Friday, 15 June 2018

East Greenwich Gas Holder -latest - and what happens elsewhere!

East Greenwich Gasholder

Please sign the petition

We hope to take the petition to the Council meeting on 27th June - thanks to Cllr Denise Scott-Macdonald.  This will, as usual, just be Denise handing it (a memory stick actually!) over to the Mayor.

People may have noticed that the gasholder is on the agenda for the Planning Board on 20th June.  This is basically an administrative item and not to to directly with the holder's demolition. It is to remove the Hazardous Substances Order which was in place while the holder was full of gas.  There is a bit of a history to this but the order set up a blast zone around the holder which was stopping development of the new school and some other items.  We have however written to the Council saying that we assume that the actual hazardous substances which are on the site and under the holder will be dealt with in a future management order.

However - Darryl in the 853 blog has also pointed out that this has an impact on the plans for the Silvertown Tunnel.
He says that, of course, the hazardous substances order needed to be dealt with before the tunnel could open and that this is one step towards that.
However it is very possible that the gasholder has a lot more to do with the Silvertown Tunnel than that  - Darryl needs to look at a map!


We have quite a bit of news about other luckier gasholders

Old Kent Road - it appears that Southwark Council has done a deal to keep holders on the site at Old Kent Road Gas Works. The big Livesey holder - our East Greenwich holder's little brother - is listed and will be kept in their entirety.  The two smaller Livesey holders are being partly demolished as features in future landscaping of the site.

Chelmsford - there is news that a very ordinary gas holder at Chelmsford is to  kept having been bought by the local council on a site to be used for housing.   They have also got Government money for decontamination and development.  The holder itself has been listed Grade II.

Barcelona - apparently the gasholder frame there was kept as part of the works for the 1992 Olympics.

MEANWHILE IN EAST LONDON - the holders at Poplar, just the other side of the Blackwall Tunnel, appear to have been demolished - despite a massive petition.  Pleas to list it were turned down.  The Bethnal Green holder - the oldest of its type and in a wonderful setting - appears to be still there (last we saw) but has been turned down for listing.

Barbara Berger has now got her PhD in gas holder construction.  Here is a page of gasholder history from her ... more to come later

Barbara Berger, Research Associate, Technical University of Munich

Before the rising structures of gasholders changed the cityscapes it was the gas light itself that was revolutionizing the daily life in cities in the beginning of the 19th century. In 1813 public illumination from gas was inaugurated for the very first time in the London district of Westminster. This new lighting technique revolutionized cities worldwide. Paris in 1819. Hannover in 1825 and Turin 13 years later

The gasholder was introduced as a technical building for the storage of locally produced coal gas. Its emerging iron structure presented a new kind of industrial architecture and became symbolic
of the gas industry.

The gasholder's structure was determined by its function. It had to fulfil two basic requirements: first a variable capacity. and secondly a gas-tight construction . A water-based system met both requirements. It was composed of a water tank and a lift for the gas.The latter was immersed into the tank and rose and fell according to the current content of the gas.. An external guide frame guaranteed the reliable movement of the lift. Because of the increasing demand for gas receptacles with more storage were needed. In the 19th and early 20th century there were generally two different kinds of water sealed gasholders, the Belltype gasholder (or single-lift gasholder). and the  gasholder(or multi-lift gasholder).

Initially the lifts of both types were guided via an external linear guide frame. but at the end of the 19th century the new spiral guided technique allowed the building of gasholders even without
a guide frame. Another special form was the so-called gasholder house. that totally hid the filigree iron structure of the gasholder facades were often architecturally ornate.

Over the century development advanced from the water sealed to the waterless or dry-sealed system: the Piston-type gasholder was invented 1913 in Germany. The new sealing technique was adapted along the edge of the piston and guaranteed contact between the piston and the shell of the cylinder. This new sealing technique led to a new appearance and form of the gasholder.

The arrival of natural gas was the beginning of the decline of coal  gas and historic gasholders because the increasing demand on gas required new storage systems - thus new types of gasholders.

Today historic gasholders are industrial relics although very many have already been demolished. The remaining examples are often abandoned and their architectural value is not realized A gasholder facilitates a column-free, tall, symmetrical space,that offers a wide range of reuse projects.

