Bleeding Heart Yard

Above: Bleeding Heart Tavern standing on the south side of Greville Street. The yard can be seen on the left of the picture.

Bleeding Heart Yard is a large T-shaped courtyard which runs south off Greville Street, a turning off Hatton Garden, in the London Borough of Camden. The eastern part of today’s Greville Street was previously known as Charles Street. On the corner where Bleeding Heart Yard joins onto Greville Street stands the impressive Bleeding Heart Tavern.

The name is listed by Lillywhite as ‘Bleeding Heart, Charles Street, Hatton Garden’ [n3521 p57] who describes it as being a tavern before 1746 and continuing until the 1860s. Lillywhite does not mention that it was ever an inn. The map of 1682 entitled ‘London Actually Surveyed by William Morgan’ shows only a blank space for the later site of Bleeding Heart Yard. It would therefore seem likely that the tavern was not in existence then – confirming that it came into existence at a later date. Rocque’s large scale map of 1746 shows ‘Bleeding Heart Yard’ laid out in a very similar way to that of today.

The Wiki entry suggests that ‘The courtyard was probably named after a 16th-century inn sign dating back to the Reformation that was displayed on a pub called the Bleeding Heart in nearby Charles Street.’ Unfortunately, that statement is not supported by the facts. Firstly, Bleeding Heart Yard in the 16th century would have been immediately north of the buildings and outhouses of Ely House – an unlikely site for an inn. Secondly, we know from maps of the time that the land north of Ely House was part of its large private estate – being covered with orchards and gardens. There were no streets and no other residences nearby because it was all private land. Thirdly, Morgan’s map of 1682 has a blank space where Bleeding Heart Yard is now sited.

A dubious legend claims that the site was named after the murder of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, the second wife of Sir William Hatton, whose family formerly owned the area around the street now called Hatton Garden. It is said that her body was found there on 27 January 1646 ‘torn limb from limb but with her heart still pumping blood’ – a likely tale to embellish the name of the tavern!

The fact that there was a tavern with the word ‘heart’ in its name it does mean it has always had the same spelling. There are plenty of pub names like ‘White Hart’ and ‘Golden Hart’ – referring to a red deer, particularly a stag. It could be a simple matter of the name being misspelt, leaving some other writer to come up with a grizzly tale to add a bit of ‘colour’ to the name to impress the visitors.

-ENDS-

Posted in /Cam-Holborn | Leave a comment

Liverpool Street Station and the Eagle

Above: An eagle perched on a pedestrian barrier beside his handler at the entrance to Liverpool Street Station.

It is not every day that you walk into a large railway station and find an eagle staring you in the face. For Liverpool Street Station, pigeons are a nuisance. They fly into the entrances and, once there, they treat the building as a place to perch – particularly on the many girders supporting the glass roof. Driving the birds away is not an easy task. Catching them brings its own problems so, the management of the railway terminus employ the services of a falconer who either brings a falcon or an eagle to solve the problem.

This process goes on all over London. In Trafalgar Square, there is a similar problem with pigeons and a falconer is also employed there on a regular basis as a deterrent. At Liverpool Street Station, the falconer duly arrives in the morning and, using his bird of prey, the pigeons are hunted down.

This fine specimen of a bird had completed his work when the picture was taken. He is perched on a pedestrian barrier at the high entrance to the station which leads from Liverpool Street itself. Apparently, after the eagle has completed his work, he is given a shower and then he is fed. He was looking straight into the camera and, much to everyone’s relief, he was on a tether held by his handler. While the bird looks rather tame, perched on the barrier, his handler said that he could not be treated as a pet and that he took very careful looking after.

-ENDS-

Posted in /City-Bishopsgate | 2 Comments

Great North Wood – Update

Another of the blogs on this Website has been updated. This time on the subject of the Great North Wood. More information has been added which may be of interest to you. The whole text has been rewritten and additional text has been added.

The blog is called – Great North Wood

You may like to have a look at it.

