Friday, 20 October 2017

Mixed bag of notes - includes Appleby, Charlton and more


Bygone Kent - the latest issue includes a great article about the East Greenwich gas holder.  GIHS sent them our current press release about the holder and this has been added to with a lot of research by Francesca Baker.  It is a very very good article and Bygone Kent should be thanked for the effort which has gone into it.


- and on the same subject, thanks to Greenwich Visitor's Nelson's Column for a mention of the holder and a link to to the man at Historic England and may/may not be dealing with any listings applications.


Charlton Station - now this is amazing. London Railway Record (October 2017) has a 12 page article on Charlton Station by Peter Kay.  Clearly there is a  lot of detail - and it is railway related material, remembering that LRR caters for spotters with an educated and historical bent.  There is a lot of stuff about the traumas of having to interact with the Greenwich Line as well as the line through Blackheath Tunnel which had different left/right hand running. This led to endless discussions with various railway inspectors, many of which are given in detail. Subsequently there was a collision and that is detailed to.  There is a lot about changes to the buildings over the years - and there is also a little story of a lady who 'bought' a ticket from the porter (er - her lodger) and it turned out to be an already used one he just happened to have.
Sadly the article - being very serious about railways and written by a man - doesn't pick up on recent changes, particularly the sterling work done by the Charlton gardeners on the down side!


Night Mail - great evening recently at the Blackheath Society on the subject of the GPO Film Unit which was based in what was Blackheath Arts Club in Bennett Park in the 1930s-40s.  The famous film  'Night Mail' was made there - what you see as apparently internal shots on the mail train were actually filmed in Blackheath, with actors, swaying slightly.   The GPO film unit and its successors at Shell and elsewhere in the work of public information films provided us with a great record of industry around the time of the Second World War - with messages about innovation, dignity in work, co-operation and stuff like that.  A lot about influence from Eisenstein - patriotism, ordinary people and stuff like that, but I won't go on about it.


Crossness Record - lots of stuff in the current record.  The front page tells us that John Austin has been replaced as Chair by Bexley councillor Professor Peter Catterall (I know John hasn't lived in Greenwich for years - but when I first moved here he was a local councillor - for Charlton Ward - and later Leader of the Council) .  This issue of the record is more colourful and brighter than previous issues and the team are to be congratulated. There is a lots of stuff about the volunteers and even a picture of some Morris Dancers. There is also a long historical article on sewage treatment with a focus on work done on chemical treatment by Sir Edward Frankland in the 1870s
anyway - see


Merryweathers - were of course the fire engine manufacturers based in Greenwich High Road  This week a couple of scraps have floated into our inbox. One is from someone who has found a lot of Merryweather related material in Grandad's loft. Neil Bennett - the expert on Merryweathers - is hopefully dealing with this. Apparently some of it concerns James Compton Merryweather.

Neil has also sent a curious interchange - beginning with an email he sent to the Head of Bloodstock Services at a horse racing establishment.  This was a horse called Fireworks who raced in 1894  owned by a James Compton Merryweather 'owner of a successful fire engine factory'.  Well!! you can always see a company is doing well if the owner is a race horse owner!
It appears that Fireworks ran eleven times on the Flat winning twice. He won at Epsom  when he was owned by Col. North and then in Leicester when he was owned by Mr. Merryweather


APPLEBYS.  You may remember that we posted up information about the Goulburn Water Works Museum in Australia and their request for information about Appleby's Greenwich factory and any information about the equipment they have and any information about how it might have been transported to Australia.   They explained:

"Four Appleby beam engines delivered to Australia which were made in 1883 and used for pumping water in the townships of Albury, Bathurst, Goulburn and Wagga Wagga all in New South Wales Australia?

Out of the four, Goulburn has the only complete and working beam engine left, which is housed at the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum in its original pumphouse with the two complete boilers originally used to power it. The pumphouse and engine have been listed on the Australian Heritage Register as have National significance and is also listed with the Australian National Trust.

The web address of the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum is "

We passed this letter on to John Steeds - who is an Appleby descendent. He sent a huge page full of information - and below is an edited version of some of what he said to them.

- about the transport of the engines to Australia ---------------

"the date stamp on your Appleby drawings of the pumps is 7th July 1883.   I don’t know how the machinery was transported to Australia, but they may have come aboard the 'Anglo Indian'. My grandfather, PV Appleby, who had been working at the East Greenwich works, was appointed as a supernumerary engineer on the Anglo Indian for the voyage to Australia.  The Anglo Indian left the UK on 7th July 1883 (the same date as the date stamp on your drawings) and she arrived in Brisbane on 3rd October 1883.  I don’t have any details about the trip except for a press cutting which describes various ports of call and which states that when the Anglo Indian arrived at Townsville on 14th September, she commenced discharging cargo which consisted mostly of heavy machinery, boilers etc.  This, at least, suggests that they may have had the Appleby pumps on board! 

