GREENWICH INDUSTRIAL HISTORY SOCIETY. NEWSLETTER
June 1998 Volume 1. Issue 2
This is a scan of some of the articles which appeared in this newsletter. The main article in this edition was a long piece about Wood Wharf – this will follow as a separate posting. Some details of where to get books etc. have been removed as very out of date – and in several cases the contacts originally given have died.
FORTHCOMING MEETINGS7th July 1998. 7.30 pm UNDERGROUND GREENWICH by Rod LeGear (Kent Underground Research Group). East Greenwich Community Centre, Christchurch Way, SEl0.
15th September 1998 7.30 pm INAUGURAL MEETING AND FIRST AGM East Greenwich Community Centre, Christchurch Way, SEl0.
13th October 1998. 7.30 pm INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN GREENWICH by Prof. Dave Perrett (Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society & Association for Industrial Archaeology) East Greenwich Community Centre Christchurch Way, SEl0.
December 1998 7.30 pm GREENWICH AND ITS INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE. By Paul Calvocoressi (English Heritage) East Greenwich Community Centre. Christchurch Way. SE10O.
12th January 1999 STONES OF DEPTFORD by Peter Gurnett. Venue to be arranged
*********.Readers might like to know that a microfiche with the names of old gas workers has been deposited at Woodlands Local History Library, Mycenae Road. Up to date details of gas workers can be obtained from Terry Mitchell, Mobberley. Cheshire.
LETTERSFrom Alan Palfrey. I have been thinking very seriously about the direction which the Society should be taking. Should we just have meetings with talks, or should we actively go out and find sites and industries to research? Should it be left to individuals to do their own research. Or should the Society offer support or perhaps take on projects to be done jointly? Can we share information about our interests and what can we do to help each other? I would like to see us setting up a register of member’s interest’s and. perhaps, flagging this up on a big map on the wall. It was a good idea to pass a book round at the last meeting but we need something people can see. Perhaps at each meeting we could have an 'Open Forum' session where people can what they are doing and ask for help. I would like to flag up my own interest in National Enamels which was in Norman Road in later years it was 'Vickery's'. Has anyone any information or pictures about this site and those who worked there?
From Michael Dunmow, Crossness Engines Trust. Many thanks for the first issue - it looks very promising. I'm sure you'll resolve the pictures problem. Best wishes.
From David Cuffley, North West Family History Society. Thank you for your letter telling us about the founding of GIHS. Please convey NWK FHS's congratulations to your members. Most people do not realise that Family Historians cover not only the details of their families but also the social and occupational information associated with them. As an example of this Jean Strike one of our Vice Presidents runs an index of Papermakers and is very knowledgeable on this industry. I run the Brickmakers Index which lists Brickfield workers and details of their families, works and as much more as I can squeeze into the database. At this moment there are 11,060 entries .. Articles regularly appear in our Journal about the industrial aspects of our research. You will find details of the Woolwich & Plumstead Brickmakers in articles by me in both NWK FHS Journal and Woolwich & District FHS Journal. Regards.
From John Day. Very belated thanks for the copy of your newsletter. It speaks well for the future. I don't know whether you are aware of the existence of a large number of drawings of machinery made by Hick Hargreaves for Woolwich are held at Bolton Library. Thanks for the note about the 'Aspects of the Arsenal' book. I persuaded a friend to get it for me as a birthday present'.
From Ian Sharpe. I hope you don't mind me writing to you from the other side of the river. Right opposite the tip of Greenwich Peninsula is a site, Brunswick Wharf, which is very important and needs some attention. The 'First Settlers' left Blackwall in 1606 to land in what is now Virginia USA. These heroic men braved all to set up across the uncharted seas. They founded Jamestown, and started the tobacco trade which was to become the main economy of Virginia. Yet a monument in their honour at Brunswick Wharf (the little mermaid) first unveiled by the American Ambassador in 1928 and again in 1953, has been neglected. It is directly opposite the Millennium Dome project, and although Barretts who are building a housing complex there have offered to restore it but will they get it right? It must have access and facilities for the many visitors that are bound to come. The people planning the Millennium should look beyond Greenwich and across the river.
