Storage, Shakespeare and more in Sunny Southwark

ABC Selfstore continues our short series of histories, looking back at the London areas where our three storage units are located; Camden, Southwark and Wandsworth.

This one traces the footsteps of Shakespeare and others in Southwark over the years. Who would thought all that  history was just around the corner from our handy self-storage unit ?


The name Southwark comes from `South Work’ and Southwark was once a busy little village, which William the Conqueror took a dislike to back in 1066 and promptly had it burned down, shortly after successfully invading England.

Now have you ever wondered where the nickname for prison comes from, you know the slang expression that goes, `in the clink?’

Well apparently `the Clink’ was the nickname given to the Bishop of Winchester’s prison at Southwark. It’s first recorded use was in 1530, but there is evidence that the `Clink’ nickname was used for centuries before that. The Bishop had the right to set his own laws in his little manorial patch – so if you did something naughty in Southwark, then into the Clink you went!


We have no idea if the 16th century Bishops of Winchester  also had a storage unit alongside this secure medieval prison, but we like to imagine they did, if only to store the costumes for Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe theatre, which was built at Southwark.

The Globe and other theatres were all built in Southwark as the land was fairly cheap then and the area itself had a slightly `racy’ reputation.Excavations have shown that many of these Elizabethan theatres were also used as storage facilities, as they were constructed full of nooks and crannies.

It’s amazing to think that Will Shakespeare might have wandered the streets fairly close to our ABC Selfstore unit on Ossory Road, although it was all green fields and lanes back then.

For centuries the only bridge crossing the Thames was at Southwark but in the early 19th century, a young engineer called Brunel, and his son Isambard, started work on the world’s first tunnel under a major river, linking Rotherhithe to the East End docklands of the era. The area itself expanded rapidly as more people flocked to London from the countryside and great docks were built to handle the trade from around the world.

Hops picked in Kent would be brought to Southwark to be turned into various ales and London’s biggest brewery was once located in Southwark during the 1800s. You can’t store beer in our storage unit, but we would be happy to look after your collection of pub memorabilia, antique furnishings, lamps or Victorian ephemera – there’s gold in the past, so hang onto it we say – it’s like having an extra pension plan.

Southwark today is a busy place with Guy’s Hospital, the South Bank, Tate Modern and famous Elephant and Castle all in the local area. Like much of London, space is at a premium, so if you’re stuck for storage space in your flat come to ABC Selfstore and we’ll find somewhere safe and secure for all your stuff.

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