- about the pumps --
The only specific reference to the four beam pumps that I can find comes from the Application for Membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers of CJ Appleby’s son, Frank James Appleby.  This reference is repeated in his Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary. The application tells us that Frank James came out to New South Wales in 1884 to supervise the erection of the pumps.  He was also involved in the tendering and construction of various bridges and other items there, .  The  Civils Application makes reference to Sir john Fowler. indeed, several items in my possession include references to Sir John Fowler.   He was the Consulting Engineer to the Government of New South Wales

 - and the Greenwich works

Appleby Brothers took over the old Bessemer Steel Works in East Greenwich and converted them for their own use in 1878.   At the time when the Bessemer works were initially occupied by the Appleby’s, Appleby Brothers were a partnership. In 1886 Appleby Brothers became a share owned Limited company and the running and management of the Greenwich works changed.   Unfortunately the Limited company only survived for 3 years and in 1889, following a court action, the Limited company and their East Greenwich works were closed.   The old Appleby works then became the works of the Greenwich Inlaid Linoleum Company. After the closure of Appleby Brothers Limited, there was still a demand of Appleby products and CJ Appleby started a new Appleby Brothers partnership with 2 of his sons, including my grandfather, P V Appleby.
Unlike the other Appleby Works, for which I have plans and some photographs, I have much more limited information about the East Greenwich Works.  However there were at least 4 visitations to the works and descriptions of these were published in the press. They give a very good impression of the vast scope of both the products and international destinations with which Appleby Brothers involved. The first description is from the partnership period (ie. from the time of your pump) and the other three were from the Appleby Brothers Limited period.   Unfortunately these doesn’t refer to the pumps.  However they do refer to some of the bridges which were fabricated and sent out to New South Wales.

We also have a number of links listed below to British Transport Treasures sent by Stuart Rankin
Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists ...
Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists. With an appreciation by Sir Martin Conway MP. London Midland and Scottish Railway [ebook]

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Tonight's the night

Tonight (Tuesday 10th) GIHS is hosting a discussion evening on industrial heritage in Greenwich - all turn up - and lets hope the Bakehouse has enough seats for everyone - 7.30 Age Exchange Bakehouse (which is down an alleyway in Bennett Park at the back of the Age Exchange building in Blackheath Village)

In the meantime - here are some ideas from one area of the Borough - Creekside -

Unlocking Deptford Creek

An urgent call to all Creekside stakeholders* for the current Thames Tideway Tunnel Greenwich works to be used to deliver a  legacy of improved public access  and amenity.
Mick Delap, Ashburnham Triangle, West Greenwich,  April 2017

*see Section 4, below.  Plus Appendix 1 - Map; and Appendix 2 - the 19th Century Creek

 1. Introduction: unlocking the Creek.  Deptford Creek is an area of major historical and environmental interest, that is changing fast. In the nineteenth century, a variety of Creekside industrial enterprises made an extraordinary contribution to the emergence of London as a modern mega city. They showed the rest of London, and the world, what it would take to make large scale urbanization work  [see Appendix 2].  This former industrial powerhouse is now being transformed at breathtaking speed into a series of new high rise domestic communities.

Over the years,  successive plans, at London, and Lewisham and Royal Greenwich Borough level, have highlighted the opportunities for combining the wave of new housing with improved public access to the Creek's environmental and historical riches. But little has been done to give established West Greenwich neighbourhoods, like my own Ashburnham Triangle, and these thousands of Creekside newcomers the kind of public open space and cultural amenities they were promised.

Now the Thames Tideway Tunnel works along the Creek at Thames Water's Greenwich Pumping Station offer a golden opportunity, at little additional cost, to leave a significantly improved public legacy for the Creek's new inhabitants.

2.  The current situation:  no trespassing.  At present (and for the foreseeable future, unless post Tideway Tunnel reconstruction plans can be improved), the Creek's environmental, cultural and amenity assets and potential are locked away. Apart from the brief views of the Creek from the Halfpenny Hatch bridge on the east-west pedestrian and cycle pathway, there is no public access.

The nearby Creekside Discovery Centre, on the Creek's west (Lewisham) bank is a valiant pioneer in drawing attention to the Creek's unique environment,  but lacks resources and support. The situation on the east (Greenwich) bank is even more discouraging.  Royal Greenwich Planning has proposed using Section 106 agreements to provide access to the Creek on two developments upstream from the Halfpenny Hatch bridge.  The Galliard development of the Skillion/Merryweather site required the developer to provide public access to the Creek. A pathway has been built, but, in defiance of Section 106 requirements, it remains locked.  The new Booker development, further upstream, will also have Section 106 requirements for public access to the Creek.  But even if these are honoured, neither the Galliard nor the Booker Creekside paths offer any significant improvement in public amenity.  They go nowhere, and are not long enough to attract walkers or cyclists.

