Many of the books reviewed below were self published - and some authors have died, moved or run out of stock. So, most contacts of how they can be obtained have been removed. Sorry. Comments, where necessary in [ square brackets and italics].
MILLENNIUM GREENWICH 2000 Local artist, river watcher and GIHS member Peter Kent has produced his own report - illustrated in his own inimitable style - on what has been going on recently. He covers the subjects under a range of headings - ‘Naval Matters’ .. ‘Culture and the Vultures’ ... ‘Ships that Pass’ and so on.
THE BATTLE FOR THE MILLENNIUM DOME by Alastair Irvine. This is the latest book on the Dome site - basically a report of the machinations and negotiations of the Dome’s construction based on interviews with the leading players and written by a local journalist. There is a short piece on the history of the site in which the lack of proper research on the part of the author shows badly. I will only be convinced of the existence of a windmill on the Tide Mill site if someone can show it to me on a map. The book also includes an extended piece on the background to the gas works and use of the site - which does pull some of the various elements of the background to the works together.
ENGLISH HERITAGE. ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY REPORT ON MUMFORD’S FLOUR MILL
(23-25 Greenwich High Road) by Jonathan Clarke. This is clearly a very important report for Greenwich industrial historians
BYGONE KENT The November and December 1999 issues includes two articles by Mary Mills on Lovell’s Wharf. These cover the building of the wharf under Coles Child in the 1840s and the work of the wharf up to the Great War. Hopefully an article about Lovells themselves will appear in January.
RAILWAY MAGAZINE An informant tells us (thanks Howard) that the January 2000 edition of Railway Magazine includes an article on a visit of the Loco Club to East Greenwich in 1963.
BRITISH GAS WAR MEMORIAL On 11th November the War Memorial to employees at East Greenwich Gas and chemicals works who died in the First and Second World Wars was re-dedicated on a new site. The War Memorial - almost the only thing to survive from the old gas works - has now been put on a new site near the back of the Pilot Pub. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Greenwich, John Fahy. Our member, Kay Murch, who is Site Manager at the Peninsula, was the moving spirit behind the presentation of the stone. She has sent some photographs of the ceremony. [The monument is still in good shape and now cared for by the management on the Peninsula and in the list of Greenwich War Memorials. It has been reseached, and subsequently listed by the school which stands next to it. Sadly Kay Murch died soon after the memorial was installed].
Among grants given locally are:
Terry Scales/Open Studios - Visions of Greenwich Reach. Grant for publications of paintings of the River Thames
Greenwich Borough Museum - History of Greenwich 2000 Tapestry Project.
Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre - Ebb and Flow, multi-media performance project looking at the lives and experience of people on and around the river Thames.
Greenwich Millennium Community Play - large scale play to be presented in Greenwich Park.
GREENWICH SOCIETY The Greenwich Society notes the following at their AGM (among many other things):
Greenwich Station - proposals to enlarge the forecourt for the Millennium bus link.
Lovells Wharf -the Society approves the development but not its ‘height, scale and indifferent architecture’.
Hoskins Street - notes the refusal of the council for a renewal of the licence for the breakers yard..
Support for the idea of the ‘Halfpenny Hatch’ bridge across Deptford Creek.
Support for regeneration of the East Greenwich riverfront because of ‘dereliction because of designation of the riverside area for wharfage use’.
They have suggested to Amylum that there should be a viewing platform on one of the silos and they hope to take this further.
ARCHAEOLOGY The English Heritage quarterly update by the Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service shows the following results, of interest, from Greenwich work: Greenwich Magistrates Court, 9-10 Blackheath Road - post medieval pits and trenches, Deptford kilns from 17th century.
WOOLWICH ANTIQUARIANS NEWSLETTER ... reports on a new sculpture in Woolwich. This represents the ‘Great Harry’ (the Henri Grace a Dieu’) the great ship built at the Royal Dockyard in Woolwich in 1512. The sculpture is on a stainless steel column with wave effects at the base and it appears to sail over the rooftops towards the open sea
CROSSNESS RECORD. The October issue of Crossness Record makes the following points:
*They have received the Bradlee Boiler which is now in the boiler house. It will run the Prince Consort engine and they will also need a boiler feed tank and a 1000 gallon fuel tank. They will need planning permission for a chimney.
