Friday, 15 February 2019

David Cuffley on bricks - and also come and hear him next Tuesday

GIHS Meeting on 19th - next Tuesday - we are welcoming David Cuffley who is going to speak 
about Discovering history of a house -case study Salutation Alley Woolwich

David works hard for the North West Kent Family History Society - and is a big expert on brick manufacture.  He is a big support to GIHS and has helped us with many queries about bricks and buildings over the year

Recently he was asked about bricks and Placentua Palace in Greenwich. I thought you should see his reply. (which I've edited a bit).

"Approximate locations of brickworks used to supply bricks to Placentia Palace.

You ask if ‘bricks were manufactured in East Greenwich and transported by barge and cart’.  The location East Greenwich is not one I recognise for a brickfield,. You should see John Musty’s article ‘Brick Kilns and Brick and Tile Suppliers to Hampton Court’ published in The Archaeological Journal 147, 1990, which wikll give you some help understanding the brickmaking industry in the 16th century. 

Musty refers to RICHARD RECOLVER (sometimes RECULVER) of Greenwich working on Hampton Court, Greenwich Palace and St John’s College. My interpretation of the of ‘Greenwich’ is either he was from Greenwich or that he acquired that suffix from having worked on Greenwich Palace for such a long construction period rather only a season (April to October).  My best guess that he was an itinerant brickmaker who came to projects to make bricks rather having his own kiln and transporting the bricks to the site. If Richard Reculver was an itinerant brickmaker I would expect him to be clamp burning bricks rather than have a permanent kiln structure. One small problem is the terms ‘clamp’ and ‘Kiln’ are frequently mixed/misused in old records. However clamps were widely used in this part of Kent right up to Dawson’s brickfield in the late 19th century at East Wickham. 

The Hampton Court records note some brickmakers delivered their bricks to the site and Musty says these were local brickmakers with some others as far away as Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire; 40 miles. My rule of thumb for brick transport by cart is 5 miles out loaded and then back in a day.  Part of the reason for lots of rural brickfields that are difficult to precisely locate, except by parish name.
Greenwich had one major advantage for brick transport and that’s the river. As an example Vanburgh Castle next to Greenwich Park in the 18th century used bricks from as far away as Fulham and Maidstone on the Medway. These were delivered by barge and then carted up to the site from the river. The accounts give names and details.

If you look at Nathaniel Lloyd’s ‘English Brickwork’ and his table of Brick measurements you will notice his c1520 Hampton Court –East side of clock tower were 8 7/8”-*1/2” x 41/2”-4” x 2” thick and were laid 4 courses to 10”, Deep Red in colour. He also records St Johns College- gateway tower as late 15th century 81/4”x41/2”x21/4” with 4 courses to 111/2 the authority for this he gives as Sir R Blomfield, (Hist. Renaiss. Arch. England p351). 

Two things you might like to check firstly is the brick sizes in the college you are interested in.  If Richard Reculver made the bricks at both places I would expect them to be the same size, although different clays might dictate otherwise. Secondly the quality of the brick as the wide 4 course height and bed joint thickness may indicate a more irregular brick shape. If your research shows similar quality and size bricks then perhaps Richard Reculver was the main brickmaker and this would be the type of brick you should be finding at Greenwich-Placentia Palace. 

None of the excavation reports I have managed to find since receiving your email record the bricks found. If you have any details I would love to receive them.
You also ask if Kentish Rag could have been used. If this is so then the river would have been the transport method fromt the aidstone area via easy access on the Medway. There are still Ragstone quarries at Barming, Kent providing ragstone for roads etc..  My experience in the construction industry; over 40 years; is that stone arrived on site cut and shaped with only adjustments made to ensure each section matched properly. Now stone being heavy I would expect worked sizes were easier to move but could be subject to damage especially in the pre industrial age. In large historic projects I have seen where a stone masons yard was set up adjacent to the building. Raw material was brought into the yard and shaped stone lifted into position. At one repair project I worked on in Brighton I spent a day watching the stone mason shape a new section to match the adjacent stones. A really magic piece of work and gave me a lot of respect for their trade.
To the best of my knowledge there were no Architects in this period, the designers were the builders/building contractor. The brickmaker would have undertaken to make bricks for the project and be paid per 1000 bricks made and burnt. For this he would have employed a team of moulders and labourers he paid out of his money. 

