Thursday 13 November 2008

Kent Ironworks

We have a request for information about Kent Ironworks. This seems to have been based at Dreadnought Wharf in Thames Street, Greenwich and also at a site about half way up Norway Street which was known as Victoria Foundry.

I've raked the following info out of my notes on the area - and everyone would be grateful to know more.

I think the Norway Street site was the original Greenwich gas works site. I wrote this site up in Bygone Kent - (The first Greenwich Gasworks and how it fell down. BGK 20 No.6. June 1999)

By 1841 the Norway Street site had been let to a I then got interested in the steam engine builder William Joyce, who, I assume also had Dreadnought Wharf. He seems to have died very young in 1856 and is buried in Nunhead Cemetery. He lived in Diamond Terrace. He seems to have built many steam engines and notes about them often turn up in histories of local works. I also have a note that he built steam flour mills for Symrna in 1850 but more importantly a ship called the City of Paris – presumably this was built at Dreadnought Wharf. He also may have built a steam yacht for the Pasha of Egypt. He was also probably involved in some of the early steam cars which were made locally.

After Joyce died the works was taken over by Cowan - and there is a photograph in the

the biography of the torpedo manufacturer Alfred Yarrow which and shows him as a very young man in a steam car built for him by Cowans which is clearly marked 'Kent Iron works'.

Always grateful for more info

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Crossness today

I went today to the press launch of the succeful Heritage Lottery bid at Crossness Engines Trust. Useless of me to say anything other than it went very well. I'm putting below their press release:

‘The Great Stink’ - over £1.5 million of Lottery money allocated for Crossness Pumping Station restoration. Featuring - Wesley Kerr, Chair of HLF Committee for London - Peter Bazalgette, President of Crossness Engines Trust and great-great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

In the 150th year since the “Great Stink” of 1858, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is delighted to announce over £1.5 million in funding to help restore the Grade 1 listed Crossness Pumping Station in Bexley - the solution and product of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s vision to save London from what 19th Century Prime Minister Disraeli called “a Stygian pool reeking with ineffable and unbearable horror”.

Wesley Kerr, Chair of the HLF Committee for London, said:

"The London Committee is thrilled that this unique part of our city's heritage, including some of the finest and largest steam engines in existence, housed in cathedral-sized buildings on an inspiring Thameside site, is to be fully restored and opened to all. The volunteers have done sterling work already. This vital part of London's past will become a cherished local community asset and an exhilarating destination for future generations."

A triumph of Victorian engineering, Crossness Pumping Station was opened in 1865 attended by the Prince of Wales and dignitaries of the time. Housing the four largest rotary beam engines in the world and currently in a dilapidated state, the Grade 1 listed Beam Engine House and Boiler House are both on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register.

The restoration, part of a project costing £2.7 million, is due to start in early 2009. As well as conserving the buildings there will be a new exhibition exploring the social history of the site which will take in public health, pollution and the environment, encouraging visitors to celebrate the engineering triumph on their doorstep. A new cafĂ©, car parking, education room and archive and an updated website will also be developed.

Peter Bazalgette, President of the Crossness Engines Trust and great-great-grandson of Sir Joseph adds:

“The Trust’s volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore one of the magnificent engines and to create an experience which visitor’s already enjoy. This project will allow us to improve on that experience, safeguard the fabric of the buildings and make possible new community ventures that will allow this monument to Victorian engineering to take on a new lease of life.”

Malcolm Woods, Historic Buildings and Areas Advisor for English Heritage, who have also provided grants and long term advice and support to the Trust, said:

‘“Crossness Pumping Station is a spectacular example of the boundless ambition, vision, and commitment of the Victorians in transforming the public health of the capital. English Heritage is delighted to be able to support the work of the Crossness Engines Trust and can today announce a grant of £150,000 towards the repair of these fantastic buildings. The grant will go towards restoring the fabric of the buildings that house the magnificent pumping engines and secure the long-term and active future of the buildings. The announcement today of this vital funding from both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund is a major step towards removing the buildings from our Heritage at Risk Register”.

The Pumping Station when restored will be run almost entirely by volunteers, who will lead a range of activities for schools and other visitors including workshops, talks, and guided tours, to help bring the past to life and celebrate this triumph of Victorian engineering. Beyond that there are plans to use the site for a range of community and leisure activities.

