Saturday, 26 January 2013

Greenwich made Lighthouse

The picture below has been kindly sent by a reader from South Africa
This plaque is at Cape Point Lighthouse, South Africa. Picture taken January 2013 - note the tower made at Victoria Foundry - which was on Deptford Creek in the Norway Street area.
Thanks to Hew Prendergast for sending it

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Meetings and stuff in the post

First of all. Please remember the next GIHS meeting -

22nd January      English Heritage's Mark Stevenson on SHARP  (an association of European Arsenals) and English Heritage’s new archaeology assessment for Greenwich
as ever this is at Age Exchange's Old Bakehouse, off Bennett Park. 7.30.

In the post today is the Lewisham Local History Society newsletter with their new programme for 2013. 
They lead with the sad news of the death of their Chairman, Paul Newing - known to many in south east London for his involvement in many local causes beyond local history had also been a Labour councillor in Lewisham

Their next meeting is of particular interest - about Blackheath based Burndept - which became one of the largest wireless makers in the world.  The talk is by David Shaw  and is on 25th January - at the Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13  7.45  - parking available, and all visitors welcomed - along with donations.

Other meetings of LLHS of particular interest to Greenwich industrial historians are

29th November - Julian Watson on The Changing Face of Greenwich
13th December - Alex Windscheffel on Gladstone - our MP, the PM.

they also have
22nd February - John Beasley on the history of Southwark
22nd March - their AGM and John King on Grove Park in the Great War
26th April - Gordon Dennington on My Post War Years in Lewisham
24th May - Rudie Daley - Memories of a Mayor of Lambeth from Jamaica
28th June - Steve Grindlay - A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body. Victorian Philanthropy Forest Hill
26th July - Alan Payne - Monsters in our Midst.  4 locals who became Hollywood Horrors
27th September - Jennie Howells - The Road to the Abbey - Bermondsey Street
25th October - Ben Honeybone - A History of Hither Green

Also received
Charlton Parks Reminiscence Project's new booklet
This is a wonderful little booklet full of interesting comments and interview material on the Charlton Parks.   Also see

Carol Kenna is coming to tell GIHS about the project at our meeting on 14th May

Also received

Industrial Archaeology Review.  This is the journal of the national Association for Industrial archaeology. And this is Vol.34  No.1. May 2012.
It includes articles on 'An introduction to the Archaeology of the Glass Industry. The Monuments Protection Programme' by David Crossley and 'Three and a half centuries of Bottle Manufacture'.  by David Dungworth.  Needless to say you can look in vain at these articles for any mention of Charlton - largest glass works in Europe in the 1960s.  To be a little bit fair to David Crossley he is talking about the development of the glass industry and concentrates on the remains of early sites - and he does mention some early inner London sites. To be honest though I was involved several years ago in asking him down to London and showing him some sites, and impressing on him the importance of some of the remains in the Charlton Pits. 
David Dungworth's article also concentrates on development issues in bottle making and thus is not interested in Charlton

 On 19th February the GIHS meeting is about Johnson and Jorgenson, bottle makers of Charlton.
Please come along

Monday, 14 January 2013

Industrial education - Harveys in 1952

Harvey's - were a large metal working firm who used to be in the Woolwich Road in Charlton - roughly where the fire station is. 

We were given a whole pile of their works magazines and they are very worth looking at for what it was like in the 1950s! 

So June 1952 and there is a report of the Annual Prize Distribution - this is prizes to the works apprentices and the whole thing was handled like a proper educational awards ceremony.

First Mr. Eatwell - Managing Director - thanked everyone and said the firm had 18 apprentice draughtsmen, and 58 craft apprentices and 19 young men 'who would be considered for indentures in due course.  He referred to the Works Welding School, and the Sheet Metal Class - with thanks to Mr. Johnson, foreman of the Zinc Shop.

Second - Sir Frederick Handley Page, no less, aircraft magnate. He said how Harvey's products were used in his aircraft --- and 'half and more of the people graduating from universities had only a knowledge of cultural subjects.... they were at a disadvantage with the apprentice who started in a workshop at a much earlier age'.
Sir Frederick also revealed that he had as a young man worked in Charlton for Johnson and Phillips (did he?? do we know any more about this??)

