Saturday 27 July 2013
Over the past couple of weeks we have put out three old newsletters from 1998 - I thought perhaps I ought to jot down some 'where are they now' comments about some of the articles and people. so:
From Newsetter No.1.
Redpath Brown History - happily Andrew Turner is still working on the firm and the Greenwich steelworks, and we hope to have him back with an update talk in the next year or so. Thanks Andrew - and thanks for leading a Greenwich riverside walk for Docklands History Group next week
North Woolwich Walk - Howard Bloch, who led the walk for us and was the Newham Local History Librarian, sadly died some years ago. His job had been deleted by London Borough of Newham. The North Woolwich Station Museum has also been closed by London Borough of Newham and the building still stands derelict.
First meeting - Jack Vaughan, our very wonderful first Chair, also died some years ago. He was a great source of strength and very knowledgeable and passionate about the history of Woolwich. We could do with a lot more like him!!
Barbara Ludlow, who was also a great source of strength now lives at the coast and is no longer very mobile. She has a vast reservoir of knowledge about the area and is endlessly helpful, albeit now by post. Thanks Barbara.
Nick Catford - contributes to many many railway history web sites and seems to have been taking photographs of interesting sites since before the year dot. He now edits the Sub Brit journal.
Pat O'Driscoll edited ByGone Kent until the title was sold by the Publisher. I haven't heard from her for some years and would love to do so - she is a great authority on barge building and the river.
The Georgian Cottages by the Pilot. We managed to get them listed at the very last minute (thanks English Heritage) and they still stand now in their own little square. It turns out the landscape designers for the Dome, etc. had planned to demolish them and were really furious at the listing.
Prof Tony Arnold - published his book 'Iron Shipbuilding on the Thames'
White Hart Depot - English Heritage agreed to list this and it still stands
Wood Wharf - it proved impossible to save any aspects of the ship repair yard or the old ferry remains. There is now a tower block on the site. Clive Chambers, who bravely dived the ferry chambers, has also sadly died.
John Day - who wrote about the Arsenal in this and subsequent editions, and who did a lot of work at the Royal Artillery Archive, has sadly died.
Ian Sharpe - goes on promoting the history of Wapping through his Tourbridge web site
Michael Ward - has sadly died, and no more blue plaques have gone up
David Cuffley continues to run the North West Kent Family History Society and has been to talk to us on several occasions. Hope he will come again soon.
Rick Tisdell has sadly died
Terry Scales - goes on from strength to strength and is coming to speak at the next GIHS meeting
The Gas Museum was all packed up and sent to Leicester, where. I think it remains in its boxes.
The Conservation Group goes on from strength to strength - but I have no idea what happened to the Cultural Plan
Katie Jones wrote her history of the old Mercury building and then left the MS on a bus. The building has since been demolished.
The Naval Dockyards Society flourishes and holds its annual AGM in Greenwich
Greenwich Foot Tunnel - think I have just heard a rumour about a Friends organisation about to be set up.
The East Greenwich Gas Holder - is still there although under constant threat. I'm afraid the Julian only agreed to let me use his name on an article written by me. The Christopher Dresser bit was, I'm afraid, a red herring albeit an interesting one
Mumfords Mill - is now housing, as are most of the Arsenal buildings.
Greenwich Power Station - is still with us. Peter's article appeared in the GLIAS Journal - which I was editing at the time
The Greenwich Yacht Marina (in fact a semi derelict jetty held together with rope and old oil drums). That is a saga not suitable for publication here, I think. Whatever happened to Kenny??
Two women in a footpath - we did our best and happily Ursula is still around and up to all sorts of things.
Millennium Doomsday - upset a lot of people - but, there you go!
ps Greenwich Yacht Marina - they used to advertise on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach 'Drink and music at a riverside location' This in fact meant sitting on one of the oil drums at the less rickety end of the jetty, with canned beer and a transistor radio. You could watch the ducks though.
Posted by M at 10:23
Below are some of the articles published in Greenwich Industrial History Society's Newsletter No.3. from 1998. This has appeared on line on our old web site http://gihs.gold.ac.uk/ but fears about its stability and future means that we are gradually repeating some of the material here.
SOCIETY MEETING (JULY)Despite the attractions of another world cup match, nearly 50 people turned up to hear Rod LeGear, of the Kent Underground Research Group, talk about Underground Greenwich. Rod stuck closely to the industrial aspects of his subject - ignoring both the many natural caves and the conduit system built for Greenwich Palace. He began with talking about 'dene holes' - a subject well known to residents of north-west Kent if not elsewhere. Rod said that, despite stories about druids and Danes, these were early chalk mines, and often very old. He went on to describe the chalk mining industry in the Borough, how it had often been forgotten and the subsequent collapses when housing was built above old mine shafts. It is with considerable surprise that we learnt that the most recent mine in Greenwich was opened by the Co-op in Abbey Wood less than a century ago and that one building - Federation Hall - is still in use. Rod went on to show photographs taken by a recent party which visited the Diamond Terrace sand mine on behalf of the Society. They included graffiti giving some very unlikely dates and two elaborately carved portraits 'Shirley' and 'Mussolini'. He went on to stress how often such sites are lost and forgotten - there is considerable evidence that a much larger series of mine shafts exists in that part of Greenwich but no-one now knows where they were. Few people would think of Greenwich as once being a mining area but the evidence is there - it's just that we can't see it.
There are a number of organisations and publications dealing with underground exploration. Rod LeGear himself is a leading member of the Kent Underground Research Group (Sec. Mike Clinch, 01322 526425). Another - international - organisation is Subterranea Brittanica (Sec. Malcolm Tadd 01737 823 456). There have been many publications which mention underground Greenwich - Rod didn't mention his own Kent and East Sussex Underground (Meresborough Books 1991). Many of the best reports on Greenwich have, bizarrely, been published by the Chelsea Spelaeological Society - the following notes some references taken at random from their publications:
Greenwich Conduits. Other Greenwich Caverns, Blackheath Cavern, Blackheath Caves, Plumstead Chalk Mines, - Records Vol. 6.Blackheath Denehole - CSS Records Vol. 4.
