Tag Archives: Southbank

A Brief History Of The South Bank

I have long been interested in the history of the South Bank, which for the purposes of this post I will define as the area between County Hall and Waterloo Bridge. I worked there for 10 years from 1979 and it was the location where I first realised that my father had a collection of photos as he brought out some of the photos he had printed to show me what the area where I was now working had looked like some 30 years earlier.

The South Bank has been through two major transformations since the war. The first with the construction of the Festival of Britain exhibition which required the demolition of the whole area between County Hall and Waterloo Bridge (with the exception of Hungerford Railway Bridge which provides a useful reference point).

Following closure, the Festival of Britain site was in turn swiftly demolished with only the Royal Festival Hall remaining, with the rest of the site being gradually built up to the position we see today.

The South Bank was an inspired location for the main Festival of Britain site, a decision which has resulted in the South Bank continuing to be an arts and entertainment centre to this day.

The Festival of Britain was in many ways, a break point between the immediate post war period and the decades to follow. The Festival attempted to define the place of Great Britain within a new world order and looked at how British industry, science, design and architecture could shape that future for the better.

Starting today, and for the next few weeks, I will be exploring the history of the South Bank and the Festival of Britain in detail, starting with three posts covering the South Bank prior to the Festival of Britain.

Then next week, exploring the Festival of Britain at the South Bank, the week after moving to the Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens at Battersea, then moving onto the Festival’s Architectural Exhibition at Poplar and finally, rounding off with the wider impact of the Festival of Britain.

These are locations and a time in recent history that I find fascinating – I hope you will also enjoy the journey.

A Brief History of the South Bank

I have published a number of photos my father took of the South Bank over the last couple of years and in the next couple of posts I will take a walk along Belvedere Road and then look at the construction of the Royal Festival Hall using these photos, including a number that I have not published before, but first, some history of the South Bank.

Originally, the river frontage along this stretch of the Thames was mainly marsh land and at times of high tide, water would sweep inland. At some point, an earthen bank was constructed to prevent the Thames coming too far inland and by the Tudor period, a road had been constructed on the alignment of this original earthen bank, although according to Thomas Pennant, in 1560 there was not a single house standing between Lambeth Palace and Southwark. This road was shown on maps as Narrow Wall and today, Belvedere Road is roughly along the line of the old Narrow Wall and therefore also the original wall that formed the barrier to the Thames.

Land between Narrow Wall and the river was gradually drained and a number of small industries grew up along this stretch of the river, with the land behind the Narrow Wall staying as marsh and pasture with drainage ditches taking water into the river.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the land between the current location of Waterloo and Westminster Bridges, from Narrow Wall to the river was called Church Osiers (Osier being a name for a type of Willow) after the osier bed which occupied this marshy land at the side of the river that would frequently flood. At some point prior to 1690 the land was named Pedlar’s Acre. 1690 is the first time that the name appears in a lease document. The legend behind the name Pedlar’s Acre is that a Pedlar from Swaffham in Suffolk had traveled to London with his dog in the hope of finding his fortune. Different versions of the legend either has the Pedlar’s dog digging up a pot of money either on the South Bank, or after returning home to Swaffham. The Pedlar then gave the strip of land along the river to the parish of Lambeth on condition that his portrait, along with his dog be preserved in painted glass in the parish church.

What ever the truth of this story, there was a picture of the pedlar and his dog in one of the windows of Lambeth Church until 1884.

From the 17th century onwards, the land between Narrow Wall and the river was gradually developed. John Rocque’s map shows the area in the middle of the 18th century.

Westminster Bridge is at the bottom of the map and the future location of Waterloo Bridge is at the top of the map, to the left of the bowling green.

History of the Southbank Map 1

Narrow Wall, the original earthen wall, can be seen running parallel to the river, dividing the development along the river from the pasture land that covered much of Lambeth. Starting at the top right of the map, Cuper’s Garden runs in land from the river following almost exactly the route today of the approach road up to Waterloo Bridge.

Cuper’s Garden, one of the many pleasure gardens that ran along the south bank of the river was well known for displays of fireworks and it was also described as “not however the resort of respectable company, but of the abandoned of either sex”. The name came from one Boydell Cuper who had been the gardener to Lord Arundel at his property on the north bank of the river and who rented the land and created the gardens including using some of the old statues from Arundel House.

The land from Cuper’s Gardens along the river went under a number of changes of ownership and names including Bishop’s Acre, Four Acres and Float Mead.

Follow the river south through the wharfs and timber yards that now occupy the space between the river and the Narrow Wall, until College Street.

