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Blue plaque winners

Blue plaque winners 2003

Bobby Abel

1857 to 1936
The finest cricketer ever to come from Southwark, Robert Abel stands the test of time as a great sportsman.

Born in Rotherhithe in 1857 Bobby, or The Guv'nor as he was more commonly known, overcame humble beginnings and a long apprenticeship to play over 600 matches for Surrey County Cricket Club and play 13 times for England.

Highly rated by such people as C.B.Fry he was considered the reliable bat in a Surrey team that he won the county championship with no less than 9 times during his career, from 1881 and 1904, remaining a crowd favourite throughtout his time there. His 357 in a first class match remained a world record for 39 years, and the 811 scored while he was at the wicket remains a record even now 104 years later.

As a test opener he became the first English opener to carry his bat and, despite a relatively modest average, he is ranked as the best batsman in the world by comparative ratings for several years, ahead of such stars as W.G. Grace and Ranji Ranjitsinhji. In 1904 he was forced to retire due to failing sight and was completely blind by his death, in Stockwell, in 1936.

Borough Market

Although the Borough Market has moved locations by a few hundred yards this way and that from the southern bridgehead of London Bridge , it has existed in roughly the same location for 1,000 years!

It is now the oldest fruit and vegetable wholesale market still trading from its present 4.5 acre site - since 1756 - in central London .

It is believed that back in AD 1014 the market sold fish, grain & cattle - as well as vegetables. And because of its central location, merchants from all over Europe would travel from coastal ports to trade.

They would rest for the night in one of the many inns in Southwark, the best known of which was the 'Tabard Inn' featured in Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales'.

At the height of the Victorian era most of the food imported to the capital arrived at wharves alongside London Bridge and Tooley Street - hence it's name ' London 's Larder' - and later on the London Bridge railway station. Thousands of tons of produce was wheeled the few yards from the train to the Market.

Historically the trade has focused around a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, but in recent years a weekly fine food retail market has been established. There are also a number of specialist food shops which adjoin the market.
It is when most of us are asleep that Borough Market is at its busiest. A typical wholesale traders' day starts at around 2am. Throughout the night, large container trucks transport fresh fruit and vegetables from producers near and far. They are unloaded by a team of 'pitching porters' and stacked on the traders' stands to await the arrival of customers.

In the early hours, greengrocers, restaurateurs and hoteliers from the City, West End and the South East come to select the freshest produce available. The local cafĂ©'s and pubs in and around the market complete the hive of activity.

The Trustees' own 'police force', the Beadles, maintain good order throughout. By 9am, most of the trading has finished, leaving the Trustees' team of 'sweepers' free to clear away the debris left by another frantic trading session!
Today, Borough market has responded to London's passion for locally produced, organic food with its expansion into a weekend gourmet market, while its advisory food committee of stallholders and trustees ensures that standards are kept up. 

'I've been going to Borough Market for years - there's really nowhere quite like it in London. There is such a great atmosphere, not to mention really excellent fish, veg, terrific meat and delicious cheese all straight from farmers. It's a tasty slice of London history. It is so important that we support farmers markets on every level like this one. It presents the heritage of British produce at its best.' - Jamie Oliver, tv chef and restaurateur.

Charles Babbage, 1791 to 1871

Our lives might be very different today without Charles Babbage's early calculating machines. Born in Walworth, he is regarded by many as "the father of computing". His Difference Engine, invented in 1821, was the world's first successful automatic calculator - and the design for his Analytical Engine (1856) is generally considered the foundation of today's computers.

