The Past and Present of Croydon's London Road

22 London Road: Prestige Hair & Beauty

13 September 2013

Prestige Hair & Beauty at 22 London Road is a small independent salon offering hairstyling, eyebrow threading, and manicures, among other services. Unsurprisingly, given the name, it's under the same management as Prestige Barber across the road at number 23.

Prestige Hair & Beauty, 22 London Road, May 2013. Photo: author’s own.

Not the first building on this site

Unlike most of the other addresses I’ve covered so far in this series,[1] the current building at 22 London Road is not the original one constructed on this site. It was built around 1899 as one of a pair of shops which replaced a single older building and are a good few decades younger than their neighbours on both sides.[2]

1840s–1860s: The original building

Here I have to insert a correction; I stated in earlier articles in this series that I believed this older building to be the site of William Meredith’s corn and coal store, listed in the 1850 Croydon and Reigate street directory. However, on further consideration I’ve decided that the evidence isn’t clear enough to state this with confidence, and in fact I’m now more inclined toward the theory that Meredith’s was at number 60–62, further up at the junction with Oakfield Road.[3]

Nevertheless, there was a building on this site by 1844 — it’s shown on the Tithe Award map of that year and identified in the accompanying particulars as “house, buildings, yard and garden”, owned and occupied by the Croydon Railway Company. On the 1868 Town Plans, this older building is coloured in grey, which appears to have signified outbuildings and such, so the building may have gone out of residential use by that point.

Wilkins’ 1872–3 street directory lists an upholsterer named J E Hastings between Mrs Kingsland’s registry office at number 18 and Newton the ironmonger at 1 Oakfield Terrace (later renumbered to 28),[4] but there’s not enough evidence to decide whether he was at number 20 or number 22 (numbers 24–26 hadn’t yet been built at this point).

Advertisement for J Dossett in Ward’s Croydon Directory 1874, reproduced courtesy of the Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service.

1870s–1890s: Greengrocers and fishmongers

Hence the earliest commercial occupant I’m sure of is J Dossett, a greengrocer and fishmonger who first appears in Ward’s 1874 directory sandwiched between two ironmongers: Thomas G Newton to the left and Samuel Piggott to the right.[5] Mr Dossett also had premises on Surrey Street, and advertised “fruit, vegetables, and fish fresh every day”. Around 1878 he handed his business over to a William Dossett — perhaps his son or other relative. However, within a couple of years William Dossett pared back his business to the Surrey Street premises alone, with the London Road premises passing to Henry G Dean, fruiterer and greengrocer.[6]

c.1899: Demolition and replacement with two new shops

Henry Dean remained on London Road for two decades, but departed around 1899, at which point the building was demolished and replaced by two new shops.[7] One motivation for this rebuilding could have been increased height; the current building has three storeys, unlike its older neighbours to the south at numbers 18 and 20, which have only two.[8] Another motivation could have been to fill in a gap between the original building and Oakfield Terrace, which was built around 1872. On the 1896 Town Plans (shown below), this gap comes out at just 3.25 metres wide, which would be pretty narrow for a shopfront,[9] so the landowner may have simply felt it made sense to get rid of the older building and start again.

Excerpt from the 1896 Town Plans, reproduced courtesy of the Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service. The diagonal road with tramlines marked on it is London Road. I have added text to indicate where Oakfield Terrace and Henry Dean’s shop were — note the small gap between them. The building marked “P.O.” on the left side of the road is number 27 London Road today (and the post office has moved next door to number 25).

The question of property boundaries

The question remains of why there was a gap there in the first place — why wasn’t Oakfield Terrace built flush up against the older building? I think the reason is to do with ownership of land. At the time of the 1844 Tithe Award, Richard Sterry owned the land on which Oakfield Terrace was later built, while the land south of it belonged to the Croydon Railway Company.[10] It’s possible that these two pieces of land still had different owners in 1872,[11] and so Oakfield Terrace would have been built up to the boundary between them. Another reason could have been that Henry Dean found it useful to have rear access to his property, and he or his landlord was unwilling to give this up.

