Friday, 18 January 2019

A rather biased lot of news this time

Greenwich Society Newsletter

We have only just received the November edition of the Greenwich Society Newsletter but there are some interesting things in it which need reporting:

One article is about the Dreadnought Hospital Building and this included a tour which would’ve been interesting. The article by Ann Baglin describes its history as an infirmary built in 1764 which eventually became the Seamen’s Hospital.  That had been originally aboard an old warship, Grampus, later replaced by Dreadnought, hence the name.

Pieter van der Merwe has contributed an article ‘A New Stairway to Heaven’ – the steps which once ran up the hill in Greenwich Park from the Queen’s House to the Observatory.

More relevant to industrial history is the first of a series along the Thames Path by Sheila Keeble. November’s Newsletter was on  Deptford Creek to Enderby Wharf - most of this is about rubbish and closures and the environment as it is today with very little about the past. Shelia notes that the environment agency has said that the river wall is in poor condition along this stretch.  Next month we are promised that Sheila will walk from Enderby wharf to North Greenwich and it will interesting to see what she says about the new sculptures and works which have taken place.  Shelia notes the blandness of the area and says “elsewhere industrial heritage is a selling point but here every crane, warehouse and wall has been stripped out’.  (I am stretching myself not to comment – support from the Greenwich Society ten years ago would have helped).

(and then there is my own contribution to the newsletter about the national listing and re-dedication of the Gas Works War Memorial in Millennium Way with pictures of the students from St. Mary Magdalene School who researched it)

The Newsletter also mentions the dispute over the change of name from the Old Royal Naval College to take in its original name of the Royal Hospital and its past as a Palace. It is something which has stirred up a lot of strong feelings. People are apparently angry at the loss of the ‘naval connection’ in Greenwich – (although of course Greenwich was a fishing village with two naval dock yards (for ship construction and repair) up the road and a big almshouse for old sailors which when it closed was taken over as a college for training posh young naval officers).  People are urged to write and tell the Foundation what they think to


Greenwich Historical Society.

We have their list of future events, all of which will take place at James Wolfe School at 7:15 for 7:30

23rd January. A pantomime ‘Old Royal Naval Gazing’ $3 for non-members
27th February. Margaret Lincoln. Two short talks - one on Thomas Bowrey, a Wapping shipowner, and the second on 18th century criminal activity along major roads in south London
27th March Anthony Cross on “Our good old Governor’ Admrial Hardy in Greenwich
24th April Julian Bowsher on Greenwich Palace.
22nd May Kevin Robinson on the Ironworks of Pomroy Street, New Cross and the Ffestiniog Railway Locomotives

And that all at


Kent Archaeological Society have confirmed their programme for the South East Region Industrial Archeology Conference on 13 April.  this includes Simon Elliot on Ragstone quarries in the Medway Valley; Terry Bird on Tutsham Mill – a linseed crushing plant on the banks of the Medway; Robert Hall on sound mirrors in particular those at Fan Bay near Dover’; Tim Allen on a brick and tile works in Tonbridge, Elizabeth Walker on Short Brothers Aviation at Rochester’; Petra Cox on Crossness Engines, and Tim Belcher-Whyte on Rochester Bridge. Tickets from Mike Clinch  £12 if pre-booked.


We have an invitation to the launch of a new book about Thamesmead with photography and interviews by Tara Darby and text by John Grindrod.  It’s called the Town of  Tomorrow. 50 years of Thamesmead.  I understand there was an interview on the Robert Elms show yesterday about it. It’s available from the Here  Press and we look forward to seeing it


Greenwich Archive Users  Forum.  This is continuing with its work on the closure of the Greenwich archives and Heritage Centre. It has had meetings with Len Duvall who is Chair of the Heritage Trust. GAUF has produced a newsletter which Elizabeth Pearcey would be happy to send you should you contact her and ask for it.,


