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"Saturday 19th October 2021 The Bermondsey Mile

Geoff Castro writes on An Autumn "Ramble around Rotherhithe".

          By popular demand - or, requested by the Chairman at least - I have organised a belated "summer Wolves walk" for SATURDAY 9th OCTOBER. The tour will take us to London's oldest riverside wet dock, a city farm, an ecological park, a museum and the place from where the "Mayflower" set sail in 1620. Much opportunity to sample the many historic hostelries en route as well as visit some of the many breweries on the "Bermondsey Beer Mile"   Meet at "The Surrey Docks" (Wetherspoons), 185 Lower Road, SE16 2LW (near to Surrey Quays Overground station (15-20 mins direct  from London Bridge) and served by bus routes 47, 108, 188, 199 and 225) at 11-30am for a 12-00 start (or earlier for breakfast).  Riverboats from Central London stop at Greenland Surrey Quays 13 minutes walk (RB1,2, 6 and 6C) Directions,    More details

Pictures Treasurer Carol  


London Wolves Walk: an Autumn Ramble around Rotherhithe (Saturday 9th October 2021).

Eleven hardy souls met at “The Surrey Docks” pub (Wetherspoons) for a belated London Wolves “Ramble around Rotherhithe”. The pub itself was a useful introduction to a walk with a mainly maritime theme as it contained many interesting photographs of the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as information about celebrities including Max Bygraves and Michael Caine who were born in Rotherhithe.

After a hearty breakfast, the walk started in earnest with its first stop at a reconstructed (1993) “Dockers Shelter” just around the corner from the pub. The area had been associated with docks and trade for many centuries hence the local names: Canada water, Greenland Dock, Finland Street, Russia Dock woodland, etc. Most local people worked as casual labourers in the docks, having to queue for work in all weathers every morning. It was up to the contractors foremen to select men for work and, even if successful, a docker might only be employed for a few hours.This was obviously happening at a time when no work meant no pay! It was not until 1889 that Ben Tillet formed a dockers union and campaigned for the “Dockers Tanner” (6d or 2 and a half new pence) as an hourly wage. The dockers went on strike on the 12th August 1889 and by 14th September 1889 had achieved their main aim, together with other improvements to their working conditions which later included shelters for them to queue under.

         The next stop, a little further on, was Greenland Dock, so named because in the 1720’s it was used by whaling vessels from Greenland. Local pubs including the “Moby Dick” and the “Ship and Whale” reflect this aspect of the area’s history. The dock was later used to import timber from Canada and was even used by ocean cruisers from Canada between the wars. It was heavily bombed during World War 2 and fell into decline in the 1970’s as a result of the use of container ships which needed deeper water and a larger turning area. However, whereas most of the surrounding docks were filled in, Greenland Dock survived and, in 1982, was redeveloped as a watersports centre. It is now London’s oldest wet dock. Evidence of rails used by cranes to load and unload ships could be seen as we walked beside the dock.

         Of course, for most on the walk, the first point of real interest was the “Moby Dick”, a large Fullers pub with a full range of bitters including ESB! A short walk away was our second pub “The Ship and Whale”, a Shepherd Neame pub selling “Spitfire” and “Whitstable” ales.

        From here, a couple - who shall remain nameless - took the C10 bus while the others walked through Russia Dock woodland ecological park which was on the site of the now defunct Surrey Commercial docks. Many of the group were surprised to see such a large open area of countryside in what was otherwise a densely populated urban area. We even saw a number of foxes who seemed quite unperturbed by the presence of Wolves!   

        Our third pub stop was “The Blacksmiths Arms” another Fullers pub but one with a beautiful exterior decked with flowers. A few decided to stay for another beer here while the others took the C10 bus four stops to Rotherhithe Overground station rather than walk a largely uninteresting section of the Thames Path.

      The next point of historical interest was the Brunel Museum, an engine house built by Marc Brunel to house the steam powered pumps which were used to pump water from the Thames tunnel, the first tunnel in the World to be constructed under a major river. Originally used by pedestrians, the tunnel was used by trains from 1869 and now by the London overground to connect Rotherhithe to Wapping.

      A short distance on, the “Mayflower” provided a welcome break offering a good range of ales as well as some tempting food. A high tide prevented us from sitting outside with waves from the tidal Thames splashing water through the gaps in the wooden flooring! Although the pub looks old, much of it has been rebuilt after it had suffered extensive bombing damage during the Second World War. The “Mayflower” ship set sail from here in 1620 taking the first English settlers to Newfoundland and a list of passengers can be found on the pub wall. Christopher Jones, the captain of the ship, is buried in an unmarked grave in the church of St. Mary the Virgin opposite the pub, where a statue now stands to commemorate the event. Opposite the church is the “Old Watch House” from where watchmen kept order until the Metropolitan Police Force was formed in 1829.

     The final stop of this part of the walk was the “Angel”, a 19th century pub overlooking the river Thames and offering a full range of Samuel Smith beers. The pub contained one of the shortest doorways I have ever seen! Nearby, are the remains of Edward theThirds moated manor house and Doctor Salters Daydream Statues, the latter comprising statues of Dr Salter, Ada Brown (both late 19th/early 20th century philanthropists who supported the Bermondsey poor and helped rid the area of its slums), his daughter and a cat!

    For some the walk ended with a short trek to Bermondsey Station but a hardened core went on to tour the breweries of the “Bermondsey mile” including the “Southwark Brewery” where we met a Sunderland fan who knew a number of the London Wolves members!

     A good time was had by all (I hope) and, as predicted, the sun shone throughout the day!

Geoff Castro.



The Gang's All Her

The Surrey Docks

Mat intersing people and their bike

The Moby Dick

Spotted Jamie Vardy Urban Junge!


A sign from the Ship and Whale

The Blacksmith's Arms

The Mayflower

At The Mayflower

Sign from the last watering hole