St George's Fields, Southwark: From a grand 18th century suburb to 19th century inner-city slums

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The riverfront at Bankside had always been an important location for industry, but its importance grew exponentially in the 18th and 19th centuries. Wharves and warehouses where goods, primarily foodstuffs, were landed and stored were the most prominent riverfront workplaces; in the main, they provided manual labour-intensive, largely unskilled work. The food wharves and warehouses in turn generated an important food processing industry, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Prominent among these local firms were Oxo, which processed Argentine beef into stock cubes, and J Sainsbury, which had its headquarters processing plants and distribution at Stamford Street from 1890. Beer and vinegar brewing were also prominent trades: Barclay Peerkins’ Anchor Brewery for the former, and the Potts vinegar works on Southwark Bridge Road for the latter. Finally, there were also prominent hatmaking and printing firms.