William Tarn & Co. was a large department store in the Elephant and Castle district of Southwark. The business seems to have begun as a drapery shop c. 1799. In 1841, William Tarn & Co. is listed in a London Directory as “silk mercer, linen draper and general house furnisher”.
By the 1870s, the company had expanded to become a huge department store. There were departments for silks, velvet’s, furniture, haberdashery, millinery, boots and shoes, furs, carpets, and suits. The store was the largest retailer in Elephant and Castle – a thriving shopping area at this time – known as “the Piccadilly of south London”.