Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames

(34 customer reviews)

Bermondsey underground station, London

Guided by Aaron or Ann or Chris or Isobel

Walk Times

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

N.B. this walk will not take place on the following dates:



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  at 10.45 am

Meeting point: Bermondsey  Tube Station

Price: £15 per person (full adult)


Don’t just take it from us…


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.


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.


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.


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 Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] 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.


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.


Don’t just take it from us.


34 reviews for Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames

  1. Paul Kowald

    A groups of us did the Butlers Wharf/Shad Thames yesterday. All the arrangements went smoothly and our guide, Ann, was very accommodating in changing the end point of the walk to the pub in Bermondsey I had booked for lunch. As for the tour itself, Ann clearly knows her stuff and was able to communicate her knowledge in a very engaging way. She was open to questions and made sure she stopped in quieter and shaded areas where possible. All of the group said that they had really enjoyed Ann’s tour – her enthusiasm and love of the history of the area shone through. I would add my recommendation for this tour and for Ann as a guide. My wife and I are already looking at some of the other London tours she offers! Many thanks, Ann.

  2. Sarah Johnson

    This was a fantastic walk! Ann was a brilliant guide, full of interesting facts and stories about the area. She was able to answer all of our questions with ease. This is a fascinating part of London and definitely worth a visit to explore the area.

  3. Olivia

    We very much enjoyed our London Walk with Ann. She’s a fantastic guide and the two hours full of interesting and entertaining stories were over in no time. Highly recommend this walk to everyone interested in the lesser known parts of London.

  4. Camilla Thornton

    Being a born and bred Londoner I realised there was a lot I didn’t know about my own city. London Walks are perfect to learn. My guide yesterday was Ann. I loved her enthusiasm for her subject and boy does she know her stuff. Thank you Ann.

  5. Gusta G

    An excellent morning in the company of Ann, an informed and entertaining guide. I am a Londoner but still discovered new places not least the lovely square inside Guys hospital where we ended up. I would highly recommend this walk.

  6. Paul Grice

    A really interesting walk covering some rarely visited areas. Anne was a really good guide with some interesting insights into the area. Thoroughly recommended.

  7. Helen

    This was a wonderful and informative walk with Ann who is an excellent guide. This was another part of London I’d seen only bits off and it was wonderful to see more of it and learn about the history of it.

  8. Bridget Marry

    If you are familiar with the more well known tourist destinations in London and ready to explore an area off the beaten track then you will love this walk. Our knowledgable guide Ann told us of the fascinating social and industrial history linked with Bermondsey and this stretch of the Thames. Stories of key local figures such as the Salters will inspire you to dig deeper into these lives yourself. At the end of the walk, Ann generously shared tips about other things for the visitor to see and do in the area. Highly recommended, you will want to come back for more!

  9. Nadeem Khan

    Although a Londoner, I didn’t know much of Bermondsey. A delightful and charming walk. Ann’s gentle manner belies a keen intellect and obvious fascination with the rich history of the area. This particular ignoramus ended the walk, a little less so. The gloriously unexpected Thames views (suddenly apparent from a quiet backstreet) would be quite enough…

  10. Sue Poulton

    My friend and I went on Ann’s walk yesterday and cannot stress how much we enjoyed it. We both live near London and have done quite a few of your walks in the past, but did not know this area at all, but we do now! What an interesting history there is in Bermondsey and Ann took us through it all, making the area come alive. I cannot recommend this walk enough. Do go. You wont be disappointed

  11. judith plows

    Loved this walk which I did with two old school friends as it was an “unknown area”.
    we learned so much, particularly enjoyed the history of the social housing and
    learning about Arthur and Ade Salter and their “ahead of their times” housing reforms and medical provision. All stimulating stuff which we have since been researching, It opened up a whole new horizon beyond the familiar environs of London Bridge . Thank you .

  12. Anders Ljungberg

    This was interesting! Two hours learning about the history of Bermondsey. Ann who was engaging and interesting. And very knowledgeable. We even got to speak politics, which I enjoyed a lot. Excellent guided walk.

  13. Melanie Goodwin

    A fascinating walk led by a wonderful guide. Ann’s insights into the area were a joy and I learnt so much about an area rich in history. The photos of how it used to look and the stories of some of the people who shaped it added to the overall enjoyment and I shall definitely look out for more walks led by this lovely lady. Yet another great success London Walks, your title as London’s Best Guided Walks is well deserved!

  14. Clive and Hazel

    Our 3rd walk this week with London Walks. Could it be as good as the previous two?
    Yes! What a fount of knowledge Ann shared with us on this fascinating tour of an area that my wife and I knew nothing about. The historical content flowed from start to finish, with something new to see and hear about at every turn. We thoroughly recommend this walk. Thank you Ann!

