London Borough of Southwark
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London Borough of Southwark

Coat of arms of Southwark
Coat of arms
Official logo of Southwark
Council logo
United to Serve
Southwark shown within Greater London
Southwark shown within Greater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Created1 April 1965
Admin HQTooley Street, Southwark
 o TypeLondon borough council
 o BodySouthwark London Borough Council
 o LeadershipLeader & Cabinet (Labour)
 o Mayor- (non-political)
 o London AssemblyFlorence Eshalomi (Labour) AM for Lambeth and Southwark
 o MPsHarriet Harman (Labour)
Neil Coyle (Labour)
Helen Hayes (Labour)
 o Total11.14 sq mi (28.85 km2)
Area rank303rd (of 317)
(mid-2019 est.)
 o Total318,830
 o Rank38th (of 317)
 o Density29,000/sq mi (11,000/km2)
 o Ethnicity[1]
54.3% White
6.2% Mixed
9.5% Asian
26.8% Black
0.8% Arab
2.4% Other
Time zoneUTC (GMT)
 o Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code00BE
GSS codeE09000028
PoliceMetropolitan Police

The London Borough of Southwark [2][3] in south London forms part of Inner London and is connected by bridges across the River Thames to the City of London. It was created in 1965 when three smaller council areas amalgamated under the London Government Act 1963. All districts of the area are within the London postal district. It is governed by Southwark London Borough Council.

The part of the South Bank within the borough is home to London Bridge terminus station and the attractions of The Shard, Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe and Borough Market that are the largest of the venues in Southwark to draw domestic and international tourism. Dulwich is home to the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Imperial War Museum is in Elephant and Castle.


Southwark is the oldest part of south London. An urban area to the south of the bridge was first developed in the Roman period, but subsequently abandoned. The name Southwark dates from the establishment of a defensive position in the area by King Alfred in the 9th century. The London Borough of Southwark was formed in 1965 from the former area of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell, and the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey.


The name Suthriganaweorc[4] or Suthringa geweorche[5] is recorded for the area in the early 10th-century Anglo-Saxon document known as the Burghal Hidage[5] and means "fort of the men of Surrey"[4] or "the defensive work of the men of Surrey".[5] Southwark is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Sudweca. The name means "southern defensive work" and is formed from the Old English s?þ (south) and weorc (work). In Old English, Surrey means "southern district (or the men of the southern district)",[6] so the change from "southern district work" to the latter "southern work" may be an evolution based on the elision of the single syllable ge element, meaning district.

The strategic context of the defences would have been in relation to London, its bridge and preventing waterborne attackers from travelling further up the Thames.


The borough borders the City of London and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to the north (the River Thames forming the boundary), the London Borough of Lambeth to the west and the London Borough of Lewisham to the east. To the south the borough tapers giving a brief border with the London Borough of Bromley.


At the 2001 census Southwark had a population of 244,866. Southwark was ethnically 63% white, 16% black African and 8% black Caribbean. By 2018 the population was 317,256, with 53% white, 16% black African and 6% black Caribbean. 31% of householders were owner-occupiers.

The area is the home of many Nigerian (Peckham is largely regarded as the heart of London's Nigerian community), Jamaican, South African, Polish, and French immigrants.


Ethnic Group 2001[8] 2011[9]
Number % Number %
White: British 127,752 52.2% 114,534 39.7%
White: Irish 7,674 3.1% 6,222 2.1%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 263 0.09%
White: Other 18,890 7.7% 35,330 12.2%
White: Total 154,316 63.04% 156,349 54.09%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 3,655 1.5% 5,819 2.1%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 1,118 0.5% 1,623 0.5%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 3,642 1.5% 3,912 1.3%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 4,492 1.8% 8,074 2.8%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 1,536 0.6% 7,764 2.6%
Asian or Asian British: Total 14,443 5.9% 27,574 9.3%
Black or Black British: African 39,349 16.1% 47,413 16.4%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 19,555 8.0% 17,974 6.2%
Black or Black British: Other Black 4,512 1.8% 12,124 4.2%
Black or Black British: Total 63,416 25.9% 77,511 26.8%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 3,350 1.4% 5,677 1.9%
Mixed: White and Black African 1,954 0.8% 3,687 1.2%
Mixed: White and Asian 1,343 0.5% 3,003 1.4%
Mixed: Other Mixed 2,499 1.0% 5,411 1.8%
Mixed: Total 9,146 3.7% 17,778 5.94%
Other: Arab 2,440 0.8%
Other: Any other ethnic group 3,545 1.4% 7,013 2.1%
Other: Total 3,545 % 9,453 3.2%
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic: Total 90,550 36.98% 131,934 45.91%
Total 244,866 100.00% 288,283 100.00%


Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge all connect the City of London to the borough. The skyscraper Shard London Bridge is currently the tallest building in the EU. The Tate Modern art gallery, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Imperial War Museum and Borough Market are also within the borough. At one mile (1.6 km) wide, Burgess Park is Southwark's largest green space.