Born in Crosby Row (now Larcom Street) in 1791, Babbage taught himself algebra at a young age and, upon entering Cambridge University at the age of 20, found himself a far better mathematician than his tutors. He co-founded the Analytical Society for reforming the mathematics of Newton then taught at the university - and was later to occupy the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post previously held by Isaac Newton and now held by Prof. Stephen Hawking. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1816 and played a major part in setting up the Astronomical Society (later Royal Astronomical Society) in 1820. It was around this time that Babbage first became interested in calculating machines, which would be his consuming passion for the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, little remains of Babbage's prototype computing machines. The government withdrew funding for his Difference Engine in 1832, so it was left for George Scheutz, a Swedish printer, to successfully construct a Difference Engine in 1854, according to Babbage's design. The machine was extremely accurate and was subsequently used by the British and American governments. Babbage's many intellectual achievements would have assured him fame, irrespective of his Difference and Analytical Engines. But his failure to construct these machines - and the failure of the government to support his work - left him in his later years a disappointed and embittered man. He died at his home in London in October 1871.

"Charles Babbage was a self taught mathematical genius whose invention of the automated calculator and designs for the first basic computer system have changed almost every aspect of the way we live and work today. Young and aspiring mathematicians and inventors everywhere should see him as an inspiration and we should remember and honour the birthplace in Walworth of this remarkable man who is known to many as the 'father of computers'." - Carol Vorderman, TV presenter and mathematical whizz.

Charles Dickens, 1812 to 1870

Writer, journalist and social reformer, Charles Dickens is best known as the quintessential Victorian novelist, whose epic stories, finely drawn characters and critique of contemporary life were brought to the masses in serial form.
Dickens has a long association with Southwark. Not only does the borough appear in many of his novels, but his work as a social reformer was often focused around the poverty in this area, which had expanded rapidly since industrialisation.

Although born to middle class parents, the young Dickens had a difficult childhood. At the age of 12 he saw his father and most of his family imprisoned in Marshalsea debtors prison. Charles lodged with a local family in Lant Street and worked in a blacking factory. His feelings of humiliation and abandonment left him with a deep concern for the plight of children, expressed in his books.

Dickens began his literary career as a journalist then parliamentary reporter. In 1836 he married Catherine Hogarth. The couple separated in 1858 following the birth of their tenth child.

In the same month as Dickens' marriage, his first successful novel, The Pickwick Papers was published in serial form. Referring back to his early life, imprisonment for debt is a major theme in the book, as it is in Little Dorrit. In another connection with the borough, Mr Pickwick chooses to live out his retirement in leafy Dulwich.

As a social reformer, Dickens campaigned on major issues. He witnessed the public hanging of George and Maria Manning at Horsemonger's Lane Gaol (off Newington Causeway). Appalled by the reaction of the crowds, Dickens began a 20 year campaign to ban public hangings.

Dickens fame as a writer gave him access to workhouses, schools, hospitals, factories and slums. The workhouse at Mint Street is thought to be the model for the scene in Oliver Twist when Oliver asks for more.
He continued to publish his novels in serial form, making them accessible to poorer readers. The novels were also adapted as plays and appeared in Southwark's theatres.

Dickens' association with Southwark continued in later life. He is believed to have rented a house, for himself and his mistress Ellen Ternan in Linden Grove, Nunhead between 1868 and his death in 1870 

'Dickens wrote with such exuberance and generosity of heart you cannot fail to be inspired. He had a weird and wonderful imagination and an ability to summon up the grotesque with flamboyance and colour, and yet he also had massive compassion for people who were disadvantaged. Charles Dickens should without doubt be awarded a blue plaque.' - Simon Callow, film and stage actor. 'As a boy Dickens lodged in a back attic in Lant Street while his father was in the Marshalsea Prison for debt, he wrote, " If a man wished to abstract himself from the world; to remove himself from within the reach of temptation; to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement to look out of the window; he should by all means go to Lant Street." A Blue Plaque would not be out of place here, after all it was the scene of Bob Sawyers disasterous bachelors party in the Pickwick Papers.' - D. Jeffery; Nelson Square Gardens, London.