1900s: The Emporium

The new building was in place by 1900, though remained unoccupied for a couple of years. First to move in was John Idiens and his intriguingly-named The Emporium. The word “emporium” conjures up images of an abundance of luxury goods, though sadly I've not found any evidence of what was actually sold here. Mr Idiens was replaced by Henry Charles Hyland around 1904, though the name of the shop stayed the same. Henry Charles Hyland departed around 1908, ushering in a new period of vacancy only briefly interrupted by Michael & Co, butchers, around 1911.[12]

1910s–1930s: A multitude of different businesses

By 1913, C F Betson’s rubber and waterproof stores had opened, joined a couple of years later by the Pioneer Teeth Institute. The latter business proved to be the more long-lasting of the two, remaining in place while C F Betson was replaced in sequence by Heaton Caffin, optologist; A M Joliffe, confectioner; Betty, milliner and costumier; and Ingersoll Watch Co Ltd.[13]

I’m not entirely sure how these businesses shared the space. The non-Pioneer businesses are listed first in street directories, suggesting that the Pioneer Teeth Institute may have been on the first floor, or perhaps in the back room on the ground floor (which today is used as overspill for the clientele of Prestige Hair and Beauty when all stations in the front room are occupied; it’s a reasonably-sized space).

By 1934, Ward’s directories list four occupants of 22 and 22a: Ingersoll Watch Co, Pioneer Teeth Institute, Dunlaw & Co photographers, and W A Woolgar (who has no business listed, and was likely a private resident). Since the building only has three floors, this does suggest that at least one floor housed two businesses. By 1937, Pioneer and Dunlaw & Co had been replaced by Stuart’s Advertising Service and Tracey Thorpe FBOA, optician; and by 1939 Stuart’s had moved on and been replaced by Rawire Ltd, radio supplies.[14]

Advertisement for Rodneys glass and china shop in the Croydon Official Guide 1954, reproduced courtesy of the Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service.

1940s–1950s: Rodneys glass and china shop

By the mid-1940s, the premises were home to Jack Rodney’s glass and china shop — and also to Jack Rodney himself, along with his wife Abigail and sons Harry and Alfred. The front part of the ground floor was occupied by the shop, with the back part a private family area; bedrooms and bathroom were on the first floor; and the second floor was used to store shop stock.[15]

The shop was protected by a German Shepherd dog named Rex. Jack’s granddaughter Gail recalls her grandfather describing how Rex, although a large dog, could patrol the aisles of the shop and “ever so gently walk between the many rows of china & glassware without disturbing a single thing”. Another of her family stories relates how on the single occasion when a break-in occurred (at night, towards the end of the Second World War), Rex kept the intruder at bay, terrifying the man to the point where he wet himself![15a]

Alfred Rodney emigrated to Sydney, Australia, at the end of 1947, and six months later he was joined by the rest of the family, including Harry’s wife Maree. Jack sold his business on emigrating, but the new owner kept the name, and Rodneys Glass & China Shop remained on London Road until around 1959.[15b]

1970s–1990s: A series of restaurants

I have found no traces of what happened at 22 London Road in the 1960s, but by July 1971 the premises were occupied by the first of several restaurants: Palamino Steak House, which also operated as a bed & breakfast. The proprietors were C P Christoforou and Mrs M Metochis.[16]

Advertisement for Palamino Steak House in the Croydon Official Guide 1971, reproduced courtesy of the Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service.

Palamino was followed by Cow & Corn (c.1974–1976), Giuseppe’s (or possibly Guiseppe’s) Italian Restaurant (c. 1977–1983), Pino’s Place (c. 1984), Papa’s Ristorante Italiano (c. 1986–1990), and Campana (c. 1993–1994).[17] Cow & Corn may have been related to Giuseppe’s, as the August 1974 Goad plan lists the property as “Cow ‘N’ Corn (Guiseppe) rest”.

In June 1977, planning permission was granted for conversion of the basement into an additional restaurant space.[18] This was still in use by the time the restaurant became Papa’s — a photograph taken by Brian Gittings around 1990 shows the wording “Papa’s Dine & Dance Downstairs” on the canopy.

Papa’s Ristorante Italiano, 22 London Road, c. 1990. Cropped by permission from a photo © Brian Gittings. Note the wording on the canopy: “Papa’s Dine & Dance Downstairs”.

2000s: Planet Nails

By May 2002 the use of the building had changed from food to beauty: Planet Nails manicurist is listed on the Goad plan of that month. I haven’t been able to find out exactly how long it lasted, but it was probably gone by 2004 or so, and the premises then remained vacant for several years[19].

c.2010–present: Prestige Hair & Beauty

Prestige Hair & Beauty opened some time around 2010, under the same management as Prestige Barber across the street[20]. It remains there today, offering hairstyling, eyebrow threading, and manicures.

