Tooley Street Treasures

Tooley St in Southwark takes you from London Bridge and the Shard at one end to the approach to Tower Bridge at the other, and I took a little photographic journey along the route at the weekend…

Now I knew that the London Dungeon was moving from its Tooley St spot, but what I didn’t know is that this whole area under the railway arches is due for redevelopment, as part of the renewal and extension of London Bridge station above. Everything’s now closed – shops, restaurants, bars and even the Britain At War Experience couldn’t Keep Calm & Carry On… Hayes Galleria remains untouched however – that’s worth popping into to see David Kemp’s ‘The Navigators’, which remains one of my favourite London sculptures.

tooley st london

Keep your eyes peeled as you head east and you might spot the work of Portuguese ceramic artist and illustrator Diogo Machado (otherwise known as ‘Add Fuel To The Fire‘. Carry on a little further and you’ll arrive at Potters Field – updated in 2007, this little patch of greenery is now a really pleasant spot. I particularly like the fretwork screens and the scale model of City Hall and surrounds that you’ll find on the Tooley St side of the park.

Just before you hit Tower Bridge Road there are two more things to see, one of which is a rather grand statue of Samuel Bourne Bevington VD JP, who was a military man but also the first elected Mayor of Bermondsey, for two years from 1900. This particular old borough covered the areas around Bermondsey itself as well as Rotherhithe and a stretch of riverfront that ran from London Bridge down to Shad Thames.

Just to the side of the Colonel is the bust of another local hero – Ernest Bevin, who was a trade unionist and Labour MP for the local area. Minister of Labour in Winston Churchill’s wartime coalition government, he was also responsible for the demobilisation scheme at the end of hostilities and went on to become Foreign Secretary for 6 years in Clement Attlee’s Labour administration. He was notable for having a thick West Country accent worthy of Pam Ayres which, by all accounts, confused the hell out of the Tory toffs of the day…