Exploring Southwark and discovering its history
Vanguard Court is a late Victorian industrial estate tucked away behind the former Piano Factory (now flats) in Peckham Road. The early freeholders of the site were Robert and John White, the manufacturers of soft drinks who at one time had seven processing plants in Camberwell, notably in the area which is now Burgess Park. A map of 1894 describes the buildings on the site behind Peckham Road as ‘Carriage Works’. They had been rented by E&H Hora who previously had worked from premises on Camberwell Road and were manufacturers of carriages, carts, drays, omnibuses and vans. Initially they built horse driven vehicles but later they moved into the manufacture of automobiles, including the first motorised omnibuses in London.
Vanguard Court from Lucas Gardens
The Piano Factory
The Fibre Case Company, manufacturers of suitcases, moved into the premises in 1929 and remained there until the 1980s. They became known as Vanguard Luggage and eventually bought the freehold of the premises.
Today, Vanguard Court is a flourishing community of workshops and studios for artists, artisans and small creative businesses. An annual Vanguard Prize is offered to recent graduates of the nearby Camberwell College of Arts and the winner is awarded a year’s free studio space along with ongoing mentoring.