Woolwich sappers tunnels - CSS Records Vol. 13.
Turpins Cave Plumstead, Maryon Park chalk mine - CSS Records Vol. 17.
MEMORIES OF AN ROF APPRENTICE
Pre-War there were three grades of apprentices in the Royal Arsenal. Trade apprentices who, as the name suggests, were training in their chosen trade, such as fitter, turner, pattern maker, etc. After six months they had one option to change their choice. Student apprentices who spent a couple of years on practical work after a college degree. The third grade were the Engineering Apprentices who spent five years working at a number of trades and spending a fair amount of time studying for a degree.
Entry as an engineering apprentice was by examination and interview at the age of sixteen. The average intake in the thirties was about twelve from some hundred to a hundred and fifty applicants. For the first two years there was compulsory attendance of two days and two evenings a week at what was, then, the Woolwich Polytechnic. The remaining three years were spent during term time at the Poly. or, for a few, at one of the London Colleges. At the end of the five years, most of the apprentices had a degree in engineering and the necessary thirty-six months of practical training needed for membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
From here on things get personal, but they are my memories as far as they go and after something like sixty years may not be accurate. For both of these I apologise in advance. If anybody sees a mistake, please let Mary, or I, know so that it can be put right for future historians
I have no recollection of any examination. Perhaps I was exempted by having matriculated with distinction in four technical subjects, but I remember the interview. My father was a keen model engineer and had a lathe, which I was allowed to use. I had made a model of a two cylinder boiler feed pump (described in Shop Shed and Road by L.B.S.C.) and this I produced at the interview when I was asked if I knew anything about metalwork. There was a pause while the interview board thought up something else to ask me.
When the results were published I headed the list which comprised Sydney Bacon, Alfred Bennett, Eddie Hessey, Hibbert Jarvis, Norman Lindsey Maybe, Cyril Morris, Malcolm Starkey, Robert Walker. Morris died of T.B. in his second year. Lindsey after his discharge from R.E.M.E. as Lieut. Colonel at the end of the war. Walker became a civil engineer with the Port of London Authority after getting his degree at City and Guilds. Sir Sydney Bacon retired as Director General of Ordnance Factories. Starkey was one of the militia called up in 1939, being released to become manager of one of the war time ordnance factories, Fazakerly making Sten guns, and later taking a senior position with Tranco Valves.
I was no stranger to the Arsenal. In the mid-thirties my father became a shift engineer in the Central Power Station and on Sundays, when he was on days, I took in his hot lunch in a basket. Since everything was shut down, such electricity as was needed coming from the Woolwich Power Station at Warren Lane, I had the freedom to wander where I liked within the building. At that time the western end of the Arsenal was still on direct current. In the power station were two Yates and Thom 1450 H.P. inverted triple expansion engines with Corliss valve gear, direct coupled to D.C. generators some ten to twelve feet in diameter. Alongside was a totally enclosed Vickers-Howden triple with a piston valve on the high pressure cylinder and slide valves on the intermediate and low pressure cylinders. Alternating current for the eastern end came from a 6000 kilowatt Metropolitan Vickers turbo-generator and, when needed, from a pair of rotary converters. As usual, the switch board ran along a gallery on the north wall and at the west end was the engineer's office that I came to know even better in later years. The boiler house was south of the engine room and contained six water tube boilers, four Thompson and two Babcock and Wilcox, all with chain grate stoking. The ash went down into long, narrow, trucks on the 18-inch gauge railway, this being the last use for narrow gauge. On the north side of the power station was a pump house, providing hydraulic pressure for the various machines and cranes, and to the north again was the electrical repair shop.
On my first day I reported to the apprentice supervisor, in the Central Office, and was taken to the Gauge Shop for the New Fuze Factory. Actually the shop was the Fuze Poolroom and the Gauge Shop was the high accuracy part of the toolroom. The chap I was given to as apprentice was Jim Hands. He made the jigs and tools for Mechanical Time Fuze No. 207, which was a short term watch mechanism using a swinging arm in place of the usual balance wheel. The movement was made and assembled, by girls, on the first floor of the adjacent building, The New Fuze Factory. It was a long time before I cottoned on to why it was always Jim who fixed belts and bolts under the benches while I did all the work on top.
The first job I had was to scrape the faces of light alloy depth gauges true and square. These had to be frosted (an ornamental pattern left by a scraper) and be accurate to a couple of thousandths of an inch although they were only graduated in eighths. They were in light alloy because they were for use in the Danger Buildings for measuring the depth of explosive in shells
When I had finished that job, Jim suggested I made myself some tools and started with a 5 x inch engineer's square. After hacksawing the shapes from gauge plate, the parts were ground on a Brown and Sharp surface grinder, riveted together and scraped and lapped to the standard demanded by the View Room i.e. less than one ten-thousandth of an inch square and true in any direction. I still have that square, it is still true because I never dared to use it!
One of the tools Jim thought up and made was a device for burnishing the pivots of the balance arm. This comprised four dead hard and highly polished discs rotated on spindles in massive cast iron bearing blocks. My part in this was machining the bearing blocks, base plate etc, on a Butler 18-inch shaper, a lovely tool on which I enjoyed working and, as they say, could nearly make talk.