The author’s nails, manicured and painted with Sinful Diablo by Ken at Prestige Hair & Beauty, May 2013. Photograph by Ewan Munro, used under Creative Commons.

Thanks to: Mr Khan at Prestige Hair & Beauty; Brian Gittings; Ewan Munro; Gail Rodney; the Planning Technical Support Team at Croydon Council; all at the Croydon Local Studies Library; and my beta-readers Alice, Kat, Shuri, and Steve. Phone books consulted via Ancestry.co.uk.

Footnotes and references

  1. The main exception is 12–14 London Road, which was built in the mid-1920s.
  2. The other of the pair was number 24–26, which despite the numbering is a single shopfront.
  3. I’ve mentioned previously that this side of London Road had no street numbers until 1890, and so street directories before that year can only give an idea of which businesses were next door to which other businesses. In many cases it’s possible to work backwards from post-1890 directories, under the assumption that it’s very unlikely for several neighbouring businesses to have moved along the street en masse, but in other cases there’s room for speculation. There are two possible locations for Meredith’s corn and coal store; the current location of number 22, and the current location of numbers 60–62. The latter is the large building on the corner of London Road and Oakfield Road, occupied by Bowman’s pawnbrokers for many years, later taken over by Albemarle Bond, and finally burnt out completely in the 2011 riots. Although this wasn’t present in 1844 — the Tithe Award map shows that area as a meadow owned by Richard Sterry — it’s shown on the 1868 Town Plans, making it quite possible that it existed by 1850. Indeed, my current theory is that it was built specifically for William Meredith. Corn and coal are bulky goods, and the large three-story building at 60–62 London Road seems to me to be perfectly designed for their storage.
  4. Wilkins doesn’t actually give Newton’s address, but later directories (Ward’s 1874 and 1876) list him at 1 Oakfield Terrace.
  5. Ward’s 1874 lists Thomas G Newton at 1 Oakfield Terrace, which was renumbered to 10 London Road in 1890 and renumbered again to 28 London Road in 1927. No street number is given for Samuel Piggott in 1874, but he was still present when his shop was assigned to number 6 in 1890, and this was renumbered to 20 in 1927. As noted in the main article, before 1899 there was only one building between the present-day numbers 20 and 28, and so this must have been where J Dossett was.
  6. William Dossett didn’t stay long at Surrey Street either; by 1882 the premises had been taken over by George Watson, greengrocer and fishmonger. Information from Wilkins’ 1872–3, Ward’s 1874, Ward’s 1876, Wilkins’ 1876–7, Ward’s 1878, Atwood’s 1878, Worth’s 1878, Ward’s 1880, and Ward’s 1882 street directories.
  7. Henry Dean’s last appearance in street directories is in Ward’s 1898 — Ward’s 1899 and 1900 list no greengrocer Deans, so if he did move his business elsewhere, it was completely out of the area. Ward’s 1899 lists “two shops building” between 6 and 10 London Road, while Ward’s 1900 lists numbers 8 (unoccupied), and 8a (M Harland, watchmaker and jeweller, and The Misses Kingsland, registry office for servants).
  8. I have no actual evidence that the older building was only two storeys high, but the height of numbers 18 and 20 is at least suggestive.
  9. The eagle-eyed will note that there’s a building just across the street (next-but-one south from the one marked “P.O.”) which seems to have a frontage around the same width as this gap; this is number 23, which today is occupied by Prestige Barbers. However, the X-ed out rectangle just to the south of number 23 is actually part of the same property; it's a passage that goes through to the back, and the first and second floors of the building are full-width.
  10. On the 1844 Tithe Award map, the boundary between railway land and Richard Sterry’s land is shown almost exactly opposite the midpoint of Charles Crowley’s land on the other side of the road. Comparing frontages measured on the 1868 Town Plans and the August 2001 Goad plan with the frontage distances given on an 1835 sales plan (ref BA268 at Croydon Local Studies Library) shows that this midpoint comes roughly in the middle of the frontage of 21 London Road (currently Brixton), which is opposite number 28 (currently First Choice Bakers), so it seems very likely that the boundary between railway land and Richard Sterry’s land was the boundary between number 24–26 and number 28 (originally 1 Oakfield Terrace).
