By Mental Gentle
This month’s photo walk took us from the Dickensian streets of Shad Thames right the way over to the vibrant hub and contemporary art of Bermondsey Street and the White Cube gallery, with some great finds in-between, making it one of our favourite (and possibly coldest!) walks yet!
We started off from the south side of Tower Bridge, at the west end of Shad Thames, a historic London street (and the informal name for the surrounding area), which runs alongside the south side of the River Thames. The street itself is made up of large converted warehouses and is still criss-crossed overhead by the goods gantries which linked them when they were part of the largest warehouse complex in Victorian London. The main Butler’s Wharf building (the largest of the riverside warehouses) is now home to the Design Museum, near the east end of Shad Thames and the area is full of trendy cafes, restaurants, shops and warehouse-conversion flats; it was once the ‘larder of London,’ due to the huge warehouses housing tea, coffee, spices and dried fruit. Charles Dickens set the lair of Bill Sykes in ‘Oliver Twist,’ in the nearby Jacob’s Island (then a notorious slum), whist Fagin’s den was set in one of the area’s warehouses; Sykes meets his death in the squalid mud of Folly Ditch, near Mill Street.
We then wandered through the ‘Ropewalk’ of Maltby Street market, where we found some tasty treats and gorgeous street food, before heading along Bermondsey Street and popping into the White Cube gallery to warm up a bit! This is the largest of the gallery’s two London sites (the other is in Mason’s Square, central London, whilst the Hoxton Square gallery closed in 2012) and is a conversion of a 1970s warehouse, spanning a huge 58,000 square feet – current exhibitions include ‘The Banners,’ by Gilbert and George. Bermondsey Street is a great place to grab a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine and is full of pubs, coffee houses, shops and vintage picks, as well as the Fashion and Textile Museum, which is well worth a look.
This whole area is full of interesting side streets and things to discover – we’re definitely going back to explore some more!