What's really changed in Bermondsey Street?

SE1 Evoution Williams Lynch London Apartments

there are few places in London that have seen as much change as Bermondsey Street. The transformation from an industrial town with its best days behind it to an area of culture and creativity, in such a short space of time, is astonishing.

And yet why would anyone be amazed?

Bermondsey, from the old English meaning a ‘place by a stream or river’ belonging to an individual named Beornmund, was illustrated even before the days of Shakespeare as a centre of sophistication. Even then it was very much the place to be seen.

“Bermondsey, ‘place by a stream or river’

Bermondsey London Circa 1569 Village Fete
The painting by Joris Hoefnagel in 1569 called the ‘Fete at Bermondsey’ shows a highly social scene. Well-dressed people promenade along the Bermondsey main street with a backdrop of the river and Tower of London in the distance. Great breads are being prepared and long tables are ready for a marvellous feast.

SE1 Evoution Williams Lynch London Apartment Interior
In the 500 years since the picture was painted the area has gone through waves of development. The manufacture of goods became industrialised and moved out of central London’s confined spaces to the south side of the river. Because of it’s natural resources and position between the city and the country the industry took hold in Bermondsey. Over one hundred tanneries and leather factories began producing the materials that clothed the people of London, giving rise to place names such as Tanner Street, Lamb Walk, Leathermarket Street and Morocco Street. But like the tide, this industry moved out and Bermondsey Street needed to re-invent itself once more.

Antique dealers filled the gaps left in the market squares, trading in collectables and objects of interest and made use of the vacant warehouses. The Friday morning market in Bermondsey Square and other hidden-away cavernous spaces off Tower Bridge Road are still packed with gems from the past. It’s from these embers that the new Bermondsey has found itself again.

The artisans moved back in. Crafts people, designers and innovators followed and little by little Bermondsey Street has become an inspirational place to live and work in again.

“There’s an eerie sense that nothing has really changed in all that time

The industry of the area shifted and so did the needs of it’s residents and workers. The
designers began seeing the potential of these disused warehouses and converted them into great open apartments. New buildings popped up to house another kind of resident who worked in the city or Docklands. 3 Bell Yard Mews (formerly 159 Bermondsey Street) was built as a conventional block of flats but even just ten years ago there was little appetite for their resale and they were rented out instead.

SE1 Evoution Williams Lynch London Apartment Interior
By 2011 the entire block was sold at auction (mostly still occupied with tenants) to a developer and the properties were given a warehouse style makeover. To meet the aspirations of the new buyers wooden floorboards were added and the spaces opened up. They were re-launched in the summer of 2012 by agents Williams Lynch and on the launch day 95% of the apartments were reserved. In the ten years since they were built Bermondsey had returned to it’s former glory.

The new owners were predominantly wealthy European and North American high net-worth investors and city workers. Demand is high to access a local village lifestyle in the heart of the city once more.

When we compare Bermondsey today enjoying it’s fabulous street festival, to the portrait of the place five centuries ago, there’s an eerie sense that nothing has really changed in all that time.

Williams Lynch are the longest standing property consultants on Bermondsey Street, operating here since 1998. The founder and director Mark Williams has witnessed the change in the types of people moving into Bermondsey Street and its environs, and his experienced team have successfully arranged the sale and letting of numerous properties throughout SE1.

t: 020 7940 9940

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