One of the very first examples of revitalization was second world war: a massive gasholder house in Berlin formed into a bunker known as the 'Fichtebunker ' . The inner lifts were demolished and the circular brick walls reinforced. After being modified into a storage depot and shelter for homeless men and women this space is used nowadays as a museum. However. the dome of the building was developed fferentkly. Under the filigree iron structure. exclusive, elaborate loft houses are located with a spectacular view over the city of Berlin.............................(to be continued)

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Greenwich Riverside Path before 'regeneration' - An hysterical walk

 I thought that perhaps - for all our newer resident readers - that we should put something about what the riverside path used to be like.  Well it wasn't all industry - there was ART too.

The riverside walk described below dates from 2000 and was 'a local counterpoint to the Dome Festival'.

I have scanned part of the publicity leaflet - and -being an arts based production it is a bit of a funny shape which my (nice new) scanner is unfamiliar with.   The drawing of the Greenwich riverside is by Peter Kent - and, Peter I am sorry, I have had to scan it in chunks and it would look so much better if I could do the whole thing in one bit - but it would end up very very very tiny.

So - I also thought a bit of explanation might be in order - interpretation - or something

This bit will be the most familiar at the start of the walk.  It begins at Trinity Hospital - there is a sort of raised platform there on  the riverside and I seem to remember a big picture frame there which they put up so you could imagine where you were going was a 'picture'.  So we see the power station, and its jetty - and then the path carries on to Anchor Iron Wharf.  The flats were not built then and you had to walk down a little narrow path with a scrap yard either side - and then - there you were at Ballast Quay,

This stretch is the bit between Ballast Quay and Enderbys - then Lovells Wharf, Granite Wharf and Pipers. Pipers were famous barge builders and  the area was in use by the boat repair yard until very recently.

At Lovells were two huge cranes - Scotch Derricks - which had been left by the previous owner.  They were a local landmark and there were plans to keep them - but the owners demolished them early one morning without any prior notice. Here they are the 'wounded giants'.

The stretch illustrated also includes the Alcatel jetty and the group did a musical performance on it. It was just the same then as it is now - but it did have public access then,

Further up and more wharves - And here we are at Enderbys where there was an 'artistic group' of Penguins - I seem to think they were plastic and floated about in the water.

Chuck Out Your Mouldies was the title of play which was put on locally with lots of local people taking part and based on memories of childhood in the 1940s and 1950s.  It was a lot of fun to do. The 'mouldies' was supposed to be loose change and children would call out to passers by to 'chuck out your mouldies'  and they would then scrabble for pennies and ha'pennies.

and here we are at the end  -  and the road to the Dome. 

The Amylum Silos - something else the riverside has lost. This was a group of concrete silos 'which would make Le Corbusier weep with envy' [cf Owen Hatherley - thanks Owen that's a great quote].
Amylum was a glucose refinery and  was sold to Syrol who were/are French. One day a French demolition crew came in and demolished the lot - with never a by-your-leave, planning consent, a polite note to next door, or anything.  Silos were gone before we knew it. They cleared off back to France and left the site empty and open to all.

If anyone is interested in more info let me know.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

More news from Greenwich and its industrial history

GLIAS Newsletter

Congratulations to GLIAS (Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society)
Congratulations – because after nearly sixty years Newsletter 296 is partly in colour and includes some photographs.  It’s very nice – but whatever next!

They advertise some walks for this summer.   The one most relevant to Greenwich is on the 7th of July when they are looking at Deptford - the site of the Dockyard, the Victualling yard, the power station, the railway station and Creek bridges
You can book by Emailing

(and by the way – this walk is being led by Peter Finch – and if he would like to get in touch with Greenwich Industrial History Society I’m sure we would welcome his input – so – Peter – please email)

Another reasonably local walk is around London Bridge and Bermondsey on 6th October – book through same email as above.

On 26th June is a visit to Morden College on Blackheath which is arranged by Dave Perrett. Book for this before 21st June at  Morden College as a major Greenwich landowner made a huge contribution to the industrial history of Greenwich and their archive is a key resource for any historian working in our area

We have already noted the European Year of Cultural Heritage competition to serenade any remaining Industrial chimneys. I would recommend the videos of the 14 entries – many of them are Greek tomato factories.

GLIAS has noted this and accompanying it is a wonderful picture of our own amazing chimney at the Dockyard site in Woolwich Church Street – they say it one of the best surviving examples in London as an octagonal brick chimney built about 1843 for the steam factory at Woolwich Dockyard.

Although I think voting on the best video has already taken place if any musician reading this wanted to take themselves down to Woolwich and play Ode to Joy by the chimney and films it I would be happy to circulate this around Europe!