From Michael Ward. Historic Greenwich Blue Plaques. Following our talk about 113 Blackheath Park I am writing to ask you to press for a much better marking of the wonderful proper ties that are to be found all over the Borough. The case of l13 Blackheath Park is striking and although it is not an industrial building the arguments that apply to it are just the same. It is the house that the world famous philosopher John Smart Mill inhabited for some 20 years. These were the seminal years of his greatest writings on Liberty, Utilitarianism and the Subjugation of Women. Apparently the London County Council Greater London Council response to requests for a blue plaque was to say that there one somewhere in London already. Greenwich should seize the initiative now ready for the flood of Millennium tourists, by commissioning cast and ceramic plaques tor a fair number of sites. I would also mention the conduit building and a commemoration of the first English golf course on Blackheath. You and your industrial historian colleagues will have many more to suggest throughout the Borough. The cost is not great – about £1,000 for a specially made round plaque with crafted lettering and rather less than for a metal or new simulated plastic plaque
From Arthur Turner. It really was a wonderful experience to be present at your meeting to hear Andrew's talk and to meet up with so many of your members and ex-employees of Redpath Brown. We had previously spent some come down to the site seeing the old Canteen building and the possible former sheds now resheeted as part of the Industrial Estate (Unit 19): also the former works jetty, slightly modified I suspect from its original shape. My only regret was the lack of time to speak to people after the talk
From Rick Tisdell. Re: Redpath Brown. I have managed to unearth some information from a file I discovered at my sister's house. I worked at Redpath's from 1960 to 1971 where I completed my apprenticeship as an Electrician in the Maintenance Department. My father worked at East Greenwich all his working life in the office where he was the purchasing officer. He was made redundant when British Steel closed the works in 1977. He died in 1979. My mother also worked in the office at Greenwich and it was there that she met and married my father. She was the daughter of Johnny Stewart who was for many years the Template Shop Foreman at the works. His brother also worked in the Drawing Office at Greenwich for a short time. My mother went on to work full time as Secretary to the Managing Director at Duncannon Street Head Office in the 1960s. Her great uncle was called Dan Taylor and he was either Foreman of the Roof Shop or General Foreman at around the time of the First World War.
From Philip MacDougal . One of the earliest and most important industrial enterprises in the nation were the naval dockyards. During the eighteenth century, for instance the naval dockyard at Chatham had a work force in excess of 2,000 . This made it the single largest employer in the southeast. In addition there were yards variously sited at Sheerness, Deptford, Woolwich and Greenhithe. Undoubtedly there must be a number of local historians either working on the history of these yards or who would like to know more about them. For this reason, The Naval Dockyards Society was established. Our next meeting will be at Woolwich (5th September 1998) where we will be exploring the site of the old dockyard. GHIS members are welcome to contact me.From Terry Scales. In Greenwich we have in the past taken our industrial heritage tor granted. I remember the warm glow of satisfaction when reading a press statement by a member of the Planning Department that "The chimneys of Deptford Powerhouse are important site lines in the view across London and will be safeguarded in any future development'. That was in the mid1980s. How things have changed since then and doesn't it just illustrate the danger of sitting cosily by whilst the waterfront of Greenwich is slowly leeehed of its trading character and converted into a Crovdon on Sea. At least the intention of the Deptford development, I understand ,is to renovate the large pier and continue with its maritime use in some way. This highlights the future of our other pier, the much loved old coaling pier by Trinity Hospital. Striding into the river on massive Doric cast-iron columns it is a truly magnificent structure. Many older residents will remember the constant cascade of water that dropped from the chutes above. It is the third element in a trio of contrasts. The Trinity Hospital and the Powerhouse itself making for a dramatic visual surprise as the pedestrian comes upon them quite suddenly. The Poet Laureate, Cudahy Lewis, used the space under the pier as the site of a murder mystery when writing thrillers under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake (Relevant Council Department, please note). This alone should guarantee it a safe future, but so strange and romantic is this edifice that in the next two years it will almost certainly come under the beady eye of the 'rationalisers' and fall victim to their rage for tidiness. My own interest is not historical - it is in fact a relatively recent structure of 1906 - but a purely visual only. As a landscape artist I find it an invaluable focal point in adjacent Riverside subjects. Looking either east or west it dramatizes the sense of space. This is particularly so from Pipers wharf where the elegance of the Royal Naval College is set off superbly by the Blue/grey columns rising from dun green waters. If we do not make a concrete effort to list the coal pier I am afraid we will lose it by default. I urge this society to lose no time in taking the necessary steps to do so
There are many overlapping points between Community History and Industrial History (see letter from NW Kent FHS). A new Family and Community Historical Research Society has been set up by the Open University, aiming to 'promote and communicate research in family and community history within a scholarly framework'. They aim to publish a journal with a first issue planned for November 1998. Details from Prof. Ruth Finnegan, OSFACH, Open University, Gardiner 2, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA 5.
