Now in the shadow of the Shard, the once-notorious “rookery” slum that loomed large in Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist has rapidly been establishing itself as perhaps the only authentically cool sliver of central London.
Bermondsey — with its fun and quirky bars and restaurants, its mix of posh and old-school markets and summer festival — has seen average property prices rise by more than 60 per cent in five years. Most buyers in Bermondsey today must find £530,000, says Savills. But if you want two bedrooms, that sum will only buy an ex-council flat.
Alternatively you could take advantage of one of the year’s first shared-ownership schemes. Prices at Blue Anchor Lane by Family Mosaic start at just £101,400 for a 30 per cent share of a one-bedroom apartment.
Thirty per cent shares start at £115,000 in two-bedroom flats, £134,250 in two-bedroom duplexes and £151,350 in three-bedroom flats. Homes have private terrace or balcony and the development is handy for Southwark Park. This is, however, unmistakably an inner-city spot. Beside Blue Anchor Lane, on an arched viaduct, run the railway tracks of the Brighton and South East Main Lines.
The nearest station is Bermondsey, in Zone 2, on the Jubilee line, about 15 minutes’ walk away. Services to Canary Wharf take around five minutes, and journeys to Bond Street around 15 minutes, making this an excellent option for both commuting and socialising.
But when it comes to going out, you could stay local. The Hide Bar is a smart cocktail venue, The Woolpack’s a down-to-earth boozer; there’s tapas at José or modern British fare at Village East. Design Museum, Shortwave Cinema and Bermondsey Antiques Market are close.
“Bermondsey was already on the up before the recession,” said Tom Griffin, a partner at Cluttons estate agents. “A lot of people were getting priced out of Shad Thames and Clink Street, and Bermondsey was quite affordable.
“Bermondsey Street has always had a bohemian atmosphere, and when the White Cube gallery opened [in 2011] it really cemented its position.”
Griffin believes buyers can still hope for price growth in this area. “For a very central location on the edge of the city it still offers very good value.”
At the time of writing, three two-bedroom duplexes and one three-bedroom flat remain for shared ownership, but Family Mosaic says those registering an interest will be notified if more homes become available.
THE KNOWLEDGE: BERMONDSEY
The past: people displaced from the City by the Great Fire in 1666 moved to Bermondsey and it became a leafy, middle-class suburb. By the mid-19th century its fortunes declined and it was one of London’s most miserable slums.
The future: Grosvenor plans new homes, shops and a new secondary school at the old Peek Frean biscuit factory near Bermondsey Tube station.
Trivial Pursuit: a decommissioned Russian tank has been parked at the junction of Mandela Way and Pages Walk since 1995, on land owned by a property developer.
Price of local homes: the average property in SE1 costs £691,322, up from £677,048 in January last year (source: Rightmove).
Eat: street food at Maltby Street Market.
Drink: a Bermondsey Buckle — vermouth, Amaro bitters and lemon juice — at The Hide Bar in Bermondsey Street.