Bermondsey Biscuit & Rotherhithe Docker

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Bermondsey Biscuit Rotherhithe Docker The

Spring 2019

Meet the Royals Pearls of wisdom from our King and Queen

A thank you to our sponsors A special thank you to all our sponsors and supporters for helping us bring the Bermondsey Biscuit and Rotherhithe Docker to life


Spring 2019


Editor’s letter


Laura Burgoine


he Bermondsey Biscuit & Rotherhithe Docker is all about celebrating local culture, established and new. SE16 and SE1 have never stood still, and are ever-changing, but they are always rich in character.

In our spring issue we talk to local royalty, the Pearly Queen of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, and King of Camberwell and Bermondsey; take a trip down memory lane and go hopping; and unearth local history. We’re also going out, out to explore what’s happening throughout spring, get DNA tested at the gym and go powerboating! Take a read and explore everything that’s fantastic about Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

About us Editor: Laura Burgoine Writers: Michael Holland, Debra Gosling Photography: Christian Fisher Marketing: Tammy Jukes, Anthony Phillips Design: Dan Martin Finance: Emrah Zeki

Contact us Email: Phone: 020 7231 5258 Facebook: @BermondseyBiscuit Instagram: bermondseybiscuit

Printed by Iliffe Print Published by Southwark Newspaper Ltd



Going out, out What’s on this spring 4-7 Blue plaques Will Max Bygraves be honoured? 10 People Meet our Pearly King & Queen 12-13 History Rotherhithe’s cops & robbers 15-17 Memories The hopping babies 18-19 Wellbeing DNA tests and speed boats 20-25 Food & Drink An apple a day 26-31 Property Room with a view... of the docks 32-39 Our summer issue will be out in May Contact us to get involved Spring 2019


Going out, out YOUNG TALENT TIME



The London Architectural Salvage and Supply Co (LASSCO) on Ropewalk has an international reputation, in large part due to the Maltby Street Market, which the owners created to attract people to the area. The weekend market is a thriving tourist spot, thanks to Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews. But the owners want to ensure it’s still a place for locals. On the agenda this year: LASSCO has a sale on until mid-February, and owner Adrian Amos is planning to host a series of lectures based on crafts, with a focus on textiles and pottery. There’s still a flooring yard on Ropewalk where people can buy and collect flooring. The market is also looking to expand to selling fresh fruit and vegetables. LASSCO has show-rooms in historic buildings all over London: in Vauxhall, Shoreditch and Maltby Street, as well as in Oxfordshire. “Bermondsey’s history with antiques goes back to the Calendonian Market, which moved from Islington to Bermondsey Square in the ‘50s,” Adrian said. The historic market’s opening hours reflected the ancient law of Marché ouvert, which meant if an item was sold between sunset and sunrise then its origin couldn’t be questioned, so stolen goods could be easily traded. “There’s a lot of duckers and divers in this business,” Adrian said.

Community centre Time and Talents has been supporting locals for 131 years with a wide range of activities, volunteering, and outreach projects for schools. Over the next few months, they have a load of new and free activities kicking off for local children and families, as well as opportunities for parents and carers with ideas to develop their own community groups. If you have an idea or a skill to share that you think would benefit other local parents and kids, please get in touch. In return, you’ll receive training, gain experience, and meet lots of other local parents. Time and Talents is hosting a community event on Saturday 2 March from 12-3pm with a range of taster sessions. On Tuesdays at 2pm there’s Little Makers where kids aged 1-5 (and their adults) can paint, create and make friends. Tiny Talents T&T2 Play Club is on Thursdays at 10.30am in addition to the original Wednesday 10am one at The Old Mortuary. This is followed by The Parent Break at 12pm - for parents to relax and drink tea or coffee uninterrupted, while their children enjoy supervised play. For children up to age 7-10, Super Fast Fun Club is a great opportunity for kids to get active, make friends and play games, every Thursday from 4pm at T&T2. There’s also Creative Club on Tuesdays at 4pm for kids the same age (booking required).

LASSCO is at 37 Maltby St, SE1 3PA. Maltby Street Market is open Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-4pm.

All of these activities are free! For more information about the programme – around 60 activities and services – visit Or just pop in to the Old Mortuary at St Marychurch St, SE16 4JE.

Spring 2019

Going out, out

THE RUM DIARY Step aboard the Golden Hinde for an evening of rum and raisin’ hell. Join Captain Jack Cassidy’s undercover crew, where you’ll embark on an epic journey of mischief to steal the hidden treasure - with cocktails in hand. Created by Inventive Productions, the Hidden Spirit is part of an immersive cocktail series that follows the legends of the Cassidys, a family of pirates, bootleggers and criminals.


Admission: £34.99£59.99. The immersive cocktail experience is running on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and some Sundays until mid-March.

Chansons and Lieder from the 15th and 16th century courts of France and Flanders are being sung by candlelight in Rotherhithe. Musica Antica Rotherhithe presents four monumental works for eight voices by Agricola, Gombert, De Rore and Ludovicus Episcopius, interspersed with works for the solo voice and vocal quartet from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Home-infused gins, wine and beer are being sold in support of Holy Trinity Church, with the bar open from 6:30pm. Douce Douleur: Love songs from the courts of France and Flanders, is at Holy Trinity Church, SE16 5HF, on Saturday 23 February at 7pm. Tickets: £10 adult / £2 children.

LET THERE BE LIGHT Historic Rotherhithe buildings are one step closer to being lit up for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing after a fundraiser smashed its target. Six buildings in the area, including the Brunel Museum, Sands Films, the Mayflower pub and St Mary’s Church, could receive up-lighting after a crowdfunding drive netted £31,500 for a feasibility study into the project. Further funds would need to be raised to install the lighting, which is estimated at around £100,000, and would be used for around 40 years. The fundraiser is still open for donations.

TRUE COLOURS Tate Modern is staging the UK’s first major Pierre Bonnard exhibition in 20 years. Combining 100 of the French painter’s greatest works, from museums and private collections across the globe, the exhibition examines Bonnard’s use of intense colours and modern compositions and how they transformed the painting landscape of the first half of the 20th century.

CZECH IT OUT Sands Films is screening the Good Soldier Švejk, a new play and film based on Jaroslav Hasek’s famous satire about a bumbling but loyal Czech soldier in World War I. Written by Christine Edzard, the film was produced by Sands Films, with 550 people watching the live stage performances last July. February 7 and 20. 82 St Marychurch Street, SE16 4HZ.

January 23-May 6. Bankside, SE1 9TG. Admission: £18/ free for members.

Spring 2019



Mark Titchner Me. Here. Now

70 new shops for

London Bridge station


or those of us who don’t face the daily commute on rail or tube, it may come as a surprise to find that London Bridge is fast becoming a town centre in its own right, with new shops and restaurants opening in and around the station.

