WISE16 Farewell 2019. Welcome 2020

2019 has been a year full of events and news in Rotherhithe and Bermondsey. WISE16 has continued to play a role in the local community by promoting concerts, art events, community gatherings and local news. As we look forward to 2020, these are some of the highlights from 2019

Moments to forget

We started 2019 leaving behind the controversy of Alice In Winterland at Southwark Park, the bitterness of internet trolls and the ongoing debate during 2019 of Brexit. Yet, this year was full of wonderful moments to remember across SE16


Canada Water Theatre continued to be a key arts space bringing a programme of music, family and adult theatre, spoken word and films to the heart of Rotherhithe. The iconic building has played an important role in bringing quality productions to the peninsula.

Not far away, Sands Films Studios and Brunel Museum have create a unique destination for film and music lovers alike. Whether it was a session of the Tuesday Film Club at Sands Studios or a magical concert in the depth of the Brunel Museum tunnel shaft, the recurrently heard sentence ‘nothing ever happens in Rotherhithe’ has been once again proved to be wrong

One of the concerts organised by TunedIn.London

When it comes to music, we must not forget the importance of Tuned In Music and the amazing line-up of world musicians and bands who came to play in landmark buildings across Rotherhithe, including St Mary’s and The Finnish Churches. The Norwegian church contributed with more concerts and events to the music calendar

New craft and Latino markets

A new market started at Hawkers House with The Collective, A Makers Market, and later Canada Water Library followed the trend by holding two craft fairs. In nearby Bermondsey, Make It Blue was launched as a brand new monthly craft and food market and a Latino Market started in November in The Blue with more flavours, craft and traditions from Latin America

Our heritage and history

Protecting our heritage in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe has never been more important as during 2019. We saw more pubs closed their doors or were demolished while others were just memories from the past as new building occupied the sites in which they once stood. Albion Street will soon see the erection of another modern building replacing the mock-Tudor pub opposite the Norwegian church

On the positive side, we saw more talks, walks and exhibitions organised by local groups such as Southwark Park 1869 and Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Local History that reminded us of the reasons why it’s important to fight to preserve our heritage

Surrey Dock Farm ran an important regeneration programme to recover one of the buildings in the farm while campaigners fought hard to stop other developments across the peninsula.

The most important events though were the approval of the Canada Water Master Plan in Rotherhithe and the rejection by Southwark Council of Grosvenor’s Biscuit Factory development, which is now awaiting a review by the Mayor of London.


Transport chaos

The year is nearly finished but 2019 will be remembered for the chaos drivers had to face with the urgent closure of the Rotherhithe tunnel, the restricted access for vans and other vehicles and the start of the Transport for London Super Cycle Highway CS4 along Jamaica Road.

Images of a crowded Canada Water Station with people unable to enter to go to work became all too recurrent during this year and exacerbated the opposition to Canada Water Master Plan with no alternative transport options beyond more buses for an already choked road system.

On the positive side, TfL announced their intention to extend Santander bicycles to Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. At the same time, Southwark Council consulted residents on their proposals to connect the CS4 via Lower Road and other road improvements while addressing the reality of the lack of a pedestrianised Rotherhithe Bridge, which is currently cancelled by the lack of funding.

Twitter vs Twitter

Though 2018 was a ‘annus horribilis’ for the strong local community in Twitter, 2019 seemed to have calmed some of the trolls and in-fighting that affected so many in Rotherhithe. Twitter continues to be the main community discussion channel, sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst.

Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit

The strong division of opinions on Brexit were also felt across SE16 and SE1. These areas are home to many EU citizens who have made UK their place to work, live or create a family. The arguments in favour and against Brexit could be witnessed in bars and pubs as well as in family homes.

Big events to celebrate

As gentrification spreads across London, more people seem to discover Rotherhithe and Bermondsey and the events taking place here. The Bermondsey Carnival, The Rotherhithe Festival, events in The Blue, the iconic Printworks or the opening of the new venue Dock 10 in the former Decathlon store

Queues of people heading to Printworks demonstrated the interest in the thriving entertainment scene in the area, which is still unknown to many locals

There is one event which had increased significance in the year now passing and it will have even more important in 2020. Illuminate Rotherhithe has grown from being a one day festival to an incredible community festival of activities with local schools, businesses and many, many volunteers Involved.

The popular lantern parade had two routes in 2019, one departing from Rotherhithe and another from Bermondsey, with tens of hand made lanterns illuminating the streets of SE16 on their way to St James’s church in Bermondsey

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, which saw the Pilgrims sail to America, seeking religious freedom, an event with strong links to Rotherhithe and the Illuminate Festival


2020 and beyond

We could say much more about other events in 2019 but it’s time to move forward and embrace 2020. People working, living or visiting Rotherhithe and Bermondsey must join together to protect and defend the character of these neighbourhoods, their heritage and most importantly, their diversity of people, wildlife and landscapes.

WISE16 wishes everyone a very happy new year