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Thames tour boat firm City Cruises, which operates from Bermondsey’s Cherry Garden Pier, has been sold to Chicago-based Hornblower Cruises & Events.

City Cruises was founded in 1985 and now has operations in York and at Poole Harbour in addition to its core Thames business.

“We are incredibly excited to acquire City Cruises, which we believe to be the best leisure cruise operator in Europe today,” said Terry MacRae, CEO of Hornblower.

@We have long had the ambition to enter the European market, and it makes perfect sense to start our journey in one of the most iconic cities in the world.

“Under the expert stewardship of Gary and Rita Beckwith, City Cruises has earned an enviable reputation, and we are honoured to build on their legacy in 2020 and beyond.”

Gary Beckwith OBE, City Cruises founder and CEO, said: “We believe the sale of City Cruises to Hornblower will take the brand to the next level of success. 

“We have always been at the forefront of change and believe our growth and success over the years is testament to our commitment to embracing innovation, constantly investing in our vessels and our customer experiences, and our dedication to providing outstanding customer service every day of the year. 

“We have been honoured to be at the helm of City Cruises and believe the business we started will further flourish and grow under Hornblower’s ownership.”

Hornblower Cruises & Events President, Kenneth Svendsen, leads the combined company. All staff will be retained, with founders Gary and Rita Beckwith assisting in the transition.


Firms in and around The Blue have voted to continue their Business Improvement District (BID) for a second term of five years.

The BID’s new mandate – that begins on 1 October – is based on the 2019 – 2024 Renewal Proposal.

Of 140 eligible businesses, 90 voted in favour of renewing the BID.

BIDs are funded by a levy on business rates which is then used for schemes to make the area a better place to trade.

A recent demonstration of cargo bikes in action near London Bridge

Businesses at the Blue will benefit from a share of a £170,000 funding pot – backed by Transport for London – for projects to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

The funding from TfL’s Healthy Streets Fund for Business will be matched by business improvement districts like the Blue Bermondsey.

In Bermondsey, the scheme will enable more cycling at the Blue marketplace by providing cargo bikes, storage spaces and other facilities to allow people to cycle to work. This will also allow traders to move more goods by bike.Z

Jack Shah, Chair of Blue Bermondsey Business Improvement District, said: “This is fantastic news for businesses at the Blue. This funding from TfL will be used to improve business cycling, including a shared cargo bike trial at the Blue, as well as better storage for market traders. Longer term, there is a huge opportunity for new cycle routes at the Blue which could link up along the Low Line with other areas such as London Bridge and Bankside.

“Business cargo bikes could use these routes for last mile zero emissions deliveries during weekday daytimes, to help reduce air pollution for our local communities. Residents and visitors could also enjoy cycling along the Low Line in the evenings and at weekends, bringing new customers to businesses at the Blue.”

French sports/camping/outdoors chain Decathlon has been a fixture of SE16 for nearly two decades.

The Canada Water store was the company’s first in the UK (there are now 28), and now the new store as part of the Sellar development has finally opened its doors.

The Mayor of Southwark – Cllr Catherine Rose – declared the new store open at 5pm on Wednesday, whilst staff cheered and applauded customers as they made their way into the new shop.

Decathlon has put on a programme of activities to celebrate the launch of the new store, including free kayaking sessions on Canada Water over the weekend.

Hawker House Canada Water

Hawker House – the street food emporium in the former WHAT!!! stores building at Canada Water – has applied to extend its planning permission till the end of 2019.

Street Feast, the venue’s operator, says in its application to Southwark Council:

Hawker House has operated successfully at Canada Water for two and a half years and has become established as a popular community asset on a site that would otherwise remain unoccupied. Surveys of Hawker House customers undertaken by the applicant have shown that approximately 4 in 10 of the visitors come from the local area. Four in 10 of Hawker House’s staff also live locally.

The applicant now expects the property to be available for an extended period than originally expected, and is therefore seeking to extend the existing planning permission on the same terms as those previously granted.

Full details at 18/AP/0889.

Hawker House retained its licence last autumn despite objections from nearby residents.

A new estate agent business with a social enterprise twist is launching this month.

Urban Patchwork is an estate agent social enterprise for residential property sales and lettings. It will use the majority of its profits for homeless housing and support in London, and aims to provide a better deal for tenants.

Based by Greenland Dock on the border of SE16 and SE8, it will serve the surrounding areas.

The organisation is being founded by brother and sister team Toby and Tessa Gooding. Tessa said, “We are setting up Urban Patchwork with three key objectives:

  • to meet demand for professional estate agent services
  • to improve working practices and customer service standards within the industry
  • to provide a way for the profits made through the sale and letting of London’s property to contribute towards homeless housing and support in the city.”

They are seeking volunteers for their board of housing, homelessness, social enterprise, finance and management experts who will advise on the direction of the organisation and have voting rights on how grants are allocated to homelessness initiatives.

During Urban Patchwork’s first year the organisation is unlikely to accrue any profits while it’s being established. However, the team will support people who have become homeless from the start by backing local charity the 999 Club (based on Deptford Broadway) with their awareness raising and fundraising efforts.

The 999 Club provides advice and support for people who are homeless to equip them with the ability and confidence to learn new skills, gain employment and find sustainable housing solutions.

The vision is for Urban Patchwork to be a hybrid between a traditional agent and an online broker and the go-to organisation for those wanting to buy, sell, let or rent residential property in London and the South East, while making a meaningful difference to people through funding homelessness and housing projects.

From Southwark Council:

“We want to hear from you about your experience of broadband in your home.

“Your feedback will help us develop a solution that works for local residents, and build a strong case for central government funding for broadband improvements in both the Rotherhithe area and the borough as a whole.”

Follow this link to the survey – closing date 1 November.

Hawker House Canada Water

Hawker House – the street food emporium in the former WHAT!!! stores building at Canada Water – successfully retained its licence after a hearing at Southwark’s licensing sub-committee on Monday. Read all the committee documents – including neighbour objections – here.

Hawker House is part of Street Feast, whose founder Jonathan Downey has made outspoken comments about the local residents who objected to the licence being renewed.

A Rotherhithe pub has re-opened with a fresh new look following a major refurbishment project.

Around £100,000 has been invested in The Brunel on the corner of Brunel Road Swan Road as part of a joint venture between  pub company Punch and new publicans Ed Clifton and Lukasz Adamczyk.

Lukasz is no stranger to the hospitality trade having worked in restaurants for the past 15 years. He moved to England from Poland five years ago and during that time has worked in high profile restaurants including Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus and the  Bel and the Dragon, Windsor.

Ed, who worked as a sound engineer in the TV industry prior to taking over at The Brunel, said: “This is an exciting new venture for us. Every time Lukasz and I visit a pub we talk about what we would change and do differently if we were running it and so we decided it was high time to practise what we preach.

“As soon as we saw The Brunel we knew it had great potential. It’s an attractive river-side pub in a great location and this investment has given it a stunning new look. We’re really looking forward to welcoming customers and showing them the improvements that have been made.”

Ed and Lukasz have ambitious plans for The Brunel and will be offering a range of activities from book lovers’ mornings through to chess clubs, comedy nights, quizzes, live music and even English classes.