Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A bit of moaning in the Mercury

So -  the Mercury isn't happy with the state of Greenwich - it says

"For some years past the town of Greenwich, although the central one of the three which constitutes this great Borough, has been steadily sinking into a state of decay.  The depression has, at length, become so manifest, in the form of empty houses and diminished trade that everybody who has an interest of any kind in the place is anxiously enquiring whether something cannot be done towards a recovery of its lost position and a restoration of its former prosperity.   Deptford, which ten  or twelve years ago used to excite the sympathy of the people of Greenwich by its impoverished  state, its heavy taxes, its silent wharves and its deserted streets, is now thronged with a bustling, cheerful, thriving population while poor Greenwich  half the day long is as stirless in its scenes as Salisbury plain. 
The silence in it is only broken at intervals by the sepulchral sound of the wheels of an empty omnibus wending its solitary way to Deptford and the Kent Road  to pick up  a few passengers for the West end.   Even if you see some active pedestrian approaching the public baths for having nothing else to do, his melancholy countenance renders it doubtful whether he is about to enter for the purposes of ablution or to drown himself, in consequence of the dullness that reigns in the town. 
Woolwich, it seems, is equally prosperous with Deptford and from a like cause- the activity in its government establishments. Scarcely a house in either town is empty; while on many streets in East Greenwich there are more houses to be let than there are houses occupied.
Kentish and Surrey Mercury  27th November 1858
The reason behind the article can be found in diagram below:

Drawing thanks to Chris Grabham

Sunday, 19 October 2014

From Elektron to 'e'' Commerce

AND ALSO - more about submarine cables.   Here is the front cover of Stewart Ash's book on submarine cables - where there will be a lots about Greenwich

-- read the book   ----------------------------  theres more to come -------------

Transatlantic telecommunications timeline

WITH work on the Enderby Wharf project in our minds we hope to publish here various items about the history of telecommunications in Greenwich.   BUT to start with, as a bit of general background, here is a timeline of transatlantic telecommunications generally.  You will have to wait to find out where Greenwich fits into all this ......................

Timeline of Transatlantic Telecommunications

1600 William Gilbert publishes De Maqnete (On Magnets)

1794 Visual semaphore telegraph established between Paris and Lille

1796 First visual semaphore telegraphs established in the UK

1820 Hans Oersted discovers electromagnetic field due to electric current

1821 Andre Ampere establishes the elementary laws of electrodynamics

1826 Georg Ohm defines basic electrical law V=IR

1831 Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction

1837 Cooke and Wheatstone patent the 5 needle electric telegraph

1838 Alphabetic code of dots and dashes developed by Alfred Vail for Samuel Morse

1839 5 needle electric telegraph established between London Paddinqton and West Drayton

1842 Joseph Henry discovers oscillatory nature of a suddeelectrical discharge

1843 William Montgomerie introduces Malayan gutta-percha to the UK ( used as insulation for submarine cables)

1850 - Lord Kelvin defines relationship between resistance, inductance and capacitance of an oscillatory circuit  
Pierre Guitard observes 'coherence' of dust particles in air when electrified
Proposal that a telegraph cable could run between St Johns Newfoundland and Ireland to connect old and new world

1851 - submarine telegraph cable laid between Dover and Cap Gris Nez
Heinrich Ruhmkorff invents the induction coil

1852 -Michael Faraday announces theory of electric and magnetic 'lines of force' - submarine cable laid between Portpatrick (Scotland) and Donaghadee (Ireland)

1853 Lt Maury USN surveys sea bed from Newfoundland to Ireland finding a plateau suitable for laying submarine cable

1854 The American entrepreneur Cyrus Field initiates the project to lay a telegraph cable from USA to Ireland

1855 -Lord Kelvin calculates that speed of signalling through a cable is inversely proportional to the square of the cable length
Charles Bright surveys Irish coast and selects Valentia Bay as cable landing point for a submarine cable

1856 Cyrus Field forms the Atlantic Telegraph Company

1857  HMS Cyclops surveys the great circle line Newfoundland to Ireland and confirms Lt Maury's findings 
8 August USS Niagara and HMS Agammemnon attempt initial cable lay Ireland to USA but cable breaks on 11 August after 400 miles laid in depths up to 2.5 miles

1858  First transatlantic telegraph cable completed (but fails after 3 weeks due to insulation breakdown) Lord Kelvin develops the mirror galvanometer

1864 Maxwell publishes paper 'A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field' detailing mathematical formulas for the propagation of electromagnetic waves

1866-First successful transatlantic telegraph cable laid by the 'Great Eastern' supervised by Lord Kelvin - American dentist Mahlon Loomis discovers elementary radio telegraphy by sending on-off signals 22km across Blue Ridge mountains using a kite to pick up static electricity as energy source

1872 Loomis awarded US Patent 129971 for his 'aerial telegraph system' but fails to turn his discovery into commercial success.