The Arches.  There has been a derelict places website posting about The Arches and what a bad state it’s in.  This was of course the old Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich swimming pools and leisure centre also used as a dance hall and so on when it was newly  built in the 1920s.  https//


I have been sent some news in the Kentish Mercury about the expected demolition of the gas holders at Bell Green despite local listing - although it was clear that this listing was unlikely to protect them. We also see that the Bromley gasholder near Bromley Tesco’s has now been demolished . This is inevitable given the programme which the government set the gas industry to demolish all holders. Our Greenwich holder is also still on the demolition list despite being one of the most important in the country and is now threatened not  the only by the governments order but by the Silvertown tunnel.  The petitioners have been doing their best but the forces against it re overwhelming


Docklands History Group programme –  these events are held at the Museum of London Docklands at 5:30

6th February Darren Knight on Old Rotherhithe .
6th March Jane Sidell on Riverside Archaeology
3rd April Drinking the Thames – The Grand Junction Water Company
1st May  Joihn Seed Lascars in Shadwell
18th May Annual Conderence on the Mediaeval Port of London
5th June Pete Smith Rotherhithe and Bermondsey
3rd July Chris Ellmers A very very Naughty Boy
7th August walk round Historic Hammersmith
4th September David Gibson Thames Sailing Barges
2nd October Andy Slater. Running the West India Docks
6th November Robert Hampson on Conrad and the Docks and the river
4th December Christmas Social


Greenwich  Council is consulting on additions to the Greenwich Local Heritage List.  Please see this and respond before 15th February
There are a number of industrial sites on the list – we noted them a few postings back – please say how much you want them.


Greenwich Council's Regeneration Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel back in early December heard a number of speakers from community groups on regeneration and how it could become community led . We understand that as a result three representatives have been appointed to liaise with the council and hits officer and members on these issues.
Greenwich Industrial History Society made a contribution to the original meeting talking  about the historical background and the need for good standard research of sites and the contribution which well-informed local people could make.  We were followed by other speakers – notably from Ashburnham Triangle and from Speak Out Woolwich, and several others who stressed the need for regeneration to preserve and respect industrial heritage.  There is a follow up meeting in the Woolwich Town Hall on Monday 21st 70.00 pm

(and views expressed here are the author’s own and not those of GIHS generally)

Sunday, 13 January 2019

What's going on??

GIHS Meeting Tuesday 15th January

If you are on the Peninsula east riverside, or Charlton - look over the river and there is a gaggle of boats on the other side at the entrance to a Creek. There is also a lighthouse - yes really.

This is Trinity Buoy Wharf - where at one time bad buoys were made good (they are now reformed in Harwich). Come and listen to Richard Albanese who manages the site now and will tell us all about those boats
Age Exchange Bakehouse Bennett Park, Blackheath Village, 7.30



Yesterday GIHS  members, and members of local groups and societies discussed:

The closure of the Greenwich Archive

Creekside - the need for a Creekside Path - the current planning application for Saxon Wharf

Westminster Industrial Estate - and an invite to meet the developer on the Siemens Buildings

Plumstead Station and the wrangle over the replacement bridge

Local listings in Plumstead and how they need to be extended  both in Plumstead and beyond

Local listing of riverside items on the ex-Arsenal Riverside and need to extend this too

Enderby House, Youngs and the Lay Lines sculpture

QR tags - how we need to get the system extended without vast expenditure

East Greenwich gasholder - report on meeting with the Council and SGN

News of other gasholder demolitions - Southall, Chelmsford

Photos of Greenwich depots - and writing up reports on the depots

Proposed demolition of building in Prince of Orange Lane

200th Anniversary of Joseph Bazalgette's birth

Reminder of South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference in Dartford
The Woolwich Ferries - why no big event to mark their passing??

-  and I've probably missed lots out because we went on all afternoon

Any comments?? 

