Monday, 29 February 2016

Sea Witch Pub - the tankards


The Sea Witch Pub stood along the Greenwich Riverside Path,  facing the river, until it was bombed in the Second World War and was subsequently demolished.  It stood just where the path turns abruptly left to go round Morden Wharf - until five or six years ago this was the site of the Amylum Laboratory building, which strangely echoed its size, shape and layout.
I wrote an article about the Sea Witch for Bygone Kent a few years ago and it can be found online at  and I understand more research has been done by others, since.

We have now been sent two pictures of the base of a tankard which has clearly come from this long vanished pub.  They came from Alex of the Brightwater Brewery which is in Claygate, Surrey.  It occurs to GIHS that there must be more like this out there - so - if your grandpa is using a Sea Witch tankard to keep his used paint brushes in, please let us know (we also think that there are collectors out there willing to - er - pay)



Thursday, 25 February 2016


Terry Scales’s blogsite has recently been updated with a post on Ballast Quay. The post is illustrated with paintings from the areas industrial past and is located here; . Terry also did a recording for the oral histories page of the Ballast Quay website here;    
London and Middlesex Archaeological Society are advertising a conference on 19th November - Walking Through London's History. and are calling for suitable papers - info John Price or via Department of History Goldsmiths College.
Association for Industrial Archaeology are advertising their annual conference to be held this year in Telford (yawn).  It runs from 9th September with a 'professional' seminar, then the conference proper on 10th and 11th and then visits every day until 14th.  Info John McGuinness,
AIA also advertise 'Speaking up for Industrial Archaeoology' - this is about local decision making and the number of industrial museums closing as council budgets are cut - info

The AIA's News is bit brighter than usual in that when you open it there is a wonderful photo of Greenwich Peninsula's 'Bullett from a Shooting Star' together with an article by Bob Carr on art works on development sites.'Why do developers and the like fund these apparently outrageous and no doubt costly projects??'. Copies of AIA News should be available although there is no indication how non-members can get copies. Try and see how you get on
Lewisham Local History Society - future meetings
26th February - Tolls,trains and canals  with Malcolm Bacchus
18th March:  AGM plus interesting artifacts with Steve Grindlay
29th April  Introduction to All Saints Cemetery, Nunhead  with Jeff Hart
27th May Windmills of Kentish London with Robert Cumming
24th June  The Rise and Fall of Robert Cocking with Anthony Cross
29th July  Greenwich Peninsular Ecology Park with Joanne Smith
30 September  The Downham Estate with Jean Hearn
16th December   Christmas on the Home Front with Mike Brown
all held in the Methodist Hall, Albion Way 7.45 with tea, bix, and questions
The Prefab Museum's people write: we have applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the prefab         archive and organise heritage events celebrating prefabs as 2016 marks 70 years of post-war prefabs! We have also been prefab travelling to prepare the organisation of events such as talks, archive tea parties, portable exhibitions with Avoncroft Museum, the Rural Life Centre in Farnham and The Museum of Power in Essex. We are also planning to have a 70th celebration at the Excalibur Estate on the 21st of May, with the help of St Mark's Church and hall. We'll send you the details as soon as we have them! 
We have also been walking in South London, doing tours in Brockley and Nunhead where there used (and still are!) prefabs. The tours are very successful. The March ones are fully booked but there are still places for the April ones (on the 2nd and the 30th, more info here) if some of you are interested. 

Angerstein Rail - we have a request for info about rail links to industries on the west side of the Peninsula. Were there links via the tram system and the Angerstein Line.  We think this was very unlikely but any information from anyone who knows better would be great.
We are intrigued by a web site about Lucerne paddle steamers   This is about Rigi which is preserved in the museum at Lucerne and which there are plans to refurbish. They say she was built by Ditchburn and Mare in Greenwich  in 1848 - but we don't know a Ditchburn and Mare site in Greenwich - over the river at Orchard Yard, yes - up the river at Dudman's Dock, yes - so any further information would be interesting. Her original engines were by Penns - and, yes, we know they were Greenwich.
(I am trying not to ask why if the Swiss can restore Greenwich ships and engines, why is it we ignore them, except for one Scottish built sailing ship hmmmmm)
More to come on all this. AND  - The Enderby Group is definitely up to something.... watch out!!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Greenwich Park Bandstand

Greenwich Park Bandstand – Update on post of 6th September 2015
by Barbara Holland

(this is an update on a previous article on this blog by Barbara - see below)

Barbara says

I finally managed to find the opportunity to do a bit more research on this story with the help of David Adams from Royal Parks, who raised the original query.

After much searching online for information, we located one file in the National Archives at Kew from the Office of Works (WORK 16/142B) which David viewed there.  This confirmed that Coalbrookdale did indeed produce the roof frame and that Deane & Co. assembled it and installed the iron columns.   

Quotations for estimates and designs were originally received from five firms:

·               Geo. Smith and Son

·               Brass and Son

·               Hill and Smith

·               Deane & Co.

·               Steven Bros & Co.

