Spotlight on Borough

Bawdy Borough has been reborn as a home for food lovers and City professionals who want to walk to work

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There was a time when the neighbourhood of Borough in south-east London was famous only for the stink of its tanneries, breweries, hop yards and vinegar factories. Today it is going through a transformation from the ground to the skies.

In the past decade Borough Market, selling every culinary delight from epicure pork pies to smoked fish from the west coast of Ireland and oysters from Colchester, has become one of London’s major tourist attractions, with most real Londoners now knowing to turn up early to avoid the crush.

Across the road stands the elongated glass triangle of the Shard, next to London Bridge station, its jagged tip hidden eerily in the clouds on overcast mornings. And in the new year this new iconic London landmark, the tallest building in Europe, will open its public viewing floor for the first time.

Borough was settled by the Romans, who built the first bridge over the Thames nearby. Historically it was beyond the control of the city and became a place noted for its bawdiness. In Shakespeare’s time it was the site of three famous theatres — the Globe, the Rose and the Swan. And it was where Charles Dickens came to live when his father was thrown into the Marshalsea debtors’ prison, which featured in Little Dorrit.

Properties for sale in Borough: there are period houses and flats, especially in the little-known enclave around Merrick Square and Trinity Church Square. There are converted warehouses in and around Bermondsey Street and new riverside flats as well as “right-to-buy” council flats.

The most expensive house currently for sale is The Surrey Dispensary in Trinity Street which is on the market for £2.95 million through Foxtons (020 3324 5154). This four-bedroom, four-storey, flat-fronted Victorian house is in the Trinity Church Square conservation area.

Agent Stephan Mouzouri at the Borough branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says prices in Borough have passed their previous 2007 peak and still continue to rise.

He says: “Prices range from £2,000 per square foot in locations close to the river down to £500 per square foot nearer Elephant and Castle.”

Trinity Church Square
Offers above £1 million: three-bedroom apartment in Trinity Church Square

The area attracts: Borough is no longer a cheap area, so most buyers are professionals age 35 or above, many working in the City who enjoy being able to walk to work. There are also parents buying for their student children.

Staying power: once in the area people tend to stay until they have children, when there is usually the urge to move further afield in search of more space and more greenery.

What’s new: Trinity Church Terrace (Hamptons, 020 7717 5321) is a development of 12 flats and 10 terrace houses in a traditional style from developer London Realty. Two four-bedroom houses remain at £1.99 million.

The Murano Building (Felicity J Lord, 020 7089 6490) is a development of 20 one- and two-bedroom flats, including three affordable, for completion in summer 2013 in Crosby Row. From £445,000 for a one-bedroom flat.

Up and coming: former council flats sell at significantly lower prices. Lettings manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward’s Borough office, Kira Sapiets, says such flats make solid investments and are easy to let.

The restaurants and shops in Hay's Gallery attract a lot of visitors
The restaurants and shops in Hay's Gallery attract a lot of visitors

Getting an education: the Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary in Redcross Way, Charles Darwin in Toulmin Street and Friars in Webber Street are the three primary schools, all judged “outstanding” by Ofsted. Globe Academy (ages three to 18) in Harper Road is an all-through state school judged “good”. St Saviour’s and St Olave’s (girls aged 11 to 18) in New Kent Road is “outstanding”.

Shops and restaurants: as well as Borough Market, there are shops and restaurants in Hay’s Galleria — including a year-round Christmas shop — More London, Butler’s Wharf in Shad Thames and along Bermondsey Street. Locals are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out.

Meat is celebrated at Roast, Spanish tapas at Tapas Brindisa, another favourite is Elliot’s Café, all in Borough Market. In Bermondsey Street, the Garrison is a popular gastropub with the shabby-chic look; Pizarro and its little brother José across the street both specialise in Spanish food; Delfina is a restaurant-cum-art gallery and Zucca has a modern take on Italian food.

Magdalen in Tooley Street gets good reviews for its modern European menu, and round the corner in Weston Street, Champor-Champor is an eccentrically decked-out Malaysian restaurant. When Terence Conran developed his gastrodome in Butler’s Wharf, the star turn was, and remains, Le Pont de la Tour, with great views of Tower Bridge from its riverside terrace.

Locals can relax in the green space of Bermondsey Street

Open Space: one of London’s great walks even on a blowy winter’s day is along the Thames from China Wharf, through Shad Thames, under Tower Bridge, past the Greater London Authority and the More London office development, then on through Hay’s Galleria to London Bridge, Southwark Cathedral, the cobbled streets around Clink Street, the Globe theatre and beyond to the South Bank.

For more local restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas or attractions; or to book a table or tickets for a night out, visit

Search properties, jobs or dates in any London boroughs.

Leisure and the arts: some of London’s best arts attractions are close by. The National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, National Film Theatre, IMAX cinema and Hayward Gallery are in the Southbank complex. Other theatres include the Globe, as well as the Old and Young Vic, in Waterloo.

Tate Modern in the old Bankside Power Station is now one of London’s biggest tourist draws. The Unicorn Theatre for children has a new building on Tooley Street. Fringe theatres include the Menier Chocolate Factory and the Southwark Playhouse.

Travel: two stations — London Bridge and Waterloo — offer easy access to the country and the seaside towns of Kent and Sussex. London Bridge (Zone 1; annual travelcard £1,168) is on the Northern line, one stop from Bank and two from Moorgate; and the Jubilee line, three stops from Canary Wharf.

Council: Borough and London Bridge fall mainly in Southwark (Labour-controlled) and partly in Lambeth (also Labour-controlled). Band D council tax in Southwark is £1,218.86, while in Lambeth it is £1,232.01.

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast sits proudly on the River Thames near to More London and Shad Thames

Photographs by Graham Hussey

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