With its close proximity to the Pool of London and the growing dock trade early 19th century Bermondsey Street became a warren of warehouses specialising in hide and skin and the production and dying of leather goods.
It is now home to chic shops, restaurants, apartments and the White Cube Gallery. Down this unassuming alley way was the 1960's rehearsal studio cum-storage space for the Rolling Stones. Other bands to rehearse here include The Faces, Jeff Beck and Jethro Tull to name but a few.
The street also contains some original features on former 19th century warehouses, which are now very expensive apartments but still include the iron hoists used to lift bails of product to the top of each building.
The transformation of the street began with the arrival of Zandra Rhodes, Fashion and Textile Museum designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. The museum claims its address to be Bermondsey “Village”, which is an indication of how far (should that be too far) the area has changed from its working class, industrial origins. Once the museum was established the gastro pubs and tapas bars followed. The ultimate proof of Bermondsey Street’s makeover is the arrival of Jay Jopling’s White Cube Gallery.
Towards the end of the street is the Time and Talents Settlement building, which was built in 1907, as stated in the arts and crafts lettering carved into the stone frieze. So poor and destitute were the people of Bermondsey that well-meaning, middle class volunteers would settle in the area to share knowledge, culture and skills with their impoverished neighbours. The aim was to get the rich and poor in society to live more closely together. The building hosted clubs and campaigned on such issues as factory girl’s safety in the work place.
At the very end of the street is an excellent, newly opened gallery currently showing the work of Martin Grover. Originally one of a couple of small outbuildings attached to the nearby St Mary Magdalen church known as "The old watchhouses". While I don’t think the White Cube has much to worry about this tiny gallery space seems somehow more in keeping with the spirit of the area.