A practice that continued into the 19th century was where a berth or stool of six people worked as a team and bwere paid by the brickmaker/moulder. The setting out and laying of bricks is done by the trade of Bricklayer which is not the same and should not be confused with the brickmaker. Building to a set pattern is not a surprise because that’s the tradition of timber frame buildings, i.e. Weald House. My understanding is most of the work was done by rules of thumb the sizing of piers, walls etc. were all done by trade and previous experience.  I also expect but have no proof or reference that the stone supplier for the window reveals would offer styles and sized members/elements he and is workers were familiar with and knew the stone spans could withstand.
All itinerant workers lived on site up to the early 20th century.   Sydney Twist in his book about Faversham Brickmakers talks of brickmakers living on site in hovels formed with un-mortared brick structures. There are stories in newspapers of brickmakers who found tramps in their hovels pushing the structures down on top of them, killing those inside. Brickmakers were a rough lot, of which some of my ancestors are included.
You ask if Dutch bricklayers involved. I don’t know but I do have brickmakers in the early references in my index with surnames such as ‘Flemyng’, ‘Docheman’, ‘Holland’, ‘Tiler’ and ‘Brykeman’ all 13th to pre 17th century.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Naval Dockyards in Deptford and Woolwich - Conference Report

That excellent organisation, the Naval Dockyards Society, has now produced an important report on a conference held at the National Maritime Museum in 2013 – “500 Years of Deptford and Woolwich Dockyards" - officially the Transactions of the Society (Vol 11 Jan 2019). So what’s inside it?

First paper in the report is by NDS Chair Ann Coats and gives a resume of the history of the dockyards and their subsequent existence. She looks at the current planning processes for both of them – in particular at Deptford where there is still a live planning application whereas Woolwich, as people will know, has had housing on the site for many years. She also looks at what remains from the dockyards including items like the Woolwich Dockyard church which was re-erected in Eltham, were it remains.

Next we have Philip McDougal with a paper entitled the Naval Multiplex of Kentish London - and he’s right, we do need to remember the both the Dockyards were in the County of Kent.  He describes how the establishment of the two Dockyards led to other government owned industrial units being set up in the area = including the ropery at Woolwich and the victualling yard, very much later of course, at Deptford. In Greenwich there were institutions with an emphasis on science and health in the Royal Hospital and the Observatory. He describes how over the centuries changes, not just in society and politically, but also issues like silting in the river led to changes to the Dockyards. He mentions also the importance of the Arsenal to the Navy in supply of Ordnance. This is a detailed paper – and my summary above does it little justice and leaves out much of what he raises.  It leads us to other issues about which we will hopefully hear more in future years.-

Of course the dockyards we’re not the only shipbuilders in this part of London. There were private ship construction yards of Deptford - and of course throughout the surrounding area – ships were built here not just for the Navy but for private companies. Chris Ellmers’s paper was on Deptford’s private shipyards and their relationship to the dockyards between 1790 and 1819. He points out that in the late 18th- early 19th centuries private shipyards in Deptford built not only merchant sailing ships but also warships. He looks at the Dudman’s Yard in Grove Street and Wells and also Barnard in Deptford Green pointing out that they provided one of the nation’s major concentrations of shipbuilding. He gives a great deal of information about these yards and their relationships to the dockyards and how they built large warships.  This is a fascinating paper and easily my favourite in the set. There is a great deal of detail about the ships built and he also discusses the workforce and its skill base. We should not underestimate their contribution to the labour movement. Chris reminds us in discussing workplace organisation that these large workplaces existed here at a time when large factories in other trades elsewhere in the country barely existed.  Chris talks also about ship launches, the impact of the Napoleonic wars, and much else. An important and very interesting paper.

The paper by Peter Cross Rudkin is on John Rennie and the Naval Dockyards 1806- 1821.  It looks at Rennie’s career generally and in particular his role in the dockyards. However, to be honest, it does not say much about Deptford or Woolwich.  it discusses issues like contractors and the context within which Rennie worked in both technical and economic terms but his work at Deptford is described as ‘minor but tricky’ and his work at Woolwich was 'limited'.  However his role as consultant engineer is seen as key in this period.

Mark Stevenson is well known locally as our contact with Historic England. In his paper he looked at the regeneration of the dockyards in a planning context. He also describes his role in the emergence of SHARP which is it an international body which co-ordinates the histories of arsenals and other major historic government military sites manufacturing sites.  He discuss in detail how the planning process has impacted on the two dockyard sites we have locally. This is interesting and extremely informative.

The paper by Duncan Hawkins discusses the archaeological investigations at Convoys Wharf and the work done there. We have of course had a recent detailed report on this work but some this is an important summary of work undertaken at Deptford by the archaeologists

Finally there is a paper by Chris Maseika. People will know Chris from the Shipyards Palace in Deptford. The paper is “Mapping the Built Environment of the former Royal Dockyard at Deptford.  I do think we must very much be grateful to Chris, and Willi, the amount of work they have done on this issue and others. He outlines the changes which have taken place since the closure of the yard but then moves on to a discussion of the architecture and provenance of some of the buildings. He gives much detail about the architectural provenance of officers accommodation and relates it to the development English domestic architecture. This is the fascinating paper which in its originality opens up whole world of possible connections and gives us new insights into the dockyards and their past history - which is not always just about building and repairing warships