He then presented the Apprentice of the Year Award to Mr. Russell of the Heavy Tank Drawing Office.  He had been apprenticed since 1945 and got his indentures in 1951 - interrupted by a year on National Service   He got a wristwatch as well as the shield.

They then had some light refreshments - and students got their prizes, mostly things like useful slide rules, and text books.

What followed was a long list of the top three students in each category - all City and Guilds, Royal Society of Arts and National Certificate craft classes.  They had studied on day release at Woolwich Poly, or SE London Tech.      The only exception being a cost accountancy student who got a brief case as a prize for passing his three part exam in Factory Organisation

Note that these are all men

The Women's Page is at the back - including a recipe for Daffodil Biscuits, which I am happy to share.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Cesspool emptying equipment made in Greenwich

Thank you to Brian for drawing our attention to an article in Vintage Spririt -   this is by Ron Henderson and appeared in their May 2012 edition.  It is on the romantic subject of cesspool emptiers.

The article starts by explaining the need to empty cesspools before the days of main drainage - and how Greenwich based Merryweathers were on of the first to recognise that this process 'could be mechanised and improved'.

Early on a tank was mounted on a horse drawn cart - air would be withdrawn from it with a pump and the contents of the cesspool would then be removed into the tank.  Initially the pump was hand powered but Merryweathers a 'power pump driven by steam or in later years by a light single cylinder petrol or paraffin motor'.    However 'a more advanced method of making an air vacuum was by means of high pressure steam supplied by one of Merryweather's light water tube boilers'  . 

An early local authority to adopt this apparatus was Rochester who took three 500 gallon cylinder vans and three hand pumps in 1897 - and they later became one of the first to take on steam pumps because of the difficulties with Rochester cesspools. 

Merryweather also supplied deodourising equipment - air pumped from the tank passed through portable stove or disinfecting chamber to limit the smell.  Steam pumps did not need this as such air was passed through the firebox of the boiler to cut down the smell.   This process meant that cesspools could be emptied in the day time - in London, by law, they could only be emptied after midnight when the process was carried out by gangs of men with buckets.

The first steam vacuum exhauster was supplied to Romford District Council in 1905 - the article gives a detailed description of the vehicle - and was a 'huge financial saving  for the council'.  A similar machine went to Eton District Council.

Merryweathers also developed a petrol propelled chassis and also supplied vehicles which could also be used for street watering and gully emptying.

The article is lavishly illustrated with photographs of Merryweather equipment - some of it clearly taken at their Greenwich High Road works.

- a pump designed to be horse drawn with a separate manually operated pump destined for Killiney and Ballbrack council - and taken outside Merryweather's Greenwich 'Fire Station'.

- the same pump preserved in the Dublin Transport Museum today

- a complete set of cesspool emptying plant being demonstrated - again at the Greenwich works

- Rochester Corporation equipment at work (assume this is in Rochester)

- a Merryweather light vertical water tube boiler with air injectors - this looks as thought it could be taken in Greenwich High Road

- four pictures of the Romford vehicle - one of which shows it in use

- the Eton vehicle

-  cesspool exhauster owned by CL Gare & Co.  - possibly taken in the Greenwich works.

Thanks Brian for this - more to follow - and  - Ron Henderson the author.  Ron - if you ever see this, please get in touch, GIHS are always looking for more info and for speakers.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

News items part 1.

TALK OF THE THAMES – Winter 2012
Talk of the Thames is produced by the Thames Estuary Partnership – but although most of what it has in it is about the Thames below Gravesend, there are still some items of interest to Greenwich and Greenwich historians

-          Germaine Greer (yes, really) on about Bug Life and Thames Mud. Lots and lots of detail about little things that live in the water – and – she says that the famous Greenwich whitebait thrived on all the sewage in the river, and that now that the river is cleaner there is too little food for the fish!!!

