Vandals have covered the inside of Rotherhithe’s historic Pumphouse, one of the area’s last remnants from its proud docking heritage, with graffiti and stripped it of its internal wiring.
A replica of one of the Queen’s wedding cakes made for the then Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 marriage to Prince Philip, by Bermondsey firm Peek Frean & Co, has also been trashed. The multi-tiered icing-sugar model had been left in the Pumphouse by the Peek Frean Museum, which had deemed it too fragile to move when they left the building. It has now been turned upside down and covered in red paint.
A framed letter signed by the Queen, who will celebrate her 70th wedding anniversary in two years’ time, thanking Peek Frean & Co, is now unaccounted for.
Shocked residents made the discovery on Friday after seeing squatters being evicted by the council. They’ve now swung into action to protect what remains of the Pumphouse, which was built in the late 1920s to house the pumping equipment which levelled out the water in the area’s then thriving docks. A website and Facebook page were set up within 48 hours of the discovery and English Heritage has now been contacted to see what can be done to get the building listed.
Steve Cornish, a resident who has long battled to maintain Rotherhithe’s character, said: “I was shocked to see the carnage and vandalism when I entered the historic Pumphouse. “The smell and the wall to wall graffiti was the first thing to hit you. Then walking up onto the mezzanine floor, to see the totally unnecessary vandalism of the Queen Elizabeth II replica wedding cake was sickening.” He added: “As usual, the residents of Rotherhithe have decided to take positive action. Within 48 hours, a website has already been set up, a Facebook page has been set up and English Heritage have been contacted to get the building listed as soon as possible.
“It’s becoming blatantly obvious to many that Bermondsey and Rotherhithe is fast losing its heritage, history, and culture, with historic buildings now joining the list, along with our diminishing pubs and docklands artefacts. This just might be the start of the fight back.”
The building had been home to the Peek Frean Museum for some time before the council cut its funding, forcing it to leave the premises. It has since been found a new home by Workspace, the owners of the original Biscuit Factory, in Drummond Road. Sands Films Studios had moved in to the building, but Southwark took over the tenancy after the squatters gained access at night.
The News contacted the council, but it was unable to respond at the time of going to press.
A cake fit for a Queen Peek
Frean & Co baked and iced a six-layer wedding cake for the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten, which took place in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.
The caked weighed six hundred pounds, stood six feet tall and at the top stood a silver model of St George and the Dragon. This was given to the royal couple as a souvenir.
The original cake was taken to Buckingham Palace in a specially modified car, and driven at walking speed to avoid any damage.
The Queen wrote to Peek Frean & Co in December 197, thanking them ‘for the trouble they took’. She wrote: “The Duke of Edinburgh and I were delighted with the wedding cake which Messrs Peek, Frean & Co Ltd so kindly gave us and would like the Directors, management and employees to know how greatly we admired the beauty of its design and the excellence of its quality.”
The life-size model of the cake was displayed in the reception of Peek Freans’.