The Hopes, King's Arms Stairs, and Jenkins Street

Pages 56-57

Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1951.

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The ground between the site of Hungerford Bridge and of the old Tramways Building in Belvedere Road was formerly known as the Hopes and was granted to Jesus College, Oxford, in 1685 (for its previous history see pp. 25 and 137). At that time it was drained by a cut or dock on the north and south sides, known as Theobald's Dock and Chambers' Dock respectively, and by and open ditch on the east side. (fn. n1) The shape of the ground can be seen in the 1804 plan on p.60. King's Arms Stairs, a public landing place (see Plate 48), lay halfway along the river side of the property and was connected by a path with Narrow Wall on the east. The path later became College Street or Jenkins Street.

At first Jesus College leased the Hopes and the Three Acres by Cuper's Bridge to the same family, the Cupers of Coopers after whom Cuper's Bridge and Cuper's Gardens were named. (fn. 60) In 1753, when Mrs. Evans took over the lease of Cuper's Gardens, the Hopes were leased to a John Brown, who is described as a merchant. A beautifully drawn plan in the possession of the college shows the uses to which the ground was then put. The site of the King's Arms Glasshouse is marked to the north of King's Arms Stairs.

Brown's successors were Elizabeth Haines (1762), John Biggin (1769), Eleanor Biggin (1778) and Martineau's Brewery (1800) (fn. 60) A fine series of maps shows the steady development of the property, but the leases up to the beginning of the 19th century usually repeat previous descriptions of the buildings, etc., without reference to the changes that were taking place.

Figure 16:

Delft Plate

In 1828–29 Narrow Wall, later renamed Belvedere Road, was extended straight across the Jesus College property, cutting off the bend of the former Narrow Wall to the east. The older portion of roadway, which had become known as Ragged Row, probably from the tumbledown condition of the old cottages which bordered it, was renamed Belvedere Crescent. The whole of the houses in College Street, as well as those in Belvedere Crescent, were rebuilt at this time and new houses were erected along the new section of Belvedere Road. Most of these buildings were put up by William, Bailey, and Newman Sherwood of Belvedere Road, builders. (fn. 60) From this time on wards the ground was let to individual tenants and not to one lessee.

Martineau's Brewery stood on the ground later known as College Wharf, just north of King's Arms Stairs. It was founded by David Martineau in 1784 (fn. 48) and remained in existence until 1842 though it had been taken over by Whitbread's thirty years previously. (fn. 124)

In 1861 (fn. 74) the authorities of Jesus College leased part of the ground south of College Street, with a river frontage of about 110 feet, to the Secretary of State for India, and there the building known first as the East India Military Stores, and later simply as the India Stores was erected in 1861–2, the architect being Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt. (fn. 125) In 1873 the stores were extended to include the remaining property of the college to the south, and in 1899 the Secretary of State for India purchased the freehold of both portions. (fn. 126)

Figure 17:

India Stores, Belvedere Road, in course of demolition, 1949. Sketch by F. A. Evans.

In 1935 the London County Council promoted a bill in parliament to acquire the remainder of the college property and some adjoining ground, for the improvement of the South Bank. The college petitioned against the bill and the matter was deferred until 1937 when the Council promoted a second bill. The college again petitioned against it and the Port of London Authority objected to the closing of the public landing place formerly known as King's Arms Stairs. In the end the Council came to terms with the petitioners and the land passed to the Council in March, 1940. (fn. 126) The property was serverely damaged by bombing during the war of 1939–45. When the site was cleared in 1949–50 for the Festival of Britain many pieces of delft pottery, wasters and parts of saggars were found. They were probably waste materials from nearby potteries dumped to fill in the water channels. There do not seem to have been any pottery kilns on this property.


  • n1. These are marked on Morden and Lea's map of 1682. On this map also the strip of ground south of Theobald's Dock is named “Sparagus Garden,” while the river frontage is shown as in the occupation of three tenants—Mr. Miller, Mr. Eccleston and Mr. Finch.
  • 48. P.O. and other London Directories.
  • 60. Jesus College Deeds.
  • 74. L.C.C. Solicitor's Dept., Deeds.
  • 124. Magazine of the Whitbread Group, Spring 1950.
  • 125. Commonwealth Relations Office, Surveyors' Records, vol. 15.
  • 126. Jesus College Magazine, March, 1949.