Alaska Factory

Opened in 1869 for working seal fur, only the entrance gates with the carving of a seal remain of the old factory, once the haunt of  'shavers, blubberers, fleshers, dyers, tubbers and top-hatted wing-collared aproned craftsmen'. The newer art deco building is by architect Wallis Gilbert, who also designed the Hoover buildings in London.

Grange Road SE1

Manze's Pie and Mash Shop

Opened in 1902, this is the oldest eel and mash shop in London. The family originally started next door at number 85 as ice merchants and then as ice cream makers. The dumb waiter hasn't changed in the last 70 years or more. Open 10.30am-2pm (Mon 11am), closed Sundays.

87 Tower Bridge Road SE1
Tel: +44 (0)20) 7407 2985

Leather was cured with alum – made partly from urine and ‘pure’, or dog faeces, gathered from the streets and bought from pedigree kennels around London. The tides of the Thames were used to wash out Bermondsey’s tanning pits twice daily and Dickens describes the foul smells.

Rail: Bermondsey

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Bermondsey 1 2

Fine Foods

An Italian-run deli with fine cheeses, meats, pasta and sauces from small producers in italy. Cheeses range from Parmigiano-Reggiano to rarer types such as Scimudin or Fontina, and there is an interesting choice of wines, too. The shop also sells sandwiches or hampers.

218 Long Lane SE1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7403 7513

Bermondsey Spa Gardens

In the 1700s, this was a  pleasure garden, created by artist Thomas Keyse and famed for its fireworks and concerts – but not its water. This 4.5-acre area has now had a £2million brush-up, designed by Broadway Malyan, with new lighting, planting, playgrounds and the Ellen Brown Play Centre.

Grange Road, SE1

Spa Gardens

Bacons Free School

When local leather merchant Josiah Bacon died in 1703 he left money for a free school. Poor children, whose parents were unable to provide for their education, were taught to read English and do enough arithmetic to keep merchants’ books. This 1891 building is now the London School of Osteopathy.

12 Grange Road SE1

Guinness Buildings

Built in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, this was one of several blocks designed to re-house those living in slum conditions in the area. Progressive for the time, they had outside toilets, shared bathrooms and gas lighting. There is another notable block in Hammersmith.

Snowfields SE1

The Victoria

A fine, if faded, Truman, Hanbury and Buxton exterior opens into an interior with dark wood panelling. Note the old black and white chequer-board spittoon around parts of the bar. Often used as a TV filming location for its authentic character, it serves good beer and food – steak sandwiches are a specialty.

68-70 Pages Walk SE1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7237 3248

T34 Tank

A left-over prop from the mid 90s film of Richard III, this ex-Czech Army tank was bought from a scrap dealer by property developer Russell Gray. He put it here to mark a planning battle he lost with Southwark Council. It is christened ‘Stompie’ after Stompie Moeketsi, killed in 1989 by Winnie Mandela’s Soweto township gang.

1 Mandela Way SE1


Ernest Bevin

Bronze by Ernest Shone-Jones, 1955. Bevin was a founder of the Transport and General Workers Union – Britain’s largest – in 1922. During World War II, he was Minister for Labour. Post-war, as Foreign Secretary he said his foreign policy was ‘to be able to take a [train] ticket at Victoria and go anywhere
I damn well please!’

Tooley Street SE1

Samuel Bourne Bevington

Bevington (1832-1907) was Bermondsey’s first mayor and came from a Quaker family who made their fortune in the local leather trade. Grand-father Samuel Bevington was co-founder of the Neckinger Leather Mills, the largest leather factory in Europe at one time. This 1908 bronze is by noted Victorian sculptor Sydney March.

Tooley Street SE1