1873 Maxwell formulates theory that electromagnetic waves are of the same nature as light with similar characteristics

1874 Emile Baudot develops the 5 unit telegraph code

1876 Alexander Graham Bell submits telephone patents.

1888  Heinrich Hertz experiments prove existence of electromagnetic waves as predicted by Maxwell. Oliver Lodge identifies importance of 'resonance' between oscillatory circuits to optimise energy transfer leading to the principle of selective tuning which he called syntony

1891 Eduard Branly constructs the 'coherer' for detecting electromagnetic waves (cohesion of iron filings contained in a glass tube when exposed to electromagnetic waves, and hence their decrease in resistance to a current flowing through them from Latin 'cohaere' = stick together

1892 William Crookes predicts 'telegraphy without wires'
First Strowger automatic telephone exchange operates in Indiana USA

1894 Oliver Lodge transmits 'Hertzian' waves over 60m during lecture to British Association for Advancement of Science using a modified Branly coherer

1895 In Italy Marconi transmits 'Hertzian' waves some 2-3km using elevated aerial and an earth connection
In Russia Aleksandr Popov demonstrates reception of signals over 60m using lightening conductor as an aerial and a Branly -Lodge coherer.

1896 Marconi obtains patent for wireless telegraph

1897 -Marconi demonstrates radio link from Lavernock Point near Cardiff 14km across Bristol Channel
Marconi establishes the 'Wireless and Signal Company Ltd' later to become the 'Marconi Company

1899 Michael Pupin proposes adding induction (loading) coils to cables to extend transmission distances

1901 Marconi transmits Morse letter 'S' across Atlantic from Poldhu Cornwall to Signal Hill, Newfoundland
Canadian Reginald Fessenden patents radiotelephony

1902 Oliver Heaviside and Arthur Kennely predict ionised layer in upper atmosphere

1903 Marconi Poldhu - Cape Cod radio link provides limited commercial telegraphy (mainly used by newspapers)
Fessenden transmits speech using modulated arc over 20km

1904 John Ambrose Fleming invents the thermionic diode
Fessenden demonstrates radiotelephony over 40km in USA

1905 Fessenden invents the superheterodyne circuit

1906  -Lee de Forest adds third electrode to the diode to create the 'audion' (triode) thermionic valve
Fessenden broadcasts gramophone records to ships over distance of 80km probably the worlds first radio broadcast

1907 Marconi establishes limited public radio telegraph service between UK and USA via Canada

1912 Alexander Meissner develop s the electronic HF generator

1914 Marconi experiments with valve transmitters for British navy

 1915  New York-San Francisco cable uses telephone amplifiers
first transatlantic radio broadcast Arlington Virginia to Paris usin 3kW transmitter with over 300 thermionic valves

1922 Regular sound broadcasting commences in the UK

1924 Edward Appleton demonstrates existence of the ionosphere
Marconi and Franklin exploit skywave transmission via  ionosphere over distance of 4000km

1926 Canada-UK radiotelephone service commences

1927 USA - UK radiotelephone service commences

1935 Armstrong demonstrates frequency modulated system

1937 Alec Reeves invents pulse code modulation

1943 Submarine coaxial telephone cable using submerged valve amplifiers laid between Anglesey and Isle of Man

1944 Werner von Braun develops V2 rocket at Peenemunde Germany- forerunner of USA launch vehicles for their space programme

1945 Arthur C. Clarke publishes article in Wireless World proposing placing man-made satellites in geostationary orbit to act as extraterrestrial relay stations to provide worldwide radio coverage

1947 Transistor invented at Bell Labs by Bardeen, Shockley and Brattain

1950 Key  West-Havana submarine coaxial telephone cable laid

1954 US Navy reflects voice messages off the moon

1956 TAT 1 the first UK-USA/Canada transatlantic telephony coaxial cable with submerged repeaters completed

1957 USSR launches first man-made satellite (Sputnik 1) with a 96 minute, 229/946km elliptical orbit

1958 -USA satellite Explorer 1 confirms existence of the Van Allen belts
US Air Force satellite SCORE tested as active repeater recording incoming messages on tape then retransmitting them