The £1 billion redevelopment of London Bridge station, as part of the Thameslink Programme, includes a new concourse, modern facilities, two new entrances on Tooley Street and 15 fully accessible platforms. The redevelopment created space for over 70 new retail units – the highest number in a Network Rail station. New areas on the main concourse, Tooley Street and Stainer Street have opened up space that will see a variety of cultural activities and promotions taking place throughout the year. Mark Titchner’s installation Me. Here. Now is on display in the new pedestrianised walkway linking Tooley Street and St Thomas Street. Titchner’s work comprises three giant polished stainless steel domes suspended from the ceiling. Mirrored inside and out, the domes reflect both the existing brickwork of the walkway ceiling and the movement and colour of everyday life below. London Bridge station is also right on the doorstep of Hay’s Galleria, The Shard, London Bridge City and One Tower Bridge.

For more about what see and to do in London Bridge go to

The final shops, cafes and restaurants will open this year. The businesses in and around the station include:

Shops Cath Kidston Kiehl’s Hamleys M.A.C Cosmetics Neal’s Yard Remedies Pandora Rituals Ted Baker Whistles WH Smith Accessorize


Hotel Chocolat Oliver Bonas Paperchase TM Lewin The Body Shop Igloo Flowers Isle of Flowers Hawes and Curtis Marley’s Bakery – opening this year Mon Bijoux

Superdrug Aveda Men Cutters Yard O’Sullivans – hair & beauty M&S Food Savanna – South African deli; food and wine James’ Shoe Care Grind – opening this year I Smash – opening this year CRUSSH – opening this year Cards Galore – opening this year

Spring 2019

Urban Express WH Smith Books WH Smith Travel Tech Whittard Food and drink Gregg’s Itsu Leon Pret Costa

McDonald’s – opening this year Redwood – opening this year BOB’s Lobster Comptoir Libanais Pizza Pilgrims Starbucks Pure West Cornwall Pasty Co. Caffe Nero Upper Crust Delice de France


Going out, out

Paintings by the late John F Whitney are on display at Albion Street’s Deli Felice. The eldest son of a docker and professional table tennis player, John was born in Rotherhithe in 1937and attended St James school and Creadon Road before joining H.A. Oliver Barge Yard as an apprentice barge builder. John also served in the army from 1956 as part of his national service. The artist’s paintings, mainly oil but also watercolour and acrylics, were inspired by his travels, mainly of the countryside around Switzerland and France.

Pilgrim pound There’s grant money up for grabs for local projects celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower. United St Saviour’s Charity, British Land and Southwark Council are rolling out the Southwark Mayflower 400 Grants Fund for projects exploring migration, tolerance, enterprise and community; the events need to take place in SE16 in the lead up to the anniversary of the Mayflower sailing and Thanksgiving in November 2020. Application deadlines: Round one application deadline closes March 1. For more information visit:

GLITTERBOX IN SE16 Following sell-out shows throughout the UK, Europe, Ibiza, New York and Sydney, Glitterbox debuts at Surrey Quays superclub Printworks. The heavyweight line-up includes the freshest disco talent, classic house heroes, and a crew of ferocious drag queens, dancers and performers. February 23, 12 noon-11pm. Also playing at the venue, Bakermat returns to London for his biggest UK live show ever. At the all-night event, the DJ, who played two sell-out dates at Electric Brixton last year, is joined by a host of special guests, including the Magician with more to be announced. March 8 from 10pm-2am. Tickets on sale soon.

TRACEY EMIN IN BERMONDSEY Artist Tracey Emin has a major exhibition at the White Cube in February. A Fortnight of Tears spans the entire gallery and brings together new painting, photography, largescale sculpture, film and neon text. Three monumental bronze sculptural figures, the largest Emin has ever produced, are shown alongside her lyrical and expressive paintings. White Cube also debuts a new photographic series: Insomnia, a selection from thousands of self-portraits taken by the artist on her iPhone over the last couple of years. A Fortnight of Tears is at the White Cube on February 6-April 7. 144-152 Bermondsey St, SE1 3TQ.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE In an alternative Valentine’s Day offering, the Old Operating Theatre is screening the 1935 horror Mad Love. Peter Lorre plays an accomplished but lustful surgeon whose obsession with an actress leads him to replace her pianist husband’s wounded hands with those of a knife-throwing murderer. 1930s horror at its most unhinged, this tale of madness, murder and dismemberment is also a delightfully wicked psychological study. The film is being introduced by Gareth Miles. February 14 at 7pm. Tickets: £12. 9a St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY.

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Spring 2019

Spring 2019


blue plaques

We wanna tell you a story By Christopher Carey

There’s still a month left to cast your votes for this year’s Southwark Blue Plaque. Seven nominees are shortlisted for the plaque, which is run in association with the Southwark Heritage Association, Southwark Council and the Southwark News. One nominee is comedian and singer Max Bygraves, who started life in a crowded two-room council flat in Rotherhithe and went on to become one of Britain’s most cherished performers. He was born Walter William Bygraves on October 16 1922, so close to the Bow Bells his mother said she covered his ears as a baby to soften the chimes. The early years of his life were quite humble, and the family often struggled to make ends meet. His father was a professional flyweight boxer, fighting under the name ‘Battling Tom Smith’, and also worked as a casual docker. As a boy, Bygraves saw Max Miller and Billy Bennett at the New Cross Empire and at 12 entered a talent competition, singing It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today. He later recalled, “I won easily. It’s not hard to win when you are a boy soprano singing a sentimental song in tattered clothes with a half-starved dog.” On leaving school at 14, he worked as a messenger for an advertising agency in Fleet Street, and later became a fitter in the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. During this time he would also hone his trade as an entertainer, and was given the nickname Max by fellow troops after an impersonation of comedian Max Miller on his first night of service. His singing and dancing act made him very popular and it was during this time that he first met his wife Blossom. His career started to take off just after the war, when he appeared on stage with Frankie Howerd, Benny Hill, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan. But it was radio that first saw him bring the music hall tradition to a wider audience, when he appeared in and wrote Educating Archie with his friend Eric Sykes. A show with Judy Garland at the London Palladium led to a five-month stint on Broadway. His fame grew and soon he was inviting audiences to Singalonga

Max on stage with Judy Garland

Max, which they did through 30 gold discs and 20 royal variety shows. His catchphrase “I wanna tell you a story” became one of the best known one liners of a generation. By the time he hosted the TV quiz show Family Fortunes in the ‘80s, his hits, including You Need Hands and Tulips from Amsterdam, and his ownership of the rights to Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver!, had made him a multimillionaire. Bygraves retired to Australia in the 1990s and published his autobiography Max Bygraves in His Own Words in 1997. He was coaxed out of retirement for a series of tours with the Beverly Sisters in 2002, then did a farewell set of performances in 2006.