**************************Consultation papers on the Greenwich Cultural Plan have been sent out. They include all sorts of wormy bodies but there is no mention of any sort of historical research. The document points out that the millennium provides an unprecedented opportunity for Greenwich. Forty-five people (none of them historians) were consulted. The Council hopes for a range of activities throughout the Borough with as wide as possible coverage concerning visual arts. Creative activities, sport and gardens all build on the existing cultural strength of Greenwich. In order to measure success initiatives should create a dialogue, harness economic benefit, address intra borough inequities, create a legacy, and leveraged funding. All of this is detailed. A Cultural Plan Co-ordinator is to be appointed who will ask for project proposals from the community and assist with submissions. Funds they say are limited. Time, they say, is running out. Get your bids in.
GREENWICH INDUSTRIAL HISTORY IN PRINT
BYGONE KENT is produced monthly by Meresborough Books of Rainham, Kent . It has published so much about Greenwich and its industries including this list of articles - which will be continued later on. Here are some of the articles on Greenwich industry which had appeared up to a couple of years ago.
The Fire King of Greenwich. Jane Putman. Vol.2.No.3. March 1981Woolwich: Kent's First Royal Dockyard by Philip MacDougal Vol 2. No.l0. Oct. 1981.
Deptford: Former Royal Dockyard. By Philip MacDougal Vo1.2. No.11 Nov. 1981.
Whitebait in the Thames by Eric R..Swan. Vol.3. No.1.. April 1982
A Place of Great Dread by Susan King. VoI.3.No.6. June 1982.
The Princess Alice by Henry J. Green Vol 4. . April 1983.
Visit to Woolwich by Henry Green Vol 4. No.5. June 1983..
Eltham Park. The Story of a Station. By Jim Landergan. Vol 5. No.2. Feb 1984.
The Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cables of 1865 and 1866, By Arthur Joyce Vol. 5. May 1984
The Royal Arsenal Woolwich. By P. Baigent Vol 5.No.9. Sept 1984
Shipbreaking at Woolwich by Philip Banbury Vol.5. No.9. Sept. 1984.
Housing for the Woolwich Arsenal Munitions Workers. By John Kennett. Vol 6. No. 12. Dec. 1985.
The Closure of Deptford and Woolwich Dockyards. Philip MacDougall. Vol. 7. No.4 . April 1986
Cable Manufacturing in Kent.. Pt.1 by Philip Banbury. Vol.7 No 7.July 1986
Cable Manufacturing in Kent Pt.2. by Philip Banbury. Vol 7. No.9. Sept. 1986.
The Remains of a Naval Base. By Philip MacDougall. Vol. 1 No.9. Sept 1986
The Southern Outfall Works. Crossness. By Robert Eastleigh. Vol. 1 No.11. Nov. 1986
Erith's Tuppeny Trams. Pt 1. By Robert Eastleigh Vo1.8. No. 1. Jan 1987.
The Bexley Urban District Tramways. Pt. 1. By Robert Eastleigh Vol. 9. No.1. Jan. 1988.
The Bexley Urban District Tramways. Pt. 2. By Robert Eastleigh Vol 9 No. 2. Feb 1988.
The Building of the Bostall Estate. Abbey Wood. By Rod LeGear. Vo1.9. N.3. March 1988
As the Crow flies. Milestones in Metropolitan Kent. By Bernard Brown Vol 9. No.3. March 1988
The Other Woolwich Ferry. By Robert Eastleigh. Vol.9. No 11.Nov. 1988
Launching a Barge. By Iris Bryce. Vol. 13. No.1. Jan 1992
The Maritime Duties of London's Bobbies. By Bernard Brown. Vo1.13. No.4. April 1992.