Hills and watercourses

The south of the borough forms part of and is surrounded except on the mid-north side by higher crests of the Norwood Ridge. Along these crests in part of the borough's south corner is the highest point of the borough, Sydenham Hill, the fifteenth-highest peak in London.

The main watercourse is the Thames bounding the north of the borough into which the area drains. The south of the borough is the upper valley of a present sewer and surface water drainage basin, once a large stream the Effra, in large part converted to a combined sewer under a Joseph Bazalgette-engineered reform following general urbanisation; all combined and public foul sewers drain far to the east to the Crossness works. Similarly reformed depending on type of drainage are the Neckinger and Peck.

Extract from London's relief map showing how relief, the Norwood Ridge covers the south of the Borough overspills with crests to all other three sides and is the main feature for many miles.


Southwark has many notable places of Christian worship, Anglican, Roman Catholic and independent non-conformist. These include Charles Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle, Southwark Cathedral (Church of England), St George's Cathedral (Roman Catholic), and St Mary's Cathedral (Greek Orthodox). London's Norwegian Church and Finnish Church and the Swedish Seamen's Church are all in Rotherhithe. St George the Martyr is the oldest church in Greater London dedicated to England's Patron Saint, the redundant St Thomas Church is now the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. The other redundant church is Francis Bedford's in Trinity Church Square, now a recording studio, Henry Wood Hall. Southwark has the highest number of Nigerian Churches in the country with the highest concentration of African churches outside the continent.

Whilst Christianity is the dominant religion of the borough, several religious minorities are also active, and places of worship for Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Jews may be found.[10]

According to the 2001 Census, approximately 28% of Southwark identified as non-religious, or chose not to state their faith.[11]

Religion in Southwark (2011 census)[12]

  Christianity (52.5%)
  No religion (27.1%)
  Not stated (8.5%)
  Islam (8.5%)
  Hinduism (1.3%)
  Other religions (2.1%)

Literature and theatres

The rebuilt Globe Theatre

Southwark has many literary associations. Charles Dickens set several of his novels in the old borough where he lived as a young man. The site of The Tabard inn (featured in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales), the White Hart inn and the George Inn which survives.

The rebuilt Globe Theatre and its exhibition on the Bankside remind us of the area's being the birthplace of classical theatre. There is also the remains of the Rose Theatre. In 2007 the Unicorn Theatre for Children was opened on Tooley Street. The Southwark Playhouse is located in Elephant and Castle and the Union Theatre is located on Union Street near Southwark station. The Menier Chocolate Factory combines a theatre and exhibition space, whilst the newly opened Bridge Theatre is located next to Tower Bridge and City Hall.

Museums and galleries

The borough is the location of the Imperial War Museum in Borough High Street.[13]

Peckham Library, designed by Will Alsop won the Stirling Prize for modern architecture. Another architecturally innovative library designed by Piers Gough opened in Canada Water in 2011.[14] The Tate Modern is also based at Bankside.[15]

The Livesey Museum for Children was a free children's museum housed in the former Camberwell Public Library No.1, which was given to the people of Southwark by the industrialist Sir George Livesey. The museum was closed by Southwark council in 2008.[16]

MOCA, London, as curated by the artist Michael Petry, is a free museum located in Peckham Rye dedicated to exposing and showcasing new cutting-edge artists and their work.[17]


City Hall, taken from the high walkway on Tower Bridge

The northern end of the borough opposite the Square Mile includes the More London and London Bridge City developments accommodating the offices of major professional service firms. Notable such businesses include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Norton Rose, Ernst & Young, Lawrence Graham and Actis.[18] The Greater London Authority is based at City Hall.

The press and publishing industry is also well represented in Southwark; the Financial Times has its head office in Southwark Bridge Road,[19][20]IPC Magazines in Southwark Street, and the Evening Standard and Daily Mail at Surrey Quays.[]Campus Living Villages UK also has its head office in the borough.[21]

Some of the old industrial and wharfside heritage remains at the now defunct Surrey Commercial Docks now Surrey Quays, including Greenland Dock and Baltic Quay, where major residential schemes were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Near Tower Bridge old warehouses have been converted to new mixed uses at Butler's Wharf and Hay's Wharf. Similarly, further west, the Oxo Tower hosts restaurants, shops and housing.