The rest of the nominees: The Stage performance space 47 Bermondsey Street has been home to The Stage newspaper - which reports on the entertainment industry - since 1978. But the basement of the building has its own critical role in entertainment history: it was the rehearsal space for Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed demos, and was also used by bands Pink Floyd and The Small Faces. Jazz drummer Bobby Worth Born at 119 St James Street in Bermondsey, the jazz drummer has played in trios and quartets alongside


some of the leading lights of the British jazz scene. He began rehearsing in the Blue Anchor pub before drumming in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and playing in Frankie Vaughan’s V Men, Kenny Baker’s Dozen and in the BBC radio orchestra. Decorated WW2 soldier Corporal Bates, VC Sidney Bates was a corporal in the 1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment when he was awarded the Victoria Cross – the most prestigious wartime bravery award. The 23-year-

He passed away August 31, 2012, aged 89, at his home in Queensland, Australia, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Bygraves was nominated for a Southwark Blue Plaque by his son Anthony, who has fond memories of his late father’s wit. “I appeared on stage with him when I was four, and he was surprised I knew all the words to one of his early sing-alongs, Gilly Gilly Ossen Feffer Katzen Nellan Bogan by the Sea,” Anthony said. “He looked at me and said ‘That was very good, you’re only four and you knew all those long words, I’m going to give you £5… if you can spell it’.” He also recalled a time when his father was teaching him stage craft and likened a comedian to a boxer, saying “you have to be on your toes, be ahead of the audience, remember your timing and when the moment is right...deliver that KO punchline.” n Voting closes on Thursday 28 February at 5pm. Votes can be cast by emailing, or on voting slips at council-run libraries.

old, who was born in Camberwell, was commanding a Section when he discovered that enemy soldiers had penetrated the area near Sourdeval, France. He seized a light machine gun and charged towards them, forcing them to withdraw, despite being wounded twice. He died in hospital on August 8, 1944. Ballroom dancers Bob Burgess and Doreen Freeman Bob Burgess was a ballroom dancer and teacher, who along with his wife and dancing partner Doreen Freeman became known as one of the bestknown couples of the ballroom world. They achieved considerable success

Spring 2019

as a pair, including second place at the World Professional Dance Championship in 1962 and receiving a Carl Alan award – the ‘Oscar of the dance world.’ In 1972, they took over The Grafton, in Village Way, Dulwich, running the studio until 2001. Preacher Rowland Hill The popular preacher was the founder of the Methodist Surrey Chapel on Blackfriars Road in 1783, which attracted interest because of its unusual domed design. It later became The Ring, a boxing venue. He also lends his name to Rowland Hill House, a Southwark Council block on Union Street.

Spring 2019



Long live the

king & queen By Laura Burgoine


he Pearly King of Southwark has been in buttons since he was a baby and in 2012 he found his Queen. Rotherhithe local Jimmy Jukes has 116 years of family history in the Pearly ‘monarchy’; the title of King was passed down to him from his father the Pearly King of Camberwell. In 2012, he appointed Michelle Thorpe the Pearly Queen of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey in the first crowning in 50 years.

“It was a massive ceremony,” Michelle told the Biscuit. “Near enough the whole of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey was there at the Adam and Eve. The pub was ramo. The streets was packed. Brunel Road was like London Marathon Day.” “A friend of ours, who we know through our charity, had a Rolls Royce and unbeknownst to me Jimmy had arranged for him to come and pick me up. I was a nervous wreck. I already had my pearly skirt and blouse and a cloak, then when I was crowned I was presented with the jacket and hat. There was a great big proper throne.” At the time, Michelle, who started life on the Acorn Estate in Rotherhithe and now lives off Salter Road, was recovering from two strokes. Prior to her royal duties, she’d been working at Alex Neal estate agents. “Then I got ill, had a couple of strokes, and I started putting my time into the charity,” she said. “It was helping me come along more and more.” “In 2002 I was almost killed in the Millwall Birmingham riots and I became agoraphobic and I couldn’t leave the house,” Michelle continued. In 2006 she was able to start going out. “I’d been stuck in a room, scared of my own son,” she said. “The charity work for Homes 4 Heroes has helped me a lot. We go all over the country. We go on stage with Madness. I still get flashbacks, but it’s something I have to overcome and this work has helped me overcome it.” The Pearlies are essentially charity ambassadors, rooted in working class culture. “It’s basically a cockney thing,” Jimmy said. “Everyone thinks it started in the east end. It was actually started in north London, Somers Town, by an orphan [Henry Croft, in the late 1870s]. He found a load of buttons and he started copying the costermongers in the way they dressed. Costermongers go back to the 1500s. Fortunately or unfortunately he got carried away but he raised about 5 grand for the hospital. He just thought it was a way of raising money. He started working at 13, chasing rats around the market and sweeping up, then he cracked on the idea and it caught on.”


Spring 2019

By tradition the King makes the Pearly costumes and every button is sewn on individually by hand. “Thousand upon thousand,” Jimmy said. “They used to have 30,000 or 40,000 buttons.” The buttons are expensive and hard to find, with 125 buttons costing in the realm of £90. The making of Michelle’s inaugural jacket didn’t go exactly as planned. “Jimmy gave me one of his old jackets and told me to take the buttons off the piping, but because I was kind of confused still from my stroke I misunderstood. He come round and I said “I’ve done it” and I’d taken every single button off. You could see he wanted to cry,” Michelle said. “That took over a year to do that jacket and she destroyed it in a day,” Jimmy said. Despite this, he describes the costume making as “therapeutic.” “I live down George Road and when I done my trousers, for six weeks I went down the Thames by Tower Bridge and it was red hot. I just sat down by the Thames and sewed. From seven o’clock in the morning until seven o’clock at night. Loved it. Come back brown as a berry. I met loads of people.” In 2010, Jimmy started his charity Homes 4 Heroes after his friend came back from serving in Iraq and struggled to find housing. “He was blown up and in a bad state,” Michelle said. “He came home to his Mum but circumstances there had changed. She had a new boyfriend and he wasn’t really made to feel welcome. He thought Jimmy being a Pearly King meant he had sway with the council. “Basically the charity started out of pure frustration and anger,” Michelle said. “Jimmy went on Facebook and vented his anger and it just went crazy. There were so many more people like that out there and we didn’t realise.” In addition to finding private rental properties for ex-service men and women, paying their deposits and rent, furnishing flats and helping them find jobs, Michelle and Jimmy have teams feeding the homeless in London, Brighton, Bournemouth, West Midlands, Northern Ireland, and are launching one soon in the Isle of Wight. The charity runs entirely on public donations. “There’s no grants, no funding. It’s us putting on our buttons and going out,” Michelle said. This kind of work isn’t for the fainthearted. “I’ve had hot soup thrown over me, knives pulled out on us. It’s not as easy as people think,” she said. “And they don’t all want to come in; some of them have been out there too long on the streets. We’ve got a guy on the street who’s 85. He’s ex Royal Navy. We’ve begged him to come in, we’ve offered to put him in the Savoy. But they get in a mind-set and get so used to what they’re used to. We had a guy in temporary accommodation recently but he only lasted five days, called us in a right state and asked us to come and pick him up. He said it was driving him crazy, he missed his tent, he missed the street life. The walls were closing in on him.” The duo work every day of the year. “Seven days a week, 365 days a year. It’s tiring but it is very rewarding,” Michelle said. “We have literally saved lives.” n For more information visit: or to donate money visit:

