Riverside. South bank east of the Tower. Nelson Dock
This post relates only to sites south of the river. North of the river is Limehouse
Post to the east Canary Wharf
Acorn Pond was the most easterly of the timber ponds and lay south of Lavender Pond and north of Lady Dock. It was built as Timber Pond No.4. by the Commercial Dock Company in 1811 and connected to Lady Dock by a cut. It is said to be named after an oak wood which once stood on the site where locals let their pigs roam. In 1931 Acorn Pond was deepened and three new sheds and a new quay 1,580 feet long was added, essentially turning it into a dock rather than a pond. It was named after a now defunct pub which stood to the south of the site. Some the area of Acorn Pond lies to the south of this square and is now covered by the DownTown Area and some of Russia Dock Woodland. The northern area would be the estate around Russia Dock Road.
A crescent of flats looking inward to a courtyard. It was part of the interwar Acorn Estate, built in 1930/1 on ground raised 16'-0" to avoid flooding. It was, refurbished in 1986-7 for Barratt by Swinhoe Measures Partnership. It was north of the site of Acorn Pond and on the site of Silver Street where houses were demolished to build the estate.
This new build housing is to the east inland of entrance to Lavender Pond. It appears to be on the inland section of Freebody & Co.’s timber business on Pageant Wharf. . It has been described as in the style of French New-Town housing
This Albion Wharf – and there were others - was south of Danzic Wharf. In the late 19th and earl 20th this was Hyam & Oliver boat builders, who operated here into the 1960s, In 1931 they built Lady of the Lea for the War Department for the carriage of explosives from Waltham Abbey. Lady of the Lea is still in sail. It is now the site of flats south of Nelson Dock.
This was previously Beatson Street and was named from Beatson, ship breakers, to the west of Globe Wharf. Although it should be noted that the architect of the church in the street was a William Beatson. It had once been known as Globe Street. It is said by Booth in 1899, to lead to gardens and a century earlier it did lead to an area shown as ‘garden ground’. It now runs pleasantly through a tree lined area past sports fields to Salter Way.
St Paul’s Chapel of Ease. This was a Chapel-of-Ease to St Mary's which never had its own parish built abut 1850 by a family member, architect William Beatson., but was consecrated. It had a simple layout with a north-east vestry. There was a small bell turret at the west end In 1892 timber from HMS Temeraire which was being broken up at Beatson’s Yard, was used to construct the altar and altar rails. It was may have been destroyed in Second World War bombing although registers continue to 1955 when it may have been demolished by some sort of mistake and ‘hushed up’. The site was sold to the Greater London Council for the site of the school in the late 1960s.
2 Peter Hills with St.Mary’s Primary School. Peter Hills School is an old foundation in Rotherhithe. Peter Hills was a Master Mariner and Brethren of Trinity House who left money for the establishment and maintenance of a school for 8 sons of impoverished seamen. In 1797 the school - by then a charity school and greatly expanded - moved to 70 St, Marychurch Street. In 1836 the girls moved to the new St Mary's School in Lower Road. The school is now this modern C of E Primary School also amalagamated with schools from St, Mary’s and St. Pauls.
Tiled wall picture of the Fighting Temeraire by Mary Adshead
New housing on the site of Lavender Pond and Lavender Yard. Hopefully named after the admirable Ernie Bevin of the T&G, Labour Foreign Secretary and much else.
New housing on a site once part of Lavender Pond.
New housing inland from Pageant Wharf and probably on the site of the Freebody timber yard.
New housing on the site of Acorn Pond
This ran inland from Rotherhithe Street opposite the north end of Durand’s Wharf. It is said to have been destroyed on the first night of the blitz. It appears on maps from at least the early 18th.
Cow Lane School. This dated from 1836, and was associated with Trinity Church. It was formally taken over by the London County Council in 1910 and later reopened in a new building as Redriff Road School.
This ran inland south east from Rotherhithe Street roughly opposite the site of Horseferry Stairs.
Vaziey – attempted tunnel under the Thames. This was undertaken in by the Thames Archway Company set up in 1805 to run from near Lavender Lane. Using Cornish miners’ they sank a brick shaft which flooded at 32 feet. After another 34 feet the shaft was ready to start the driftway, and at that point Richard Trevithick was called in. Work began on the driftway began following mining practice of timber props. There were a number of floods but they carried on until just short of the north bank another flood caused the scheme to be abandoned.
