Wednesday, 9 August 2017

--- and --- about the gasholder consultation

- so - what happened when we heard about the consultation on the gas holder site?

It is now a couple of months since Greenwich Council announced a consultation on a site on the Greenwich Peninsula  which turned out to be the one which has our iconic gas holder on it.  You wouldn't have known that from the consultation document which assumed that the holder would be gone and that the site would be developed for housing.  This post is intending to describe some of the reactions - those reactions we are aware of - to this consultation

All over the country gas holders are being demolished following a decision by the owners to decommission them.  In many areas campaigns have sprung up to save and to find a way of reusing the frame of their local gas holder.  There are already a number of interesting projects around the world where holders are used for housing, and for leisure facilities.   In the last few days we have learnt that the prestigious Architects' Journal has launched a competition for proposals for reuse of gas holder bases but not the guide frames.

We also understand that developers have suddenly woken up to the potential of these sites and that one major company has set up a division to find interesting ways of using them.  It is ironic that this news comes from the one community which has petitioned for their holder to be pulled down, Oxted in Surrey.

So what reaction was there in Greenwich?  We must remember that our local holder - East Greenwich No 1 - is very special.  Built in the 1890s by the South Metropolitan Gas Company it was then the largest in the world and built to revolutionary engineering and design criteria.  Very plain it is a very early modern movement industrial building - built at a  time which such design was at the cutting edge of artistic thought.  It stands dramatically on the flat marshland near the river and is an iconic landmark for much of surrounding area.

There have been several ideas put forward for our local holder in recent years. As long ago as the 1990s a local architects practice published a booklet called 'Eyesore' which was partially influenced by the light show which was then being played onto it from a local pub.  In 2013 ideas were put forward by two architects from BDP and was the result of a project by the Royal Institution of British Architects from whom it received a commendation.   Later, in 2015, Cuan Hawker exhibited a prizewinning photograph of the holder at the Royal Academy summer exhibition

But, locally, once the consultation began, one of the first things which happened was that someone set up an online petition to register people's views on retention or demolition of the holder.  A facebook page and a twitter account were also set up. We understand a massive 76% of respondents wanted the holder frame saved and reused in some way.

This was followed by tweets, facebook comments and linked in comments - from locals, and from people in the gas history, and gas enthusiast world - and copied on to all sorts of facebook sites and blogs, locally, London wide, nationally and internationally.

And also - this includes only stuff which was copied to us, there was doubtless much more - 

What the press - locally - said - 

Greenwich Visitor put the story on their front page with a picture splashed across with 'Save it'  and headed 'Symbol of Greenwich's proud past faces demolition' . Inside that issue was another story about reuse of holders around the world, with pictures and the strap line 'Beauties in the eye of the gas holder. They have followed this up with a front page note in their current issue.

The Mercury also front paged it with the heading 'Save Exceptional Gas Holder' and a detailed story.

Westcombe News included a short front page item, commenting that it was unfortunate that that consultation had been timed for the summer months

Greenwich Society Newsletter - included an item on the holder as a late news flash.

(and thank you to all of them)

There were submissions from national and London wide bodies - for example the national Association for Industrial Archaeology.  The London based Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society also made a submission.  Their expert described in detail the background to the construction of the holder and also said  'it is inexcusable that it is virtually unmentioned in the draft planning brief.... and yet it has considerable potential in place making in the new development...  the plans are remarkably lacking in vision'.  The submission also describes ways in which the frame could be used in a safe and practical way.

There was reaction from gas holder enthusiasts abroad.  Someone in Munich wrote " British engineers did pioneer work on designing and developing the gas holder and........  it was to the merits of George Livesey to invent the so called shell principle that enforce the structure of the guide framing and facilitated very tall gas holders with a large storage capacity....  with East Greenwich Livesey crowned this sublime structure with a very eyeable pattern that added a third cross. Thus the tall guide framing has a very elegant appearance". She also published a photograph of the Greenwich Visitor article.

this shows the holder in the snow
A local archaeologist wrote to say that one of the listing criteria should be that this is the last survivor of a significant local industry and reminded us of links to experiments on Shooters Hill.

An East Greenwich resident wrote " it would make such a great public space and is one of the only civic scale monuments to the industrial history of  East Greenwich.  It appears to rotate and spiral out as one drives past it on the bus'.

