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Findlater’s Corner: historic 19th century site on Borough High Street to get makeover

One of the ‘most historic sites in Southwark’, which has been left empty for three years, is set to be transformed into restaurants and shops next year.

The Arch Company, the private-equity backed business that bought the railway arches from publicly-owned Network Rail in 2019, is refurbishing Findlater’s Corner at the north-eastern end of Borough High Street, by London Bridge station.

The site has lain empty since 2018, with Oddbins the last tenant. There will be four spaces to be let, which the Arch Company says suit restaurants and shops.

Southwark Council are also helping pay for the refurbishment through their Cleaner, Greener, Safer fund, as well as the Railway Heritage Trust and the Heritage of London Trust.

The corner is named after the wine merchants Findlater’s Mackie & Todd, who held a Royal Warrant. Findlater’s were at the site from 1865 – 1967. You can still see the faded sign of Findlater’s Corner if you look hard enough.

The clock, which has a ceramic stag’s head, referenced Findlater’s Scottish roots and whisky business. It will be restored to working order as part of the renovation.

The original Victorian wine shop architecture was updated in 1897 and the façade was replaced with a Beaux Arts style frontage in a similar material to the Savoy Hotel on the Strand.

How the corner looks now

Adam Dakin, managing director of the Arch Company, said: “Findlater’s Corner is an iconic part of the fabric of London Bridge and the capital’s history, which is why we’re proud to be restoring it and bringing it back into use.

The development is part of a £200m project by the Arch Company £200m to bring 1,000 derelict and empty arches into use by 2030, which will create space for hundreds of extra businesses and thousands of jobs.

Lionel Wright, a local tour guide and writer, said he hoped that the earlier Victorian design could be researched as part of the refurbishment.

He told the News: “We’ll have to see what the refurbishment brings. A balance has to be struck between the commercial interests of the developer and society’s need to conserve its architectural heritage.

“I hope The Arch Company continues to focus on its heritage obligations and makes good use of the ample conservation advice it has to hand.

“Looking forward, let’s also hope a positive outcome at Findlaters Corner will lead on at the very least to cleaning of the other railway structures in the vicinity, to bring them up to the same level of the new London Bridge Station and The Shard complex.”

Findlater’s Corner location

Architect Benedict O’Looney said: “This is one of the oldest and most significant historic sites in Southwark, sitting just opposite the southern end of the medieval London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral. It’s a truly London story, with the glazed terracotta façade made just up-river at the Doulton’s factory on the Albert Embankment at Lambeth. The robust Doulton’s ‘Carraraware’ was the perfect material for Victorian London’s smoky atmosphere.”

The Arch Company was set up by property investment company Telereal Trillium and US private equity giant Blackstone in 2019, after they bought Network Rail’s portfolio of 5,200 sites for about £1.5b.

The company was criticised during the pandemic for pushing up tenants’ rents. It says that it offered a £10m ‘hardship fund’ and offered a three-month ‘rent holiday’ for businesses that were struggling.

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