The New Fuze was near the fourth gate (Plumstead Gate) and I rode to work on my 1920 Sunbeam motorcycle, which I had bought for £2 and fully restored. One morning, in the crush, the inverted brake lever on the end of the handlebars caught in a man's pocket, tore it so that his lunch fell out on the road, he was not pleased. In the evening he came to our house and was pacified with a ten-shilling note and an old jacket of my father's. By that time my father had become foreman of the Electrical Shop and he arranged for No 4 electricity sub-station to be specially opened morning and evening for me to garage my bike safely in the dry
In the August Guide Neil returned again to an industrial theme - plus a very welcome plug for our society. His article was headed Industrial Detergents but covered far more.
He mentioned a number of Blackheath-based factories - a fruit juice factory in Independents Road, Burndept the wireless factory, a toy construction kit maker in Blackheath Grove followed by a plating factory - and then on to a brief biography of Percival Moses Parsons. Parsons, says Neil 'invented manganese bronze in his back garden' and much much more (including the Central London Railway).
Thank you Neil - I think we'll have to book you as a speaker soon!
From Katie Jones;
Is there any mileage to investigating the history of the rather unprepossessing building at the corner of what was Deal's Gateway, on the Blackheath Road, with a facade marked 'Kentish Mercury'? This building looks in danger of being demolished, as it stands starkly against the developing DLR line through to Lewisham. There are several 'To Let' signs already on the building. Is this building well documented already, or would my involvement be helpful?
From John Day;
Does anyone know anything about this quotation from Mechanic's Magazine (Vol. 9 1828) 'Mr. Perkins continues to prosecute his plans for application of steam to warlike purposes. Last week he had another day's practice with his gun at the Limekilns, Greenwich'.
From F.G. Gilbert Bentley;
Although age (84) and serious ill health prevents my attending a meeting now this does in no way reduce my interests. My attachments to the area are wide and cover a life-time.
I listened at midnight on December 31st 1922 to a faint crackling radio on Shooters Hill (I was eight years old) to hear the sound of Big Ben chiming in the new year - for the first time on radio - and then listening to the many ships hooters in the huge docks below and beyond. I did not then know I would see them ablaze and blown apart in September 1940.
I went to the pictures in October 1940 in Woolwich and saw only half the film. It was to be 42 years before I saw the end of it because the cinema was hit (The Daily Mirror had a column on it). I was in Woolwich, Greenwich and Deptford, throughout the blitz and in a number of barracks when they were damaged.
My grandparents had a big laundry in Wilmington which served the area (James Bentley) and they had steam engines, etc. I could go on, but .....
So have a very great affection, attachment and interest in the area - not least its communications: trams, buses, ferry, subways, etc. The area has so much to offer industrial history - docks, shipyards, Arsenal, Royal Observatory, R.M. Academy, R.M. Repository, Rotunda, Palace, Royal Naval College, Royal Artillery, Grand Depot, Schools, and endless small businesses that support these things, the unmistakable bond in the river.
The whole of English (and Empire) History has at some time congregated or passed by and through. Thousands and thousands of ordinary people (like me) have contributed something to the tapestry by being there at the right (sometimes the wrong) time.
Editorial Note - What was the film, Mr. Gilbert-Bentley? In the
1960s I worked for a laundry trade journal and remember James Bentley well.
Tell us more - even if it was in Dartford!
From Colin Thom. Assistant Editor, Survey of London;
Peter Guillery recently pointed out to me the note asking for information on the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. I wrote the section on the history of the tunnel for Survey of London, Vols. 43-44 on Poplar, Blackwall and the Isle of Dogs. I thought the list of references may help the Westcombe Society in their search for sources. Also, the research notes on the volume can be consulted in the RCHME London Office which may be of interest to the Society.
From Philip MacDougall, Naval Dockyards Society;
I enclose our own recently published newsletter. I could certainly publicise anything you might have on the Woolwich Arsenal, Deptford and Woolwich Dockyard and the victualling yards. I would also welcome any connected items from your members.
Editorial Note: the Naval Dockyards Society Newsletter includes -
requests for help about Sir John Cox, Edmund Dummer, George St. Lo and John
Tippetts, Coaling facilities at naval ports, Infantry Landing Craft, and
penal establishments in the Andaman Islands. Information is also needed for a
bibliography of books on civilian facilities of the Navy. There are details
of the Society of Model Shipwrights (which meets in Orpington) and articles
in Penetanguishene Dockyard in Canada, the Vasa in Stockholm, the Iron Ship
Building Shop in Chatham and papers given at the Society's Conference.
From Julian Bowsher;
Congratulations on having set up the Greenwich Industrial History Society. I enjoyed the first two issues of your newsletter even though the subject matter may be a little modern for me! I am an archaeologist based at the Museum of London, but I live locally and have dug up many sites in Greenwich. A few months ago I was elected as President of the Greenwich Historical Society. As such I am keen on establishing links with like-minded societies - perhaps we could have joint lectures or something in the future. Next year I am hoping that all of our meetings will have a millennial theme!
From Myles Dove;
Thankyou for all the contacts and information about the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Recently I was phoned by someone in Greenwich Council's EPM Section about the revised Sunday opening of the lifts, which they are extending to 7 p.m. from now until mid-September 1998. He also mentioned Greenwich Council's proposals to put up some display material about the foot-tunnel and other riverside works in the lift lobbies as part of the Cutty Sark Gardens improvements. As they didn't seem to have details of the Steam Ferry, shown in issue 2, of your Newsletter, I suggested they use that as well.
From Philip Binns;
I was particularly interested in the article about Wood Wharf and the adjacent slipway and engine chamber associated with the Great Greenwich Steam Ferry. Its potential future as a conservation centre, dynamic historical museum and visitor facility sounds very attractive. Until I retired a couple of years ago I was an architect specialising in exhibition and museum design. If there is any assistance I can give in that area on an informal basis, please feel free to call on me.
