Antique dealer and upholsterer Martyn Harryman, by far the longest established retailer in North Dulwich, is retiring after 50 years. His shop in Half Moon Lane has always displayed small pieces of antique furniture in perfect condition, with larger items lurking behind. The window display changes frequently, testament to the demand for Victorian and Edwardian side tables, chairs and the like which fit in well with Dulwich's domestic architecture.
His father, William, still going strong at 98, started the business in 1963 and continued as an expert sewing machinist until he was 80. He had worked in the Woolwich munitions works but his real trade was carpet laying. When he took the shop with flat above in North Dulwich there was an upholsterer on site so it made sense to William to broaden his business into this field. Some time after his son Martyn joined him, and one day they put a restored prayer chair in the shop window to see the reaction. It sold quickly and so another section was added to the business. Martyn's brother Alan also came in, specialising in blinds and curtains.
The Harrymans shared in the general rise in prosperity of Dulwich but trade on the furniture side has slowed in recent years, particularly for larger items, as people have favoured modern "white" furniture and built-in units. Martyn's early career could not have been more different. He learnt the snare drum in the scouts and this led on to playing a full set of drums. In swinging 60s style he joined up with a guitar-playing school friend to form a group. Named Dada after the surrealist art movement - Martyn attended the Slade art school - they recorded on the Atlantic label and toured the UK and US with Elkie Brookes as singer. Jazz oriented towards blues was the house style.