3. A new Creekside pathway.  What would transform meaningful public access to a significant stretch of the Creek, and at a blow unlock its historical, heritage and environmental riches, would be if the isolated Creekside pathway plans for the Galliard and Booker sites were linked to a new section of Creekside  pathway running south from the Halfpenny Hatch Bridge on the east (Greenwich)  bank of the Creek, along the edge of the Thames Water Pumping Station site.  With careful attention to ensuring the security of the working Pumping Station site, this new north - south pathway could finally open up the Creek and give the newly emerging Creekside community the kind of public amenity it has long been promised.  It could also be linked to Brookmill Park, making the Halfpenny Hatch bridge the northern starting point of the Ravensbourne Trail.

And what makes all this feasible is the Thames Tideway Tunnel work along this stretch of the Creek,  as the Greenwich element of the project is built over the next two years.  This exact section of Creekside is being taken apart as we speak by the Tideway works.  After which, the site will be restored.  The planning agreements already reached  between Tideway and Royal Greenwich do not call for any planning gain.  If they go ahead as planned, the Creek will be returned to its present shut off state.  There will be no improvements to public access, no unlocking of the Creek's historical and environmental treasures, no significant legacy for the Creekside community.

 The alternative is to use this golden opportunity to amend the post-construction plans to open up the key section of a new north-south pathway.  And to use the pathway to provide the public with properly interpreted access to the history and environment of the Creek (perhaps finally finding a use for at least part of the Grade 1 listed Coal Sheds, the hidden gems on the Thames Water site).  Given the vast scale of the Tideway project, the additional costs would be minimal.  Planning agreements have been reached, and the opportunity to enforce Section 106 requirements has passed.  But if all the interested parties could, on a voluntary basis, agree an alternative legacy plan  - not as a planning requirement, but as a significant public good - then the Tideway Tunnel could still leave the Creek, and the wider Greenwich and Lewisham communities,  with an impressive legacy.

 4.  Moving forward - but how?.  Funding will need to be found.  But for once the real challenge is finding a way to bring the very disparate group of potential stakeholders together.  Central to realising the dream of a new north-south Creekside pathway are Tideway and Thames Tunnel East, as contractors, and Thames Water, as owners and operators of the Greenwich Pumping Station site. For Thames Water, safeguarding  security will be a key issue. Royal Greenwich are the planning authority for the east bank of the Creek, as Lewisham are for much of the west bank.  There is potential for the proposed opening up of the Creek to link productively with existing Greenwich and Lewisham Green Space and tourism initiatives (especially the Historic Greenwich World Heritage Site, and the Ravensbourne Trail).  The Creekside Discovery Centre and Creekside Educational Trust already play a key role in developing public awareness of Creekside environment, history and amenities. They have approached some existing and new developers of Creekside sites. The current owners of the Skillion /  Merryweather,  and the Booker sites are obviously important here.   

Looking further afield, Greenwich University have ongoing programmes which build on the past, present and future of their immediate neighbourhood.  Local amenity groups such as the Greenwich Society, the Greenwich Industrial History Society and the Ashburnham Triangle Association have also regularly engaged with the Creek's past, present and future. There will be potentially interested development agencies. And individual elected representatives have roles to play, from Greenwich and Lewisham MP's to local councillors.  In particular, Greenwich Councillor Mehboob Khan is already involved as chair of the Community Liaison Working Group for Tideway East's Greenwich and Deptford projects.  One local body with a proven record of unlocking heritage sites is the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. 

5. Conclusion. The current Tideway Thames Tunnel works on the Thames Water Pumping Station site over the next two years represent a golden opportunity for dramatically improving Creekside amenities. Given the complex web of stakeholders, what is lacking is an obvious individual or body to take overall responsibility for seizing  this opportunity.  Creative Process's 2009 Creekside Charrette is one model.  I hope this paper will re-start a process that ends by finally  unlocking the Creek to the public.

Mick Delap,
Ashburnham Triangle, Greenwich, April 2017

Saturday, 7 October 2017

and more news today

NEXT MEETING - 10th Tuesday

Our next meeting is a discussion meeting on Industrial Heritage in Greenwich - we hope you will come along and put your views forward.
We have asked Danny Hayton to come along to Chair it - he is a prominent figure in industrial history and industrial archaeology in London. We hope to have short introductions from - Ian Bull (Royal Arsenal), Andrew Bullevant (GIHS,Woolwich Antiquarians and Shooters Hill Local History Group), Peter Luck (Chair Enderby Group), Mari Tay (Deptford Power, Deptford Working Histories), Elizabeth Pearcey (Archaeologist London Museum of Water and Steam)

and -in that context - we have been sent a copy of a posting about Greenwich in The Pipeline  -

This three page article by Andy Brockman analyses the Council's draft plans for the East Greenwich gasholder site and put it into a context of industrial heritage, visitor and development issues, and the consultation by Historic England.  Read it.