From Malcom Shirley;
I have just found your Web pages during my search for information on a book I am researching called The Royal Docks, surrounds and shipping. I would be very grateful if you could advise of any members that would have particular interest in the Royal Docks during the mid to late 1960's. I am also covering the areas of Gallions, Woolwich and Bugsby Reaches, but not in so much detail. Most of the book will be about the shipping in the area during the 1960s together with my photos taken of these ships as a teenager. I would also be very interested in making contact with anyone who would have any such similar photos.
From Julian Wells;
A couple of years ago I wrote to English Heritage asking them to spot-list the great gas holder at Greenwich. Although my letter was acknowledged I have never heard what has happened. Has anyone any information? The following is a copy of my letter of submission;
The East Greenwich gas holder is a very large one - visible to the thousands who use the A102(M), Blackwall Tunnel Approach. Indeed, it dominates the sky line for much of the area. The impact it makes is remarkable - this was once even more so. It used to be accompanied by a larger, but sadly demolished, partner.
It was built by the South Metropolitan Gas Company as storage for town gas at their East Greenwich works. This works was planned in the 1880s as a large 'out of town' gas factory to fulfil the growing needs of south London. South Metropolitan, at that time, had claims to be the pre-eminent gas company in the country. It was led by a charismatic chairman, George Livesey - whose statue has recently been moved to the Livesey Museum in the Old Kent Road. Livesey had a remarkable career in the gas industry and East Greenwich was built to embody, not only what was seen as best practice in gas manufacture, but also as a pace setter in British industrial practice. The company was proud of the record of the works, and its high reputation continued after nationalisation. East Greenwich gas works appears in many articles, films, text books and so on ,about efficient and progressive town gas manufacture. In the 1990s gas works sites have acquired a reputation for pollution and dirt - it is perhaps worth remembering that this works in particular was seen as a symbol of a power plant which could provide a first class public service. The giant gas holder was meant to remind the public of that ideal - and of a workforce dedicated to the highest standards in every endeavour..
The holder was built, not without some difficulty, on marshy sub-soil. It was the first holder at the new East Greenwich works begun in 1883. It was designed following considerable thought by Livesey on the rationale and economics of storing gas in single large containers. He described the savings to be achieved not only in construction costs but in gas storage over a very long period.
It was constructed between 1886 and 1888 and when built was the largest in the world (in capacity it was soon overtaken by its larger, and demolished, partner - a very few larger holders were later built but whether they still exist now is not known). It was the first four-lift gas holder. The tank, beneath the holder, is 250' in diameter. The guide framing is c.190' high - with the highest point of the crown over 200' above ground level. It was built by the Isle of Dogs based, Samuel Cutler, and it is likely that some of the design features are his. The contractor was probably Docwra, who were on site and constructed most of the original works. The basic conception, however, is that of George Livesey who undertook considerable research on the behaviour of such structures in gale conditions and his findings were embodied in the holder. The basic engineering of the holder, however, was probably done by George's younger brother, Frank Livesey. In terms of gas holder design it is a development of that first used in the large gasholder 'No.13' still standing at Old Kent Road.
The guide framing - which is what most people can see of the holder - is constructed of rolled steel sections. It is designed, like the holder at Old Kent Road and the demolished East Greenwich No.2., to be very plain. This embodies Livesey's ideas both on economy and on needless ostentation. This ethos was also part of his ideas on 'partnership' - taken from followers of the Italian patriot, Mazzini, and his own work in the local temperance and Christian movements. Partnership was between the capitalist classes of 'owners', the consumers or customers for the gas, and the workforce. The size and austerity of the holder to some extent represent his ideas of 'brotherhood in business'. A plaque on the holder commemorates a fatal accident of 1909.
The holder is overwhelming important, because of its size, the engineering principles on which it was built, the philosophies behind its design. It was built for sound economic reasons but also to show the world that South London gas was made to the highest standards and in absolute accord with the needs of both consumers and the workforce. As such it is a crucial symbol of our industrial past and its' retention on the site a fitting exemplar for the next millennium.
Since this letter was written some evidence has emerged that the holder
may have been influenced in design by early 'modern' architectural ideas.
George Livesey mentioned input by 'Major Dresser' who advised that
'ornament had no place on a gasholder'. Does this refer to Christopher
Dresser, a well known contemporary designer who lived in South London at
Sutton and Barnes? He is best known for his work in ceramics and textiles -
but he also had an enormous influence on industrial designers of the early
twentieth century. Livesey is known to have had used design ideas which were
ahead of their times - for example his own house was furnished by Ambrose
Heal. A book about Dresser's life was published in 1993 by Stuart Durant of
Kingston University and has since been reproduced as a CD-ROM by the
State University of San Francisco as The Father of Industrial Design.
If this link could be proved the - much derided - gasholder embodies in its
very plainness some important design principles and is in fact an extremely
early 'modern' industrial building.
Wheen's soap works in Copperas Street has been neglected in published histories of Deptford. It was founded in 1769 and faded-out just after the end of the Second World War. There may (or may not) have been a connection with Lever's
In the early 1950s I was introduced to the last foreman there, Jack McAuliffe, who lived a short distance away. His wife had been head of the 'girls' who worked in one section of the Soapery and who earned nine shillings a week (the other girls got seven bob).
Jack said that a lot of fat was used in soap making and it came from the nearby Foreign Cattle Market (opened by the City Corporation in 1871) where cattle were slaughtered. Fat was taken to the Soapery by horse and cart. Copperas Street was then an unmade lane, and in bad weather you had to jump from stone to stone to keep your feet dry. When a cart got caught in ruts a gang of men with crowbars would be sent to free the wheels.
Jack told me two other things that I should have asked him more about but unaccountably failed to do so. One was about the bell, set on a tall post, which signalled the beginning and end of the working day. It had been a ship's bell from quite a well-known ship, and Mr Wheen had caused a plaque with the name and details of the ship to be fixed to the base of the post. Can anyone remember the wording?
