Friday, November 26, 2021

London Bridge

London bridge is the 8th station I have visited on the Jubilee line. It is served by both the Jubilee and Northern underground lines as well as being a major national rail station.  The tube station is the 5th busiest on the network with  74.34 million users in 2019. It is the only underground station on the network with  'London' in its name. Although the main station opened in 1836, the connecting  underground station didn't open until February 1900 with the Bank branch of the Northern Line. It was another 99 years before the Jubilee line began to stop at this station as part of the Jubilee Line extension. It took months and months of major engineering work to locate buried services in the surrounding area to enable the construction of the Jubilee line.
You can see the familiar brushed steel, glass and concrete materials used on the Jubilee extension.
There are two platforms for each line but it is only the Jubilee line platforms that have the platform screen doors.  It is hoped that eventually many more stations will have these screens which provide a much safer environment for passengers as it is impossible to fall the tracks.

It was just before Remembrance day when I visited the station, hence the poppy roundel.

A new ticket hall was created in the arches beneath the main rail station.

I walked back under the arches to get to the national rail station.

London Bridge rail station opened in 1836 and is the oldest London Terminus still in use. It occupies a large area on three levels in south-east  London. The upper level is for the main line trains and the lower level is the Underground trains. Ground level has the shops and the Underground ticket hall. It is sited next to London Bridge from which it takes its name. The station has been redeveloped a number of times. The last one in 2015/16 was a huge project with the moving and building of new platforms. What made it remarkable was that the station didn't close whilst all the work was going on.

This is the main entrance into London Bridge rail station

Outside the main entrance  is this new sculpture by Jaune Plensa which is suspended above the escalator. Opposite on the piazza is a larger second sculpture facing towards this one. The sculptures have been created from letters and characters from seven different alphabets to represent diversity.

The sculptures were commissioned by the owners of the Shard which is currently the tallest building in the UK and overlooks London Bridge station.

The Shard or Shard of Glass as it is sometimes known as, is 95 storeys high and was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. The Shard was completed in 2012 and is a mixed use building with offices on the lower floors. Then there are three floors of restaurants and bars. The central section is occupied by the hotel with apartments above where it is slender enough for each residence to have views on all sides. The final floors are taken up with the public viewing galleries.
Piano took inspiration from the spires of London's churches, wanting a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames. 

At the top of the pyramid shaped building are eight sloping glass 'shards' that reflect the light. The viewing platform has become a popular tourist destination. I have not been up there yet but at a cost of £32 per ticket, I'm not sure I will be going any day soon!

On the other side of the road from London Bridge station and the Shard you have Guy's Hospital. It was established in 1721 by Thomas Guy and was originally known as 'Mr Guy's Hospital for the incurables'. Thomas Guy was born in Southwark in 1645, the son of a lighterman and coal dealer. He was apprenticed to a bookseller and by 1668 he was admitted into the Worshipful Company of Stationers. He was now able to set up his own business as a bookseller. His fortune came from selling bibles which he had printed in Holland and then later by the University of Oxford. He continued with this branch of his business for many years. He was a single man who spent little of his fortune on himself, although he did employ a female servant whom he agreed to marry. A few days prior to the wedding he ordered workmen to mend the pavement in front of his door up to a particular stone. His future wife inspected the work and insisted they go beyond the mark to repair another broken stone. On his return Thomas was furious that his future wife had taken it upon herself to extend his orders to the workmen. he immediately cancelled the forthcoming wedding and gave his fortune to charity. Thomas Guy had been a governor and benefactor of  St Thomas's Hospital before he applied for a lease to build a new hospital. He died in 1724 leaving the majority of his money in the hands of trustees with a clear instructions of how he wanted his legacy to be spent. 
"to finish and fit up the two new squares of building in Southwark, . . . some time since begun, and intended for an Hospital for reception of . . . four hundred poor PERSONS OR upwards, LABOURING UNDER ANY DISTEMPERS, INFIRMITIES, OR DISORDERS, THOUGHT CAPABLE OF RELIEF BY PHYSICK OR SURGERY; but who, by reason of the small hopes there may be of their cure, or the length of time which for that purpose may be required . . . are, or may be adjudged or called Incurable, and as such not proper Objects to be received into or continued in the present Hospital of Saint Thomas." 

