All posts by Myjamfactory

Fame and celebrity haunt our local streets

These days, you can hardly walk past Manze’s without a camera crew getting in your pie.

But ’twas ever thus. Chaucer’s lot left for Canterbury from the Tabard Inn off Borough High Street. Keats lived at Guy’s before flouncing off to Hampstead. Half of Dickens’ characters grind out their miserable existences in the mud and prisons of SE1.

Charlie Chaplin was born off Bricklayer’s Arms. And another geezer with a cane, Maurice Micklewhite, lived dahn the Elephant before he got that job in Italy.

Back home, ancient Jammers claim BBC spy series Spooks shot scenes in B Block. Who told them how to decode the entry door?

Why the 42 bus was late

Tourists and tall ships love it. For locals, it’s just a journey-buster. When Tower Bridge opens up – and it does so 1000 times a year, according to official bridge sources – you can bank on being late for work.

If that sounds like one of those unlikely schoolday excuses (My maths homework? My dog ate it), get your boss to check the lifting schedule at:

And if you’d ever like to have the bascules raised for your own personal bling-yacht benefit, you’ll be delighted and probably amazed to know that it’ll cost you absolutely nothing. Yes, nothing. Just email the Bridge 24 hours in advance and you too can cause an hour of unmitigated traffic chaos in Central London at no charge to yourself whatsoever. Unbelievable? True.

Thirty seconds in the kitchen


Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé when our local French embassy Casse-Croûte opened on Bastille Day 2013. Its huge popularity belies its tiny size.

We spent 30 seconds in the kitchen of chef Sylvain Soulard. Here’s what he produced.

Your menu’s full of the classics. What makes French food French?
At heart it’s really about nostalgia, les souvenirs. You want to eat what your mum cooked when you were little. Here we’re cooking things you can’t find even in France any more – Coquilles St Jacques, for example.

What French food do British people remain frightened of?
Andouillette, of course, sausage of all the intestines. Veal face – tête de veau. Sweetbreads too.

Sylvain’s pig feet are superb too. Only two ways to experience them. Book your seat two weeks early in this tiny place of wonder. Or avez de la chance and walk in.

Casse-Croûte was modelled by patron Hervé Durochat on fabulous old school Paris brasserie, Chez Paul. The only thing that would improve our Bermondsey St version would be priority booking for Jam residents. Ecoutes, Herve! Méchant!

Turning Tables



New Jam residents might think Bermonsdey St has always been the natural home of tapas and negronis. Not so.

Old men – without polar beards and ironic bicycle clips – remember when dahn our way it was The Woolpack or nuffink, mate.

This chronology of Bermondsey St boozers and nosh shops reveals how very recent the growth spurt is – and also how cosmopolitan the spread.

The Woolpack 1885
The Marigold 1913
Al’s Café 1979
The Garrison 2003
Village East 2006
Caphe House 2009
Zucca 2010
Josë 2011
Pizarro 2011
Antico 2012
Tanner & Co 2013
Casse-Croûte 2013
Ticino 2014
B St Deli 2014
The Watch House 2014

And guess who’s coming soon to that open-shut-open-shut café next to George the barber. Someone quite well known…

Lasting value

colin saunder cobbler
Forget fairy cakes and hipster haircuts. The real test of a neighbourhood is: Where’s the cobblers?

Tower Bridge Road. Bus stop. Maroon shop.

Master of the awl, pliers and last, Colin Saunders has been there 33 years and gives everyone’s “ones and twos” a polish before you collect. This is one of those places we’re sorry to lose when they go. So let’s use them before it’s too late.

Another reason to support? Gruesome puns grace the window: Don’t be a heel… Let us save your sole…

Gentrification? Gertcha!

Sticky underfoot?

So you know they probably made jam here in the days when your bedroom stored strawberries ceiling to floor… but what else? Delve a little deeper into the Jam Factory’s cauldron of history and you discover some surprises about the place we now call home.

A tannery and a linoleum factory stood on the site in 1899, amid the stink of one of London’s poorest areas. Bought by Liverpudlian William Hartley as the southern outpost of his jam-making empire, the two-acre plot gave rise in 1901 to a modern factory with more bells, whistles and miniature railway tracks than you could shake a sugar cane at. The whole thing was run – astonishing for the time – by electricity!



The 1913 drawing of the industrial complex shows how little the basic structure we live in has changed.

Production ran from top to bottom. Fruit was carried by electric lifts to be sorted on the top floor of six (or on the roof in summer) before being carried down to the Boiling Room on the fifth and the Finishing Room on the fourth. If you live on the third floor now, those ghosts you keep seeing were the Jelly Makers. Lower floors were for storage. Over 400 tons of Hartley’s Jam were made each week.

And then consumers discovered Nutella. Or, at least, production stopped in 1962. The factory closed for good in 1975, and the rest is the history we’re making ourselves.

(Details from Bittersweet by Nicholas Hartley, Amberley Publishing.)







Lord Mayor’s Show No. 800



Start packing your sandwiches for the Lord Mayor’s Show. Ok, it’s in November, but you don’t want to miss the 800th performance of this annual exercise in ancient pomp and circumstance.

The river pageant gets underway from Westminster at 8.30am. Pack your foldaway chairs and get your spam and pilchard spread at the ready. Sat 14 Nov 2015.