Factories in those days used steam power rather than electricity. The steam engine at Wheen's is said to have come from the Great Eastern built on the opposite side of the river in the late 1853 and broken-up in 1889. This was not the enormous main engine but one of the various auxiliaries that she had. It is only in quite recent times that people have become interested it industrial history, so I fear that this engine ended-up in a scrapyard after the firm closed. Today it would be preserved. When I first started going around the waterfront in the mid-1950s I more or less working in isolation, sharing the interest with a couple of others. What a pity GLIAS and the Docklands History Group did not exist then. This short article may be seen by somebody who knows more about Wheen's. Perhaps somebody who worked there and who may be able to enlarge upon what I have said?
Mumford's Grain Silo - Priority 'D' - Slow decay, solution agreed but not yet implemented. Listed Grade II. Condition - poor, part occupied. Ownership - a company. 'Warehouse range and grain silo built in 1897 to the design of Aston Webb'. Empty for some years. Consents for refurbishment for mixed use granted. Negotiations for Single Regeneration Bid funding still in progress.
Gateway to Royal Arsenal Rifle Shell Factory - Priory 'C' - Slow decay, no solution agreed. Listed Grade II, Conservation Area. Poor Condition, vacant. In ownership of a Quango. Gateway to Royal Arsenal's shell factory, 1856.
Royal Arsenal Grand Store, east range building 49, west and south west range buildings 36, 37, 46. Priory 'C' - Slow decay, no solution agreed. Listed Grade II*, Conservation Area. Poor Condition, vacant. In ownership of a Quango. 'Royal Arsenal storehouse 1806-13'.
Royal Laboratory to Royal Arsenal Priory 'C' - Slow decay, no solution agreed. Listed Grade II, Conservation Area. Poor Condition, vacant. In ownership of a Quango. 'Royal Arsenal's laboratory, originally built in 1696, reconstructed 1802 after a fire.
Greenwich Generating Station was built in 1902-10 for the London County Council to provide electric power to the capital's tramways. A powerful manifestation of early LCC municipalisation it continues in use as a backup electricity source for London's underground railways. The station is one of few early power stations to continue in operation. It is also notable as an early example of a steel framed building in Britain and, in its stone dressed stockbrick skin, it has considerable architectural distinction. This quality is most evident in the north and south gable-end elevations and in the stone detailing. There are four chimneys; the pair to the north were once taller and ornamentally detailed. Originally coal fired, the station generated current at 6,600 volts with a capacity of 34 MW when complete. Its first section, opened in 1906, incorporated a late example of the use of reciprocating steam engines; thereafter steam turbines were installed. All early plant has been removed and since 1972 the station has been equipped with eight gas turbine alternators, originally burning oil, but later conveted to oil/gas dual-firing. These are housed in what was formerly the boiler house, and have a total capacity of 1l7.6 MW, generated at 11,000 volts but stepped up to 22,000 volts for connection to the London underground distribution system. The massive coal bunkers forming the upper part of the boiler house survive. Amongst a number of ancillary structures the most notable is the coaling pier in the River Thames which stands on 16 huge cast-iron columns.
The whole saga throws up a number of questions about the riverbank and what it should look like and what it should be used for. Club members have sent us the following letter:
From K. Hilbrown, Greenwich Meridian Yacht Marina
I am requesting your assistance with a view to acquiring the Thamesmead Jetty, and with your backing, do all in our power to prevent them from ever being demolished. Do you consider there is a possibility of having a preservation order placed on it, to ensure that yet another part of our heritage is not lost forever? I can foresee the time when all the jetties are lost to developers, unless drastic action is taken before it is too late.
It would seem your society are the only people who understand the important part these jetties have played in the development of trade from all corners of the globe. Are future generations only going to know how mportant the river was to London from reading history books? What German bombers could not do in five years, developers could do overnight, if we do nothing to stop them.
The report comes from a working group comprising Kent and Essex County Councils and a variety of other organisations. It is a long document and it is almost impossible to do it justice in the space available here - so apologies for a summary and some, probably, misplaced highlights. Although most of it is ostensibly to do with 'dirt' archaeology the majority of items, in fact, concern industrial activity - a fact which raises the question of why such important topic as the industrial history of the Thames estuary is relegated to a relatively minor role in a document which says that it is about something else.
The document says that something should be done, in a co-ordinated way, and provides an action list - who could disagree with such an approach!
The following are some of the areas which they find of interest:
prehistoric marine activity, the Roman port, Thames shipbuilding, major pre-Norman buildings, shipping, barge wrecks, other wrecks, trackways, fish traps and ponds, oyster pits, salt works, sea walls (eg. Greenwich Peninsula) fishing and fish processing remains, hospitals, industrial housing (they giveThamesmead as an example!), military activity (e.g. Woolwich), forts, civil defence etc., military architecture ordnance storage.
The items which they note and describe as industrial include:
salt, copperas, glass, boat building, and repair, hydraulic power and steam, electric power, armour, gunpowder, chalk, brick earth, gas works, telegraph cables (eg. at Greenwich), water disposal (eg. Crossness), food processing, specialist metals and chemicals, paper making, shoes, fishing, inshore fishing, canals, railways, docks, wharves, military dockyards and storage, piers.
The action plan given in the report comes complete with a recommended framework and specific objectives. These include:
to investigate the role of ship building in the area and undertake research on cargoes and movements, to develop an understanding of the historical context of sea defences and an understanding of construction methods of sea walls, to research the relationship between leisure resorts and industrial communities, to assess urban growth and industry, to establish a basic inventory of defence sites with a detailed study of those which illustrate technical development, to establish an inventory of industrial sites and identify industries to be targeted for detailed research, to undertake research as a basis for comparative studies and develop a methodology.