Thanks also to GLIAS for circulating the link to our gasholder petition.


And thanks for the review of Greenwich Historical Society’s Journal with Tony’s article on the unfortunate dead parachutist, Robert Cocking, and my article on early gas in Greenwich.
And for noting the death of our late friend Darrell Spurgeon


This is the national newsletter – No. 185 – and quite a bit about Greenwich again –

- the newsletter includes articles about European links and work on industrial heritage in Europe.
There is an article about Enderby House and the work of the Enderby Group – particular stress is laid on proposed sculptures funded by Barratts.

And also, a half page article on the London County Council and the free Thames Crossings – in particular the Blackwall and the two foot tunnels.

Note about the possibility of a public ferry over to Trinity Buoy Wharf from QE pier.

Westcombe News

Thanks for the link to the gasholder petition

Greenwich Info
Note they have taken an interest in historical groups – but only mention family history and groups which are part of community centres – no mention of Greenwich Historical Association, Woolwich Antiquarians, us, and many others. Strange!

One of the others - Greenwich Park History Group

We have been sent copies of their minutes and are very impressed at the work they are doing and what they have uncovered – history of the bandstand (please – Barbara – we would love to publish this here!) – the Queens Orchard and changes made for observing the Transit of Venus – project on allotments in the Great War – and the conduits.

Hope they keep in touch – guess we have a big overlapping membership.  Always happy to help.


This is the web page of the Thames Estuary Partnership which sends out newsletters on a regular basis

Thank you them for including the East Greenwich Gasholder petition as an item
Other issues raised include environmental and social items as well as subjects of general Thames interest


and ....

Thanks to Darryl the 853 blogger who was kind enough to let me contribute an item about the Greenwich Borough Hall which was built by the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich and now has an uncertain future. I understand there is likely to much more to this story than I knew when I wrote it ………………………………. watch this space

Monday, 4 June 2018


Here's another view of the holder:

Sign the petition and keep fit  -

(thanks to GMVA for the pic)

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Notes and serenades

Gasholder – this cracking picture has appeared on the GMV facebook page
thanks Laiura Diggle
The latest edition of the GLIAS Journal – London’s Industrial Archaeology No. 16-  is with us. It includes a very important article by James Hulme about the Charlton Riverside.
As many of our readers will know James and how he started work on the Charlton riverside as an assessment of the site for the Council before the development began.  unusually in thse circumstances he has given us an extremely detailed industrial history of an interesting and so far undeveloped area. 
He begins with one of the oldest buildings in the area - the Anchor and Hope pub - moving on to Castle’s shipbreakers at the end of Anchor and Hope Lane. He continues with notes on other riverside sites – including Cory’s dry dock and boatyard, the Glenton and Angerstein railways and of course Siemens. From the 20th century there is United Glass, Bridon and Stones and – much else.
I’m sure people will want to see this article and  copies of the Journal .   Please email
Also in the Journal  includes an article on Great Western Railway employee hostels in London by David Thomas , the Montgomery timber merchants from Brentford by Beverley Ronalds,  Coalbrooke decorative ironwork in London, by David Perrett, and W.T.Gilbert  mathematical instrument makers of Tower Hill by  D.J.Bryden.

We’re getting a lot of requests for information about the proposed desise of the decorative footbridge across Plumstead station.  Network rail needs to install a lift for disabled access between the platforms of Plumstead and unfortunately they have been unable to this and still keep the decorative ironwork bridge. There are now many calls to have  the bridge main retained.  This is clearly a difficult and sensitive issue with rights on both sides of the argument.
Deborah O’Boyle has written  This delightful bridge was built for SE Railway, in 1892, by Joseph Westwood & Co (over in Millwall) .  Please see the GIHS facebook page for more info from Debs on this.

853 has reported on the first outings (in Gdansk!) of the new Woolwich ferries
More news about plans in Europe to create a European database of extant chimneys.  There have been entries to the competition of videos of people serenading chimneys. Apparently none have been received from the UK – but you can see the serenades at

Monday, 21 May 2018

Congratulations Barbara

Congratulations to Barbara Gasometra Berger in Munich on your PhD on gasholders

(We understand there is a chapter on East Greenwich gasholder - can't wait to see it!)

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

News and that

­Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter. 

