Butler’s Wharf

In writing about Pont de la Tour last week, I discovered that there is a nice volume of essays produced by students of the MA in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art which documents the earlier history of Butler’s Wharf.   Built in 1873 as a warehouse for tea and spice, it ceased to be used in 1971, when it was colonised by artists including Richard Wentworth and Derek Jarman.   Andrew Logan did the first Alternative Miss World there in 1975 and Jarman filmed Jubilee and Sebastiane.   The artists had moved out by 1980.   Conran bought the Wharf in 1984 and developed it with Fred Roche who had worked at Milton Keynes.   The restaurants moved in.   Tony Blair ate roast rabbit with the Clintons:-

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4 thoughts on “Butler’s Wharf

  1. helenreesleahy says:

    Fascinating! And meanwhile Liz Farrelly (at Sussex) is writing a PhD on the early history of the Design Museum, so the story takes shape…

  2. Further information about the use of Butler’s Wharf by artists is to be found here:

    https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/art-and-regeneration/art-empty-southwark-industrial-buildings-1971-1979/

    The article mentions my brother Max, who died in 1990. Max – one of the few collectors of contemporary art in London at that time – used to visit the studios of artists there and at St Katherines Dock. Once Town and City, the landlord, decided on development, it was Max that introduced Terence Conran as a potential partner. The article is quite snippy about the Conran scheme – but it turned out much better than the redevelopment of St Katherines Dock. David

    • Dear David, Thank you. Yes, I had forgotten to put in about your brother, Max’s role, which I had read about. And, yes, I think Butler’s Wharf was, and has proved to be, a successful piece of adaptive re-use. Charles

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