Potter's Fields - continued


Click on the link below to go back to the early history . . .

Early History


1810 • George III was declared mad, his son became Regent.

1829 • Metropolitan Police Force set up by Robert Peel.

1831 • The new London Bridge opened.

1833 • Slavery abolished.

1835 • St Olaves Grammar School was relocated to a site in Bermondsey Street, adjacent to the new railway line, and then closes in 1849 prior to a move to another site.

1837 • Queen Victoria succeeded to the throne

1838 • Oliver Twist first published

1836-1850 • Owners of property in Potters Fields are recorded as including William Blandford Burgess, Robert & Thomas Fauntleroy (hardwood and Ivory dealers), John Gaunt, Mr Sardlow, Godfrey Saunders, Mr Street, Robert Goulding , Mrs Symes, Joseph Graves (the Phoenix and Crown PH), and Hester Hopkins.

1851 • Great Exhibition of Britain.

1850 • A major cholera epidemic broke out in the area.

1853 • Burial ground and Wood Merchants (Map)

1854 • Final Burials took place after legislation closed many burial grounds in the centre of London, because of health scares.

1855 • St Olaves School was relocated to a site in Tooley Street, adjacent to the existing Potters Fields Park. The new building, designed by Henry Stock, only lasted until 1892.

1856 • The new Hays Wharf was built by William Cubitt for the Hays Wharf Company, the largest and most powerful of all the dockside companies. Two granaries are operating on the riverside area where Potters Fields Park now stands, including JW Ledgers three-storey building next to Still Stairs.

1858 • Construction began of London's first sewer system.

1861 • The Great Fire of Tooley Street (which lasted for two weeks) resulted in most buildings in the area being destroyed or severely damaged.

1863 • Metropolitan underground railway opened.

1888 • Jack the Ripper terrorises East London.

1870-1897 • Tower Subway in operation, initially cable-hauled trams taking up to 14 passengers under the river from Pickleherring Street to Tower Hill, and then as a foot-tunnel only. The subway closed soon after Tower Bridge opened.

1872 • OS Map shows the St John's Burial Ground as disused - probably remained as disused church yard until late 1880s - with a small Charity School next door, a series of bonded warehouses containing timber and leather (part of Mark Brown's Wharf) and the old Queen Elizabeth Grammar School building.

1890 • City & South London Railway opens, first deep-level electrically operated railway in the world.

1890 • OS Map shows the St John's Burial Ground as a School Yard, most probably for the adjacent small Charity School.

1894 • Tower Bridge opened.

The OS Map for 1894 shows the old Burial Ground as Tooley Street Gardens, with a small Girls School immediately adjacent, and a number of bonded warehouses fronting the river. One of these, Tower Bridge Wharf (now part of Potters Fields Park) imported hides and skins from the East Indies for the nearby leather trade in Bermondsey.

1896 • New larger school constructed at Potters Fields to accommodate the renamed St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School, with facilities for 500 boys. School designed by Edward Mountford, and cost ++

1905 • First motorised buses used in London.

1906 • The present day Potters Fields Park is still mostly covered by wharves and bonded warehouses. Mark Browns Wharves (previously C Curling's Wharf) occupy nearly all of the riverside part of Potters Fields Park

1908 • Olympic Games held in London.

1913 • First Suffragette riot in Parliament Square.

1914-1916 • OS Map shows that the St John's Burial Ground/School Yard has now become a Recreation Ground with a new Library next door. This is the St Olaves Branch Library run by the Council, which later closed in the early 1980s.

1914 • Outbreak of World War I.

1920 • The Tooley Street Recreation Ground includes a children's playground and a netball pitch.

1928 • All women over 21 entitled to vote.

1930s • Hays Wharf Group owns and controls most of the land and warehouses on the riverside between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, and the amount and variety of food coming into the warehouses leads to the area being known as London's Larder.

1936 • Edward VIII abdicates to marry Wallis Simpson.

1939 • Outbreak of World War II.

1940 • The Blitz

1940-1945 • The area was badly damaged by bombing.

1951 • Festival of Britain (Centenary of Great Exhibition)

1952 • Elizabeth II became Queen

1965 • Two tons of tin glazed earthenware Delftware was recovered from the site following an archaeological survey, and this dated from the period 1620 - 1700. It appeared to be mainly a dump of waste material, but was of high quality. An ostrich bone dating to around 1610 was also found.

1969 • The Beatles Abbey Road record released

1968 • St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School closed. It relocated to Orpington.

Building was subsequently taken over by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), South London College, later known as Lambeth College.

1969 • Closure of the last working dock in the Upper Pool (Hays Wharf).

1971 • HMS Belfast arrived in the Upper Pool.

1973 • Third stone bridge (the present one) was opened by Elizabeth II.

1977 • Silver Jubilee.

1977-1985 • Britain's first urban ecology park was created on derelict land (including existing Park area) along the riverside to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The William Curtis Ecological Park was managed by the Trust for Urban Ecology, but the land was handed back to the owners, St Martin's Property Corporation, in 1985. William Curtis was a famous eighteenth century botanist, who also studied medicine and horticulture, and practiced from a small garden in Bermondsey.

1982 • Thames Barrier completed.

1982 • New Development Master Plan for riverside area between London Bridge and Tower Bridge (London Bridge City). After a lengthy community campaign and a Public Inquiry, the Plans were amended to include the laying out of a new Riverside Walkway and a 3 acre Park. This was the origin of the current Potters Fields Park boundary.

1987 • London Bridge City - Phase 1 was completed, creating over 1.25 million square foot of new office space, retail space, a riverside walkway and a new Park.

1988 • St Martin's Property Corporation and Southwark Council agree to call the new Park London Bridge City Park, but the official opening by the Mayor of Southwark is postponed because the Park was barricaded by hundreds of people unhappy with its name. Local community groups organise their own opening of the Park and rename it Potters Fields Park. The new Park marked a successful end to a hard won community battle led by local resident, Lil Patrick, which started in the late 1970s. Lil opened the new Park with the words "Every blade of grass is worth its weight in gold". Lil died in 2000 after a lifetime's service to the local community.

1998 • London Bridge Holdings Ltd purchased vacant land and buildings from St Martin's Property Corporation and asked Norman Foster to produce a Master Plan - the More London Development Plan. The Final Master Plan was approved on 19 August 1999.

2000 • London Eye (Millennium Wheel) opens.

2000 • City Hall was built as home for the first elected Mayor of London. A small extension to the park was added on its western edge.

2003 • David Blaine is suspended in a Perspex box above Potters Fields Park for 44 days without food. The event causes major crowd management problems, including anti-social behaviour and disruption/disturbance to the surrounding communities. Tens of thousands of people visit the Park to witness the spectacle, and the Park is effectively decommissioned for nearly 2 months.

2004 • Lambeth College closed its operations at the old St Olave's School. The buildings and land were sold to Berkeley Homes.

2005 • Potters Fields Park was designated as Metropolitan Open Land in the new Southwark Plan.

2006 • Potters Fields Park closed for major refurbishment

2007 • Potters Fields Park re-opened.

• ENDS •

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