They advertise their own future programmes: 2 pm for 2.15 pm on Saturday at Charlton House, in the Grand Salon.
12 May   Research & Discoveries, Pearly History & Woolwich Potteries
9 June     A further Date with Buildings
14 July    Blue Cross Kennels and Pet Cemetery, Shooters Hill Road
13 Oct     Mudlarking by the Thames
10 Nov    An Edwardian Nursery Magic Lantern Show

CROSSNESS ENGINES TRUST   Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, London, SE29AQ Tel 0208311 3711
Family Open Days - Non Steaming,Beam Engine House closed for asbestos removal.
20 May, 17 June, 15 July 10:30am- 4:00pm

18th May Discovering Earthlike Planets.  Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road, Blackheath, SE3 7SE

Welling and District Model Engineering Society, Falconwood, 2-5pm
20 May; 3, 17 June; 1, 15,29 July; 12,26 Aug; 9, 23 Sept; 70ct; 16 Dec,Santa Special

WADAS also reports on the Positive Plumstead Project - Their first major concern is the White Hart Road Depot and Plumstead High Street Revamp. We have often reported concerns about the Depot here and it is good to find someone else taking an interest,

They say “The Borough of Greenwich have £2.5m funding from the GLA to brighten up Plumstead - dividing it between the Grade II listed White Hart Road Depot and Plumstead High Street. The White Hart Road Depot is to have workspaces and community facilities such as studios, rehearsal spaces, a nursery, and a gallery. A public square and a pub are mooted.
In his book The Woolwich Story E F E Jefferson says that "In June 1901, work was commenced on a generating and refuse destruction works at White Hart Road, Plumstead, and was formally opened by the Mayor, Cllr J JMessent in October 1903. The cost was £40,000, some £2,600 being spent on direct labour- an early instance of what later became a common feature in the Borough."
The building was the Borough's electricity generating station for Woolwich and Plumstead, a combined rubbish incinerator and electricity generating station being most unusual for the time. The generating plant was closed in the 1920s following the take over and enlargement of the privately built 1895 power station of the Woolwich Electricity Company at Globe Lane. (The site of the, now demolished, power station was temporarily laid out as Arsenal Gardens, but is now being covered by tower blocks of flats by Berkeley.)  However, the incinerator carried on working into the 1970s until replaced by the SELCHP plant in Deptford. The building became a depot for general storage (some items being of significance but also for such things a spare door handles for buildings that had come and gone). The depot was closed, and the building allowed to deteriorate. Most recently Crossrail have used (and refurbished) it while building the Elizabeth line.

WADAS also report on “Industrial Conservation Areas in Charlton -  the Greenwich and Woolwich & Thamesmead Planning Committee (of councillors) were, bar one, unanimous in agreeing to designate "Bowater Road and Thames Barrier" and "Charlton Riverside" as conservation areas. This has now been ratified.
Bowater Road is home to the largely complete, albeit disused, Siemen's works. This is the last of many  telecommunication works that used to line the Thames - they supplied the world, and did pioneering work in digital transmission up to 1980s. It is the last to survive of the several major telegraph and telephony businesses in the Borough, and probably the best preserved in the UK (the rump of the Telcon works in Greenwich is still active, though most of its site has now been covered by blocks of flats).

Charlton Riverside has other industrial assets, for instance early Cory works, but also a group of high quality workers' dwellings at Atlas Gardens and Derrick Gardens. 



“Discussions are also starting on what we are calling Bazalgette 200 for the bicentenary of Sir Joseph Bazalgette's birthday falls on 28 March 2019. Planning and fundraising for events to celebrate the engineering genius who created Crossness is about to start. Anyone who has bright ideas about this or would otherwise like to help please do get in touch”.

A visitor from Sweden came to ask about Bessemer’s Greenwich works.  He is interested in Göran Fredrik Göransson (1819-1900).

“In 1841 (at 22) he became a partner in the business run by his mother's family, Daniel Elfstrand & Co. The company acquired an ironworks at Högbo and a blast furnace at Edske. In 1856 Göransson travelled to England to buy a steam engine for the blast furnace, but returned having bought a fifth of Bessemer's patent for steel production. With backing from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences he carried out experiments using a Bessemer converter. Initially he tried to stick to Besemer's instructions of using small air tubes (tuyeres) at the base combined with high air pressure. Eventually he ignored this and tried instead with larger tuyeres and a lower pressure and finally produced what is said to be the first ever commercial "pour" of steel using the Bessemer method in July 1858. He corresponded regularly with Bessemer reporting on his progress, but Bessemer failed to even mention him in his autobiography. He opened a steelworks in Sandviken, Sweden in 1862, which after initial difficulties became Sandviken Jernverks AB in 1868. The same company is still in business in the same place), although now only producing specialist steels