  15. Joanna Beddall

    Joanna Beddall
    This tour was extremely informative, we learnt a great deal. I particularly chose this walk as I knew very little of the history surrounding Bermondsey. Ann was interesting to listen to and very knowledgeable about her subject. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the barge gardens. The views along the Thames was wonderful and hearing about the old wharfs and seeing how beautifully they have been converted was an eye opener. I have never done a London Walk before, this was a special Birthday present for my partner. We loved every minute and we will certainly be signing up for others.
    I highly recommend Ann as a tour guide.
    Thank you for sharing two very special hours.

  16. Graham & Linda

    We really enjoyed this “off the beaten track” walk, ending at London Bridge and passing by Tower Bridge but taking in many lesser known sites of interest along the way. Ann brought the past to life with her interesting and informative commentary. All this and great Thames-side views, highly recommended.

  17. Hazel

    Had a great walk with Ann on 9.11.22.
    This is an area of London I was not familiar with at all, but it is absolutely fascinating. A lot of social history comes with this walk, but you also get some amazing views up the Thames toward Tower Bridge from the riverside before heading inland.
    Interesting and informative.

  18. David Hart

    Yesterday we went on “Undiscovered London” with Anne. I was delighted to see she was to be our guide as a couple of months ago she was our guide on your Greenwich walk and I thought then that she was a five star plus guide. She made the history and the place come alive. Well on this walk around Bermondsey she did the same again, explaining the fascinating history of the area and it’s more recent developments. It really is a wonderful area to explore, one which I would not have visited if it had not been for London Walks and Anne. Thank you both.

  19. Yasemin & Michael Wilson

    Yesterday, Wednesday 7th September 2022,
    My Daughter and I had the pleasure of taking ‘The Bermondsey’ London walk with Anne Your blue Badge guide , Anne was so very professional, Very informative giving
    Details of so many interesting spots if the history of the area .
    I worked in The Hotel Industry for over thirty eight years in top class Hotels ( The Savoy London, The Connaught London, The Peninsula Hong Kong and The Shangri-La Hong Kong) and used many blue badge Guides, Anne is certainly up there with the best .
    We will certainly use London walks again
    And Hopefully have Anne as our guide.

  20. Pamela Miller

    Anne brought an unknown part of London to life with interesting stories and helpful pictures. Who knew Bermondsey was so attractive with wonderful river views. I would have liked to have learnt more about the origins of Bermondsey but that apart it was a fascinating walk

  21. Janine

    This was one of the most interesting London Walks . Our excellent guide,Ann, was very knowledgeable about the area and was able to impart many fascinating and amusing facts ,especially about the social history of Bermondsey. Ann was interested to know her audience, and directed her information to our needs and expectations.

  22. Julie e

    Fun and informative walking tour in a relatively unknown area of London. Found the social history and architectural progression fascinating. and how the area is still constantly changing. Old photographs helped to reinforce the development. Ann was a friendly, stimulating and very professional guide.

  23. Terry

    Thoroughly enjoyed “Undiscovered London” Ann was an excellent guide with a wealth of knowledge.
    I would recommend this walk.
    I have now discovered “Undiscovered London”

  24. Louise Nixon

    A fascinating 2 hours learning about the amazing history of Bermondsey from Ann who was engaging, interesting and knowledgeable. Wonderful nuggets of information about the lives of those who lived in the area. Excellent guided walk.

  25. Janet Elizabeth Fraser

    Ann was engaging from the start and tailored her commentary to a diverse group – 2 Brits, 2 Germans and an American. The tour was an interesting and informative introduction to an area with which most Londoners are unfamiliar, focusing on its social and commercial history.

  26. Baruch Pinnick

    Above all, all credit is due to our excellent and thoroughly professional tour guide (Isobel!).
    I went on the “Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames” walking tour. We were about 15 in the group. Our guide Isobel was great. She knows how to explain the area by telling a good story instead of giving a classroom lecture, and her depth and breadth of local knowledge is superb. The area we covered (Bermondsey) is interesting enough already, but the excellent guide turned the tour into a delightful experience. The tour covers places not on the “must see” list for tourists – the area is part of real, working London with a fascinating history.
    Like any walking tour, bring good footwear, and it’s not for those with limited mobility of course.

  27. Jevgenija

    5* walk with Aaron, really enjoyed it. Thank you

  28. Juliet Bullock

    What an interesting walk through a very unknown part of London. The guide Anne was excellent in providing fascinating snippets and local history. The pace was gentle,with many stops to uncover sights one would ordinarily overlook. I am very grateful to get to know yet another part of London, with the knowledgeable assistance of Anne.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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.


    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.

  34. 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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