Pumps in Australia -made in Greenwich

Appleby pumps - Goulburn Waterworks Museum, Australia.   In the last post we mentioned a request for information from the Museum and that we were getting an answer together. We have now been copied into a long and detailed reply which has been put together for them. It is too long and detailed to be listed here as a news item and I hope that, with the author's consent, it can be a separate item.  The Museum is at


We have also been sent a link to This is a posting about the oldest Thames Tug Brittania and her imminent demise having been sold for scrap.  Brittania is the re-named T.BHeathorn and she was originally built for the South Metropolitan Gas Co. - and was probably based at East Greenwich gas works, and would in all certainly have worked from the jetties there. She was named for Thomas Bridges Heathorn, on of the company directors - and himself the son of Joseph Lidwell Heathorn one of the founders off the Company.



The October 2017 GLIAS newsletter contains notices of the following events which may be of interest in Greenwich.

15th October - Crossness. Prince Consort in steam.
15th November. GLIAS Pub Evening. Kings Arms, Newcomen Street, SE1. from 6.30. general chat and cheer plus some presentations. Anyone who wants to do a presentation contact
29th November. Crossness Open Day. No Steam.

The Newsletter contains an article about the Woolwich stoneware kiln by Bob Carr - who came down to see its last few days in March
Docklands History Group - the speaker at their September meeting was Elizabeth Wiggans, the archivist at Morden College.  Elizabeth has been very helpful to many Greenwich historians and the Morden College archive is one of the most unknown but amazing assets in Greenwich and Blackheath.  The College has owned large chunks of Greenwich since the late 17th century and, much of the older housing we see in both West and East Greenwich was built by them. In the case of its holdings on the Peninsula they ran what can only be described as an industrial development programme there on the west bank in the late 19th century. Elizabeth's talk was about the history of the College from the 17th century and the work done today to house the elderly and to manage their extensive estates.


The Last Gasometer in Poplar
We have been directed to The Gentle Author 

This is an article about the demolition over the last week or so of one of the gas holders on the Poplar Levan Road site - this is on your right immediately as you come out of the Blackwall Tunnel on the other side.   It was built by the Commercial Gas Company - (which was effectively controlled by our own South Met.Co. but don't tell the people north of the river that I said that!). 
Basically - the demolition crews are getting nearer and nearer.


Slightly sad endnote  - it is with some regret that we have noticed that the original GIHS web site has now been removed from the Goldsmith's server and is no longer with us.  This was set up in 1998 and included all our original newsletters - but we lost control of it many years ago when our member there retired and were unable to correct basic things on it, like out of date email addresses and so on.  We have a backup of the entire site and are wondering what to do with it - there are several options. Wait and see!!

PS - hope you all saw the article about the Woolwich Stoneware Kiln in Greenwich Weekender!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

and even more news

Yet another news page - please someone send me an article!!!


As I write this I have been emailed that the Poplar Gasholders are currently being demolished. These are the holders to the east of the Blackwall Tunnel Approach almost immediately before the Tunnel. They were built by the Commercial Gas Company.  There has been a long campaign to keep them which has been run by a local Stepney and Poplar history group - who have already failed to keep the dramatically sited Bethnal Green holder. (The ones further north which you see from the Tunnel Approach near Tesco are listed)

LANNION Cite des Telcoms

Thanks to Ben Page for this report:

The Cite des Telecoms at Pleumeur-Bodou near Lannion is a large museum of communications sponsored by Orange. We stumbled across it while on holiday and spent a whole day there. There is a gallery within the museum devoted to the history of sub-sea cables, which includes a display of repeaters, one of which is a Telcon one that I guessed might have come from Greenwich, which is why I thought it might interest the group. The central exhibit of the whole museum is the Radome, which is the European end of the first trans-Atlantic TV transmission (now a UNESCO world Heritage site) dating from 1962. For 20 minutes a day (around midnight) the French could watch American TV via the Telstar satellite should they so wish. It takes the form of giant ear trumpet 65 m long and 35m high but precision engineered to the mm. It was protected from the weather by a very elegant, very thin dome which is inflated to retain its spherical shape. There is a ‘son et lumiere’ inside the Radome in English and French which tells its history and explains its engineering.

