The Blue: Behind the name.
The Blue is one of those mysterious and unique places in so much as it is not on any map and there are many theories as to why the area is known as ‘the Blue’ and how it got its name, but the most popular theory is that it comes from The Blue Anchor pub. The current building has been there since 1878 but researchers have established there has been an inn or tavern on the site since at least the 17th century.
The Blue Anchor has been the hub of the area and previous ancient inns on the site were a welcome retreat for travellers on their way to and from London in the days when the area was swamps and marshlands. It is thought that people first started to inhabit the area and trade with each other from these times. Maps from the late 17th century depict the inn and the tracks shown in the locality were, Blue Anchor Lane and Blue Anchor Road (later renamed Southwark Park Road).
Local life evolved until the arrival of London’s first passenger railway in the mid-1800s. Running from Deptford to Bermondsey and terminating at Spa Road station, the railway opened up the area and things began to transform into something like the Blue we know and love today.
The late Victorian era saw the arrival of big industry with legendary companies such as Peek Freans (biscuits), Shuttleworth’s (chocolate), Pierce and Duffs (custard), Liptons (tea) and Richmonds (sausages) along with many other iconic names in manufacturing history, situated in the locality and employing hundreds of local people.
Alongside this, local family owned businesses were beginning to establish themselves and one of the oldest shops in the area, the Blue Anchor Fish Bar, can trace its roots back to 1888. Also in the early days of the last century, one of the Blue’s most treasured businesses, Thorowgood’s furniture shop, started trading and it’s still going strong to this day and in March 2013 celebrated its centenary.
But it was always the market that attracted people to the Blue and in its heyday the stalls filled Southwark Park Road and being so close to the docks meant that traders could sell the freshest fare and you could literally buy anything down the Blue. At its peak just before the last war there were more than 200 stalls on both sides of Southwark Park Road. It all continued through the war and right up until 1976 when because of the increased traffic flow through the area the stalls were relocated to the purpose built market square, where valiantly continues to serve the community through the ages