  11. Numbers 18 and 20 were occupied by railway employees until the mid-to-late 1860s, suggesting the land remained in railway hands at least until then. See my articles on 18 London Road and 20 London Road for details.
  12. Ward’s street directories list the property as unoccupied in 1900 and 1901; as John Idiens, The Emporium, in 1902 and 1903; as Henry Charles Hyland in 1904–1908 inclusive; as unoccupied in 1909 and 1910; as “Michael (Edwd.) & Co, Butchers” in 1911; and as unoccupied again in 1912.
  13. C F Betson first appears in Ward’s 1913 directory, while Pioneer Teeth Institute first appears in the 1915 edition. The latter is initially numbered 8, as are the other businesses, but after the 1927 renumbering of London Road, Pioneer has become 22a while the other businesses are numbered 22. See my article on 20 London Road for an excerpt of the 1925 and 1928 directories, illustrating this. See the British Museum website for more information on Ingersoll, and Caroline’s Miscellany for a photo of their old building in Islington.
  14. Information from Ward’s 1934, 1937, and 1939 street directories.
  15. Information provided by Jack’s granddaughter Gail (via email, February 2014). In addition, the March 1947 and October 1948 London phone books list Jack Rodney at 22 London Road.
  16. Information provided by Gail (via email, February 2014). Gail also tells me that as Jack was unable to take Rex with him to Australia when he emigrated in 1948, he gave him to the army, and Rex won several bravery medals after this.
  17. Information on emigration and sale of business provided by Jack’s granddaughter Gail (via email, February 2014). Gail checked the emigration dates herself by looking at the passenger records for each voyage. Rodneys Glass & China Shop is listed in London and/or Kent/Surrey phone books from October 1949 to June 1959 inclusive. By the mid-1950s (and possibly earlier), the owner of the business was Stanley R Kent — Kent’s 1955 and 1956 directories list “Rodneys (prop. S R Kent), China & Glass” and “Stanley R Kent” at 22 London Road. The August 1960 Kent/Surrey phone book has no Rodneys listed at all (and the shop isn’t listed under the name “Kent” either).
  18. Palamino Steak House is listed at 22 London Road in the July 1971 North East Surrey and the February 1972 Croydon phone books. Other information comes from the 1971 advertisement included in the article.
  19. Cow & Corn is listed in the July 1974 Croydon phone book, the August 1974 Goad plan, and the July 1974 and February 1975 North East Surrey phone books. Giuseppe’s is listed (under that spelling) in the July 1977 Croydon, the November 1978 Bromley & Orpington, the January 1979 Croydon, the October 1980 Bromley & Orpington, the February 1981 Croydon, the November 1982 North East Surrey, and the May 1983 Caterham & Reigate phone books; it’s also in Brian Gittings’ 1980 journal of Croydon shops as “Guiseppe’s (G L Cappellazzi’s) Italian restaurant”. Pino’s Place is shown on the March 1983 and March 1984 Goad plans. Papa’s is shown on the April 1986, April 1987, and March 1990 Goad plans. Campana is shown on the April 1994 Goad plan, and is also mentioned (as “Compara”) in records relating to a planning application for number 74 (ref 92/2622/P), specifically in a letter from the applicant’s architects listing nearby food-related places.
  20. Viewed on index card at Croydon Council offices, ref 77/690, though I haven’t seen the full details of the application.
  21. Mr Khan, manager at Prestige Hair & Beauty and Prestige Barber, told me in a conversation on 4 September 2013 that Prestige Hair & Beauty opened “about 3 years ago” and that the building had been vacant for “maybe about 6 years” before that. He noted that when they took over the premises they found “nail stuff” and broken plates and glasses in the basement, which fits with its recent history as a manicurists and a restaurant.
  22. See footnote [19] for opening date of Prestige Hair & Beauty. In addition to Mr Khan’s evidence, the business is listed on the May 2011 Goad plan, and I can confirm from personal observation that it was there in August 2011.
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« 21 London Road, part 2: Brixton
21 London Road is the home of the somewhat confusingly-named Brixton, a Caribbean takeaway with a small eat-in area. The building has been used for comestible purposes throughout its history, from baked goods to fish and chips.
23 London Road: Prestige Barber »
Number 23 is one of the smaller shopfronts on London Road, being a mere 3¼ metres across. Its most prominent prior occupant was probably John Bennett Coaches, providing coastal excursions as well as day trips to destinations around England.