (Labour-controlled). Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year in Southwark is £1,218.86 and in Lewisham it is £1,348.83.
Buying in Bermondsey: average prices
One-bedroom flat: £290,000
Two-bedroom flat: £512,000
Three-bedroom flat: £663,000
Two-bedroom house: £389,000*
Three-bedroom house: £398,000*
Four-bedroom house: £1.74 million*
*only one example found
Renting in Bermondsey: average prices
One-bedroom flat: £400 to £480 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £500 to £700 a week (more with a river view)
Two-bedroom house: £350 to £400 a week
Three-bedroom flat: £850 to £1,000 a week (more with a river view)