SLG in 1915
South London Gallery circa 1915
Ruskin Gallery circa 1900
Rossiter purchased the freehold of Portland House in Peckham Road in 1889, moved into the house and began work on building a new gallery in the grounds. The South London Fine Art Gallery opened on 4 May 1891, showing a changing programme of fine and applied arts. A collection began to form from works donated by artists and subscribers to the Gallery. A unique centrepiece for the gallery floor was also commissioned by Sir Walter Crane which was inscribed with the moto; 'The source of art is in the life of a people'.
In 1892, the newspaper magnate and philanthropist John Passmore Edwards offered the Gallery £3000 to build a lecture hall and library and the extension was opened by the Prince of Wales the following year.
When in 1896 the Gallery was transferred to the Vestry of Camberwell, the local authority of the time, William Rossiter was forced to retire. He died not long afterwards. Passmore Edwards offered a further £5000 to finance a Technical Institute in memory of the recently deceased Lord Leighton.
The Technical Institute, built on the site of Portland House, was opened on 6 January 1898 by Sir Edward Poynter, President of the Royal Academy. The Institute would later become Camberwell College of Art and its headmaster, Cecil Burns, was also Director of the Gallery. In 1904, control of the art school was transferred to the London County Council, while the Gallery remained under local authority control.
At the outbreak of the Second World War the Gallery was turned into a Food Office.
In April 1941 the Passmore Edwards Lecture Hall and Library was severely damaged during an air raid and was subsequently demolished after the war. The Gallery re-opened in 1949 with an annual programme of temporary exhibitions.