Sunday, 22 November 2009

Johnsen & Jorgensen question

I came across your web site whilst browsing this evening and wondered if you or any of your members may be able to help me...

My late grandfather, Harry, worked for a company called Johnsen and Jorgensen for many years. They manufactured medical and laboratory glass. I believe their main factory was in the Charlton/Woolwich area. During the war a temporary factory was set up in Hildenborough, Kent (Oakfield Works) due to the bombing and he moved there with the company. The business later transferred to South Wales (Cardiff area) and he again moved with the company.

I would like to find out more information about the factory in Charlton/Woolwich, where it was located, and if there is anything left to see today. If anyone knows anything about the set up in Hildenborough that would be a bonus.

A bit of a long shot I suppose but you never know.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

By the way, you may be interested to know that I write a blog called Kent Today and Yesterday. I have just written a post which includes pictures of the now derelict W T Henley/AEI Cables site in Northfleet which is currently being demolished.

Best regards,
Glen Humble

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Various notes from various sources - Naval Dockyards Society

The latest edition of the Transactions of the Naval Dockyards Society has arrived. It includes an article by Philip Macdougall on three fires in Naval Dockyards in 1840 -'Blame it on the Chartists'. One of these fires was at Woolwich.

This was the third fire - the first two were at Sheerness and Plymouth - and it took place on 6th October. Sadly there is much less recorded about the Woolwich fire than the others - but they were seen as the possible result of some sort of suberversion. A contemporary comment on the Woolwich fire is quoted - 'two foreigners were seen by Royal Arsenal artificers to be wandering at their leisure in the open face of daylight, about that vast emporium of war'.

- but what people walking about in the Arsenal were to do with fires in the Dockyard is far from clear to me!

This is a fascinating article and there are many more in this edition giving all sorts of information and insights into Naval Dockyards.

Various Newsletters and stuff - 2. Woolwich Antiquarians

The WADAS newsletter has some interesting notes about Woolwich Ferry and why it is only running on one boat. Apparently John Burns has had a loss of hydraulic oil in a hard to trace place. It has now been sorted out - and the spare part is now being overhauled. These (now very old) vessels are all being overhauled and repaired

John Burns - was the leader of the 1889 Dock Strike and was the first Labour leader to become a Cabinet Minister

James Newman - was leader of Woolwich Council from 1941.

Ernest Bevin - was the Docker's trade union leader and later Minister of Labour. He was MP for East Woolwich in 1950.

The newsletter also has news of the Olympic events on Woolwich Common, a lecture on Woolwich Town Hall and various local lectures and events - AND the Severndroog Castle By a Brick Scheme.

Various newsletters and stuff - No. 1 SLAS walks round Greenwich

A number of things have cascaded through the door:

SLAS newsletter - the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society record their walk round Historic Greenwich led by ineffable Richard Buchanan. I must say they saw all sorts of obscure bits and pieces - and thank you Richard, wish you had asked us to come! (and I daresay you will annotate this)
- they saw -
London and Greenwich Railway and Greenwich Station
Park Vista with a reminder that it was once the main road - plus the Park Wall 1619 and East Lane Conduit 1515 with Henry VIII's arms (1973)
House 1808 for the Auditor of the Royal Naval Asylum - which merged into the Greenwich Hospital School. Next house 1829 for the Commissioner of the Hospital - the two houses were done up Samuel Teulon (famous architect and local resident) as the St.Alfege's Vicarage. They were done up in 1951-1973 and are now the Vicarage and The Chantry.
Cistern in the Park. done up in 1707 for the Royal Hospital
115 Maze Hill with a plaque to Helena Mott designed by Rex Whistler
Vanburgh Castle - with plaque put up by the RAF Benevolent Fund
Westcombe Park Road on the line of the Roman Road from Shooters Hill.
Roman Temple remains in the Park.
Bandstand 1880.
General Wolfe statue - gift from Canada plus bullet holes
Royal Observatory and Greenwich Fair - with a telescope so that people could see the 'corpses of pirates hanging on gibbets'.
Queens House and the Royal Hospital.
Clive Chamber's Tree (see previous blog entries)
McCartney House with plaque to General James Wolfe. built by Andrew Snape. Sgt Farrier to Charles II. 1676.extended by Soane 1802 and called after the owner's mother. Horse hitching column outside.
Princess Caroline's Bath in the Wilderness
Ranger's House.
Crooms Hill - probably pre-Roman - with lots of interesting houses. The rear wing of the Grange might be Paternoster Croft held by the Abbey of Ghent form 918. Main house was built by Sir William Hooker in 1665. Gazebo is by THE Robert Hooke.
Gloucester Circus - with lockable coal hole covers.
Greenwich Town Hall - art deco by Culpin, 1939
and St.Alfege Church.

