Ayres Street changed name in tribute to Alice Ayres – also immortalised in Postman’s Park in the City. Ayres lost her life whilst saving three children from a fire in Union Street in 1885.
John Strype mentions Whitecross Street in his 1720 ’Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster’. He called it “a pretty clean Street, but ordinary Built and Inhabited.” It is unknown how long before 1710 that the street was built.
The White Cross Cottages were built in 1890 by social reformer Octavia Hill and designed by Elijah Hoole, as model social housing. They include a hall with interior decoration by Walter Crane.
The dense grain of local small buildings was in part eroded after the Second World War. As redevelopment occurred, larger blocks, occupied by single uses, replaced the Georgian and Victorian houses, shops and warehouses. This is particularly evident in the area between Ayres Street and Southwark Bridge Road.