There are major retail concentrations at Surrey Quays, Old Kent Road, Elephant & Castle/Walworth Road and central Peckham.

Southwark is currently home to three Opportunity Areas (areas with capacity for significant economic development) as designated in the Mayor of London's London Plan.[22] These are Elephant and Castle,[23] Canada Water[24] and Old Kent Road.[25]

Educational establishments

John Keats Primary School on Rotherhithe New Road opened in 2018

London South Bank University (LSBU) at its principal Elephant and Castle site has over 23,000 students and 1,700 staff. The Chancellor is the entrepreneur newscaster Richard Farleigh.

The University of the Arts London has two of its colleges in the borough - at Elephant and Castle is the London College of Communication and on Peckham Road is the Camberwell College of Arts.

The largest university teaching hospital in Europe King's College London is at the Guy's Hospital site, merging the teaching activities of the Guy's, St Thomas' and King's College Hospitals here. St Thomas' was founded in the mid-12th Century in the borough and parts of it remain at St Thomas Street; Guy's was founded opposite this in 1725. The Salvation Army maintains the William Booth Memorial Training College at Denmark Hill.


Southwark has a wide variety of housing, including council housing, such as the post-Blitz Aylesbury Estate and the Heygate Estate to provide homes to low-income residents. The aforementioned estates have been turned over to local housing associations to demolish and redevelop as mixed-tenure developments. Southwark Council and the Greater London Authority have invested tens of millions of pounds in supporting the respective housing associations complete these projects, which in both cases will lead to a large increase in the number of properties on the sites, with an almost equal reduction in the amount of social housing: the Aylesbury Estate originally housed 2,403 properties at social rent while post-development there will be 1,323 for social rent and 1,733 for private sale, meanwhile the Heygate Estate had 1,214 properties before demolition, most of which were leased at social rent, while the final plans for the development will see 2,530 homes of which 500 will be social housing.[26][27][28]

Southwark's local residents' returns recorded in 2011 that its rented sector comprised 53.4% of its housing, marginally below the highest in England, which was recorded by Camden, at 53.5%. In neighbouring Lambeth this figure was 47.3% and in neighbouring Croydon the figure was 29.7%.

Southwark had the greatest proportion of social housing in England, 43.7 (31.2% owned by the council itself with the other social housing in the hands of housing associations), at the time of the 2011 census.[29] Southwark's residents accordingly have developed Tenant management organisations covering many apartment blocks. The council own and set housing policy for a diverse range of Housing Association blocks to whom homes are allocated based on need and the rent that residents can afford, based on means testing. In some blocks a mixture of social, shared and sold housing is common, particularly in those where the right to buy has been exercised and in newer developments.[30]

Ten highest-ranked local authorities by proportion of Social Housing-(2011 Census)[31] Note: First figure is total social rented (owned by housing associations and local authority, i.e. "the council"), the figure in parenthesis is council-owned only
Local Authority Socially rented Privately rented Shared Ownership
Southwark London Borough 43.7


23.6 2.0
Hackney London Borough 43.7


28.9 2.3
Islington London Borough 42.0


26.9 1.3
Lambeth London Borough 35.1


29.3 1.5
Royal Borough of Greenwich 34.3


19.8 1.6
Barking and Dagenham London Borough 33.7


17.7 1.3
Camden London Borough 33.1


32.3 0.7
South Tyneside Metropolitan District 32.6


9.0 0.4
Norwich Non-Metropolitan District 32.5


21.7 0.7
Harlow Non-Metropolitan District 31.2


10.8 0.9

Courts and judiciary

The old Southwark borough had been the location of many Courts and Prisons of Royal Prerogative, the Marshalsea and King's Bench. As well as the manorial and borough courts, magistrates met until the 20th century at the Surrey Sessions House which had its own jail for the punitive aspect of its work. The Inner London Sessions House (or now Crown Court) on Newington Causeway descends from these. The Southwark Coroner's Court in Tennis Street dates back to the charter of 1550. In 1964 Southwark Crown Court was opened at English Grounds near London Bridge. Since 1994 the Crown Court for west London Boroughs, was rehoused from Knightsbridge to Southwark as Blackfriars Crown Court. When the decision was taken to separate the judiciary and legislature, in 2007, by transforming the House of Lords Judicial Committee of Law Lords into the Supreme Court took over the court occupying the Middlesex Guildhall, whose City of Westminster judges transferred to Southwark Crown Court, hence the senior judge holds the honorific title of the Recorder of Westminster. Southwark's local magistrates sit at two courts in the borough, Tower Bridge and Camberwell Green Magistrates Courts.