He also suggested that lunatics, not exceeding twenty in number, might be admitted. More importantly he gave the trustees discretion to admit other sick people that might not be deemed incurable. This discretion allowed the governors to develop Guy's hospital as a general hospital. The hospital opened in 1725 and today this large hospital not only serves the local community but is world famous for medical breakthroughs and innovation. It was here in 1818 that James Blundell carried out the first experiments in human blood to blood transfusions.

More land was acquired in 1738 for a new block which included a committee room and a chapel. 

A statue of Thomas Guy that was previously in the courtyard was moved to its present position at the back of the chapel. The white marble monument to Guy by John Bacon shows Guy inviting a stricken figure into the hospital. Underneath the monument are the remains of Thomas Guy.

Here is a copy of the words on the monument:
It is peculiar to this beneficent Man to have persevered during a long course

of prosperous industry, in pouring forth to the wants of Others, all that He had
earned by labour, or withheld from self-indulgence.
Warm with Philanthropy,
and exalted by Charity his Mind expanded
to those noble affections which grow
but too rarely from the most elevated pursuits.
After administring with extensive
Bounty to the claims of Consanguinity,
He established this Asylum for that stage
of Languor and Disease to which the Charities of
Others had not reached. He
provided a Retreat for hopeless Insanity, and
rivalled the endowments of Kings.
He died the 27th of December, 1724,
in the 80th Year of his Age.

The chapel is almost square with galleries on both sides.
On one side of the chapel, the pillars have been adorned with bright hand knitted covers. People are encouraged to leave private prayers and hopes attached to them, if they do not want them to be read aloud during a service.

Leaving the chapel I walked back through this courtyard which has this hooded Portland stone alcove sited in the middle of the grass. This was once part of the old London Bridge which was taken down in 1831. It was erected in this position in 1926.

The sculpture inside the alcove is that of the poet John Keats (1795-1821). He was a student at Guy's in 1815/16

I left the hospital and went back out on to St Thomas' Street.

Opposite was a man setting up his coffee shop in an old phone box.

Then on your right is a church  which now houses the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. This is a museum of surgical history and is one of the oldest surviving operating theatres, dating from 1822. It is housed in what was once the attic (or garret) of St Thomas’s Church. This it seems was part of the original site of St Thomas’ Hospital. The garret was created when the church was rebuilt in the late 18th century. It was described as “the herb garret” in 1821 and it seems likely this was because it was used by the apothecary of St Thomas’ hospital to store medicinal herbs.


It was rediscovered in 1957 when repairs were being made to the eaves of St Thomas' Church in Southwark. It was in use before the days of anaesthesia and antiseptic surgery.

I visited the museum a few years ago. To get to the theatre you have to climb up this very narrow  staircase. There is a rope hanging down the middle of the stairwell for you to hold onto but the stairs are quite tricky to negotiate.

The theatre was built in the round so that the students could get a better look at what was happening.
At the end of St Thomas' Street I turned left onto Borough High Street, past another entrance into London Bridge Underground station. 
On the other side of the road is Borough market.

This high quality food market has been on this site since the mid 18th century but the market can be traced back to the 11th century when it mainly sold corn. This small entrance was built in 1932 and takes you into a large Victorian market place with numerous stalls.

For most of the 20th century this was a wholesale market but nowadays it is retail and attracts large numbers of customers especially on Fridays and Saturdays. 
It you want something slightly out of the ordinary this is the place to visit.
It has become popular as a place to buy freshly cooked food to eat. The market is controlled by a board of local trustees and consequently there is a policy of only food related businesses allowed and thankfully there is a notable absence of the usual chains of takeaway food. 

