To the north and the east, SE16 is bound by the Thames. To the south it is bound by Plough Road, before following Rotherhithe New Road as far as the Old Kent Road. It then follows St. James Road north, where it meets Southwark Park Road and heads west, before following Alscot Road and Neckinger Road north. Here it meets Abbey Street and heads up to the Thames, staying to the east of Tower Bridge Road. The area includes Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Canada Water and Surrey Quays.
The SE16 postcode district lies within or includes part of the following towns, counties, localities, electoral wards and stations: Bermondsey Station, Canada Water Station, Evelyn, Grange, Lewisham, Livesey, London, New Cross, Riverside, Rotherhithe, Rotherhithe Station, South Bermondsey, South Bermondsey Station, Southwark, Surrey Docks, Surrey Quays Station.
A thousand years ago, Bermondsey would have been riverside marshland. The first development appeared in the eleventh century and was Bermondsey Abbey. The area grew naturally, though it suffered during the Great Fire of London, after which it became popular with the richer upper classes. Samuel Pepys records in his diary in 1664 that he enjoyed a day at Cherry Gardens Pier. This reputation as a pleasant garden suburb was enhanced in the 1700s by the discovery of a spring. Bermondsey then became a spa.
However, by the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria, the arrival of industry and the growth of the docks had led to parts of Bermondsey becoming slums. Around the time of the industrial revolution, Bermondsey experienced a significant amount of development and attracted more industry to the area. Nearby Rotherhithe developed as a port in the twelfth century and was the port from which the Mayflower departed when it transported the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620. It became a prominent shipyard in Elizabethan times.
The Docks around what is now known as Surrey Quays and Canada Water were originally working docks, used for a variety of purposes. Up until the twentieth century, the area was made up of a network of over 15 docks. Greenland Dock is the oldest of the docks, and was built in 1698, by the Russell Family. The dock later became used by fishermen from the North Atlantic, hence its name. Whaling Ships unloaded at Greenland Dock and the blubber was boiled to produce oil. Later on, in the nineteenth century, it became associated specifically with Swedish timber.
As with many of the other formerly industrial sites near the river (such as Battersea), the housing stock in SE16 can be divided into two main categories. The first is the family housing, which is set back from the river and is located in the more central, inland parts of the postcode district. Some of this is period, however, because the area was badly damaged during the Second World War and because of the major redevelopment that took place in the last two decades of the twentieth century, very little of this survives. The second main type of housing around Rotherhithe is the modern apartment blocks along the river front, or the modern conversions of former wharfs. Both types are popular amongst young professionals working in Canary Wharf or the city.
Hays Court, a converted warehouse on Rotherhithe Street, provides some of the most sought after riverside apartments in the area. A two-bed, top floor apartment with a balcony overlooking the Thames would reach an asking price of approximately £1.25 million pounds. Rotherhithe Street runs all the way around the northern edge of the postcode district, parallel to the Thames, and as such is the location of most of the modern riverside apartments and wharf conversions. Some flats on the eastern side of the postcode district are slightly less expensive, such as those in New Caledonian Wharf on Odessa Street, where a three bed flat would reach an asking price of less than £750,000. Other popular wharves in the area include Canada Wharf, Ivory Wharf and Iceland Wharf.
There are some houses along the riverfront, as well as flats. Princes Riverside Road comprises a terraced row of three storey, four bed townhouses, with a garage on the ground floor. Regardless of your location, whether you are looking to rent or to buy, you will pay a premium to have views over the Thames. Generally speaking, properties with balconies will be more expensive than properties without, while properties with roof terraces will be more expensive than properties with balconies. This also means that properties inland will be more affordable for those on a tighter budget.
