London 1978


Pickford's Wharf, Southwark, 1978
14v53: Southwark, wharves, Victorian

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There was an area of small alleys and streets close to Southwark Cathedral which I wandered around, and it is hard to know precisely where this photograph was taken. There were overhead bridges between a number of the warehouses in this area, including Rosings' Wharf and Stave Wharf, Stave Wharf and West Kent Wharf and West Kent Wharf and Hibernia Wharf, as well as between the buildings of Hibernia Wharf on either side of Montague Close.

Hibernia Wharf was a large complex of buildings in Montague Close, between West Kent Wharf which was on the east side of St Mary Overy's Wharf and the 'new' London Bridge. These buildings in the Pool of London were all latterly owned by the Proprietors of Hay's Wharf, further downstream. Only St Mary Overy's Wharf had direct water access with lighters coming into the dock which is still there, and goods were taken to the various nearby warehouses either along the narrow streets or by bridges between buildings such as these. Most of the goods handled here were foodstuffs and other low value items.

West Kent Warehouses were rebuilt by the wharfingers J. Hartley & Co in 1858. Hibernia (or New Hibernia) Wharf, immediately to the north of Southwark Cathedral was originally built in 1836, most was destroyed by fire in 1851, but the rebuilding was to the plans of William Cubitt. At the east end of the site on London Bridge and Montague Close you can see the facades of a part of this building but the interior was gutted in 1970 and interior walls replaced by concrete, though parts of the original undercroft were retained.

These wharves handled goods on a small scale, using hydraulic cranes and other machinery, and largely went out of use in the 1960s as bulk handling of cargoes, decasualisation of dock labour and containerisation moved the traffic to large docks downstream. Some buildings continued to be in use for storage of goods until around 1980, but were demolished shortly after.

Looking carefully at the picture again I think it may actually be looking west along Pickfords Lane, with the building on the right being Pickford's Wharf, which had further buildings to the south across the lane. I think you can see a little of Winchester Palace and Clink St in the distance.