Tooley Street Flashback 02


Above: Looking east along Tooley Street. The camera is probably situated at the eastern end (lower end) of Duke Street Hill. The photo is copyright British Pathe.

“Reminiscing the Past”

Looking at the above image it is probably obvious why few people (including the author) ever bothered to take photographs of Tooley Street. It was a dirty street lined with large brick-built warehouses whose walls were blackened with soot from passing steam engines at London Bridge Station. This photo was taken some time between 1975 and 1980 (and comes from the same footage as the photo in the ‘Tooley Street Flashback 01’ post). The view looks east along Tooley Street. Hay’s Wharf Offices are out of shot over to the left. The building that is now Hay’s Galleria is to be seen in the distance on the left.

The top photo is of interest because it shows traffic emerging from Stainer Street as it turned right and drove down Tooley Street towards Tower Bridge. Stainer Street was later closed to traffic, pedestrianised and is used by thousands of commuters every day as they walk between the platforms of London Bridge Station and the escalators leading down to London Bridge Underground Station. At the time of writing the old name plate of Stainer Street is still on the wall on one of the arches.

Until the 1970s all the ground under the railway arches, which extended over several acres of floor-space, was used to store vast amounts of cheese and thousands of cases of wine. The space under the arches was almost a constant temperature in summer and winter and was an ideal location for such storage. Because accidents used to happen – when the cheeses were dropped or bottles of wine fell off fork-lift trucks – the air was always heavy with a strong smell of cheese or wine as you passed by.


Above: Second view from the same spot. The photo is copyright British Pathe.

The second photo is interesting because, among the other vehicles, we see a red tanker used to transport Courage beer in bulk. The tanker is probably returning empty to the brewery. At the time of the photo the Courage Brewery was still in use on a huge site beside the Thames immediately down-river of Tower Bridge. The buildings are still there, lining a street called Shad Thames although they have been redeveloped for use as luxury apartments with amazing views across the river towards the City of London.

Courage had a long history in Bermondsey – dating back to when the Huguenot John Courage set up his brewery in 1787. Brewing on this site continued until 1985. It was a well-known fact that nearly all the pubs within a mile or so of the brewery were owned by Courage with very local distribution by horse and cart.


This entry was posted in /Reminiscing (c4), /Sou-Bermondsey, /Tooley Street (c6). Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tooley Street Flashback 02

  1. Pat Dennison says:

    Both photographs show the area when it was a working locality. How it has changed over the years.


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