A correspondent from North London wrote to say how he was appalled at the 'lifeless and boring indicative development scenarios' described in the consultation documents and he also described in detail work done on the gas holders at Kings Cross

Several people have put forward ideas for reuse.  One suggested "use of the lower third as a sports arena, middle third as industrial museum and the top third as housing with huge numbers of tall trees surrounding". 

Another respondent made a detailed submission to the consultation including drawings for its use for "what could be achieved" given the vast amount of space inside it and asks if it could be used as an extension to the entertainment area at the Dome - citing several sites around the world where old holder space has been adapted in this way. He also cited its dramatic site and suggested this should be maximised as a landmark and icon for the whole area.

Finally - this blog has featured histories of the holder - scroll down the entries to find them, and also additional fantastic ideas for reuse (see the one by Jo, for instance). We are also aware that submissions have been made by important local groups - The Greenwich Society, the East Greenwich Residents Association and the borough wide Greenwich Conservation Group.  As well as lots of residents.

Listing - why isn't the holder listed??

There have been several attempts to get listed status for this holder going back many years.  We are aware of an application for spot listing as long ago as the 1990s. This, along with many other attempts, was refused.  We understand that Historic England commented earlier this year that they had little intention of listing all holders but said that this holder " remains a monumental industrial landmark in this part of London a clear marker on the skyline".

However as a result of the consultation we have heard of several people who have asked for the listing to be reconsidered - for example some members of the Enderby Group have sent in a long and detailed submission covering the history and architectural potential.  They are not alone.

And -
only one person has written to say that they think  the holder  is ugly and shall be pulled down - and they will not be alone in this view.

and also - ps - something else on the consultation site which Greenwich Council didn't mention was the old school building now used by the Horniman Museum - or some of the rumoured plans for adjacent sites.

thanks for pix to R.J.M.Carr & Rob Powell

Saturday, 5 August 2017



On 10th October Greenwich Industrial History Society wants to host a discussion on the current state of Greenwich's Industrial Heritage - and what we should be trying to achieve.  If you have ideas and would like to join in - please come along (Age Exchange Bakehouse 7.30).  BUT - perhaps more importantly - if you feel strongly please volunteer to do a couple of minutes presentation on your views. Please get in touch so we can arrange the programme.

AND NOW - what is being said and where:

The July/August issue is full of stuff about our local industrial history (even if  some of them were written by me, Mary)  there is:
** report on the Greenwich Revealed proposed works in Greenwich Park.  Not strictly industrial of course - but involve the history of works on a massive scale to create what was fundamentally a leisure complex.  **more on this below**  If you have more info on these works let us know.
**an article on the discovery of an 18th Hawksmoor drawing of St. Alfege church - again not industrial but part of a whole lot of works currently being done on the history of the church.  We would like to know more about these finds - please get in touch.
** an article by Pieter Van Der Merwe on Erebus and Terror, the Franklin Expedition's ships.  Of great interest is that the engines in Franklin's ships were recycled from Greenwich Railway locomotives.  *** more about this below***
** an article which draws attention to the 120th birthday of the Blackwall Tunnel and talks about the history of the publicly funded free river crossings in the late 19th and early 20th.
** attention is drawn to Enderby House in an article on local 'buildings at risk' and talks about the current restoration.
** a 'newsflash' about consultation on the gasholder site.

the newsletter also advertises:
** The Society's Annual Lecture on 26th November with two speakers on the Armarda Portrait of Elizabeth. Tickets £10 from
** meetings of the Decorative and Fine Arts Society.


Labour Heritage Newsletter.
The current edition has a long article by Stan Newens on the history of the Co-operative Party - and Greenwich has a large and active branch.  Stan points out that when, in 1927, the Labour Party tried to get Co-operative Parties to affiliate to it, only the Woolwich based Royal Arsenal Society did so. What he doesn't say is that Woolwich and the Royal Arsenal Co-op then went its own way with its Political Purposes Committee and the Greenwich Branch of the Co-op Party only dates from the demise of RACS, relatively recently.   
This needs pointing out to Labour Heritage - which also doesn't mention the Woolwich based co-ops which pre-date the Rochdale Pioneers, or Woolwich Labour Party which pre-dates the national Party by many years.
None the less this is an important article on the Co-op Party, everywhere other than Woolwich!
(Its good to be different)


The Temple of the Storms
If you walk down the Greenwich Peninsula on the west side and look across the river - and its this view which justify this item - you will see a strange Egyptianesqe building on the other side.  This is actually a storm water pumping station and it has just been listed. It was built under the London Docklands Development Corporation which generally didn't support public buildings and certainly not eccentric ones! It was designed by John Outram and is seen as the first post modern building to be listed.  Go and see it - it is totally extraordinary with many clever and esoteric features.  Really - go and look!!


