Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Letters sent to GIHS in April 2007



Letters sent to GIHS in April 2007

From: Len Williams
Robert Pakenham Williams was a Baptist minister and was associated with the Seamen’s Mission on Creek Street, (now Creek Road). We have a bible presented to him, which is inlaid with a message of goodwill form the members of the mission. The mission building still exists, and is now the "Up the Creek" comedy club and I have been trying to find out more about the building's history but currently have drawn a blank. The management company tell me that the building is listed, although clearly that listing doesn't go as far as stopping them painting it purple. Do you have any information relating to the history of the building, or can you point me in a direction that might solve my problem.

From: Pamela Smith
I would like to find out about some artifacts that I have; a scarlet coat, silver badge inscribed and dated 1869,back board from a boat inscribed and dated 1875, and a door knocker inscribed. “All to do with Greenwich”.

From: John Ricks
I have a pair of very large pictures (27 inches square and 23 x16 inches)taken from the Illustrated London News of the 30th. Sept. 1876 and before, showing the gun being shipped at Woolwich and being fired at Shoeburyness. If you know of anyone who might be interested in having them, please reply to my message. As I live in Tralee, Ireland it might be a little awkward to show them but I have enclosed a couple of pictures as attachments to give you a clue (they are not very high resolution but I could take proper pictures if required).

From: Keith Dawson
It is that man from down under, about the Enderby's. Can you give me the Lat & long of where Coom or Croom House used to be? George Enderby Ist's will says he was of Coome House. Sam Enderby III wrote a letter from Cooms House 18/9/1803, although they used Paul’s Wharfe as an address on other business letters till at least 1809. one authority says they did not move to Great St. Helens until the 1840's. Morden College has told me that Coome House was demolished and flats erected by the Beaver Trust in 1830's or 1930's The Australian Agricultural Company was set up in the 1830's and the first manager was a Robert Dawson, He is said to be a horse dealer from Essex. My father's ancestors came from Essex and had the same occupation. Robert got on the wrong side of the MacArthurs, he was sacked & came to live in Greenwich (at Morden College? he would fit the criteria) he is buried in Greenwich I believe St. Luke’s?



From: Bob Hawker
Is it possible to ask for information on Thomas William Cowan's activitieswith the Kent Ironworks, 1860 - 1890ish? Anything that any of your members might have on Kent Ironworks, Greenwich, would be much appreciated. For example when did the business cease trading, did it mutate into the North Kent Ironworks Ltd. ? The information I have in brief it is: -

Patents: -
Cowan. Air compressed hammer.
Cowan and Winton. High and low pressure double cylinder hammer.
Burgh and Cowan. Trunk engine.
GB809, 1861. John Grieve Winton and Cowan, both of 42 Bridge St. Blackfriars, London. Improvements in the means for actuating machine hammers, which said improvements, are also applicable to pile-driving and other such like machines and purposes. Use of compressed air to aid steam hammers.
GB2306, 1861. Cowan. Improvements in the construction of breech-loading ordnance. Revolving firing-chambers for artillery. A large six shooter!
GB2525, 1862. Cowan. Improvements in the construction of portable or fixed pumps. A double barrelled pump with four valves or pistons. The same or variation on the trunk engine above.
Yarrow and Hilditch of Barnsbury, steam carriage made by Cowan for Ex. 1862. Details of construction in "Steam on Common Roads", William Fletcher, p 161.

North Kent Ironworks Ltd. March 1891. Shareholders of the Co. file for voluntary liquidation following an action against the company by one of the first mortgage debenture holders on 20th Feb. 1891. There was only £3,750 for distribution to the second debenture holders. The company was finally wound up on 25th March.

There appears to have been a change in Cowan's circumstances ~ late 1889, he moved from Sussex into London, became even more active in bee-keeping and travelled extensively - cross Atlantic six times (both ways) in the next 15 years, and numerous European visits.

From: Richard Blackbourn
I have an oilpainting which has been in the family forever. It shows a gentleman sitting in an office with a large number of fishing boats visible out of the window over his shoulder.
I have now found out that the picture is of a fishing fleet, is located at Greenwich and that members of the family were fishermen in Greenwich around 1816-1870 and before that at Wandsworth.

The names were:
Thomas Blackbourn - Fisherman - Stable Yard Street, Greenwich - 1820 - 1841, 7, Church St,Greenwich – 1851.
Thomas Blackbourn - Fisherman - Hog Lane, Greenwich – 1841 Frederick St – 1851 Thames Street - 1861
William Blackbourn - Fisherman - High Bridge, Greenwich - 1841
George Blackbourn - apprentice vintner - Crown & Sceptre, High Bridge, Greenwich - 1841

I was wondering if any records existed regarding the fishing fleet. i.e. : boat owners, crews, fleet managers/owners etc. or any other records regarding fishing in Greenwich around this time.


From: Len Metzner
The Society for the Acquisition and Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. I have today learned of this organisation and its lecture rooms in Royal Hill, Greenwich. In the course of reading about this and its formation circa 1840's, and its organiser H.S. Richardson. It also mentions the 9,000 books in their collection. Wondered if you have any knowledge as to where any of these books have ended up, if the halls are still Lecture Rooms for Greenwich University, Maybe?