1959 Laser is invented

1960 -Aluminized plastic balloon ECHO 1 launched by USA at altitude of 1600m to act as passive reflector of radio signal - ECHO 2 tests reflected transmission between USA and France

1962 -Telstar active satellite is launched by USA - telephony and TV tests between USA and UK France commence
Joseph Licklider of MIT suggests a network of interconnected computers to provide rapid data access ( origin of the INTERNET

1964 SYNCOM satellite is launched into geostationary orbit

1965 INTELSAT 1 geostationary satellite commences commercial satellite communications

1966 Kao and Hockham of STC Laboratories propose optical telecommunications through pure glass fibres

1969 US Defense Department creates ARPANET (advanced research projects agency network) using packet transmission and switching (routing) which eventually develops into the INTERNET

1979 Analogue cellular mobile radio telephony commences in Japan

1980 Commercial optical fibre link Brownhills-Walsall in UK goes into service

1987 First long distance submarine optical fibre links Corsica and French mainland

1988 TAT 8 first transatlantic optical fibre cable completed

 1990 Tim Berners-Lee working at CERN devises the World Wide Web operating over the INTERNET

1991 Digital mobile cellular radio GSM commences in Finland

2000 Transatlantic optical fibre cable 360 Atlantic with capacity of nearly 2 Terabits/s commences operation (1 terabit = 1012 bits/s )
This list was given to us and it is understood it was part of a conference pack in 2007 - we do not have details..  If that is not so, and if it is your list, and your copyright, then please email ( and it will be removed from this site, with an apology - or remain with a note from you.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

GASHOLDERS - what is happening to them round the world

Preserved Gas holders

This post has evolved from one I did a couple of days ago on   This was about the gasholder conference organised by the Institution of Gas Engineers last week. As a result a number of people have asked about gasholders around the world which have been converted to this and that - and so I have prepared this posting solely on that subject.  Thank you to all the people who have sent links and information - some of which are replicated below.

One of the papers at the Conference was on gas holder conversions (and I will come to Kings Cross later).  Russell described conversions at: 

Gasometer City, Vienna - shopping malls, flats and offices
Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam - used for creative industries.
Gaswerks, Augsberg - museum
Gaswerks Shoneberg, Berlin - event space and a structure resembling the Reichstag Dome
Leipzeig - commercial exhibition space and panoramas
Tauchrevier Gasometer, Duisberg  -indoor diving centre
Hobro Gasworks, Denmark - museum
Stockholm Gasworks, Sweden -  cultural venues
Turku, Finland - public spaces and music events
Museo del Gas, Barcelona - museum
Suvilahti, Helskini, Finland - cultural events and a circus school
Technopolis, Athens - industrial museum and cultural centre
MAN Gasholder, Oberhausen - cultural venue and landmark
The Gas Works, Dublin - now contains 240 flats
Newstead Gas Works Plaza, Australia - now a 'public plaza'
Kallang Gas Works, Singapore  - now an arena in a park
Oestre Gasveark Teater, Copenhagen  - now a theatre
Gefle Gasverks, Sweden    -  now a theatre

and did it with great slides and detail.  I am not sure of the status of his report and if a link through to it would be acceptable to IGE,

I did a brief article on gas holder reuse in a GIHS Newsletter over ten years ago - none of the web links I quoted work any more.  But I have put what information I have below. 

The links below gives information on holders in Continental Europe and America.  They are usually brick built structures - for the simple reason that in areas with very, very cold winters the water sealed holders used in Britain are just not practical. They are described on one site as "giant masonry round towers with several narrow windows and covered by metallic cupolas." - and those in St.Petersburg as "40 meters in diameter and stands 20 meters tall" They were built in 1872 and the same architect designed permanent circus buildings.  . However look and see what is being done with them:

Vienna - Simmering - One of the most famous examples of re-use of gas holders has been 'gasometer city' at Simmering. Read about it here - and much more than one holder is involved  and here are some reviews of their use as a shopping mall, albeit each with a different designer  and here's their web site

Brisbane.  A holder of the British type is a feature in a new park - and here is one of their bloggers on the subject
Oberhausen - easily the most famous gasholder conversion is at Oberhausen.  again it is in a type of holder not that familiar in England, although some do exist.    It is a museum and cultural centre and it is described as "the landmark of the city of Oberhausen and, beyond that, it has become an entire region's identification sign that cannot be overlooked".  /

Liepzeig - A link to a picture of the gas holder in Leipzeig can be found at and there is more about its conversion into a panometer in the America industrial archaeology magazine, below, which also describes the one in Dresden.