This is an important collection of papers about out local Royal Dockyards and raises important issues which are not just about naval ship construction but the influence of them on the society in which we live in today.  We need to be aware that the Naval Dockyards were more than just places visited by Samuel Pepys and where Nelson’s Navy was built but that they had a long existence as workplaces, manufacturing units with a multiplicity of contacts and influences as well a national and international resonance.
Contact Ann Coats for details and copies.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Newsletters, News and stuff

A few notes abour events and so on

GLIAS Newsletter 300

G|LIAS current lecture series
27th February, Mildred Cookson on Roller Flour Mills of London
20th March Tony Riley on London’s Lost Railway Termini
17th April Graham Dolan. Ripples in Time. The Building of Greenwich Power Station and the Unintended Consequences for the Royal Observatory. This is a repeat of the lecture which Graham gave to GIHS last year. It is a very important and interesting lecture and everybody who didn’t hear it in Greenwich should rush up to hear it at GLIAS
15th May AGM (6.15) plus Richard Albanese from Trinity Buoy Wharf.  Again – GIHS heard Richard talk about Trinity Buoy Wharf last month. He is a wonderful speaker on an important local; subject. Go and hear him at GLIAS!
All lectures at 6:30 in the Alan Baxter Ltd gallery 75 Cowcross Street EC1 (round the back and downstairs) See

GLIAS list many other events around London – here are some which may be of interest to Greenwich industrial historians

6th February. Old Rotherhithe. A Docklands History Group film show by Darren Knight 5.30 Museum of London Docklands
12th of February. TFL’s Rail Activities in 2018. This is at the London Underground Railway Society 7.15 Upper Room, All Souls Clubhouse, 141 Cleveland Street, W1
24th February. Low Tide Walk through Deptford creek.  11 am. Creekside Discovery Centre, 14 Creekside SE8
6th March. Riverside Archaeology and Finds. Talk by Jane Sidell. 5.30 Museum of London Docklands
29th March Joseph Bazelgette’s Birthday Party at London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road EC1. It’s free that you need to book
30th March Low Tide walk through Deptford creek 2-4 pm (as above)
31st March. Crossness. Public Steaming day 10.30 -4 Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, SE2
4th April. The Thames River Police.  London Canal Museum talk b/y Martin Wells 7:30 pm 12- 13 New Wharf Road, N1
7th April. Three Mills, House Mill guided tour. -  £4. Three Mill Lane Bromley by Bow E3 - that’s behind Tesco on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach

Elsewhere in the GLIAS Newsletter is an article asking for information about the building in Lewisham High Street which is now the Lewisham Local History Library. What was it before it became a library?


Lewisham Local History Society have sent us their current program
22th February. Mike Brown on the Blitz on Crofton Park
29th March AGM followed by a presentation from Voluntary Auction Lewisham
26th April. Mike Guilfoyle. Some of Lewisham’s Chosen Few - which about people buried in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery.
31st May Bethelem Royal Hospital in Beckenham
28 June John King on Grove Park in the Great War
All talk to the Methodist Church Hall Albion Way SE 13 7.45

We also have a copy of Lewisham Local History Society Journal No 26 for 2018.  It doesn’t have any articles directly about Greenwich but there is one by Julian Watson on Abraham Colfe. Lewisham benefactor.   Also Carol Harris, Brockley Green to Crofton Park and Diana Beamish on A Teacher, a Carpenter and my family.

Sadly the Lewisham newsletter has on the front page an obituary to John Kennedy Melling.  GIHS members may remember a very memorable talk by him on the Noakesoscope. - a projection system made in Greenwich.


Bromley Local History society meetings

5th February. Pam Preedy on Homes for Heroes – Bromley Garden City
5th March Chris Burton on early and quirky Brixton
2nd April. Elizabeth Haynes. Researching the murder of Harriett Monkton
All meetings 7.45 at Trinity United Reform Church, Freelands Road, Bromley


Greenwich Society Newsletter 2019

We are very pleased to see that the Greenwich Society has published an article by Richard Buchanan on Enderby Wharf and Enderby house in which he ices some of the background and history of the house along with details of the current situation on its refurbishment and the Lay Lines sculpture

Some other articles –
There are some details from Wendy Foreman of the current projects at St Alfege's Church including work in the crypt
They advertise a fundraising event for the Cutty Sark for its 150th Anniversary.  This is on the is on the 2nd of April, costs £65, and included two course meal and entertainments,
There is an article by Pieter Van der Merwe about the gibbets which he says were on Greenwich waterside sites and give some grisly pictures of corpses hanging near North Greenwich. She notes the Lay Lines sculpture and the now abandoned cruise liner sites. She continues to Morden Wharf and notes plans for development there and the proposed loss of Primrose Pier. She also covers Victoria Deep Water Wharf, the golf driving range and work which is about to start on a new music and events venue to called magazine nearer to the Dome
The newsletter also comments on the derelict toilet block on Blackheath


