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Southwark & the Industrial Revolution


By the 1700's the built up area of Southwark was expanding into the surrounding countryside and previously green areas became factories. As London became the Empire's Port, Southwark became the 'Larder of London'. This was based around Hay's Wharf which was rebuilt in 1861 with refrigeratored storage. This allowed the import of perishable foodstuffs from around the world. And so Southwark became the home of many brands that were famous until they were taken over by conglomerates in the later 20th Century. Thus Southwark was the home of:

  • Peak Frean Biscuits
  • Jacob's Crackers
  • Sarsen's Vinegar
  • Courage Beer
  • Cross & Blackwell Soups
  • Hartley's Jam
  • Pearce Duff
  • Spiller's dog biscuits.

From the 18th Century heavy industry moved into the area - in was at Blackfriar's Bridge that Boulton and Watt set up their infamous Albion Mills - which may have been described by local Lambeth resident William Blake as the 'Satanic Mills'. The Mill was was of the first steam powered Corn Mills in Britain. The Mill burnt down in 1791 and was replaced by the great engineering work of John Rennie who was the engineer of the new London Bridge built in 1830-1.

Southwark became a centre for iron founding, wire making, glass making, coal cover founding. anchor smithing and many other heavy industries.

Southwark was the centre of hat making and Bermondsey the centre for leather working. There were 1500 tanners working in 1805. Bevington's was Europe's largest leather manufactory. Bermondsey was also the home of 'fellmmongers, urriers, leather-dressers, marchment makers ... calico printers, dyers, pin and needle makers' (County history of Surrey). .Nearby was the Rope Works one of the longest workshops in London. The whole river front from Bankside to Greenwich became a vast centre of ship building, ship breaking, anchor smithing, stave making, processing and storage.

The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman by Mike Rendell

Mike writes: 'I have just published a book on my great great great great grandfather Richard Hall, who lived in Red Lion Street in Southwark in the 18th Century and who for a while was Treasurer at Horsleydown school. He was a devout Baptist, a friend of Dr Gill at the Carter Lane Meeting House, and a hosier (like his father before him). I am fortunate to have all his diaries, journals, and jottings – even his shopping lists, accounts and reading lists! These have enabled me to write the story of his life as he progressed from making and selling silk stockings from his home in Red Lion Street, to opening a shop across the river at One London Bridge, to becoming a farmer in the Cotswolds.

Trades of Bermondsey St

County History - Bermondsey bullet pointCounty History of Southwark


Next Page - Modern Southwark
Page updated 24th feb 2011
Ind. Rev.

The Lost Industry of Southwark Project is supported by:

the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs

Project Director- Kevin Flude

Email Kevin Flude. Cultural Heritage Resources

To find out more on Southwark visit the SOUTHWARK LOCAL STUDIES LIBRARY
& buy the excellent book by Leonard Riley entitled 'Southwark - an illustrated guide.'

Page template last updated 29 Dec 2010