** An Association of London Pumping Heritage Attractions (ALPHA) has been set up and had its inaugural meeting.
** Article on Broad Gauge Locomotives at Crossness. This records how in 1879 the Metropolitan Board of Works bought six broad gauge locomotives from the Great Western Railway. The two destined for Crossness were to be mounted and altered to become stationary engines to drive centrifugal pumps. They were delivered to Crossness by barge. The article goes on to describe the engines in detail.
The Jubilee Line Extension Station. A celebration of Architecture and Engineering - was the title of a seminar held by the British Cement Association and the Institution of Civil Engineers. Malcolm Tucker, one of our members, has been kind enough to send a copy of the one the papers submitted - ‘The Contractors Tale’ by Rolv Kristiansen of Sir Robert MacAlpine. This paper gives a lot of interesting details about the construction of the line from North Greenwich (ring me for a copy, 0181 858 9482). Of historical interest is the discovery under the Jubilee Line station footprint of a cast iron pipe ‘inserted deep into the gravel bed through which toxic wastes from the former gas works were discharged’. It would have been interesting to have been to able to ask how they knew it was from the gas works and not from the chemical works which had once been on site.
KENT UNDERGROUND RESEARCH GROUP Newsletter No.63. This contains Mary Mills’ article on the possible Ice House at Lovell’s Wharf - giving details of the possible construction and ownership. The article notes that it was possibly built by a John Ashby in the 1890s and hopes that, despite the fact it has not been possible to get on site so far, that an investigation can eventually be done.
Industrial Archaeology News - this (the newsletter of the national Association for Industrial Archaeology) records vents at their national conference held this year in Kent. They ventured twice into ‘Kentish London’ - so what did they think of us?
On the Sunday afternoon one party went to Crossness - and IA News published a nice photograph of some of the ‘Victorian splendour’ on view there and commented on the ‘four mighty beam engines’.
On the Thursday morning they went to Woolwich Arsenal. The visit was organised by Paul Calvocressi of English Heritage who also lectured to them about it on the previous evening. The party visited ‘the original cartridge works (later a bomb factory) from which can be seen some of the outstanding Grade I listed buildings’. This was ‘necessary because all the roads have been dug up and carted away in yet another fatuously expensive contaminated land clearance by outside contractors’. In actual fact the coach lurched about the site up and down the ruts while Jack Vaughan heroically tried to give a commentary having had no briefing and almost unable to keep his balance! Meanwhile Paul coped with the second coach!.
Later they went to Avery Hill for lunch ‘the picturesque campus of Greenwich University which allowed a visit to the impressive Edwardian conservatories’. The afternoon visit was spent at David Evans silk mill at Crayford - well worth a visit!
Mary Mills gave the throat damaging commentary on the coach all day ‘comprehensive and erudite’ (gosh!).
BLACKHEATH GUIDE. Neil Rhind outlined 19th century mod cons in Blackheath - and mentions the TV family who lived in the 19th century house in Charlton (which the whole world seems to have been watching avidly!) Neil also records that the Blackheath Preservation Trust has just taken over Brigade House in Brigade Street. It has been Lab One (who will stay on the ground floor) but was originally in 1871 the Village Station fitted up, says Neil, with every mod con. The firemen actually lived above the station and old cooking ranges have been found walled up behind the plasterwork. Neil has discovered that these were made by Frederick William Cash, ironmonger and bellhanger, of 49 Montpelier Vale. Neil thinks Mr, Cash probably didn’t make the ranges there but just screwed his labels on them. Neil goes on to comment on the life and times (and occasional drunkenness ) of the Blackheath firemen. Neil is much less industrial with an article about bazaars - but this lapse on his part is more than made up for by an article by Peter Kent which includes a splendid map of the river from Spice Island to Anchor and Hope. Peter illustrates and points out several items on the industrial waterfront.