William Lloyd Metzner opened the first local library in his home in Stockwell Street and established and held meetings of the Literary and Scientific Institution, later to move onto a larger hall. The picture I have of the meeting of this Society has all the appearance of being the same as that shown as a meeting of the Greenwich Acquisition of Knowledge in their new hall, now known to be on Royal Hill. 

From: Iris Bryce
Does anyone remember the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers at the Telcon in the 1940's? These were the forerunners of The Home Guard. I worked in the Buying Office of the Telcon, aged 16 and along with Glenys, the filing clerk joined the LDV. We were given rather large badges made of some lightweight wood I think and painted to resemble gold. I joined three other girls and we went to learn map reading in a very cold, dirty building just outside the entrance to Blackwall Tunnel -1 think it was a Martello Tower. Glenys went to learn how to ride a MOTOR BIKE! We lasted about three weeks. I wasn't too happy to be left alone with the retired Major!! And Glenys rode the bike into a wall. The reason I'm enquiring is that over Christmas we were given a copy of the Home Guard Manual and although it mentions the LDV there is no mention of women joining up. Unfortunately I lost the badge when our house in Woodland Walk suffered blast from the time bomb in Woodland Grove and we were evacuated out of the street for two weeks or more. 

Thanks for mention of The Hill Folk. Could you let me know how to contact Mel Wright, as Owen and I are very interested to see he is lecturing on Jazz in the 40's. Owen of course was the founder member of the Geo.Webb Dixielanders in 1943 and lived in Thomas Street. We started the first Jazz Club in Woolwich in the 40's and many of the well known jazz musicians from all over England stayed at our flat in Thomas Street when they first came to make their name in London.

From: Neil Bennett
After leaving Greenwich, Merryweather moved to the Rassau Industrial Estate, Ebbw Vale, Gwent, S. Wales, NP3 5SD and in 1984 to Belliver Industrial Estate, Roborough, Plymouth (as TGE Merryweather - stands for Tecalemit Garage Equipment). They were also at Commercial Brow, Godley, Hyde, Manchester, Cheshire, SK14 2JN, along with the historic John Morris fire engineering company. Contrary to common belief the name still survives, although the company is (by its own admission) "A shadow of its former self". 

At Tuesnoad Grange, Bethersden, Kent they make or supply only fire extinguishers, owned and run by Mr Jeffrey J Wright. One of their clients is the Sandringham royal household. Mr Wright is interested to learn of the company's past and in particular is willing to purchase or see old Merryweather sales brochures. I am researching the company's past with a view to writing a book.

From: John Grigg
Labour Heritage. In 2005 we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Labour's 1945 election victory. 2006 was the 100th anniversary of the 1906 general election when Labour first became established in Parliament. 2007 is the 60th anniversary of Indian independence. We recently found a supply of one of Labour Heritage's early bulletins produced in 1986 by the Women’s Research Committee. The Editor, Christine Collette, is still a member of Labour Heritage and lives in France. Of particular interest is Irene Wagner's account of her early life in Germany until she left the Naziregime to come to Britain in 1938. Irene was Labour Heritage's first treasurer until she handed the job over to me in 2004 and is still a member of our National Committee.

From: David Dowd
I was pleased to see a report on a lecture given by John Ford on Siemens Brothers. This must be the very same John Ford who ran a scheme for apprenticing young hopefuls to Siemens as draughtsmen in the middle 1950s. I was one such and I owe him my subsequent lucrative career as a product designer. However, my reason for writing is that in his lecture he did not mention that, in the days when British merchant ships had British crews, Siemens trained so many wireless operators that Siemens-trained were in the majority. This was gleaned from the very readable Siemens company magazine. Another item which more closely concerned me at the time was that Siemens designed the first PCB .

From: John Bowles
Woolwich Arsenal Tramway Plates
The article in the latest GIHS Newsletter on the rescue of the Borough of Woolwich electricity junction box has reminded me that I had forgotten to let you know that we now hold at Waltham Abbey the surviving 18" gauge cast-iron tramway plates salvaged by the Oxford Archaeological Unit and held in Building 1° at Woolwich Arsenal. The plates reached us on 6th December. Basically the archaeologists had recovered an example of the various types used at Woolwich, nine in all, so we are very pleased to have them where they can be displayed and on which we can run our 18" gauge rolling stock. The main collection of the plates is at Chatham, where most are sadly currently used as ballast for WS Gannet - a matter which has not found favour with the narrow-gauge railway fraternity. I am glad that we were able to prevent them from going for scrap, as they were separate from the two plates used under the wagon returned from North Woolwich. The long-term future of the plates at Chatham is unclear, so the position there is being watched closely, as their use as ballast must be unacceptable except in the very short-term - just to get HMS Gannet afloat.
I am told that they were cast at Woolwich.

From: Mike Harnett
I am looking for any information on a firm based in the Greenwich area in the late 1800s called Moser, West and Bateman. Their business was the making of emery wheels which may have been used in the production of armaments at Woolwich Arsenal.

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