-ENDS-

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victoria Deep Water Terminal

Above: Looking south on the wharf. Greenwich Park is on the horizon.

Victoria Deep Water Terminal was built on land known as Victoria Wharf. The name ‘Victoria Wharf’ is shown on the Ordnance Survey maps for 1944-69. The name ‘Victoria Works Wharf’ is shown on the 1966 Wharf Map – a working map of the Thames used by anyone who worked on or beside the river. Victoria Wharf handled general cargo.

The Deep Water Terminal opened in 1966 as a privately owned container terminal receiving containers and unit loads from Europe by ship. To those who used it – like lorry drivers and watermen on the Thames – it was always known as ‘Vic Deep’. The pedestrian walkway (or river path) passed right through the wharf without any fencing or railings to prevent walkers from straying from the line of the footpath. Clear lines were painted on the large concrete surface with strict instructions to keep within the defined markings. Of course, it was a ‘different world’ back then and Health and Safety regulations were not as strict as they are today.

The site was good from many points of view. The wharf had a total length of 850 feet (259 metres) providing berths for two cargo ships. The depth of water at the berths was 42 feet (12.73 metres) MHWS (5.6 metres at Chart Datum). On the wharf, the open storage area for cargo was 17.3 acres (7 hectares) which was much larger than on many other wharves in Greenwich. There were two enormous container cranes operating on the wharf, unloading the containers from the ships and storing them on the open cargo accommodation area. From there, articulated lorries transported the containers via the A2 which was only a matter of a hundred yards from the wharf itself.

After the container terminal closed down (probably in the 1990s), the wharf was used by a scrap-iron company. Huge piles of scrap-iron were to be seen piled high on the riverside wharf. The company probably did not realise how heavy the iron was. After a few years of operation, the riverside wall of the wharf collapsed and the contents stacked on it had to be salvaged from the Thames. That put an end to their use of the riverside wharf.

In 1990 the site was taken over by Hanson Aggregates. It can accommodate vessels of up to 8,000 tonnes. Just before the Millennium, the large space was used to deliver aggregates, sand and cement for use in the construction of what was to be the Millennium Dome site and the housing blocks nearby. The Millennium Dome is now known as the O2 Arena.

In 2017 Construction materials supplier Hanson submitted a planning application to invest £12 million on the wharf, to upgrade and improve the site, along with a full environmental impact assessment. The Victoria Deep Water Terminal is an important strategic site in London which is safeguarded as an industrial wharf in the London plan and the Greenwich local plan. New concrete plants will play an important part in the redevelopment of the Greenwich peninsula and also make pre-cast concrete structures for major infrastructure projects in the capital – including the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Silvertown Road Tunnel and Crossrail 2. Its use as a wharf on the Thames is set to continue for many years to come.

For a map showing the location of the wharf –

See: Greenwich Wharves in the 1960s

-ENDS-

Posted in /Gre-Greenwich, /Greenwich Wharves, /Thames | 2 Comments

Lovell’s Wharf Footpath

Above: Looking west along the footpath by evening light in 1975.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the riverside footpath at Greenwich was a really magical place. Walking east from Greenwich Pier, you passed in front of the Royal Naval College (now part of Greenwich University). That led to the Trafalgar Tavern, Crane Street and Trinity Hospital – in the shadow of the enormous Greenwich Power Station. From that point, the route was less scenic, more industrial but in many ways even more interesting because it was part of the ‘working river’ at Greenwich.

The next location along the footpath was the Cutty Sark pub (originally called the Union Arms), standing on Union Quay. The quay is in the picture where the tree is visible and the people are sitting on the wall in front of the pub. Most of the quay is lined with a terrace of Georgian houses. On the east side was a curios corner (at the river end of Pelton Street) which led to the footpath beside a brick wall which is seen in the above picture. This is Lovell’s Wharf. The walk has been described travelling east and NE but, of course, to see the above view, you would have been walking in the opposite direction.