One of the things that interested me is how the story of communication is told differently in different places by different museums drawing attention to different innovations at different moments. So, the way I tell the story of Enderby Wharf to my undergraduate geography students (as a way of getting them to think about the materials and infrastructure that underpin the history of globalization) works for me because I can localize it for them by bringing them to Greenwich. Yet from the perspective of the curators who tell the story in Lannion there is a rather different ‘centre’ to the story even though some of the elements (the Great Eastern for example) are shared. Lannion is still the site where one of the main fibre-optic cables that crosses the Atlantic comes onshore in Fra


On page 3 of the latest issue they are asking what your favourite things are in Greenwich - email - dare you all to write in and say it is the gasholder (or something similar).

BUT what the Newsletter does include is a really really cracking article about Greenwich Power Station.  This is about the 1906 row which erupted between the power station and the Royal Observatory. 'the finger of blame was largely directed towards the London County Council' and there was a Parliamentary enquiry.  The author advises us to look at the full story which is on the Royal Observatory web site - but it would be good to get someone to come and speak to GIHS on it.


This is a European based industrial heritage organisation (not a web based religion!!). Currently they have an industrial heritage weekend in Barcelona 20-22 October which is the start of their 
campaign for European Cultural Heritage Year.   They are still looking for themes for this and suggest you look at  They want to know what we are planning to do to celebrate next year!



The September 2017 issue of Sub Brit's wonderful Journal has just arrived. Only one Greenwich Borough item in it though. "World War II Air-raid Shelter recorded at Eltham".  This is apparently under a school playground and they refer to an article in Post Medieval Archaeology 50 (3) 459-460.



They are looking for a volunteer administrator  - please look at their website  -
Also on their web site are details and pictures of their Open House Day event at the Shipwrights Palace


Appleby Brothers were an engineering firm based on the Greenwich Peninsula. We recently had an email from a waterworks in New Zealand  We have put them in touch with an Appleby Brothers specialist and hope to be able to report back soon. Meanwhile have a look at their website - and the pictures of what they have been able to preserve!! 



The Plumstead People Facebook page has been running a feature on Civic House - this stood at the top of Woolwich New Road and was apparently built as a NUPE Headquarters around 1980. It has now been demolished. Some of us have remembered that it was previously the site of the Woolwich Bus Museum. It is our understanding that this is now the Brooklands Bus Museum - is this so - what do people know about it in its incarnation of Woolwich and how it got to - ugh - West London???



Crossness Creative Afternoon - creativity and cake with artist Lily German. You have to book through evenbrite but know no more details except it is 6th October  13.00-17.00



We have invited Lindsay Collier - the brains behind this project and the Walthamstow Pump House Museum to come and tell us about this initiative to bring together several East London industrial heritage projects.
In the short term we are very very impressed  with their leaflet 'Discover the Industrial Heritage of London's Lea Valley'. A lot of this is based on sites in the Lea Valley Park - which is a  very wonderful institution looking after many beautiful sites of many sorts, as well as sports facilities and much else. Greenwich residents will not realise that they partly pay for this as there is a precept on all London Boroughs to fund the Park. So - go over the river and enjoy it - and see this beautiful beautiful leaflet.
And read all of Jim Lewis's series of books which show how everything electrical and electronic and much else (market gardening too) was invented and emerged from the Lea Valley.


Chris Mansfield has put on his Facebook page a wonderful old picture of Woolwich.  He says it is  "Approx' 1870s - 1880s taken from a magic lantern slide this view looks like it was taken from the top of St Marys church .. There is no sign of the free ferry terminals so I think this is probably the oldest photo I have seen of Woolwich".  I also understand he is trying to get an enhanced print.  I am not going to reproduce it here until we see if he can improve it.   I have some interesting comments on it waiting



We have been sent a copy of Ron Roffey's CD with lots and lots of information about the RACS and other local south east co-ops.  It is very amazing and I think we should do a review of it as a separate page.   It points out that the first recorded co-ops were in Woolwich - the author of one article says "There's too much talk of Rochdale and Eighteen Forty Four. The honour belongs to Woolwich ..the Century before"  - quite - we all ought to talk Woolwich up a bit!!  And the mighty Royal Arsenal Co-op is a good place to start.

- I bet there weren't any other consumer co-ops which had their own mine

- and - our info is that Ron is in hospital today (26h Sept) can we wish him well

Monday, 11 September 2017

More news again


We have heard that there is an application to issue a certificate of immunity against listing on our great Gasholder in East Greenwich.   There are, of course, some good reasons why listing isn't always a good idea, particularly for such a large structure which would need alteration if it is to have a viable future - in its present state it would cost a fortune to maintain and have no useful purpose. However, if it cannot be listed then it can just be pulled down one day and - hey ho!!!  We don't know who has put this application in but we would urge anyone interested to immediately contact, and put your views - whether you are for it or against. You need to do this NOW

In the meantime here is a jolly little map prepared by the Enderby Group which points out that the holder is a useful focus point for a lot of leisure facilities on the Peninsula and with a bit of imagination could be turned into an exciting landmark.