Dresden - the following link is to an article about a reinforced concrete gas holder in Dresden which has been turned into a art gallery for a panorama - and has renamed the holder as a 'panometer'.
Amsterdam - where a gasholder - one more of type we would recognise is now a feature in a park. Read a wildlife based web site on it and here's the whole story on their web site 
Milan - Bovisa.  What is happening here is more confused - and not helped by the way that some web sites seem to translate 'gas works' as 'gasometer'.  An old holder - of the type we would recognise - seems to be still standing on a site which has now been redeveloped as a Polytechnic.   There seem to have been a number of plans for the holder but the current state is unclear, to me at least.  There seems to be a plan to build a new library which looks like it.  Perhaps someone could clarify this for me.

Florence While I am entirely unsure what at sceneographic nucleus is, and sure its very nice and here is something about the holder there - again one we would recognise

Dublin - this is a bit nearer home, and a holder of a type we would recognise. This is a housing project.

St Petersburg -  a site with several holders is under consideration - information at  and here is another picture

Stockholm - and a plan for data storage centres.

SO - Here we have a ground breaking scheme at Kings Cross where one holder has recently been re-erected and the landmark 'triplets' are to become - well landmarks, and housing. We had a very good presentation from a developer and I wonder if a link to the paper would be possible??
Meanwhile I have been kindly sent the following link to the architects web site

Also - I have been sent information on a campaign in Hornsey to save the gasholder there from destruction, and also something from Edinburgh.

After all - we only invented the things.

PS  My attention has been drawn to the latest edition of the Newcomen Society's 'Links' (9/14).   This describes a Society visit to  Moravia and Silesia - from which the following is an extract:

"the full impact of the Vitkovice Ironworks became clear. Steel-making finished in 1998 on this fully integrated site, with its own coal mine, coke ovens, four blast furnaces, steel-making furnaces and rolling mills. In 1994, nearly 35,000 people worked here and .... it has applied for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.  ............................ The gas-holder has been turned into a concert hall and a reception area for the tour of No 1 blast furnace – the smallest of the four.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

A tunnel under the Thames at Woolwich

FOGWOFT has passed to GIHS a number of cuttings about a proposed tunnel under the Thames at Woolwich in the 1870s.  Strangely these are all press reports from the North of England.  GIHS would be glad to hear from anyone who has more information on this tunnel - which was hitherto unknown to us.

The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (25th August 1876) says that the tunnel was started at 4 am ‘on Wednesday morning’.   It says the contractors are Messrs Sharpe of Cannon Street under the superintendence of Mr. Gilbert, engineer.   It says nine men were drowned in the fog.

The Sheffield Dally Telegraph (1st September 1876) says in a short report that it is quoting a report in La Revue Nouvelle de l’Architecture et ses Travaux Publique. It says work has already started on the north bank and will take 8-9 months. It says the soil is ‘calcareous’ and this suitable for a tunnel. It says that the reason this ‘subway’ is being started is because of an accident on the Thames in the fog when the ferry was unable to run and eight people were drowned when they tried to cross ‘in a boat’.

Daily Gazette, Middlesborough (13th January 1877). This is a very long and very detailed piece on a very dodgy photocopy – and I am quoting the bare bones of it here. It is headed ‘Engineering Enterprise at Middlesborough’.    Basically it says the work is being done by Messrs. Collins and Thompson (of Middlesborough, of course). It says the machinery is the invention of Mr. Greathead – and it describes the workings of the Greathead Shield – which is well known and the principles behind the method are still those by which underwater tunnels have been built since.

Northampton Mercury (9th June 1977). This point out the need for workers at the Arsenal who live north of the river to have an alternative crossing to the steam ferries.  It will only cost £75,000.  People will be charged 1d. to cross.