On the evening that the picture was taken the wharf was empty but it was quite common in the 1960s and 1970s to find a cargo ship moored alongside. The view shows the Georgian houses beside the Cutty Sark pub (hidden by the tree). Towards the right, in the distance, is a scrap-iron business – operated by C A Robinson & Co – which was on the west side of the Cutty Sark pub. What looks like a modern house (almost under the large yellow crane) was their offices. The crane was used to lift the heavy scrap metal around the wharf and for loading shipments by vessels to other locations. The business has closed down and considerably tidied up. It is now a large open space called Anchor Iron Wharf.

Blocking out most of the sky in the above picture are the grim walls of Greenwich Power Station. Much of that building is still there and is used to supply electric power to the underground – via long electric cables to the District Line. Behind the old wall on the far left (when the picture was taken) were the premises of C Shaw Lovell which handled metals, mainly in the form of new metal, like drums of sheet steel. By 1982 Lovell’s Wharf was handling 118,000 tons of cargo – mainly steel and aluminium.

From this walkway, the path led further NE, passing through unusual wharves all the way to a point on the river where the footpath turned inland quite close to the old entrance to the first Blackwall Tunnel. There had been a riverside footpath all the way around the peninsula up to about 1900. Then a gas-works and an electric power station were built on the land and it was sealed off to the public. It was not until the O2 Arena (at first called the Millennium Dome) was constructed that the public gained access to the new riverside walkway – almost one hundred years after the original footpath had bee closed.

Above: A similar view of the footpath (in a Victorian book) to that seen above. 

The sepia view has many points of similarity with the photo at the top of this blog. The footpath remained almost unaltered from Victorian times. The old pub can be seen in the distance, along with the Georgian terrace. The sepia view was made before the large Greenwich Power Station was erected and so it includes the outline of the twin domes on the old Royal Naval College. That detail is denied to us today because of the power station.

On the river is a group of lighters in the foreground with the masts of larger sailing ships seen a little further away.

For a map showing the location of the wharf –

See: Greenwich Wharves in the 1960s

-ENDS-

Posted in /Gre-Greenwich, /Greenwich Wharves, /Thames | Leave a comment

Greenwich Wharves in the 1960s

Above: Map of the riverfront at Greenwich, showing the approximate position of some of the well-known wharves. At the time of writing, most of them have already changed beyond recognition (Click on image to enlarge to 1280×800).

If you like walking beside the Thames, you are today spoilt for choice. Depending on how far you want to walk, it is possible to start at London Bridge and walk east on the south bank of the river all the way to Greenwich. Apart from the occasional detour around a housing development, the walk will be almost entirely within sight of the Thames. Up to the end of the 1970s that was not the case. Nearly all the land on that stretch of the river was private land on which stood large warehouses. As you walked along the streets near the river, your view was blocked by high walls around the wharves and the large brick buildings. From the 1980s onwards, the land beside the river was redeveloped by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC). Many of the large warehouses were redeveloped into housing, a new river wall was constructed and a walkway was built beside it providing access at any time of the day or the night. It has transformed our understanding of the Thames.

The comments above apply to both sides of the Thames – from London Bridge to Greenwich Pier on the south side and from London Bridge to Island Gardens on the north side. One stretch of the river that has always been accessible to pedestrians is a riverside walk from Greenwich Pier, passing the Royal Naval College and ending at the entrance to the older of the two Blackwall Tunnels. In the 1960s and 1970s that was a fascinating walk. The old footpath was a public right of way but parts of it crossed old wharves and workshops where barges were being repaired. Much of the walk was in stark contrast to the elegant Royal Naval College or the Trafalgar Tavern. The footpath took you on a journey past what was then the working part of the Thames.

Gradually, as the 1970s became the 1980s and 1990s, these working parts of the Thames closed down as the character of the river changed and by the turn of the Millennium the footpath remained but almost all the working wharves had come to the end of their lives. The result was that the land was sold to developers who took over. Riverside Greenwich was not part of the development area of the LDDC and so it has not been redeveloped until the last decade and some of it is still awaiting the bulldozer. A way of life has been swept away forever as overbearing housing developments take over. The only design criterion for the housing blocks is that they generate as much profit for the developers as possible.