Thames Discovery Programme Newsletter

- this is the word from the REAL archaeologists who go round digging things up, (selectively). And they do it on the foreshore of the River.

Eliott Wragg reports on some of his summer work - in July in Deptford on the foreshore of the Royal Dockyard looking at a slipway which became visible in 2016 - and which they think is earlier. They also went to look at the pile of timber from 19th century warships at the end of Anchor and Hope Lane - go see this, it was what was left from a shipbreaking yard, huge great hunks of timber, just abandoned.
Elliot also reports that at Greenwich on the foreshore 'old features had washed away while new ones were revealed including a new windlass and rudder - all probably from 18th/early19th vessels.

There is also a report 'More erosion at Greenwich'.  This change has taken place since the sea wall was strengthened along by the Old Royal Naval College. There is a drop in levels by the King's Stairs and in front of the Bellot Memorial. More of the causeways have now been revealed and also a large chalk barge bed. They have found a base plate between the jetty and the steps . They hope to use photogrammetry (what's that??) and have some 3D models on show

Older Londoners Project - they are apparently running this with the University of the Third Age and have started a project with them called 'Sail to Steam' which will research the transition of wooden ship building on the Thames to iron   This will be shared with Riverpedia (what's that??)

FORESHORE FORUM - this is a weekend of intertidal archaeology - 28th-29th October 2017 at Norton Rose Fulbright, 3 More London Riverside, SE1 2AQ weekend ticket £50  details https//

Totally Thames Walks - the Greenwich dates for one of these is 22nd September 9.30 am £10.15 each  free if you are over 75
Remembering the Thames Tea Party  10th October 2-4 pm this is Silver Sunday and part of the older peoples thing. It is at Mortimer Wheeler House, N1 and you need to book  020 7410 2200 or email



We've all heard of cases where the word 'listing' is used about a building - 'we ought to get that listed' people say, and the next night it is mysteriously burnt down. Well, this is a petition against that sort of thing:



The Society are advertising a talk on Blackheath Arts Club building which is now, inevitably, flats. In the 1930s it was the home of the GPO Film Unit where, under John Grierson, a series of groundbreaking documentaries were made, including Night Mail and - I think - Fires were Started.  The visit includes a talk by Steven Foxton who is curator of non-fiction films at the National Film Insitute. The event is on October 12th at St.Mary's Halls, Cresswell Park. The snag is that it is £10 bookable through - but they say you also get some wine (personally would prefer a cheaper event and no wine!! - if you come to Greenwich Industrial History its free for members and £1 for visitors).  The building was also used for making aircraft parts in the Second World War. 



The Enderby Group is concerned with the manufacture of the manufacture in Greenwich of the underwater cables which fed, and still feed, telecommunications around the world. In the first 80 years of the telegraph almost all cable, world wide, was made in Greenwich - and the research facility in Blackwall Lane remains.  The most celebrated cable was that which crossed the Atlantic - and the first three attempts failed. The cable was made in Greenwich and loaded onto Brunel's Great Eastern and taken to Valentia in Ireland - the most westerly point in Europe.  The cable was then laid to Heart's Content in Newfoundland.  

Recently some pictures of monuments in Hearts Content have gone onto the Enderby Group Facebook page
There is also (or will be soon) an article about Valentia and World Heritage Status by Richard Buchanon with details not included below

We are also told that the cable station at Heart's Content is a museum, just across the road from
the cable landing.  There are photos at

The Group has learnt about a series of events around the Valentia/Hearts Content link.
On 27th July last year 3,071 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, identical marine bollards were unveiled simultaneously at Valentia and Hearts Content.  It turns out that this was part of a Festival in Valentia last year. This included a lecture on the Trans Atlantic Cable by Bill Burns  ( see his great web page and a launch of a book by Professor Donald de Cogan 'They talk along the deep: a global history of the Valentia Island telegraph cables" .  There was also the launch of a paper on a World Heritage Site on communications technology funded by Tralee and Kerry County Council. 

Since then we understand the Irish Government is pushing for World Heritage status for Valentia and for this to be linked to Heart's Content. A statement by the Chair of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation says the cable was 'the equivalent of putting a man on the moon'.

There are already moves in Heart's Content to make some sort of heritage link happen and declare the town 'as a twin heritage site'.