College Street is on the edge of the current location of the Jubilee Gardens with the open space bounded by College Street, Cabbage Lane and Narrow Wall, called College Gardens part of which is also now the Jubilee Gardens. At the end of College Gardens is Kings Arms Stairs, one of the many stairs down to the river. The curve inland of Narrow Wall at this point was later straightened out, with the inland curve being retained and originally named Ragged Row and then Belvedere Crescent.

The name College Street and College Gardens may refer to the ownership of this parcel of land by Jesus College.

The land after the next Timber Yard and onwards to Westminster Bridge was the future location of County Hall.

There are a number of prints of Cuper’s Gardens which give the impression of a very pleasant place. The following is from the mid 18th century and is looking across the curve of the river to the north bank, but shows the water entrance to Cuper’s Garden on the right side of the print.

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The following print is from 1798 and shows when part of the gardens were occupied by Beaufoy’s Distillery with a large amount of barrels outside. The print gives a good impression of the number of trees across the gardens as it was always described as a wooded area.

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Another view of the Distillery in Cuper’s Gardens.

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The next map is part of the “New and Correct Plan of London, Westminster and Southwark” from 1770. This shows the area to be roughly the same with Cuper’s Gardens at the top right of the map and Narrow Wall running down towards Westminster Bridge. This map is interesting as it shows the difficulty with relying on one specific map for accuracy. In the Rocque map, College Street is shown running into Vine Street. In the following map, College Street is now College Walk and Vine Street has changed into Wine Street. These are the only references I have found to these names so I assume that they are errors in 18th century map making.

History of the Southbank Map 6

The above map shows the location of Kings Arms Stairs. The following print from 1791 is titled “A View of Westminster Bridge, the Abbey &c. from Kings Arms Stairs, Narrow Wall, Lambeth Marsh”. The stairs can be seen on the left, the tide is low and there is much activity on the waters edge. Westminster Bridge can be seen across the river with Westminster Abbey and Westminster Hall just to the left of the Abbey.

The rest of the scene cannot be a usual scene on this part of the south bank. In the centre of the print is a very ornate boat facing into the river with the flag of the City of London on the stern of the boat. The two small boats in the river to the right have people in ornate dress and large baskets of flowers. It would be interesting to know what was happening. On the left, the building just past the stairs has a sign reading “Artificial Stone Manufactory”, referring to Coade’s Stone Factory which i will cover later in the post.

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Between the above map of 1770 and the next map, the Ordnance Survey map of 1895, the whole area underwent considerable development.

This edition of Ordnance Survey map splits coverage of the area between two maps, so the following map shows the area between Waterloo Bridge and Hungerford Railway Bridge.

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The approach road to Waterloo Bridge still has the name of Cuper’s Garden, retaining a link from when this now heavily built area was mainly pasture land. The Waterloo Bridge approach was developed between 1813 and 1816.

The area inland from Belvedere Road has been developed with rows of terrace houses.

The area between the old Narrow Wall, now named Belvedere Road, and the River Thames is still industrial with two major landmarks, the Iron Works and Shot Tower close to Waterloo Bridge and the Lion Brewery adjacent to Hungerford Bridge. Narrow Wall was widened and straightened between 1824 and 1829 to become Belvedere Road. The source of the name is from Belvidere, a house and grounds on the land south of the Iron Works in the above map. As with many of the other pleasure grounds along the river, Belvidere was opened to the public from 1718 and sold wine and food, including fish taken from the river.

The start of the Hungerford Railway Bridge is shown in the lower left of the above map. Construction of the bridge and the associated railway almost cut the area in two with Belvedere Road now being the main route through the area. If you look back at the Rocque map, Hungerford Bridge was built over the Timber Yard and land just north of College Street.

Designed by Brunel, construction of the original Hungerford Bridge was completed by 1845 when the bridge was opened. It was not originally a railway bridge, the aim of the bridge was to bring more custom to the Hungerford Market on the north side of the river. The original bridge did not last long and in 1859 the construction of a new railway bridge was authorised by the Charing Cross Railway Act. The old bridge was demolished and the new railway bridge was opened in 1864. The chains and ironwork from the old Hungerford Bridge were sold to be used in the construction of the new Clifton Suspension Bridge, also to a design by Brunel.

The original Hungerford Suspension Bridge:

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The other major change was the construction of Waterloo Bridge, with the approach road across the former Cuper’s Gardens. Construction of the original Waterloo Bridge commenced in 1811 with the bridge being opened by the Prince Regent on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 1817, after which the bridge was named following an act of parliament in 1816 to approve the proposed name.