Spring 2019


Family Run Funeral Directors

“Albins were extremely supportive, attentive and caring throughout� Rotherhithe 52 Culling Road, London, SE16 2TN 020 7237 3637 Our other branch addresses are: Deptford 164 Deptford High Street, London, SE8 3DP Walworth 88 Brandon Street, London, SE17 1ND 14

Spring 2019


Execution dock


cops and robbers


rime in Rotherhithe was rife back in PC Horace Smith’s day. Around 1900, the ships, sailors and organised gangs of thieves kept ‘plod’ awfully busy.

Today, residents have problems with vandals and idiots causing havoc on mopeds, but in the eighteenth century it was far worse. Highwaymen were attracted to the area as it was en-route to Blackheath, where the rich and dandies of the day

By Debra Gosling

‘On the third time the pirate had threatened to nail the captain’s ears to the mast’ Spring 2019

would be relieved of their jewels as their coaches trundled across the common. The robbers would return to Rotherhithe with their booty to sell on to visiting sailors in the pub and coffee-houses. Pillaging pirates were another problem for the good people of Redriff to contend with. It was not hard to identify them as most had scars and bits missing after fights aboard captive ships. Just like Long John Silver, some had wooden legs while some sported eye patches. The more lightfingered shipmates could be identified by their split noses. A favourite pirate punishment was to slit down the nose of any thief on board with a cutlass.



HISTORY In 1765 local man Mr Fosbrook came face to face with some of these river pirates when they robbed his corn lighter of nine sacks of oats. They cut his boat from its moorings and set it adrift in the Thames. In 1721 a pirate was brought before the Justice of Rotherhithe when one of his previous victims, a ship’s captain, spotted him as he passed a pub. The unlucky captain recognised the man as the pirate who had stolen three of his ships on different occasions. He remembered the incidents well, as on the third time the pirate had threatened to nail the captain’s ears to the mast. During the course of the trial it was revealed that the thief had taken eight other ships. It is unknown what sentence this Jolly Roger was given, but it is likely he would have been hanged at Cuckold’s Point, which was roughly where Columbia Wharf is today. The threat of the gallows didn’t put off the smugglers who were drawn to the convenient waterside inns along the peninsula. The Angel pub was built on piles in the river and must have been an attraction to any smugglers on furtive night-time boating trips. They could easily take advantage of the trap doors in the floor to stash their booty. Rotherhithe also had a whole rabble of robbers, muggers and burglars. In fact, the problem got so bad that the locals set up a vigilante committee. In 1771 six robbers armed with knives and cutlasses jumped out on a married couple who were walking by

‘People were not even safe in their own back gardens, as muggers would skulk in the bushes and wait to unburden them of their pocket watches and jewellery’ Fountain Stairs. Four of them held the man up, clenching a large knife to his throat and pushing the barrel of a pistol into his chest. They patted down his pockets for silver and nabbed the glittering buckles from his shoes. Meanwhile, the other two gang members had bundled the victim’s wife down an alley and tried to assault her, giving up when she fainted. The parish constable was on scene and tried to help, but was told by the ruffians that they would blow his brains out if he intervened. Further downriver, house owners had their own problems: brass doorknockers would vanish overnight and when it rained it was discovered that the lead had gone from the roof. People were not even safe in their own back gardens, as muggers would skulk in the bushes and wait to unburden them of their pocket watches and jewellery. The vigilante committee became a proper neighbourhood watch when residents met at the Ship pub and made plans to capture local villains. Rewards were put up and intelligence plans laid to watch any stranger arriving in the community. Unfortunately the committee were not around in 1812, when the Three Compasses was broken into and all of the silver and cash from the till was stolen. n


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Undercover policemen from Paradise Street police station circa 1900. PC Horace Smith (bottom left).

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Kathleen and her four sisters in Bermondsey Wall East, Millpond Estate

Kathy & the

hopping babies K By Michael Holland

athy Donovan was born in St Olave’s Hospital in 1932, the eldest of five sisters and two brothers. Her parents, Bridget and Jim, had just moved into a one-bedroom flat on the brand new Millpond Estate. “They were better than the older blocks of flats in Rotherhithe and Bermondsey ‘cos they had inside toilets and a proper bathroom. None of that sitting in a tin bath in front of the fire like you hear old people talking about,” says the 86-year-old. “But we only had hot water in the winter when the fire was going; in the summer my mum had to heat up a copper and then get buckets of hot water out to pour in the bath, which meant only the first one in got the clean, hot water.”


