Monday, 26 May 2008

Payne's Wharf

Does anyone know anything about the latest progress on Payne's Wharf?

Friday, 23 May 2008

Soap and the Chief Guide


Last night's TV on Scouting for Boys reminded me of something - with all the speculation on BP on sex (or lack of it) they only had a tiny mention of his wife, Olave - who was of course a local girl, coming, I think, from Westcombe Park Road.

Olave Soames was a member of the family who owned Thames Soap Works factory which was on the site of the Seriol sugar works on the Peninsula. Soames made some terrifyingly ungentle soaps in the days when disease and dirt stalked the area and tar was seen as an essential antiseptic rather than a threat - British Carbolic was one of theirs.

It all seems to go together somehow!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

MERRYWEATHER AND OUR PROGRAMME


Please remember out next meeting - 20th May - that's Tuesday

Neil Bennett on Merryweather Fire Engine Manufacturers of Greenwich

I am really really pleased to have got Neil to do this as Merryweather were a most important local company whose products went world wide - every local museum in the world has their old Fire Engine on show. Try putting 'Merryweather Greenwich' into the net and you will come up with 100s of proudly preserved engines and sites. Something locally preserved are the pumps on London Fire Brigade Float Massey Shaw - hopefully soon to find a permanent site on the Greenwich riverside.
The meeting is as ever at Old BakeHouse (back of Age Exchange building in Blackheath Village) 7.30 just turn up.


Other future meetings
10th June Lindsay Collier on The Industrial Museum of the Lee Valley
15th July Roger Owen on Early Steam Ships and the City Canal
23rd September Hugh Lyon on The impact of railway building on Greenwich
21st October Janet MacDonald on The Royal Victualling Yard Deptford
11th November James Trimmer on The Work of the Port of London Authority, with special reference to Greenwich
11th January Richard Hartree. on John Penn the work of the Greenwich based engineering company and its founders
17th March John King on Lullingstone . The Airport that never was.

Royal Gunpowder Mills


Through my door from a neighbour has come the latest leaflet from the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey - OF COURSE this is to do with Greenwich's Industrial History since the factory at Waltham Abbey was very much part of the diaspora of government weapon's establishments that spread out from Henry VIII's Greenwich, partly via Woolwich, from Tudor times to the mid-20th century.
Today the chemical weapons establishment at Waltham Abbey is a fascinating and beautiful parkland site which can still evidence strong links with Woolwich and the Arsenal - very visibly through Locomotive Woolwich standing centrally on display. Everyone should go there - they are open every weekend and bankholiday from the end of April to the end of September. Check them out and their events programme at www.royalgunpowdermills.com

Perseverance Pays!

Someone has just shown me a page from the Magazine 'Model Engineer' for 1946 and drawn my attention to an advertisement. This is for the Alpha Engineering Company - 'Specialists in the Manufacture of Special Purpose Cutting Tools', Perseverance Works, Woolwich Road, London, SE10. Phone:GREENWICH 1838.
So - any one any ideas? where was the Perseverance Works and does anyone know anything about Alpha?

Friday, 16 May 2008

Discover Greenwich

Big event last night in the Painted Hall where the great and good were all asked to take part in the launch of a a new ‘Learning and Interpretation Centre’, planned for the Cutty Sark area by the Greenwich Foundation. This is to ‘create a new permanent exhibition in the main hall of the Pepys Building with a learning suite, and temporary exhibition space on the mezzanine level. It will be called ‘Discover Greenwich’ and explore themes in the evolution of the town and the Old Royal Naval College site - Greenwich Palace – Royal Hospital for Seamen – Royal Naval College – Architecture – Craftmanship – Greenwich World Heritage site today – The River – Greenwich, London and the World. They are looking for volunteers for the Foundation, and/or participate in an oral history programme and/or make a donation. www.oldroyalnavalcollege.org.
So - what about industrial history here - well it has just managed to creep under the door and get a little bit noticed. Part of this was the investigation of the old brewery area - but also keeping in the minds of the people setting all this up that all of what we know as 'Royal' and 'Maritime' Greenwich had to be backed up by a large and highly skilled workforce - and that those skills were also transferred into a wider world of economic activity and endeavour - and just as important!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK!
-and here is a picture of the Arsenal - at the place where you said your desk was:


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Jack


Tomorrow is Jack's birthday- he is 91! Jack was Greenwich Industrial History Society's first Chair and we all owe him an awful lot . Please join us in sending best wishes and happy birthday!

this picture shows Jack (far right) having rescued the plaque from Henry Maudslay's tomb from oblivion in Woolwich Churchyard.
(he wouldn't like me describing him as 'far right' though - Jack, you should have stood at the other end!)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

railway stations

I knew it wouldn't take long for the railway enthusiasts to start emailing with stuff. A correspondent has asked me if we know about www.kentrail.co.uk/kent_infrastructure_index.htm - which includes a lot of detail on all our local railway stations in the Borough (and, of course, elsewhere).

