John Staines Babb and his sister, Charlotte Elizabeth, worked as china decorators at the famous potteries of Doulton’s, Lambeth. Basing Yard no longer exists but was on the south side of Peckham High Street, between what is now Clayton and Consort roads. Basing Yard takes its name from Basing Manor, which stood near the junction of the High Street and Bellenden Road. These ancient buildings, part of Basing Manor House, once stood where is now the Labour Exchange in Bellenden Road.
Cover Image: Weatherboarded Houses, Peckham High Street, Basing Yard (Front View) by John Staines Babb – 1896 Object Number: GA0254
Doulton’s is a name that might not readily come to mind for most. However, you may easily recognize the company by their modern name, Royal Doulton. Hearing this, I was immediately transported back in time 30 years ago to my work at Macy’s where I sold Royal Doulton China. The company holds a special place in my heart of a great product and a happy simpler time in my life.
However, this isn’t what they were painting at all. Royal Doulton didn’t get into the fine china business until 1960. Instead they would have been painting things like this. Yes, it is exactly what it looks like.
One of the key Doulton’s buildings still survives and is fascinating to discover. It is currently known as the Southbank House and is a must see when in the area. Full details are available at the link below.
Despite these humble beginnings as painters of “china”, John went on to paint become a well known artist in his own right. One such example is the “Bassing Yard” series. A sister painting to the cover image is also available below. This image is of the reverse side of the structure in the cover image.
John’s older sister Charlotte has a stunning piece stored in the same collection. Her work titled “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” was completed in 1891 and is an Oil on Canvas.
All 3 treasures are well cared for at the Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library (147 Walworth Road, London, England SE17 1FZ).
Should you wish to see them in person, please call the museum in advance to make sure they will be on display.