The following map is interesting as it appears to bring together some of the later development around Waterloo Bridge with the area in 1746. Published in 1825, eight years after the bridge was opened, it is titled “A Plan of Cuper’s Gardens with part of the Parish of Lambeth in the year 1746 showing also the site of the Waterloo Bridge Road and the new roads adjacent”.

The map helps define the exact location of Cuper’s Gardens as the church of St. John is also shown. The large roundabout at the end of Waterloo Bridge Road is now covering the end of Cuper’s Gardens at the junction with Stamford Street.

The map also shows how the name Belvedere Road came into use. The first straightening of the Narrow Wall is shown close to the approach to Waterloo Bridge and the name for this short section is New Belvidere Road. It is the first reference to the new street name, and also retains the original spelling from the house and gardens. As the name was taken on by the rest of the Narrow Wall, the name changed to the present spelling.

806218001You will need to click on the map to expand a larger version to see the next reference point to the area today. In the gardens in the wooded area just at the bottom right corner of the pond is a building marked D. Checking the key at top left, D is given as the “Royal Universal Infirmary for Children”. This is on an alignment of Waterloo Bridge down to St. John’s Church and although it has now closed as a hospital, a later version of this building, the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women is still there, on the junction with Stamford Street. This allows us to place the location of Cuper’s Garden precisely and as you walk up towards Waterloo Bridge from St. John’s Church, you are walking through the middle of Cuper’s Gardens.

The following photo shows the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women on the corner of the approach to Waterloo Bridge and Stamford Street.

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The church of St. John, although badly damaged by bombing during the last war, it was rebuilt to the original plan and is still exactly the same as the drawing on the 1825 map. During the Festival of Britain, the church was designated as the Festival Church with a programme of events during the period of the festival. The church is at the end of the original location of Cuper’s Gardens, the entrance to the gardens was on the left.

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Looking up towards Waterloo Bridge from where the end of Cuper’s Gardens would have been. The hospital and Stamford Street are on the right. The IMAX cinema is on the left in the centre of the roundabout. A very different place to the 18th century gardens.

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In 1923, Waterloo Bridge suffered from settlement to the central arch along with subsidence to the carriageway and parapet, leading to the bridge being closed to traffic in 1924. A temporary bridge was constructed alongside Waterloo Bridge and options were reviewed as to whether the original bridge should be repaired, rebuilt or a completely new design of bridge built.

The decision was for a new design of bridge and the Waterloo Bridge that we see today was fully opened in December 1945. The following postcard with a photograph taken from the top of the Shot Tower shows the original Waterloo Bridge with the damage to the central pier, along with the temporary bridge built alongside.

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Also in the above map, adjacent to Hungerford Bridge is the Lion Brewery. This area was originally the location of Belvidere House and Grounds, and in 1785, Water Works were built on the southern end of the gardens, drawing water from the river to supply the local residents. Not surprisingly, there were issues with the purity of the water being taken from the river and as part of the general improvements to London’s water supply, the water works were moved to outer London locations such as Surbiton. After the closure of the water works, the lease on the land was assigned to James Golding and the Lion Brewery was completed in 1837. On the opposite side of Belvedere Road to the brewery, Golding purchased a lease on an additional parcel of land and built stables and warehouses to support the brewery.

The Lion Brewery was taken over by the brewers Hoare and Company of Wapping in 1924 and in 1931 the building was badly damaged by fire. It was then temporarily used for paper storage before being demolished in 1949 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall.

During the demolition of the brewery buildings, a total of five wells were found which had been used to provide water for the brewery as water could not be taken from the Thames.

There are a number of prints which show the industry along the South Bank between Hungerford and Waterloo Bridges. The following shows the Lion Brewery. Note the tower of the church of St. John’s in the background.

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Another print shows both the Lion Brewery and the Shot Tower with the original Waterloo Bridge on the left.

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And a view from Waterloo Bridge along the river to Westminster Bridge before the construction of Hungerford Bridge. The Shot Tower and the Lion Brewery are on the left.

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The Shot Tower was built in 1826. The gallery at the top of the tower is 163 feet high, and was used to drop molten lead for large shot. A gallery half way up the tower was used to make small lead shot.

The Shot Tower and the associated lead works were owned from 1839 by Walkers, Parker and Company who ran the business until 1949.

The area between Hungerford and Westminster Bridges is shown in the following map (the map cuts off before Westminster Bridge but if included it would be just at the bottom of the map to the left).

