Foundations: 1868 - 1887
In 1868 South London Working Men's College opened at 91 Blackfriars Road marking the beginnings of what is now known as the South London Gallery (SLG). The Principal was Professor T. H. Huxley, a biologist and grandfather of Aldous Huxley, and the manager was William Rossiter.
The College moved to larger premises at 143 Kennington Lane in 1878 and later that year a Free Library was opened there, the first in South London. The following year, Rossiter organised an exhibition of art works from private collections at the Library. This endured and the name was changed to the Free Library and Art Gallery.
When the borough started to provide a free library service in 1881 the Free Library and Art Gallery moved to New Road, Battersea and then to 207 Camberwell Road in 1887. The first President of the College, Library and Gallery was Prime Minister William Gladstone. Rossiter also enlisted the support of leading artists Edward Burne-Jones, G. F. Watts and Sir Frederic Leighton, President of the Royal Academy who replaced Gladstone as President of the Gallery in 1887.