Peabody Estate, Southwark Street, London SE1


“Southwark Street estate was opened in 1876. Originally there were 12 blocks, with 22 flats in each one. In the 1960s two blocks in the centre of the estate were demolished as part of a modernisation programme, which created a space for the construction of a children’s play area. In the 1990s a block near the estate boundary was pulled down, and some adjoining land was purchased. This enabled the building of new blocks with a frontage to Great Guildford Street, which include some shop units.”

From: The development of housing for the working- classes in Victorian Southwark – Part 2: The buildings of Southwark (2015), by Martin Stilwell:

Southwark Street (1876) Peabody Trust: 264 dwellings, 600 rooms, 973 residents.
Another Peabody site following the standard Darbishire design. Once again the site was a difficult one to use (it was part of a vinegar distillery) and as much use of the land was made as possible. The site has a particularly restricted entrance as the land in front was used for commercial premises.

Unusually for Peabody, there was no inner courtyard and the proximity of the buildings to each other must have made life for the tenants in the lower floors somewhat claustrophobic. The two inner blocks have since been demolished to make a courtyard and create a better environment for other tenants.

The patterns of tenancies from the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census returns follow a similar pattern to Peabody Blackfriars Road, as expected. There is an increase in brewing occupations, which is no surprise with a brewery close by. On the other hand, the lack of coopers is harder to understand. The char/ironer type trades carried out by women increases through the years as there would be an increase in widows living in the dwellings.

The diversity of occupations follows a similar pattern to Peabody estate in Blackfriars Road. The table below shows some interesting occupations as recorded in the census returns.

1881: Paper glazier, Seed crusher’s pressman, Connoisseur, Attendant of Monument Column, Excavator, Mustard maker, Chocolate maker, Wax modeller, Brace maker, Draughtsman

1891: Hood cutter for perambulator, Steam crane diver, Eel salesman

1901: Watercress dealer, Asbestos weaver, Jam packer, Quill pen cutter, Bailiff, Money taker at baths, Chamber woman, Bed woman to LCC, Pioneer Sgt Scots Guards (aged 24)”

From the British Listed Buildings website:


636-1/5/639 Fermentation Vats, Sarson’s Vinegar
02/08/93 Factory


Bottling store, later fermentation vats. c1860, altered early
C20. Stock brick with slate roofs.
EXTERIOR: three-and-a half-storeys, 2 gables, restored in C20
to west side. East side has 2 tall round-headed windows
between 1st and 2nd floors and cambered windows to ground
floor. 2 hoists and series of loading doors. North side has 4
early C20 four-light pivoting casements. West side has metal
INTERIOR: has scientific queen post roof to north and plainer
roof with tie beam to south. Cast-iron spiral staircase and 3
large wooden fermentation vats.
HISTORICAL NOTE: mustard works were established on this site
in 1814 by Noah Slee, the earliest purpose-built structures
dating from 1825-1830 extended in the 1960s when the firm went
over to the production of vinegar. From 1932 the brewery was
run by British Vinegars. In 1979 the works were taken over by
the Swiss company Nestle which owned Crosse & Blackwell from
1960. Known in the late C20 as Sarson’s Vinegar Brewery, the
works remained in use until early in 1992.
(GLIAS Report 16 August 1992).”

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