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Lucinda Douglas-Menzies At Butler’s Wharf

May 10, 2020
by the gentle author

Contributing Photographer Lucinda Douglas-Menzies sent me these photographs of Butler’s Wharf from 1980 that she has just discovered, published for the first time here today

“One weekend on an overcast day in 1980 I walked around Butler’s Wharf in Bermondsey. Bulldozers had already begun demolition and the place was utterly deserted. Warehouse cranes, forlornly still, stood to attention by the water’s edge, discarded pallets leant against the derelict leaking buildings on Shad Thames where piles of rubbish spewed outside closed doors.  Deserted except for occasional signs of life: two men pushing a load on a barrow, abandoned road sweepers’ brooms and carts, a pair of guard dogs gazing down from high on a parapet, and one elderly resident, standing on her gleaming doorstep looking out resignedly, one hand on the frill of her apron, the other holding onto the brick wall as if to reassure herself it was still there.” – Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

Photographs copyright © Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

You may like to see these other photographs by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

Lucinda Douglas-Menzies Spitalfields Portraits

Lucinda Douglas-Menzies At Billingsgate Market

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Jean Clements permalink
    May 10, 2020

    Very evocative, what replaced those buildings.

  2. Jamie S permalink
    May 10, 2020

    What a treat on a Sunday morning… I remember those women on their doorsteps in Shoreditch and Bermondsey, even into the nineties. But no more, sadly…

  3. May 10, 2020

    What a marvellous set of photographs. I love the resident holding her apron. Even now, when the warehouses have become luxury flats and restaurants, I can sense the smell of spices and the noise from past days in the air when I stroll along the path underneath those walkways.

  4. May 10, 2020

    When you compare these photos with what Butler’s Wharf is like 40 years on it’s quite incredible. It’s a little sterile now but good that the warehouses have survived.

  5. May 10, 2020

    If you are walking around this area, once the pubs open again, I recommend the Anchor Tap on the corner of Horselydown Lane and Cooper Row.

  6. May 10, 2020

    Brilliant to see these atmospheric photos, thankyou. Parts of Shad Thames and Butler’s Wharf were not that different even ten years later when we had our first shop, down there, thanks to Sir Terence Conran .
    He had smartened up the river front with the Pont de La Tour and at the the the other end of Shad Thames, punctuated by the Design Museum. There were still large parts beyond that were undeveloped and the tumbleweed was still rolling, the smell of spices still pervading.

  7. Penny Gardner permalink
    May 10, 2020

    Good it was to be a painter working in the space there for a few years. So very interesting . Clinging to the edge of the Thames . I wish .somehow that it could have remained in the hands of people who didn’t have so much and yet held the history and life in their hands. Its now so dead and unimaginative. Not a change for the best,but more of a cartoon to deceive.

  8. Pauline Taylor permalink
    May 10, 2020

    I like Penny ‘s description of this as clinging to the edge of the Thames and her mention of the history as that is how I see it. All my ancestors from the 16th century until the late 19th century lived and worked either on or beside the Thames from Hampton to Greenwich and everywhere in between so, despite never having lived in London myself, I still feel that the history is in my blood and particularly that of the river. This area must have been so busy and so active for so long and it is so sad if all that atmosphere has been lost but it is good to hear that the smell of the spices still lingers. Thank you GA and Lucinda for a good start to a lovely warm and sunny Sunday morning, you have made me think of all those long ago members of my family who must have been so familiar with these wharves and all the activity that took place there. Much to think about !

  9. May 10, 2020

    Magnificent photographs. I didn’t know Butler’s Wharf nor do I know it now, but I’ve looked for pictures to see what it has become. Strangely, although in Ms. Glass’ pictures the warehouses were empty and no longer in use, the same street had more life then that it has now with its “quaint” shop signs and neat look. Sad.

  10. May 10, 2020

    What a fabulous coincidence. When my two favourite internet pages pass by the same place on the same day. The BBC Archive Twitter feed today features a small film of Bob Hoskins taking Barry Norman along a riverside walk in 1982:

  11. Clive Jennings permalink
    May 10, 2020

    I used to have a studio there in 1975, and remember it well. Derek Jarman making films and Andrew Logan’s “Alternative Miss World” – it was all happening there!

  12. May 12, 2020

    The Pictures are Sad, but I do Enjoy them. Thank You.?????

  13. Colin Oakley permalink
    June 4, 2020

    Bloody marvellous. Thank you for sharing and by way of reply to some of those who have left less than generous comments about the area now, please be aware that there is still a strong sense of community here. Some of us have lived here 35 years plus and raised families in the neighbourhood. There are still houses, not just flats, as there have been for many centuries and for much longer than the Victorian warehouse facades that you see today.

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