Discover Southwark

London changes in a million imperceptible ways every day. All that remains after the flux are stories about the people, places and issues that define it. This project, steered by Beefeater Gin and VICE, aims to capture those stories, profiling five London boroughs with five gifted photographers.

Southwark is defined by late nights, landmarks and landmark late nights. In 1987, it midwifed acid house and rave in the UK as Danny Rampling returned from an Ibizan epiphany to launch his Shoom night on the South Bank. For decades, Ministry of Sound has attracted wide-eyed queuers, as did the cluster of spots under the arches near London Bridge before they were lost to developers. Smaller but no less vital venues – Corsica Studios, Rye Wax, Bussey Building – still work to keep London dances ahead of the global pack.

Elsewhere, the part of the borough closest to the Thames is home to world famous tourist sites like The Shard, Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and Borough Market, while the Peckham-Camberwell art school axis holds sway further south.

Here, we explore Southwark with photographer Dashti Jahfar, meeting Balamii radio boss James Browning, artist Hetty Douglas and Leif Halverson, events manager for street food company The Cheese Truck.

Sampson House

Originally built in 1979 to house colossal antiquated computers, Sampson House is a weird, formidable, Brutalist hovercraft of a building, situated just west of Tate Modern on the South Bank. Its long, windowless corridors – designed to minimise the encroachment of natural light – were apparently the inspiration for the haunting "hallway scenes" in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Places Nearby:

  • Dandelyan (Bar)
  • Prince William Henry (Pub)
  • Doggetts Coat & Badge (Pub)
  • Lord Nelson (Pub)
  • Blackfriars Wine Bar (Bar)

Bankside power station

Industrial museum; entertainment hall; hotel; opera house – all were floated as potential destinies for the old Bankside power station after its 1981 closure. None worked, so it stood unused for 13 years till the Tate Gallery announced it would become the Tate Modern. It proved a good decision: retained original features such as the turbine hall make it one of the world’s most iconic galleries.

Places Nearby:

  • The Refinery (Bar)
  • Founders Arms (Pub)
  • Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe (Restaurant)
  • The Union Jack (Pub)
  • The White Hart (Pub)

Borough Market

Today, Borough Market is a quietly manic hive of bourgeois activity, the kind of place people end up at on weekend mornings when the accumulation of hangovers no longer interests them. Extant for over a thousand years, it’s survived Viking raids, council closure, fire and the awful terrorist attacks of 2017 to retain its artisan buzz and remain arguably the UK’s best known specialist retail market.

Places Nearby:

  • Call Me Mr Lucky (Bar)
  • Anchor Bankside (Pub)
  • Katzenjammers (Bar)
  • Guy's Bar (Bar)
  • The Southwark Tavern (Pub)


Set five minutes’ walk from the noise and chaos of Old Kent Road, Asylum is a community arts centre that also provides an arena for weddings and wakes. The Grade-II listed building was built in 1826 for the use of local residents who’d retired from careers in the alcohol trade. Today, Peckham has many monuments to booze, but Asylum must be the most pleasing on the eye.

Places Nearby:

  • Beer Rebellion (Bar)
  • Asylum Tavern (Pub)
  • Morleys Fried Chicken (Food)
  • Montague Arms (Pub)
  • Mamma Dough (Restaurant)

Bussey Building

You may not have realised if you’ve only been to dance in the dark, but Bussey Building has done more than host seminal London nights like Soul Train and Memory Box since beating demolition in 2009. A key part of local clubland along with Balamii radio and Rye Wax, the site Bussey is based on is also home to fitness and artists’ studio spaces, the Wavey Garms shop and several West African churches.

Places Nearby:

  • The Montpelier (Pub)
  • Canavan's Peckham Pool Club (Venue)
  • The NINES (Restaurant)
  • The Sunday Painter (Gallery)
  • Peckham Springs (Bar)

Gibbon's rent

The area between London and Tower bridges is a pretty Darwinian place: unforgiving warehouses rammed up against coffee chains, ancient pubs, the Shard and City Hall. In short, you’d not expect to find there something as gentle as an arts-centric community garden, but that’s exactly what Gibbon’s Rent is, a narrow splash of green with a book exchange and watering cans for those looking to nurture.

Places Nearby:

  • London Riviera (Bar and Street Food)
  • Brigade Bar & Bistro (Restaurant)
  • TwoRuba Bar (Bar)
  • The Woolpack (Bar)
  • Draft House Tower Bridge (Pub)

Maltby Street Market

Away from the less sedate food markets of Hackney, Maltby Street is quietly carving out a niche for itself as a place that isn’t full of groggy, red-eyed young people who haven’t slept in 48 hours. It’s home to all manner of street foods, from English cheese toasties to lumps of meat drenched in Mozambique hot sauce.

Places Nearby:

  • The Grange (Pub)
  • Tozino (Bar)
  • 40 Maltby Street (Restaurant)
  • Alfie's at Bermondsey Square Hotel (Restaurant)
  • The Doodle Bar (Bar)

Menier Chocolate Factory

Has anyone ever drawn up exact coordinates for the bit of London that constitutes “the West End”? It’s always seemed like a bit of a nebulous concept. What is certain is that the Menier Chocolate Factory definitely isn’t a West End theatre, though it is one of the city’s most loved beyond that hallowed realm. The imposing Grade II-listed building also houses a restaurant and rehearsal spaces.

Places Nearby:

  • Southwark Rooms (Bar)
  • The Rose & Crown (Pub)
  • Bar Douro (Bar)
  • Clinks Bar (Bar)
  • The Boot & Flogger (Bar)

Bold Tendencies

Split across the top four levels of a car park, Bold Tendencies is a decade old this year. During its lifespan, Peckham has pursued with vigour the art space's winning combination of art and alcohol. Here, the latter part of that equation is satisfied by Frank’s Cafe, a bar on the top floor that offers superlative sunset views of the skyline once you’re done nosing around the galleries.

Places Nearby:

  • Rye Wax (Record Shop)
  • Copeland Park Industrial Estate (Venue)
  • Peckhamplex (Cinema)
  • Frank's Cafe (Bar)
  • Prince of Peckham (Pub)

Paid partner content

This content was paid for by the advertising partner and was created in collaboration with VICE creative services, independently from the VICE editorial staff.