The modern map shows the names and positions of some of the more well-known wharves. In contrast to the riverside views of the old wharves, lined with slipways and barges, there are now large modern blocks of apartments which sit uneasily beside the Thames. In fact, their design is such that they could have been built anywhere, beside a high street, near a railway station or any other part of a city or town. There is no sense that the buildings have an affinity with their watery surroundings. This housing is designed to maximise the space on which it is built and to provide access roads and car parking for the residents with the occasional convenience store – as the jargon would have it – so that those who live there can obtain ‘convenient food’ and a place to obtain the Sunday newspaper.

Above: Views of the ever-expanding housing that crowds the riverfront at Greenwich. Small workshops and slipways have been cleared to make way for blocks of wealthy residents living in unsympathetic housing developments.

Many watermen who know the river intimately will tell you that the new buildings beside the Thames all look the same and the old interesting and unusual wharves have now become just endless rows of housing blocks. As one architect put it ‘the boring housing blocks now have views from their lounge windows of other boring housing blocks on the other side of the Thames’. This article sets out a working map for reference for where the old wharves were situated which will act as a guide for other articles describing the old 1960s locations.

 

Comment – Memories of the Greenwich Penninsula

For this week there will be three articles remembering the working part of the river at Greenwich. People are already beginning to realise that the heritage and history of this part of Greenwich have been ripped from under our noses. Two of the wharves named on the map will follow, with others being added at a later date.

-ENDS-

Posted in /Gre-Greenwich, /Greenwich Wharves, /Thames, Lon_Comment | 2 Comments

Grace, W G, in Sydenham

William Gilbert ‘WG’ Grace, (1848–1915) was an English amateur cricketer who was important in the development of the sport and is widely considered to be one of its greatest-ever players. His profession was as a doctor. He qualified as a medical practitioner in 1879. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).

Generally known as ‘WG’, he played first-class cricket for a record of 44 seasons – from 1865 to 1908. During that time he captained England, Gloucestershire, the Gentlemen, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the United South of England Eleven (USEE) and several other teams. Right-handed as both batsman and bowler, Grace dominated the sport during his career. His technical innovations and enormous influence left a lasting legacy. An outstanding all-rounder, he excelled at all the essential skills of batting, bowling and fielding but it is for his batting that he was most admired. He is regarded as having invented modern batsmanship. Usually opening the innings, he was particularly admired for his mastery of all strokes and his level of expertise was said by contemporary reviewers to be unique. Even if you do not play cricket or even have an interest in the game you will probably have heard of WG Grace.

Although the London area was to become his home in his later years, ‘WG’ lived for most of his life in Gloucestershire, where he practised as a doctor alongside his cricketing career. It was in the London area that Grace played his final cricket matches. He became manager of the new London County Club at Crystal Palace when he moved to No 7 Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham, in 1899. It was on his house that a plaque to Grace was originally erected in 1963 but that building was demolished the following year. The plaque was salvaged and re-erected on a house in Mottingham, where Grace spent his final years.

The house in which ‘WG’ lived in Sydenham, at No 7 Lawrie Park Road, was then known as St Andrews. After its demolition, a modern housing development was built on the site. On the outside wall is now a maroon Lewisham plaque recording the famous resident. On either side of the new development are new side-roads named Cricketers Walk and Doctor’s Close.

Above: This is NOT the house in which WG Grace lived. It is the house next door and it shows what grand houses stand in Lawrie Park Avenue. The house at No 7 that Grace lived in would have been very similar.

It is unfortunate that the house in which Grace once lived was demolished because there are similar houses on either side of the development which still remain from the days when he was living in Sydenham. For this reason, a nearby house is shown above to give some idea of how large the houses were in Lawrie Park Road. The road in which he lived lies within two administrations – the London Borough of Lewisham and the London Borough of Bromley. The house at No 7 is at the Sydenham end of the road – in the London Borough of Lewisham.

