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Shad Thames

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A riverside street, and by extension the surrounding area, located on the south bank of the Thames, east of Tower Bridge. The name is a corruption of ‘St John at Thames’, a reference to the Knights of St John, the former landowners. The parish church of Horselydown was dedicated to St John when it was built in 1728. Horselydown was the medieval name for this area but has now faded from use. This stretch of the shoreline became the core of Bermondsey and Southwark’s ‘larder of London’, dominated by the tea, coffee, spice and dried fruit warehouses of Butler’s Wharf, which were completed in 1873. A century later the last warehouses closed and the area was redeveloped from the mid 1980s, with offices, shops, cafés, bars and restaurants. Shad Thames is still criss-crossed by the overhead goods gantries that linked the warehouses, many of which retain interior fitments too. The Design Museum, brainchild of Sir Terence Conran, occupies the main building of the former Butler’s Wharf complex. Founded in 1989, it is dedicated to explaining how everyday objects work and why they look the way they do.

Before its makeover Shad Thames featured as a location in Dr Who and in the movies Oliver!, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Elephant Man.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
Shad Thames' most distinctive features are the overhead goods gantries linking former warehouses
Postal district: SE1

Design Museum website

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