Lavender Pond was one of the largest of the timber ponds, rectangular and fitting into the north east corner of the Rotherhithe peninsula. It was built by the Commercial Dock Company as Pond No. 5 by 1827. In the 1850ws Lavender Pond was provided with a lock and a lift bridge to connect it to Russia Dock and the Grand Surrey Canal. And In 1860 it was given its own lock entrance onto the Thames. It was shallow, only used by barges and for floated timber. 1930-31 it was deepened and three new sheds and a new quay were constructed to serve as a dock,
In the 19th this was the site of Lavender Sheds.
Lavender Pond, was designed the London Docklands Development Corporation as a small wildlife pond at the head of the Ecological Park. This was created in 1982 by Ecological Parks Trust and is owned by London Borough of Southwark. he park also has a wet meadow and woodland planted with native trees; a small tree nursery was established in 1985.
Pumping Station. This is to a standard Port of London Authority design of 1928-9, converted c. 1981-2 and pumping with electricity. Yellow brick with gauged arches and the PLA logo in a window frame. Water-loss was an ongoing problem in the docks. So a pumping station was built to pump water from the river to maintain dock levels., Lavender Lock was closed at the same time, again to reduce water loss, although it was not removed and remains in situ today. It was built over the infilled inland end of the sealed off lock and separated from the riverside section by a draw bridge over Rotherhithe Street. When the docks closed in 1969 the station was closed, but one of the pumps was moved to the Brunel Museum. The Pumphouse was renovated in 1981 by The London Docklands Development Corporation and in 1988 a museum, the Lavender Dock Pumphouse Education Museum. But this was closed by Southwark Council in 2011. A Blue Plaque in 2011 was unveiled on the building in the same year. It has since been used as a storage facility by a local business. The Heritage Museum collection is now held by Redriff School.
This was north of Lavender Pond and south of Rotherhithe Road. It is now the site of Salter Road and modern housing.
Lower Green Street
An earlier name for a stretch of what is now Rotherhithe Street running south from Canada Wharf
Mellish Fields Community Sport Ground is attached to Bacon’s College but is open to members of the public, the sports ground features several 5-a-side and full size football pitches, changing rooms and floodlights. It runs north west and is roughly on the site of Globe Pond. It is named for Bob Mellish the manipulative Labour MP for Bermondsey until the mid-1980s.
This is a footpath through park land running west from Nelson Dock in Rotherhithe Street
Caen Sufferance Wharf. George Gates and Henry George were general stone merchants here. They imported stone from Caen where they also had a works, but in conjunction there with a Theophilous Turpin. At the same time it was a base for Luar Beedham who also had quarries at Caen. Both firms exhibited at international exhibitions during this period. Later in the 19th the wharf was used by Garton who were tar and turpentine distillers and later still by Quirk and Barton, lead manufacturers, who were established at nearby Globe Wharf. They had here a grey oxide plant with two furnace sheds, with lead kettles, and a grinding shop.
Normandy Wharf. In 1868 this was occupied by Miller and Johnson who made chemical manures here. They also had a vitriol works in Silvertown. It later became Crown Lead Works under Quirk and Barton who made lead foil for lining tea chests there with a with rolling mill and a lead pipe factory.
Horseferry Dock. John Thompson had this site from around 1839. He was a successful boat builder who had three large workshops here plus sheds and a slipway, and his own house. He built a number of small steam passenger vessels
255 Horseferry Dry Dock. This was built by William Beech in 1862. Later it was occupied by John McDowell who was a dry dock proprietor here in the late 19th and early 20th. With a Mr. Salisbury he undertook ship repairs and is described as ’government ship builder’. McDowell had been bankrupt in 1885 but appears to have remained in business. It was also said that he owned the India Arms in Horseleydown. The dock was still in operation in the 1930s. It is now covered by
Horseferry stairs. These were located half way down what is now Sovereign Crescent but have now gone. They were a public plying place and a right of way. They are said to have once been called ‘Shepherd and Dog Stairs”
Sovereign Crescent. Modern riverside development by Barratts
Sovereign View. With an endless curving wall apparently built by Barratt's 1992-5:
Windmill. This was here in the late 17th and can be seen on contemporary paintings
Lavender Dock. In the early 19th this site was divided into, Lavender Dock and Lavender Wharf. The Wharf was itself subdivided in the early 20th into Lavender Wharf and Grand Surrey Wharf. The name of Lavender comes from Rotherhithe Street which was called Lavender Street in the 18th
Lavender Dock. This was a ship building yard 1702 - 1708 when Edward Swallow built ships here, including two warships. From 1709 the yard was occupied by John Whetstone, who also built warships here. From 1756 Robert Inwood also built naval ships here including some warships. It later passed to a ship breaker, Job Cockshott, in the early 19th. Then from 1865 the shipyard was operated by John and William Walker and composite clipper ships were built here for the China trade. It was operated by James Turner 1873 - 1886, and was succeeded by John Medhurst who was there until at least 1890.
