Saturday, 6 December 2008

Industrial Archaeology Review and Penns

In the post another learned journal - Industrial Archaeology Review - and as ever very short on anything about London - although I did enjoy the article about industrial housing in Essex.
Greenwich does however get a mention in Bob Carr's review of Richard Hartree's book on 'John Penn and Son of Greenwich'.
PLEASE REMEMBER Richard is coming to speak to GIHS on 20th January (not 11th as much of the press has been saying).
Bob begins by pointing out the importance of Penns as a major builder or marine steam engines at a time when the Thames was Britain's great shipbuilding river. In the 1830s Penns built seven oscillating engines for Thames paddle steamers - achieving success where others had had difficulty - which became standard propulsion in this field for many years. Penn's engine in the Elbe steamer John Penn built 1864 was in use until 1966, and we have already in this blog noted the engine on the Diesbar, still in use and designated an ASME landmark this summer. The Penn engine used in Empress and used in Bournemouth until 1955 is now in a museum in Southampton. Penns were the preferred contractors for the supply of large steam engines to the Navy and played a central role in the transition from sail to steam. In 1854 John Penn's lignum vitae propeller shaft bearing was a crucial contribution to the development of screw propulsion. A replica of a Penn trunk engine of c.1860 has been built and fitted into, Thames built, Warrior in her berth at Portsmouth.
As shipbuilding was moved away from the Thames Penn's began gradually to decline and were sold to Thames Ironworks in 1899. There is now nothing to see on their Blackheath Hill site - not even a plaque or any sort of sign - but some elements of their boiler works at Payne's Wharf remains, although also without any sort of mark.
Bob also points to the family history elements of the book - and that Richard's ancestry also includes Blackheath based moralist author, Samuel Smiles. But most of all it is 'an educational book explaining in simple terms the development of marine propulsion in the 19th century'

Remember to come to the meeting on 20th to hear Richard - and there are details of how to get the book further down in the blog.


Anonymous said...

The lack of recognition of this site is indeed a travesty. There is of course John Penn Street which leads to it but the new streets could well have been named to perpetuate the link - unless I am missing a connection with Franklin or Crosslet.

I also find that there is virtually no mention at all on the internet of F Francis and Sons, Tin Box Manufacturers who were latterly on this site. Having worked for them for 13 years almost up to their closure, I well remember that historic elements of the buildings still remained to the last and that clearing all this away was an act of vandalism

I am trying to gather as much information as possible on F Francis and Sons (Francis Packaging) with a view to I don't know what, but for a large company with so many employees and a long history at the site it should be done

I would appreciate guidance from anyone who knows of sources of information on this once proud company

please send to


Mary said...

We have some pictures of Francis which I will look out and put on the site