The map shows the straightened Belvedere Road, with the original curve in the road still in existence but is now named Belvedere Crescent. Follow Belevedere Road towards the bottom of the map and at the junction with Chicheley Street, it reverts back to Narrow Wall.

Below the Chicheley Street junction, the whole area between York Road and the river would later be occupied by County Hall. Following the Festival of Britain, the area bounded by York Road, Belevedere Road, the rail tracks and Chicheley Street would be occupied by the Shell Centre building. On the opposite site of Belvedere Road, up to the river, during the Festival of Britain, the Dome of Discovery would be built on the area occupied by the India Store Depot and today the Jubilee Gardens are on this spot.

History of the Southbank Map 4

At the top left of the map is a set of buildings, over which is written “site of Sparagus Garden”. This was also an early pleasure gardens, but unlike Culper’s Gardens, is not very well documented. This was also the site of Coade’s Artifical Stone Works.

The initial stone works on the site were opened in around 1770 by Daniel Pincot who published that he had opened a factory “by King’s Arms Stairs, Narrow Wall, Lambeth”. At some point soon after 1770, the factory appears to have been taken over by Eleanor Coade who would go on to run the factory for 25 years until her death in 1796 when her daughter, also called Eleanor, took over the factory. The younger Eleanor also ran the business well and opened a gallery for the factory’s products at the corner of Narrow Wall and Bridge Street – the street leading up to Westminster Bridge – along with a number of houses which took the name Coade’s Row.

The entrance to the Coade Stone showroom on Westminster Bridge Street:

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Products from the Coade factory were used across London and wider afield, but the most long lasting and well known is the lion that was on top of the Lion Brewery. Removed and stored at the time that the brewery building was demolished, it was installed on a plinth at the southern end of Westminster Bridge in 1966.

The younger Eleanor Coade was unmarried and had no children by the time of her death in 1821, however she had already taken on a cousin, William Croggon to take control of the business, who was succeeded by his son Thomas in 1836, however his ownership of the business did not last long and the Coade Stone Factory appears to have closed a year later in 1837 and the production of this unique, man-made stone was consigned to history.

Just to the south of College Street, is labelled the India Stores Depot. This was built in 1862 on land leased by the Secretary of State for India. These stores were gradually extended until the start of the 2nd World War, during which they suffered considerable damage and were demolished to make way for the Festival of Britain.

As a final bit of confusion regarding continuity of street names, the following map extract is from the Bartholomew Greater London Street Atlas from 1940. It shows Belvedere Road running between Westminster and Waterloo Bridges, with Howley Place shown at Howley Terrace, Tension Street and Sutton Walk with the same names as previous maps, but further along, where College Street and Vine Street were shown in the 1895 Ordnance Surcey map, the street is now called Jenkins Street. This map is the only place I have seen this name for the street, so it was either an error, or there was a name change between 1895 and 1940.

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And finally we come to today and the following map shows the layout of the area as it is now – although this will also change soon as the buildings surrounding the Shell Centre tower have been demolished to make way for a new development of multiple apartment towers.

History of the Southbank Map 5

The map shows roughly the same area, between Waterloo Bridge at the top of the map and Westminster Bridge at the bottom.

The only streets that remain from previous years are Belvedere Road and Chicheley Street. Belvedere Road has been widened and straightened over the years, but follows roughly the same route as the Narrow Wall and the original earthern embankment.

There is more land between Belvedere Road and the river as during the construction of County Hall and the Festival of Britain, the embankment was pushed further into the river.

The approach road to Waterloo Bridge now covers the area occupied by Cuper’s Gardens. The Royal Festival Hall occupies the site of Timber Yards and then the Lion Brewery.

The Coade Stone Factory was on the site now occupied by the car park above the Jubilee Gardens.

The rows of terrace houses between Belevedere Road and York Road have gone with the space being occupied by the Shell Centre Upsteam and Downstream buildings – off which all but the tower building have either been converted into apartments or have been demolished to make way for more apartment blocks.

In my next post we will have a walk along Belvedere Road looking at the buildings and views from between 1947 and 1950 as the site is prepared for the Festival of Britain and comparing with the same scenes today.

All the prints in the above post are ©Trustees of the British Museum

The extracts from the 1895 Ordnance Survey Map are reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

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Tenison Street and Howley Terrace – Lost Streets On The Southbank

The area on the Southbank between Waterloo Station, the Thames, Waterloo Bridge and County Hall has seen considerable change over the last 70 years. Originally the location of industry and closely packed housing, post war the streets and buildings were almost completely erased and the Festival of Britain was built on the site in 1951.