APPG Launch Industrial Heritage report

Following from the Evidence Sessions held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Industrial Heritage a report has emerged called “Report on the Challenges facing the Industrial Heritage Sector"

This was apparently launched at an event on 1st May with many attendees (but not us obviously - or even asked us what we thought!)
The report's key findings are that industrial heritage was vital in the formation of local and national identities, and is highly valuable in the UK's contemporary society as a source of economic potential. By providing an examination of the value of industrial heritage to the United Kingdom and the major social, economic and cultural issues impacting this sector, the APPG has compiled a series of conclusions and recommendations on how to face the challenges of the future.
You can read it at


Railway lifting bridge over Deptford Creek

We had been asked if the railway lift bridge over Deptford Creek was listed – as a result we have been sent lots of interesting information about it.  Here are some extracts from the report on it in 2012.

English Heritage were asked to assess the railway lifting bridge over Deptford Creek for designation. It is understood that Network Rail are currently considering demolishing the superstructure of the bridge as it no longer functions as a lifting bridge. Deptford Creek forms the boundary between LB Lewisham to the west and LB Greenwich to the east. The eastern supports of the bridge stand on the the Grade 11 listed railway viaduct from the platforms of Greenwich Station to Deptford Creek Bridge in LB Greenwich. The western supports of the bridge stand on the unlisted pier in the centre of the creek which is in LB Lewisham. LB Lewisham is currently considering including the bridge within the proposed Deptford Creek Conservation Area and also locally listing the structure. This is somewhat complicated by the bridge falling within the two boroughs. A 2009 heritage report on Deptford Creek by Design for London noted the bridge as a significant heritage asset.

The applicant, Network Rail, Design for London and the two Local Planning Authorities concerned were consulted. LB Lewisham in their response of 13 December 2011 noted the historical context of the London-Greenwich railway line and the importance of Deptford Creek and its related industry to the growth of Deptford. Also asserted was the fact that the electrical operation of the lifting bridge was a technical achievement for its time and the design, in contrast to Kingsferry Bridge, reflected the functionality of the lifting bridge. Design for London noted in their response of 15 June 2011 that the bridge was identified as a significant heritage asset in the 2009 London Development Agency Deptford Creek regeneration heritage report.

As a specific building type, vertical lift bridges are rare nationally with probably not many more than a dozen surviving examples in England, ranging in date from the mid-C19 to 2000 and including road, railway and pedestrian use

In architectural terms the Deptford Creek lifting bridge is a purely utilitarian structure constructed of steel box girders with no attempt at architectural embellishment. The gantry containing the operating gear, for example, is crudely constructed of steel sheets. Whilst this is perhaps to be expected, with its relatively short span, it lacks the engineering grandeur of the listed Tees (Newport) Bridge. It should be stressed that we have been asked to consider the bridge itself and not the viaduct (already listed) and the pier it rests on. The pier has good quality rusticated masonry dating from its construction in the 1830s but this does not form part of the current assessment. It is perhaps surprising that it was not included in the listing of the viaduct which continues either side of it.

The vertical lift railway bridge was opened in December 1963, designed by AH Cantrell, Chief Civil Engineer, British Rail Southern Region and built by Sir William Arrol and Co of Glasgow. It was the third bridge to cross Deptford Creek along the Grade" listed railway viaduct, originally built by the London and Greenwich Railway in 1836. The first bridge, constructed c1838, was described in 1840 as ' ... a Balance-Bridge which requires the power of eight men to raise it when necessary for the purpose of allowing masted vehicles to pass above Bridge. On each side of the viaduct between the Spa Road and Deptford is a carriage and footway enclosed by a brick fence-wall'. This bridge was replaced in 1884 by a similar double drawbridge, each section winched up to a simple steel frame superstructure on either side of the bridge. The current bridge was able to lift 40 tonnes and was operated by electrical winches. It no longer functions as a vertical lift bridge having been welded closed, probably due to problems with the foundations.

The bridge comprises two spans across the dual channels of the creek at this point. The western span is fixed and is included in the listing for the viaduct between Deptford Creek and North Kent Junction. The eastern channel is bridged by the vertical lift bridge. This comprises four braced, square-section, steel columns (approximately 20m in height) containing the lifting hoists, one pair on either side of the channel, joined by a steel box-truss. The two supports are linked at their centre by a further truss (parallel with the railway line) which carries the enclosed steel-clad gantry containing the electrical operating gear. The supports rest on large concrete blocks, which in turn rest on the footings of the original bridge, encased in dressed Portland stone. The vertical lift track section is supported on large steel l-beams which bear the name of the Lanarkshire Steel Company.

