Joe Haines, journalist and former press secretary to prime minister Harold Wilson, has recorded his memories of Rotherhithe.

His latest book Kick ‘Em Back is a surprise in containing not just new inside information on Downing Street and Robert Maxwell but equally valuable reminiscences of Rotherhithe.

Joe spent most of his childhood and teens in Rotherhithe. He writes of Sun Alley where the sun rarely shone. Fresh air was to be found in ‘the green magnificence of Southwark Park’.

Pre-war Rotherhithe was docks with dockers looking for work along a rat infested riverside. There were no yuppies or tourists. The Mayflower pub was still The Spread Eagle. 

Although the population rarely strayed far it could be well-informed. Everyone knew when far-flung Riga was frozen because timber did not arrive in Surrey Docks. This meant no work.

His mother Elizabeth was a cleaner at St Olave’s Hospital whilst his older sister Emma had a permanent job at Crosse & Blackwell in Bermondsey’s Crimscott Street.

He recalls moving from a slum to new flats where neighbours included union leader Dick Barrett and Max Bygraves who was then called Wally. 

Life was made better by the trees planted in the streets under the direction of Cllr Ada Salter and the mission to youth of Clare College. 

About this time Joe’s mother took him to his first political meeting at Millpond Bridge, the junction of Paradise Street and West Lane, next to Millpond Estate.

Joe writes that he never deviated from his ambition to escape the drudgery and poverty which was Rotherhithe but adds that leaving Rotherhithe did not mean Rotherhithe left him. He married local girl Irene Lambert from Abbeyfield Road at St Mary’s Church.

The paperback’s title comes from advice given to him as a boy by his mother.

When he landed the top job at 10 Downing Street he received congratulations from old friend Dick Barrett in Guy’s Hospital. Towards the end of the book he raises the prospect that Maxwell had bought a flat in Tooley Street.

On Rotherhithe today, where his Swan Lane has become Swan Street, Joe Haines reflects: “The material gains have been immemse, the community ones are less obvious.”

Kick ‘Em Back: Wilson, Maxwell and Me by Joe Haines (Grosvenor House; £8.95).

The Gregorian Arms
The Gregorian Arms

The Gregorian Arms has won the Pubs & Businesses Award in the Bermondsey in Bloom annual contest.

Certificates were presented by Cllr Eliza Mann during the Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Community Council meeting at Silverlock Community Hall in Warndon Street.

The other winners are:

Balcony & Window Box: Julio Calderon and Veronica Keech.

Community Garden (flowers): Eyot House, Sun Passage.

Community Garden (edible): Tibetan Buddhist Centre.

Estate Garden: Bromleigh Gardens, St Saviours Estate.

Front Garden: Alan Thompson, St James Road.

The 2014 competition was run by the Salmon Youth Centre.

“I think Salmon done a brilliant job for their first time,” said Cllr Mann. “They did it better than I expected so I am more than happy. My colleagues are very happy – all of them are very pleased with the project and the way Salmon presented it (at the meeting).”

The annual Bermondsey in Bloom competition was launched in 2011.

The nationwide MacmillanCOFFEE M fundraising coffee mornings on Friday 26 September include two in SE16.

The Ship York pub, at the junction of Rotherhithe Street and Elgar Street at Downtown, is holding a big coffee morning party from 11am to 1pm.

Tea & cake is £1 and Southwark’s Pearly Queen is attending.

Meanwhile, at the Silverlock TRA Hall in Warndon Street there is Bert’s Coffee Morning, also in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, from 11am.

The aim is to raise money for people living with cancer. Last year 154,000 people raised a record £20 million.

Sainsbury’s Local in Jamaica Road is employing local people.

The supermarket has announced that out of 29 people working shifts at the shop all but six live within one mile.

This result follows a recruitment day held in conjunction with the Four Square Estate TRA last July.

Representatives of the TRA were present when the supermarket was officially opened on Monday 15 September.

Sainsbury’s claims that it wishes to continue supporting the local Bermondsey community and is working closely with the Salmon Youth Centre.

Sainsbury's Local in Jamaica Road
Sainsbury’s Local in Jamaica Road

The new Sainsbury’s Local is next to the launderette at 192-196 Jamaica Road where it replaces Castello pizza restaurant .

A Sainsbury’s Local has opened next the launderette in  Jamaica Road.

The supermarket, at 192-196 Jamaica Road, replaces Castello pizza restaurant which closed earlier this year.

The new store, managed by Niomi Brandon, is open daily 7am-11pm.

The shopfront includes an ATM.

Sainsbury's near Bermondsey Station
Sainsbury’s near Bermondsey Station

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has rejected the suggestion that Bermondsey Station should be in zone 1 as well as zone 2.

London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon had asked the Mayor to consider, in the light of a re-zoning at Stratford, making Bermondsey Station a zone 1/2 station.

In a written answer, the Mayor said: “While we recognise re-zoning Bermondsey could give a positive boost to the regeneration of the area, it would similarly result in significant costs.” He said that the  Stratford change is expected to cost £7m a year in lost  revenue.

Chambers Wharf
Chambers Wharf

Thames Water has won planning consent for the proposed 15-mile ‘super sewer’ tunnel beneath London.

The announcement that Chambers Wharf will be a major site for work was made just hours before Parliament rose for a month’s recess.

The go-ahead for major works is the result of a joint decision made by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

Southwark Council Leader Peter John immediately condemned the decision to use Chambers Wharf as a drive site when inspectors had deemed it to have “serious deficiencies”.

“I challenge Eric Pickles & Liz Truss to come to Southwark to explain their decision to residents near Chambers Wharf,” said Cllr John shortly after the decision was announced on Friday morning.

“Education and lives will be destroyed by government’s terrible decision to build the ‘super sewer’ from Chambers Wharf,” he said in reference to the nearby Riverside Primary School and housing.

Cllr John says that the decision will be challenged.

Save Your Riverside action group, set up when Thames Water purchased Chambers Wharf, has also condemned the decision.

“It does the credibility of the major infrastructure planning regime no good in the eyes of the public for proposals that were shown to be flawed in preparation, and then shown to be half-baked when tested at the Examination, to nonetheless be given consent by ministers with minimal regard for the impact on Londoners.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Riverside ward Hamish McCallum said: “As local Lib Dem councillors for the Chambers Wharf site, we are outraged by this decision. We are shocked that after Planning Inspectors had agreed with the Save Your Riverside Group, local councillors and the local MP that the tunnelling direction be reversed, two Conservative Ministers then ignored their recommendation and approved the original plans.

“To us, this makes a complete mockery of the planning process and appears to leave the justification for using Chamber Wharf as a drive site in question. We are exploring if any other options are available at this stage and are simply appalled.”

Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said: “I know that my constituents who live, work and go to school along the riverside in Bermondsey will be very disappointed by the details of the planning decision for the construction of Thames Tideway Tunnel. Despite positive changes which will benefit Chambers Wharf, the wider community will of course be frustrated that the plans for a drilling site in Bermondsey have not been reconsidered.

“I will of course continue to work with local residents, businesses and others in the community to win maximum environmental protection and minimum disturbance in Bermondsey and the rest of our borough.”