Following the end of the Festival, the Royal Festival Hall remained with later additions including the Hayward Gallery and Purcell Room. On the area between Belvedere Road and Waterloo Station, Shell Centre, the UK head offices of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company were built, consisting of a tower block and upstream building to the west of Hungerford Bridge, with a downstream building to the east. The downstream building of Shell Centre was converted into flats some years ago, and currently the wings around the tower building are almost fully demolished ready for the construction of more residential towers (see my post covering a walk round the Shell Centre viewing gallery for more information).

My father took a number of photos of the area just after the war and during the building of the Royal Festival Hall. I have already covered posts on Building the Foundations of the Royal Festival Hall, the South Bank before the Royal Festival Hall, Construction of the Royal Festival Hall, and Sutton Walk.

Scanning through negatives, I have since found additional photos of the area and I feature these for this weeks post.

The map below is from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Atlas of Greater London and I have marked the locations and directions of view of this week’s photos.

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The following photo is from position 1 on the map and was taken from the end of the footbridge that ran alongside Hungerford Railway Bridge. The Lion Brewery is on the left and the railway into Waterloo East and across the river to Charing Cross Station is on the right, with Waterloo Station being the building on the far right. The buildings at the end of the road alongside the railway are along Belvedere Road. The building with the white lower level is a pub, however I have been unable to confirm the name, there were a number of pubs along Belvedere Road but I cannot find the name of this one. Sutton Walk is to the left of the pub.

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Enlarging the photo, the building to the right of the pub has the name “Westward Ho” on the sign above the ground floor door and window. Not sure what this was, however in the Survey of London volume for the area there is a drawing of the building, the online page can be found here. Unfortunately, the Survey of London does not shed any light on the name of the pub. It does confirm that these buildings were numbered 116 and 118, the only pubs I can find were the White Hart at number 35 and the Green Dragon at number 68.

These photos were taken in 1948, before demolition took place in 1949. Another view at a slightly different angle from the end of the footbridge:

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The Royal Festival Hall now occupies the area on the left and the whole scene has changed dramatically. Standing on the end of the new footbridge alongside Hungerford Bridge, I took the following photo.

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My father visited the area again as demolition was taking place. This must have been around 1949 as this was the time when the area was being cleared ready for construction of the Festival of Britain.

The following photo is from the same position on the end of the Hungerford Bridge footbridge and is looking slightly to the left of the above photos. Much of the Lion Brewery has now been cleared with only the entrance arch to Belvedere Road remaining. It also looks as if the pub has been gutted with empty windows now looking out onto the area.

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The tall buildings in the background to the left all remain to this day. The church is St. Johns at Waterloo, the building to the left of the tall office block is the old Royal Waterloo Hospital for Women and Children.

I featured the following photo in my post on Sutton Walk. This was taken outside the pub with Sutton Walk running off to the right and part of the Lion Brewery directly opposite.

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I have repeated this photo as the following photo was taken from roughly the same position after the brewery buildings had been demolished. The bollards confirm the location. This is looking from point 2 on the 1940 map.

The buildings that edge the open area are houses that ran along Howley Terrace.

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Sutton Walk has changed location, however the following photo was taken from roughly the same location and looking in the same direction. This whole area is now occupied by the White House Apartment Building (the old Shell Centre Downstream Building).

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Moving along Belvedere Road towards Waterloo Bridge, the following photo is looking along point 3 in the map, along what was Tenison Street. The buildings have all been demolished but the road, pavement and street lamps remain, however they will also soon go ready for the Festival of Britain.

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It is difficult to get the precise location today as the White house building obscures the view of Waterloo Station, however I took the following looking in the direction of where I believe Tenison Street ran.

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As I covered in one of my earlier posts on the area, many of the roads in this area were named after Archbishops of Canterbury. Tension Street was named after Thomas Tenison who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1695 to 1715.

Move a bit further along Belvedere Road, and the following photo is looking along Howley Terrace (view 4 in the above map). The approach road running up to Waterloo Bridge is to the left of the photo hence the large advertisement on the side of the building to catch the eye of those travelling across Waterloo Bridge from the north to the south.

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As part of the reconstruction of the area, a new approach road was built up to Waterloo Bridge. This approach road covered some of the area occupied by most of the housing on the left. Today, at the end of the approach road to Waterloo Bridge, at the junction with York Road and Stamford Street is a large roundabout which covers the space occupied by the houses at the very end of Howley Terrace.

The following photo is looking along the same view today.

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Remarkable how the area has changed. The original buildings along Howley Terrace (named after William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1828 to 1848) were crowded, multi-tenant housing with very basic facilities. Apartments in the White House now sell for between one and three million pounds.