Old Flames
Great to hear from a local group of ex-gasworkers. They say they are putting together a history of British Gas.  Happy to pass any info or contacts on.


The current newsletter has a long article by Malcolm Tucker about the listing of gas holders. Not too much about our great holder in Greenwich - its all, sadly, by Old  Kent Road and Vauxhall. Malcolm does say however "George Livesey and his brother Frank continued to develop gasholder design. A larger and more spectacular  version, East Greenwich No1 was constructed in 1884-8 and still stands prominently on the riverside . Like all gasholders it is now disused.  ................. the Livesey's ultimate development .. was the 'flying lift' ... in 1890-92 they built East Greenwich No.2. to an unprecedented capacity of 12 million cubic feet using six telescopic lifts of which two were flying.  That holder no longer survives.  (note - GIHS thinks the tank of no. 2 survives - can anyone confirm that??)

More about gasholders to come in a separate blog

GLIAS draws attention in an article by Bob Carr about the Ashburnham Triangle activists who have drawn attention to the first motor vehicle in Britain which was built in Greenwich.  This was Edward Butlers velocycle built by Merryweathers. 
GIHS will has asked Mick Delap to come and talk to about this and other issues in the Spring.

GLIAS advertises: 

Walk round the Arsenal site by Ian Bull 2nd September, book via
Walk - Did Hiram Maxim do anything for Crayford. 7th October book via
Talk - an Archivists Eye View of Morden College. Elizabeth Wiggans speaking to the Docklands History Group  5.30 Museum of London Docklands



This draws attention to a project for research on the Royal Parks in the Great War. They also have a 'war garden' and some heritage veg in what is now called the Queen's Orchard (aka the Dwarf Orchard)

They are also organising a trip to the Heritage Centre to see a panorama of a trip to Greenwich in 1836. This is for members of their history group which meets for reminiscence and research in the Wildlife Centre with tea and cakes (which is more than you get from GIHS!).  Best thing if you are interested is to join the group - details on the website

The newsletter also gives more details of Greenwich Park Revealed. Work will include restoration of the trees  particularly the historic avenues; reinstatement work on the 'Giant Steps' escarpment; a learning centre for schools programme, a training  base and an events centre; better signage, digital media and paper-based material; a ha ha along the deer enclosure to replace fencing; improvements to the Boating Lake and the Pavilion cafe 

A long email from Elizabeth Blanchet describes current activity. As people may remember a prototype museum was set up on the historic Excalibar Estate in Catford - and was burnt down, maybe deliberately.  Elizabeth describes the work down with the Association Memoire de Soye in France and the close work undertaken with the association. However some prefabs are to be exhibited at the Museum of Rural Life in Surrey and it is hoped to house the archive there.
Locally they will hold a 'celebration' event at St.John's Community Centre  on the Isle of Dogs on 2nd December  1-5 



Historic England tells us that work is to start on:
Building 11 Royal Arsenal 
10 Orangery Lane. Eltham
(thank you Mark)



We have been shown a blog page 'The Franklin Expedition and London Bridge Station' by Patrick Sweeney.  This is of course from the perspective of London Bridge Station.  It also refers to another blog by Peter Carney (no link to this ??). This apparently argues that the engines actually came from the London and Croydon Railway - which also ran to London Bridge. He also has some interesting things to say about how and why the engines were run, the plumbing arrangements on the ship and - lead poisoning.  The engines were expected to aid the passage through ice and also provide hot water for a number of applications.
We have also been referred to learned papers in Newcomen Society archives - I.J. Vol.81 No.2. 2011  by William Battersby and Peter Carney.  We also understand that it is hoped the sites can be dived for more information on these engines.

We also think there was a link to Enderby exploration in the Antarctic - again, let us know.