A copy of the report could be made available if anyone is interested.
Ove Arup reported to the Council late in 1997 - they said they project could not possibly be completed in time given the requirements. There are a number of legal problems concerning access and land ownership and there were engineering difficulties of providing the fast cycle track - which might also meet with considerable opposition on what were often very reasonable grounds.
In August 1998 Mary Mills and Ursula Bowyer set off along the path to see what they could find - they noted down what they saw and tried to think of ways in which things could be improved very cheaply. They talked to people they met - all tourists walking the path on a rainy summerís day - and asked what they would like to see there. One aspect was more information about the industrial heritage.
The following are some of the suggestions which Mary and Ursula made for heritage signing - and in each case they added a suggestion for payment through sponsorship. They noted the following sites and the information needed:
at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel - about the LCC together with some of the tunnel's history..
- The Bellot Monument - who was he? Why is it there?
- Queen's (and other) Stairs. What are 'river stairs'? Why are they there? What are the rights on them - and who owns them?
- Trinity Hospital - what it is? Why is there? (and ask people to respect the privacy of the inmates!)
- London Underground Power Station - information about its past and what it is used for today.
- The Meridian line !!!!!
- Harbour Master's Office - what is it? Who used it?
- Morden College Plaques - explaining they are NOT fire insurance plaques.
- Plaques noting the riverviews and buildings of interest from Cutty Sark pub - and a number of other places along the way.
- Cranes on Lovell's Wharf - how to make a feature of them, and explain why they are there.
- Renewing the painted signs on Lovell's Wharf
- A note about the vista down Pelton Road; the Pelton Arms. and some explanation about the name.
- The Cadet Place wall - the Great Globe - and some notes about Portland Stone.
- Some notes about the industry using Granite Wharf and Piper's Wharf - and a request to respect their privacy.
- Notes and a display about sailing barges at Piper's Wharf with some information about barges built on site.
- Public access to Enderby House plus a display inside
- A search for the mast of the Great Eastern and other relics which were once displayed here.
- Some interpretation of the cable motifs on the riverside office block
- Interpretation of the preserved machinery on Enderby Wharf - and a display of telecommunications heritage would be wonderful
- A return of the John H.Mackay - or a different cable layer.
- A plaque noting the line of the ropewalk
- A plaque about the seventeenth century gun powder depot
- A plaque on the Amylum silos
- A plaque at the site of the Sea Witch
- Some information at Bay Wharf about Maudslay and other shipbuilders once on site
- A plaque about inland vistas - particularly the gasholder
- A plaque at Victoria Deep Water Wharf (if they managed to open the path up, through there) about Henry Bessemer - whose Greenwich works was there. Perhaps also some information about Appleby engines and where one can be found preserved
- Delta Wharf - some information about Delta Metal.
- Point Wharf. See if it is possible to moor Orinoco here - she was built on this site and is currently berthed at Hoo.
- Something about boat building at Point Wharf using the skills of those who recently worked there
- A plaque on the vent of the 'old' Blackwall Tunnel with some notes about the LCC.
- A note about the Blakeley gun foundry at Ordnance Wharf and its interest for Americans - and a pointer to the Virginia Settlers site across the river.
PARIS: A PRELIMINARY INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY SITE GUIDE by Susan J. Hayton. £5. inc. p&p. cheques payable to D.W.Hayton. Available from 32 The High Street, Farnborough, Orpington, Kent. BR6 7BQ.
[Volume on Flanders will be ready in September]
LEWISHAM SILK MILLS AND THE HISTORY OF AN ANCIENT SITE. THE STORY OF ARMOUR, SMALL ARMS, SILK AND GOLD AND SILVER WIRE DRAWING by John West and Sylvia McCartney. £6.45 from LLHS Pubs, 2 Bennett Park, Blackheath Village, SE3 9RB.
The Material the chimney is made of.The Height - or at least if it is 'tall' or 'short' or 'in-between'.
The Location - with, if possible a road name, or the address or a grid reference.
What it is, or was, used for - if known.
When it was built - or for about how long it has been noticed.
The last time it was seen.
The name and address of the person sending the note in.
Eastside Community Heritage has been set up in West Ham Old Town Hall but aims to cover all of East and South East London. They currently have a new web site;
which is aimed at everyone interested in the 'fascinating heritage of East London'. It will have an official launch in the autumn - call Lorna or Rita on 0181 557 8609 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have news of exhibitions and projects throughout the area.
OLD STATION MUSEUM, NORTH WOOLWICH, could really do with lots of help - they need - painters, carpenters, electricians, typists, salesmen, graphic designers, cleaners, gardeners, mechanics, chimney sweeps, printers, writers, and lots of others. Contact Charlie on 0171 474 7244 with your skills.
It ought to be possible to compile a similar booklet about heritage under threat in Greenwich - any suggestions?
Posted by M at 09:45
Wednesday 24 July 2013
This set of notes has been handed to us by Diana Rimel - and constituted the basis of her walks and talks about Woolwich
The railway came in in the late 1840s. Horse buses made the railway station their terminus, and the first Arsenal Station buildings were erected in Eton Road (now Vincent Road). It was built in 1849 on part of a sandpit known as Pattisons
By 1867 over 3,000 passengers a day travelled from the Arsenal station to London, a further 2,000 using the Dockyard station. It was also busy on Sundays with trippers bound for Gravesend. In 1905 the Arsenal station was rebuilt in New Road, and the bridge across the road widened. But it was not until 1926 that the 'Smoke Hole' was filled in in spite of local traders and public protests for nearly 80 years previously. The gap in Greens End was bridged. General Gordon Square was opened on 24 February 1928.
