HISTORY OF THE BUILDING
The history of No20 actually is quite interesting and serves to illustrate the various social and economic shifts in South London over the last 200 years.
Originally from the late Georgian/Regency period, No20 was built as a gentlemen’s villa, sometime around 1813, where a map of Camberwell of that date records the building’s presence.
It is unusual in that it has a Venetian window in the attic storey, an Italiante feature on an otherwise outmoded Palladian design.
Later in the century, its façade was used as the template for the terrace of houses, adjacent to it on Forest Hill Road, where in 1887 William Henry Pratt was born. Who he? None other than the famous Hollywood horror film actor Boris Karloff.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the house was transformed into commercial premises with the addition of the wrap around, corner entrance, shop front and the removal internally of two of the main bay windowed rooms at lower and upper ground floor level.
The main entrance to the dwelling house was repositioned, with the addition of a loggia, to the side.
It became thus a public house, most probably only for male customers, as there is no separate lounge bar for Victorian women to drink in, according to the custom of the time.
It was known as The Albion and it still has the original Charringtons Ales and Toby Ales signage on the entablature above the shop windows.
The pub artwork is particularly fine; being hand painted and gilded, something that has mostly disappeared from most surviving pub fronts of this era.
We have preserved the Toby jugs, which have been left uncovered, whilst the original signage has been covered in plywood to protect it.
Just pre-WWII, the pub became a beer and wine merchants. It is from this era that the etched glass windows bearing the legend The Galleon Wine Trading Company Ltd. are from, and from which we have derived our name.
The shop part carried on as a wine merchant’s until the early 1990s when it slipped quietly into closure and obscurity. It served as a bathroom showroom for the DIY shop across the way for a short while but then was closed again in the early years of the 21st century.
When we took possession of it in 2012, it had sadly fallen into an extreme state of disrepair and dereliction, so it was with great care that we sought to preserve what we could of its history and to try and reinstate some traditional internal features, to do justice to the rest of the building.
Upstairs, the house still retains its original and rather grand staircase, which is the only internal area we have viewed.
It’s a unique building, very charming in its own way, certainly special and which has stood for 200 years, despite war, subsidence and the 1980s (when many old houses had every original internal fitting removed).
If it can, it should be allowed to stand a further 200 years, although we hope not to be hairdressing for quite that long.