Saturday, 2 November 2019

Reviews and snippets May 2000

Reviews  and snippets May 2000


Kent Underground Research Group Newsletter tells how they were approached by Railtrack about a stone mine in Welling - they eventually suggested some of the Plumstead chalk mines. Railtrack then came back and said, ‘oh, sorry - we meant Welwyn Garden City’.


The March Bygone Kent has in it yet another article by Mary Mills on Lovell’s Wharf.


David Riddle has drawn attention to  the Ipswich Transport Museum’s web site. (http://www/  This describes a Merryweather Manual Fire Escape discovered being used for repainting the Felixstowe lamp posts. 


The latest GLIAS newsletter contains much of interest to Greenwich members - Bill Firth’s account of the visit to White Hart Road depot and a note on the new booklet on ‘Greenwich:Centre for Global Telecommunications’ produced by Alcatel.


The March Guide magazine included an excellent illustrated article on the Greenwich waterfront by Peter Kent.  It includes some information and a drawing of the Greenwich Ferry the remains of which can still be seen on the foreshore.  Elsewhere in the issue Neil Rhind describes the background to Phoenix House which once stood in Blackheath - now Montpelier Vale.  This was once Washerwomen’s Row - which is, of course, industrial history.


Subterranea Brittanica have just published their Winter 2000 Bulletin 31. Nothing about Greenwich in it - but there is an article by Mary Mills on ‘John Williams and the Metropolitan Subways’. 


CREEKSIDE NEWS.The latest mailing from the Deptford Creekside team includes a list of projects by the Groundwork Foundation Office in the area - what the money was spent on. These include:

** Wood Wharf - £2,000 on a detailed technical survey and business plan for a Heritage Lottery Fund application in 1997
**  Changing Creekside Video - £5,000 in 1997, £4,100 in 1998.
** Pepys Waterfront - installation of five heritage interpretation panels. 3D interpretation of Drake’s circum-navigation of the World. £7,500 in 1997.
** East Greenwich waterfront - renovation of Enderby Wharf and Alcatel Jetty. £43,000 in 1999. ** **  Primrose Pier, East Greenwich, Renovation. £32,500, Morden Wharf interpretation panels on contemporary industry and its interaction with the Thames - £125,000; Programme of public space and access improvements, heritage interpretation £31,500, Safeguarding cranes at Lovell’s Wharf  £800.
** Macmillan Legacy - research project on heritage of the Macmillan sisters. £5,130.
** St.Nicholas Church - renovation of churchyard and new ceremonial gates. £9,200.


First of all we must congratulate Crossness Engines Trust on their splendid new look ‘Record’ - .inside it is 
** an article on ‘Penstocks in the Beam Engine House’ and their particular reference to  Crossness. The ones currently in situ date from 1884 and the article details their specification and installation
** a report from the 1880s on the ‘awful smell’ attributed to the Crossness works - and the horrors of the Skutch Works at Belvedere (which drowned out anything Crossness had to offer!!).
** an extract from the Illustrated London News on a visit to the works by the Prince of Wales in 1865.
**  a report on how the work is going on cleaning the engines and .. and ... they hope to have an initial steaming in February 2001.

WOOD WHARF - by Phillip Binns 
Wood Wharf is just upriver of Cutty Sark Gardens. Until a few years ago it was a busy boat repair yard owned by Pope and Bond. When Westminster Council decided to stop transferring rubbish by river they lost boat repair contracts - and since then the site has been taken over by developers.
The new owner of Wood Wharf has recently submitted a planning application to demolish all the existing buildings on the site and to erect in their place an eight storey mixed use development. 
Greenwich Industrial History Society has written to Greenwich Planners expressing concern on many aspects of the development but particularly at its unacceptable height and that it would constitute an over-development of the site, as well as increase traffic movements.  The style of design is also criticised as being wholly out of character with this particular stretch of river.
It is regrettable that nowhere in the development are there any proposals for retaining some boat repair facilities given that the scheme proposes the retention of the Massey Shaw mooring on the foreshore, in addition to introducing new ferries to access other vessels.
At a recent meeting of the Society a petition was signed by the 20 members present opposing the scheme on the grounds of height and the threat to the remains of the former Greenwich Steam Ferry.  This arises from the proposal to erect a new board walk linking the existing Thames Path to the Greenwich Reach 2000 development immediately upstream, which would result in the destruction of the engine chamber and boiler room of the ferry.
The petition has also been passed to Greenwich Planning and it is expected that the application will come in for strong criticism from residents of the nearby Meridian Estate as well as from Creekside Forum, London Rivers Association and English Heritage.


BARBARA LUDLOW has written to say that she has some copies of her book available 
That is  Images of England: Greenwich


The old Master Shipwright’s house from Deptford Dockyard is now the ‘Shipwright’s Palace’.



In March Docklands History Group heard Barbara Jones, Information Officer and Archivist of Lloyd’s Register, give an account of the history of this ship classification system - which has a strong Greenwich connection.  Here is an extract from their write up of what she said:

Lloyd’s Register started in 1760 in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house, Lombard Street, City of London.  Today it is an international company with 4,500 employees in 280 offices worldwide.   As well as ships it has a Land Division covering the survey of oil refineries, pipelines, floating oil rigs, power stations, aircraft, escalators, nuclear reactors and much else.   It must not be confused with the insurance organisation ‘Corporation of Lloyds’ - although both originated at the same coffee house.
The first known Chairman of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping was John Julius Angerstein - whose Greenwich home is now Woodlands, our Local History Library. 

In the mid-1700s London trade was growing fast and it was realised that classification of the condition of ships was essential if underwriters were to be able to ensure valuable cargoes.  The idea of a Register of vessels was put forward in 1760 but the first surviving official register is for 1764-6.  The original classification was simple - the hulls were ‘A’,’E’, ‘I’, ‘O’ or ‘U’ with ‘A’ being the best.  Equipment was ‘G’, ‘M’ or ‘B’ - good, middling or bad.  So ‘AG’ meant the vessel was a good risk to insure, while ‘UB’ was dodgy, to say the least.    By 1775 the classification system had altered and a ship  previously classed as ‘AG’ became ‘A1’ - thus the legendary and talismanic phrase ‘A1 at Lloyds’, an indication of top quality.

There was however considerable rivalry between the Underwriters Registers - the ‘green’ books - and the Shipowners Register - the ‘red books’.  This went on for 35 years between 1799 and 1834.
Later the classification ‘100A1’ was used for iron, and later steel, vessels. It is thought this originated in 1870 when one of the Surveyors said that iron ships were so much better than wooden ships that ‘they would last for 100 years’.  The symbol of a Maltese Cross was introduced to signify vessels surveyed whilst being constructed.

Today between 30 and 40% of Lloyd’s work is non-marine but the Register of Shipping is still published and contains 85,000 ships as against the 4,500 in the 1770s.  The information is now available on CD-Rom.  Recently times had been hard for Lloyds and their new HQ in Fenchurch Street would let out four floors to other organisations - since so many Lloyds staff had been sacked before it was finished.

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