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Mounted on the south gable end of the former Public Library, Wells Way, is a 20’ by 14’ Doulton tile mural of a Camberwell Beauty butterfly, which originally decorated the nearby 1920s factory of the stationers Samuel Jones & Co, once known for their Butterfly Brand goods. The panel was rescued in 1980, just before the Jones’s building was demolished, and resited on the library in 1983.


Charles Barry (1823-1900), son of the architect Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860), was appointed as Architect and Surveyor to the Dulwich College Estate in 1858, in succession to his father. Sir Charles Barry had been involved with J. M. Blashfield in the experimental manufacture of terracotta at Canford in Dorset in 1839, and the young Barry, who entered his father’s office in 1840 at the age of seventeen, had worked up the detail of his father’s designs for Blashfield’s terracotta ornaments.[1] The New Buildings of Dulwich College (1866-70), College Road, West Dulwich, were designed by Barry junior in a hybrid Italianate style with lavish external terracotta decoration, mostly in buff but with contrasting areas of blue-grey and red, all supplied by Blashfield from his Stamford works. Barry himself assisted with the modelling of much of the terracotta.[2] The result was a triumph for the architect and for Blashfield, who proved himself to be an efficient large-scale manufacturer.


The Stearns mausoleum, a little romanesque shed of Doulton’s salmon-coloured terracotta, stands beside the path running up the hill on the west side of Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Grove. The mausoleum, which is lined with brown and yellow glazed brick and ornamented with Celtic motifs, was put up for Laura Stearns (d1900) of Twickenham, although her remains are now buried elsewhere in the cemetery (Fig 178).


On the exterior of the former North Peckham Civic Centre (1962-7, Southwark Borough Architect’s Department, now known as the Civic and home to the pentecostal church Everlasting Arms Ministries), Old Kent Road on the corner with Peckham Park Road, is the largest secular work of the sculptor Adam Kossowski (1905-86). Indeed, at 1,000 square feet, it is probably the largest of any of his works (Fig 179). The polychrome ceramic frieze, which depicts local historic scenes in high relief, was designed in 1964 and completed in 1965; the traditional Cockney figures of the Pearly King and Queen are especially striking. The art historian Benedict Read suggests that it was the only point of Kossowski’s career in which he approached the idealistic nationalist spirit of the secular works carried out in his native Poland before coming to Britain in 1942.[3]


The modern tube-lined tile Stations of the Cross at the parish church of St Mary Rotherhithe, St Marychurch Street, came from the Bruges-based Kunstateliers Slabbinck, an art studio and clerical suppliers founded by Hendrik Slabbinck in 1903.


Inside the Paper Moon PH, 24 Blackfriars Road, is a turn-of-the-century pictorial tile panel by Carter’s of Poole depicting Shakespeare enjoying the hospitality of an inn.

On Queen Elizabeth Street, at the south end of Tower Bridge, is The Circle (1989, architects CZWG), an apartment block notable for its curving elevation of royal blue glazed brick by Shaws of Darwen.

Just west at 88 Tooley Street, before London Bridge Station, is the Shipwrights Arms; inside, in what was originally the pub’s entrance lobby, is a large, square tile panel dating from around 1900 and showing shipwrights working in the Pool of London. It is signed Charles Evans & Co, a west London concern which produced tiles, mosaic and stained glass; Charles Evans (1828-64), the son of noted Shrewsbury stained glass painter David Evans, assisted his father before moving to London to set up on his own account, probably during the 1850s, and the firm continued until at least the end of the nineteenth century.[4] An earlier Charles Evans & Co panel can be seen at Whitechapel Library (Tower Hamlets). Further west on Tooley Street, almost at London Bridge itself, is the art deco classic St Olave’s House (1931-2, architect H. S. Goodhart-Rendel), converted from a warehouse to be the stylish offices of the Hay’s Wharf Company. On its river frontage, delineating the tall windows of the main rooms, is a unique large-scale modernist relief in gilded Doulton stoneware set into black granite. It was designed and modelled by the sculptor Frank Dobson (1886-1963), and symbolises the activities of the riverside.


1.^         Alan Swale, Architectural terracotta - a critical appraisal of its development and deployment, 1998, MA dissertation, History of Ceramics, University of Staffordshire.
2.^         Jan Piggott, Charles Barry, Junior and the Dulwich College Estate (Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 1986).
3.^         Adam Kossowski: Murals and Paintings, (Armelle Press, London, 1990), p17.
4.^         Joyce Little, Angela Goedicke and Margaret Washbourn, eds., Stained Glass Marks & Monograms (NADFAS, London, 2002).

The Tile Gazetteer is Copyright © 2005 Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society and Lynn Pearson, Richard Dennis.