So - its not listed but apparently the buttresses are

And while we are on the subject of listing. Richard Buchanan has sent us this piece from the archives about Enderby House

Municipal Offices Woolwich,
Buildings of Architectural or Historical Interest
Enderby' House, Enderby' Wharf, SE10
January 1973

When the Borough wide study of possible listed buildings was carried out by my officers last summer it did not appear from external survey that this building would attract a mention, but I was then unaware of the internal features and historical associations which you mentioned in your letter.
I understand from the Department of the Environment their investigator may have missed it altogether, and I have, therefore, asked them to let me have their observations, at the same time drawing their attention to the interior and to the history.
I have requested this to be done as soon as possible in view of the threat of demolition and which I understand, could arise from future reorganisation and redevelopment by the owners.
Borough Planning Officer 

Subterranea Brittanica’s Journal for April 2018  Issue 47 contains an article on Early Thames Subways. ‘The North and South Woolwich Subway and other failed schemes for a Thames crossing at Woolwich”. by Peter Bone

He begins “ The Woolwich foot tunnel was built by the London County Council and opened in 1912 but more than a quarter of a century earlier, an attempt was made to create a foot tunnel under the Thames at Woolwich” and goes on to describe an abortive earlier scheme “n 1873 the North and South Woolwich Subway Company was formed. Plans for a pedestrian tunnel between Woolwich and North Woolwich were prepared”

This is a fascinating article and copies can be obtained through the Sub-Brit web site  Please read it!

Peter Bone also mentions the 1904 North and South Woolwich Electric Railway. This was to be a short line passing under the river, with a station at Beresford Square and at the junction of Albert Road and High Street.

And also a proposal in 1919 for a tunnelled electric monorail service between Beresford Square and North Woolwich station.
                         and there is even a picture of that!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Sad news

Sad note this morning to say that Darrell Spurgeon has died.

Few people will know Darrell - who was well in his nineties and cut his very considerable list of activities down in the past few years.  He had a very busy life!

Of interest to local historians were his series of 'Discover' books - written as a retirement project and intended as the guide books to South London, which, as a travel agent, he knew did not exist.

'Discover' covered the Borough of Greenwich and quite a bit of Bexley, Lewisham and Southwark as well. Darrell was a meticulous researcher and covered many things of interest in the environment - including many industrial remains for which he was an enthusiast.

If you don't know the 'Discover' series rush out and get them at once - although I don't actually know where from as Darrell used to sell them himself and I guess stocks are limited.

I am sure in the next few days there will be proper obituaries and tributes to his time as a councillor and with the Co-op and things I know nothing about.


Saturday, 5 May 2018

Notes, news and, or course, the gasholder

Now - have you all signed the petition about the gasholder??

Sign it Now! The situation is that the holder received immunity from listing by the Government, meaning that the Council had to agree to its demolition.   We are asking that they revisit the Council's agreed position on the holder and its site.

The exact wording of what we are asking for is on the petition page - and I have acres and acres of print which explains the legal position, and the history of the holder in more detail.  Email us and ask if you want to know more.

The situation with the holder has been covered by local bloggers and the press and we are expecting more coverage over the next couple of weeks.
(thanks Darryl - and are people allowed to ask who the ginger kid is in the photo??

We also have had an email from Barbara in Germany

"I am really worried about the future of Livesey`s masterpiece. It represents an extraordinary structure of the guide frame. I will soon have a book/Phd ready to underline the significance of the threatened EG gasholder. I wrote an whole chapter on the guide frames (90 pages). One small chapter is only describing the frame in EG. For better understanding the whole chapter would be useful.However I still need to wait to be allowed to publish my phd. I will know after my viva...
In the meantime I can show you two important links to me and my work:

Research associate at the Technical University of Munich:
and my research:

My article "The Gasholder – Shaped by ist function" written for the int. congress on construction history, held in Chicago 2015:



The next blog post was about Enderby House

Thank you to Murky for covering this. But he/she is not quite right,.  Our understanding is that Barratts are still negotiating with an unnamed (by them) pub chain.  Hopefully more detail on this in our next posting.