Clink, The

The Clink (1151 - 1780) on Southwark's Bankside was a tortuous place - it is thought it got its name from the clinking of the manacles, fetters, chains and bolts that were used there. It was the ultimate London prison and gave rise to the phrase "in the clink". The jail was run by the Bishops of Winchester and was particularly nasty. Debtors, thieves, heretics and other ne-er do wells were treated appallingly by their jailers and brutality was a part of life.

Beatings and kickings were common, irons and fetters were fitted to prevent sleeping or cause paralysis, and prisoners were forced to stand in water until their feet rotted. Murder and fighting were not unusual. Authorised torture included the rack, breaking on the wheel, or crushing under very heavy weights. A ducking stool on the bank outside the Clink was used for punishing scolds, erring ale sellers, and bakers who sold underweight or bad bread.

When Mary I came to the throne n 1530, The Clink was used to incarcerate Protestants and when Elizabeth ! took over, she continued to use the prison for religious persecution although this time it was the Catholics and Protestant Puritans who were on the receiving end. By the middle of the 1600s The Clink was a debtors prison only and it was gradually used less and less because of the cost of upkeep. It was burnt down in 1780 by rioters, and was never rebuilt.

Druid Street Arch

Bermondsey suffered the largest number of bombs in London during the blitzes of the Second World War. This was because of the area's proximity to the Thames and main railway interchanges. Druid Street Arch was one of the many arches along the railtrack which were used as shelter during air raids.
The area under the arch was used as a social club and billiards hall during the day. At night, it was transformed into a sanctuary from the bombing. The ominous sound of the sirens were the cue for local people to congregate as quickly as possible in a bid for safety.
On the night of 25 October 1940, hundreds of people were sheltering like this at Druid's Arch during an air raid. It received a direct hit. Many were killed instantly and many died later of their injuries. The final death toll was 87. Druid's Arch marks the site of the worst disaster in Southwark. It is remembered today by those who survived the Second War World and by their families.

Edgar Kail

Community Campaign Award

This is an annual award given to an individual or group of people who have been imaginative, dedicated and enthusiastic in canvassing votes for their favourite icon. Success is not dependent on the number of votes.

TOTAL VOTES - 384

Everyone's heard of Beckham, Owen and Ferdinand, but there's a little known English international who so loved his home town club that he refused to sell out to the Premiership. Striker Edgar Kail (1900 - 1976) played for Dulwich Hamlet FC between 1914 and 1933 - the golden age of the 109-year-old club. With 427 goals for Dulwich, three caps for England under his belt and 21 Amateur caps he is far and away the club's most successful player ever.

Kail wore the Three Lions with pride against France, Belgium and Spain in 1929 and was the last player from an amateur club to represent his country in the full international squad. Although approached by several professional clubs in the top flight he could never be lured away from his beloved Dulwich and scored 400 goals for the Isthmian League team. Born in 1900, he became associated with the club when he was just 14. He grew up around the Lordship Lane area and during his career at the club, he lived just a stone's throw away from the Champion Hill ground in Tintagel Crescent. In the 1990s the approach to the ground was named Edgar Kail Way in his honour.

During the second World War, Kail was stationed in Wiltshire as a Police War Reserve but he returned to Dulwich in 1945. Kail moved to Scotland in the late sixties and died in the mid seventies. Even today - 70 years after he kicked a ball in competitive football, his name is still chanted at Champion Hill. "Edgar Kail in my heart Keep me Dulwich Edgar Kail in my heart I pray Edgar Kail in my heart Keep me Dulwich Keep me Dulwich til my dying day."

More information about Edgar Kail

Enid Blyton, 1897 to 1968

Enid Blyton is probably the most successful British children's author of the twentieth century. Over her 40 year career, she published over 600 books for young people, her best known being The Famous Five series, Secret Seven, Malory Towers and of course, Noddy. Her books have been translated into nearly 70 languages and have sold over 60 million copies worldwide.

