Some of Bermondsey’s characters are highlighted in London News Online.
James Allen was killed by a falling plank in a wood yard. James Allen, who was married, was in fact a woman. After her death, a post mortem found she might have had a child at some stage. It became known as the case of “The Female Husband”.
The London Standard commented “her equivocal lord” was “beautifully shaped, and his legs and feet particularly well made”.
Allen’s wife’s father said: “Allen was as handsome a young man as ever the sun shone upon” when he married his daughter.
London Online notes:
Public interest in James Allen led to the publication of pamphlets and ballads. No law barred women from cross-dressing. But some were prosecuted for financial fraud – marrying a woman to take her dowry.
Then there was Thomas Walker, the ‘She-He Barman of Southwark’, who profited from public curiosity about how a weak and feeble woman could live as a man by touring the country singing songs about his life.
The Southwark QueerStory exhibition will be on at Peckham Levels from Thursday, February 15 until Wednesday, February 28 from 10am to 11pm each day. The exhibition includes 1930s photographs of Bermondsey lad Ralph Hall, living a life of domestic happiness with his lover Monty, and their love letters written when Ralph was posted off to war.
Pub drag culture of the 1960s is celebrated as well as the emergence of the gay disco scene pioneered by DJ Tricky Dicky in 1970s Camberwell, as well as the saucy drag shows and boozy dancing at the Ship & Whale.