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    Up until the 18th century, the geography of the area consisted of low-lying marshes situated below the tide line, rendering it unusable.

    To prevent tidal waters from the Thames, banks of earth were constructed by the riverside – Broad Wall bound the marsh to the east following the line of Lambeth Marsh and is now the site of Waterloo Station.

    The Lambeth Marsh area was flat, poorly drained by ditches and surrounded by open fields which provided market garden produce for the nearby City of London.

    Southbank Place Construction - Old London Bridge

    Old London Bridge 16th century

    Did you know?

    London Bridge was commissioned by Henry II and built in 1209, it was to last over 600 years. The medieval bridge was not demolished until 1831 when a new bridge, designed by John Rennie, replaced it.

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    The Thames formed a natural barrier between north and south London – developments here hampered as there was still only one bridge (London Bridge) over the river. The South Bank was home to various establishments that were virtually banned from the city proper, such as tanneries, timber yards, and factories making vinegar, dyes, soap and tallow.

    Southbank Place Construction - Globe Theatre

    The Globe Theatre

    Did you know?

    Since 1540 purpose built arenas were put up on the South Bank of London where locals and visitors could enjoy recreation. In 1587 playhouses began to be built in the area instead of in the north of the city. The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 after being dismantled from its original 1576 site in Shoreditch.

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    Historically, any area below the river was outside the boundaries of the city and jurisdiction of the Old Bailey (today the Central Criminal Court). This made the area popular for various prohibited activities and gave it an unsavoury reputation due to the large presence of taverns, prisoners and asylums.

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    Mid 18th century: Lambeth Marsh drained to make way for development and industry. Already an area notorious for entertainment, the South Bank began to cultivate a more genteel ambience.

    Southbank Place Construction - Lambeth

    Vauxhall Pleasure Garden

    Did you know?

    Since 1540 purpose built arenas were put up on the South Bank of London where locals and visitors could enjoy recreation. In 1587 playhouses began to be built in the area instead of in the north of the city. The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 after being dismantled from its original 1576 site in Shoreditch.

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    Westminster & Blackfriars Bridges open and heavy industry suddenly becomes prevalent – potteries, lime kilns and blacking factories are established. The area also becomes home to many skilled artisans.

    Southbank Place Construction - Westminster Bridge

    Building of Westminster Bridge

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    London Botanical Garden established by William Curtis on the site of the present day Ufford Street Recreation Ground.

    Southbank Place Construction - London Botanical Garden

    Glaucous-leaved, broad-petaled amaryllis, Amaryllis aulica var. platypetala glaucophylla. Drawing by William Curtis

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    Vauxhall becomes the commercial heart of the area with further draining of marshes. The street market still operates to this day.

    Rapid development of South Bank

    Belvedere Road (1814-27), York Road (1820), all supported by major connections to the city via Vauxhall Bridge (1816), Waterloo Bridge (1817) and Southwark Bridge (1819)

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    Belvedere Road and York Road established replacing a largely undeveloped home to a “fringe of cottages along Narrow Wall and…Phelp’s soap factory” as recorded in The Survey – Domesday Book. Today the site is home to St Thomas’ Hospital.

    Southbank Place Construction - Belvedere Road

    Did you know?

    By 1843 you could travel from London to Paris by train with a choice of 8 different routes.

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    Waterloo Station

    is built and opened. South Bank becomes a pioneering railway area since property is cheap south of the river leading to the opening of two other lines in the city of London.

    People could cross the Thames more easily, negating its status as a geographical barrier, and truly connecting the north and south banks for the first time.

    Southbank Place Construction - Waterloo Station
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    Southbank Place Construction - Florence Nightingale

    Florence Nightingale

    Florence Nightingale established the Nightingale Training School. Her contributions to the world of modern nursing are extraordinary – her legacy lives on to this day in form of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at the Waterloo campus of King’s College London.

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    St Thomas’ Hospital opens

    Southbank Place Construction - St Thomas' Hospital

    Did you know

    The equivalent today of a casual docker’s pay in 1889 would be £1.50 an hour

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    Southbank Place Construction - Westminster

    Aerial view of Westminster, Westminster Bridge and County Hall

    By 20th century the area is a hub of business and culture – a pioneering region of London.

    Southbank Place Construction - County Hall

    Building of County Hall

    Construction began on County Hall as a single headquarters for the London County Council In 1911. Building ceased in 1916 due to WW1 and recommenced in 1919.

    County Hall complete. Industry starts disappearing along this stretch of the Thames and plans created to change from an industrial quarter to modern office site.

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    1939-1945 WW2

    The area becomes a prime target for German bombing during WW2 due to its dense population and industrial reputation. Approximately 2,500 bombs are dropped on the area causing close to irreparable damage.

    Southbank Place Construction - WW2

    Shot Tower and Lambeth Lead Works
    on Belvedere Road 1945 - 1951

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    4 May 1951

    The Festival of Britain opens. Current Labour government wished to provide an event showcasing Britain’s achievements and contributions to industries of technology, the arts and sciences. The festival had great post-war significance, reflecting the idea of post-war recovery and celebration.

    Southbank Place Construction - Festival of Britain


    Hugh Casson was the director of architecture for the Festival of Britain. In 1952, he was knighted for his achievements during the festival.


    Shell sign a lease for the former Festival of Britain site.

    Did you know

    By the end of September 1951, 18 million people had taken part in the Festival of Britain, with over 8.4 million visiting the South Bank.

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    The Royal Festival Hall was extended towards the river. The Hall was the only Festival of Britain building that was not demolished at the end of the celebrations.

    5,000 Shell employees move into the Shell Centre. The Shell Centre was proud to be one of the most technologically advanced and modern buildings of its time, also holding the record of tallest building in the UK (at 107m).

    Southbank Place Construction - Shell Centre

    Shell Centre, 1960s

    Did you know

    Shell provided a large number of facilities on the lower floors of the Shell Centre for staff and the public, including a swimming pool, a rifle range, a billiard and snooker room, sports courts, and a theatre and cinema seating 328. Staff had access to restaurants, club rooms, a bar and coffee rooms, a medical and dental centre, a viewing gallery on the top floor, among many other facilities.

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    Jubilee Gardens is created to mark the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The gardens were later redeveloped to their current design in 2012, marking Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee.

    Southbank Place Construction - Jubilee Gardens

    Jubilee Gardens

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    9 March

    The Millennium Wheel opens.

    Southbank Place Construction - Millennium Wheel

    The Millennium Wheel

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    Southbank Place

    As new destination on the South Bank, Southbank Place will offer a unique residential setting in the heart of London’s cultural ribbon. Complemented by an array of public spaces, retail & restaurants, this vibrant destination will be ideal for recreation, exploration & contemplation.

    Southbank Place Construction

    Southbank Place Visualisation