It turns out however that the 'Canso' building at Heart's Content was demolished a few days ago.  It was owned by a local group who were unable to raise the money for restoration.  See:

there are a vast number of other web sites on this, can supply if asked

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

More Greenwich History News and more this time than last


They have raised an  issue of concern on J.Muir & Co Bookbinders 64-68 Blackheath Road. - GIHS would be grateful for info on this

There are also numerous issue around Enderby House. The Conservation Group has made a submission and it is understood EGRA and the Enderby Group are working with them and each other.  Anyone who wants to find out more and maybe write in themselves are urged to do so - advice from EGRA  (, Enderby Group members ( - or GIHS via  this blog site - email contact over on the left. (

There are two applications  - 17/232/NM looked after by Planning Officer Y.Mederios and 17/2320/L looked after by Planning Officer T.Choudhury.  It appears they will be taken together.

Both are for internal and external amendments to Enderby House. A summary of comments are as follows:
- regret realignment of riverside path and increased height of flood defence walls which puts the setting of the listed house in jeopardy
- regret no secure gate arrangement in the flood defence wall
- question natural lighting at ground floor since the roof light has been removed to allow for outdoor seating on a first floor terrace
- urge that more emphasis is placed on tourist and community aspects in preference to retail used 'now proposed'.


Thanks for their newsletter.

They advertise their next meetings as:
14th October Crossness Nature Reserve by Karen Sutton
11th November  - A date with buildings by Jim Marrett and Wricklemarsh by Richard Buchanan
10th March - The effects of the Spanish Civil War on World War II Britain
All at  2pm Charlton House, Grand Salon

and also - other people's meetings -
6th Sept - Secret Chiselhurst. Orpington DAS Christ Church, Tudor Way, Petts Wood 8 pm
10th Sept  Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary. 11-3 pm
10th Sept  Friends of Shrewsbury Park Foraging Walk. 2.30 Garland Road Gate Falconwood
24th Sept..Falconwood Miniature Railway. Open
4th Oct -  Orpington High Street 1967 Orpington DAS Christ Church, Tudor Way, Petts Wood 8 pm
8th Oct - Falconwood Miniature Railway. Open
15th Oct- Crossness Engines. Steaming Day 10.30-4 pm
15th Oct - Woodlands Farm Apple Day
20th Oct -Crossness Engines. Static Display  10.30-4 pm
10th Dec. Falconwood Miniature Railway. Santa Special

This is followed by an article on a Parish Boundary Stone by Jim Marrett - and follows the sites, removal and retrieval of skips of these items by Jim and Jack Vaughan
There is also an article but a plaque to boxer Tom Cribb and a bit about his life  1781-1848
And an article on mulberry trees - with reference to a project to find them and where they are

- smaller items on - Driverless cars (running along the Greenwich riverside); the future of Shrewsbury House community centre; Rushgrove House in Woolwich and its history and use in the 'Turner' film; the East Greenwich gas holder; changes to the Equitable building in Woolwich,



The group around the Creek and the Ashburnham Triangle have raised an issue around the future of Creekside and the work on the Tideway Tunnel project and the 'reconstruction' of the Bazelgette Pumping Station.  They are looking for increased public access and a Creekside pathway which will involve industrial heritage.  They would like contact with people already involved in this or who would like to be involved. (Contact them via GIHS).  
We are also told by Cllr. Mehboob Khan that he is currently chairing a resident liaison group and is happy to hear ideas and so on.



As everyone knows the first Atlantic cable ran from Valentia in Ireland to Heart's Content in Newfoundland - and last week we were sent pictures from Heart's Content. So?? What about Valentia??

We were sent an email just yesterday saying that there was 'considerable excitement because the Irish government announced it would definitely be putting Valentia forward to UNESCO in the next round of World Heritage site official nominations in 2020, based on the cable story. The Valentia cables - both the unsuccessful 1858 one, and the successful 1866 one - were of course manufactured in Greenwich. If UNESCO accept the Irish govt's nomination, this may help secure wider public acknowledgement of the vital role Telecon's cables played in linking the world via cable by the time Victoria died.

By a complete co-incidence last week we were sent  some pictures from Hearts Content

Bill Burns also adds "The cable station there is of course a museum, just across the road from the cable landing. It's very difficult, however, to protect cable at the shoreline against decay, damage and vandalism without removing it.
My photos of the site in 2001 are on this page:



We have a request for info as follows from someone researching the history of drinking fountains:

They want info on:

A fountain that was installed on 19-May-1913 in the “v” of Creek Road & Wellington Street. It was 12ft high and made of a combination of grey limestone & red Peterhead granite and contained the inscription:

BORN 12 MARCH 1843  DIED 11 MARCH 1912

A plain 6ft 6in cattle trough was installed next to the drinking fountain. It appears that both the drinking fountain and cattle trough were removed by Greenwich council in June-1992 and were probably broken up
Are there any local experts with knowledge of the Deptford Cattle market and/or the drinking fountain? Do any photos of the fountain exist?



