Bermondsey: The London Of My Youth

I was born and brought up in a borough of London called Bermondsey. Although it has since been amalgamated into the much larger London borough of Southwark, it still retains its own identity with the people who live there. It is adjacent to the south bank of the River Thames, and close to the iconic Tower Bridge.

In recent years, the area has undergone some ‘regeneration’, and become a relatively fashionable place to live. But during my youth in the 1950s, it was an industrial area of central London, and everyone who lived there came from working class families on low incomes.

Some of the typical local houses I used to walk past as a child.
The empty space is where the house was hit by a bomb, during WW2. You can see the wooden supports holding up another bomb-damaged house on the right.

The busy street market where all my family used to get their shopping.

My Mum worked in the Peek Frean’s biscuit factory, which can be seen in this later photo from the 1960s.

Other local employers included the Pearce Duff Custard and blancmange factory.

The Alaska Fur Factory was later closed, due to the unpopularity of real fur.
It is now converted into smart apartments.

The library I used to go to all the time to borrow books has also closed. It has become a Bhuddist Centre.

The imposing Town Hall, where I once went to participate in a regional quiz. Also closed, and converted into apartments.

There were many popular pubs in the area. This one still stands. The Gregorian Arms was well-known as a venue to watch Drag artists when I was a boy, and my Dad would occasionally sing at the piano there too.

40 thoughts on “Bermondsey: The London Of My Youth

    1. Many pubs there have significantly changed use, becoming offices of accountants, or fast-food outlets. But most of the buildings remain. The Gregorian Arms is one of some still trading as traditional pubs.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They are closing libraries in many big cities because there isn’t enough money to stock them and staff them. (Supposedly)
      Fortunately, we have a very good library close by in Norfolk, and it looks set to remain open too.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. As sad as it is, our municipal library only offers yellow press books, only opens four hours a week, and elder people there are only for drinking coffee, and handcrafting. Our newspaper always told us about a increasing acceptance of reading books. Lol Michael

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a shame, Michael. It is a good place for older people and school-age children to get together in groups. The library here in Norfolk has many organised events and special days.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. It is certainly better than knocking them down, Cindy, I agree. The only downside is that they become trendy and expensive, out of the reach of local people. So the community begins to break up. That’s the modern way though, in big cities like London. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete. x


  1. In the early 1980s I worked for a printing company which was located in an old baked bean factory in Bermondsey. At lunchtimes we would visit the Alcot Arms. Because of the large Peek Frean factory (the largest in Europe it believe) the area was called Biscuit Town.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Until I was five, we lived in the house next to the biscuit factory gates. The sweet smell of the air around us then is one of my earliest memories.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Looks similar to where I grew up in Poplar. The library there closed years ago. The school I went to closed too, and my favourite bookshop along the East India Dock Road has morphed into something I can’t even look at…

    Liked by 2 people

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