 

Comment – 900th Blog

The Website is well on its way to publishing 1,000 blogs. There are more people following and more people just looking at the occasional blog than ever before. Thanks to all of you who have offered encouraging comments. Thanks also to the many who have offered further information on a blog.

-ENDS-

Posted in /Lew-Lewisham, /Sydenham, Lon_Comment | Leave a comment

Vauxhall Motor Cars

Above: Plaque in Wandsworth Road commemorating the original site of the factory that made the Vauxhall motor car.

Vauxhall motor cars are so-called because they were originally made in Vauxhall. Really! The above plaque proves it. The first Vauxhall motor cars were manufactured in Vauxhall, near Vauxhall Bridge. The factory was founded as the ‘Vauxhall Iron Works’ by Alexander Wilson in 1857. After making steam engines for tugboats, the company went into receivership in 1895, Wilson had left a year earlier. It was revived and the current company – making motor cars – was formed in 1903 when the first Vauxhall car was assembled. Due to a lack of space for expansion, the company relocated to Luton in 1905 and became Vauxhall Motors two years later. The name from its old London base at Vauxhall has been retained as the name for its cars.

There is absolutely no trace of the factory today. It stood a short distance down Wandsworth Road from the site of today’s Vauxhall Cross. The site is now covered by the enormous Sainsbury’s store at Nine Elms. It should be noted that the store has more than one entrance. Beside the entrance to the store on Wandsworth Road, the Vauxhall company erected a plaque in 2003 – commemorating the centenary of Vauxhall cars being manufactured in Vauxhall (then 90 and 92 Wandsworth Road). The plaque was eventually replaced by a new sign. The old one is now in the carmaker’s Luton ‘Heritage Centre’, too ‘worn and tired looking’ to re-erect on its original site.

Above: The entrance to Sainsbury’s from Wandsworth Road showing the position of the plaque. Everyone knows what Sainsbury’s looks like but the picture will help to find the plaque which is to the right of the doors.

The plaque that replaced it was erected in 2016. It is round, made from bronze and mounted beside the entrance to Sainsbury’s from Wandsworth Road. It is almost opposite the junction of Wandsworth Road with Wyvil Road. Vauxhall Motors hopes that a cast plaque will be there for many years to come. Since then, however, Vauxhall Motors has changed hands. Vauxhall Motors is part of General Motors’ European division which in 2017 was bought by Groupe PSA, the French owner of Peugeot and other brands.

At this point, it is important to refresh your memory about why the place called Vauxhall was so-named. The reason for the land being called Vauxhall began during the reign of King John when the De Redvers family, the Earls of Devon, held the land near the Thames. In 1216 Margaret, the widow of Baldwin de Redvers was forced to marry a notorious mercenary from Gascony named Falkes de Breauté. Something to remember is that the heraldic arms of Gascony include the figure of a Griffin. Falkes de Breauté came from humble origins but through a number of successful military adventures, he rose to become the Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1211. Later he was to become one of King John’s counsellors. Falkes gained possession of some of the land near today’s Vauxhall Bridge and built a ‘hall’ – which was part of his residence. It became known as ‘Falkes Hall’ which included the surrounding land which also took on the name. The eventual spelling is a corruption of that name – Vauxhall.

Above: The sign of the Griffin appears on a pub by that name in nearby Wyvill Road. In case you have never seen such an animal, the sign will help.

Knowing the history of the land where the original Vauxhall factory stood, the company adopted for its trademark the Griffin badge – the heraldic arms of the Plantagenet knight, Falkes de Breauté. The Griffin (also spelt griffon or gryphon) is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle’s talons as its front feet. Not only was the Griffin used as the trademark for the first car made in Vauxhall but the emblem – now far more stylised – is still in used on their models to this day. Next time you see a Vauxhall car parked on the road, take a look.

