I thought I’d discovered Bermondsey over 20 years ago as I walked the Thames Path from Greenwich to the Tower. On a sunny Sunday as I made my way through Surrey Docks and Rotherhithe I found great tranquillity as I weaved my way along Rotherhithe Street, crossed through this amazing city farm, stopped for a drink at the Mayflower, got chatting to local residents about where this place was... I was in awe the moment I walked past the Angel pub along Bermondsey Wall East and saw Tower Bridge before heading further along towards Borough and Bankside.
10 years ago having worked and lived around the UK and Europe, I was seeking to find a place I would call home. I found my way back to this place called Bermondsey...the place 10 years previously I’d discovered on the river. And as I walked through St James’ Churchyard and got to Spa Road with the rail line cutting through, I was suddenly taken back to my childhood 30 years ago. The day trips my father would take my sister and I on, by train to Charing Cross, to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. With my nose to the train window I’d always seek out this oddity - what looked like old platforms but long abandoned. A sign up on the wall saying, ‘Spa Road Junction’. A church just behind with a glorious dragon perched upon a weather vane. “I wonder where Spa Road is?” I’d say to my 8-year-old self.
No matter where I searched for that place called home, I kept coming back to Bermondsey - the home of the Bermondsey Cockneys, the home of Hartley’s, Peek Freans, Grange Tannery, Bermondsey Street and the Blue. The home of so many community minded folk who could and would knock on your door to seek or offer help - who take care of their own. The home of Dr Alfred and Mrs Ada Salter who worked tirelessly for their community to improve the lives of their constituents. The home of Sir Simon Hughes who triggered the change across this constituency, against those who took residents for granted whilst inspiring generations of Liberals in Bermondsey who tirelessly served and continue to serve the constituency today.
Today the Bermondsey that people know and love has intensely diversified in both demographics and culture but the strongest vein running through her heart is that which has never been lost - that sense of community, heritage and things that uniquely belong here. Families who have been here for generations all the way through to those with the opportunity to discover London and make their home here for the time they have.
On Spa Road is where I am today ... on the street with the church and its dragon perched upon a weather vane at one end, Cafe Amisha, the Old Town Hall and beautiful library building now home to Buddhist monks at the other... the place where I first fell in love with Bermondsey.
In 2018 I stood for election to the London Borough of Southwark and I am honoured to have been elected a Councillor for the ward of London Bridge and West Bermondsey