We have news from the Docklands History Group of their conference on the medieval port of London on the 18th of May at the Museum of London

Gustav Milne – The Medieval Port of London - an overview
Professor Vanessa Harding – City and Port - merchants and overseas trade
Dr. Damian Goodburn – Ships and boats of the medieval port
Dr. John Schofield – Medieval waterfront buildings
Alderman Alison Gowman - The Hanseatic Steelyard
Dr. Laura Wright – Language and London Bridge
John Clark – The Medieval Thames: rubbish tip, accident black spot, or sacred river?
Nathalie Cohen – The Fishful Thames: the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods
For further information on the Conference and how to book a place, please visit our website at


We would also remind people of the South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference this year hosted by Kent Archaeological Society and to be held at Dartford Grammar school on the 13 April book through Mike Clinch mike@, 


We understand there is interest in the old barrage balloon site at Kidbrooke. If anyone has memories or something else about the sire, please get in touch


500 Years of Deptford and Woolwich Royal Dockyards. We have a copy of a special edition of the Transactions of the Naval Dockyards Society. There are some very important papers here and hey demand a thorough review - this will be on this site soon.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Enderby House, Lay Lines, ourTelecom's Heritage - and what's going on??

The Enderby Group has been refurbishing its web site - and adding a page about the new sculpture which is standing outside of Enderby House.  Here's the link -

Now this raises a number of issues - but before that, what is the current situation at listed riverside Enderby House??

The house has been stabilised, renovated and made to look good on the outside and an extension built.  Doing this was a condition of the planning consent for the flats, etc. The developer brought in a firm of conservation architects to do the work to the satisfaction of inspections by Greenwich Conservation staff and Historic England.  BUT the inside of the house is still in a very rough state although thoroughly dried out and with some essential replacement of rotted or damaged elements. In short, ready for a tenant's fit-out.

Barratts - who, people may remember, were not the original developer,  were never particularly forthcoming about their plans for the future of the house . However all the indications were that the intended end use was for licensed premises and that any hopes the Enderby Group had for something different were not up for discussion.  We were eventually given to understand that a lease on Enderby use was being offered to Youngs brewery. As they began to prepare a licensing application for a public house there, a number of events on the Riverside nearby made this more problematic. Hopstuff were refused a licence for a bar at Riverside Gardens following public protests and we understands that people on Ballast Quay have been complaining about issues around the very old established Cutty Sark pub. Youngs do however have a reputation as extremely responsible pub managers.

The Council has granted a licence to Youngs for a public house at Enderbys but with a good many restrictions on outside and riverside drinking in order to meet concerns raised by residents in the flats around the house.   Before it can open there is a great deal of work to done on the interior of the house and we look forward to hearing what that will be. In the meantime Enderby Group has met with Youngs and the Council and hopes to continue to talk to Youngs about issues around the use of the house in addition to its use as a bar/restaurant  establishment to provide something for the new community growing up around it and also an reflect our concerns about the unique telecoms heritage here.

Having said all that - back to Lay Lines and the Riverside generally  - issues raised -

Lay Lines has been built because the installation of an artwork was part of the planning consent. So ....

  • We understand that similar requirements are in place for The Telegraph Works and Morden Wharf South but are there  similar requirement on other Riverside sites and developers?

  • What plans do organisations like  Visit Greenwich have to publicise such works?

  • Are there plans to link this work with those installed via the Now Gallery by Knight Dragon.

Enderby Group members - Stewart Ash in particular - have worked hard to help with this project to fruition and to ensure the historical information is accurate.  One feature of it is the QR tags which will provides online interpretation of sites.
  • This sort of scheme could be extended around the Riverside on the Greenwich Peninsula. 
QR tag used at Enderbys

  • What is being done by the Heritage Trust and Visit Greenwich to achieve this??
  • Will they work with the Enderby Group and use their in depth historical knowledge and experience.
  • And of course all the other Riverside sites in Greenwich between Deptford and Thamesmead 

Meanwhile we have some news of how our work on Greenwich's telecoms heritage is progressing:.

Issue 104 of SubTel Forum has now been published.

Stewart tells us that his article on John Pender and Daniel Gooch is on pages 48-53, which includes a brief description of Lay Lines.  There is also a short article by Bill Burns on pages 24-25(who runs

 He is also speaking about John Pender to the Bromley Chapter of retired Institute of Engineering & Technology at Bromley Central Library on 5 March 2019

and also at the Greater Manchester Archeological Festival 2019: Telecommunications Heritage Conference   on Saturday 22 June 2019

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 cafĂ©/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.