The concentration of major courts, which are unlawful to film save for sentencing with judicial permission, enables their media coverage: Southwark has seven jurisdictions, six of which are London's criminal courts and which commonly receive offences committed in public office or in businesses based in Westminster and several other London boroughs.

Civic affairs

Tea Trade Wharf, Shad Thames


The Mayor of Southwark for 2009-2010 was Cllr Tayo Situ (Peckham Ward), who was elected on 19 May 2010. He replaced Cllr Jeff Hook who served from 2009-2010. Cllr Tayo Situ died in office on 9 May 2011 from cancer. Under the civic and legal protocol he was given a full civic and ceremonial funeral and no replacement could be elected until then which delayed the Annual Council Assembly.
Cllr Charlie Smith was elected Mayor and Cllr Jamille Mohammed was appointed as Deputy Mayor in a civic celebration at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 13 May 2017, incorporating The Southwark Civic Awards and Annual Meeting of the Council.


The council is run by a Leader and Cabinet Cabinet, chaired by council leader Cllr Peter John. Following the election in 2010 the Cabinet is Labour, replacing the previous Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party coalition.

Coat of arms

The two supporters on the coat of arms are an Elizabethan player dressed to play Hamlet to the left, indicating the theatrical heritage of the area, and the youth on the right side is the Esquire from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The coat of arms is an amalgam of elements of the three constituent Metropolitan Boroughs arms. The chequered band represents the three boroughs together. The cross was a common feature of Southwark and Camberwell. The well in the centre of the shield is a 'canting' reference to Camberwell and the cinquefoils represent the Dulwich area of Camberwell, while the ship on the top left refers to the maritime history of Bermondsey and was part of the Rotherhithe insignia. The rose on the right is from the Southwark arms where it represented St Saviour's parish, i.e. the Cathedral.


Southwark is twinned with Langenhagen in Germany, Clichy in France, and Cambridge in the United States.[32][33]


Southwark London Borough Council

A map showing the wards of Southwark since 2002

The borough currently has since 2010 a Labour Party-led council which has been the case in all but eight years since its formation. Previous control saw a four-year coalition of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, during which as small minority members the latter held 2 of the 10 executive positions, including deputy leader.

Summary of council election results:

Overall control Labour Lib Dem Conservative Others
2018 Labour 49 14 0 0
2014 Labour 48 13 2 0[34]
2010 Labour 35 25 3 0
2006 Lib Dem/Cons Coalition 28 * 28 * 6 1 (Green)
2002 Lib Dem/No overall control 28 30 5 -
1998 Labour/No overall control 33(31)** 27 4 0(2)**
1994 Labour - - - -
1990 Labour - - - -
1986 Labour - - - -
1982 Labour - - - -
1978 Labour - - - -
1974 Labour - - - -
1971 Labour - - - -
1968 Labour - - - -
1964 Labour - - - -

(*) Cllr Danny McCarthy (Cathedrals ward) defected from the Lib Dems to Labour after the 2006 election. Cllr Ola Oyewunmi (Peckham ward) did the reverse over one month to January 2010. Cllr Ade Lasaki (South Bermondsey ward) defected from the Lib Dems to Labour in March 2010. Cllr Susan Elan Jones resigned as councillor for The Lane ward to stand for MP to Clwyd South in Wales in the impending 2010 round of coinciding elections.
(**) Labour's candidates won 33 seats in 1998, of whom two resigned the whip to sit as independents, leaving no overall party-political control.

Westminster Parliament

The borough is covered by three parliamentary constituencies, all are currently represented by Labour MPs:

Sport and leisure

The London Borough of Southwark has the following sport clubs:


Bridges and tunnels

The Tabard Inn, around 1850
Borough Market, circa 1860

"A" Roads

London Underground (Tube) stations

The Bakerloo, Jubilee and Northern lines all run through the borough, below are the stations called at:

London Overground stations

Railway stations

National Rail services in the Borough are operated by Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink.