Spring 2019

memories Kathleen’s teenage years were then spent dancing. the Eleven Plus. I was the first person to get one at As more and more siblings came along (Peter and “I was often up the Harp Club in New Cross, and St Joseph’s,” she remembers with pride. “The best Jean died while very young) the family continually then rushing home on the tube to Rotherhithe so I thing, though, was not getting any more punches in moved into bigger flats in the same block on wouldn’t get a wallop off me dad… I met my first the back from Miss Donovan ‘cos she thought it was Bermondsey Wall East, eventually stopping at No. husband, Butchie Burkett, at a dance at English all down to her that I got the scholarship, but it was 20: a three-bedroom flat on the top floor. But with Martyrs church hall in Walworth so we always because I was clever!” Kathy got to her secondary seven in the house, it was still crowded. “I suppose went dancing. We also went dancing around the school on a tram but what she remembers most about it was hard back then, but because I was the oldest bandstand in Southwark Park when they had a band trams was when they were being taken out of service. I never had to wear hand-me-downs like my sisters.” there. “I’m dancing in Mary Gosling’s painting of the “On the day the last 68 tram came along Jamaica Life, though, through children’s eyes is far rosier bandstand, which my son bought for me.” It hangs on Road hundreds of people came out to see it off, and than an adult’s. “Where we lived felt like the posh her living room wall. everyone put a penny down in the tramlines to get it part of Rotherhithe with the new flats, the river on Southwark Park was also where Kathy’s mum used squashed flat or bent by the tram as it took its final one side and Southwark Park on the other, where I to work as a park-keeper. “My mum and most of her journey, to keep as a souvenir.” played a lot,” she recalls. “You had to have a grown sisters were Parkies and she loved it; she’d look after The end of rationing was also a day that stuck in the up with you to go in the Rose Garden back then, so all her grandchildren there it was exciting to go in there in the school holidays.” without getting caught by Kathy came of age in the the Parkie; we used to run Millpond Estate, Coronation Day, 1953 ‘50s. “When I got married through from one side to we lived with my mum for a the other as a dare!” while but then got a place Her maternal grandparents in Park Buildings but that were immigrants: Albert marriage didn’t last and I from France and Mary met my second husband, from Ireland. Her father Tommy Holland, who was a stevedore in Surrey fought at Pegasus Bridge Docks all his life, while her with the Red Berets in the mother did a variety of jobs. D Day landings, in the Two “During the war she worked Brewers.” Tommy, sadly, at Lloyds: the tin factory at died from cancer within Dockhead, but when my two years. brothers and sisters came Hop picking was the along she had to do partfamily holiday for most time work, so did early Bermondsey people, morning office cleaning.” and the Donovans were Kathleen remembers her no exception. The aunts, mum leaving at 4am and cousins and neighbours then coming home to get were also on Day’s Farm them all up and ready for with them, just outside of school. Yalding, so it was a Young Kathy’s first school lot of fun. “Three of and all the little Donovans my sisters were born was St Joseph’s in Paradise round about the same Street (Now in Gomm time,” begins Kathy. Road). “I remember one “Bridget, May 20th; teacher - a Miss Donovan, Wendy, May 31st, coincidentally - who used and Janet on June to punch you in the back 1st. We called them if you weren’t moving quick “Hopping Babies” enough for her!” because my mum At the outbreak of war always came back the whole school was pregnant from hopping evacuated to a Catholic in September!” school in Burgess Hill. As the austerity of the “After the Blitz all the kids war years receded and came back to Bermondsey the ‘60s arrived, there for a while, but then the Kathy Donovan seemed to be more doodlebugs started so me in 2017 money about. Family and my brother Jimmy were holidays meant going evacuated to Scotland. to Pontins or a caravan It wasn’t nice being Kathy with her mum, sister in law, somewhere, and eventually, evacuated alone, as I was sister Bridget and son, picking hops when cheap flights became available, to Spain. not treated very good by “But you never forget the hopping days,” she says the people who took us in. wistfully. It was better when we all Kathleen’s mum, Bridget, lived all her life within half mind of the woman who went through the Blitz and went together, with my brother Jimboy and my Mum.” a mile of Ainstey Street where she was born, until separation from her family. She says, “I think most Being a Catholic was evidently quite exciting in she passed away, aged 87, at Ronald Buckingham people, especially children, remember the day sweets those days. “Catholics had the Procession; Protestants Court, sheltered housing for the elderly behind the came off rationing, because every local sweet shop didn’t have a procession in their schools.” For the Adam and Eve in Brunel Road. completely sold out. Imagine a shop that sold nothing annual Procession, the schoolchildren used to march In 1958, Kathy and her two sons move to the newlyelse but sweets but with just empty jars on its shelves!” around the Rotherhithe streets carrying a statue of Our built Silwood Estate, then to Osprey Estate when School ended at 15, when she started a job in Mary. “The Catholic houses used to put little altars that opened in 1970. These days she lives in an Bermondsey Street. Her wage was £2 10s 0d in their windows, and candles, and the priest would apartment block for over-55s in Sidcup and between (£2.50) and she gave her mum £1 10 0d (£1.50). bless the house with holy water as the Procession cruises she keeps herself busy at a weekly exercise “The best thing about it was the smell of the fresh went past.” session, bingo and lunching with friends, neighbours bread from the bakery next door,” she says with a Kathy then changed to Notre Dame School at the and family. n nostalgic look on her face. Elephant. “I got there on a scholarship after passing

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The smart gym By Laura Burgoine

If the information age was a place, it would be Fitness Space. While the whole world collects data on us, most of us don’t even know our basic measurements. 45 minutes at Fitness Space was more illuminating than a combined 15 years at other gyms. The Fitness Space in Surrey Quays, which opened at the end of last year, is the ultimate smart gym. It’s app-ed up, using technology to inform clients and their workouts. First you get a DNA test; a saliva swab is sent off to a laboratory and ten days later you receive a report revealing how your body responds


to exercise, your recovery time, what kind of exercise achieves the best results based on your genetics – whether your body responds best to anaerobic exercise (without oxygen) like sprinting or heavy weight lifting, or aerobic exercising like swimming, running and other cardio. The Body Composition analysis is the other magic tool. It looks like a set of scales but besides giving an accurate overall weight, it breaks down every part of your body and shows much how of your body is fat, how much is muscle, where it’s distributed, your BMI and basal metabolic rate, and whether you’re in the healthy range for your age and height. All of this information allows the coaches to create a bespoke exercise plan and set both short-term and long-term health goals. This information is

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stored in your profile, which you access on a free app on your phone then you can log all your workouts and, most importantly, measure your progress. Generation Fitbit, this is your place. Fitness Space is at Marine Wharf, Unit 3 Aurora Point, Plough Way, SE16 7FQ. Phone: 020 3972 0350.

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Gym and tonic By Laura Burgoine

018 was a banner year for Canada Water’s Body Tonic. It won Clinic of the Year at the UK-wide Institute of Osteopathy awards, and Best Shop in Rotherhithe in the TimeOut Love London awards. The health and wellbeing clinic was also shortlisted at the Southwark Business awards. The business has been at the Dock Offices, on Surrey Quays Road, for four years, and moved onto the ground floor last year, where they now have eight rooms, including a small yoga and Pilates studio with 15 classes a week. “We started as Body Tonic clinic in 2014 but I’d been working in the area for a while,” Clinic director and registered osteopath James Gill said. Graduating from the British school of Osteopathy in 2006, the Norfolk-born osteo did locum work around London before building his own client list and renting rooms locally at the Hilton and Canada Water Dental Practice, as well as working from home. In 2013, James moved into St Olave’s Court and took on his first associate. “We built over the five years from there and now have a team of 22,” James said. The clinic offers osteopathy, massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy, chiropractic and a range of beauty treatments like waxing and facials.

“Everything is interconnected. It’s fascinating to see patients go on their journey,” James said. “We have swimmers come in for injury treatment and rehab but for competitions they’ll come in for waxing,” he continued. “Some clients come to us for a pregnancy massage or osteopathy and pregnancy yoga classes, and then they might bring their children in later down the line. “There aren’t many clinics out there that do as big a scale as us,” James said. “My main goal is to provide great treatments to patients and great customer service, so they’ll leave feeling better, happier and healthier.” Patients range from six months to 97-years-old. “We’ve got patients we’ll see regularly for health reasons and then there’s other people who are training for a marathon and they come for osteopathy and rehab.” Common issues include desk-related postural problems, muscular skeletal injuries, sports injuries, neck and back pain and also chronic conditions and motor accident injuries. “This year we’re looking to team up with some charities, to rent out our studio to hold movement-based classes for elderly people, like chair yoga,” James said. Studio classes accommodate eight people and can be booked online with different packages. People can get the first class free, and ten percent off their first massage if they book online. For osteopathy, patients can access a free 20 minute consultation. Body Tonic is at 10-11 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, SE16 2XU. Phone: 0203 6060 493.