William Kent in his 1951 edition of An Encyclopedia Of London has a couple of references to Tenison Street and Howley Terrace:

“The Lion Brewery has always been associated with a famous crime. In 1872 Dr. W.C. Minor, who had been a surgeon in the American Civil War, and on a visit to this country, was staying at 41 Tenison Street, shot a stoker, an employee of the Brewery in Belvedere Road. At the trial, he was found guilty but insane. From Broadmoor criminal lunatic asylum, where he was confined, he contributed between five and eight thousand quotations to Sir James Murray’s famous Oxford English Dictionary, and his name will be found in the acknowledged assistants to that great work.

In the process of making a site for the Festival of Britain, in the course of excavations, a skeleton was found near Howley Terrace. It was 12ft below ground and in 2ft of mud. It is believed to have been two hundred years old. Its legs were sprawled in odd directions, which seemed to indicate a violent end.”

Kent also states that during the preparation of the site for the Festival of Britain, sixty men used 93,000 tons of demolition material to build the river wall which is 1,691ft long,  so it is interesting to think that as you walk along the Southbank, next to the Thames, you may well be walking on all the materials that once made up the brewery and houses that occupied this area.

It is fascinating to walk around the Southbank with the photos from this and previous posts on the area. I can now build up a detailed photographic record of this small but fascinating part of London. I plan to bring these all together in a future post for a detailed walk around the area covering before, during and after the Festival of Britain to the current day.

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The Brewery At The End Of Sutton Walk

Chances are, if you have walked from Waterloo Station down to the Royal Festival Hall, or the Southbank, you have walked along Sutton Walk without really being aware that you have.

Today, Sutton Walk is a short stretch of pedestrian walkway through one of the rail arches under the rail tracks leading up to Hungerford Bridge, however it was once a short street leading down to the Lion Brewery on Belvedere Road.

This is the location of Sutton Walk in 2015, in the centre of the map, the short stretch under the rail tracks:

Sutton Walk Map 2

Before the post war development of the area for the Festival of Britain, the 1940 Bartholomew’s map showed the original Sutton Walk:

Sutton Walk Map 1

Before the demolition of the original buildings along Belvedere Road, my father took some photos in 1947 from the junction of Sutton Walk with Belvedere Road. These show part of the old Lion Brewery that are not often seen. There are many photos from the river (including some my father took here), but in this article I want to show the other side of the brewery.

In the first photo, we are standing in the original Sutton Walk. The road running left to right is Belvedere Road. Straight ahead is the archway leading into what was the Lion Brewery. The word “Brewery” remains on the block at the top of the arch, however the stone Lion that originally sat on top of the arch has already been removed, leaving only the stubs of metal rods that would have held the Lion to the arch.

Sutton Walk 2Framed within the archway is Shell-Mex House on the north bank of the river. Originally on the right of the arch was a building of identical design to the building remaining on the left, and the main brewery buildings would have been visible through the arch. It must have been an impressive sight when the brewery was in full production.

One can only imagine the number of barrels of beer that have come through that archway.

The brewery was built between 1836 and 1837 on the site of a Water Works that supplied water to the local area using water taken directly from the river. Prior to the water works, a house called Belvedere (the origin of the road name) occupied the site. This became a tavern in 1781 and along with the gardens, was opened to the public following the tradition of “pleasure gardens” being opened along the south bank of the river.

The brewery building was seriously damaged by fire in 1931, after which it was used for a brief period as a storage place for waste paper.

This whole area was demolished in the late 1940s ready for the construction of the Royal Festival Hall and many of the streets were either lost or considerably changed. Although Sutton Walk does not now extend down to Belvedere Road it is still easy to find the location of my father’s photos by extending the line of the remaining pedestrian stretch under the railway.

The same view today from roughly the same position:

Sutton Walk 6The Royal Festival Hall now fully occupies the site of the Lion Brewery between Belvedere Road and the Thames.

The next photo is from the end of Sutton Walk and looking to the right along a short stretch of Belvedere Road. Behind the building we can see the top of the Shot Tower. The top of the tower still in the original state prior to the modification for the Festival of Britain. The lettering on the wooden gate in the centre of the photo spells out the name of the London Waste Paper Company Ltd. After the brewery closed, the site was used for storage of waste paper by this company.

Sutton Walk 3The same view in 2015 looking at the edge of the Royal Festival Hall and towards the Hayward Gallery (hidden behind the tree):

Sutton Walk 7Now we can cross over Belvedere Road and look back at the junction with Sutton Walk and we can see another part of the brewery with the same style of entrance arch, but still retaining the lion. This part of the brewery site contained warehousing and the stables.

