From east to west, SE1 includes parts of Bermondsey, Borough, London Bridge, Elephant and Castle, Waterloo and Lambeth. Its northern boundary is the River Thames, and it includes Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge. It is split into the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.
The SE1 postcode district lies within or includes part of the following towns, counties, localities, electoral wards and stations: Bishop's, Borough Station, Cathedrals, Chaucer, East Walworth, Elephant & Castle Station, Grange, Lambeth, Lambeth North Station, Livesey, London, London Bridge Station, Newington, Prince's, Riverside, South Bermondsey, Southwark, Southwark Station, Waterloo East Station, Waterloo Station.
The Bankside area of SE1 covers parts such as Southwark and Lambeth. The word ‘Lambeth’ originates from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Lambhythe’ which means ‘muddy harbour’, or ‘marsh’. Because of this, the south bank was developed long after the north bank, not showing any signs of significant urbanisation until the eighteenth century. It was then that the south bank began to develop as an artistic centre. Without the restrictions of space, censorship and licensing of the north bank, many theatres and music halls appeared.
The River Thames provided a major power resource and the marshes provided fresh water. This meant that the area also became a popular industrial area, and because of the new employment opportunities in industries such as coal wharves, timber yards and clothes bleaching, the south bank experienced a population explosion. What was once a quiet area made up of a number of rural, agriculture based hamlets, became a busy and popular industrial centre. As with much of the south bank, it was the introduction of the railway in the mid-nineteenth century that had the most sudden and significant impact on the area. The industrial and important infrastructure that made up the south bank made it a target in the Second World War. The loss of buildings and industry meant that the population explosion of the Victorian era was reversed. The 1970s residential population dropped dramatically from 50,000 to 4,000. However, since then, the area has received a large amount of attention and funding to aid regeneration and redevelopment. As a result, the river front is now an eclectic mix of converted Victorian wharves, post-war public buildings (such as the Royal Festival Hall) and modern architectural offerings, such as City Hall.
Given the proximity of SE1 to the river, the City and all variety of cultural and recreational opportunities of Bankside, it is unsurprising that this is an extremely popular and fashionable area in which to live. There is a range of property types and styles to suit everyone.
Along the river front are a number of luxury executive apartments, many of which are conversion apartments such as the extremely popular Burrells Wharf, one of the larger wharf developments located at the Tower Bridge Road side of the postcode district. Clink Wharf on Clink Street is also a popular development, where properties reach around three million pounds for a three bedroom flat with balcony. There is also a significant amount of new development, such as that along Long Lane, to the eastern side of the postcode district, near to Borough tube station.
Also to the east is Bermondsey. Bermondsey receives less attention than the property market around London Bridge, and prices are more affordable as a result. Moving south towards Elephant and Castle, prices become even more affordable. The areas around Newington Causeway and Kennington Park Road have a higher proportion of council property, mostly in the form of low-rise red brick blocks, such as Whitworth House on Falmouth Road. However, Elephant and Castle, particularly the Old Kent Road, is undoubtedly one of the most affordable areas in Zone 1. Property on the Old Kent Road tends to come in the form of period property, much of which is located above retail premises in the form of one or two bed flats. There are however, some terraced and semi-detached properties.
Also located in the area of Borough, is the highly desirable Trinity Church Square, said to be one of the best preserved squares of Georgian townhouses in London. Although the majority of these large terraced properties have now been converted into flats, some remain in their original terraced form (one of which sold in July 2002 for £820,000). Further west towards the tube stations of Waterloo and Lambeth North, the housing stock is much the same, with an eclectic mix of old and new, flats and houses.
Westminster Bridge Road houses a number of executive apartment buildings, with flats in 100 The Perspective costing into the millions. The Albert Embankment is similarly popular, though slightly more affordable. For even more affordable properties, there is a large concentration of ex-local authority property in the area, such as Greet House on Frazier Street.
Places of interest in SE1 include the Tate Modern, which houses international modern and contemporary art. It was converted into a striking gallery from a disused power station that closed in 1982. The building was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.
The Globe Theatre is another place of interest. It is a reconstruction of the original open-air playhouse, in which Shakespeare acted and wrote some of his plays. The original was situated just off Park Street and was destroyed in a fire on June 29th 1631. Although it was rebuilt in June 1614, it closed again in 1642. The season now runs from April to October.
As well as The Globe Theatre, there are a number of other big name theatres, including The Old Vic (on The Cut), and The National Theatre (on the South Bank). City Hall is another attraction worth a visit.
SE1 is also the location of the London Eye and the Royal Festival Hall, which is now part of the South Bank Centre. HMS Belfast is moored in between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Kings College London also has a campus in this area.