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Welcome to south London’s independent cultural guide

Below the River is dedicated to cultural affairs: art, food, pubs, community, history, architecture, design, music – and people.

South London – from Stockwell to Deptford, Battersea to Peckham – may be at the heart of what we do, but we love the capital as a whole. We just think that a mix of features makes for the most balanced read – and we’re pretty sure you venture outside your postcodes too.

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Want to know a bit more about us?

A recent cover of Kentishtowner in print.
A recent cover of Kentishtowner in print.

Below The River is published by London Belongs To Me, an award-winning boutique publishing house whose focus is on the interesting, less heralded bits of the capital that are sometimes forgotten in the stampede towards Soho, Dalston or Shoreditch.

Our north London flagship title Kentishtowner was founded by broadsheet writer Stephen Emms in 2010. It won funding from Nesta in 2012 and started a monthly print edition in 2013.

Since then, Emms, co-editor Tom Kihl and our small team have also launched east London’s Leytonstoner, north London’s Seventhsister, travel site Weekendr and Gasholder, dedicated to all things King’s Cross and beyond, which also has a print edition. Together our titles attract around 250,000 readers, with well over 100K on social media too (follow @londonbelongs_ for our highlights).

Why Below the River? 

Because it is here, in these boroughs that hug this side of the Thames, that south London was born.

Sure, as an urban environment, a part of the city proper, the south is a baby compared with older and taller north London (as if to remind us, even the dominant airy Georgian residential architecture north of the river towers over our Victorian terraces).

But we’ve come a long way since the late 1700s when, as Peter Ackroyd describes it, the districts below the river had become London’s ‘dumping ground’. Yep, then, south of the city was just a sprawl of disparate villages and odour-emitting industry (the unhappy inspiration for Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’ is said to have been a factory in Blackfriars). On top of the smog and filth ‘the area also acquired a reputation for dubious taverns and doubtful pleasure gardens’. (Well… not everything has changed.)

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Faraday Memorial, Elephant & Castle. Image: www.jonahjones.co.uk

Some of us are even old enough to remember when it was a struggle to get a cab to cross the river south – but no more. Out of south London’s dodgy history has also sprung a rich history of culture and entertainment. Let’s not forget where Shakespeare’s Globe got built (both times)… that we have the Tate Modern… Gandhi’s in Kennington (the Bangladeshi restaurant famously favoured by plotting politicians for its proximity to Westminster)… the reinvigorated South Bank, host of the 1951 Festival of Britain… Then there’s the once-ground-breaking Ministry of Sound and its neighbour, that weird building (the Michael Faraday Memorial) on the Elephant and Castle roundabout once – falsely/hilariously – rumoured to be the Aphex Twin’s house in the 90s… Waterloo Sunset… City Hall, London’s powerhouse… We could go on, but we know we don’t need to. Kate Burt

We’re keen for contributions, so if you think you’ve got what it takes, drop Stephen Emms a line at info@belowtheriver.co.uk. We’re also quite sociable and will consider hook-ups of all kinds, be they editorial, sponsored or whatever, and we’ll read well-written press releases or any relevant information about any of the above.

Submissions may be edited and published unless they’re expressly marked private or of a sensitive nature. We can’t always get back to you to confirm inclusion so please keep an eye on what is published daily on the site.

We will always state clearly if we are invited or hosted by an interested party in return for a meal or trip.

To read about our comments policy and community standards head here.

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Founding editor Stephen Emms
New Business director and associate editor Tom Kihl
Designers (print) Tan Doan, Olly Skinner
Staff Writer Clare Hand
Contributors Sarah Park, Brendan Hodrien
Advertise: contact info@londonbelongstome.com

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All original content is © London Belongs To Me 2013. No words or images may be reproduced without permission from the copyright holder.