Sutton Walk 4Also in the above photo, there is a pub on the right. There were several pubs along Belvedere Road as before the war, this was a very busy light industrial and residential area. It looks still occupied, but when the photo was taken in 1947 this area had mainly been cleared and the pub would soon be demolished.

And the same view in 2015. The building is the old Shell Centre Downstream building which is now “The Whitehouse”, one of the many office to luxury apartment conversions that now seem the norm across so much of central London.

From extending the remaining stretch of Sutton Walk down to Belvedere Road, the lamp posts on the right in the two photos seem to be in exactly the same position.

Sutton Walk 5This is all that is left of Sutton Walk today, the short pedestrian stretch under the railway. The road running left to right is Concert Hall Approach, a new road (if you call more than 50 years old, a new road !!), built as part of the redevelopment of the area.

Sutton Walk 10Although Belvedere Road was named after a house on the site of the Lion Brewery, a number of other roads in this area were named after Archbishops of Canterbury (no doubt due to  Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury being not that much further along the Thames).

Sutton Walk was named after Charles Manners-Sutton (Archbishop between 1805 and 1828).

The nearby Tenison Street, (see the 1940 map, next street up towards Waterloo Bridge, lost during the construction of the Shell buildings) was named after Thomas Tenison (Archbishop from 1694 to 1715).

Although the street is not named in either the 2015 or 1940 maps, the street that runs from the corner of County Hall towards Leake Street is Chicheley Street. This street is still there and is named after Henry Chichele (Archbishop from 1414 to 1443).

Returning to Belvedere Road, we can walk to the right, eastwards towards Waterloo Bridge. This was the view in 1947 with the approach to Waterloo Bridge crossing over Belvedere Road:

Sutton Walk 1Although the current Waterloo Bridge was built in the early 1940s and opened in 1945, it still used the original approach road and the arches over the roads on the southbank. To confirm that this is indeed the location, look to the right of the above photo and part of a street sign can be seen.

This is Howley Terrace and using the 1940 street map, Howley Terrace can be seen running parallel to the Waterloo Road as it runs up to the bridge (and continuing the street name theme, Howley Terrace was named after William Howley, Archbishop from 1828 to 1848 – this also provides a good estimation of when these streets were named, probably around1848 as William Howley is the last Archbishop to have a street named after him in this area).

Sutton Walk Map 1

The naming of streets after Archbishops extended beyond the area between York Road and Belvedere Road. The street in front of Waterloo Station, Mepham Street (seen in the above 1940 map and still in existence) was named after Simon Mepeham, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1329 to 1333). The history of the church appears to be written across this area of Lambeth.

The view is very different now. The new approach road to Waterloo Bridge, built as part of the redevelopment of the area provides a very different crossing of Belvedere Road. There is still a road turning off to the right. This is now a slip road down from the roundabout at the end of the road to Waterloo Bridge, down to Belvedere Road. Unlike Sutton Walk, the slip road does not appear to have any name, therefore the name Howley Terrace looks to be consigned to history.

Sutton Ealk 8

I find the Southbank fascinating. It is one of the areas in London that has undergone such significant post war development that there are very few traces of what was there before. The railway running up to Hungerford Bridge is the only remaining structure that has survived, but it is good that some of the streets can still be found, even though, as with Sutton Walk, it is now a shadow of its former state.

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A Walk Round The Shell Centre Viewing Gallery

Shell Centre is an office complex on the Southbank, located between Hungerford Bridge and the old London County Council building. The most obvious part of the complex is the 26 storey tower.

Designed by Sir Howard Robertson and built between 1957 and 1962 for the Royal Dutch Shell group of oil companies, the office complex set new standards for staff facilities and building automation. Originally two main blocks, one either side of Hungerford Bridge, the “downstream” building to the east of Hungerford Bridge was sold during the 1990’s and converted to apartments.

Although large buildings above ground, there is a significant part of the complex below ground with a large swimming pool, theatre and bar being among the facilities for the original 5,000 staff to enjoy. Two underground tunnels connected the upstream and downstream buildings, running underneath the rail arches leading to Hungerford Bridge and being just above the underground train tunnels running north from Waterloo.

The building also had a tunnel out to the Thames so that river water could be used for cooling.

The “upstream” building to the west of Hungerford Bridge has a “U” shape set of 10 storey offices with the 26 storey, 351 foot tower block being the most obvious feature of the complex.

Shell has temporarily moved out of the complex and there is a proposed redevelopment of the site that will significantly change this part of the Southbank, more on this at the end of this post.