In the 1970s the original Arsenal station building was still standing in Vincent Road, with a causeway running down to the railway tracks. The car park for railway vehicles once held locomotive sheds and sidings. The present high-tech station was built in 1993 replacing buildings of 1905.
CALDERWOOD STREET (formerly William Street)
Small, but busy street, with Sainsbury's, Marks and Spencer and Littlewoods at the Powis Street end. The railway passes under this end. On the site of Littlewoods where once the railway bridge stood was a wooden hut, the workshop of one Frederick Handley Page, former chief electrical designer with Johnson & Phillips. He established a company to manufacture, hire and repair aeroplanes, hydroplanes, airships and balloons at 36 William Street. It was the first aircraft manufacturing company in Britain when it was registered in 1909. The aircraft was assembled in Woolwich, taken by horse drawn cart across the Thames on the Woolwich Ferry and flown in a field in Essex. Eventually the Woolwich workshop became too small and Handley Page moved to Fairlop in Essex, where his aircraft became world famous, producing some of the finest passenger planes between the wars. The first London-Paris scheduled flights were operated by Handley Page, and HP42s served Imperial Airways flying from Croydon to Europe and India.
The old Polytechnic, Town Hall, Library and Methodist Chapel still remain.
At the John Wilson street end of Calderwood Street on the right stands the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built in 1816 for the Artillery Garrison, with its Sunday School next door. In the 1980s it became the Gurdwara Sikh temple. It has two very old cottages next door, and is one of oldest parts of Woolwich. On the wall of the chapel is a tablet to the memory of Thomas Murrell, founder of Woolwich Methodism who died in 1837.
Market Terrace- this has some attractive 18th century cottages and the very first town hall. Market Street was originally intended to take the old Woolwich Market, but traders refused and it remained at Market Head until authorities built Beresford Square in 1854
The plot of land was then used for the Town Hall which was built in 1840, but almost as soon as it was completed the Town Hall was handed over to the police and a new Town Hall was built just around the corner in Calderwood Street. The first Town Hall was sold to the Government for £1,322 to accommodate the first police force of eight constables and a police court. This had formerly been held in the Castle Inn (at the Granada end of Powis Street).
The Magistrates Court was built in 1912 and is a two-storey building in Classical style in red brick with quoins and a stone plinth. It has sets of three windows and England's coat of arms in the tympanum.
The Second Town Hall was built in 1842, and is in a modest classical style with pillars and a plain pediment. It was used as the town hall until 1906. It stands nearly opposite Sainsbury’s with its original inscription on the facade. It is a very small building by Victorian standards for a Town Hall, and shows that municipal government was in its early stages then.
The Public Library was built in 1901 with funds from the Carnegie Foundation (Scots born Canadian philanthropist) and designed by architects Church, Quick & Whincop. Central bow window below a Dutch gable. This stands on the site of the first town hall
Woolwich Baths, Bathway, built 1894 by Henry Hudson church architect to Woolwich Board of Health. It later became the student union
Original Woolwich Polytechnic Building in Calderwood Street was built 1890i91 by Henry Hudson Church, with projecting pink terracotta piers and Baroque caps. The main hall on the corner of Calderwood and Polytechnic streets was added in 1935 by J C Anderson. The Polytechnic was founded in 1890 by Quintin Hogg as The Woolwich Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute (see engraving on Calderwood Street buildings). It was supported by the local populace and within 12 months part-time classes had started with 504 mixed students.
Third Woolwich Town Hall . Built 1903-1906 by architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas for the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich in Edwardian Baroque. Wellington Street entrance leads to Victoria Hall and a statue of QV by Frederick Pomeroy, long entrance hall " of amazing grandeur' (C & P). Three domes, a balustraded gallery all round, approached by a grand staircase at the far end, which divides into two below a Venetian window. Council chamber off gallery to the right. Entrance to the public hall is in Market Street. High Edwardian baroque style. Entrance on Ionic columns above 14 larger Ionic columns. Facing Market Street are the arms of Woolwich on a pedimented balcony held by two cherubs. It became the town hall foe odnon Borough of Greenwich 1965
Powis Street, Woolwich known as Edward Street in 1829.
Powis street was part of Bowater Estate and a large area of land from this estate was purchased in 1783 by Powis, family of Greenwich brewers. Powis Street and the others round it, named Frances Brewer, Thomas, Eleanor, William, Charles and Richard, after the family firm and its members. It was first laid out c1800-1810.
William and Richard Powis converted Swanne House, on site of present Greenwich Market, into a brewery in 1733. It was purchased in 1831 for the building of the market. Three of the brothers held various public offices in Woolwich, and one was a captain in the army stationed at Woolwich.
Powis Street was largely rebuilt with grander buildings, 1890- 1910. The Powis Estate was sold for £5000 in the 1880s, but the family held the property until c1930? Henry Hudson Church was the managing agent of the Powis estate.
The first building in the street was the Scotch Chapel., on which site the Powis Arms was built. A harmonic hall stood on the site of the cooperative ha. The street linked the town with the military buildings on the common
Pedestrian main shopping centre. Much late Victorian or Edwardian ranges above ground level. Cuffs etc.
12 William Shakespeare Pub 1853 r3ebut 1900. Curious façade of c 1894. Shakespeare bust and monkey on the top. Three storeys with urn finials. Scrolled side buttressed. Balustraded balcony on the side.
52 was site of the South East London Electricity Board of 1910.
68/86 former Garrets store of 1898. Gigantic emporium, fashionable comprehensive department store of 1898. Unified upper floor with the Invicta horse of Kent (means unconquered) and lots of classical embellishments
126 was site of Arsenal Supply Co founded 1868:
151 161 Old head office RACS with symmetrical brick and terracotta, F. Bethell architect. 1903 Italian Renaissance style - inscribed 'Central Stores'. Prominent clock tower, later London Borough of Greenwich offices.
