Or, at least as lost as it’s possible to be in about 20 square blocks laced with railroad tracks and construction fences… Spent a thoroughly enjoyable morning wandering this intensely mixed-use neighbourhood with the Bankside Residents Forum and about a dozen new and old residents.
Like most of central London, the area is extremely dense, home to more than 10,000 people of all income levels plus businesses ranging from tiny pubs and bespoke cobblers to Royal Bank of Scotland, Financial Times – and 17 hotels, all built since 1990.
Bankside is also home to the Tate Modern, the replica Globe Theatre, Borough Market and three busy connections across the Thames to the City of London. At peak period it heaves with commuters, and on market days or any day on the river path, tourists, locals and foodies battle for space and street food.
That’s one reason this tour was so pleasant. Designed to acquaint new and established residents with local services and with what’s going on in local development, the 2-hour walk is the brainchild of BRF (I know…) co-ordinator Andrew Richardson. Offered on a Saturday, it avoids the office crowds, and we barely touched the thronged edges of the neighbourhood.
What we did see, among other things, was quiet brick side-streets, secret toilets, a proper local shopping street, and three beautiful gardens from pocket-size up to half-block. The gardens are owned and managed by a variety of groups including homeless volunteers and the Tate Modern, which set aside a fenced enclave exclusively for local residents. All the open spaces are coordinated by Bankside Open Space Trust. More on them in future…
Of course, given all the walking and the 3-star Americano from the Tate kiosk afterwards, I had to screw it all up by going into Borough Market. Sigh. Anyone for some Caerphilly and an obscure “whiskey-method” beer?