Exploring Southwark and discovering its history
Bankside Lofts in Hopton Street is the distinctive building the colour of turmeric that’s on the route from the Bankside exit of Blackfriars Station and the Tate Modern. With curved, heavily glazed elevations, it reaches 13 storeys high. Now residential, in the past the site has been home to thriving factories.
Glass manufacturing was established in Bankside during the 17th century and by the end of that century there were so many glassworks that a petition was presented to James II to prevent the building of any more. The Falcon Glasshouse was first mentioned in 1718 and named after a nearby tavern of that name. In 1803 it was purchased by Pellatt and Green who a few years later moved the company to the present site of Bankside Lofts. The factory building was similarly curved, following the line of a mill pond that had previously stood there. Pellatt and Green (later called Apsley Pellatt & Co) became world famous for their high quality flint-glass, a brilliant composite glass with a high lead content and formed into magnificent chandeliers, tableware and very many other products. By 1833, there were only three glasshouses remaining in London and Apsley Pellatt the largest.
The company moved into premises in Pomeroy Street off the Old Kent Road in 1878 and the steam cocoa mills of James Epps and Co moved into the premises in Hopton Street. Epps and Co were proud of their new factory, describing it in their advertising as the largest of its kind in the country and “one of the finest and most striking pile of buildings in the metropolis”. The factory was owned by James Epps but it was his brother Dr John Epps who invented the process for producing a cocoa that was easy for the consumer to make. In the early days, before the cocoa (“Grateful and Comforting”) had become an international success, James made the cocoa and physician John recommended it to his patients.
The building was renovated in 1999 into apartments and incorporates the cocoa factory, the curved part of the building which dates from the 1950s, and a newly built loft building to the East. The development encircles a garden at ground level and a Japanese roof garden has been installed on the roof.
Bankside Lofts, Hopton Street, SE1