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Making waves at the docks By Laura Burgoine


here’s not many gyms where you can go straight from the rowing machine to an actual rowboat. Surrey Docks Watersports Centre is ringing in spring with a range of courses where you can SUP, windsurf, or sail away at SE16’s hidden gem. Prices are due to increase slightly in April, so if you book before then you can take advantage of the current prices.




Learn to kayak at a one-day course on March 31, July 7 or October 6. Cost: £82.50 for members, £110 for non-members.

One-day RYA Level One can be arranged on request and costs £150 for members and £175 for nonmembers.


Surrey Docks Watersports Centre, is at Rope St, SE16 7SX. Phone: 0333 005 0409. Full prices and information about Watersports courses are available on the website; there’s also courses for children.

One-day tasters on April 28 and May 23.

WINDSURFING Two-day beginners course on May 25-26 and July 2021. Cost: £135 for members, £185 for non-members.

Two-day courses for RYA Level One are running on: 23-24 March, 6-7 April, 18-19 May; 15-16 June, 17-18 August, 14-15 September, and 2-3 November. Cost: £185 for non-members, £136 for members. Three-day courses for RYA Level Two are running on: 27th, 28th April & 4th May; 29th, 30th June & 6th July; 12th, 13th & 19th October. Cost: £205 for nonmembers and £146 for members. Two-day courses for RYA Level Three are arranged on request and cost £205 for non-members and £146 for members. A sailing river trip is planned for July 28 and September 27 for people with RYA Level Two and above. Cost: £43.50 for members, £54.50 for non-members.

CANOEING One-day course on April 14.

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40 The big

By Josh Salisbury


Tower Bridge Road institution celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year – the Tower Tandoori.

The restaurant was one of the first Indian curry houses in south east London - and it’s still going strong four decades later. Suhel, who has followed in the footsteps of his dad and grandad to run the business, said: “In the beginning it was probably the only Indian restaurant in the whole of south east London. “It was definitely the only tandoori restaurant. The restaurant started trading as the Tower Tandoori, although previous businesses known as the Dreamland Tandoori and Star of India had been in the premises before. He said: “My granddad took over the business in 1977 and made it the Tower Tandoori in 1978. “There’s probably been an Indian restaurant there for the last sixty years.” Although there has been a well-loved Indian on the spot for over a half a century, the business has had to battle the difficulties facing the industry. Suhel, 31, said: “Indian restaurants have been closing down like flies. “They’ve been going very quickly because people who can cook have been retiring, young people haven’t been joining – there’s an industry-wide problem. “It isn’t as easy as it used to be.” What then, is the secret to the business’s longevity, apart from its very tasty curries? Suhel attributes it to “always innovating and trying something different”, as well as the loyalty of its staff in the family-owned business. The restaurant has embraced tech, while having a strong family focus helps with making sure there’s always someone around to keep things ticking over. He said: “We’ve had a lot of family members who have given a lot in the business, a lot of people gave their sweat blood and tears.” The “young blood” in the business helped keep things fresh, Suhel says – while loyal staff become almost like a second family. (One waiter has been there for ten

years, a rarity in the industry.) The Tower Tandoori is fiercely local and proud, too. The business won’t open until the pavement outside has been swept clean, a tradition Suhel said he has inherited from his father and grandfather. Suhel said: “I went to Grange Primary around the corner, I went to Guy’s Hospital, and everything I’ve ever done has been in this area. “If I don’t come to the restaurant even on my day off I feel uncomfortable, it’s just a thing. “I feel like I have to breathe the air on Tower Bridge Road, it’s such a clichéd thing to say but I just feel not right otherwise.” Being rooted in the area for such a long time has given the Tower Tandoori a vantage point to watch how much Bermondsey has changed – even down to the people popping in for a curry. Director Suhel, who took over the business ten years ago, explained: “The customer has changed. We were very old Bermondsey to start off. “When I started in the business we used to get customers who came after the pub and it was a very different type of customer than what we’ve got today. “People used to come to the restaurant just to say hello to Dad or me and my brother. Yes, they came for

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the food but they saw us as family. “The whole demographic of the area has changed. The Old Bermondsey has moved to Bexley and Sidcup and Bromley, whereas the yuppie crowd who can afford to buy a two bed flat for £500,000 has moved in.” He added: “We’ve had to adapt to a new clientele – we’ve gone from being a neighbourhood restaurant to a tourist-friendly restaurant.” In the early days, dad Shab was reluctant to have the big open-front windows which now characterise the restaurant, because he thought they would be smashed too quickly. Now they are more likely to see coach loads of tourists passing by their windows. Menus are printed in several languages, to adapt to their customers from all over the world. Despite the forty years of serving tandoori to Old Bermondsey and New Bermondsey alike, the business has no plans to stop any time soon. “This is stuff my ancestors, my dad and grandfather really worked hard on. It’s not about money, it’s a sentimental thing, it’s about legacy,” said Suhel. “I’d like to see the business go onto another forty years, maybe even a hundred years.” n



Spring 2019

Need for Spiedie


By Laura Burgoine

The Yellow House celebrated 15 years in SE16 last year and is ploughing ahead with a new shipping container café opening soon outside Surrey Quays shopping centre. The brainchild of Robert Wennberg and Jaime Foà, locals of Surrey Docks for 40 years, the restaurant started life in Plough Way in 2003. “Back in those days, if we wanted to go out for dinner we’d usually go into the West End,” Robert said. The original restaurant was small but always busy. “We were trying to bring a bit of the West End to SE16; we served Louis Roederer, which no one around here was doing at the time,” Robert continued. They painted the building yellow to grab attention and people started referring to it as the Yellow House. “We like to think the community christened it,” Robert said. The duo introduced wine tastings to the area, and then moved the restaurant into the old Caulkers pub, in 2008, after a major refurbishment in 2007. Now the warm space is lined with wood panelling and furnished with mid-century pieces and a wood-burning stove. A cosy snug can be hired out for private parties, comfortably seating 15 people, while in summer seating on the terrace overlooks Southwark Park. The menu features burgers and pizzas, and the kitchen prides itself on quality steaks from Donald Russell, bone marrow gravy they make themselves over 48 hours, and breads, desserts and pastries baked daily by pastry chef Jaime, who started his career as a chef at Prue Leith’s Michelin starred restaurant Leith’s in Notting Hill. The Yellow House is crowdfunding to open Spiedie’s Shack. They plan to serve Italian sandwiches of grilled meat on fresh bread, with lamb and chicken varieties, as well as chips, handmade cakes and top notch coffee. To donate, visit: n