I left the market and returned to Borough High street where you can still find one or two narrow Victorian alleyways. This one takes you through to King's Head Yard. 
Practically the whole of the buildings you can see here were destroyed by enemy action in 1940. A map dated 1542 shows a tavern on this site known as the Pope's Head. It changed its name after the reformation to the King's Head. It has been rebuilt on a number of occasions since then.

However a little further down the road is another pub which has managed to survive over the centuries. 

The George Inn in Southwark is the only remaining galleried coaching inn in London. There used to be many such establishments in this area where travellers would stay the night before continuing their journey early the next day. Before the coming of the railways in the 19th cent these coaching inns were very common throughout the country, usually spaced about 10 miles apart so that the horses could be changed and the journey could be continued.

During Shakespeare's era plays were staged in the courtyard with people watching from the galleries. Nowadays there are tables in the courtyard for people to sit and enjoy a drink and a chat with friends

This Grade II listed building which seems to have been squeezed into its position on Borough High Street, is a reminder of the thriving trade in hops that used to take place here in Southwark. This was once the premises of William Henry and Herbert Le May, Hop Factors. The Hop Factors represented growers who sold hops to dealers who, in turn sold them to brewers. The Le May family were one of the larger firms of factors. Prior to trading South of the river here, during the 17th and 18th centuries more and more hop wagons from Surrey, Sussex and Kent made their way into the City of London over London Bridge. The ever increasing congestion brought about the development of the hop trade here south of the river. 

The premises of the hop factors and merchants were so widespread that the Victorians built a large Hop and Malt Exchange here on the High Street.
It was opened in 1867 to provide a single market centre for dealers in hops. By then hops were brought into London by train to London Bridge Station or by boat up the River Thames and were then stored in the many warehouses in the area. A fire in 1920 led to the top storey being removed and the building converted into offices and an events venue.

I made my way under the railway bridge planning to turn right down Redcross Way towards the river but then I noticed a large sign on hoardings which surrounded a new development site on the corner of Southwark Street and Redcross Way.

This sign needed more investigation and in a gap between hoardings I saw the excavation work that was being carried out by archaeologists. Before any new building development can take place an archaeologist's survey is needed, especially in areas of known interest such as Southwark.

On my way home later that day I took this photo from the train which gives an idea of the scale of the excavations. According to an article on the internet the archaeologists from the Museum of London have discovered the remains of a 2000 year old house of four rooms, built by the first generation of Roman invaders in Britain. The building is thought to have been built in 72 AD just 25 years after the Romans founded the settlement of Londinium. Once the excavations have been completed the site will be redeveloped into homes, offices and shops. All artefacts will be removed and taken to the Museum of London and will be put on display there. Photographs of finds were displayed on hoardings around the site. The development is expected to be completed in 2024.

There have been numerous finds on the site such as this 1st century dolphin. They think this probably decorated a large wooded object such as furniture. Dolphins were popular in Roman art because of their friendliness towards humans and their association with speed and the sea. 

This six sided dice was also found here. Other finds in this area of Southwark demonstrates the presence of gaming and gambling in Roman Southwark.

This is a 1st/2nd century strap fitting and was probably attached to one of the leather straps that joined together the pieces of plate armour worn by infantry soldiers.

