A History of London's South Bank: from Penny Gaffs to Giant Wheels
South Bank is an area of incredible history, architecture, culture and regeneration. Originally isolated and defined by the Thames, for centuries this riverside location developed in a very different way from the affluent north bank.
A marshy expanse of slum housing and country estates; a rural haven of green fields and pleasure gardens; a dynamic hub of industry and manufacturing; a nucleus of nineteenth-century theatre and entertainment venues; a host to the largest railway terminus in the country; and a byword for post-war cultural restoration.
South Bank is now home to great national centres for art and culture, a vibrant and growing community and some of London’s finest achievements in architecture, such as the London Eye. Throughout its history, the South Bank has endured fire, flood, slum clearance, railway demolition, devastating bombing, and the ebb and flow of investment and industry.
But why were these buildings built here, and how did the area become what it is today? Check out our timeline below for to learn the origins and heritage of London's cultural and creative heart, then enjoy them for yourself.
If you'd like to trace the footsteps of South Bank's history and heritage, we've also produced this handy Walk this Way itineray guide, chock-full of curiosities and lesser-known facts about the area's most significant landmarks.