Local residents are being invited to show their support for a project to create a seven-metre artwork from parts of the ‘red crane’ or scotch derrick that used to stand on the riverside near Odessa Street.

Local blacksmith Kevin Boys rescued some of the parts of the crane when it was dismantled to make way for a new housing development.

The developer, Hollybrook Homes, has part-funded the artwork project and built a plinth for the sculpture on the Thames Path – but more cash is needed to complete the project.

The Rotherhithe Red Crane is now on crowdfunding site SpaceHive where it will compete with other projects for a share of funding from the Mayor of London, as well as backing from local people and businesses.

The scheme will soon be open for pledges from the public, but you can already register your support.

You can also follow @BuildCrane on Twitter.

As the 400th anniversary year of the Mayflower sailing from Rotherhithe gets under way, there’s another chance for local groups to apply for funds to support related projects.

The Southwark Mayflower 400 Grants Fund – set up by Southwark Council, British Land and United St Saviour’s Charity – has a budget of £25,000 for its third round of grants.

Applications for this round close on 31 January. More details here.

The Bank of England has revealed the design for the new £20 polymer note to be introduced in 2020 – and it has a Rotherhithe connection.

The new polymer banknote features artist JMW Turner and his painting The Fighting Temeraire.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said: “Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s heritage, salute its culture, and testify to the achievements of its most notable individuals. 

“And so it is with the new £20 banknote, featuring JMW Turner, launched today at Turner Contemporary in Margate.  Turner’s contribution to art extends well beyond his favourite stretch of shoreline. 

“Turner’s painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today.

“The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory.”

One of Turner’s most eminent paintings, The Fighting Temeraire, depicts HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Painted in 1838 it depicts the Temeraire being towed to Beatson’s yard in Rotherhithe to be broken up.

Timber from the ship was used to create an altar and two chairs which can still be found in St Mary’s Church in Rotherhithe.

The painting is currently on display in the National Gallery and was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005 poll run by BBC Radio 4.

The Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society has named its first two speakers for next year’s Mayflower 400 London Lectures – barely a month after hearing it had received funding for the talks. And they are two of the world’s leading authorities on the subject.

Society president Michael Daniels has announced that Adrian Gray and Nick Bunker which begin the series of events which it is planning for summer and autumn 2020.

The talks and walks will commemorate the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower’s departure from Rotherhithe, the home port and final resting place of the ship and her master.

The five talks are to be staged chronologically, so these first two speakers will provide the context and background to the voyage.

The Long Search for Freedom, on 27 May 2020, is to focus on a group of people from the Midlands and what drove them to embark on an extraordinary voyage across the Atlantic, creating both history and a major step towards religious freedom in the process.

Seafarers, Puritans and Beaver Hats, on 24 June 2020, will provide an insight into how the voyage was financed by trade and negotiations in the City of London.

“Adrian and Nick are two of the most prominent historians in the Mayflower world, and we are delighted that they are coming to share their expert knowledge with us here in Rotherhithe,” said Michael Daniels.

“Their talks will provide a unique opportunity to discover the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the famous voyage, and many of the themes they will explore are likely to be as relevant today as they were 400 years ago.”

Rita Cruise O’Brien (co-director, Mayflower 400 London Lectures) added: “Adrian Gray is an expert local historian from the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire area and will talk of the history of the Trent Valley where the pilgrims first started their journey into exile in Holland in 1607. He will trace the origins of the separatist movement and the long story of non-conformism in this part of England.

“Nick Bunker is author of Making Haste from Babylon, the most outstanding modern book on the pilgrim story. He will consider the role of trade and finance in maritime London and the origins of the Mayflower project. His talk will include his fascinating research which uncovered the significance of the beaver trade in the making of the Plymouth Colony.”

The talks will take place in Rotherhithe and will be open to everyone at affordable admission fees. Further speakers to be announced.

The series is funded by the Southwark Mayflower 400 Grants Fund.

The second round of The Southwark Mayflower 400 Grants Fund is open to online application until 30 June.

The fund supports events and activities that celebrate the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower sailing and the themes around its historic voyage: migration, tolerance, enterprise and community.

People working on smaller activities and events can bid for up to £1,000, while bigger projects and events will be eligible of over £1,000. All initiatives must include a live event or activity to take place in the lead up to the anniversary of the Mayflower sailing in November 2020. They should also take place within the SE16 area or areas of Mayflower significance in the wider SE1 area.

You can find the application criteria and apply for Mayflower 400 funding at www.ustsc.org.uk/mayflower-400-grants-fund


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).

With a year to go, the partnership of Southwark Council, British Land and United St Saviour’s Charity has started awarding grants to local organisations for commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing. 

Rotherhithe and North Southwark has a long seafaring and ship building history and was the place where Christopher Jones, the captain and part owner of the ship, and many of the crew of the Mayflower lived. 

So far, part of the £140,000 programme has gone to such diverse projects as Club Herop’s photojournalism initiative, Bermondsey  Artist Group’s two year community multi-media programme, the Illuminate Rotherhithe festival, Art in the Park’s schools programme, an intergenerational theatre piece run by London Bubble and a number of local historical talks and events.

Michael Daniels, President of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Local History Society said he was delighted to be awarded a grant. He commented: ‘Our Local History Society organises illustrated monthly talks on fascinating subjects.  During the summer of 2020 we will stage a mini-series of talks and walks about the Mayflower here in Rotherhithe’.

Naomi N Dibum, Project Manager at Club Herop said: ‘By receiving this grant, every young person will create a range of work that represents the learning of their peers and understand the relevance of the Mayflower narrative today and the difficulties faced by the migrants during their journey’.

Cllr Rebecca Lury, Deputy Leader of Southwark Council said she was really pleased by the range and quality of the applications received so far.

‘We have had a very impressive list of applicants, but the good news is we still have over £60,000 in grants to award as part of stage two and three.  Therefore, I would encourage any local group, school or other interested party who have a project which is connected to the Mayflower, and use the application process on the Council’s website to apply for a grant’.

Sarah Thurman, Head of Community Investments, United St Saviour’s Charity said: ‘We are delighted to support eight exciting community led projects that celebrate the story of the Mayflower. United St Saviour’s was 80 years young when the Mayflower set sail from Rotherhithe, eventually for the New World.  Now 400 years later, it is great to remember Southwark’s connection to the historic voyage with our partners Southwark Council and British Land’.

Eleanor Wright, Head of Community At Canada Water, at British Land said: ‘It was fantastic to see the first round bids and see the local Mayflower 2020 programme really taking shape. Congratulations to all the successful bids and thankyou everyone who took the time to submit entries’.

The PowerPoint presentation shown at the service

St James’s Church in Bermondsey held a special celebration on Sunday to mark the completion of £600,000 of restoration works to the historic building.

The Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Catherine Rose, was among the special guests at the event.

St James’s vicar Canon Gary Jenkins shares more detail and photos on his blog here and here.

Southwark Council has served an enforcement notice on the owners of the Old Justice Pub on Bermondsey Wall East after work was carried out on the grade II listed building.

Meanwhile applications for planning permission (19/AP/0438) and listed building consent (19/AP/0439) have now been submitted to the council for works to create a roof extension to accommodate a new flat.