Surrey Quays takes its name from the Surrey Commercial Docks that stood on the site. The name was changed from Surrey Docks to Surrey Quays in 1980, when the area was regenerated and redeveloped. This included not only the 5,500 new homes that were built, but the docks themselves, which were transformed from former industrial sites to a marina and water sports centre (South Dock and Greenland Dock). Surrey Quays shopping centre opened in 1988. At the same time, nearby Canada Water underwent redevelopment, with the dock itself now a wildlife centre. The whole area around Rotherhithe, including Bermondsey, Canada Water and Surrey Quays grew in popularity following the introduction of the Jubilee Line extension in 1999. However, whilst Bermondsey and Rotherhithe are benefiting more directly from the next-to effect, being closer to Southbank, Canada Water and Surrey Quays are taking a little longer to catch up as fashionable areas to live.
The postcode district SE16 has a number of high rise blocks, some of which were formerly council owned. A one bed flat in Landmann House on the Rennie Estate would demand an asking price of approximately £150,000. A two bed flat in Addy House on Rotherhithe New Road would demand a similar price. A one bed flat in the lower rise block (approximately seven stories) on Raymouth Road, would cost slightly more at approximately £160,000. For a larger family, a three bedroom ex-local authority flat on the Irwell Estate on Neptune Street, would demand an asking price of around £230,000 GBP.
On the interior of the island there are a number of more family orientated properties. A three bed house in Gerards Close or Culloden Close, both near the Old Kent Road end of Rotherhithe New Road, would cost around £330,000, whilst a three bed town house, with garage on the ground floor, located on Brunswick Quay would cost slightly more at approximately £445,000.
Public transport in the area is good, with a number of bus routes and nearby underground stations including Bermondsey tube on Jamaica Road and Canada Water tube on Deal Porter Way. Both stations are in zone 2 and run on the Jubilee line. Although there are two other underground stations in the postcode (Surrey Quays tube on Lower Road and Rotherhithe tube on Brunel Road) are currently closed and will reopen in June 2010 to become part of the new London Overground system.
Shopping facilities in the area are good, with Surrey Quays Shopping Centre on Redriff Road which boasts a number of high street stores, outlets and a supermarket, as well as a large selection of bars and restaurants.
Southwark Park on Jamaica Road is the largest open green space in the area and is highly popular with locals and visitors alike. It is a perfect space to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the nearby streets. Dilston Grove is a particularly beautiful spot in the park, which has been mentioned in several pieces of literature as a place of tranquility. Another attraction to the park is Cafe Gallery, which hosts art displays as well as serving refreshments. Towards the north of the park, there is a bandstand, which is used for free concerts, predominantly in the summer months. Another attraction to the park is Cafe Gallery, which hosts art displays as well as serving refreshments. Other local parks and green spaces include Cherry Gardens, which is also on Jamaica Road and Stave Hill Ecological Park, which can be accessed from Timber Pond Road. The park consists of 5.2 acres of woodland, scrub, grassland and wetland habitats and is open to the public. It houses a range of wildlife species and was built on the site of the former Surrey Commercial Dock. A similar park can be found on Lavender Road, in the form of Lavender Pond Nature Reserve, which is also brimming with wildlife and nature. Close by is Lavender Pond Pumphouse and its adjoining museum. For those interested in the history of the area, Lavender Dock Walk is an excellent choice, which leads past some of the significant historic buildings and moorings. Rotherhithe Thames Path is another walk which spans around the historic Rotherhithe village, with a number of beautiful views and impressive buildings.
Entertainment facilities in the area include Hollywood Bowling Centre on Teredo Street, which also hosts electronic games, a bar and a café. Lending services are available at Rotherhithe Library on Albion Street and Millwall FC is also based in the area. Coleman Projects Space on Webster Road, which is a gallery and an art centre and prides itself on its wide range of exhibitions and shows. Alternatively, 100 Black Men of London on Rope Street is an interesting museum, dedicated to the history of the black London community. An alternative museum in the area is the Brunel Engine House on Railway Avenue, which focuses on two of the great designers: Marc Brunel and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed an engine which enabled the first tunnel to run below the Thames.
Rotherhithe Tunnel runs between Rotherhithe and Limehouse Docklands and was opened in 1908.