Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s

Community action in a London neighbourhood

Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s

England E1 6FQ, United Kingdom

Created By: SE1 Stories

Tour Information

Welcome to London SE1. The 1970s and 80s was an extraordinary period of community action in Blackfriars, Waterloo and North Southwark along London’s South Bank. With so many SE1 stories to be told, this presentation focuses on the Blackfriars Road area, visiting some of the most important locations to tell you the story of the campaigns to revive the south bank of London.

Residents and trade unionists demanded to be involved in decisions which affected their lives. They were clear that there were alternatives to the way land was developed, housing provided and services delivered.There are similarities in SE1 today with plans for massive redevelopment alongside existing poverty and need.

The history of North Southwark is reflected in many of the buildings along the route, both old and new - warehouses, factories, schools, council housing and modern high-value private developments.

How to get the best from this app:

Actual Walk: The best way is to do the walk in person. You will see and learn so much more. The route starts at the corner of Blackfriars Road and Pocock Street London SE1. The nearest underground station is Southwark on the Jubilee Line, 2 minutes walk away. Waterloo Station is about 10 minutes away.

Virtual walk: PocketSights can also take you on a virtual walk. Go to Settings on the front page of the app then enable Virtual Tour Mode. You can also vary the virtual tour speed.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

This walk starts on Blackfriars Road at the junction with Pocock Street, about 200 yards south from Southwark underground station. Community workers and volunteers worked alongside community leaders and local residents campaigning for bette... Read more
This is Blackfriars Settlement, or rather the new Blackfriars Settlement (we will visit the former building next). The Settlement is a thriving local centre and continues to be committed to serving local people and its diverse communities... Read more
The first Blackfriars Settlement was at 44 Nelson Square.  In the 1970s Blackfriars Settlement was instrumental in enabling local residents to assert themselves as a community, fight the spread of office development and campaign to rebuild... Read more
Many citizens’ rights, especially in relation to benefits and housing, were hard to obtain in practice, either because of Government policy or bureaucratic hostility and incompetence. BIAS tried to counter this, adopting an adversarial ap... Read more
Much of the Settlement’s campaign work was driven by the Community Action Team, unpaid activists, working to help local residents form tenants associations, fight benefits crackdowns, campaign against office development and publish the SE... Read more
The Blackfriars Photography Project at Blackfriars Settlement began as one year experiment “to investigate the uses of photography in community development”. It aimed to make art collaboratively, with and for communities, in ways that r... Read more
Once a busy shopping street for local residents, by 1975 the shops had fallen into disuse. The block was owned by J Sainsbury whose headquarters were nearby with the intention to demolish and build an office block. The Blackfriars Community... Read more
Meymott Street is where the office of SE1 Community Newspaper was. Blackfriars Community Action Team started SE1 Newspaper with North Southwark Community Development Group and many other local residents. The aim was to give residents of SE1... Read more
With much effort! Articles were typed out in columns (old-fashioned device, the typewriter); then fitted and glued (Cow Gum!) onto full-size layout sheets (and where possible with a photograph). Headlines were made with Letraset, by rubbing... Read more
Starting in the mid-70s in SE1, over a period of 10 years, several derelict sites and buildings were brought into ‘community use’.  The Colombo Street story typifies the way community action worked. Starting as a campaign to provide a ... Read more
These gardens and sports areas were a car park run by National Car Parks in 1975. The tenants association in next door Peabody Duchy Street estate led a vigorous campaign to turn the space into a recreation area and they succeeded in gettin... Read more
These gardens are one of the positive outcomes of the long fight (the Coin Street campaign) to prevent offices being built on the derelict land on Waterloo's riverside. The site previously housed the Eldorado ice cream factory which had be... Read more
 After a decade-long community campaign the 13 acre Coin Street estate was bought by the GLC in 1984 and then sold to Coin Street Community Builders. Part of the estate, Stamford Wharf, now Oxo Tower Wharf, near Blackfriars Bridge, was con... Read more
Bankside Yards is on the site of the former ‘Edgers Scheme’, a huge commercial development on this site in the 1970s. It was a giant computer centre for Lloyds Bank built on redundant railway land next to Blackfriars Road (just east o... Read more
Sumner Street was once the centre of a thriving community. The picture shows the street in about 1890 with the chimney of the first Bankside power station showing top left. This street and many others around it were later demolished as the ... Read more
In 1976 the Council wanted to sell its Greenmore depot site on Bankside to promoters of the Globe Theatre. North Southwark Community Development Group (NSCDG) put in a planning application for family housing on the site. This was lost on ap... Read more
Courage’s Bottling Plant near Southwark Bridge closed in 1981. The Greater London Council bought it and the Coin Street sites nearby under its “Community Areas” Policy. The GLC and Southwark Council subsequently developed the Courage... Read more
Take a moment to look at Cromwell Buildings and the plaque inside. This block of flats was built in 1864 and was one of the earliest examples of low-cost housing built for the working poor of London by philanthropic institutions. It was ano... Read more
North Southwark Community Development Group (NSCDG) occupied this building on the corner of Great Guildford Street and Copperfield Street. North Southwark neighbourhoods were withering away as the population aged and tenement housing was de... Read more
Alternative proposals were needed to resist the ‘big money’ development schemes promoted by Southwark Council’s ‘Thameside Strategy Plan’ at Hay’s Wharf and Bankside. NSCDG, after door-to-door consultation, published a ‘Reside... Read more
Community campaigns established links with political parties and took part in local politics. Campaigning through trade unions and tenants’ associations was essential to change public policy. Demonstrations galvanised support and publicis... Read more
The extent of community initiative in Blackfriars and SE1 was partly due to residents’ response to unacceptable local conditions but also because communities had the means to fight back, supported by action centres funded by charities and... Read more


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