It will open for three days a week from Spring to Autumn and two days a week through the Winter. As well as exploring past achievements, it will encourage visitors to see how the past, present and future are connected, on a site where Thames Water continues the work of Bazalgette’s vision in the 21st Century.

Very significant support (both financial and otherwise) has also been forthcoming from the Department of Communities and Local Government, Thames Water, Tilfen Land, the London Borough of Bexley and the City Bridge Trust. All of this has allowed the Trust to proceed with the work that will convert the vision into reality.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Cricket too

Following on from the previous post about Football fixtures in 1952 - its also instructive to look at what the cfricket teams were doing in 1951. Harveys had four teams -
Saturday First XI - played Northern Poly, Erith Tech, City of London College, Old Shootershillians, Blackheath Wanderers - and while none of these are industrial they also played J.&E.Hall of Dartford - and who were Beehive, and Armcross?
The Saturday Second XI were also playing educational establishments - but also the Southern Railway and Lyles Sports (must be the golden syrup division!), - and also Plumstead Radical which must mean the Plumstead based drinking club!
Sunday First XI list gives little indication of industrial fixtures, entirely made up of local town sides - Catford Wanderers and the like, but the Sunday Second XI played the Kentish Mercury, and Maybloom Sports (another Plumstead drinking club!), and - finally - Barrow Blackman (who were they?)

Sports fixtures

Like most works house magazines much of the ones produced by Harvey's are about the firm's sports club. Something absolutely fascinating is to look at the list of fixtures which the various sporting teams undertook - it is of course a list of other local firms at the time.
So - in 1952 who was Harvey's football club playing - and they seem to have had a number of teams operating out of their Hervey Road ground. Their 1st XI played in the Premier Division of the London Business Houses and 1952 fixtures were mostly not local - some are easy to identify - J.& Phillips (local of course), S.T.C. (also local), Tottenham Gas, May and Baker (in Barking), Lampson Paragon - but who were Gothic, Tamber, Sam Jones, B.D.V., and LT (LER)
Their second team played in the South London Alliance - and in 1952 they also played May and Baker, Slades Green (must be the railway depot), Stones (local of course), Woolwich Borough Council, R.A.C.S., Erith Council, Henleys (North Woolwich or Gravesend), Metro Gas (thats East Greenwich Gas Works), - but who were West Kent, Old Selts, Hendon Strollers, Old Heathians, Mobeka S.C.??
Finally their third team playing in the South East London Amateur League - they played Spicers, Molins (then in Deptford), Elliots (our local computer manufacturer!!), Peek Freans (in Spa Road), - but who were County Gate, Charles Page, Clifton Villa, Welling Meth, Dewrance, G.Park Res (did Greenwich Park staff have their own team??).

In 1951 Harvey's First team had played and one by one goal against Metrogas. The long write up of the match can be very instructive. Most of all that they had played at the Valley to a crowd of 2,000. What local company team today can match that!

Saturday 1 November 2008

More about Harvey's

Perhaps I should start off by finding something from the magazines which explains about Harvey's and who they are. There is an article which explains a bit about their background and written for their Diamond Jubilee celebrations on July 7th 1934. 'Sixty years of industrial progress'. At that time the firm's founder, G.A.Harvey was still alive and still Chairman, although day to day control was in the hands of his son, Sydney. G.A.Harvey was to die in 1937. He had begun in 'the most inauspicious way possible' in an 'old forge in Lewisham' and turning it into a workshop where, with one boy, he worked in zinc - cisterns, guttering, for local builders. Within ten years he was supplying all round the country and began to move into the area for which the firm was best known - metal perforation. This began with making perforated zinc for meat safes and by 1894 he could expand with a second works at Iron Wharf in Greenwich which was set up for galvanizing and tank making. In 1913 he bought the site in Woolwich Road where the firm was to remain. This was near the river and also the railway - from which a branch line went into the works. In 1934 some of the work was described - fine wire cloth, thicker woven wire articles, all kinds of metal perforation, manufacture of dustbins and similar domestic equipment up to major pressure vessels, fractionating towers, reaction vessels and so on for industry. They also moved into metal office furniture and similar items - for which they became famous.
I am treating Harvey's here as a historical entity - but I believe that the firm still exists and that the office furniture department is alive and well and located in Margate. If anyone from Margate picks this article up I would be grateful to know more about Harvey's work today - and of course since 1934.