-ENDS-

Posted in /Lam-Lambeth, /Vauxhall | Leave a comment

Roman Wall

Above: Google map showing the modern City of London Boundary (RED). The overlay (PURPLE) shows the approximate line of the Roman Wall with the 11 gates named (YELLOW). A few other landmarks are also labelled (Click on image to enlarge to 1280×800).

If you are interested in studying the history of the City of London then it is essential to grasp the extent of Roman London – or Londinium as the Romans called it. Looking at a map of the wall is best if you have the modern reference points of modern London as a base map which is why the Google map has been used.

The Roman Wall

Looking at the outline of the wall, we observe that it is a curious shape. The land on which it was built was almost flat and so a simple four-sided rectangular shape could have been built. The shape of the wall puzzled many historians and archaeologists until after the Second World War. After the war, so much of the City was just rubble that an archaeologist hardly had to ask permission to inspect the ruins and it was then that the layout of the wall became clear. Cutting a very long story short, it was realised that before the Roman Wall had been built, the Romans had built a fort to garrison soldiers and guard the unwalled Londinium. The fort had been built in the shape of a square and the ‘inner’ two walls were only discovered in the rubble caused by the bombing. The ‘square’ is formed by parts of the wall and two further walls which are shown as black dotted lines.

Once the concept of the fort was established, everything else fell into place. Due to archaeological research, the fort was dated to about AD 110. After further investigation, it was found that the Roman Wall had been built between AD 189 AD 197. In simple terms, the fort was constructed within about 50 years of Londinium being established but it was not for nearly another 100 years later that the Romans felt the need to build a wall around their township. When it came to building the Roman Wall, they used two sides of the fort as the wall, in order to save on stone, and joined the landward parts of the wall to the two opposite corners of the fort.

In addition to the wall encompassing the land on which Londinium had been established, there was also a wall built along the side of the Thames. In those times, the Thames was wider than it is today and so the river wall runs along a line that is inland from today’s riverside. It is believed that the Saxons found the river wall a problem for their ships to moor alongside and deliver goods. The Saxons, therefore,  demolished it. No doubt they put the stone to good use. In the centre of London, there is no natural stone because most of London is built on clay. In passing, it should be mentioned that there were water gates in the river wall. Two of them were in existence in Saxon times and have given us the names ‘Dowgate’ and ‘Billingsgate’.

The Gates in the Roman Wall

There were not 11 gates in the original Roman Wall but, with time, others were added giving a total count of 11. In the 1960s there was a very well-known archaeologist called Ralph Merrifield who numbered the gates in his book on Roman London and nobody has ever dared to alter his numbering. He actually omitted one gate and so, rather than renumber his work, there are 11 gates with numbers G1 to G10 with the missing gate accounted for by calling it ‘G8a’. All of them are listed below working anticlockwise from the SE corner of the wall.

G1 – Postern Gate – This gate was a small gate to provide access from Roman times onwards.

G2 – Aldgate – A Saxon name meaning ‘All Gate’ or ‘Gate for all’ which has given the street called Aldgate its name.

G3 – Bishopsgate – So-named in Saxon times because land owned by the Bishop of London was nearby. It has given the street called Bishopsgate its name.

G4 – Moorgate – This was not a Roman gate. Originally a postern, taking its name from the moor to which it led, it was enlarged in 1415 and a proper gateway was built.

G5 – Aldermanbury Postern – This was not a Roman gate. It is said to have been made in 1654 but it has been suggested that there may have been a gate in Roman times. Its site was in line with the top of Aldermanbury at the eastern end of the Roman fort.

G6 – Cripplegate – This was originally a gate in the Roman Fort. It aligns with Wood Street.

G7 – West Gate in the Roman Fort – It was blocked up by the medieval period.

G8 – Aldersgate – It was probably not an original gate in the Roman Wall, since it is believed to have been constructed in the late-4th century. Its name probably derives from a Saxon personal name. It has given the street called Aldersgate Street its name.