SLAS NEWSLETTER. The latest issue of the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society Newsletter gives a short biographical piece under ‘Where are they now?’ on Richard Buchanan. Richard is of course one of our members, and is also very active in the Shooters Hill Group and in the Blackheath Scientific Society. He mentions in particular the founding of the London Kiln Study Group of which he was treasurer which was triggered by the discovery of the Woolwich kiln. This turned up at Woolwich Ferry Approach and was ‘the earliest stoneware on in England’ (er er errm, where is it now?) [the kiln was finally digistised and destroyed in 2018]
MERIDIAN A PARK FOR ALL SEASONS In its October issue Greenwich freebee Meridian ran an item on Tree Planting on the Greenwich Peninsula. This basically describes the planting arrangements for the new park alongside the Dome site. It includes an interview with Bernard Ede, landscape architect, on the site. It includes the statement ‘the team has deliberately rejected the current fashion in urban regeneration landscaping of referring to the area’s industrial past, although a working gasometer remains a landmark by the A102 (M) - to the dismay of Mr. John Prescott, the deputy Prime Minister’. Following this we wrote immediately to Mr. Ede inviting him to come and talk to the Society and tell us what his policy was, how it was derived, and what the rationale behind it was. He faxed back immediately to say he would reply ‘on Monday’ but ever since then there has been a massive silence.
In November Meridian ran an article on local buildings at risk. Some of those they included were:
* the Royal Military Academy ‘an establishment at the heart of British military history. First established by Royal Warrant it moved to the present site in 1806 into the building designed by James Wyatt. A number of other buildings have been added since. The Gothic parade ground is 72- feet long and the centre block is based on the White Tower at the Tower of London. Michael Faraday lectured there. There is, says Meridian, a clear backlog of maintenance.
* the former Odeon (Coronet) cinema at the bottom of John Wilson Street and the Granada Cinema (Gala Club). The Coronet, now closed and due to be sold, is listed and is ‘a fine example of an Art Deco Cinema’. The Granada’s ‘exotic interior’ had a designer whose speciality was stage sets for the Russian ballet.
** the fine Art Deco HQ of RACS. Like the Coronet cinema this is boarded up. It is listed, has a fine tower and original Crittall windows. It is also for sale.
** Meridian also draws attention to the fine beam engines at Crossness - ‘painstakingly restored by a trust’.
GREENWICH YACHT CLUB CELEBRATES MOVE DOWNRIVER. a note in the Greenwich Waterfront Community Forum News outlines the new centre at Pear Tree Wharf in an interview with Joyce Loman.
GLIAS NEWSLETTER. The October 1999 Newsletter contains an article by Mary Mills on the Bulli wreck built in Greenwich by Lewis and Stockwell. It also contains an appeal by Brian Forristal about lime kilns in everyday life. Surely some of the Greenwich kilns would-be of interest to him. Greenwich is mentioned again in ‘News from Greater London’ - if only commenting that the East Greenwich gas holder is still full of gas. The opening of the DLR line from Lewisham to Island Gardens is also mentioned.
LETTER FROM AMERICA - Jack Vaughan
No not THAT one! This one is from Mingus Mountain Machine Works, no less, in Arizona and contains a request for knowledge of a 40 ton steam hammer which worked at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, in the 1870s.
The specific query related to the suggestion by the maker (Nasmyth, of course) that its use upset certain delicate instruments at the Greenwich Observatory, two miles away. I am seeking help from the Observatory but if any reader can offer anything the Society would gain credit thereby.
The hammer was reviewed by the Czar of Russia in 1874 on the occasion of its first use. That occasion was described in ‘Warlike Woolwich’ written in the late 1890s by W.T.Vincent (whose two volumes on Records of Woolwich & District’ are the standard source of Woolwich history. I have a copy of ‘Warlike Woolwich’ and the above description could be copied for any interested member who is into steam hammers.
NEWS FROM CREEKSIDE The Creekside Open Meeting give some details of the new river wall works (that is the Ravensbourne River - Deptford Creek). The river wall is being clad with vertical elongated timbers. The wood is ‘tanalised’ which will not allow plant growth, although plants can grow in the deposited silt. It had not been possible to use recycled wood for this because it would be a non-standard size.