Lavender Wharf. This co-existed with the dock for many decades. Beech, Whitaker and Brannon were there until 1818, as wharfingers. Joe, Cockshott's Lavender Wharf was taken over by Thomas Beech, also for ship breaking. There was a blacksmith's shop and granary here - the granary was probably the former mould loft. In 1862 William Walker had re-amalgamated the dock and the wharf but in 1870, they were separated. The wharf was leased to William Lund. Who probably established the Blue Anchor delivery line in 1869. Up to the late 1930s some of the Wharf buildings were occupied by W.B. Dick and Company oil refiners and supplier of anti-fouling paint and latterly it was used by Burmah Oil. In the 1960s this had become the Wakefield Castrol Group claiming to be the largest independent lubricating oil group in the world with a fleet of small river tankers operating from their depot here. This closed in 1985
229 Grand Surrey Wharf. In 1895 the site was leased as a bonded warehouse by a chicory importer, who sold it on to coffee merchants. They who also dealt in mustard and were based as ‘Finsbury Mills; in 'extensive premises'. It was occupied by Roberti, shipping agents and wharfingers in the 1920s
Sovereign View – developed by Barratts, now covers the Lavender dock, wharf and Grand Surrey Wharf sites.
Lavender Lock. Built in 1863 to serve a timber- pond in the Surrey Docks. The Commercial Dock Company planned for a new entrance at the northern end of Rotherhithe as a second access point for large ships. the lock opened in 1862 into Lavender Dock and was designed for small rivercraft., it was also large enough to handle larger vessels. it ceased to be used in the late 1920s when the pumping station was built but its foreshortened remains are still visible.
446 Swallow Galley Pub. Demolished in 1933 - did this have a connection with shipbuilder Edward Swallow, based at Lavender Dock
538 Ship Argo Pub. This has been demolished. It had closed in 1910. The Argo was built by Bird in 1759. She was a tiny tender with an 80ft long hull. She was the first vessel to use the entrance to the new Grand Surrey Canal.
Pageant Wharf. This appears to date from the late 1600s and the mid-18th Roque map marks ‘The Pageants’ on the riverside here. It was a shipyard and part of it in the 1860s was used for the Lavender entrance. Later it was used as a fire station, and a dust destructor and a timber yard. It is now housing by Barratts
235 Pageant Wharf. Freebody and Co. Timber merchants. They were present in 1914 and were importers of ‘Petersburg and Christiania Poles and Spars’ as well as Putlogs, Hewn and Sawn Pitch Pine, and Oregon Pine Timber and Spars.
Pageant Wharf. Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey dust destructor. This was installed and opened in 1927 to replace a disappointing experiment with a pulveriser. It appears to have been replaced by a system where rubbish was barged out from 1932.
243 Queens Head. This pub was demolished in 1928. It was first noted about 1805. It would have stood roughly between the old fire station and Pennington Court flats. The pub was bought in 1927 by Enthoven's, lead manufacturers. to extend their premises.
Pageant Wharf. London Fire Brigade Station. This was acquired ‘by agreement’ and opened in 1903. It was built because of the ‘peculiar physical configuration’ of east Rotherhithe. Horses were stabled to the rear and apparently trained to respond to the fire bell. It was further reported as built in 1913 by the London County Council. The building still looks like a fire station but is in fact flats.
Pageant Wharf. In the 19th Faldo asphalt works was here. In addition families of several generations of the Faldo family were ships carvers here in the mid 19th.
Pageant Stairs. Traditional waterman’s stairs by the obelisk. They are steep and lead down to a narrow section of foreshore, with scattered with stones and bricks
Pageant Steps, Housing for Barratt housing, by Lawrence & Wrightson built in 1994-5. There is a decorative obelisk at the top of the steps with no apparent purpose.
Pageant Crescent. This goes along the whole length of what was Pageant Wharf on the riverside. Gated boring development by Barratt`
Upper Ordnance Wharf. John Wilkinson, the late 18th Ironmaster, who is usually connected with the Black Country, had lead mines in Wales and this lead was used in a lead pipe works at Rotherhithe said to be next to his Gun Wharf. Gun Wharf presents a problem in that it was the start point of the Grand Surrey Canal. This original canal entrance was considerably to the west of Upper Ordnance Wharf. However this wharf is also called Ordnance Wharf and Wilkinson may have had more than one site.