Enid Blyton was born on 11 August 1897 in small flat above a shop in East Dulwich. The eldest of three children, Blyton's father worked in the family 'mantle warehousing' business called Fisher and Nephew.

Always a bookworm, Blyton was sending poetry and short stories to periodicals from an early age. She was married in 1924 and in 1926 became editor of a new magazine for children - Sunny Stories. She reached the pinnacle of her success around the time of the Second World War, when such children's classics as The Secret Island and Children of Cherry Tree Farm were published.

It was 1949 that Little Noddy Goes to Toyland became a household name. It was also this series which provoked much criticism for racism, sexism and snobbishness. In the 1950's many libraries went as far as banning Blyton's books for these reasons. Despite these criticisms, the books of Enid Blyton have remained unwaveringly popular with children across the years. By the time of her death on 28 November 1968, Blyton had secured a well-loved place in the history British children's literature.

George Livesey, Sir

George Livesey was the son of Thomas Livesey who worked for the Gas Light and Coke Company from 1821. In 1842 Thomas brought his family to live in the Old Kent Road close to the South Metropolitan Gas Company where he had been made secretary.

George followed his father into the company in 1848 where he became his father's assistant. In 1862 he was made engineer to the company. Thomas Livesey died in 1871 and George was made secretary of the company. He became chairman of the board in 1885. During his chairmanship he brought in a scheme which enabled employees to share in company profits.
The Livesey Museum for Children is named after George Livesey. He originally gave the building to the borough in 1891 for use as a library. It was converted to a museum in 1974. George Livesey was knighted in 1901 and died in 1908. He is buried in Nunhead Cemetery

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

The son of Marc Brunel, Isambard oversaw the building of the Thames Tunnel when his father became too ill to finish the job. In Victorian times, the Thames was like the M25 - gridlocked and very busy with traffic. There was a great need for a tunnel under the river to convey goods to the East End - and the Brunel family took-on the job to build it.

It was constructed to take horse drawn traffic from the docks on the south side of the river to the docks on the north. It was a transport revolution which saved hours and hours in comparison to the overland route which meant goods had to be taken over London Bridge.

It was the first underwater tunnel built anywhere in the world and was a marvel of engineering, far ahead of its time (the same principal was used on the Channel Tunnel). Brunel used a big tunnel-boring shield to cut away at the clay and mud below the river. Although the work was dangerous, this shield saved many lives and went a long way to improve the conditions for those who were digging. Having learnt much from his father, Isambard went on to be one of the most successful engineers and architects of his day. One of his most famous feats of engineering is the Great Western Railway and another was the huge ship the Great Eastern. The Thames Tunnel now forms the underground tunnel for the East London Line.

Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759 to 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was a self educated writer and teacher. She championed the idea of equality of the sexes and equal opportunities in education in her famous books "Vindication of the Rights of Man" (1790) and her controversial "Vindication of the Rights of Women" (1792).
At the time of the publication of the second book Mary was lodging at the corner of Dolben Street (formerly George Street) where Southwark College is now. Mary had a long association with Southwark having stayed with friends throughout her formative years in Newington Butts and Manor Place. It was with her friend Fanny Blood of Newington Butts that she tried to run a school based on her ideals of equality of education but the school failed.
A remarkable woman, Mary mixed with many radicals and intellectuals including Paine and Wordsworth. Her work on the rights of women to equality were scandalous during her lifetime but were a forerunner of the arguments of the women's movement two hundred years later.

"The world-wide campaign for women's rights could never have begun if it had not been for Mary Wollstonecraft's impassioned response to Paine's Rights of Man (1791), A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). For women the world over Mary Wollstonecraft is a heroine, and Southwark should be proud of her. A blue plaque on one or other of her residences in Southwark is long overdue. ." - Germaine Greer, Women's rights campaigner.