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Drink different By Laura Burgoine

The UK is the largest cider market in the world but there’s only one brand of cider made in London. Now, all eyes are on Hawkes: the only cider-maker on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Founder Simon Wright noticed the craft beer revolution bypassing cider, so he jumped on the gap in the market with gusto. Traditionally England’s cider market has been dominated by farms or big producers like Strongbow but Hawkes is changing the landscape and is now stocked in pubs all over the UK, Byron Burger, Honest Burger,


Marks and Spencer and Whole Foods. The magic happens under two railway arches in Druid Street. At Hawkes’ headquarters, Master cidermaker Roberto Basilico oversees the production. One railway arch is set up with the apple press and fermentation tanks, while the other is used for the blending and taproom with an office upstairs. A pipe they refer to as ‘Cider Bridge’ runs between them transporting the cider into kegs, which are then transported to a different site for bottling. The apples – gala and Braeburn varieties, sometimes a bit of Bramley - come from Kent and are ‘gradeout’ apples, which supermarkets reject because they’re imperfect or too small to sell. If not used for juicing,

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these apples usually end up being thrown out. “The cider is quite cloudy naturally so it goes through a filtering machine,” Roberto says, gesturing towards his “favourite toy.” Hawkes, which started life in East London in 2014, also hosts master classes: a three-hour course where people get a tour of the cidery and a chance to make cider, which they can come back four weeks later to collect. n The next masterclass is on Saturday 30 March from 11am-2pm at Hawkes Cidery and Taproom, 92 Druid Street, SE1 2HQ. Phone: 0203 903 8387. Cost: £90 per person. Courses run every 6-8 weeks.

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ÂŁ385,000 for dock view


his chain-free second floor apartment boasts a captivating view of both the wildlifepacked Norway Dock and the urban jungle of Canary Wharf. It has a bright dual-aspect reception with Juliet balcony, separate kitchen, dining area, brand new bathroom, good-sized bedroom, a long entrance hall with storage cupboard and a secure allocated parking space.

Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations are both within short walking distance and there is the convenience of


a range of local shops very close by. The tranquil surroundings include Russia Dock Woodlands, Greenland Dock and the Thames Path. The River Taxi services from Greenland Pier also offer an alternative way of commuting. Part of The Lakes, built around the old Norway Dock, the development has been commended for creating a residential area of real presence and identity. Within the last year the exterior and interior communal areas have been refurbished and redecorated. The Canada Water Masterplan will bring exciting developments to the area, with the first phase due to be completed by 2021. The first phase will provide new civic space, a leisure centre, housing, shops and workspace to the west of the iconic library. The whole project incorporates the current

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shopping centre, retail park and the old newspaper factory sites. There is also the proposed Rotherhithe Bridge, which will provide a pedestrian connection direct to Canary Wharf. The one bedroom flat on Finland Street, SE16, is priced at ÂŁ385,000. For more information contact Urban Patchwork on 020 8012 0562



aving an adequate roof over your head is a basic need and a human right: a place to come home to at the end of the day and unwind, to feel safe and secure, to spend time with friends and family, and to express your identity. But in London, for a wide range of reasons, many struggle to meet these needs and often feel exploited. Urban Patchwork is a new Rotherhithe-based ethical estate agent aiming to raise standards in the industry and to use profit for social good. London’s residential property is worth approximately £1.5 trillion, yet at the same time, there is a lack of social housing and various types of intermediary housing (between social and open market housing), as well as high property values for both renting and buying, leading people to spend an ever-increasing proportion of their salaries on where they live. There is also a national homelessness crisis becoming progressively worse. And alongside the huge demand for sales and lettings services, a widespread frustration with the industry. These contradictions led South London siblings Tessa and Toby Gooding to set up Urban Patchwork in SE16, an estate agency run as a social enterprise – the majority of profits will go to help meet local housing need or will be reinvested to increase their social impact over the longer term.

A better service The brother and sister duo have 17 years’ industry experience behind them and a key aim: to give the best sales and lettings service possible. Toby Gooding has worked as an agent for 15 years, and his younger sister Tessa has a more varied background including in urban planning, residential sales, social enterprise, and marketing. Pooling their expertise, Urban Patchwork (UP) is a certified ‘business for good’ and member of the Property Ombudsman, NAEA and ARLA Propertymark and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. ‘Business should be about getting people together to meet society’s needs in a financially sustainable way,’ says Tessa Gooding. ‘It seems we’re increasingly moving away from this in the push to maximise company profits for shareholders at all costs. It also used to be the norm for estate agents to be rooted in their communities. We need to get back to basics.’ Urban Patchwork aims to give customers the best experience possible through offering a

Urban Patchwork – an SE16 estate agency run as a social enterprise transparent and professional service with no surprises or hidden costs. They also aim to create more civic value from property transactions through how they use their profits, demonstrating a level of integrity that instils confidence in the service they provide. They have fivestar ratings from sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants on Google and AllAgents.

A five-star rating The firm is one of the few London agents to provide floorplans for both lettings and sales. It uses a leading property photographer and writes detailed descriptions to display properties in the best possible light, and advertises on the largest online platforms Zoopla and Rightmove. Because they minimise tenant fees and give evidence-based property appraisals (valuations), landlords and sellers are more likely to get their property let and sold speedily. The Goodings also make a point of following up after viewings to get feedback and refine their marketing strategy for properties accordingly. A landlord said of her recent experience of Urban Patchwork: “Exceptional service. When my flat became vacant it needed refurbishment. Toby helped me refine my specification of work needed, found excellent contractors and supervised the work. I was delighted with the result and appointed Toby to find me new tenants, now in occupation, and to manage the flat. His professionalism, knowledge of the industry and hard work impressed me and I would not hesitate to recommend him, Tessa and Urban Patchwork. This new agency has brought a breath of fresh air to the letting scene…”

A genuine interest in tenants and landlords Unlike many agents, Urban Patchwork does not charge tenants for tenancy agreements or renewal or check-out fees. They have minimised fees for tenants to support people in affording quality accommodation, without increasing landlord fees. They also submitted their support for the Tenant Fees Bill that will see the majority of agent tenant fees scrapped from 1 June this year, and highlight on their website the option of requesting longer tenancies if required (subject to landlord agreement). Their Tenant Commitment is based on Mayoral guidance for the private rented sector, offering the reassurance of a quality property management system and membership of the Client Money Protection Scheme. Here’s what one recent tenant says: “Very personal and professional service. Urban Patchwork is a gem in the world of letting agents. With only having a few weeks to find a property, Toby and his team were nothing short of perfect, and if I decide to move again, I will be staying with Urban Patchwork.”

