South London is the southern part of London, England. In everyday use, the term applies to the parts of the capital south of the River Thames and includes the historic districts of Southwark, Lambeth, Bankside and Greenwich.

South London emerged from Southwark in the way that East London started with the East End and West London grew out of Westminster and the West End. .

Southwark itself is first recorded as Suthriganaweorc or Suthringa geweorche and was included in the 10th-century Anglo-Saxon document known as the Burghal Hidage . The name meant "fort of the men of Surrey " or "the defensive work of the men of Surrey". The strategic purpose of the fortification presumably relates to its position adjacent to London Bridge or other locations where the Thames could be forded or relatively easily crossed by boat.

From Southwark, the growth of London spread further into Surrey and then into Kent.

South London includes 11 whole boroughs plus Richmond, which includes land on both sides of the river, with its Twickenham district lying north of the river in West London.


A significant feature of South London’s economic geography is that while there are more than thirty bridges linking the area with West London and the City, there are none, save Tower Bridge linking the area with East London.

Very little of London’s underground network lies south of the river due to the challenging geology, however 21st century technology makes tunnelling much cheaper than before (though stations are still expensive) and this may lead to an improved underground provision in south London with the Crossrail 2 line proposed alongside extensions to the Northern and Bakerloo Lines.

South London contains an extensive overground network and all of London’s trams operate within the area.

List of boroughs

The 12 boroughs included, in whole or part are:

London borough Postcode areas 2008 sub-region London Assembly [2]
Bexley DA, SE South East Bexley and Bromley
Bromley BR, DA, SE, TN, CR South East Bexley and Bromley
Croydon CR, SE, SW, BR South West Croydon and Sutton
Greenwich SE, DA, BR South East Greenwich and Lewisham
Kingston KT, SW, TW South West South West
Lambeth SE, SW South West Lambeth and Southwark
Lewisham SE, BR South East Greenwich and Lewisham
Merton CR, KT, SM, SW South West Merton and Wandsworth
Richmond (part) SW, TW South West South West
Southwark SE South East Lambeth and Southwark
Sutton CR, KT, SM South West Croydon and Sutton
Wandsworth SW South West Merton and Wandsworth

Formal Use

The term 'South London' has been used for a variety of formal purposes with the boundaries defined according to the purposes of the designation.

Constituency Review, 2013

In 2013 the government asked the Boundary Commission for England to reduce the reconsider the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies. The Commission's study, [2] was to start with existing regions of England and then group the local authorities within that area into sub-regions for further sub-division. The South London sub-region included all 12 boroughs which lay in whole or part south of the river. The recommendations of the report were not adopted, and the 2017 study has taken a different approach.

Planning Policy sub-region

For the purposes of progress reporting on the London Plan, there was a South London sub-region in operation from 2004 to 2008 consisting of Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton. [24] In 2001 this area had a population of 1,329,000. [3] This definition is used by organisations such as Connexions. [8]

Between 2008 and 2011 it was replaced with a South East sub-region consisting of Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley and a South West sub-region consisting of Croydon, Kingston, Lambeth, Merton, Sutton, Richmond and Wandsworth. [26]

In 2011 a new South London region was created consisting of Bromley, Croydon, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, Merton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham.


South London is, like other parts of London and the UK in general, a temperate maritime climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. Three Met Office weather stations currently collect climate data south of the river; Kew, Hampton and Kenley Airfield, on the southern edge of the urban area. [9] Long term climate observations dating back to 1763 [12] are available for Greenwich, although observations ceased here in 2003.

Temperatures increase towards the Thames, firstly because of the urban warming effect of the surrounding area, but secondly due to altitude decreasing towards the river, meaning the southern margins of South London are often a couple of degrees cooler than those areas adjacent to the Thames. Often snow can be seen to lie on the North Downs near Croydon when central London is snow free.

The record high temperature at Greenwich is 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) recorded during August 2003. [51] Sunshine is notably lower than other London area weather stations (by about 50–100 hours a year), suggesting Greenwich may be a fog trap in winter, and that the hillier land to the south may obscure early morning and late evening sunshine.

The highest temperature recorded across South London was 38.1 °C (100.6 °F) on the same occasion at Kew Gardens. Although the Met Office accepts a higher reading from Brogdale in Kent, many have questioned the accuracy of this [14] and regard the Kew reading as the most reliable highest UK temperature reading.

Climate data for Greenwich 7m asl 1971–2000,
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.9
Average low °C (°F) 2.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 51.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 45.9 66.1 103.2 147.0 185.4 180.6 190.3 194.4 139.2 109.7 60.6 37.8 1,461
Source: MetOffice [9]

Associated organisations

See also