Michael Caine, Sir

Born 1933 In the Forties, Michael Caine, then known as Maurice Mickelwhite could be found helping his dad shovel ice at Billingsgate fish market early on Sunday mornings. Sixty years on, Michael Caine is an internationally acclaimed actor with two Oscars, a CBE, a knighthood and a British Academy lifetime achievement award under his belt.

The pop group Madness even wrote a chart hit in 1984 named after him. Caine is a self-confirmed Londoner and apart from two years national service with the Royal Fusiliers in Korea and a several years in the U.S he has spent most of his sixty-nine years in the capital and a good part of his childhood in Southwark.

Caine came from a working class south London family, born in 1933 in the charity wing of St Olaves' hospital in Rotherhithe, his father was a porter at Billingsgate fish market and his mother a charlady. The family moved to Camberwell when he was six months old and after evacuation to a farm in Norfolk during the Blitz, they were reunited in a two room gas lit flat with an outside toilet in Elephant & Castle where he shared a bedroom with his parents and brother Stanley, then, aged twelve he moved to East London.
Deciding to become a Hollywood star aged 14, Michael escaped from the deprivations of his childhood through cinema and books and was nicknamed the "Professor". Caine left school at sixteen and on return from the Army worked in several manual jobs while studying acting in the evening.
Michael's big break was as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in Zulu, which led to his first starring role aged thirty as the cockney hero, Alfie in 1966 and on to critical acclaim which has followed him through four decades.

Michael Faraday, 1791 to 1867

Michael Faraday is known world-wide for his pioneering experiments in electricity and magnetism.

His findings led to the method of generating electricity that is still used today (no matter what the power source, nuclear or wind). Many consider him the greatest ever experimentalist. Faraday was born in Newington in 1791 - the son of a blacksmith. He left school at 13 and was apprenticed as a book binder, where he became interested in the scientific works of the time.

After hearing a lecture by the famous chemist Humphry Davy, he sent Davy the notes he had made of his lectures. As a result, he was appointed, aged 21, as laboratory assistant to Davy at the Royal Institution in London. Faraday's subsequent research into electricity and electrolysis led him into the new field of electromagnetism. His principle of induction, demonstrated in 1831, was a landmark discovery that made the dynamo (or electric generator) possible. His discovery in 1845 that an intense magnetic field can rotate the plane of polarised light is now known as the Faraday Effect. It has been used to give us a better understanding of molecular structure and galactic magnetic fields. Without Michael Faraday's discoveries, our lives would be very different today.  

Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith (1730 - 1774) was a playwright and essayist living in eighteenth century Britain.

A notorious but well-loved figure in literary circles of the time, Goldsmith was probably most widely known for his works The Vicar of Wakefield, The Good Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer.

Goldsmith was born on 10 November 1730 in County Westmeath, Ireland. The son of a clergyman, Goldsmith contracted smallpox at the age of seven. Sadly, it was this illness which was to disfigure him for life.

A procrastinator, Goldsmith spent an unsuccessful time at Trinity College, Dublin between 1745 and 1756; flirted with the priesthood before trying to study medicine at Edinburgh.

In 1756 he arrived in London, destitute. He held many temporary jobs in South London and he was even assistant at a school in Peckham. Oliver Goldsmith's Primary School in Peckham is still running today.

Through all his hard times, it is Goldsmith's flamboyance and literary skill that remained. By the 1760s he was finally making his mark. Citizen of the World was well received in 1762, and Goldsmith established himself as a poet two years later with The Traveller. She Stoops to Conquer, however (1778) was the play which was to outlive all other comedies of the period with its social farce and vivid characterisation.

Goldsmith died of kidney disease on 4 April 1774, immersed in gambling debts. His epitaph, written by his friend Samuel Johnson, read: "A powerful yet gentle master."

Rio Ferdinand

Rio was born in 1978 and grew up on the Friary Estate in Peckham where he used to play football on the Leyton Square Park. His earlier talents lay in gymnastics and he became Inner London Schoolboy Champion but at the age of eleven he started playing football seriously and signed Schoolboy Forms in 1994. He was a member of the record breaking South-east Counties Champion Team in 1996.

