This ancient town, first mentioned in the Domesday Book as Bermundesy, has had a colourful existence on the south bank of the river Thames.
For centuries condemned as a slum, this centrally located area in Zone One has blossomed in the last ten years into one of the most artistic – not to mention delicious – parts of London. It reached its property peak this year, recording its highest ever sale with a property in Shad Thames – land first owned by the Knights Templar – selling for £4.7m.
Like much of the East End, industry that was deemed too noisy or dirty was sent to the periphery of the City and Bermondsey became known for its factories and textile warehouses. At one time, it was responsible for producing a third of all the leather in England but, by the mid-19th century, it was a notorious slum, particularly the area around St Saviour’s Wharf. Known in the Victorian era as Jacob’s Island, it was immortalised as the place where criminal Bill Sykes met a sticky end in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
The area known as Butler’s Wharf was heavily bombed during World War II and it wasn’t until the 1980s that it began to be redeveloped. It was a great success, and now Shad Thames, as it’s known, is an upmarket shopping district with many riverside restaurants and smart apartments lining its banks.
One Tower Bridge, an enormous Berkeley Homes development sitting in its own park where a penthouse is currently on sale for over £3.6m, is the pinnacle of this success and it’s set to be the site of a new theatre curated by former National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner.
The opening of Bermondsey Underground station on the Jubilee Line only solidified the area’s distinct character from that of nearby Borough and Bermondsey Street is now a foodie fantasia. According to Hamptons International data, there are a whopping 66 restaurants and 63 cafes to choose from. The same data shows that year on year price growth currently sits at 11 per cent and 23 per cent of the market share is made up of first time buyers.
“Bermondsey has a high concentration of local authority buildings, in which privately owned apartments can be bought for under £650 per square foot,” says Jamie Burnhope of property buying consultancy Black Brick. “With the regeneration at Elephant and Castle and the continual growth of London Bridge, Borough, and Shad Thames, Bermondsey represents a very good-value option for any first time buyer wanting to be in a central location.”
Bermondsey’s obvious potential meant that many of its historic warehouses have been bought up by developers and have been turned into luxury flats.
Recent examples include the Old Grange Tannery, which has been renamed Corio by Linden Homes, 53 apartments at The Taper Building by Shape Real Estate, Crest Nicholson has two in close proximity – Snowsfield Yard and Brandon House – and duplex apartments are being sold from £1.6m at The Music Box by Taylor Wimpey.
Whether the postcode is SE1 or SE16 makes a big difference, too. Will Wisbey, from Hamptons International’s London Bridge office says, “You go to SE1 and you’re going to be paying up to £1800psqft, but in South Bermondsey, for a larger flat, you’re talking about £700-800psqft. SE16 is definitely the best place to go if you’re an investor.”
It’s this mix of architecture that makes Bermondsey so appealing to a wide range of buyers and will ensure it stays attractive in the future, according to Foxtons’ London Bridge sales manager Chris Venter.
“Bermondsey’s architectural styles point to key periods in the city’s history. From pre-war homes and ex-local authority houses to upmarket period flat conversions, warehouse conversions and recent developments, it is a melting pot of real estate traditions.”
Bermondsey Street has changed beyond all recognition in the last ten years. There are very few streets in London that offer quite an array of places to eat and drink. It’s great for people-watching, farmers market enthusiasts and there’s a not-for-profit village fete-style festival hosted on Bermondsey Street every September. Bermondsey Square is also home to an antiques market – get there early and you’ll find china, silverware, furniture and vintage fashion. Maltby Street Market is also a worthy alternative to Borough Market and it’s open every weekend underneath some railway arches at Ropewalk. Once you’re done eating and shopping, visit the White Cube gallery, one of the world’s leading contemporary art spaces, currently exhibiting a major new exhibition by Antony Gormley. If it’s a Saturday, you can visit The Kernel Brewery’s bottle shop and pick up a freshly brewed pale ale, porter or stout.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive – Shad Thames –£1,219,888
Best Value –Stubbs Drive –£265,760