George Harding set up business as a tinplate manufacturer in 1835 in White Street, Southwark, London, under the sign “The Original Little Dust Pan.”
In the 1870s George Harding’s stock was housed in part of the notorious Marshallsea prison in Southwark. Much of the old prison was demolished at this time, though parts of the keeper’s house, kitchen, suttling house and 8 dwellings were incorporated into the premises of George Harding & Sons. Marshallsea had housed a variety of prisoners over the previous years including pirates and smugglers, though it became known in particular, for its incarceration of the poorest of London’s debtors. Over half the population of England’s prisons in the 18th century were in jail because of debt. The prison became known around the world in the 19th century through the writing of Charles Dickens, whose father was sent there in 1824, when Charles was 12, for a debt to a baker. Forced as a result to leave school and work in a factory, Dickens based several of his characters on his experience, most notably Amy Dorrit, whose father is in Marshallsea for debts so complex that no one can fathom how to get him out.
By the late 19th century George Harding & Sons were well as established as hardware merchants and manufacturers.
The company had japan and tinplate works in Long Lane, and offices and a warehouse at 207 Borough High Street and showrooms at 103 Wardour Street.
The business was in operation until at least 1955.