Japanning: Harding & Sons

Built in 1891, Harding & Son’s were Hardware Merchants (that much is clear from the top panel of the building). Further writing on scrolls, either side of the shield emblazoned with H&S, reveals that they also specialised as ‘Wire Workers’ and ‘Metal Merchants’.


Japanning Harding & Sons


But perhaps more curious to us is the ‘Japanners’ written in large capitalised font across the main entrance…


Japanning is a finishing technique, usually used in woodwork but could be a treatment for protection and decoration of anything. Similar to lacquer, it originated as a European imitation of Asian lacquerwork and ‘Japanning’ as a term and Western-based trade started life in the 17th Century.


From the mid 19th Century changes in taste and the introduction of electroplating meant Japanning began to fall out of fashion.


The facade was given grade II listed in 2010 status because of its value as evidence of a widespread historic industry.


Find it at 19 Tabard Street, Southwark.


  • Deepak Jain


    We live there and like your write up clouding additional background on ‘Japanners’.

    September 8, 2018 at 5:29 pm
  • I’m researching my family history and have relatives who were Japanners. They were of German origin and resided in Bermondsey 1845 onwards. Would you know if there is a register of Japanners for around that time? Or, indeed if you have further information on Japanners. I’d be very grateful as I’ve reached a brick wall! Thank you.

    February 16, 2019 at 10:20 am

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