Pressured Proletarian Island

Peter Hall

in London voices, London lives

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9781861349842
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302711 | DOI:
Pressured Proletarian Island

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This chapter discusses Bermondsey, an area of London to the east of London Bridge station and past London's new riverside City Hall. Like Battersea, people in Bermondsey stated that they have seen multidimensional change such as the loss of traditional jobs, such as in the docks or factories, the arrival of newcomers to the public housing estates, the gentrification of working-class streets, and the loss of a tight sense of community and solidarity. This chapter begins by tracing the history of Bermondsey. It particularly focuses on Southwark, the borough in which Bermondsey lies. Southwark, which lies four miles farther north-east along the south bank of the river, presents an intriguing comparison with Wandsworth and its Battersea neighbourhood. Its early development was in many ways similar, although it lies closer to the economic heart of the city. Its recent political evolution has shown distinctive twists and turns, as control has shifted from Old labour to militant Labour and then to New Labour. These events have certainly encouraged gentrification. However, three in five of its residents remain living in social housing, much of it substandard, and the borough continues to suffer from ‘inner-city’ problems. In particular, while there are new jobs springing up, many of the locals of Southwark lack the qualifications to fill them. Southwark is also one of the four London boroughs with the greatest concentration of deprivation. Income is not at par with other districts, the level of housing deprivation is severe and the crime rate is relatively high. In this chapter, the interviews took in two distinct neighbourhoods: Bermondsey along the river east of Tower Bridge and a North Peckahm estate.

Keywords: Bermondsey; multidimensional change; arrival of newcomers; public housing estates; gentrification; Southwark; political evolution; deprivation

Chapter.  11923 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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