The Deptford Turnpike Road. By Bernard Brown. Vol 13. No.5 May 1992.
Parte of Kent. The Development of North Woolwich. By Bernard Brown. Vo1.14. No 1.Jan 1993
The Deptford Ferry. By Bernard Brown Vol l4. No.8 Aug 1993
The Thirty-nine Steps. By Bernard Brown. Vol.17. No.3. Jan 1996.
The Epic Story of the Effluent Vessels. Pt. 1. By Anthony Lane Vol.18.No.3. Aug. 1997
A Disaster in Blackheath Tunnel. By John Hilton. Vol. 18 No. 8 Aug 1997
The Epic Story of the Effluent Vessels. Pt.2. By Anthony Lane Vol. 18. No.9 Sept 1997
THIRD MEETING OF THE SOCIETY
THE STORY OF ARMOUR, SMALL ARMS, SILK AND GOLD AND SILVER WIRE DRAWING.Sylvia Macartney and John West
Chapter one - The Early Site
“That area of land roughly triangular in shape bounded by the railway embankment to the south west; Conington Road and Silk Mills Path to the east and the small bridge over the Ravensbourne to the south is one of the most historic sites in Lewisham. A Bronze Age axe head and bones, thought to be the jaw of a wolf, have been unearthed and the fragment of pottery and tiles found nearby suggest that it may have been a Roman site. Here was once once of the great fields of the Manor of Lewisham called Sundermead; corrupted in modem times to Sundry Meadow or Thundery Mead, and across the river was the field known as Loots, Locks or Lock Mead. From early times is has been associated with the tools and trappings of militarism and, therefore, whether intentionally or not, has been surrounded by an air of mystery. On this site, throughout the centuries, has stood a mill whose product encompassed the romance of chivalry, the heroism of warfare, the beauty of silk and the splendour of precious metal.
In the Domesday Survey of 1080- 1086, England's first ever public record; about 5,600 mills are listed. Eleven of these were in Lewisham, on the Ravensbourne, and one was on the site which, many centuries later, would be occupied by the Royal Armoury Mill and the Lewisham Silk MiIls.
The River Ravensbourne rises at Caesar's Well on Keston Common and after being joined at Catford by the Pool River and then by the Quaggy at Lewisham, it winds on until it reaches the Thames at Deptford Creek:, a total distance of nearly eleven miles.
The earliest mills on the Ravensbourne would have been somewhat primitive structures, built: around a timber frame, with walls of wattle and daub and a roof of thatch. One simple type of mill, known as the Greek mill, dates from about 85 B. C, and derived its power from a horizontal waterwheel which fixed to a vertical shaft, turned the mill stones
A second, more efficient type of mill was inspired by a Roman architect and engineer, Vitruvius in the latter part of the first century B.C. His mill had a vertical waterwheel; attached to a horizontal shaft and power was now transmuted via gearing. This was the type that became common in the Ravensbourne. Working parts were made from wood, and since iron was scarce and therefore expensive the bearings for the main drive shaft connected to the waterwheel would have been of stone prepared by a local stonemason. The lower section of the wheel was immersed in the stream and the force of water against the flat wooden paddles fixed at intervals around its circumference, caused it to rotate. Almost certainty, corn mills of this basic type would only have worked a single pair of millstones.
How to read on - in 1979 the Lewisham Local History Society published a 26 page A5 booklet written by two of its members and entitled 'The Lewisham Silk Mills. That booklet has been out of print for some years but now, following nineteen more years of meticulous research on the part of the authors we are proud re have been entrusted with the task of publication in association with GLIAS, of a greatly enlarged Second Edition. This new edition contains iv + 113 pages. With 21 illustrations in 9.5" x 6.5" (242 mm x 165 mm) format, burst bound in heavy gauge gloss laminated card cover with fold-in back.
