Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames

(42 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.


42 reviews for Undiscovered London, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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