London Districts: Bankside (Tour Guide)


Bankside is a district in the London Borough
of Southwark on the southern bank of the River Thames, just over a mile from Charing Cross. The district is almost sandwiched between
Blackfriars Bridge at its west side and London Bridge to its east. This is a full-scale replica of Sir Francis
Drake’s famous ship, the Golden Hinde. He is documented as the first to circumnavigate
the globe on his quest to defeat the Spanish Armada. Winchester Palace was the 12th-century home
to the powerful Bishops of Winchester who pretty much owned and ran ‘Banke Syde’. The
first Clink prison in 1127 was a cellar inside this ancient structure and as you can see,
some of it still remains. In the Middle Ages, Bankside was an ill-reputed
place to avoid. Falling just outside the City’s jurisdiction meant it was free to allow unsavoury
practices outlawed there. It attracted crime and disorder from an area
heavily populated with stews and their ‘Winchester Geese’ or in todays language, brothels and
their local women. Shakespeare’s Globe is part of the Bankside’s
Cultural Quarter, which welcomes thousands of visitors every day. It has a long history
and has been rebuilt several times from its birthplace in Shoreditch as the first Theatre.
The latest incarnation of it stems from Shakespeare’s Globe Trust spearheaded by actor-director
Sam Wanamaker. Apparently, the tourist attraction of the
Globe was greatly overshadowed by some kind of gallery nearby. The £18 million London Millennium Footbridge
was the result of a bridge building competition win held by Southwark Council. It’s the first
River Thames bridge built in over a hundred years. When it opened in 2000, about 2000 people
crammed themselves onto it at once and made it wobble. This scared everyone, so the engineers
closed it immediately for a couple of years to stabilise the swaying movement. The
skyline of Bankside is dominated by the former Bankside Power Station, which is now the Tate
Modern. It opened on the 11th of May 2000 and holds
the national collection of British art from 1900 up until now. In its first year, Tate
Modern received twice the amount of visitors than the other galleries did combined. Most of the galleries are free to enjoy all
year round with temporary exhibitions occurring regularly in addition. The most accessible Tube station to the area
is London Bridge. Southwark Tube station is about a 10 minute walk away. You also have
Blackfriars mainline station. The impoverished population of the neighbourhood
lived in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. Once the war eventually took its toll, it
fell into a derelict state of lifelessness. In recent decades, the area has been completely
overhauled and its location and attractions draw significant amounts of visitors. Today,
it is a prominent hotspot for sightseeing, entertainment and relaxation which helps aid
its status as a business improvement district under the term ‘Better Bankside’. This striking new 10-storey extension to the
Tate Modern is intrinsically artistic and was officially named as the ‘Blavatnik building’
after billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik funded most of its £260 million construction. It
was built on top of three large, circular, underground oil tanks which are now live performance
spaces. The Blavatnik design pissed off the neighbours
off so badly they launched a high court privacy battle. The 10th floor balcony directly overlooks
their multi-million pound flats next door and they complain of living in a goldfish
bowl as tourists stare at them inside their homes and take pictures to share on social
media.

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