Feeling Blue? Join celebration at Bermondsey town centre following marketplace transformation

26 July 2021

On Saturday 31 July, residents living in Bermondsey and beyond are invited down The Blue to celebrate the new and improved Market Place being back open for business, now featuring a striking new clock tower.From 12pm to 4pm, come and enjoy delicious food from local traders and a family-friendly line-up of entertainment and workshops organised by the community-led project team behind major improvements to revitalise Bermondsey’s historic town centre and market.

Home to The Blue and Make It Blue markets, the square has been completely redefined: new seating areas using re-purposed materials are framed by clusters of trees and greenery, and an expanded new layout for market stalls is illuminated with new lighting columns and a clock tower standing proudly as Market Place’s shining new centrepiece.

The green oak tower is inspired by the historic clock tower that stood on Peek Frean’s biscuit factory, which in its heyday kept the country supplied with garibaldi and bourbon biscuits until its closure in 1989. 

In homage to The Blue’s manufacturing heritage and to celebrate the history of the first tin can being invented in Bermondsey, the new clock tower is clad in 3,000 tin can discs made locally on Old Kent Road. The local community was invited to be part of this great history through a series of workshops on the market and in schools where residents engraved 500 tin can discs with designs inspired by the Old Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey’s coat of arms.

Murals and artwork celebrating The Blue’s industrial roots and a litany of historic ‘firsts’ originating in Bermondsey enliven market shutters and nearby railway arches as important gateways directing visitors to the town centre. The market square’s paving, which was carefully retained to re-use existing materials as far as possible, now boasts a colourful brick mosaic reading the inscription on Bermondsey’s coat of arms – Art Profits The People.

Traders now have access to improved market storage and new electrical power points, with adaptable fixed stalls designed to provide cover for other uses, such as community events and arts festivals. 

Southwark Council and partners, The Blue Business Improvement District, Community Opportunity and Big Local Works, secured £2m of capital funding from the Mayor of London’s LEAP Good Growth Fund to turn The Blue town centre and street market into a thriving area. Hayatsu Architects, located just five minutes from The Blue’s Market Place, were appointed to lead the design team with Turner Prize-winning art and architecture collective Assemble.

Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with the community to deliver these improvements to one of our much loved town centres.   

“Thanks to the local community, businesses and council working together, with backing from the Mayor of London, we are putting Bermondsey’s historic town centre firmly on the map as the ‘Larder of London’ for locals and Londoners alike to visit, shop, eat and socialise. 

“We hope you’ll join us this Saturday for the opening of the new vastly improved market square, to celebrate what’s been achieved so far and experience first-hand the incredible community spirit driving forward plans to bring a buzz back to The Blue.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "I am thrilled to support the regeneration of the Blue Market, all made possible by local people and organisations working together to design a new market space that will support community activities, events and local businesses. Markets like the Blue have a long history in the capital and throughout the pandemic have played a crucial role in providing local people with access to goods and services. The transformation of the Blue market will restore the heart of Bermondsey, provide a space that the community can feel proud of and put the Blue Market on the map as a new destination for Londoners to visit.”

Takeshi Hayatsu, Director of Hayatsu Architects said: “A true regeneration project cannot be delivered without the strong will and commitment from local community partners. The positivity and creativity of The Blue BID, Community Opportunity, Big Local Works and other locals really pushed the project forward. We hope our built interventions add a new exciting chapter to the long history of the market, represent the community vision and pride, and leave a lasting legacy for the brighter future of Bermondsey.”

Over 700 local people responded to an in-depth community consultation and designs for the market square were changed in light of their feedback, including The Blue’s much-loved lion sculpture remaining at ground level atop a new plinth. 

Works to revitalise The Blue are being delivered in stages: a package of shop front improvements is nearly finished and a new pedestrianised cut-through improving connectivity to the market is due to complete in September. Consultation is underway on plans to transform Thorowgoods furniture shop into an arts centre with a three-screen cinema, coffee shop, workspace and flexible community space. Better connections will also be established on Blue Anchor Lane, including a new pedestrian crossing.

Page last updated: 26 July 2021