Walworth is an area steeped in history, community, and more recently, controversy.
Modern Walworth is a far cry from its more rural origins. It used to be an area producing fruit and vegetables in abundance; one local nurseryman had a list of 320 varieties of gooseberries. In the mid-17th century there were only a few houses along what is today Walworth Road but growing numbers of tradesmen set up shop here as traffic from London increased.
More recently the area has been synonymous with the term 'regeneration', initially as the area was developed post-war with the planning and building of the Heygate and Aylesbury estates, and lately, with the controversial and divisive redevelopment of these.
The former now houses 'Elephant Park', part of a multi-billion pound partnership between Southwark council and Lendlease, emerging as a series of high-rise blocks that have begun to dominate the skyline at Elephant and Castle.
Articles like this one highlight the tension between existing residents, those who have been displaced by the regeneration scheme, and those who are new to the area - a tension that is mirrored elsewhere in Southwark and across London.
The Elephant and Castle Shopping centre, the beating heart of Walworth, has long been seen as a site that is ripe for redevelopment and the developer Delancey has recently secured planning permission to do just that - despite vocal and concerted opposition from local residents, businesses and campaigners. The plans, which include building 900 flats, a new home for London College of Communications, and a new underground station, have been accused of disproportionately impacting of Latin American traders that occupy the shopping centre and surrounding railway arches. You can read more here.
Travelling south from the Elephant takes you along the Walworth road, flanked by shops, restaurants, and a couple of pubs (including the recently opened Walworth Manor). It is also home to the Walworth Town Hall - a site that was gutted by fire in 2013 and still yet to be restore to its former glory. There has been some recent headway in that respect as Southwark council looks to partner up with outside organisations and develop the space as a cultural hub. The town hall also used to be home to the Cuming museum - a collection which is still seeking a new home.
Aside from the town hall, Walworth road is lined with iconic and historic buildings and its fair share of blue plaques marking the area's association with the likes of Charlie Chaplain and Michael Faraday. You can read more about these here
Further along East Street market acts as a natural mid-point on the Walworth road and is the life-blood of the local community. A site of street trading since the 16th century, it offers a diverse range of food and goods cassava to courgettes, durian fruit to eel, sheep heads to cow hooves. East Street is also the birthplace of Charlie Chaplin and features in the title sequence to the television programme Only Fools and Horses.
Walworth effectively ends to the south at Burgess Park, one of the largest parks in South London (at 140 acres) and a rare purpose-built effort that was gradually developed in the 20th Century. It is home to listed buildings, remnants of the streets which once occupied the site, a lime kiln, the library, baths and wash houses and the former almshouses in Chumleigh Gardens. There are also several bridges, which once used to cross a canal.
Your Local MP
Neil Coyle, retained his seat in the last General Election, despite a challenge from former MP and Lib-Dem grandee Simon Hughes. Neil secured 31,161 votes and took 53.2% of the vote share and, mirroring other surprise surges in the Labour vote, increased his majority by over 10%.
Neil was born in Luton in 1978 and lives in Newington ward, and has previously lived in Grange and Cathedrals wards. He has worked at the government equality commission, the National Centre for Independent Living, Disability Alliance, DRUK and most recently for Kate Green MP. He was Deputy Mayor of Southwark in 2014/15.
Neil Coyle has been a councillor in the Newington ward, and helped to established the Walworth Society and tenant's associations. He is a trustee for a local mental health charity and North Southwark Environment Trust.
Neil chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Food Banks and is also a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
You can get in touch with Neil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Local Councillors
The London Borough of Southwark is made up of 23 wards. Three councillors are elected from 17 wards, whilst the remaining six wards are represented by two councillors - making a total of 63 councillors. The Labour party currently has 49 councillors, and the Liberal Democrat party has 14.
To find out a little bit more about what Southwark council is responsible for and how it operates click here.
Listed below are the elected representatives that represent the people of Walworth. Get in touch with them if you have an issue that is affecting you or the area you live in.
Here's a map of Southwark wards.
Community councils provide a forum where local people, elected Councillors and council officers can meet to discuss anything of interest to the local community, and enable individuals and groups to ask questions, make suggestions, and consult upon proposed decisions affecting their neighbourhood. The meetings are open to anyone who lives, works or studies in the cc area, and are an important part of the council’s consultation and decision making process.
For more information about Borough, Bankside and Walworth Community Council click here.
Your Next Meeting:
The next meeting of the Borough, Bankside and Walworth Community Council will be on Wednesday 09 Feburary 2019. Venue TBC.
Local Community Groups
Walworth has a thriving community sector with several active amenity, community and resident-led groups. Below are a couple of examples!
The Walworth Society is a fantastic amenity group established by, and run by, volunteers from the local community. They are a strictly non-political group and aim to work positively and constructively with Southwark Council to secure and preserve the future of the local area.
Other areas of interest include efforts to preserve and protect Walworth's rich architectural heritage and to protect and help improve its green and open spaces
In recent years they have been instrumental in organising numerous local events, including 2017's Walworth Festivals and 2018's Walworth History Festival.
They meet regularly to showcase what's going on locally and discuss any local planning applications that require the group's attention.
The continue to provide a vital service to local residents - not least in saving pubs from being closed down!
The WCGN exists to provide support, advice, and guidance for anyone wishing to get involved in community gardening in the Walworth area. There are dozens of growing projects of various sizes in Walworth, and the network is trying to ensure that groups can work better together, share resources, and influence local so that healthy living and growing is further up on the political agenda.
Vince Brown, the project's lead, is also trying to establish a firm link between gardening projects and GP practices in the area so that both can develop a relationship within the context of social prescribing.
If you would like to find out more, or want to get involved in community growing locally, please get in touch with Vince: email@example.com
Brandon garden club getting ready to work
Walworth is home to several charities working across different sectors ranging from children and young people to mental health. Below we’ve highlighted a couple – but rest assured there are many more!
Walworth Garden is a unique charity dedicated to changing lives through horticulture.
The garden has been a focus point for community growing in Walworth for nearly 30 years. They run a horticultural training centre which provides support for people to get back into employment. This focuses on a wide range of skills including creating, designing and constructing gardens and is free for Southwark residents.
They are open 7 days a week and have a garden centre which is open until 9pm in the summer.
They are currently planning a 30th birthday celebration that will take place in July which will centre on a vegetarian communal eat – watch this space!
For more information visit their website.
InSpire works to support and build the capacity of local residents and the wider community to overcome barriers and perceived barriers to success. How do they do this? By providing a range of programmes and services for all members of the community.
These includes both adult and youth programmes and covers employment, outreach, drama, youth activities and lots more!
They are based at the crypt at St.Peter's church, which is also home to a fabulous cafe!
More details here: in-spire.org.uk/
If you would like to find out more about Southwark’s vibrant Voluntary and Community Sector click here.
As well as Southwark News, there are a couple of local news sources and social media accounts that are worth touching base with from time to time to get up to date with everything that is happening in Walworth:
If you come across any more let us know!
If you want to get more active and involved in your local community then we are here to help! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to volunteer on a more formal level then you should be clicking this link