Have you anything you want to add?? or think we should raise?? Do you want to be involved in the future.
Add a comment here - or email on

And thanks to GCDA for letting us use their board room.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

News for the New Year

Industrial Archaeology Review

This academic style journal covers the whole of Britain and thus articles about Greenwich are few and far between. The current edition however almost the last page carries a book review of Stewart Ash’s book on John Pender. As people may know Stewart has been for a long time a mainstay of the Enderby Group and is a great expert on cable manufacture.  It’s fair to say to that the Industrial Archaeology Review’s report on his book is ecstatic describing it as ‘absorbing and informative’ and in fact ‘magnificent. So congratulations to Stewart.
Stewart Ash. The Cable King-John Pender. Self published 2018 and available on Amazon 

IA review also gives a short note which covers James Hulme’s article on the Charlton Riverside in London’s Industrial Archaeology 16.

IA Review 2/40 2018


Subterranea – The Magazine for Subterranea Britannica. Issue 49 December 2018

Sadly nothing about Greenwich in this, otherwise interesting, journal.  Th.D. nearest they get to us is a long article on the Gravesend Cold War Bunker.  (You know, my Auntie used to go down there couple of afternoons a week to make the tea).


Crossness Record (Vol. 21 Issue 3) Winter 2018.

Much of this issue is taken up with issues around the need to fund raise following the discovery of asbestos.  In fact we have already noted on Twitter a crowd funding page for this

Away from this there are pictures and information about the proposed Railway RANG and the news that track laying is about to start.  Volunteers are needed
There is a historical article about the Crossness School which was set up in 1865 for the children of workers, in what was then a remote spot. Another article covers last summers ‘Fly By Night’ where there was a spectacular display by pigeons flying in various formations with lights tied to their legs.
More info from


GLIAS Newsletter (299 December 2018)

Lectures and events
16th January – Tom Furber on Marc Isambard Brunel and the Making of London
27th February Mildred Cookson on Rolling Flour Mills of London
17th March. Graham Dolan.  Ripples in Time.  The building of the Greenwich Power Station and the Unintended Consequences for the Royal Observatory.
15th May, AGM followed by Richard Albanese on Trinity Buoy Wharf.
All these at The Gallery, Alan Baxter Ltd.75 Cowcross Street, EC1 (go through the archway to the back) 6.30

Greenwich gets a bit of a mention with ‘Delivery Driver Memories’ by Bob Rust. He talks a bit about the Merriweather Building – and then about the bakers shop on Blackheath Hill and the eventual collapse of the hill.

The programme is out for the 2019 South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference which this year is on April 13th and is to be held in Dartford hosted by Kent Archaeological Society. Topics to be covered include – Ragstone industry – Aircraft Manufacture at Shorts – Sound Mirrors – Excavation of a brick works – Linseed Oil Mill – Rochester Bridge construction – Crossness Engines. Further info Mike Clinch


Blackheath Scientific Society meeting
18th January 7.45 Mycenae House. On History and Recovery of the Tidal Thames and its Fisheries, Steve Culclough


Subterranean Greenwich web site has run a piece on London Power Tunnels under Blackheath ad Greenwich Park
This tells us that this year work is to begin on boring a tunnel under our feet. The article has a lot of information from the consultant’s report about cavities and hazards and the like.  Read it


The London Inheritance blog has also been in Greenwich  has this week covered the riverside walk between Cutty Sark pub and Enderbys (and – er – thanks for the plug for my book).


And also – little tear – it’s been goodbye to John Burns, James Newman and Ernest Bevin and hullo to Ben Woolacot and Vera Lynn.

Lots of stuff on Twitter and Facebook.  End of an era but the Free Ferry goes on.   BUT – off went those three old ferries to be broken up.  Once upon a time every boat on the river would have saluted them all the way down to the Nore.  What’s wrong with us all now??


Enderby Group

While Enderby Group has worked on the heritage issues of Enderby House we have been told that Barratts were going to lease, or sell, the house to Young’s Brewery.  Late last year Enderby Group members attended a meeting with Council Officers and representatives of Barratts and Young’s where we were briefed on Young’s intentions for the site and discussed with them the possibility of some input from the Group.  It has to be said that Young’s were very friendly, and we are also grateful for the input from Council Officers.