Long before the Shard and the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, one of the innovations for the time was that the tower had a public viewing gallery. This was when there were very few tall buildings across London and certainly nothing built or planned in this part of the city. The viewing gallery provided almost continuous all round views of London.

The viewing gallery closed not that long after opening. I was told this was because that sadly there had been a suicide (although I have no verification of this). I was able to visit the viewing gallery in 1980 and took the following photos which show a very different London skyline to that of today. It always surprises me that it was not that long ago that there were very few tall buildings across London.

We will start with the view across to the Houses of Parliament and walk round the viewing gallery.

This was long before the construction of the London Eye which would now be the main feature of this view:

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 3

Moving further to the right we can look straight across the river. The large building to the right are the offices of the Ministry of Defence. Buckingham Palace is to the left of centre:

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 15

And further to the right, this is the original Charing Cross Station at the end of Hungerford Railway Bridge. In the years after this photo was taken, in common with many other main London stations, office buildings were constructed on top of the station. This was also before the Golden Jubilee foot bridges were added to either side of Hungerford Railway Bridge. At the time the photo was taken there was a single, relatively narrow foot bridge on the east side of the bridge.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 4

Looking directly onto Charing Cross Station with the Post Office Tower in the background and Centre Point to the right:

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 2

Further to the right, the building left of centre is Shell-Mex House. This was occupied by the UK operating company of Shell. To the right is Waterloo Bridge.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 14

And further to the right with the full width of Waterloo Bridge:

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 13

We are now starting to look over towards the City of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral can be seen to the upper right of centre and the three towers of the Barbican to the left.

The L shaped building in the lower foreground is the downstream building of the Shell Centre complex, and just above this building is the tower that was for London Weekend Television. The base of this tower still consists of TV studios, one of the few buildings that have had the same function over the last 35 years.

To the right of this is Kings Reach Tower, occupied at the time by IPC Magazines, publishers of magazines ranging from Loaded to Country Life. IPC Magazines vacated this tower block some years ago and it is now in the process of being converted into, yes you have probably guessed, more apartments. The height of the building is being raised with additional floors being constructed in top.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 7

And slightly further to the right, the tower in the distance was at the time the tallest office block in the City of London, the recently completed NatWest Tower, built for the NatWest Bank, now renamed as Tower 42.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 1

This photo is looking down onto the roundabout at the southern end of Waterloo Bridge. The large space in the centre of the roundabout is now occupied by an IMAX Cinema. The church to the right is St. John’s, Waterloo. The church was built between 1822 and 1824 and due to the marshy land had to be built on piles.  I was told at the time that one of the reasons for so much space below ground level at Shell Centre was also due to the marshy ground and the need to keep the overall weight on the site equal. Excavating below ground level to remove sufficient weight of earth equal to the weight of building on top. No idea if this is true, but it does seem plausible.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 5

This photo is looking straight across to the City and Southwark. There is nothing of any height in the far distance. The buildings of Canary Wharf would now be very visible in the distance.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 9

Continuing to move to the right, this is looking over south-east London with the roof of Waterloo Station occupying the bottom right corner of the photo.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 8

And round to the right again looking over south London with the extensive network of tracks leading into Waterloo Station. The lower section of tracks at the bottom part of the photo would soon be converted to the London terminus of Eurostar prior to the completion of the HS1 rail route which transferred Eurostar trains into St. Pancras.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 11

Detail from the above photo showing British Rail rolling stock prior to privatisation of the rail network:

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 18And a final view over to south west London. This was as far as the viewing gallery would allow, the gallery did not run along the western side of the tower:

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 12

I cannot remember why I was using Black and White film when I took these photos from the viewing gallery. Shortly after taking the above, I took the following photo in colour showing Shell Centre from the north bank of the Thames. The north facing part of the viewing gallery can be clearly seen at the very top.

Shell Centre Viewing Gallery 17

The building is one of the few immediate post war developments that works well. If the proposed redevelopment of the site gets approval, it will be very different. The plans propose the demolition of the “U” shaped 10 storey office block at the base of the tower, and a whole new cluster of towers built around the original tower.

To see the proposed development, look here.

It was quite a surprise to see how much this area will change, and in my view, the close proximity of towers of very different materials and design to the original tower just does not look right.

It was fascinating to look back on these photos of the London skyline from 1980. It looks very different now, and the almost continuous development of tower blocks look set to continue transforming the skyline for many years to come, although unlike the original Shell Centre complex, with almost identical glass and steel towers that are removing so much of the local character of London.

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