I spotted this rather attractive sign on the side of a chemists (and post office) in a shopping parade at the corner of Chatterton Road and Walpole Road, close to Bromley Common when out running, ‘picked out’ by a street light and had been meaning to go back for a while. It is relatively unusual in that it is for the same name as the current business that occupies the shop.
Chatterton Road is a pleasant Victorian shopping parade probably built around the early 1880s (the 1882 Kelly’s Directory has homes but few businesses). It is named after an 18th century poet, Thomas Chatterton, who was posthumously recognised by many of the Romantic Movement, including Wordsworth, Rossetti, Coleridge and Shelley, after committing suicide from arsenic poisoning aged just 17.
William Wallace Pring seems to have bought the shop from a Charles Litten somewhere between 1903 and 1907 (there was a change in ownership in the Kelly’s between those years). The 1907 Kelly’s has them described as a chemist and post office, the same slightly unusual mixture of businesses as today. William had previously been the manager of a chemist in Crouch End.
The 1911 census has the Prings living ‘over the shop’. William, who was then 36, hailed from Reading; his wife Daisy, 29, came from Lamberhurst in Kent and helped run the shop, and there was a son, also William who had been born at around the same time as they moved to Chatterton Road. They had sufficient income to be able to employ a servant.
The business seems to have stayed in the family with William’s younger son Maxwell, who was born in 1913 and also had the Wallace middle name – presumably a family tradition. It appears that it was one of a pair of chemist shops that they owned in Bromley – the other was at 7 Bromley High Street.
It is possible that they may have initially started a couple of doors down from the current location, as the 1907 Kelly’s lists Wallace Pring at 24. However, by 1909 they were certainly at 28 (which is now 40) as the postcard below seems to be was dated from then. Similarly, the 1911 census and 1913 Kelly’s has them at 28. However, it could, of course, just be a street renumbering.
While the shop was sold, the name lives on in both the shop name and the ghost sign. Given the longevity of the business it is difficult to date the sign, but it certainly wasn’t there in Edwardian postcard photograph of the shop.
I would like to thank, Courtney Oneka Kennedy-Sanigar for letting me use the family photo and the postcard of the shop. She has produced a lovely family history centring on another Wallace Pring shop in Whitstable which is a clothing store.