Pratt's of Streatham: Humble beginnings

Streatham High Street, circa 1880s
A picture of Eldon House, the building that Pratts traded in right up to its closure in 1990. Purportidely, the man peering out from under the arch is Mr George Pratt himself

The early history of Pratts is rather sparse, hardly any pictorial evidence from the shop’s early trading can be found in the archive. Most of the store’s early documentation was apparently destroyed when Bon Marche Brixton acquired the shop in 1920.

The railways revive fortunes

Pratt’s story begins in 1840. Aged just 13, George Pratt, originally of Silchester, Hampshire, started a drapery apprenticeship with William Reynolds, owner of a drapers shop on High Road in Streatham Village. Around five years later he purchased the shop from Reynolds. By 1851 he was running the business on his own. In 1858, the railway came to Streatham and other surrounding villages, connecting them all to London. The impact this had on the village and the fortunes of the shop cannot be understated. In 1850 Streatham village’s population stood at a mere 7000. By 1901 it had become a bustling London suburb, with population approaching 71 000.

p. 821, 4th October 1975 – Streatham in the 1880s.


Enjoying growth and anticipating further advancements, Pratt bought two new shops also on High Road, opposite the original premises. Eldon House, as it was known, would remain part of the shop right up to its closure in 1990. His sons Henry and Charles followed him into the business, eventually taking over. By the end of the 19th century, by now trading as Pratt Brothers, the shop had extended into some of the neighbouring premises.

p. 651, 4th August 1990 – Mr Pratt’s newly built emporium. Eldon house in 1880. Tradition has it that the gentleman peering out of the doorway is Mr George Pratt himself.

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