Ports of Call - again

Busy busy busy this morning! An email from the Ports of Call Project which is set up through the University of East London - check them out at www.portsofcall.org.uk. They say they now have 1000 sets of professionally produced trail CDs with map booklets - and that these are available. They also have a walk on 22nd May called 'Gunpowder, Fire and Flood' - meet at Excel Centre reception.

Dick Moy

The Greenwich Society Newsletter has just arrived and on the front page is a picture of the plaque they have had put up to the late Dick Moy who was one of the their founder members. Among the tributes to Dick I think Greenwich Industrial History Society should also add their's. Dick was one of our founder members too - and contributed a very early article to our newsletter - a piece of research on a knife which seemed to have been made in Greenwich - Dick's theory was that it was actually assembled in Greenwich rather than the blade being made here. He was due to speak to the Society on his work when illness intervened. Like all local societys we depend on our members to get going - and all the more when they are someone so locally eminent as Dick.

Wages in the Arsenal

We have had an enquiry from someone who wants to know how they can find out what workers at the Arsenal would have earnt. For instance what would a 'gun inspector' have earnt about 1900? This was someone who bought their own house in Plumstead for £170 - was that a lot of money to them?

Monday, 12 May 2008

Royal Arsenal Co-op Society


The latest issue of 'Industrial Heritage' arrived this morning. As its published in North Yorkshire I never find very much hope of anything about London in it! - - but - the second article in is about out very own RACS. Of course they say that it was 'following the Rochdale Pioneers' and 'pioneered by Northern workers' even though they also say the first Co-op recorded in Woolwich was a corn mill in 1760! However it does give a very nice little three page history of this very important early Co-operative Society which not only provided a source of ethical cheap shopping, a manufacturing base and a whole network of social facilities. For a while we did have a hope of setting up a Co-op museum in Woolwich and there was a vast collection of material - does anyone know what has happened to it.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Up the Farm


I have been very fond of saying that if you want to do 'real work' these days locally you need to volunteer at Woodlands Farm. The Farm is on the site of the old Co-op Farm and Abbatoir (back issues of Greenwich Industrial History will tell you about work there and their two records, one for the fastest beef gang in Europe and the other the number of people shot by the police). Anyway - all that aside - please support the Spring Show at the Farm on 18th May 10-30-4.30 with stalls and so on. They say 'Meet the Wood Bodger' - that must be industrial! and Greenwich Industrial History Society will certainly have a presence there, as will the Severndroog Trust and many others. http://www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org/.

100 Cauliflowers

Not really sure if this is industrial history or not - but it's certainly inspired by it. This is the 100 Cauliflowers Project, where cauliflowers have been growing all winter alongside the river by the old Power Station jetty on the Peninsula. Why? They say that 'up until the 1960s cauliflowers were grown here - so local residents worked to plant and grow 100 cauliflowers in the shadow of the Dome. There is a harvest festival on 17th May in a local school where children and their parents will prepare the cauliflowers helped by 'Hand Made Food' and then eat them! http://www.100cauliflowers.com/

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

more chimneypots and lightermen

Julian Walker has emailed to say that he is extending his wonderful exhibition on riverside finds on show between the tube station and the Dome.

On Sunday 11th May there will be an artist-led walk round the peninsula with 'many fancies and delights' - but also reference to the industrial past of that area. Meet 2.45 at the exhibition site. Julian also says tehre will be another such walk on 28th June as part of the Festival of Architecture.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Gas Main from Greenwich to the Old Kent Road



The latest issue of 'Gaslight' - the newsletter for historians of the gas industry - has reproduced a fascinating tender document about laying the gas main from East Greenwich to the Old Kent Road gas works in 1884. The contractor was Thos.Docwra and Sons of Balls Pond Road in Islington. and they were charging 23/6d. per yard for the work. This included costs for the employment of a ganger, a jointer, an excavator and a horse and cart - fences, lanterns, timbers left in trench, deals, reinstatement of Macadamed roads, cartage to the rubbish shoot and lead joints. Perhaps this is just a reminder that road works in East Greenwich have always been with us!

laying the gas main in Bridge Street,Greenwich

Callis Yard

In the latest newsletter of the Woolwich Antiquarians is an article by Richard Buchanan about Callis Yard in Woolwich. This describes a visit there of the Greenwich Conservation Group. Callis Yard is an old stables built in 1899 by the Woolwich Board of Health - basically what was then the local Council to keep the municipal horses. What it consists of is a three storey stable block where dust cars were kept at ground level, the horses on the first floor and there food up above. The site is likely to be redeveloped soon.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

railway under the front of the Maritime Museum

I have a request for any detailed information about the construction of the railway line from Greenwich Station to Charlton in the 1870s - particularly the section which tunnels under the lawns in front of the Maritime Museum. Any ideas anyone?