Contents: - The early Site - The Royal Armoury Mill - Swords and Muskets – the Royal Small. Arms Factory - Robert Arnold Silk Thowster – the First Stantons - Gold and Silver Wyre dressing - The Second Stantons –into the twentieth century – workers at the Royal Small Arms Factory – Trades at the Mill – Mill Employees – Stanton Family Pedigree
INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY NEWS is published quarterly for members of the Association for Industrial Archaeology. The summer 1998 edition has printed in full our 'press release' announcing the setting up of the Greenwich Society. In a review of LA News in Greater London the Society is mentioned again with particular reference to the 'Dome' and the industrial remains which it will cover. Articles in the Bulletin cover as far away as Upper Silesia and much nearer home an excellent article on the watercress industry at Springhead, outside Gravesend.
INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW is the journal of the AlA. The 1998 volume contains many impressive articles although the general drift gives the impression that industry stopped somewhere short of Watford. London itself is hardly mentioned let alone Greenwich and Woolwich. Subjects include wooden wagon way in Sunderland, edge runners in the British gunpowder industry, Fairbairn's influence on Stephen's bridge designs, John Farey technical author, Silver End Model Village, ICI coal to oil plant, Lodz textile mills and the water supply of Antwerp. Details of member ship from The Wharfage, Iron Bridge,Telford, Shrops., TF8 7AW.
GLIAS NEWSLETTER No.176 June 1998. (unusually thin) contains just one mention of Greenwich industries. An article on the back page describes food additives as 'an important component of the London IA scene'. In this context the author describes the 'specialised tailored products made by Amylum UK'. Other articles draw attention to sites outside Greenwich a National Inventory of War Memorials, early electric tramways at Northfleet and docks near Heathrow Junction. [Enquiries about GLIAS membership to Sue Hayton, 3 The High Street, Farnborough Village. Orpington, BR6 7BO )
A VISIT TO GREENWICH POWER STATION
Environment week events included tours of the London Transport Greenwich power station. Mary and I visited the station, which is on the river side almost on the Meridian Line, on 6th June in the company of about twelve other people. We were fortunate in having an expert guide, Mike Burgess, a retired LT electrical engineer who had worked at Greenwich.The building is huge and, to me the most visually impressive aspect is the interior of the now disused boiler house like some of our bigger railway station structures. At the other end of the scale there are some fascinating details such as the ribbed walls in specially shaped glazed tiles, which provided channels for cabling. Views from the top of the jetty are breathtaking
The first interesting question, discussed by Mr. Burgess, was 'why a dedicated power station'? The answer is that electrical transport predated the general electricity supply system at a time when electrical supply was very locally based. The London County Council had been set up in 1889 and took over the horse drawn tramway companies. The Greenwich Power Station was designed by the LCC Architect's Department to supply the electric tram system and was opened in two stages in 1906 and 1910. An elegant rain water hopper dated' 1903 AD' is on the rear of the building. It is interesting to note that according the 'The Greenwich and Dartford Tramways” by Robert J. Hurley that a brand new electric tramway was opened from the King William the Fourth pub in Trafalgar Road to central London in 1904. Where did the power come from for that? At around the same time the underground and tube rail ways were being electrified (1st January 1905 for Baker Street to Uxbridge, 1st July 1905 the first stage of the Inner Circle). But Greenwich Power Station did not begin to supply the railway operations until 1933 when the LCC Tramways were absorbed into the London Transport Passenger Board. It was then planned to generate at Greenwich the power for the railway extensions in North East London and for the trolley buses which were to replace the trams in south and east Lon don. Greenwich supplied both systems until1961' when the trolley buses were scrapped. Linkages to Mile End and Mansell Street are identified on the control panels. Greenwich's main function today is to supplement the output of the Lots Road, Chelsea power station at times of peak demand and to provide a standby facility.
The original installation comprised a coal fired boiler house with four chimneys and an engine room housing four vertical horizontal compound reciprocating steam engines driving flywheel type alternators at 6,600 volts, 25 Hz. By 1910 the superiority of steam turbines had been realised and four steam turbine alternators were installed for phase two of the building programme. Coal was landed from colliers which came from North East England, onto the jetty and then to a large system of bunkers. The original reciprocating engines were replaced by steam turbines in 1922. The next major change came in the mid 1960s when the steam plant was replaced by gas turbine generators Rolls Royce 'Avon' engines similar to those used, in jet aircraft. Originally powered solely by gas oil the plant was later converted for dual fuel operation (oil, or natural gas -the latter is now the main source of power). Start up of the generators is powered by a large bank of batteries. Output from the generation is 11,000 volts and use of transformers boosts this, to 22,000.
