Wednesday 23 February 2011

Frank Sumner - Woolwich Borough Engineer and his Plumstead Home

Frank Sumner - Woolwich Borough Engineer and his Plumstead Home
by Dave Ramsay

Frank Sumner MICE - his career

Born: 17th May 1865 - Father: John Sumner of Coleshill near Birmingham, a chemist (retired by December 1904)
Died: 22 December 1914

Scientific training, at Atherstone and privately1879-1881
Pupilage under Mr.Sidney G.Gamble, Assoc. M. Inst. C. E, and under Mr. J.A Gotch, Architect, 1881-1887

Training as assistant to Mr. Gamble, Mr. Gotch, and Mr. O. Claude Robson 1887-1892 at Grantham.
At Grantham he was Resident engineer on extension to a sewage farm on Harrowby estate, laid out new roads, sewers and water main

Assistant Surveyor, Kettering Local Board. Extensions to a sewage farm laid out several miles of new roads, reconstructed several miles of new sewers and assisted with plans for an isolation hospital.

Assistant engineer to Mr. O. Claude Robson, MICE, at Willesden Local Board -constructed several miles of sewers, extended sewage farm, constructed filter beds, assisted with plans for a steel girder bridge

AMICE 9th August 1892

Chief Engineer and Surveyor, Bermondsey Vestry, - much work on sewers and paving, alterations to the Council Chamber. Controlled 200 men

Borough Engineer and Surveyor to Woolwich Borough (Previously Plumstead Vestry) 10 May 1899 -1905.
Constructed 20 miles of sewers, 8 miles of streets,
Prepared plans for and supervised the erection of a combined electric light station-and refuse destructor at Plumstead, with well and hydraulic machinery for making clinker bricks and flags.
Prepared plans for a new Library at Plumstead.
Prepared plans for Public- baths and wash houses at Plumstead, also a coroners court and mortuary.
Prepared plans for widening Well -Hall Road from Eltham to Shooters Hill to 60 feet, paving for Tramway
Street improvements
£30,000, Certifies annually general work.
Controlling 600 men,
Passes plans for 1,500 buildings per year.

MICE 2nd March 1904 MICE

(The above summary was prepared from the detailed supporting statement attached to his application for MICE. Work done between March 1904 and May 1905 was obtained from the ICE obituary of 1914 and is less detailed).

eman of the City of London, 1905.

City Engineer to City of London 1905-1914 Inaugurated central lighting of the City and largely responsible for Fleet Street widening scheme,

Frank Sumner’s Woolwich home.

Brent Road was an open field, in the 1860s, with some evidence that it had been woodland some short time before that. The rump of that woodland remains at the Eglington Road end of Cantwell Road to this day. It would appear that Brent Road was built as a serviced metalled road in the 1860s by developers who wanted to construct high quality homes to maximise the commercial opportunities of meeting the needs of Royal Artillery Officers, whose barracks were nearby on Woolwich Common.

More particularly, the Royal Military Academy in Academy Road, moved to its present site in 1806, and is only half a mile away from The Gables. The Academy was formed 'to educate young gentlemen for commissions in the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers'. It had been established in 1741, on what later became known as the Royal Arsenal, at 'The Warren' site, in Woolwich.

The 1866 Ordnance Survey shows Brent Road as being constructed with proper footways. Searches of records of the time show no evidence of requests to break into the public sewer, so it is possible that serviced plots were sold. The first evidence existing of the sale of building plots is in 1863, when the west side of Brent Road was put up for auction. No houses were shown as built on the 1866 OS. And the first constructions seem to have been on the east side. Alpine Villas, two substantial pairs of semis, uphill from "The Gables", appear to have been built first.

Local belief is that "The Gables" was the first house built in Brent Road. However the first houses occupied were Alpine Villas who were paying local rates in 1870, and appeared in the 1871 Census. "The Gables" first appeared in the rate book in December 1872. By way of comparison, the Rateable Value of each Alpine Villa was £42 and "The Gables" was £62 in 1886. The London Land Company promoted the construction of a high quality neighbourhood by insisting on a minimum build cost of £300, in a property deed covenant, when the plots were sold.

The London Land Company sold the plots on which "The Gables" stood in January 1870 and October 1872 (to Chapman). Chapman owned the house till at least 1886.

Booth's Notebooks give us a valuable insight into social conditions in Victorian times. On 21st May 1900, George Duckworth took walk number 79 in the company of PC Cline. The entry for Brent Road reads thus. “Steep hill running to the south. The social status is middle-class, well to do. Greenery, lilacs and laburnums." The south end of Eglinton Hill is described as having a similar social status. Other local streets are described as "Fairly comfortable, good ordinary earnings". Prosperity seemed to increase towards the top of Shooters Hill, which was formed into an ecclesiastical parish in 1865.

From 1872 to 1935 "The Gables" appears to have been occupied by people in very comfortable circumstances. In 1935 building consent was obtained and the house seems to have been converted to multiple occupation with its social status considerably reduced.

THE OCCUPANTS, 1872-1935
1872 - 1874 Captain/Lieutenant Montague Frederick Ommanney. Royal Engineers. Designer of the RE Institute Building, Chatham and promoter of railways in Western and Central Africa
1874 -o 1877 Major Ashlon Papillon. Royal Engineers. RE photographer of the Chinese Opium Wars, 1858-8-1860
1878 -1881 Lieut. Col. William D. Forster, Madras Artillery (ret.l 08 1872) Captain (retired list) Royal Artillery. On active service in India during the "Mutiny”
1882 - 1884 Captain Henry W. Penny Tailyour. Royal Engineers. In the FA Cup Final three times in the early 1870s, RE winning side 1875 MD of Guinness Dublin, 1913-1919
1885 - 1887 empty or missing entries.
1888 - 1893 Lieutenant/Captain Ernest A. Gartside-Tippinge Royal Artillery.
1894 - 1895 Captain Arthur J. Breakley Royal Artillery.
1896 - 1899 no entries in Kelly's, empty.
1900 - 1902 The Reverend Henry Richard Sugden MA Curate of St Margaret’s, Plumstead Common. Missionary, Uganda 1893-1899
1903 no entries in Kelly's, empty
1904- 1907 Frank Sumner MICE Borough Engineer, of Woolwich Borough Council. Designed Plumstead Baths, Library and combined Dust Destructor-Electricity Station
1908 Lieutenant Douglas Stewart Royal Horse Artillery.
1909 No entry in Kellys
1910-to 1913 Captain Henry Charles Whinfield regiment not known.
1914- 1916 Lieutenant John McCauland-Dickson Royal Artillery.
1917 - No entries in Kellys, war time.
1920 -1921 Major BMG Butterworth MC Royal Artillery.
1922 - 1923 Major Noel Warren Nappier- Clacering Royal Artillery.
1924 No entries
1925-1935 Major Bernard and Grace Butterworth, Royal Artillery

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