We are interested to know more about Dreadnought School in Blackwall Lane which, like the gasholder, is on a site recently consulted on by the Council. It is a London School Board School from around 1893 - and sadly not of a quality which suggests a design by one of their star (and very listable) architects.  It has been used as a store by the Forest Hill based Horniman Museum since 1969 and we understand they own the freehold. It has never been owned by Greenwich Council.  Please get in touch if you can tell us anything


A recent holiday in Broadstairs alerted us to the entry point for many undersea cables - hopefully those made in Greenwich. We were particularly interests in a little building on the cliff edge at the end of Dumpton Gap Drive corner of Western Esplanade.  We understand it has been recently sold - but - again - any info?? gratefully received.

the building at Dumpton Gap 

Sign to the rear of the building
(thanks Dick)



Rob Powell has put up a posting on his blog with some fascinating cuttings about the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
He points out that the 4th of August was the annivesary of the opening of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel in 1902.  He had found cuttings from the Coventry Free Press 'it must be seen by the eye of imagination through the lens of knowledge' and much more.



Richard Buchanon has kindly sent us a history of conservation areas - and do you know what!!  I quote:

" Now - London’s first conservation areas.  There were two, both designated on 17th January 1968 and both by the London Borough of Greenwich. ......these two covered the old Greenwich town centre and Blackheath; the area which was mainly in Crown ownership was added later."
(sorry no link for this - perhaps Richard can help with that) 


Thursday, 20 July 2017

News and stuff

Dreadnought School - the council has been consulting about the gasholder site - but also on that site is Dreadnought School which is currently in use by the Horniman Museum as a store.  The school was built by the London School Board and was probably opened in 1893.  Other information seems to be very elusive. Around London these Board Schools are being listed and are becoming very famous - the earlier ones were designed by Edward Robson and then, later, by T.J.Bailey.  We don't now who designed Dreadnought but probably neither of these two leading architects. Does anyone have any information. The schools seems to have later been called Riverway School - and we also don't know what information Horniman has and what their response to the consultation is.  We understand Horniman sometimes offer tours of the building - starting from their site in Forest Hill.


2018 will be European Cultural Year and EFAITH are planning on industrial development having a major role in this. they have already held two conferences on this and hope to:
--- have an industrial heritage theme for each month
--- feature young people and industrial heritage
----motivate and train volunteers
----help to save endangered industrial sites

EFAITH - is European Industrial and Technical Heritage volunteers and voluntary associations.
check this out at:
or email your ideas to


Tidal Thames - their newsletter features the day when two cruise liners passed each other in Blackwall Reach a month or so ago. These were Silver Wind and Silver Cloud and they passed to sounds of horns and cheering passengers.  And showed there is much more room in the river than some people think.  (I was brought up in 1950s Gravesend when we thought nothing of three or four big P&O liners all moored in the river and at Tilbury landing - people should have seen the river when we had lots of real boats up and down all the time).


Tidal Thames also celebrates the arrival of Mercury Clipper - built on the Isle of Wight - and no doubt soon to be seen on Greenwich Reach.


- and Tidal Thames is pushing For Fish's Sake which is about litter in the Thames and around the Thames. Details are available along with a video,


Note from Historic England that archaeological investigation is about to start at Greenwich Pumping Station Thames Tideway site


Naval Dockyard Society - this is a call for papers on Dockyards - the End of the First World War and interwar retrenchment.  This is for a conference to be held on 24th March 2018  at the Maritime Museum. Details from Dr Ann Coats and Richard Holme


George Burtt - have been sent a lot of info about George Burtt who was born in Greenwich in 1871. He went on to become a great railway photographer.  Any info??


We have had an email about a project which is recording oral histories of boatyards along the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock to the Barrier, They have already interviewed men from Thamescraft Dry Dock Services, Cory's and the Yacht Club.  Is there anyone else out there who would be interested.  Please get in touch with GIHS.


GIHS hopes to have a meeting on October 10th where we can discuss industrial heritage in Greenwich. We are putting together a programme of people who can put their views forward and get the ball rolling. If you have something you would like to say and can say it in five minutes please get in touch asap


The gasholder and its site.  We have so much stuff this is going to have to be a separate postings. Great response, thanks everyone!!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Pipers reference

Thanks Mary Jane for this photo a paper from Pipers barge builders - their site was on the Peninsula between Lovells (now Riverside Gardens) and Enderbys - in fact mostly the site recently vacated by Deverills boat repair business.  Pipers were famous for their spirtsail barges - and particularly those who won many races

Here is a photo of the letter signed by James R. Piper that was sent to my Grandad in 1913. My Grandad went on to be in charge of the rigging on the Cutty Sark when it was put in dry dock in Greenwich. His son became a sailmaker and was involved with the TV series called the Ondenin Line. Also his Grandson became a sailmaker as well. We are very proud of them all. I have lots of papers to do with the work he was involved with. I hope this paper is of interest to you. .

