Friday, 15 June 2018

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


East Greenwich Gasholder

Please sign the petition

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-greenwich-southern-gas-networks-save-the-nationally-important-east-greenwich-gas-holder-from-demolition

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.  https://853london.com/2018/06/13/greenwich-gasholder-order-set-to-bring-silvertown-tunnel-a-step-closer/
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!

MEANWHILE ELSEWHERE

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.

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



GASHOLDERS, FROM INDUSTRIAL RELIC TO MODERN ARCHITURE
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 walks@glias.org.uk

(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 d.perrett647@btinternet.com.  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
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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. http://www.industrialheritage.eu/EYCH2018/May/Serenade-for-a-Chimney


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

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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



INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY NEWS

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.


THAMES TALK

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

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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

GASHOLDER PETITION STILL GOING STRONG

Here's another view of the holder:




Sign the petition and keep fit  - 

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-greenwich-southern-gas-networks-save-the-nationally-important-east-greenwich-gas-holder-from-demolition

(thanks to GMVA for the pic)