Frederick E. Gillett, 183 Vauxhall Bridge Road
Along Vauxhall Bridge Road, look up and you can admire the lovely former frontage of Frederick E. Gillett Ltd, but what’s the history behind it?
Built c.1827 the group of houses was originally called Belvoir Terrace.
You can see the new block on the nicely timed 1828 C. and J. Greenwood map (circled below).
The terraced block comprising of no.s 183-203 are all Grade II listed. They’re made of London stock brick and stand at two storeys with basements.
When the first Vauxhall Bridge opened in 1816 the land was ripe for development. Although it’s a fantastic surviving example of a late Georgian domestic terrace it wasn’t all rosy, an open sewer ran behind the houses until 1844 when it was thankfully covered over!
The most elaborate is no.183 with the surviving 1930s shop front.
As well as the wonderful typography there are two decorative scenes within the iridescent green tiles.
We first see a cute half-timbered home, surrounded with trees, bushes and even a white picket fence. A very far cry from the rumbling Vauxhall Bridge Road behind us!
The next scene seems to take us inside the house. We see three men working inside, one sawing planks of wood, one carrying what I initially thought looked like a briefcase and pot with brushes. However more likely it’s a book of wallpaper samples.
The final person is busy up a ladder painting the walls.
So who was Frederick E. Gillett?
It seems (thanks to the sleuthing following this blog post) that Frederick was an Oil and Colourman, ie someone who sells paints, varnishes and oils for the building trade.
This seems justified by the scenes in the tiles and a 1914 Post Office Directory lists Frederick Edward Gillett as having 8 shops in south east London. Presumably they expanded across the river to this lovely address in the 1930s.
So next time you’re walking by or passing on the bus, do admire these wonderful tiles that give a glimpse into a shop that’s almost 100 years old.
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