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Who's heard of Cody Dock?

Ok - Greenwich - which among you has heard of Cody Dock?? Has anyone actually been there?

Its not far away .............

Do any of you actually, ever, cross the river??

So?? -it is part of a riverside walk ..... it has preserved gas holders at either end .................  last year part of it was a finalist in a 'Grow Wild England' competition has a sculpture trail which includes some of our own riverside path fact it starts on our riverside path -with the first bit of art (which isn't a bit of art which is on our Greenwich lists) .............and you end up at the very very wonderful Three Mills (which has been open for years and years and years) having walked through lots of interesting areas including two gas works and all sorts of other industrial sites.

So???  Are you all going to tell me you have all Walked the Line?? and that it is all actually and really on piles of leaflets distributed round Greenwich,

More to come on this. Please add your comments/experiences

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Plumstead and the Origins of Dolcis Shoes

Plumstead and the Origins of Dolcis Shoes

by Barbara Holland

Plumstead does indeed have a place in the history of the Dolcis shoe company. Readers of a certain age – and I’m one of them – will remember the names of the different shoe shops which used to dominate the high street. As well as Dolcis, there was Barratts, Bata, Curtess, Freeman, Hardy & Willis, Lilley & Skinner, Ravel, Saxone, Timpsons …....and many more.

A good history of Dolcis shoes can be found here, but there is little detail of the early days in Plumstead.  The founder of the company was John Upson, who was born in 1823 in Saxmundham, Suffolk.  In the 1841 Census he is recorded as an apprentice shoemaker to a William Gardener in Market Hill, Framlingham in Suffolk.

He married Hannah Hearn in Suffolk in 1843 and by 1851 they had moved to Newington, Surrey, which was in the centre of London’s leather industry. They lived at 20 Union Row with 3 children, and by this time John Upson was recorded in the census as a Wholesale Boot Manufacturer.

Soon after, they moved to the Bexley area where 4 of their 9 children were born between 1852 and 1857.  During this period in Bexley, John suffered 2 pieces of bad fortune. First, in 1853, his brother-in-law James Hearn(e), who was working for him as a cordwainer (shoemaker), was accused of embezzlement by John, and sent for trial. Despite a trawl through local newspapers, I haven’t been able to find out whether he was found guilty.  Second, in 1854, John was made bankrupt.  He may have moved back to Framlingham at some point after this, as one of his sons was born there in 1858, and there is a record of another insolvency involving a John Upson, a bootmaker, in Framlingham in 1859.

However, by the time of the 1861 Census, we find John Upson now aged 37, his wife and 8 children and his brother, living at 19½ Sussex Place, Plumstead Road.  His occupation is shown as a Bootmaker.  Sussex Place was the name given to a terrace of properties – mostly shops – on the south side of Plumstead Road between Maxey Road and Invermore Place.  This image of the Sussex Arms shows the western end of the terrace.  The Glyndon Estate now occupies this area.

In 1862, the Post Office Directory lists John Upson as a boot and shoe maker at 17 Burrage Road Plumstead as well as at 19½ Sussex Place.  In the 1861 Census, there is a shoemaker named Alfred B. Mitchell living at 17a Burrage Road, with the premises described as a shoe shop.It is at this time that Johnis said to be selling his wares on a stall or barrow in Woolwich Market.

In 1871, the family are recorded in the Census at 70 Plumstead Road (probably the same address as in 1861 but re-numbered), with John Upson now a boot & shoe salesman and 3 of his children employed as assistants.

The 1874 Post Office Directory lists him as a bootmaker still at 70 Plumstead Road, but with shops at 127 High Street Chatham, 15 High Street Dartford, and 5 Week Street Maidstone.

By 1881, John had clearly made enough money to have retired by the age of 58. He was living at a house named ‘Clydesdale’, Lee Road ,Kidbrooke, with one of his daughters and 2 servants.  (His wife was not listed on the census return but was lodging in Ramsgate at 7 Codrington Villas. In 1891 she was a boarder at 10 Lewisham High Street, living ‘on her own means’. Possibly she separated from her husband?  She died on 16th January 1895 in Woolwich).

