25 Years of changes in Southwark

It’s time for another of our cupcake celebrations looking back at ABC Selfstore’s 25 years in business. For this one, we’re focussing on the streets of Southwark. As one of London’s oldest settlements, it has a more history than you could shake a toy-lightsabre-found-at the-back-of-your-self-storage-unit at. In fact, archeological excavations have revealed Pre-historic settlement in the area. We’ll be looking at the last 25 years or so, and as we’ve seen with Camden already, lots of things have changed, and lots of things haven’t.

So here we go – once again the places, spaces, technology, transport and politics of the area we serve with self-storage in Southwark, as we celebrate 25 years of ABC Selfstore…

Southwark Places

Southwark has plenty of recognisable buildings, entertainment venues and visitor attractions. Many – including Southwark Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Borough Market and Winchester Palace are long-standing landmarks. But there are plenty of places that feel like part of the furniture – but are actually younger than we are!

Millennium Mile – it might feel like the area along the Southbank between Westminster and Tower Bridges –  known as Millennium Mile – has been there forever. But it has been an area of huge investment and regeneration over the last 20 years. It is crazy to think that of London’s modern and most recognisable landmarks didn’t exist whenABC Selfstore opened its doors.

The Globe Theatre – feels like it’s really old, and it kind of is. It was designed to be as close as possible to Shakespeare’s original – which burned down in 1614, was rebuilt, but finally demolished in 1644. But despite feeling like it has been there since Elizabethan times, this Southbank landmark is a modern replica and opened as recently as 1997.

City Hall – The administration centre of the Greater London Authority, and home of the London Mayors Office,  the unique and striking Sir Norman Foster-designed building opened in 2002.

The Shard – probably London’s most celebrated modern landmark, the Shard sits in Southwark Borough and can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the capital. It took just over three years to build. Construction began in March 2009 and the building was completed in November 2012.  To make way for the Shard, developers had to take down another modern Southwark Landmark – Southwark Towers, which at the time were the UK’s largest building ever to have been demolished.

Southwark Politics

London is a sociable place and it’s also predominantly a Socialist place. Southwark is no exception. Excepting a short Lib-Dem interlude from  2002 – 2010, Local Authority has been Labour controlled every election, at least since 1964.  It’s three Parliamentary Constituencies are red-blooded and have been held by Labour heavy hitters including Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham 1997 – present), Tessa Jowell (Dulwich and West Norwood – 1992 to 2015). Southwark’s third and newest Parliamentary seat – it was created in 2010 –  Bermondsey and Old Southwark, is currently Labour, who took it from the Liberal Democrats at the 2015 election.

Getting Around Southwark

By far the biggest change in Transport over the past 25 years has been the introduction of London’s Congestion Charging zone in 2003. It covers a proportion of Southwark Borough, bounded by Tower Bridge Road, the A201 and the A3204 and the River Thames in the North.  It’s one of the biggest congestion charging zones in the world – and at £10.50 a day (+ another £10 if your car doesn’t meet EURO 4 emissions standards) it isn’t cheap.

Another massive change that feels like it is part of the London furniture are London’s ‘Boris Bikes’. This Pay as You Go hire scheme is one of the best ays for getting around town. There are over 11,000 bikes, available from 750 plus docking stations and they cost just £2 for each 24hr period.  The first 30 minutes is even free!  So if you’re feeling fit and don’t mind running a bit of a relay race, you could use pedal power to get your stuff into storage with us. It’s a darn sight cheaper than using the car, less than jumping on the tube and better for you than anything else going.

Technology – TV

As we opened our doors for the first time in 1993, the world of media was on the cusp of some huge developments. Sky TV was founded just 3 years previously and in 1992 began broadcasting of English Premier League Football with exclusive rights. They paid a staggering £304 million for that package. In 2015 the bill had risen to £4.2Billion – and was no longer exclusive – as a European Court ruling means rights are now shared, currently with BT Sport.

Sky TV was the first broadcaster on a digital platform, their entry to the market triggered the beginning of a burgeoning of channels and the dilution of content. In 1993 there were just 5 terrestrial channels. In 2015 we’ve got 70 on Freeview alone. With On Demand subscription services like Amazon and Netflix we get our content in a completely different way.

In 1993, if you wanted to watch a film it would most likely have been on VHS videotape, moving to DVD through the late 90’s and 2000’s.  A common sight on Southwark streets would have been the likes of Blockbuster Video rentals (their very first store opened in 1989 on Walworth Street). By 2013 the hard copy rental business model was obsolete and Blockbuster went into administration. A classic case of right-time-right-place, but a failure to see what was coming. Blockbuster lasted 24 years here in the UK.

Fortunately for us, even with digitisation, Londoners will always have the need for physical space to store stuff. So here’s to at least another 25 years for ABC Selfstore!


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