A few weeks later Young’s application for a licence for Enderby House was granted.  As local people will be aware there has been a great deal of dissent among residents on riverside licensed premises and the Council recently turned down a licence application from Hopstuff Brewery for a site nearby.  There were less objections from residents about the licence for Enderby House – but objections were made and several turned up to speak against the licence at the Council’s hearing. As a result there are many conditions on the licence about where and when drinks can be served and how drinkers can be discouraged from sitting outside the premises.  It was of interest that some of the residents who objected told Enderby Group members privately how much they would have supported our proposed mix of café/bar along with heritage input and community space.

We wait to see what will happen – but there is a vast amount of work to be done to the interior of the house before it can open and we hope to be in discussion with Young’s on heritage input soon.


The Greenwich Archive Users Forum was set up in response to stories about closure of the Greenwich Heritage Centre – which of course includes the archive.  The group includes members from every part of the Borough and beyond. The closure duly took place and we are now the only London Borough with no accessible archive – causing problems to researchers of all ages and backgrounds including professional consultants along with students, family historians and others. There are many issues concerning the archive which include ownership and storage as well as access.

There is no space here to discuss the Council’s plans for the Woolwich ex-Heritage Centre site or, in any detail, the temporary replacement site and plans for the archive.  The original plan to move to Anchorage Point in Charlton is clearly delayed but we understand work on the plans are ongoing.

The Heritage Centre and archive are managed by the Greenwich Heritage Trust.  Recently, a delegation of GAUF members met Trust staff along with Len Duval MLA, who is Trust Chair, and it is planned for these to be regular meetings. We hope to be sent copies of a series of position papers soon and that GAUF can work with the Trust on future plans to try and rectify the current unacceptable position.  It is understood that Trust staff hope to offer a ‘bespoke’ service from March for experienced researchers and an appointment service for others.  It is not clear if this will be at Charlton House or elsewhere.  There is also ongoing work on cataloguing and consideration on digitisation.
GAUF has raised many issues and would be happy to raise more concerns.  Hopefully we can all work together for the future of the archive, the Borough and its heritage.  Could add a sentence to say  "To be added to the Supporters' List of GAUF contact Elizabeth Pearcey

Pending awaiting approval – a note about building 10 on the Arsenal – news about the gasholder – new about the archive –news about Plumstead Station.  – and someone interested in a Tudor Navigation Beacon.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

another lot of (belated) news

Industrial Archaeology News.

Amazingly there are several reports of Greenwich industrial heritage in the current edition of this national newsletter (187 Winter 2018).

I had forgotten trying to interpret a very dodgy old photocopy of a meeting of some German gas engineers to East Greenwich gas works in 1910 - but here it is reproduced in in its entirety – it consists of a brief visit to the Gas Works by the engineers looking at ongoing work and then having a big lunch with numerous toasts.  I would recommend it.

There is also a reproduction of 853’s posting on the new Woolwich ferries with a picture of one of them, and two pictures of Enderby Wharf from Bob Carr showing before and after versions of the setting of Enderby House. There is also a brief report from me about the damage to the East Greenwich No.2 gas holder in 1917 by the Silvertown explosion. Gosh!!

Also of local interest in this issue ,although not necessarily in Greenwich, is an account of the Millennium Mills – easily seen across the river in Silvertown. Also a list of endangered buildings according to the Victorian Society which includes the Bromley by Bow gasholders, visible to anybody on the north side of the Blackwall tunnel approach behind Tesco. Sadly there is also an obituary to Alan Crocker - few people in Greenwich will have known Alan but he was an expert on gunpowder mill sites but based in Guildford University - and such a nice man.