This is a 14th/15th century pilgrim's badge that was found in the area but not at this site. The pilgrims bought cheap badges at the shrine of the martyred 12th century saint, St Thomas Becket. This badge depicts Becket's gloves. Pilgrims started their pilgrimage to Canterbury at the Tabard Inn in Southwark (which is now demolished). The pilgrimage is described in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Round the corner, next to the development is the medieval burial ground known as Crossbones Graveyard, an unconsecrated memorial to the thousands of prostitutes who lived, worked and died in this area. These prostitutes were not licensed by the City of London but by the Bishop of Winchester who owned the land. They were known as 'Winchester Geese'. Over time, paupers and criminals who were denied a Christian burial were also buried here and it has been estimated that the remains of 15,000 men, women and children were buried here. In the 1850s it ceased to be used as a burial ground. In 1992 the Museum of London carried out an excavation of the Graveyard. Between 1991 and 1998, Museum of London archaeologists carried out several excavations on Crossbones Graveyard in collaboration with the ongoing construction of the Jubilee Line Extension. They removed 148 skeletons which were later reburied in consecrated ground. The skeletons dated from 1800-1853 and it was reported that bodies had been piled one on top of each other. Many of the skeletons were of children who had died from diseases common at that time including smallpox, scurvy, rickets and tuberculosis.
In 2004, the Friends of Crossbones was founded to establish a shrine and public garden in memory of all those buried on this site. The new development next door have committed to preserve and enhance the work of the Friends of Crossbones. In 2015 the Dean of Southwark Cathedral conducted 'An act of Regret, Remembrance and Restoration', in which the burial ground received the church's blessing for the first time in its history.

I returned to Redcross Way and crossed Southwark Street. 

I walked past the Cromwell Building. These flats were constructed in 1864 by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company. The company was one of the most successful and earliest providers of low cost housing. 

I walked under the railway bridge passing converted warehouses which are now bars or restaurants, following the road round onto park Street and then left onto Clink Street. This street runs parallel to the River Thames.
The street takes its name from The Clink, a medieval prison that was here from 1144 -1780.
There were two prisons  within the grounds of Winchester Palace which once stood here besides the Thames, one for men and one for women. Today, all that remains of the prison is the stonework of Winchester Palace, the passage 'Clink Street' and an original wall which has been preserved inside the Clink Museum. I thought the word 'Clink' was a slang word for prison and didn't realise it has been around since the 14th century. It is thought the word may have originated from the sound of the blacksmith's hammer closing the irons around the wrists or ankles of the prisoner.

This is all that remains of the palace of the powerful Bishops of Winchester, one of the largest and most important buildings in medieval London. Founded in the 12th century it was built to house the bishops when staying in London on royal or administrative business. This wall was part of the Great Hall with its magnificent rose window.

The rest of the palace was arranged around two courtyards and housed many buildings, including two prisons, brewhouse and butchery. To entertain the bishops the palace also had a tennis court, bowling alley and pleasure gardens. The palace remained in use until the 17th century, when it was divided into tenements and warehouses. The ruins were rediscovered in the 19th century following a fire, and were finally revealed in the 1980s during the redevelopment of the area.

At the end of Clink Street you come to St Mary Overie's Dock which has been here since the 16th century. It is home to a full size replica of the Golden Hind, an English galleon, launched in 1577 and best known for circumnavigating the world between 1577 and 1580, captained by Sir Francis Drake.
This replica, the Golden Hinde, was launched in 1973 and has spent most of her life being on show to the public. However, like the original she she has also navigated the world and has sailed over 100,000 miles with a full circumnavigation and two more Atlantic crossings. A full survey carried out on her in 2017 confirmed that the ship was a solid build and would last well into the future providing regular conservation work took place, which she is currently undergoing.

Around the corner from St Overie's Dock is Southwark Cathedral. Christians have worshipped at this site for over 1000 years. In AD 606 it was a convent; then in AD 1106, a priory. In 1540 it became a parish church and then in 1905 it became a cathedral. It is the oldest gothic church building in London and Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jonson and Dickens are among those associated with the church. 

I popped into the church to have a look at an exhibition in the corridor that links the church to the cafe. It was an exhibition of things found in the Thames by mudlarks. In the 18th and 19th century the original mudlarks would search the foreshore of the river Thames to see what they could find to sell. Nowadays it is an activity for enthusiasts looking for historic artefacts. Anyone searching for artefacts on the foreshore needs a permit from the Port of London Authority and all potential archaeological items must be reported to the Museum of London. Here are a few examples of objects found over recent years

By the 1540's woollen cloth accounted for 88% of the value of all exports from Britain, and London was the centre of the trade. The lead seals that were attached to the cloth from the late 14th century to the early 18th century proved it was good quality and that the necessary tax had been paid.

