As you wander through Bankside, London Bridge and Bermondsey, the mighty Victorian rail viaduct — with its many fascinating arches and tunnels — is a constant companion. It is these spaces which provide the inspiration for the Low Line, an initiative to connect communities and places in an environment where culture and business can thrive.
Musicity, founded by BBC Radio 3 Late Junction’s Nick Luscombe, invites musicians and recording artists to create tracks inspired by buildings and spaces — a perfect way to encourage exploration of the Low Line and its curious corners.
Launched for London Festival of Architecture, 15 locations along the Low Line can be explored online. It’s a permanent installation. We’ve embedded clips from the tracks: to hear them in their entirety, you must visit the specific location.
Union Yard Arches – Lola de la Mata
Tucked away on Union Street is an enclosed courtyard and hidden walkway, home to an eclectic mix of venues including the Union Theatre, the Spanish Theatre Company’s Cervantes Theatre, The Africa Centre and an aerial fitness school.
Ewer Street – Thomas Stone
Dating back to the 1700s, Ewer Street is full of reminders of its local history: an ancient burial ground, Bankside’s famous Clink Bollards, and a memorial to those killed in an air raid during the blitz.
Wardens Grove – Szjerdene
Nestled behind the Metal Box Factory — an award winning workspace building that once made decorative tin boxes — a pocket park and rain garden now sit at Wardens Grove, providing a leafy backdrop to the Caravan Bankside restaurant.
Flat Iron Square – The Memory Band
Flat Iron Square is next to a piazza of the same name in the heart of Bankside. Set within seven railway arches and Grade II listed building Devonshire House, it features food trucks, bars and restaurants, as well as Bankside’s live music venue OMEARA.
Borough Market – Throwing Shade
While London’s oldest food market has been located around this site since the 13th century at least (some say 1014, some even earlier), the present Borough Market building is a more recent addition to the land beneath the railway arches just west of London Bridge station and adjacent to Southwark Cathedral. It was designed in 1851 by Henry Rose, with further work in the 1860s by Edward Habershon.
Southwark Cathedral – Lossy x Salmon
A cathedral since 1905, formerly the Parish Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, the present building retains the basic form of the gothic structures built between 1220 and 1420, although the nave was rebuilt (twice) in the 19th century after the church had fallen into disrepair.
London Bridge station – Suitman Jungle
Transformed from a traveller’s nightmare, Architect Grimshaw’s design of the new London Bridge station is crowned by a rippling reflective canopy and underpinned by an expansive public concourse which links St Thomas Street to Tooley Street. Some people still find it baffling though.
The Shard – William Doyle
Measuring over 309 metres, The Shard is the tallest building in the UK. Ironically, the immediate area surrounding is one of the easiest places to lose sight of the monolith — elsewhere it’s pretty much omnipresent.
Vinegar Yard – Gestalt
Along St Thomas Street, facing Platform 15 of London Bridge station, giant ants clambering over railway carriages draw attention to today’s incarnation of Vinegar Yard. A street food market caters to the crowds, with a vintage and makers market at the eastern end of the yard.
Bermondsey Street Tunnel – Chihiro Ono
The long railway tunnel joins the southern section of Bermondsey Street to Tooley Street and the Thames. The earliest sections date back to 1836 and were added to as the railway lines grew in number, lengthening the tunnel and creating cavernous spaces under the tracks that would become ale warehouses and bonded wine vaults. Later, they became night clubs.
Holyrood Street – Tom Szirtes
Running east to west along the northern stretch of the railway viaduct, Holyrood Street is a quiet thoroughfare along the Low Line route. A vast undercroft used for decades for storing ale, wine and spirits opens out from underneath the railways tracks, while the warehouses and offices opposite are home to a variety of creative industries.
Underdog Gallery – Erland Cooper
Since 2011 this independently run arts and music bar has been located under one of the remaining original arches in London Bridge.
Druid Street Wildflower Meadow – James Alec Hardy
This land was converted from public highway into a pedestrian route over a decade ago and turned into an urban wildflower meadow in 2015. Open habitats such as wildflower meadows in urban settings provides native grasses, wildflowers and flowering plants that attract insects and other invertebrates (including butterflies, bees, spiders and millipedes), birds and mammals.
The Blue Market – Frog Morris and Daren Callow
At the heart of Bermondsey, this market takes its name from the Blue Anchor Pub, which is depicted on a map of the area, dating back to 1695. In the 1830s, London’s first railway terminal at Spa Road brought commerce to the area and the Blue Market continues to play a central role in bonding the increasingly diverse community together.
Biscuit Factory – Cunning Folk
A thriving business hub, housing hundreds of diverse companies, this was once the home of Peek Freans, who opened for business in 1873. The world’s first chocolate biscuit was invented here and the alluring aroma of freshly baked treats permeated the surrounding streets until its closure in 1989.
Words by Valerie Beirne at Better Bankside and Jack Skillen at Team London Bridge.