As a schoolboy, Rio's talents were tested at QPR and Middlesborough before he signed for West Ham at 15, where he stayed until joining Leeds United in November 2000 and, more recently, Manchester United.
Rio has never lost touch with Peckham and visits frequently maintaining links with the Youth Centre he attended, a number of children's charities and his involvement in the Damilola Taylor Trust. He encourages both boys and girls to strive to better themselves and is considered to be a powerful role model for young people as a local boy who has risen to the heights of a career in international football.

To help young people in the borough achieve the same success as himself Rio has purchased training equipment and football boots for children whose families cannot afford these. He has taken talented youngsters for trials to various clubs and paid their expenses; has given VIP tickets for matches to under privileged children and paid their fares. Whenever he can he attends fundraising events at Leyton Square Adventure Playground and gave his England shirt to the Lindley Tenants & Residents Association to raise funds in their raffle. He has also supported a one million pound bid for the Southwark Football Development Plan.

Rio was a strong ally and friend to Southwark during the aftermath of Damilola Taylor's tragic death. He recorded a personal appeal for young people to come forward with information about anything they might have seen or heard and was the first contributor to the Damilola Taylor Trust in which he has maintained an interest ever since.

Sailing of the Mayflower

In the nineteenth century, Rotherhithe was the centre of seafaring, shipbuilding and ship breaking. It was home to twelve major shipyards and what was the largest commercial dock in the world, Greenland Dock, named after London's booming whaling industry in the early 1800s, which in its heyday could hold 120 ships.

But Rotherhithe's most famous resident was a seventeenth century seafarer, Captain Christopher Jones whose ship, the Mayflower was docked in Rotherhithe before sailing with the Pilgrim Fathers, on 6th Sept 1620 it made the epic journey to America, returning to Rotherhithe a year later.

Evidence of Rotherhithe's historic seafaring past still exists today. Peter Hills school was founded in 1613 for children of destitute sailors and the Mayflower Public House on Rotherhithe Street, although rebuilt in the eighteenth century, is still close to the site where the ship itself was moored.

Three of the four owners of the Mayflower were buried in St Mary's church including Captain Christopher Jones who died a year after the Mayflower's return and although his grave was lost in the rebuilding of the church in 1715, a memorial was erected in 1995 on the 375th anniversary of the voyage. St Marys was a sea-farers church, and its puritan rector Thomas Gatakar baptised Captain Jones' children.

The original dated back to the middle ages, but the new eighteenth century church was built with the help of shipbuilders using many of the furnishings of the Temeraire, a veteran warship of the Battle of Trafalgar, which was painted by Turner before being broken up at the famous Beatson's Yard in 1838.  

Sam Wanamaker  

Sam Wanamaker (1919 - 1993) was well known as an American actor/director, but perhaps best known as the founder of the Shakespeare Globe Trust in Southwark.

Stainer Street Arch

During the Second World War, bombs fell on Bermondsey almost more often and more continuously than any other place in Britain. The docks, warehouses, factories, railways and its proximity to central London meant it was right in the front line.

People had to spend night after night in shelters but often they were not safe even here. Stainer Street Arch near London Bridge Station was being used as an air raid shelter when it was hit by bombing in February 1941. Sixty-eight people died.

What makes this site all the more poignant is the belief that the bodies of many of the victims were never recovered from the rubble and they remain entombed there to this day.  

