Exploring Southwark and discovering its history
Bath House Lofts in Spa Road is a grand building in the neo classical style with a portico incorporating ionic columns and a coat of arms on the pediment above. Internally it is equally as grand with a spacious triple height marbled entrance hall with more columns and a sweeping staircase with decorative ironwork balustrades. Clearly the building, now apartments, has an illustrious past.
It was built in 1928 as an extension to the Town Hall to house the municipal offices. The old town hall had been built in 1879/80 and writing in 1902 Edward T Clarke described in his local history the civic pride attached to the town hall and its reputation within Bermondsey:
“It contains offices for the accommodation of the different branches of the local administration, a Coroner’s Court etc; but these are mere details. The Town Hall constitutes a feature of Bermondsey life of today which has hitherto had no parallel. The Vestry of the period, when reproached with having incurred such heavy expense in the erection of a building, the necessity for which was then by no means apparent, replied that they were acting with a view to the future, and providing for the needs of the next generation. The event has justified their prescience. The Town Hall has become the centre of the political and social life of the district. Public meetings are there held on all questions agitating the community, and addressed by persons of exalted rank and distinguished reputation. … Lectures are delivered on all conceivable subjects, religious services held, concerts, balls and dramatic representations given.”
Old Bermondsey Town Hall in about 1900. The building to the right is the Public Baths and Wash-house built in 1854, the site of today's Bath House Lofts
Bermondsey Library was built adjacent to the Town Hall and opened in 1892. On the other side of the town hall were the public baths and wash-house built in 1854 and demolished in the late 1920s when new public baths were built in Grange Road. An extension to the town hall was built on the site to house the Municipal Offices. The architect was H Tansley who acquired the marbled features in the entrance hall from a house in Park Lane demolished at the same time the new Municipal Offices were being built.
The old Town Hall was badly damaged in the second world war and demolished in 1963. The Municipal Offices became home to the Bermondsey Metropolitan Council until it was merged with the newly formed London Borough of Southwark in 1965. Grade II listed in 1998, the building remained as council offices for the new council until the building was sold in 2012 and refurbished to form the present apartments.