Statue of Alexander Mcleod, founder and first full time secretary. Co-op motto 'Each for all and all for each'.
RACS founded by Royal Arsenal workers in 1868 as the Royal Arsenal Supply Association. Renamed Royal Arsenal Coop society 1872, first RACS shop opened on this site in 1873 (147 Powis Street). Became one of largest retail co-ops in country. RACS absorbed by Manchester based CWS (Co-operative Wholesale society) in 1985.
136-152 CWS registered office and store building art deco style, bands of cream faience, continuous windows, tall tower, and tall, narrow vertical windows. Railings of internal staircase incorporate word 'COOP'. Near the top of No 134 next door is 'Each for all and all for each', within a wreath.
J Lyons and Co teashop was distinctive there. And the Midland Bank was on the left side corner, facing RACS.
Pryce's, a long-established Woolwich firm and the biggest printer in the town. Their first floor rooms were used as a school and as the meeting rooms of the Woolwich Scientific Society during the last century. George Carter and Sons, hatters, traded at numbers 37-39 and beyond them Wood Bros, the furniture dealers offered 'easy terms'.
The showrooms of the Metropolitan Gas company) were also there, and the sign of H Samuel, the jeweller.
Even up to 1967 it was described as 'the finest place in the world, full of colour and excitement, with something new to see every day.' Ruby Ferguson, Jan 1967, Homes and Gardens.
End of green on which sappers drilled
laid out c 1800 by a Mr. Spray
Was Union Gardens. Traceable to old workhouse in Ropeyard Gardens
Built on site of the ropeyard
Marquis of Beresford, Master General of Arsenal 1828-30
New street formed 1740 when George II was king
Hog lane – renamed 1860, probably the oldest street in Woolwich occupied by shipwrights and ‘other decent people’ in 1835. Had a Nile Tavern at the river end
Last of a series of zoological names in the area. Widened 1883 was a cul de sac at first until united with Richard Street 1820.
HENRY AND SAMUEL STREET
Named after Bowater family.
Holy Trinity - erected 1833, closed 1930, and demolished 1962. Semi-official church of the Arsenal.
180/112 early 19th century 111/2 probably late 18th century though in poor condition
120 the Coopers Arms formerly Plaisteds. Said to be of 1720m oldest pub in Woolwich. Cellars of comparative date. Present building late 19th century appearance - well designed timber ground floor. Fine lantern along alley to side.
Hog Lane street of great poverty. Many low lodging houses in varied building styles ran parallel to Surgeon Street between high street and the river. Houses on the left side demolished 1920s. Dust hole was part of this area so criminal and even the police didn’t enter
MEETING HOUSE LANE/WOOLWICH HIGH STREET
1880 William Hatchers greengrocery shop on the corner. This stretch is now Warren Lane. Woolwich power station meant that the street was cleared away.
Transformed from the smoke hole thanks to local traders particularly Thomas Brown, a tailor of Hope House, 3 Russell Place -which was on the north side of the square. He and his fellow traders had had enough of their foods and shops being coated with soot from the open cutting which ventilated Woolwich Arsenal Station. Mr. Brown made a model and drew a representation of what he thought the square ought to look like. 20,000 people signed a petition. When the line wad electrified in 1926.
The Cross Street side of the square housed a diversity of businesses. Murray’s car hire and Barron's ostrich feathers stood on opposite corners of Peake's Place. This was an ancient alleyway stile existing as a right of way
By 1928 smoke hole was completely filled in and the square officially opened with much public celebration. The whole of Russell Place was redeveloped after Birts, the freeholder, sold out in 1931. Mr. Brown's tailoring business then had to move to new premises in Thomas Street
Barclays bank is on ten site of the Duke of Connaught Coffee Tavern built to try and bring temperance to the area
Woolwich Equitable Building Society (General Gordon Square) Progressed from a Friendly Society, founded in 1842 in the Castle Inn, Powis Street. It began in Benjamin Wates's house at 145 Powis Street. Began in a humble way, first cashbox cost 50p, and the cash was kept in Mr Wates's bedroom until a bank account was opened. William Stuart, a doctor and Woolwich's first police surgeon, was the Society's first president.
Its first public meeting was held in the Calderwood Street Town Hall in 1847 and after this the first application for a mortgage was made by Richard Bond a builder. The directors financed this out of their own pockets. In 1862, by now more financially secure, the Woolwich moved into rented premises at 153 Powis Street. In 1875 it became the Woolwich Equitable BUildi.ng Society. The present building was built in site of Birt's designed in 1932 and completed 1935 by architects Grace and Farmer. Edwardian baroque style with mix of art deco motifs. Entrance flanked by Ionic columns. Note the owl above the entrance in Woolwich New Road. It was opened by Sir Kingsley Wood in 1935. Branch officers were opened from 1920. The head office moved to a new building in Bexleyheath in 1989
Woolwich Post Office built around 1892 late Victorian, three storey in part plus attic in pitched gabled roof. Note terracotta designs to gable ends. The front dormer contains a central circular window. Later addition partly c/92~~ single-storey with parapet roof. Curved facade with Portland stone plinths.
Birts and Greens End no 11 were Home and Colonial. Stephens’s hatters were next door. Birt’s sold household items including the perfect transposing piano. The wall to the right of it concealed the infamous smoke hole
South of the square were 6 public houses including the Fortune of War which became a mosque before demolition in 1981 and redevelopment. The Pullman was formerly the Royal Oak. It was here the Dial Square Football Club met who changed name to Royal Arsenal Football Club
A Gurdwara or Sikh temple in a powerful building of 1889. Classical frontage. Originally the Freemasons Hall and later became the Woolwich Town Social Club – a workingman’s club
Posted by M at 09:59