Deane & Co and Steven Bros & Co both planned to use Coalbrookdale for the roof.  W. M. Curl were the installer/sub-contractor operating on behalf of Deane & Co. 
The bandstand was ‘opened’ in June 1891, with a performance by the Northumberland Fusiliers Band from nearby Woolwich.  The Kentish Messenger reported the event which took place on Thursday 4th June:
“A large concourse of people was attracted to Greenwich-park last evening, when the Northumberland Fusiliers, under Bandmaster W.H. Dencer, began the summer series of Thursday evening performances with a well-chosen selection of popular melodies. The chairs within the enclosure round the bandstand were mostly occupied, and considering the inclemency of the weather until nearly the time for the beginning of the performance the number of people strolling about within hearing of the music was very large.  The Park is just now seen at its best. The hawthorn and horse chestnuts are in full bloom, and light up the green turf and trees which the late heavy rains have helped to deck in luxuriant coats.”
The following week’s edition of the paper estimated that 5000 people had attended the concert. 
I hope this finally solves the ‘mystery’.
(this is an update on a previous article by Barbara at
- or search on this blog for 'Bandstand'.

Friday, 5 February 2016

more news

SERIAC 2000  - This is the South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference - this year on 23rd April in Kingston. There are talks on 18th century iron in the Weald, Papermaking history,  Berkshire windmills - and - and - Amazing Malcolm on The Demise of the Gasholder (and seriously that would we worth the journey to Kingston alone)  - the way of booking, or finding out about it seems to be to send a stamped addressed envelope to Mr Bryson, 6 Wychelm Rise, Guildford, GU13TH (no web site, no phone, no nothing)

GLIAS NEWSLETTER.  As ever. forthcoming events:
17th Feb - Father Thames - changing role of the Thames Wharves by David Hilling (6.30 Swednborg Hall)
16th March - Gold Refining in London by Michele Blagg (6.30 75 Cowcross Street)
20th April - Engineers perspective on restoring historic buildings.  James Miller (6.30 75 Cowcross Street)
18th May. AGM plus The City at Play. Simon Inglis (6.30 75 Cowcross Street)

10th April Crossness Open Day with Prince Consort in steam 10.30-5 www.crossness,org,uk
22 April Crossness Guided Tour. www.crossness,org,uk
22nd May Crossness Open Day with Prince Consort in steam 10.30-5 www.crossness,org,uk

Anything about Greenwich in the GLIAS Newsletter??  er  - no

FOOT TUNNEL ENTHUSIASTS -(not sure they exist outside FOGWOFT)  A web site has details of a (very clean) foot tunnel in Antwerp

- we have been sent links to:

This is now online but only to subscribers.  The latest edition has an excellent article about the 'facelift to the bargehouse causeway' - which is  just opposite us on the north bank of the river down from the Ferry. Until the 1960s it was actually in Woolwich so we should definitely take some notice of it.

LEWISHAM LOCAL HISTORY NEWSLETTER.  This includes an article which is actually about the Greenwich riverside. It was written in 1962 by David Knight, and here are some scraps from it:

"By Blackwall Tunnel are the Metropolitan Gas Works. There seemed no access to the River. I got
into a timber yard and ... (into)  hole in the riverside fence .....On this side of the fence, right by the water's edge, ran a tow-path paved with bricks stamped with diamond markings ....barges stacked with timber had nice names Rinqdove, Whitehorse, Maine, Romani. Hardly anyone was about, only two men craning up the long timbers from the barge to the stacking point on the timber yard. The tide was out and the river so low that the black, grimy beach was visible ......At half past nine I came upon the Cutty Sark Tavern, a Free House not yet vanquished by the brewery combinations, but selling Burton bitter ale, draught Worthington, draught Guinness, draught Bass.  Further up the river stands the old Trinity Hospital, now an old people's home ......At 19 Crane Street are Corbett & Son, Boatbuilders. The Yacht Inn just beyond sells Watney's draught Red Barrel ale, and has a garden and terrace overlooking the river. The Curlew Rowing Club next door, founded 1866, looks as if it expired the same year, broken-backed behind dust and shutters. At 10 o'clock, the sun a bit warmer, the Royal  Naval College hove into view, overwhelming a couple of hundred yards of river bank with its two huge domes, large gates with anchors and tridents wrought, and bare formal lawns. Tugs .. all the time, singly or hauling barges. .... Bright sun on Greenwich Pier and, startlingly, Cutty Sark close at hand with her smart white masts, trim black shrouds, and eager-bosomed matron on the prow. ...
Greenwich Tunnel displays an alarming list of by- laws. ..... There are scatterings everywhere at ebb-tide of planks and river wood. ...... Crossing Creekside by the Creek Bridge, had a hot
bacon sandwich and a large cup of strong tea at a dockers' cafe on McMillan Street., Deptford, near
the old church of St Nicholas".

(thanks Lewisham)

Another, present day, walk along the peninsula riverside, with some great pictures, can be found at  -( and, thanks, to the author for the plug for the book.)  Great blog, please read

Crossness Engines trust tell us that they have got Bexley Council to agree to rename 'Belevedere Road' as 'Bazalgette Way'.
so ....................................