-          An article about the 1953 North Sea Storm – the terrible floods.   This is all about Canvey Island – but it is such an important subject and, as the article reminds us, the Thames Barrier is saving us and ‘it is entirely due to this system that London is viable as a capital city’.  There are a number of commemorative events - a service in Chelmsford Cathedral on 31st January; lighting of beacons along the coast on 31st January and 1st February, and Canvey Island Memorial Day on the 1st February. Please remember that 58 people died on Canvey 60 years ago.

-          River crossings in East London – an article analysing the current suggestions including the proposed Silvertown Tunnel, a vehicle ferry at Gallions and junking the Woolwich Ferry. Or there again a bridge at Gallions.

-          The Super Sewer – Sustainable drainage – an article about the need for the Thames Tideway tunnel,
There is much much more in this edition of Talk of the Thames but I wanted to highlight one particular article which is about the project on ‘The Lenox – the first ship to be built in Deptford Dockyard for 150 years.     The article – which gives a lot of interesting detail on Deptford dockyard, is about the project running in Deptford to build a full side reproduction warship.    We would love the Lennox team to come and talk to Greenwich Industrial History Society about what they’re doing- so if one of them is reading this, please get in touch.

LAMAS NEWSLETTER      - January 2013
This little news booklet describes London wide history meetings and carries some archaeological articles.  So – of Greenwich interest in this edition –
Enfield Archaeology Society meeting 18th January. The New Look Cutty Sark by Jessica Lewis.  Jubilee Hall, Chase Side/Parsonage lane. 8 pm £1 each for visitors.

and – LAMAS Annual Conference of London Archaeologists. 16th March at the Museum of London.   This includes an item on Recent Excavations at Convoys Wharf by Anthony Francis of MOLA.  Tickets £15 Jon Cotton, c/o Depot Archaeological Collections, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2 5HN
and advert for ‘London Heritage Conference’  which will include an item on Convoys Wharf by Jon Wright of the Council for British Archaeology.  This will be on 28th September, will cost £30 and booking forms will be available in May


This is a Croydon based E newsletter which manages to merge local history and local politics in a very satisfactory manner.
it refers to the blog (which includes articles about Croydon Tories and Croydon Libraries with talks on Samuel Coleridge Taylor  ‘No wonder the Tories in Croydon kept the local studies and archives out of the tender process’ . it also includes items from all over – Lambeth (of course) but about ‘Save Newcastle Libraries’ and so on.  There are links to all sorts of campaigns and newssheets and blogs and meetings (i.e. School for Revolutionaries in Chesterfield).  There is so much there I hardly know where to start – best thing is to get it and read it!
(Thanks for the copy, Sean)

The group have produced their programme. They meet at the Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, Hertsmere Road, E14 t 5.30 for 6.  If you haven’t been – they are a great and really friendly and knowledgeable group – and the room, in the depth of a Docks Warehouse is amazing.

Their programme includes
6th February – talk by Gus Milne and Eliott Wragg on the Thames Discovery Programme – don’t know what they will say, but this programme has included work in Greenwich.
3 April = talk on ‘behind the jubilee flotilla’ by Martin Garside
7th August – Greenwich walk led by – er – Mary Mills
6th November – Society of East India Commanders by Tony Fuller

This is a group which grew out of an evening class and they operate as a class with a set programme of morning meetings and payment for meetings and so on.
They do have some very distinguished speakers – but also apparently a waiting list!!

I am always a bit nergvous about putting brief details from the Crossness newsletter – I mean – ALL of it is relevant.  But Winter 2012

-          article on the Fitting Shop tank and the duct under the garden
-          Nature watch  - butterflies and moths
-          News on progress - work on engine Victoria – work on the garden - Visitor numbers !!
-          News on loco Woolwich. she is now in  bits and those bits are being cleaned and she will be put together soon

Most interestingly they have some plans for a new rail pedestrian link – this would go from Plumstead Station down the Southern Outfall (which has probably been renamed by now).  Hope they have a look at the amazing Victorian Plumstead waste destructor on the way.