Trident - Greenwich Yacht Club’s magazine is now with us and full of interesting items .of in particular interest is an article with pictures about the Thames barrier annual tests closure and an account of this year’s closure

Their AGM is on 9 December at 11.00 and there are work days on the last Sunday of each month


We understand that the Greenwich Park History Group is meeting at the Wild Life Centre in the Park at 11 am Friday 7th December.  Everyone Welcome...  It would be interesting to hear from the group as to what their current work is,

We also understand the Friends Annual Lecture will be on the 23rd of January at 7.30 in the Queen Anne building in the University and will feature Will Palin, Conservation Director at the Royal Naval College, on the conservation of the Painted Hall. Details on


We understand that an application has been put forward to list the Plumstead Station overbridge.
Fingers crossed!!!


We have a newsletter from the Heritage Alliance giving many, many details of projects and so on which may be of interest to people involved in heritage. This is in an email and does not seem to be a web site. But try asking

We noted however that a Heritage Day is to be held on the 6th of December – that’s Thursday  - in the Queen Mary Undercroft at the Royal Naval College.  It costs £40.00 to members and £65.00 for non-members. The Chair is Lloyd Grossman and the keynote speaker is Michael Ellis Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Arts Heritage and Tourism.  Another speaker is our erstwhile colleague Duncan Wilson now Chief Exec of Historic England. It would be interesting to know if anyone from Greenwich is going to this event – or were even told about it! (Not members, oh, I see)


We have a note from Greenwich Wildlife Group about the Marsh Dykes and Thamesmead Town Centre Improvement Groups. This is basically concerned with the water environment and is committed to healthy marshes in Erith and ponds at Shooters Hill. There is Marsh Dykes Vision Workshop on 23 January at 11 o’clock and business at the Norwich this case at the wards the email at Lesnes Abbey Lodge.  For info or


There is a planning application in for demolition of a small industrial building in Prince of Orange Lane in West Greenwich. A number of people have objected to this although we understand that the Greenwich Society is happy with it.  It would be interesting to know if anybody knows what the building was used for before its current use by a dentist. Check it out on the council’s planning database and object if you think that a rethink is needed.


A note from the Thames Estuary Partnership announces an agreement between the Port of London Authority and the Museum of London on public access to documents on the history of the Thames.  PLA has also issued a YouTube video about the archive. The archive is at the Museum in Docklands and is a vast local resource


We have been told about a U3A network event at the Metropolitan Archives on the 8th February. This is to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Bazalgette and is to present an in-depth study of the history of London’s drainage to be called 'Down the Drain'. The programme will include David Perrett, Nick Higham and The Friends of Crossness Engines along with the education department of the Tideway Projects and Keats' House Poetry Ambassadors. This should be of particular interest in Greenwich in that not only is Bazalgette's Crossness Engines almost in Greenwich Borough but we do actually have his Greenwich/Deptford pumping station in Greenwich High Road. Details at


This year there have been many Remembrance Day ceremonies and events around the Armistice in 1918. We have to remember that many workplaces erected memorials to employees who had been killed - one of these was the gasworks memorial now in John Harrison way. A ceremony held there was the culmination of a project by Saint Mary Magdalen school pupils who had researched the memorials and the life of the men recorded on it.  This was a brief but impressive ceremony conducted by Rev. Margaret Cave and with contributions from the young people from the school. The ceremony was also to mark the listing of the memorial Grade II by Historic England.


Meanwhile Rob Powell has produced a new booklet which reproduces Greenwich's Roll of Honour which was compiled after the First World War. For details see:


Gas holder petition.  This is still live on the Change web site - now stands at 1528 signatures - and we also have many others on a paper petition which went round thanks to Joyce Snip. Leaving it 'up' on the Change web site enables us to tell petitioners what is happening with the holder.  Meanwhile discussions are still ongoing by campaign group members and the Council with Southern (aka Scotia) gas networks.  Here's what we said to petitioners recently:-

The following is a link to a report of the visit to the gasholder site on Tuesday. More pictures and reports will be added soon, so keep looking!!

The gasholder is still standing - but we are still being told that SGN intend to demolish it.   Today - a very small party of us went to visit the holder, and stayed for an hour or so taking pictures and one person had a drone.  I hope we can add some good pictures either here or on the page.

