39.7% White British
2.2% White Irish
0.1% White Gypsy or Irish Traveller
12.3% Other White
2% White & Black Caribbean
1.3% White & Black African
1% White & Asian
1.9% Other Mixed
2% Indian
0.6% Pakistani
1.4% Bangladeshi
2.8% Chinese
2.7% Other Asian
16.4% Black African
6.2% Black Caribbean
4.2% Other Black
0.8% Arab

2.4% Other Time zone GMT (UTC)  • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1) Postcodes SE ONS code 00BE GSS code E09000028 Police Metropolitan Police Website http://www.southwark.gov.uk/

The London Borough of Southwark /ˈsʌðərk/ (About this sound listen)[2] in south London, England 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 Theatre, 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.


The area was first settled in the Roman period but the name Southwark dates from 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 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 are the London Borough of Bromley and the London Borough of Croydon.


At the 2001 census Southwark had a population of 244,866. Southwark is ethnically 63% white, 16% black African and 8% black Caribbean. 31% of householders are 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.

Population census
Year Pop. ±%
1801 114,901 —    
1811 138,644 +20.7%
1821 172,699 +24.6%
1831 204,734 +18.5%
1841 146,922 −28.2%
1851 167,045 +13.7%
1861 283,723 +69.8%
1871 400,401 +41.1%
1881 517,080 +29.1%
1891 576,786 +11.5%
1901 578,059 +0.2%
1911 579,338 +0.2%
1921 556,520 −3.9%
1931 534,615 −3.9%
1941 425,088 −20.5%
1951 338,003 −20.5%
1961 297,132 −12.1%
1971 261,203 −12.1%
1981 209,724 −19.7%
1991 227,060 +8.3%
2001 244,867 +7.8%
2011 288,283 +17.7%


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.


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.

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.[4]

According to the 2001 Census, approximately 28% of Southwark identified as non-religious, or chose not to state their faith.[5]

Religion in Southwark (2011 census)[6]

  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 with both the Southwark Playhouse and the Union Theatre having premises in Bermondsey Street. The Menier Chocolate Factory combines a theatre and exhibition space, whilst in October 2017 the Bridge Theatre will open near Tower Bridge.

Museums and galleries

The borough is the location of international-standard museums and galleries; the Imperial War Museum and its outpost HMS Belfast moored at the Pool, Dulwich Picture Gallery the oldest public gallery in Britain, and one of the most modern, the Tate Modern. The Bankside Gallery is the headquarters of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. Specialist and local collections are represented at the London Fire Brigade Museum, the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, The Clink, the Cuming Museum and the London Bridge Experience and London Tombs under London Bridge. The Golden Hinde replica is at St Mary Overie Dock and nearby are the remains of the medieval Winchester Palace which is a scheduled ancient monument.

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.[7]

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 great industrialist Sir George Livesey of the Metropolitan Gas Works in 1890. The museum was closed by Southwark council in 2008.[8]

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.


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.[9] 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,[10][11] IPC Magazines in Southwark Street, and the Evening Standard and Daily Mail at Surrey Quays.[citation needed] Campus Living Villages UK also has its head office in the borough.[12]

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.

Educational establishments

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.

Dulwich College is a prestigious school situated in the heart of the Borough


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, into which the London Borough has invested tens of millions of pounds of funds for physical improvement in the 2010s.

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, 31.2%, at the time of the 2011 census.[13] 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.[14]

Five highest-ranked local authorities by proportion of Social Housing (2011 Census)[15]
Local Authority Shared Ownership Socially rented Privately rented
Southwark London Borough 2.0 31.2 22.2
Barking and Dagenham London Borough 1.3 28.4 16.6
Harlow Non-Metropolitan District 0.9 26.9 10.0
Islington London Borough 1.3 26.7 25.6
South Tyneside Metropolitan District 0.4 25.3 9.0

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, after a brave fight against 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.[16][17]


Southwark London Borough Council

A map showing the wards of Southwark since 2002

The borough currently has a Labour Party-led council which has been the most common administration since its formation. The previous administration of another party was a coalition of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.
Summary of council election results:

Overall control Labour Lib Dem Conservative Others
2014 Labour 48 13 2 0[18]
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

(*) Labour won 33 seats in 1998, but 2 members subsequently resigned the whip, leaving no overall control.
(**) Cllr Danny McCarthy (Cathedrals ward) defected from the Libdems to the Labour Party after the 2006 election. Cllr Ola Oyewunmi (Peckham ward) resigned the Labour whip in December 2009, and was admitted to the Liberal Democrat group in January 2010. Cllr Ade Lasaki (South Bermondsey ward) resigned the Lib Dem whip and was admitted to the Labour group in March 2010. Cllr Susan Elan Jones resigned as councillor for the Lane ward to stand for a parliamentary seat in Wales. Her resignation was after the date at which a by-election can be held, leaving the seat vacant until the local elections in May 2010.

Labour were elected to run the council on 6 May 2010, following 4 years of a formal Liberal Democrat/ Tory coalition (the Conservatives held 2/10 executive positions, including deputy leader).

Westminster parliament

The borough is covered by three parliamentary constituencies:

Sport and leisure

The London Borough of Southwark has the following sport clubs:


The Tabard Inn, around 1850
Borough Market, circa 1860

Bridges and tunnels

"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 Clipper

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."[19]

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%.[20]


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.[21] 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.

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", in The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World (1952), New York: Columbia University Press.
  3. ^ "Southwark: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Religion in Southwark : London Archived 13 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. theLondonArea. Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
  5. ^ 2011 Census. Statistics.gov.uk (27 March 2011). Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
  6. ^ Philby, Charlotte (12 December 2012). "Less religious and more ethnically diverse: Census reveals a picture of Britain today". Southwark. 
  7. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15912616
  8. ^ Whittle, Adrian; Long Srikrotiam, Naomi. "Livesey Building FAQ". www.southwark.gov.uk. Southwark Council. p. 2. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Company Overview of Actis Capital, LLP" (Archive). Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved on 1 September 2014. "2 More London Riverside London, SE1 2JT United Kingdom"
  10. ^ "London, United Kingdom." Financial Times. Retrieved on 28 October 2009.
  11. ^ "Map." London Borough of Southwark. Retrieved on 28 October 2009.
  12. ^ "Contact." Campus Living Villages. Retrieved on 5 October 2011. "Campus Living Villages UK Woolyard, 56 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UD, United Kingdom"
  13. ^ "Members list". Association of Retained Council Housing. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "Leathermarket JMB". Leathermarket JMB. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  15. ^ Office for National Statistics 2011 Census Key Statistics: Tenure.
  16. ^ "A Message from the Peace Commission: Information on Cambridge's Sister Cities," 15 February 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  17. ^ Richard Thompson. "Looking to strengthen family ties with 'sister cities'," Boston Globe, 12 October 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  18. ^ 2014 Results BBC News. Retrieved 13 November 2014
  19. ^ DVLA bans councils from database over abuses, BBC News, 8 December 2012, retrieved 10 December 2012 
  20. ^ "2011 Census: QS701EW Method of travel to work, local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 November 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.
  21. ^ "Blue Plaque Winners 2007". Southwark Borough Council. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. 

External links

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