An inspiring model As far as they are aware, Urban Patchwork is London’s only private social enterprise agency dealing with sales and lettings (according to Social Enterprise UK’s definition of the term). They won the Cecil Jackson Cole Award for Social Responsibility in December 2018, and co-director Tessa made it on to NatWest’s WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100) in recognition of their business model. The firm is already fundraising and raising awareness for Deptford-based homelessness charity 999 Club,

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which provides advice and support for homeless people, match-funding customer donations up to £25. Both directors have also taken on sponsored challenges: Toby helping to collectively raise £4812 through the 999 Club team cycling in Ride London and Tessa walking 32 miles of the Thames Path raising £999. One customer even donated £500 when her house sale completed.

Long-term impact As well as becoming an example of good practice in the residential sector and helping raise standards, the business aims to make a meaningful difference to both tenants and people who are homeless. Long term, Tessa says one idea is using profits to help provide better quality temporary accommodation to meet urgent local need, another is looking to do something specifically for the in-work homeless whom the 999 Club say they find the hardest to house (of those with recourse to public funds).

Get in touch Urban Patchwork will celebrate its one-year anniversary since launching in March. ‘Whether you’re a resident, business, community organisation, customer or just interested in our operating model, drop by for a chat!’ says Tessa. They are also recruiting for a full-time Sales and Lettings Property Adviser and are seeking volunteers to join its board of experts advising on company direction and voting on the allocation of profits to homeless projects.

If interested, contact Tessa at / 020 7043 2348.


Last few remaining units available

A selection of newly refurbished SE1 one double bedroom flats for sale ÂŁ275,000

Old Kent Road, SE1 ÂŁ275,000 Leasehold A selection of newly refurbished period one double bedroom flats located on the Old Kent Road, offering an easy commute into Central London. The properties have been finished to a good standard and consist of a semi open plan kitchen, a reception room, a modern bathroom and a double bedroom.

Viewings are highly recommended. Call us today to view! 0207 407 4586

t 020 7407 4586 f 020 7407 4016 e w a 164 Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 3FG


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Why choose a full property management service?


here are many reasons why landlords should consider a full property management service rather going it alone or opting for a ‘let only’ or ‘rent collection’ service. According to Lee Whitelock, director of leading independent SE1 estate agency, Garrett Whitelock, a full property management service saves more than avoiding hassle.

Landlords who live far away from a property they rent out may have little choice but to retain the services of a property management company to look after their asset. However, for landlords living close to their rental properties the decision is less cut and dry, although time-poor landlords may opt to pay for a full property management service, to avoid the hassle of having to deal with any problems and maintenance issues during the tenancy when they inevitably occur. Since the buy-to-let boom took off in the early 1990s, changes to regulations in the lettings industry

have been rife. Landlords now need to check the immigration status of new tenants, they must obtain an Energy Performance Certificate for each property they rent out, they are legally required to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate, and in some areas they may require a licence to rent out their property. Keeping on top of all the constantly changing regulations can be daunting to say the least. “Landlords dealing with the letting and management of a property themselves take on the full responsibility of compliance, whereas those who appoint a professional property management company and opt for full property management will be guided through the process to ensure all bases are covered and they’re letting their properties legally,” Lee said. When choosing a property management company, make sure they have a good local reputation and are a member of ARLA (like Garrett Whitelock), RICS or NALS. This means their staff will be properly trained and kept up to date with the latest legislation, as well as being properly insured and able to act on your behalf in the case of any tenant disputes. Hassle avoidance and compliance aren’t the only reasons astute landlords are increasingly favouring

full property management over ‘let only’ services. Lee points out: “Rents in central London have risen dramatically in recent years and today’s tenants are forced to pay a sizeable proportion of their salaries on rent and expect a certain level of service as a result. If there’s a leak in their rental property, they don’t want to have to wait two weeks for their landlord to come back from holiday before it gets fixed. They expect problems to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. “At Garrett Whitelock, we’re increasingly finding that when deciding between two similar properties, prospective tenants always opt for the property that is fully managed, safe in the knowledge that any problems will be sorted out straightaway,” Lee said. “One of the perks of being a tenant is not having to deal with property maintenance issues, and a full property management service definitely gives a landlord the edge when it comes to attracting and retaining tenants and minimising void periods between tenancies.” Some agents have a reputation for over-charging for repairs, but landlords will be pleasantly surprised to hear that Garrett Whitelock can often resolve maintenance issues cheaper than the landlord could themselves. “Firstly we find out what the problem is and whether a contractor visit is

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needed, and then we obtain extremely competitive quotes via our network of trusted contacts in the area,” Lee said. “Our competitive pricing is one of the reasons why landlords using our property management service choose to renew each year.” Landlords also have access to Garrett Whitelock’s dedicated online service, My Property File, via a unique log in. This not only provides instant access to all information relating to their tenancy, such as the start date, next rent payment, accounts and deposit ID, but it shows the status and cost of any repairs. To find out more about Garrett Whitelock’s thorough and transparent property management service call 020 3318 5481 or email Garrett Whitelock estate agents is at 164 Tower Bridge Road, SE1 3FG



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Why choose property management?


liver Newberry and Nathan Coveney started up their London Bridge boutique real estate agency, View Lettings, thirteen years ago, two years before the global financial crisis. “So we’re recession proof,” director Nathan joked.

hands-off as you want them to be.

Why choose a property manager? Some landlords want to manage their own properties, but if you don’t have the time or experience, hiring a property manager can be a good solution.

The Three different levels of service View Lettings offers are: Tenant-find only: They’ll market the property, show prospective tenants around, check references and draw up tenancy agreements. They could also collect the first month’s rent and deposit. You can pay extra for an inventory and check-in on moving-in day. Tenant find + rent collection: They’ll offer the same services as Tenant-find only and they’ll also collect the rolling weekly or monthly rent payments. Full management: Full management offers the same services as Tenant find + rent collection and they’ll also manage the day-to-day running of the property while the tenant is living there, including repairs and maintenance, and returning the tenant’s deposit once they’ve made sure the inventory is still all there and nothing’s been damaged. They will deal with contract renewals and reassess rent prices based on market changes, renegotiating rent rates with existing tenants where needed. View Lettings also offers you a free, no-obligation rental valuation before you agree to work together.

How much do you want your property manager to do? Your letting agent can be as hands-on or

View Lettings is at 68 Newcomen Street, SE1 1YT Phone number: 02073788696. Email:

Just 26-years-old when they started the business, the agency is completely independent and the owners are landlords themselves, but focus predominantly on managing and letting other people’s properties. They also have landlords all over central London. “We cover a four-mile radius of SE1,” Nathan said. “For the property management side of things, clients are dealing with the directors as well as property managers,” he continued. “We’re very handson and our reputation means everything to us.”

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