Essex Newsman (23rd June 1877) and Chelmsford Chronicle (22nd June 1877).   This says the tunnel is ‘actively proceeding’ . At North Woolwich it is ‘immediately adjoining the station of the Great Eastern Railway Company’ and will terminate at The High Street, Woolwich. It will be 1,800 ft long and will be accessed via ‘an enclosed road’ with an ‘unusually steep gradient’   (1:8) and will be 444 ft long.  The tunnel will lie 25ft-35ft below the river bed and is made up of a circular tube of iron 9 ft in diameter and about 12ft in height.  It should take four people walking abreast.   They add that it will be very useful to take troops and artillery guns across the river.

Portsmouth Evening News (18th March 1879) they say that the work has ‘been in abeyance but has now started. The contract is with Mr. Walker and it will be open for foot traffic

 So – your ideas and information very welcome.  Are there any remains of it under the river somewhere??



Friday, 29 August 2014

The Chemical Laboratories in the Royal Arsenal

The following is a scan of the synopsis of a series of papers from a Conference held in 2002 between the Royal Society of Chemistry and the (now defunct) Gunpowder and Explosives History Group.   The synopsis below are those given which are relevant to Woolwich - although the first paper, by Wayne Cocroft describes work at the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills, but includes some information on the role of the  Royal Arsenal.

It should be noted - for those who visit Woolwich - that one of the pavilions of the Royal Chemical Laboratories has now been repaired and done up - it would be interesting to know exactly how this has been done, what relevance remains to its earlier role, what is to happen to it now, what will it be used for, and will there be any interpretation of its earlier importance - and who will write that???    Information would be wonderful  - it has been claimed that they are the earliest purpose built industrial buildings remaining in Britain.

Everyone is urged to visit the very excellent gunpowder mills exhibition site at Waltham Abbey and to learn more about this important national industry and have a great day out.

 I am publishing these here in order to further local, Borough of Greenwich, knowledge about the importance of work at the Arsenal and that it was not only a place where guns were made.  If these synopses are seen as someone's copyright please email and they will be removed.

