Rotherhithe has an unusual, solitary four storey building that looks odd and out of place. It was once part of a row of riverside houses, back when Rotherhithe was an area of docks. All of the other houses ended up being destroyed or badly damaged during the Blitz, and later torn down by the council. 1 Fulford Street, however managed to survive, and is today known locally as The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe.
This post is all about the history of The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe.
The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe
The photographs below were taken either side of 1 Fulford Street. In the past, this whole stretch of the riverside was lined with buildings, mostly connected to the shipping industry. Today, this tall white house is the only house that remains. The photographs below were taken just before the building sold at auction in March 2023 for £1.5 million.
History of The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe
1 Fulford Street was once part of a row of buildings along the Thames riverfront, and surrounded mainly by shipping businesses. The photograph below was taken in 1937 by a photographer who worked for the Port of London Authority, and is owned by The Museum of London.
In the photograph you can see 1 Fulford Street marked with a red arrow. Next door to it is H. Pocock, which was a dry dock. On the other side are a number of other buildings connected to the shipping industry. The wooden stairs that once existed next to 1 Fulford Street have since rotted away and been rebuilt.
In Victorian times the building was owned by a barge company called Braithwaite & Dean. They used it as an office where workers on the barges would come to collect their wages.
Between 1937-1939, the building is recorded as being home to the journalist Esmond Romilly, the nephew of Winston Churchill, and his wife Jessica Mitford, who were both staunch communists. They lived in the house until 1939 when they emigrated to the United States.
World War II
During the war, Rotherhithe was a major target due to the docks and shipping activity. It was bombed heavily during the blitz and many buildings were completely destroyed.
After the war, the damaged buildings by the riverfront were sold to the council, who then demolished them as part of a plan to extend nearby Southwark Park to the river.
In the 1960s the council bought all the remaining houses along the riverfront, apart from one – 1 Fulford Place. The building was still owned by the barge company Braithwaite & Dean, and they refused to sell.
Braithwaite & Dean kept the narrow little building until 1995, when they eventually sold it, and it became a private residence.
28 years later, 1 Fulford Street went on sale again. The house was sold at auction with Savills on 1st March 2023. The final sale price was £1.5 million.
- The building is four storeys high, 3.5m wide, and covers 2,131 square feet.
- It has 180 degree views over the river, including of Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.
Originally, when the building was part of a row of riverside houses, its address was 41 Rotherhithe Street. Today, it is 1 Fulford Street, London, SE16 4NW.
Inside The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe
The former owners of the property occupied the whole building when they first moved in, but later split it in half and rented out the top two floors.
Inside, the building has two kitchens (one on the ground floor and one on the top floor), two reception rooms, two bathrooms, and five bedrooms. From the windows there are unobstructed views of the river Thames.
Below are some of the photographs I took from the Thames foreshore below 1 Fulford Street, at low tide. The steps down onto the riverbed are in the same place as they were when the row of riverside houses was first built. At high tide the water comes up almost to the bottom of the house.
What is the history of the Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe?
The building was first owned by the Victorian barge company, Braithwaite & Dean who transported goods between ships and quays using flat-bottomed barges. They used the site as an office building where their workers came to collect their wages.
What is Rotherhithe famous for?
Rotherhithe is known for its rich maritime history. It was once a busy area of docks, and a hub of shipbuilding. Rotherhithe is also famous for being the place from which the Mayflower ship left for America in 1620.
Attractions Near The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe
Rotherhithe is one of the most interesting parts of the capital. Below are some other attractions within walking distance of The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe.
- King’s Stairs Gardens – this is a park on the banks of the river Thames.
- Brunel Museum – a museum dedicated to the Brunel Tunnel, the first tunnel under the Thames.
- King Edward III’s Manor House – the remains of the manor house dating back to circa 1353.
- Mayflower Pub – where the Mayflower ship left for America in 1620
This Post Was All About The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe
Thank you for reading my post about The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe. The building has become a well-known landmark in the local area, and is one of the most unique properties in London.
Other well known people who lived in the row of riverside houses included Lord Snowdon, the former husband of Princess Margaret, who lived in a former coal store.