SGN indicated that it might be possible to have another visit at some time in the near future.  We are not promising anything but if you are interested email me on and if we are able to arrange something we will do so.


We understand from Mark Stevenson the Archaeology Advisor locally to Historic England that work is about to start on a written scheme of investigation at Felixstowe Road, Abbey Wood And also at Vincent Road in Woolwich, Happy to forward Mark's detailed email if people contact me.


Enderby Group

Work is ongoing to add more detail to the Enderby Group website with additional information relevant to the Lay Lines sculpture which is being erected outside the house.

 At the moment there seems to be a lot of speculation about what looks like now a series of short columns.  All will be revealed!  One of the aspects of this is that electronic tags are to be built into the structure which will explain via your phone about the history of the site. Enderby Group is very keen to extend this system to other parts of the peninsula and have been trying to talk to the relevant authorities about this.  Please keep in touch

Meanwhile Youngs have been granted a licence to run Enderby House as a pub despite many objections from local residents who are frightened of noise and nuisance.  Enderby Group have spoken to Youngs (thanks to the Council for arranging this) and hopefully they will make sure that the pub is not just for residents and the local drinkers but for non-drinkers, and walkers on the riverside path  as well as providing accurate information on the heritage of the site.  It is of interest that many of the residents we spoke to say they would rather have had a café and heritage use for the house than the pub. It is not expected that the pub will open until next summer.


East Greenwich is not the only gas holder with a campaign group trying to prevent demolition.  We have had information from the East End Waterways Group about the Bethnal Green gasholders.  Unfortunately the Group does not have a website so I can't pass the detailed information on. The Bethnal Green holders include one in particular with a very dramatic appearance across the Regent's Canal. The Group have been giving evidence to An Examination of the Tower Hamlets Local Plan and await the inspectorate's assessment

The group also records demolition of the Poplar gasholders – that’s just the other side of the Blackwall tunnel from us.  Parts of their No.1 gas holder were kept to be used as part of the scheme for new housing on the site – but they report that there are some problems.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Visit to the East Greenwich Gasholder site

Photo Michael Mulcahy

Yesterday Tuesday 18th  A group of us went to the East Greenwich Gas holder site  to look round and take pix.  Hopefully various members of the party will contribute to this posting. So far

Here's an introduction from Peter Luck:

A damp Tuesday morning: an hour or so without rain and with fairly good light. A group assembles for a walk around the base of East Greenwich no1 gas holder. The owners, SGN, dispense safety gear and the group, campaigners, historians, councillors and photographers takes a slow ramble around with historical guidance form Malcolm Tucker and details from our SGN shepherd, Scott Lewis. Mostly we photograph at the base of the holder with a few steep views upwards or across the top of the bell. One of us stays put and flys a drone for a level view of top details and more dramatic images too. As we leave, with a promise if another visit, the discussion on what can realistically be saved enters a new phase. SGN begin de-watering the tank in the early new year.
Photo Peter Luck

Neil Clasper has turned to Twitter -  see

and more wonderful pictures from Neil.

and so has Nigel Fletcher -who was actually tweeting while we were still there!

Will add more as it arrives

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

London Borough of Greenwich - works depots 1999

We have just been sent 100 or so photographs of Greenwich Councl depots taken in 1999.  All of them are now closed and gone  Hopefully we can show you some of the pictures - many of which are very interesting.

If would be good if any Council ex-depot workers could tell us something about the buildings in the pictures and perhaps some of the background to the depots - Langton Way in particular, and also Westhorne Avenue.

Anyway - for a start - these are the depots concerned:

Sunday, 25 November 2018

SS Wye Tempest at Christie's Wharf 1921

   SS Wye Tempest at Christie's Wharf Charlton on February 26th 1921  - this is roughly at the river end of the Angerstein Railway line.

We were sent this amazing picture by John Wainwright  -thanks John