The jetty is now no longer used. The relatively small quantity of oil used comes by road tanker and gas and oil do not generate the ash, which, when coal was used, was removed via the jetty. The building is of some architectural interest. The chimneys for Phase I were 250 feet high but, following objections from the Royal Observatory, those for Phase 2 were only 182 feet. A hand-out was provided with facts and figures, a simplified plant diagram and a site plan. Altogether a fascinating visit.
BRIAN AND THE GHOST
'Gaslight' The Newsletter of the North West Gas Historical Society is revealing all about sightings of George Livesey's ghost in East Greenwich Gas works they quote the following letter from Brian Sturt. "The gas industry over the years engendered its own share of folk law and legend. An enduring phenomenon is that of George Livesey’s Ghost, which it is claimed, haunted the office building of East Greenwich Gasworks, the creation of the former South Metropolitan Gas Company, now the site of the Millennium Dome. The story, as I first heard it some thirty years ago, was that while the works were under construction from 1883 onwards, George lived on site in a flat at the top of the office building. After his death in 1908 he was supposed to have returned to haunt the building. During the last war the offices were extensively damaged and the top storey and the clock tower were destroyed. This did not stop the haunting, footsteps were still to be heard in the roof space. The offices have been demolished for a number of years and consequently George is an apparition of no fixed abode. However it seems the while the offices have gone, George has not, and, as reported in the Daily Telegraph his ghost seemingly made a number of appearances recently.Brian Sturt
ASPECTS OF THE ARSENAL .Aspects of the Arsenal, produced by the Greenwich Borough Museum has 10 chapters on different aspects of the history of the Royal Arsenal by different authors with particular knowledge of their subject. The aspects covered are: The Buildings of the Royal Arsenal Tower Place Paul Sandby RA 17311808 'Father of English watercolour; 'She can sew a flannel cartridge in the Royal Arsenal Woolwich The Royal Artillery in Woolwich A Brief History of the Transport System in the Royal Arsenal The Arsenal and its Cooperative Connection, the Royal Arsenal workers and independent Labour Representation. A Beacon in the Dark. Industrial relations in the Royal Arsenal.
The Royal Arsenal Woolwich. Edited by Beverley Burford and Julian Watson.
The Royal Arsenal Woolwich. Edited by Beverley Burford and Julian Watson.
Chapters are illustrated with Black and white photographs, drawings, maps and plans and there is a bibliography and an index.
ON THE SUBJECT OF THE GAS INDUSTRY - the Bromley by Bow based London Gas Museum is likely to be packed up and sent to a. ware house in the Midlands for no better reason than that the gas industry says that it cannot support it; it must move off its site, and has never had a chance to become self-supporting.
GREENWICH BOROUGII CONSERVATION GROUP
This is an independent Group, although approved by Greenwich Council, which meets approximately monthly in the Town Hall at Woolwich. Membership consists of Local Societies which are also concerned with current planning issues, and is regularly attended by members from the Greenwich Society, Blackheath Society, the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society, the Shooters Hill Society, the Victorian Society and, recently, by the Waterfront Community Forum. Individually Societies look at the weekly list of planning applications and then, through the Chairman of the Group, request the plans of ones they are interested in commenting on. The plans are then looked at by the whole Group at its meetings, and joint comments are submitted to Greenwich Council via the Planning Officers. Of interest to GIHS are waterfront proposals and in particular, recently, the fate of Ceylon Terrace, and the extension to the Pilot public house a group of locally listed buildings of riverside importance. Proposals to concern industrial buildings to new uses e.g. Mumford's Mill are GIHS interests and any member who had prior knowledge of such schemes should keep GIHS informed of proposals which can be commented on. Susan Parker
THE WESTCOMBE SOCIETY are looking for someone to help them with information for Research on the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.