William Aspdin patentee of Portland Cement was on Upper Ordnance Wharf in 1843. He built three wet process bottle kilns here. He left to move into Parkers vacant plant at Northfleet.
Hammond linseed crusher was at Upper Ordnance Wharf from 1843. The mills were later transferred to Thomas Gurnell
Patent Rolling and Compressing Iron Company. This was managed in 1844 by John Whinfield. The firm was also on Sunderland Wharf as railway spike and rivet makers run by a Charles Eicke
H.J. Enthoven & Co manufacturers of solder, printing type metal, battery components moved to London from Cornwall in 1869 and were at Upper Ordnance Wharf. Most of the tin and lead ores that they imported were smelted in London and they remained here until the 1980s and are now at Matlock in Derbyshire. Latterly the factory made lead solder alloys. In 1907 the company built a bridge – described as a concrete gangway - across the road. This later displayed their advertising signage.
Lower Ordnance Wharf. Francois and Joseph Badart, merchants and seed crushers. In 1861 an accident in the works led to an explosion and ten deaths. They were bankrupt in 1881
Union Oil and Cake Mills at Lower Ordnance Wharf. They were running the mills again for seed crushing
Sunderland Wharf. 1850 William Welton. Timber and firebrick merchant.
Calder Court. Modern flats on the site of the Union oil an cake mills
Horn Stairs. These were named for a nearby pub which was on the side of the alley leading to the stairs. It closed in 1896. The Horns has connections with the Charlton Horn Fair and the story of King John and the Millers Wife. A bawdy and riotous procession was said to come from here to Charlton for the fair. It is said there was a ducking stool here for ‘scolds’ surmounted with a pair of horns.
Limehouse Hole ferry. At low tide the remains of a jetty can be seen on the foreshore which served passengers for the ferry to Limehouse Hole.
Cuckold Point. This is a bend on the River. The name is said to come from a post surmounted by a pair of horns – which was the sign of a cuckold - that used to stand here. This has links with the Charlton Horn fair and is said to come from this story of King John and millers’ wife. There was also a gibbet here. It is now marked by an orange navigation light in the river.
Columbia Wharf. This is a late 19th brick granary including the first silo in a British works. It was built by the Patent Ventilating Granary Co. It has four storeys and a variety of window shapes. There is a plain riverside façade which was added later to what had been a very ornate building. It was originally divided into four compartments to take bulk grain with cold was blown through them to stop any fires but it was later converted into an ordinary warehouse. It was converted to be part of the Hotel at Nelson Wharf by Price & Cusen in 1990 and was thus given an atrium and a tensile-roofed steel structure bridging the blocks. Some grain stored here was marketed ads Pickwick Brand.
Canada Wharf. Part of the hotel. This is a converted 19th granary 3which with Colombia Wharf is of great technological Interest as the first site in England to store grain in bulk silos. It was however smaller than an original granary to this model in Trieste. It was designed for the Patent Ventilating Granary Co. by B Edmeston. This was the second silo after Columbia Wharf added in 1870. It was run by millers White, Tomkins and Courage and was converted to flats in 1995-6 by Michael Ginn Associates,
257 Blacksmith’s Arms. This was present here in 1767 but rebuilt with a half-timbered front.
Nelson Dock. These are the only extant remains of Rotherhithe's shipbuilding. The name is noted in the 1820s but there was yard here in at least 1687. The dry dock may have been in use by 1707. The yard was later then used for ship repair by Mills and Knight which closed in 1968. The original Nelson Dock site is within the hotel complex.
Nelson Wake had the shipyard here in the 1820s
John Taylor had the shipyard here in 1690. This later became a series of companies involving Taylor along with Randall and Brent until 1814. Under Randall and Brent 52 warships and 46 East Indiamen were built here – along with another yard near the Greenland Dock entrance. The firm closed following a suicide and a long court case and the yard was split into sections under various operators.
Marmaduke Stalkartt used part of the site, the area of of the slipway. He built two fast Post Office sailing packets here in 1788 and later in 1796 an experimental steam vessel for the Earl of Stanhope.
Thomas Bilbe. In 1850 Bilbe took over the whole Nelson Dockyard and built the mechanized slipway on the site of a neighbouring yard. In the 1860s and 1870s he built composite ships with iron frames and wooden planking which could be cooper sheathed. These were thus huge ships with no marine worms. Anti fouling compounds eventually took over
Mills and Knight from 1890 to 1960. They undertook repairs for General Stream Navigation and others. In 1960 Rye-Arc ran the yard and had a programme for modernisation but closed in 1968.
Nelson Dock Workshops. Row of workshop buildings from 1860s along the street frontage. A forge was included here.
