Lonely Planet Writer

London’s Bankside has got a new cultural hub beneath the rail viaducts

A brand new cultural hub has launched beneath the rail viaducts in London’s Bankside, featuring a range of diverse spaces including a theatre, an aerial fitness school, a Tel Aviv-style restaurant and an Italian butchery.

Old Union Yard Arches
Old Union Yard Arches is a new cultural hub set beneath the railway viaducts of London’s Bankside. Image by Old Union Yard Arches
Old Union Yard Arches
The development houses a diverse range of cultural spaces and restaurants. Image by Old Union Yard Arches

Called Old Union Yard Arches, the hub sits beneath ten double height railway arches that have been redeveloped for use as creative and cultural spaces. The opening is part of the Low Line, a plan implemented by Network Rail, Better Bankside and Southwark Council, with the long term goal of creating a walking route along the base of the rail viaducts that aims to link together the neighbourhoods between London Bridge and Waterloo, Blackfriars and Elephant and Castle. The new cultural stop complements another recent development called Flat Iron Square, a hub for food lovers along the route that includes an assorted of food trucks, bakeries and bars.

Old Union Yard Arches
The Flying Fantastic aerial school beneath benefits from the unique shape of the building. Image by Old Union Yard Arches

As well as housing Cervantes Theatre, the first Spanish and Latin American theatre in London, Old Union Yard Arches is the new home of Union Theatre, which was founded by artistic director Sasha Regan in 1997. An aerial fitness school called Flying Fantastic has also opened, making use of the overhead arch structure to create a unique and dynamic space for exercise. The Africa Centre also sits beneath the arches, celebrating the art and culture of Africa as well as offering a space that nurtures cultural exchange, collaboration and educational programmes. Visitors will be able to choose from two new eateries while visiting the hub, Macellaio, an Italian restaurant and butchery as well as Bala Baya, a Tel Aviv restaurant and bakery.

Old Union Yard Arches
The space includes two restaurants, two theatres, an African cultural centre and an aerial exercise school. Image by Old Union Yard Arches
Old Union Yard Arches
The aerial school in Old Union Yard Arches. Image by Old Union Yard Arches

“The opening of the Union Yard Arches signals another step towards realising the Low Line vision in Bankside. We want to give small, independent businesses the opportunity to thrive in a burgeoning neighbourhood, and cement the area as a cultural hub in south London. The regeneration of these renowned viaducts has been significant and is key to stimulating the further regeneration and development of the wider area, bringing substantial direct and indirect economic benefits to London and to neighbouring areas of change,” said Donald Hyslop, Chair of Better Bankside. The site also includes a landmark public art installation by artist Rachel Wilberforce called Cyclorama, a sculpture that can be viewed from Union Street and Great Suffolk Street. Old Union Yard Arches is open now, with more information about visiting available on the official website.
Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.