Surrey Docks Fire

Surrey Docks was historically used as a massive storage area for huge lengths of timber imported from the Baltic countries. In the years before the Second World War, the area would have been characterised by great logs floating in the ponds and large warehouses full of wood.
During the time of the blitz, the docks fell victim to a direct hit. Not surprisingly, all the timber was ignited, resulting in a spectacular blaze that raged for days. Many local people who remember the war comment that at this time it seemed that the docks were constantly on fire.
People who lived in the surrounding area had to endure thick clouds of smoke that could be seen for miles. As well as smoke inhalation they had to endure the misery of standing and watching both their homes and livelihoods go up in flames. Surrey Docks has certainly never seen a disaster which was so visually dramatic nor which has such a long term effect on the economy and lives of local people.

Tabbard Inn

"In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay; Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage," Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales. England's greatest medieval poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, was born around 1342, the son of a wealthy London vintner, and he died in 1400.

Despite travelling widely and leaving a number of notable works, Chaucer is best remembered for one journey and one incomplete 17,000-line masterpiece. The Canterbury Tales follows a band of unforgettably rumbustious pilgrims on their way from Southwark to St Thomas a Becket's shrine in Canterbury.

The trip, which gave him the material for the Canterbury Tales, began in April 1386 at the Tabard Inn. The stable yard is now called Talbot Yard . In the book, after supper, the jolly host of the Tabard, Harry Bailly, declares that "not this year" has he seen such a mixed bunch under his roof.

'Chaucer is one of the founding fathers of English Literature and Southwark will forever be associated with Chaucer and the immortal Pilgrims he sent off from The Tabard Inn to Canterbury.' - Melvyn Bragg, presenter of Radio 4's 'In Our Time'. 

He rides out with the pilgrims the next day, and proposes that, in order to help pass the journey, each of them should tell two tales on the road to Canterbury, and two on the way back to Southwark.

The pilgrims agree that the one who tells the best tale will be treated to a supper by the others, when they return to the Tabard in Southwark. (It's a brilliant ploy to bring the customers back.) The full tales were never completed though. So just 24 of a possible 120 are in the book - and the incomplete book ends before they even get to Canterbury! 

His first ever theatre job was doing Shakespearean roles in a representative Globe Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. This was a period which was to have a profound impact on his life.

Originally from Chicago, USA, Sam Wanamaker moved to Britain in 1949. Over the next ten years he was most notably to appear in Clifford Odet's Winter Journey with Sir Michael Redgrave, and as Iago opposite Paul Robeson's Othello in a landmark RSC production.

Amongst Sam Wanamaker's many other career successes, he acted in over a dozen television shows for US networks and acted /directed in over 50 films including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.

However, Sam Wanamaker's great passion had always been to create a faithful replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre close to its original Bankside, Southwark location.

Sam Wanamaker persevered with the project over a period of twenty years. In doing so, he overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. Finally, the Globe was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1997 four years after his efforts were recognised publicly by his being awarded a CBE.
Sam Wanamaker died in 1993 of cancer, and his daughter Zoe continues his acting legacy. The Globe Theatre today stands in Southwark as testimony to his dedication and abilities.

'Sam Wanamaker first came to London in the summer of 1949. Because of his consummate love of Shakespeare, one of the first things he did was to go to the South Bank in search of the Globe. He was horrified to find nothing but a plaque on a brewery wall. From that moment onwards he resolved one day to put matters right. He was a visionary, whose belief in Southwark and the rejuvenation of the South Bank was derided for many years but he fought for what he believed in and predicted everything that has subsequently happened to the area. For the last 25 years of his life he begged, borrowed, cajoled, fought and, finally, gave his life for his dream. Shakespeare's Globe is one of the most important new buildings in Southwark and, if only for that, Sam Wanamaker should be celebrated and revered for his incredible tenacity and foresight.' - Zoe Wanamaker CBE, actress. 

'Michael Caine is one of few people who manage to combine stardom with total honesty. He is an inspiration to a generation of actors, film goers and critics while staying true to himself and his roots as a Londoner. He deserves to be recognised not just for his contribution to the film industry but on a local level, for being a source of pride to the community that raised him.' - Jonathan Ross, film critic, radio and tv presenter.

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