The 1882 Kent Post Office Directory shows that the family now had a boot and shoe warehouse at 87 Calverley Road Tunbridge Wells, and further shops at 32 New Road Greenhithe and 3 & 4 Hare Street and 108 & 109 Powis Street in Woolwich.  By 1891, the shops were named John Upson & Co.  

The picture here  shows theWoolwich shop under the name ‘The London Boot Company’, and this one of Upson & Company from the late 1890s.  In 1902 the shop is listed at 65 & 67 Powis Street and had a manager by the name of George H. Tanner.

At some point prior to his retirement, John handed over the running of the company to his eldest son, Frederick William Upson. In 1881 Frederick was the manager of the shop in Powis Street, Woolwich with his brother Charles as an assistant.  In 1901 his occupation was recorded as a Boot Factor, employing staff.

John Upson moved again, first to Herne Hill (1891 Census) and finally to St.Leonards, Sussex (1901 Census). He died on 21st October 1909, a wealthy man, leaving over £96,000 in his will to his son Frederick William.

When John Upson moved to St. Leonards in about 1891, he built himself a grand house called Val Mascal in Hollington Park.  According to local historians, this house has a very interesting connection to the well-known socialist novel ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ by Robert Tressell, the nom de plume of the painter and decorator, Robert Noonan.  It is thought that the property which features in the story – ‘The Cave’ – is largely based on Val Mascal.  More about this can be found here.  Robert Noonan would have been working in St. Leonards for the building firm Burton & Co., who did some work on Val Mascal in 1903 and 1904, at a time when John Upson was living there.

John’s son, Frederick William, inherited Val Mascal and was living there at the time of the 1911 Census with his wife, Agnes, 3 of his 11 surviving children, a son-in law and his 2 children. They had 6 live-in servants and a gardener and coachman living in cottages.   Frederick died at the age of 80 in 1930 and left the shoe business and other assets worth over £195,000 to his son John ‘Jack’ Randolph Upson, aged 45.

John Randolph Upson was born in Camberwell in 1884. In the 1911 Census he was living at 38 Breakspeares Road in Lewisham (with 3 servants), working as a boot and shoe factor.  He attested for the Army Reserve in the First World War in 1916 and was mobilised for the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in 1918. He then served as a Sergeant in the 5th Cavalry Reserve Regiment until the end of the war. His service papers show that he was the Managing Director of Upson  & Co by this time. Although there is no record of a marriage in this country, his service record indicates that he had a wife, with a change of address shown for her from 5 Oakcroft Road Blackheath to ‘The Cottage’ Thruxton, Hampshire.

Jack Upson, seems to have lived the high life after the war, sailing First Class to New York on a number of occasions in the 1920s and 1930s, with addresses in St. James Square W1 or at The Albany in Piccadilly. It was during this period, in 1927, that Upsons & Co. became a public company, and expanded through the 1920s to own 135 shops in London and the Home Counties. He also founded the Monseigneur Restaurant, home to some of the best music in the England, in Jermyn Street in 1930, allegedly to entertain his ‘lady friends’. It closed only a few years later in 1934, after Jack began to lose interest in the venture and amid mounting costs.

He died in a nursing home, Rushey Court, Wallington, Berkshire in 1941, leaving more than £280,000 to his married sister Queenie Norah Keliher and Graham Charles Grundy, his warehouse manager.  His will shows him as being Chairman and Managing Director of Upsons Ltd (The Dolcis Shoe Co.).

Upson’s/Dolcis was absorbed by the British Shoe Corporation in 1956.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Sir John Pender and All Saints Church, Foots Cray

Sir John Pender GCMG
And his Association with All Saints Church Foots Cray

John Pender leased the Foots Cray estate from Coleraine Robert Vansittart (1833-86), for a period of 21 years, on 16 May 1876.  For the next twenty years he divided his time between Foots Cray Place and his London residence 18 Arlington Street.  He died at Foots Cray Place on 7 July 1896.

The grave of  Sir John Pender  (1816-1896)

The Funeral of Sir John Pender took place on Friday 17 July 1896.  He was buried in the family tomb, alongside his second eldest son Henry (Harry) Denison Pender (1852-1881) and his second wife Emma (1816-1890).