We have had a note from the Council

 I am writing to notify you that the Royal Borough of Greenwich designated the Charlton Riverside Conservation Area on 21 March 2018. The Royal Borough’s Cabinet also agreed the addition of 17 buildings to our Local Heritage List.

This is all good news and basically covers Atlas and Derrick Gardens in Anchor and Hope Lane.  There is a planning application pending which will completely surround this pretty little housing estate - more news on that to come.

Why Atlas and Derrick?.  Cory - whose dry dock and tug depot is just along the riverside from the estate - had a coal transhipment system in the river in the 19th century. It was on a hulk called Atlas (there were three Atlases eventually) and it had derricks on it.  So the housing was built by Cory for their workers.

Thanks to Richard from Trinity Buouy Wharf for this nice picture of the site.  


Richard who sent the picture is now the Maritime Heritage Project Officer at Trinity Buoy Wharf - just  across the river from the Peninsula, you can see the gaggle of heritage boats there, as well as the Clipper Depot and London's only lighthouse**.  We hear great things are going on over there and hope to have a LOT more news soon.  

You can get over there very easily via the secret ferry - go to QE Pier and ask - but we think the ferry is going to be less secret soon.

** lighthouse in a traditional sense - we do have real warning lights here. The nearest one is not quite in Greenwich at Tripcock Ness


At the same time the Council also officially designated The Thames Barrier and Bowater Road Conservation Area,   We have covered this area and some of the Siemens buildings which is covered in Survey of Woolwich and also lots of stuff sent to us by the Siemens Engineering Society (thanks to Brian Middlemiss)
More on that to come too


Huguenots in Greenwich.  Huguenots were French Protestants who came here as immigrants in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and settled mainly in East London where they introduced many industries - the most famous being the Courtauld silk works.  

There was a small comunity in Greenwich based in Crooms Hills - I am told that the late Beryl Platts was instrumental in research on them.  The Huguenots of Spitalfields Group is organising a walk around Greenwich on 12th May - details (and you have to book and pay) on or ring 020737036 for something called a supporting visual.

I would like to book them for a talk at GIHS but I think we might be a bit too small and poor for them.


Factory chimneys.  I am told that the European industrial heritage group, EFAITH, have just had an  industrial theme month on factory chimneys - starting with a party in Roubaix.  They have made a video  They want everyone to perform Beethoven's Ode to Joy in front of a chimney (not at all sure that would be a good idea!)

I only mention this because in Woolwich we do have a chimney which would knock spots off anything they might have in the Europe!!  However  my correspondent on this is keen to know what other chimneys we have in Greenwich??? Please let us know?

Also see

Spray Street demolitions.  This was covered very adequately by 853    There are a lot of issues here around the demolition of a lot of historic Woolwich buildings - happy to highlight some of them here, please send info.   Much of the current discussion is around the Lamella roof of the doomed covered market (itself a bit of traditional Woolwich). The roof is described as the roof design is a “lamella” system – a lattice usually formed of steel or timber struts. These generate very strong spans that don’t require internal supports. It is rare to see this system used outside of a military context".


For a long time there has been an Industrial Heritage Support Officer based at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Telford.  There have been various post holders each of which we - and other industrial historians in London - have begged to come and speak to us about what support they can offer.  Sadly it has appeared that they find it impossible to come south of Wolverhampton for reasons we are unable to understand. 

BUT we now learn there is a wonderful new post holder - Joanna - and she is helpful and friendly.  We have already raised with her the issue of the gasholder and Enderby House, and we understand she is going to meet with the Lea Valley Heritage people - so there is hope yet.

This is just to say that I am happy to pass issues on to her from Greenwich if people contact me.


The April GIHS meeting featured the remarkable Ian Bull talking about the Royal Arsenal and the Yantlet (the Yantlet is a Creek on the Isle of Sheppey).  
Here is a version of some of what he said - reported to us thanks to Peter Luck.  

Guns were tested.

At the beginning of the Great War the navy was deeply concerned that its hit-rate was poor despite the quality of the equipment they had. They needed to improve their gunnery and the testing of long-range guns at Foulness was inadequate for the longest range guns. Taking the land at Yantlet and the marsh adjoining enabled firing across the mouth of the Thames over the shipping and up the length of the Foulness foreshore.

A dock was built and survives (more or less - and is visible from the other side of the creek). It was able to receive the heaviest guns made at Woolwich and it connected directly with a firing platform. a second firing position was a short distance away and the two had a rail connection which also connected to the Grain branch line. Forward of the firing platform were four tall masts which held suspended panels, aligned so that the shell would pass through them and the time differential between its passage through first one then the other would indicate its speed. The shell, on landing on the Foulness foreshore could be retrieved at low tide and examined for further useful info.