G8a – Christ’s Hospital Postern – This was not a Roman gate. It was cut through the wall in 1547 leading from the north wall of the cloister of the Priory of the Greyfriars.

G9 – Newgate – A Roman gate, named ‘New’ in Saxon times which has given the street its name.

G10 – Ludgate – A Roman gate. Named after as King Lud. Whether King Lud actually existed is not known. The gate has given the street its name.

-ENDS-

Posted in /City of London, COMMON ITEMS, Comm_Roman Wall | Leave a comment

St Luke’s Court, Tooley Street

Above: Wide-angle view from the north side of Tooley Street of the development which looks like a series of badly stacked boxes.

Tooley Street is mainly lined with Victorian buildings. There are a few new developments but they are in the typical modern style of glass and steel – like No 1 London Bridge, Cotton’s Centre and More London. As a thoroughfare, Tooley Street is so old that it is impossible to define how old it is. It is shown on the oldest maps of the area but they only date from the mid-16th century. It is likely that Tooley Street derives from an ancient track that led east from London Bridge and continued via Rotherhithe, Deptford and Greenwich as far as Woolwich and even beyond.

For those of us who can remember Tooley Street in the 1960s, it was a grimy place and most of the walls of the buildings standing beside it were black. They were not actually black but decades of steam trains passing on the nearby viaduct had built up a layer of soot on the walls that gave the area a gloomy appearance. When the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) came along in the 1980s, they cleaned many of the buildings – like Hay’s Galleria – and those who remember what it was like before the LDDC started work were amazed to find that many buildings were of elegant stock brick and not black after all.

There are so many Victorian office buildings along Tooley Street that it comes as quite a shock to the system to see something new and completely out of character with its surroundings. Of course, the newly built London Bridge Station beside Tooley Street is one of the recent shocks but this one is further east and nowhere near as large. It is none the less quite startling. We are talking about a recently completed development of housing and offices at 124-126 Tooley Street. It goes by the name of St Luke’s Court. That name comes as rather a puzzle. Of all the saints in the area, St Luke is not one of them. The parish church in Tooley Street was St Olave (demolished in the 1920s). Where Tooley Street crosses Tower Bridge once stood the church of St John (bombed in the Second World War and later converted into housing). On the south side of London Bridge Station is St Thomas Street – given that name because St Thomas’s Hospital was founded there. The hospital church was called St Thomas (which is still there but it is now in use as a restaurant). That covers the nearby saints and St Luke is not among them.

St Luke’s Court is the ‘new kid on the block’ in Tooley Street. The building is on the corner of Tooley Street and the short Bursar Street. The development extends from Tooley Street to the almost parallel Magdalen Street. Magdalen Street is, of course, named after another saint – in this case the church of St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, which stands in Bermondsey Street, only a short distance away. The full name of the parish is ‘St Mary Magdalen with St Olave, St John & St Luke’. St Olave and St John have already been explained above. St Luke was a parish church in Grange Road – built in 1885 and closed in 1961. It was then demolished. It stood on the south side of Grange Road, a short distance south of the junction with Spa Road. Its site is not as close as the other churches but it is included in the parish name.

It would appear that the developers have been doing their homework and that is presumably the reason for the name. The new development is not content with occupying the land on which it stands but, towards the top, it spirals upwards and outwards over the side street. For a very long time that side street was blocked due to the additional scaffolding necessary to support the walls and floors while they were under construction. Now that the scaffolding has been removed, we can see the unusual building in all its glory. Thinking about it, that last phrase may not actually be the correct one.

Amid the rather staid image of Tooley Street’s architecture, one developer is prepared to ‘break out of the mold’ and, clearly, the new building has obtained planning permission from the London Borough of Southwark. There are 14 flats on the upper floors above ground-floor retail and first-floor offices. The building was designed by GML – architects, who were established in 1993 and based in Shoreditch.

-ENDS-

Posted in /Sou-Bermondsey, /Tooley Street, Subj_Modern Buildings | 6 Comments