15th September  Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens

5th October - Tales of things in the Olympic Park

Both at Mycenae House. 7.45



they have published their 2017-18 programme, Meetings are at James Wolfe school in Royal Hill  7.30. £3 for non members

27th September Fr Kevin Robinson on Our Lady Star of the Sea - which includes exciting maritime tales

25th October -  Veronica Thornton on Screaming Alice - that's the railway which went to Crystal Palace

22nd November - Richard Hill - the discovery of a Hawkesmoor drawing of St. Alfege's

24th January - Mark Stevenson - The Royal Arsenal

28th February - Andrew Byrne  London 1840: Greenwich

28th March - Anthony Cross on Charles Spurgeon's Magic Lantern Show

25th April - Horatio Blood on Bohemian Greenwich

23rd May - Will Palin on Daniel Asher Alexander



All sorts of goings on in the Foot Tunnel (at least at the Isle of Dogs end)

We understand there is a long term problem with a development site alongside the foot tunnel and that plans for it were originally likely to affect the tunnel. The site is an old wharf and there are ownership and other issues. Cyclists are not welcome in Island Gardens and clealry there are strong feelings.

What do Greenwich historians think about this???



They have sent info on a load of events- lots of these look really interesting but also look as if you have to book. There is no info on this given, so find your own way

7th - 24th September - Events at Erith Lighthouse. (this is a new restaurant and other things space)

8th  September Musical Gems on the Thames . This is a boat trip from Westminster Pier. 

14th London Infrastructure Summit 8am-6.30 pm.  QE Centre

16th- 17th September . Open House at Master Shipwright's House.  16th - 17th 10am-5pm (in Deptford, just turn up. super site)

21st September London First discussion on water scarcity and security  8-10.30 am at Buro Happold 

23rd September Foreshore Festival. This is at Putney on 23rd 10-4

27th-28th September Flood Expo. Exhibition and Conference at Excell

5th October. Thames Estuary Growth Day  8.30 am-5.30 pm

14th -15th October. London on Sea. Film making course for young people. Hermitage Moorings

10th October - Fly tipping Symposium. 10.15-4.30 pm Park Plaza

16th November Thames Estuary Partnership Annual Forum 



Sorry - thats all a bit of a list of people's meetings. Although I don't know what I'm sorry about because its what they send

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

News Items


THE LENOX PROJECT  - their newsletter reminds us of Open House Day on 16th/17th September when they, and others, will be at Deptford Master Shipwright's House - with info and stalls and hoping for your support (with cakes and 'merchandise').
They are also advertising for a Volunteer Finance Officer and an Administrator.


Industrial Archaeology News.
The Autumn 2017 edition includes an article on the Woolwich Stoneware Kiln:
"In 1974 a group of archaeologists excavated several pottery kilns near the Riverside in Woolwich. These dated from the seventeenth century and one of the kilns discovered proved to be a stoneware kiln of particular interest. It was thought likely that this might be the first kiln of its type in Britain. In 1978 a report of the 1974 excavation by Sylvia Ptyor and Kevin Brockley was published in Post-Mediaeval Archaeology. This report describes the results of the excavation of two adjacent kilns at Woolwich, one producing earthenware and one producing stoneware. The stoneware kiln had a single stoke hole and produced Bellarmine jugs with other stoneware vessels, and is the only stoneware kiln of this period yet discovered in Britain.
It was decided that as this kiln was rather special it should be retained. The site was required for redevelopment and so in 1975 a remarkable piece of engineering took place. The whole kiln was encased in a wooden box and truncated beneath. The box containing the kiln, some twenty feet
square, has resided at various places about the Woolwich Arsenal since 1975. However, the site
where it was this year was needed and, moreover, after more than 40 years the box containing the
kiln was rotten and the structure failing. This was a crisis situation.
The solution has been to call in Oxford Archaeology to carry out a very thorough investigation of the stoneware kiln using the latest digital techniques. Once this investigation was started the kiln itself was to be destroyed so on the 28 and 29 March appropriate visitors were invited to view the kiln before its destruction. On 30 March the kiln was sliced and sectioned with a detailed digital record being kept. On Friday 31 March the demolition men came in and by the end of the week everything was cleared away."

We have been handed a brief history of Express Lifts - and note that it says that in 1903 the Easton Lift Co. was installing the first lifts in the Greenwich and Woolwich tunnels under the Thames and their faceplate controllers were not to be replaced until 1933 to the then modern camshaft systems.   These lifts had 64 brake horsepower motors rack driven on 5ft pulleys carrying 60 and 40 persons
(something wrong with their dates there, but never mind)

We have a request for info aout T.W.Thompson engineering works at 25 Deptford Bridge moving to
Endyne Works, Blisset Streeetin 1914. They made engines and dynamoes.