Nelson Dock Engine House and slip. This building is at head of Thomas Bilbe's Slipway, It was built 1855-9. The slip itself includes a hydraulic machine, hauled the ships up the patent slipway and this is now preserved. The ships were carried in a cradle on iron rails and the slipway is partly a dry dock with mitre gates. The ship would be drawn a short distance at a time by a revolving crank shaft. This system was patented by Thomas Bilbe. It was originally planned that this would be a small museum which opened but soon closed.
Nelson Dry Dock. This has been rebuilt as a pond between two blocks of the hotel and is permanently flooded. There had been a plan to turn it into a marina and a crane installed for that purpose. It probably dates from 1707 when there are records of s ship being repaired here. It was previously constructed of timber supplemented with mass concrete and was lengthened towards the river and its entrance widened in 1880. The floating wrought-iron caisson, which closed the outer end, is now incorporated in the modern dam. This is now fixed in position but in use it could be filled with water or drained and floated elsewhere. Massive wrought-iron plates strengthened the landward end after the bursting of its embankment in 1881. A series of ships have been displayed in it
265; Nelson Dock House. This mansion was built 1730-40 at a trine when John Randall was taking over the yard. Although it is not thought that this was the principle home of these prosperous shipbuilders it can be seen that from the rear the proprietor had direct access to the shipyard. There is a wrought-iron front gate. It was converted and used as a business centre by the hotel but is now said to be privately owned.
Nelson Dock Hotel. This was originally built as the Scandic Crown Hotel and was adapted from what were intended as blocks of flats by the Danish developer ISLEF. Architects of the flats and the conversion the Danish Kjaer & Richter with Macintosh Haines & Kennedy. The recession meant a hotel would he more economic. The Scandic Crown Hotel. London Docklands opened in March 1991. Its n three buildings including Nelson House, Columbia warehouse and two new blocks. The engine house was converted into a museum incorporating machinery for Nelson Dock. It later became a Holiday Inn and then Hilton Double Tree.
New pier. This is linked to the hotel reception building by glass sided walk. The pier is served by clipper service and by a cross river ferry. It was designed by Beckett Rankine and built by Downtown Marine Construction
Pearson’s Park. This was previously Pearson’s Recreation Ground, and contains sports spaces and an outdoor gym. It was set up by Bermondsey Council in 1902 with six seats by the Passmore Edwards Foundation and a drinking fountain provided by Passmore Edwards himself
Dantzic Wharf Perkins and Homer lightermen were operating here into the 1960s.t
Mercantile Lighterage Ltd. Barge builders. They took over the lighterage business of Mr. Steel here in the 1860s. The company was still extant in the 1980sl
Laurence Wharf. This originated with Laurence and Co. Wharfingers, This was latterly used by a timber firm. Vitak Ltd. From 1870, this was a seven-storey warehouse with an ornate tower topped with battlements and handling grain. Following wartime bombing it became a timber wharf closing in the early 1980s. They have since been developed by the Danish developer ISLEF, in 1986-1988. There is a tennis court above the car park in the centre courtyard.
297 Whitehorse Inn. This was on the riverside at the north end of Durand’s Wharf. It opened in 1743 and was demolished in 1962
The Clipper. Pub which used to be called The Ship. This has now been replaced by flats. The final building dated from the 1930s but the pub itself dated to 1856.
Russia Yard North
Area used by the dock company – sheds A-M used for timber storage. In 1962 steam cranes were replaced and rail lines replaced with concrete alleyways. The yard was on the north eastern side of Russia Dock and backed onto both Lavender Dock and Acorn Pond.
The road was built by London Borough of Southwark in the late 1970s/early 1980s as a new distributor road through the defunct Surrey Docks. It was named for Alfred Salter – the charismatic doctor and Labour MP who transformed Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in the period before 1945
Silver Street Wesleyan Methodist chapel. Opened in 1890, closed in 1926 and demolished. The chapel had been visited frequently by John Wesley and had a strong tradition of work with foreign seamen,
A Rotherhithe blog. Web site
Banbury. Shipbuilders of the Thames and Medway
Bird. Geography of the Port of London
Charlton Society. Web site
Docklands History Group. Minutes Riverscape
Ellmers and Werner. London's Lost
Grace's Guide. Web site
Hounsell. London’s Rubbish
London Borough of Southwark., Web site
London Wildlife. Nature Conservation in Southwark
Naib. Discover London Docklands
Passmore Edwards. Web site
Pieter Hills and St.Mary’s School. Web site
Thames Shipbuilding Conference. Transactions
Trench and Hillman. London Under London
Williamson and Pevsner. London Docklands