The development of rocketry and the guided missile in WW2 meant that the very heavy naval gun was no longer a viable weapon and the need for testing sych guns ended. The site became redundant and the masts were demolished and the railway taken up. Little remains of the second firing site but the dock is still there and so are several of the associated buildings, re-purposed. The navy has used the site for demolition of unexploded ordnance recovered from the Thames estuary as well as such as terrorist bombs etc etc. It is now wholly unused but still held by the MoD who do not wish to part with it. Access is possible only with MoD permission.

Before starting the talk Ian told me that the site is now a SSSI as there are many interesting plants colonising bomb craters and there has been no agro-chemical treatment of the land.

I am told that this will be covered in more detail on and please look at this interesting page for all sorts of stuff about the Arsenal. Also on and thank you Steve Peterson for the information.


Railway on the Peninsula.  Everyone keeps asking why there is no rail link from the Dome to the main line at Charlton/Westcombe Park.  Well - er - there was - it was destroyed in 1999 by the New Millennium Experience Company.  It ran down roughly on the line of West Parkside. 
This shows the rail bridge pre-1999 which stood on the
line of West Pakside west of the Pilot Pub

In connection with research on this we were asked if it connected to the Redpath Brown steel works which stood roughly south of the Pilot, where many new flats now stand.  Andrew Turner has sent us the following details when we asked if if the steel works was connected to the railway.

'The information that Redpath Brown was never connected to the national rail system was told to me by John Fry (Manager there during and after the Second World War).. I'm now not 100% sure if John remained there up to closure in 1977, so the comment may only be true for the time he was working there. .

Maps and site plans up to 1964 including OS 63360:1 maps dated 1961 and 1964 do not show any rail connection into the works. The 63360:1 map of 1970 (SE London) shows a connection into the former Dorman Long part of  the site only while the various sheets of the OS 1250:1 maps of 1971/72  appear to show a connection which leads into both the former Redpath Brown and Dorman Long sites. In both cases, the gas works is no longer shown as rail connected. A plan produced in 1973 suggests that only BSC's McCalls Service Centre (on the former Dorman Long site) was by then rail connected.

I note that the Industrial Railway Society states that Redpath Dorman Long (the post 1967 name) was connected to the Angerstein Branch but gives no dates. The information could well be over simplified, given the history of the sites.

Assuming that the 1971/72 OS survey is correct, it looks like the Redpath Brown site (by then part of BSC) may have been connected for a period to the Angerstein Branch after the rail link to the gas works was abandoned. The 1971/72 maps are however the only definitive evidence that I have seen showing the Redpath Brown site as rail connected to the outside world. The 1971/72 maps also show that by then the jetty was out of use, so incoming steel may have changed from water to rail.

We have a note from DimplyDebs about the 19th century overbridge at Plumstead Station.  It appears this is about to be removed and people in Plumstead are hoping a way can be found to retain it. She has written to councillors saying;

"I have become aware that Network Rail SE has just reapplied for demolition (18/1455/PA), citing recorded instances of people climbing over the parapet, as well as the necessity to demolish the bridge in order to fit lifts in.

Whilst I am all for accessibility, I am not convinced that this necessitates the destruction of the Victorian bridge, which is not only attractive but a fine example of important local industrial heritage. It looks like NR has taken a "one size fits all" approach and intends to install an ugly, overbearing structure. It will be a large blot on impending plans to improve the appearance of the station approach. 


This isn't industrial but thought you might like to go:


Tuesday, 8th of May - 7:30 pm St George's, Westcombe Park Glenluce Road SE3 7SD

A program by Dr Sam Moorhead FSA (British Museum) 
In AD 306, Constantine was acclaimed emperor at York – this was an illegal action, but it did not deter him from becoming one of the most important and influential of all Roman emperors.  This lecture will outline Constantine’s rise to power and his adoption of the Christian faith, culminating in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD 312.  After the Edict of Milan in 313, which ended the persecutions, we witness the growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire and in Britain.  Although written sources are sparse, the British Museum has the best collection of fourth century Christian objects north of the Alps, including the Hinton St Mary mosaic, the Water Newton treasure and the Lullingstone wall paintings. Using such objects and a range of other archaeological evidence, this lecture will outline the rich Christian heritage of late Roman Britain.