Neighbourhood Guide: The Cut

The commercial heart of the Waterloo area in the 19th century, The Cut runs between Waterloo Road in Lambeth and Blackfriars Road in Southwark, connecting our two areas by much more than just paving stones.

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“Here is a stall glittering with new tin sauce-pans,” observed journalist Henry Mayhew in the 1840s, “there another, bright with its blue and yellow crockery, and sparkling with white glass. Now you come to a row of old shoes arranged along the pavement; now to a stand of gaudy tea-trays; then to a shop with red handkerchiefs and blue checked shirts, fluttering backwards and forwards”. The Cut was a bustling market area, packed with an estimated 300 costermongers in its heyday. The market stalls may have concentrated in Lower Marsh now, but there’s still plenty to do on The Cut.

The Cut is the home of the beloved Old Vic – where Morley founder Emma Cons first held her Penny Lectures – and its experimental sister, the Young Vic, as well as interesting places to eat and drink.

Anchor & Hope | Londonist

Here are our picks of the neighbourhood, just a 10 minute walk from Morley:

One of London’s ‘pocket parks’, this small street garden on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road has a special place in our hearts. It’s named after artist, philanthropist and Morley founder Emma Cons, ‘an ardent reformer and legendary impresario’ who managed the Old Vic from 1880 until her death in 1912. The site of the garden was bombed in WWII, and opened as a public garden in 1958. It’s not the most perfect garden in London, but it provides a little breathing room from the hustle and bustle, and reminds us of a very special lady.

This modern British gastropub serves up delicious, seasonal dishes alongside an impressive wine list and some seriously good cocktails. Described as ‘gutsy’ and ‘worth the wait’ by the Guardian, their Sunday lunches are pretty spectacular, and their daily-changing Workers’ Lunch menu is a treat on a busy day. We already can’t wait for our next visit.

Old Vic London Events & Tickets 2020 | Ents24

Established in 1818, the Royal Victoria Theatre enjoyed a reputation as a bawdy, riotous theatre, whose audiences had a penchant for melodrama and alcohol. Emma Cons transformed The Old Vic into a venue for wholesome and informative entertainment to improve the Waterloo neighbourhood and ‘elevate the character of the entertainment’. The Morley Penny Lectures were first held here, and the college itself took over backstage until the 1920s. Visit The Old Vic this December and feel extrafestive at A Christmas Carol, starring Paterson Joseph. Or start the new year with Samuel Beckett’s macabre comedy Endgame, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cummings.

Frank Dunlop completed creation of the theatre venue in 1970, a breeze-block building on The Cut constructed out of a former butcher’s shop and an adjacent bomb-site, where 54 people sheltering in a bakery had died during the Second World War. It was the first residence of the Royal National Theatre under Laurence Olivier: ‘Here’, Olivier said, ‘we think to develop plays for young audiences, an experimental workshop for authors, actors and producers.’

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Established in the 1980s, London’s first authentic tapas restaurant is an institution for Waterloo and Southwark residents. Close to theatres and with a raucous and fun atmosphere, head to Meson Don Felipe for a glass of Spanish wine or a delicious sherry, accompanied by patatas riojanas with chorizo, tuna croquetas and tortilla Española. If you’re lucky, dinner will be served alongside live flamenco music.

On the Cornwall Road side of the Emma Cons Gardens you will find the best value food in all of London – and no, we’re not exaggerating. The spot for a true workers’ lunch, the Bus Café was originally designed to cater to the drivers of the adjacent bus station – but they couldn’t keep the rest of us out! Visit this hidden gem in the morning and get the veggie breakfast with a tea for only £2.50, then head straight back at lunch for huge salads, delicious fresh ingredients and warming soups.

Come for the theatre; stay for the buzz. The Young Vic’s theatre bar guarantees atmosphere, brilliant cocktails and the occasional celeb spot. The Cut boasts an impressive selection of craft beers, which pair perfectly with the irresistible sharing boards. Whether you’ve seen a show or not (and we recommend you do), The Cut is the place to be for a great night out in Waterloo.

Young Vic | London Theatre: Stagedoor

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