Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames

(6 customer reviews)

Bermondsey underground station, London

Guided by Aaron or Ann or Chris or Isobel

Please note

You must reserve your place online for this walk. Select your date and time on the table below.

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
Wednesday Weekly 10.45 am 12.45 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online

Introduction

Unfamiliar London – memories of the days when Bermondsey was at the heart of the biggest port in the world. Victorian warehouses, old docks – still there but adapting to the C21. See it before it changes.

Walking Tour Practicals

Meeting time: Every Wednesday (until and including January 26) at 10.45 am

Meeting point: Bermondsey Tube Station

Price: £15 per person (full adult)

Itinerary

Leave the traffic and the tube station and within minutes you’re walking along a historic riverside street. It’s still, calm, and there are wonderful views across the Thames to Wapping, downriver to Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe, and upriver to Tower Bridge and the new tall buildings of the City of London. You are only minutes from Central London but it is a world away from its bustle.

Shad Thames

A bridge by the riverfront over St Saviour’s dock takes you to Shad Thames, its warehouses once full of grain and spices, now transformed into expensive apartments. This street is full of history and features dating back to Victorian times, with its Grade II listed warehouses, cobbled street and overhead iron bridges. You will discover how this part of London once was the heart of the trade of the city, where exotic commodities such as tea and coffee were stored.

When in the C20 the new huge container ships couldn’t sail this far up the Thames, the port moved away down river.  But in the 1980s and 1990s the area was regenerated where warehouse conversions became new homes. To help bring back life to the heart of Shad Thames, restaurateur Sir Terence Conran opened well-known restaurants including Le Pont de la Tour and Butler’s Wharf Chop House. For those looking for the Design Museum, its first home is here, but it moved from Shad Thames to Kensington in 2016, to an amazing structural design and should not be missed!

Shad Thames and its criss-cross walkways

Shad Thames and its criss-cross walkways

Butlers Wharf

This brings us to Butlers Wharf and Tea Trade Wharf. Both iconic buildings on the River Thames, overlooking St Katharine Docks. The Butlers Wharf building was completed in 1873 to house goods arriving at Butlers Wharf Pier for distribution all over the United Kingdom. As in much of the rest of the area, these buildings have been converted into luxury flats. As we walk around, you will be transported to a different era, when the south bank of the River Thames was an industrial hub, and Horselydown was the home of a favourite brewery.

Bermondsey

Turn inland to Tooley Street to see more of Bermondsey’s social history, the changes brought by the railway that turned it into ‘London’s larder’. Here are street names to remind you that for centuries Bermondsey’s biggest industry was leather tanning. The smell has gone, the names remain.

Southwark

Come back to the C21 as we pass the Shard, tallest building in London – for now.Its glittering peak dominates the surrounding area by London Bridge. And end just by London Bridge – for centuries the only way of crossing the river. Everyone used the bridge – merchants and visitors, kings and queens. Now you’re at the best place in London for a snack – Borough Market. This is foodie heaven – treat yourself to a toasted cheese sandwich.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do after the tour?

After a little snack at Borough Market, you can visit Southwark Cathedral then continue on to the South Bank, walking past Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate and all the way to the National Theatre.

What the guide says

One of the reasons I love this walk is that people are always surprised. After all, they know what Buckingham Palace and Westminster look like – but often they have no idea of just how fascinating this part of London is. Bermondsey in its heyday was at the heart of the port of London. Its river banks were crowded with docks and shipping, its lanes with warehouses storing goods brought into the port.

The riverside in Bermondsey is now peaceful, with great views across to the City. The narrow street of Shad Thames seems unchanged since the dockers unloaded sacks of grain, and the magnificent warehouses of Butler’s Wharf stored tea, instead of restaurants.

There’s plenty of history to interest foodies – many household names manufactured jam, biscuits and canned food here. But the early industry was leather tanning, a process guaranteed to turn your stomach. And we’ll tell you all about it.

Dig a little deeper and find out how what was a country village became a slum, over which hung a ‘graveyard smell’. How it was transformed by industry, and how local pressure transformed it yet again – bringing in radical housing policies and pioneering health care long before the days of the NHS.

And to end, we can even offer you a  really good Victorian murder.

LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS

If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at privatewalks@walks.com and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.

GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS

A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.

LONDON WALKS – STREETS AHEAD!

Don’t just take it from us.

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6 reviews for Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames

  1. Mike Hirsch

    I’ve had the good fortune to have been in London often enough to do most of the London Walks tours…something learned every time! I did the Bermondsey walk recently with Anne and thoroughly enjoyed it. The history was fascinating, from rather rough beginnings to major wharf and rail center to quiet residential area. I know that the wharves were targeted during the Blitz; I hadn’t realized how close to the city they were!
    Anne brought the history of the area to life; the old photos in her notes when compared to being there now really highlighted the area’s evolution.

  2. Maria Cahill

    Our little traveling group very much enjoyed this walking tour, which was really made by our tour guide, Ann. She was interesting, entertaining, and knew a ton about the area. Loved getting to know a different part of the city and it’s history. Beautiful views of the Thames and the city as well. Great to be right near Borough Market at the finish and the George Inn! Absolutely recommend this walk and hope you get to meet Ann!

  3. Anne Santee-Stoner

    I come to London a couple of times a year from the States. I take a few London Walks each week because I am very interested in the gems of London that only the venerable guides seem to provide. Hidden London is a prime example. Ann was knowledgable, witty, able to respond to our comments and questions, and led us on a memorable trip through Bermondsey. Thank you, Ann. I’l be back!

  4. Jenny Davies

    Really enjoyed the walk. Anne was a very friendly , knowledgeable guide. It was a very interesting area to explore, steeped in social history. Discovering how the area has transformed from a very poor overcrowded housing stock to the affluent present day. The whole walk was throughly enjoyable and informative, definitely recommend it.

  5. DIANA PINN

    I did this tour yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anne was a very good guide and was able to bring the whole area to life. I had no idea that Bermondsey was such a fantastic place to visit and I was impressed by the history and the tasteful redevelopment that has taken place. The Walk is a very good way to discover an area of London that is not very well known.

  6. David Sullivan

    My wife and I were fortunate and as we were the only people who showed up for Anne’s Bermondsey walking tour. We were staying near London Bridge Station and wanted to learn more about the area. Anne was a terrific guide–very knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the area. We learned a lot about the history of the area and its evolution from country village to blighted industrial area filled with tenements to its current status as an attractive part of London with beautiful homes in the converted warehouses. We also learned about the importance of the rail lines and wharfs to the industrial development of the area. We’ve done many walking tours over the years and were very pleased with this one and would definitely sign up for another tour with Anne in the future. We highly recommend this tour and Anne.

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