Monday, 16 February 2009

London Bridge to Rotherhithe, Old Kent Road and Borough (part 2)

This is the second part of my amble around South East London. After a lively start between London and Tower Bridge and an interesting stroll through the derricks and gentrified warehouses on the waterfront, I emerged back onto Jamaica Road to carry on in a generally easterly direction. I've tried to plot my route here on Google maps but picking out exactly which side roads I went down is a bit tricky, so you'll have to take this part as an approximation. Anyway, the first thing that caught my eye on Jamaica Road was a sizeable sewer ventilation outlet

Ham Baker - Sewer Ventilation Pipe
Ham Baker are still in existence and based in the Midlands. They seem to specialise in water flow management systems (I think that probably means sewers) so it shows a continuity at least. Although the firm are now based in the Midlands they seem to have either started or had a branch, in Westminster. These listed examples in Wolverhampton certainly bore that address. Jamaica Road seemed to have very little of it's Victorian buildings left and looks mainly to comprise of 50s and 60s low rise housing. I kept glancing down roads off to the left which were nearer the waterfront so after a while decided to walk down and take a look. I certainly picked the right road as I came out opposite a waterfront pub called The Angel . Very nice it was too with a great view of the river from its upstairs gallery. It seemed apt to have a bottle of Taddy Porter with a packet of crisps (Cheese and Onion of course. Old school...) before moving on. Outside were the ruins of an old manor house and a very strange statue. Or three statues to be precise. The main one was of an elderly man sitting on a chair looking at a young girl and a cat about ten yards away. Apparently this is in honour of a local doctor, Alfred Salter, and shows him recalling his young daughter (and her cat presumably) who had died of scarlet fever many years before. It all looked a bit Gothic, like stumbling across some private ghost story. A bronze complexion doesn't suit her really...
Dr Salter's Dream - Bermondsey Wall East
It's an intriguing work though commemorating a local hero, so I was pleased to have seen it.
Bermondsey Wall -
Just up from the Angel was this riverside conversion with associated crane,
and on one of the walls opposite this decorative reinforcing plate. Quite an attractive one at that. I must keep an eye out for a few more examples.Following the Thames path round the river I noticed a small passage heading towards the river. What caught my eye though, apart from the rusted 'Right of Way' sign was the two imprints above it. The top one is the clearer and reads St. M.R 1871 The other one has the date obscured but it is definitely not the same - 1899 possibly? Very intriguing. I wonder what their significance might be?
By this time I suppose I was venturing into Rotherhithe, or Surrey Quays as I now know it to be. Being docklands the area took a huge pounding during the Second World War and post war development apparently saw a transformation of the area. Many docks were filled in and built over and what I found myself walking round for the next few (tedious) miles was what felt like an isolated and fairly sterile development. The river walk is there and so are some of the old quays, but they look as though they are crying out for anything to tie up alongside. Instead everything seems to be fenced off and even the inhabitants wouldn't be able to get down to the shore-line. The surrounding flats are either conversions or mock-ups of warehouses and the lack of activity, either on foot or by car, gave it an air of desolation. I'd put it as the low point of the walk (although don't go away with the idea that I was going through any emotional upheaval over this. Mildly disappointed would about sum it up.)

Rotherhithe Street & Surrey Water.
Carrying on though I did pass by an old pumping station with this interesting logo from the Port of London Authority and dated 1929. With the pond behind it this seems to have been converted into an ecology centre and was a nice spot to dally for a few minutes
If you did find yourself in these parts I could recommend stopping off at the Surrey Docks City Farm for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Very restful with a faint but reassuring whiff of the countryside...
Rotherhithe Street - Nelson Dock
On the same street but right around the other side, were a cluster of original buildings, now mostly converted. This shipbuilding company looks as though it's still trading but apparently they left in 1968 although someone seems to keep the painted sign looking spick and span
Passing along Redriff Road and over the corner of Greenland Water I could see the real-life hustle and bustle of Lower Road and Evelyn Street and just along the road I came across this old advertising clock. As you can see it's formed like a giant stopwatch but the advertising panels are long since gone. I'm not sure if it's still working as I don't have a watch to compare it to (or a mobile phone for that matter) but it's certainly a sizeable piece.
I followed the road, and the traffic congestion, around up to Southwark Park where there was a fairly lonely looking pub sitting on the corner.
Lower Road SE 16
Bit of a result here though as it had a coal hole out front with a manufacturer new to me, Nicholls & Clark of Shoreditch, London . Now known as N&C, from their history it looks as though they got into architectural ironmongery in the 1880's. Nice to see them still going strong!
Heading up Rotherhithe New Road and just before the railway lines, I spotted some interesting old bollards by Corbetts Passage. Apart from the general air of dilapidation I particularly enjoyed the black and white banding!
Eventually I hit the Old Kent Road, which at first glimpse lacked any Monopoly board quaintness at all. It didn't have much charm on a second glimpse either, but this marked the point where I turned west and started heading back toward Borough...


CarolineLD said...

Fascinating posts, and I'm glad you found some bits of interest here in south-east London!

Yelfy said...

Hi Caroline, That's the joy but also the danger of wandering off without any planning or aims. I'm sure with the route I took I probably just missed loads of interesting bits but then again I did get to see a part of London that was new to me so it's all swings and roundabouts. A lot of the interest comes in looking things up afterwards and learning about them retrospectively, like Dr Salter, the Angel pub and the Surrey Dock area. I think I only skimmed Bermondsey though so quite fancy another trip to do it justice!

Affer said...

What a fantastic Blog! Apart from the fact that it's travelling areas I grew up in, it's given me fresh inspiration for something I have been trying to do oop Norff!

Anonymous said...

HI Yelfy,
I have just read your interesting comments about the air of desolation in this area... I walked the Thames Path from Tower Bridge to Greenwich a few weeks ago and a voice in my head kept repeating questions such as, "where are the people?", "where is the High Street/ corner shop?", "where is the community?", "who whould want to live here?", and best of all "is this really London?".
And it continued... "this is soulless", "they've pulled down history to but up THAT?!", "How bland" etc etc.
To think there was once all that activity arond the docks, and now it looks like a lot of big Lego blocks. Ditto on the Isle of Dogs.
That's progress for you.

Yelfy said...

Hi Jane - I never felt I'd find a part of Inner London where I wouldn't be surprised to see tumble-weed rolling down the middle of the road. So hats off to Surrey Docks on that score...

Anonymous said...

The St.M.R. sign you found marks the border of the parish of St. Mary's Rotherhithe.