Riverbus piers

Operated by Thames Clippers

Parking and DVLA database ban

In 2012 it was revealed that the Southwark borough council has been permanently banned from accessing information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. This information is normally made available to local authorities for purposes such as enforcing parking fines, but access can be withdrawn if they are found to be mis-using the service. The Big Brother Watch organisation, which obtained the information about the ban under a Freedom of Information request, claimed that "the public are right to be worried that their privacy is at risk across a range of government services."[35]

Travel to work

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: bus, minibus or coach, 17.5% of all residents aged 16-74; underground, metro, light rail, tram, 8.5%; train, 8.5%; on foot, 8.2%; driving a car or van, 8.1%; bicycle, 4.9%; work mainly at or from home, 2.8%.[36]


Areas of Southwark


Parks and open spaces

Notable residents (past and present)

London Borough of Southwark Blue Plaque awarded to famous motorcycle designer Edward Turner unveiled in 2009 at his former residence, 8 Philip Walk, Peckham, London SE15

In 2003, the London Borough of Southwark started a blue plaque scheme for the commemoration of notable residents notably including living people in the awards.[37] The London Borough of Southwark awards Blue Plaques through popular vote following public nomination. Unlike the English Heritage scheme, the original building is not necessary for nomination.

Freedom of the Borough

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Borough of Southwark.



Military Units


See also


  1. ^ 2011 Census: Ethnic group, local authorities in England and Wales, Office for National Statistics (2012). See Classification of ethnicity in the United Kingdom for the full descriptions used in the 2011 Census.
  2. ^ "Southwark". Oxford Learner's Dictionaries.
  3. ^ "Southwark", in The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World (1952), New York: Columbia University Press.
  4. ^ a b Mills, D. (2000). Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ a b c Johnson, David J. (1969). Southwark and the City. Oxford University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-19-711630-2.
  6. ^ Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names, Eilert Erkwall, 4th edition
  7. ^ "Southwark: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ "KS006 - Ethnic group". NOMIS. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Ethnic Group by measures". NOMIS. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ Religion in Southwark : London Archived 13 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. theLondonArea. Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
  11. ^ 2011 Census. (27 March 2011). Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
  12. ^ Philby, Charlotte (12 December 2012). "Less religious and more ethnically diverse: Census reveals a picture of Britain today". Southwark.
  13. ^ "Southwark WW1". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "The Grand Southwark Showcase". Tate Modern. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ Whittle, Adrian; Long Srikrotiam, Naomi. "Livesey Building FAQ". Southwark Council. p. 2. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ "About us". MOCA London. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ "Company Overview of Actis Capital, LLP" (Archive). Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved on 1 September 2014. "2 More London Riverside London, SE1 2JT United Kingdom"
  19. ^ "London, United Kingdom." Financial Times. Retrieved on 28 October 2009.
  20. ^ "Map." London Borough of Southwark. Retrieved on 28 October 2009.
  21. ^ "Contact." Campus Living Villages. Retrieved on 5 October 2011. "Campus Living Villages UK Woolyard, 56 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UD, United Kingdom"
  22. ^ "What are Opportunity Areas?". London City Hall. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ "Elephant & Castle Partnership". Elephant and Castle. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ "Canada Water". Southwark Council. Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ "Old Kent Road Regeneration - Home". Old Kent Road. Retrieved 2019.
  26. ^ "Regeneration at Elephant and Castle and affordable homes Southwark Council". Retrieved 2018.
  27. ^ Jones, Andy (13 April 2017). "Every Flat in a New South London Development Has Been Sold to Foreign Investors". Vice. Retrieved 2018.
  28. ^ Turner, George (12 September 2018). "Revealed: London council took on financial risk of estate development". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ "Members list". Association of Retained Council Housing. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  30. ^ "Leathermarket JMB". Leathermarket JMB. Retrieved 2011.
  31. ^ Office for National Statistics 2011 Census Key Statistics: Tenure.
  32. ^ "A Message from the Peace Commission: Information on Cambridge's Sister Cities," 15 February 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  33. ^ Richard Thompson. "Looking to strengthen family ties with 'sister cities'," Boston Globe, 12 October 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  34. ^ 2014 Results BBC News. Retrieved 13 November 2014
  35. ^ DVLA bans councils from database over abuses, BBC News, 8 December 2012, retrieved 2012
  36. ^ "2011 Census: QS701EW Method of travel to work, local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2013. Percentages are of all residents aged 16-74 including those not in employment. Respondents could only pick one mode, specified as the journey's longest part by distance.
  37. ^ "Blue Plaque Winners 2007". Southwark Borough Council. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Latest News Southwark Council".

External links

Coordinates: 51°27?N 0°05?W / 51.450°N 0.083°W / 51.450; -0.083

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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