--------------- and lots more really interesting stuff.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Manchesters Trucks

Kindly supplied by Graham Manchester, here is a photo of one of the Manchester trucks from Charlton.

Interestingly, Corgi have made a model of this truck.

Graham also reports;

'We were the first ones onto the site after the closure of the Gas Works and took up residence in 1976! That was interesting! We were told we had to be off not later than 1996 as the Millennium building was going to be built there (so much for bidding from Birmingham and Manchester!)

Hottest year for years and mutant ladybirds about 1" diameter each which used to dive bomb us and bite us! (among many other stories!)'

Friday, 13 November 2009

Advert from 1930s Mercury

The above advertisement for South Metropolitan Gas Company appeared in the 100th anniversary of the Mercury. It is one of many illustrations to be used in a forthcoming book about the Greenwich Peninsula.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


I am not sure that this is actually straight forward industrial history but I thought it was so interesting people should know more about it. This is about Gilbert's Pit - a site of scientific interest in Charlton. I understand that a recent event was held in the Pit for the local great and good (and that's not me!) by the London Geodiversity Partnership and to show new plans which the council has for the area.
They say Gilbert's Pit as one of the most important geological sites in Britain. The industrial link to it is that the rock face has been revealed because it was a quarry connected to the local glass industry (and Charlton had the biggest glass works in Europe in the 1960s).
The new plans hope to connect the area round Gilbert's Pit with other local parks and open spaces - and to manage it in a way to show its geological importance and to give people access and information about this important site.
There is much of interest there - above the pit is the site of a Romano-British fort and there have been finds of pottery there. In the 18th century it was a semaphore station and later a Home Guard look out. The sand in the pit was used for brass mouldings in the Arsenal and later in the glass works.
The rock formations in the pit show older rocks on top of newer rocks - and this is a puzzle and one of the reasons it is interesting to geologists. The pit is described as a 'reference locality for geologists' giving insights to change in climate over 55 million years.
I realise this is a very brief outline of an important, and rather obscure, subject. There have been reports published on the site - and generally on geodiversity by Government and London Government sources and I am happy to put some references here if people ask for them.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


The latest edition of English Heritage's 'Current Archaeology' mentions something we ought to have known about earlier. This is the Teardrop site in Woolwich, and adjacent to the ferry.

They describe how 'one of the largest sections in London' was cut through a ditch and discovered that the ditch was probably Iron Age in origin and is thought to have enclosed a trading area (I think that means some sort of wharf). They also discovered five pottery kilns - does this also link with the well known kiln now languishing outside the Heritage Centre in its box?? Two of the kilns were 13th/14th century and used for London Ware production - the only such site ever found.
I have written to the team and hope to get more information.

Elsewhere in this edition is a note about Seager's Distillery at Deptford Bridge - which of course was described at the last GIHS meeting by Duncan Hawkins (thank you Duncan). They describe however, for those of you who weren't there, the remains of an 18th century sugar refinery, stonemasons cottages and of course the 19th century gin distillery and a late 19th century iron works.