Sir Frederick Abel (1827-1902)
The autumn meeting of the Historical Group was held at Waltham Abbey, Royal Gunpowder Mills on Friday 8 November 2002 to commemorate the centenary of the death of Sir Frederick Abel. The meeting started with the first Wheeler Lecture by Professor Sy Mauskopf (Duke University) on Long Delayed Dream: Sir Frederick Abel and the Development of Cordite. This is reproduced in full in Occasional Paper No 3 produced by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Chemical Archaeology of Explosives
Wayne Cocroft from English Heritage talked on the history of the Royal Gunpowder Mill and the surviving buildings and artefacts. He explained that archaeologically it is a complex site with buildings from many phases. Apart from redevelopment and adaption to changing requirements others were lost from explosions. The first production of gunpowder probably dates to about 1665. The site is well documented from 1787 when the government took over the site. Major William Congreve was the Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory and was largely responsible for the success of this government enterprise. He greatly improved the quality and reliability of the black powder produced by rigorous control of the consistency and purity of the ingredients. Many innovations in production methods were introduced; ideas which then filtered down to the private gunpowder industry. The gunpowder mills were worked by waterwheels until 1857 when steam powdered incorporation mills were introduced...
Guncotton was first prepared in about 1846. In 1863 Frederick Abel developed a process for its production using cotton waste that was used at Waltham Abbey. Later nitro-glycerine was developed which, when combined with guncotton and a mineral jelly, were blended to form the propellant cordite; patented by Abel in 1889. Some buildings involved in these processes survive although the nitrating plant was demolished in the 1990s. After an explosion in 1894 a new nitro-glycerine plant was built. By the early 20th century a third of the cordite produced in this country was made at the Royal Gunpowder Mills. Later most of this production moved to Gretna. Cordite needs a solvent in its production. During the First World War supplies of acetone were lost so Woolwich developed cordite production using ether. Later Chaim Weizmann developed a fermentation method for the production of acetone at Holton Heath. The Quinan stove built in 1935 for drying guncotton used an innovative form of concrete construction.
The Royal Gunpowder Mills were also involved in the production of other explosives; tetryl (N-mthyl-N, 2, 4, 6-tetranitroaniline) from 1910, picrite (Nitroguanidine) in the 1920s and RDX (cyclonite, hexahydro-1, 3, 5-trinitro- 1, 3, 5-triazine) in the 1930s. RDX was used in the bouncing bomb of the Dam buster’s raid. Gunpowder production at Waltham Abbey finally ceased in 1940-41 and the whole factory closed in 1945. The site then became a Research and Development Establishment, finally closing in 1991. The site was opened to the public in 2001.
Sir Charles Frederick (1709-1785), FRS FSA, Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich, 1746-1782
Sir Charles Frederick became Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich and Surveyor General to the Board of Ordnance in the mid- eighteenth century, at a time when gunpowder making was still a craft industry, and the government was reliant on private contractors. In the  theoretical vacuum that then existed he had to undertake a process of self-  education, serving what may be described as an apprenticeship with the  learned societies of London, and presenting a dramatic 'masterpiece' in the  form of the great firework display of 1749 in celebration of peace and  victory, before becoming an acknowledged master of his subject. Portraits of Sir Charles illustrate these three stages of his career. Plans and paintings of the Royal Laboratory also shown in the presentation of this paper raise questions about the work undertaken there. This is especially the case with  the production line of workmen filling round shot of varying diameter with  powder, and sealing the shell with a plug that was presumably to be replaced  by a fuse before firing. Proof testing was also carried out here, but this was notoriously unreliable and it seems likely that the standardization of formula and of grain size was used as a way of setting the minimum qualities required. The central pavilions of the old Royal Laboratory still survive at Woolwich, but these once fine buildings of the late seventeenth century have fallen into a sad state of dereliction.
When Sir Charles retired in the early 1780s he had nudged the industry towards the more consciously scientific approach of the last decades of the eighteenth century, through his close attention to the processes of manufacture and his encouragement of experimentation. But today he is not so much underrated as unknown, perhaps because the end of his career was marked by the political difficulties associated with the loss of the American colonies and the criticisms then being voiced of the powerful and independent Board of Ordnance, and because his successors were able to benefit from insights not available to him. Historians too have not served him well, being generally more interested in weapons and campaigns than in the critical matter of the supply of gunpowder. Sir Charles's contemporaries  however had no doubts about its significance, for as a distinguished military  man at the Board of Ordnance wrote to him in 1757, with campaigns  'underway in Europe, North America, India and at sea, 'all...Hope of  Success .. Is gone for nothing without this material'.
It is to Sir Charles's credit and a matter of historical record rather than triumphalism, that in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, despite difficulties of supply and a lack of understanding of the problems of internal ballistics, gunpowder was produced in Britain on a scale and of a quality that enabled the country to emerge on the world stage as a naval, colonial, and trading power.
Brenda J. Buchanan (Chairman Gunpowder and Explosives History Group)
Oswald Silberrad, superintendent of research, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, 1901-1906
The paper resulted from the speaker's work at the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, Bath, on the archive of this little-known industrial consulting chemist and the research laboratory that he founded. The paper highlighted some of Silberrad's important contributions to munitions research at the Royal Arsenal while he was still in his early twenties. An experimenter of rare ability, Silberrad discovered a new means of detonating high explosive shells by using a substance known as 'tetryl'.  He also demonstrated that TNT worked well as a high explosive shell filling, possessing advantages over the lyddite then in use, and successfully developed and tested a 'flameless' artillery propellant for small calibre guns.  The archive contains part of Silberrad's unpublished memoirs, which document this period of his career, in particular his difficult relations with the War Office which resulted in his resignation as Superintendent of  Research. The paper sought to show the value of an archival cataloguing project such as this in 'rescuing' a scientist and his work from relative obscurity. The Silberrad Papers are held by the Science Museum- Library".
Simon Coleman  National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (University of Bath)
The Chemical Laboratories at the Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Wesley Harry, historian of the Royal Arsenal Woolwich, talked about the Chemical Laboratories at the Royal Arsenal Woolwich. Sometime after 1665 the proof of ordnance moved from Moorfields to Woolwich. By 1695 many new buildings had been erected including a laboratory originally attached to the Tilt Yard at Greenwich. Various aspects of the manufacture and testing of ordnance were concentrated onto the Woolwich site in the 18th century. Frederick Abel was a professor of chemistry at the Royal Military Academy and was appointed in 1854 Ordnance Chemist at the Royal Laboratories at Woolwich. Another notable name there was James Marsh who developed the Marsh test for arsenic. The chemical laboratories built in 1864 were the first custom built chemical laboratory at the Arsenal.  The room on the west side was the full height of the two storey building. It was designed like this to disperse fumes and gases produced at the benches.  From the gallery, off which were the offices, Frederick Abel would lower a wicker basket containing samples and instructions to the Assistant Chemist.  The east wing contained a photographic department and library. In addition to the ordnance work the laboratory was also concerned with forensic science.