The face on the neck of 16th and 17th century German saltglazed Bartmann jugs is the Wild Man of the Woods from European folklore, but it looked so much like a Catholic cardinal called Roberto Bellarmine that in England they became known as Bellarmines. Finding a complete face is the ultimate prize of any mudlark.
Bellamines containing human urine, hair and fingernail clippings, iron nails, thorns, pins, naval fluff have been found in chimneys and buried beneath the doorways and hearths of old houses. They were most likely spells for keeping witches away.

From outside the cathedral you have a good view of London Bridge. The first bridge across the river was built by the Romans and made of wood. Many other wooden bridges followed until in 1176 a stone bridge was constructed. The bridge consisted of 19 pointed arches built on piers. Shops lined both sides of the roadway and houses were built above the shops. 138 premises were recorded in 1358. Despite many buildings being destroyed and some of the arches collapsing the bridge survived as London's sole crossing until 1750 when Westminster bridge was built. By 1762 all the houses had been removed from the bridge and the carriageway widened, but eventually the continued maintenance became too much.
The City asked John Rennie, a renowned engineer to design a new bridge several metres upstream. Sadly he died in 1821 before the work began on his design and the completion was left to his two sons. Construction began in 1824 and was opened in 1831. Demolition of the stone bridge began the same year and was removed by 1832. It had been a crossing over the Thames for 622 years.
In 1968 Rennie's bridge was sold to an American, the Missourian entrepreneur Robert P McCulloch for$2,460,000. It was taken apart, reconstructed piece by piece at Lake Havasu City, Arizona and was rededicated in 0ctober 1971. The current bridge was opened by the Queen in 1973. There is a small remnant of Rennie's bridge embedded into the pavement where I was standing.

I continued on through the tunnel that takes you under London Bridge.

At the end of the tunnel I walked up the steps onto the bridge. I was here early on a Sunday morning hence the lack of traffic. I didn't cross the bridge but went back down the steps to Tooley Street. 

On the opposite side of the road is London Bridge station. On this walk I have not ventured more than a few minutes walk from the station as there is so much of interest nearby.

Opposite another of the station's entrances is  Hay's Galleria which is full of shops, bars and restaurants. The property's history dates back to the 1600s and was originally known as Hay's Wharf named after the owner of a brewery located here. The Galleria leads you out onto the Thames. The 19th century warehouses were nearly all destroyed during WW2 bombing but it was restored during the 1980's when the dock was filled in and enclosed under a glass roof. It was then converted into a shopping piazza.

I continued walking down Tooley Street until I reached the end of the station building and then turned right under the railway bridge on to Bermondsey Street. A thousand years ago  this was a causeway across the marshes from London Bridge to Bermondsey Abbey ( which is now Bermondsey Square). Gradually the area was built up and by the 1700s it was known for its wool trade. It then became known for its tanneries and leatherworking.
The park at the back of Bermondsey Street is called Leathermarket Gardens as a nod to the leather market and leather warehouses that were here. The park was laid out in the 1930s.
Some of the warehouses still remain and have been converted into offices or housing.

Also on Bermondsey Street is the brightly painted Fashion and Textile Museum. The Museum highlights the changing fashions from post war to the present day. The Museum was founded in 2003 by the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes with the idea of preserving the work of her contemporaries  across British fashion and textile design.

Half way along the street is another small park. Just inside the entrance was this sculpture.

The artwork is made up of more than 100 stone carvings created by residents and locals from the nearby Whites Grounds Estate. The project was conceived by local stonemason and artist Austin Emery. Emery combined the individual stones carved by the workshop participants with other mementos of historic buildings into the sculpture. If you look closely you might be able to spot Peppa Pig.

 I enjoyed my walk around London Bridge station very much. I was rarely more than a five minute walk from one of the entrances to the station but there was so much to see and research. It seemed that every other building had a story to tell.

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