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Along with neighbouring Bermondsey and Greenwich further along the river, Rotherhithe on the south side of the Thames is synonymous with London’s rich shipping history.
Rotherhithe was the launching point for the Mayflower in 1620, the 66-day voyage which transported the Pilgrim Fathers to Massachusetts leading to the foundation of America. The ship’s captain, Christopher Jones is buried in an unmarked grave in nearby St Mary’s Church (St Marychurch Street, www.stmaryrotherhithe.org), and you can sink a pint to the memory of the founding fathers in the cosy, nautical Mayflower Pub (117 Rotherhithe Street, 020 7237 4088) which, incredibly, was there as the ship set sail.
Docks were Rotherhithe’s lifeblood for the intervening 400 years: Surrey Commercial Docks took up 90% of the area, and this peninsula of the Thames was afire with trade and industry, often from Scandinavia and the Baltics, whose citizens still have a prominent presence in modern Rotherhithe with many Nordic churches, shops, cafes and even a sauna.
Heavily damaged in WWII, the docks stood derelict and deprived until the 90s, when, as Canary Wharf sprung up over the water, Rotherhithe regenerated into the luxury converted warehouse flats on Surrey Quays and the thriving residential district it is today – a far cry from when local slums like Jacob’s Island were amongst the worst in London, as characterised by Dickens in Oliver Twist. Surrey Quays has a major retail and entertainment centre (www.surreyquaysshoppingcentre.co.uk) with cinemas, bowling etc, and Bermondsey has the superb Design Museum (Shad Thames, 0870 833 9955, www.designmuseum.org), a clean white staircase-like structure on the riverbank which celebrates design in every form from graphics to furniture, architecture to industr ial work, to massive critical acclaim.
The East London Overground line stops at Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays and Canada Water and Bermondsey (Jubilee Line) Underground stations are fairly close by.
|Rotherhithe Station||2||East London||0.10 miles|
|Canada Water Station||2||East London - Jubilee||0.28 miles|
|Surrey Quays Station||2||East London||0.81 miles|
|Bermondsey Station||2||Jubilee||0.90 miles|
|Shadwell Station||2||East London - DLR (Bank branch)||1.24 miles|
|South Bermondsey Station||1.48 miles|
|Limehouse Station||1.55 miles|
|Fenchurch Street Station||2.22 miles|
|London Bridge Station||2.40 miles|
|Bethnal Green Station||2.61 miles|