Harry, who died from typhoid at Foots Cray Place on13 January 1881, was the first Pender to be buried at All Saints Graveyard.  The funeral took place on 19 January 1881 and he was laid to rest in a simple grave behind the church to the east, close to the boundary fence.  Harry was an accomplished organist and the Penders donated a hand pumped bellows organ to All Saints Church in his memory.  It was made, at a cost of £120, by Henry Jones of 135 Fulham Road in London and installed by G B Wallaston of Chislehurst.  On 13 August 1882 a service of dedication took place, attended by John and Emma.A plaque was placed above the keyboard which reads:

‘Dedicated in memory of Henry Denison Pender who died at Foots Cray Place .January 13 1881, art 28, by his parents John Pender Esq. M.P. and Emma, his wife.’

Although it has been repaired on several occasions and the bellows has been replaced by an electric pump, the organ and plaque are still there.

The Henry Denison Memorial Organ

A 16 foot (4.88m) Celtic cross was erected over Harry’s grave on 6 September 1882, witnessed by Emma Pender.

Emma Pender died at the Pender’s London home of 18 Arlington Street on 8 July 1890.  Her funeral took place at All Saints on Saturday 12 July and she was buried, as was her dying wish, alongside her eldest son and so John Pender arranged for a family vault to be excavated.The Celtic cross was mounted on a frustum and epitaphs engraved on three sides.

The first photograph above, taken at the funeral of John Pender shows,behind the tomb, the south-east boundary fenceand large trees surrounding the grave.  The OS map of 1897 makes it clear thatshortly after John Pender’s funeral, the graveyard was extended a significant distance to the east and,in so doing, the boundary fence was moved and the trees surrounding the tomb were cut down.

On 18 April 1902, Anne Denison Denison-Pender, the eldest daughter of John Pender,died at the London home of her younger brother John Denison Denison-Pender.  Her funeral took place at All Saints on Wednesday 23 April and she was buried in the family tomb.  An additional epitaph was then added to the north facing trapezoid of the frustum.

The picture below was probably taken in the 1950’s andshows the Memorial with the Celtic cross, looking back towards the Church from the extended graveyard.

The original Pender memorial

On 15-16 October 1987, the Celtic cross was toppled by an ancient Elm tree that was blown down in ‘The Great Storm’,andthe cross was broken just below the circular top.  The cost of repairing the Memorial wastoo high for the Pender family to contemplate, so nothing was done until 1992 when Cable & Wireless plc, the successor of the company that John Pender founded in 1872, agreed to pay for the cross to be repaired,to make and engrave a new frustum, replace the original engraving and add additional engraving to the skirt of the frustum as well ascreatinga new gravel garden surround to cover the tomb.  On 6 July 1993, the refurbished Memorial was re-dedicated in a short service attended by the late Baron Pender, John Willoughby Denison-Pender (1933-2016), and directors of C&W.

The refurbished Memorial in 1993

The original frustum below the Celtic cross was engraved in all four trapezoids and all these engravings have been transferred to the new frustum   The side facing away from the church is engraved ‘This Memorial was Erected by Sir John Pender K.C.M.G.’ on the opposite side facing the church is ‘In Memory of Emma the Beloved Wife of Sir John Pender K.C.M.G.  Born 19th Oct 1816 Died at Arlington St 8th July’.  On the south facing side of four is the original dedication to ‘Henry Denison Pender Born October 8th 1852 Died at Foots Cray Place January 13th 1881’.  John Pender was not knighted KCMG until 1888 and so the frustum and all this engraving was commissioned by Sir John Pender after the death of his wife Emma in 1890, when the family tomb was excavated.

When Sir John Pender died the following citation was added under Emma’s epitaph; ‘Also of Sir John Pender G.C.M.G Born 19th September 1816 Died at Foots Cray Place July 7th 1896’.
When the new frustum was made two additional epitaphs were added to the skirt.

Under Emma and John:
Sir John Denison Pender G.B.E., K.C.M.G. Born 10th October 1855, Died 6th March 1929, and his Wife Beatrice Catherine Denison Pender Married 2nd August 1879 Died 11th November 1920.  Both Interred at Slaugham, Sussex’

And below Henry:
‘Sir James Pender Baronet Born 28th September 1841, Died 20th May 1921, Interred at Dunhead Salisbury’

The Memorial Frustrum May 2017

Celtic Cross May 2017
Stewart Ash 1017

pictures of the original and refurbished memorial courtesey Telegraph Museum Porthcurno with thanks