Thursday 28 April 2016

Barbara Ludlow - An obituary


Barbara was a Wellard who were a remarkable local family heavily involved in local politics.  Her parents – and in particular her communist uncle, Charlie – were well known in Greenwich and Woolwich. His son Chris’s record shop was the place to be in the 1960s.  Her parents were both strong Labour Party activists. But Barbara made her own mark as an important Greenwich historian. Brought up in Greenwich she attended Invicta and then the Roan Schools.

Julian Watson writes ‘I started work in the Local History Room at the old Blackheath Library in St John’s Park 1965 and it wasn’t long before I became assistant to June Burkitt in the Local History Room. It was there that I first met Barbara and we got along well immediately. She had already finished her London University diploma course in local history and I remember reading her dissertation, which is preserved in the Greenwich Heritage Centre. 
Barbara at Woodlands helping researchers

The Local History Library was a fairly new initiative, which was far too big for one small room so an attempt was made to create a Local History Library at Charlton House. Sadly this failed because suddenly ‘Woodlands’ in Mycenae Road was on the market and threatened with demolition. Greenwich Council acquired it and the Local History Library was created there rather than at Charlton House. I, with two new members of staff, moved the collections there in 1970 and Barbara, who had been working as an adult education lecturer, was appointed as our Education Officer and Senior Library Assistant – she had worked at the National Central Library. She did all our timesheets and most of the general administration because I was gathering in all the other large and dispersed collections: the Woolwich and Kent Collections from Woolwich Library, council archives from the old Greenwich Town hall and Woolwich Town hall plus collection from Eltham library.

Barbara was an outstanding historian and communicator and always great company. She was married to Roy Ludlow who was a very talented and engaging man. He designed bank note printing machines for De La Rue and had a very busy life particularly when former colonies became independent and needed their own currency.  They had two sons, Christopher and Michael.
Barbara was needlessly anxious about her ability to write but produced many outstanding pieces of work. She wrote many fine articles in the Transactions of the Greenwich and Lewisham Antiquarian Society and the Journal of the Greenwich Historical Society, made a substantial contribution to Sally Jenkinson’s series of publications for the Gordon Teachers’ Centre - effectively a joint author. Barbara co-wrote the Combe Farm volume with Sally in that series.  Barbara’s ‘Greenwich’ book for the History Press, published in 1994 has been reprinted many times and still sells well. She and I produced “The Twentieth Century: Greenwich” and later “Greenwich Then and Now.” She also contributed an important chapter to “Aspects of the Arsenal” which was published in 1997.

Barbara was a fine speaker and was, in retirement, recruited by the late Ivan Howletts, the producer of the Radio 4 ‘Making History’ programmes. They became friends and he used her on several of the programmes. She and I did one programme about the Enderby family of Greenwich. Her work in schools and colleges was much admired - the students were not only fascinated by the content of her talks but they also behaved well. She was a natural teacher and lecturer. A powerful memory for me and a great achievement for Barbara were her talks to the patients at Bexley Mental Hospital. There was constant noise from the audience, which flowed in and out of the room with much shouting, but it was a very great success and the patients all loved her visits.

Barbara was a natural scholar – she said that she had only one ambition and that was historical research. She applied great intellectual rigour to her research and writing, never fully trusting published works but always going to the primary sources. She solved the mystery of the local Domesday Book entries, which had defeated generations of learned professors and antiquarians. After her retirement she was contracted by Greenwich Libraries to research historical documents relating to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich as part of the European funded Konver project. This she did with great thoroughness, researching at many repositories including The London Metropolitan Archives, The National Archives and the Ministry of Defence. It was a very fine piece of work. On my last visit to the Greenwich Heritage Centre, I noticed that a volunteer was using her work and was thrilled with what she had done.

I have missed and will always miss our regular long telephone conversations about historical matters and shared memories. To finish, I treasure this tribute from June Burkitt, Greenwich’s first Local History Librarian, in reply to my message telling her of Barbara’s death:
“She was an extraordinary person, highly intelligent, compassionate and with a strong sense of human justice and decency. I have never known anyone quite like her. “ ‘

Barbara stands at the far left in the founding group of Greenwich Industrial History.
This picture is from the Mercury in 1998. If anyone from the Mercury objects to its use
let me know and it will be removed
Others are - Peter Kent, Howard Chard, Juliette Cairns, Jack Vaughan, Mary Mills

Thursday 21 April 2016

News from around and about


We are getting information about plans to fill in the Arsenal Canal. More information here when we get it. Meanwhile

They are advertising as follows
20th April GLIAS lecture Restoration of Historic Buildings from an Engineers Perspective by James Miller
18th May AGM 6.15 followed the Heritage of a City at Play. Simon Inglis
both at 75 Cowcross Street, EC1
2 July - Walk on Railways and Buildings of Woolwich Arsenal and Dockyard with Don Kennedy.  book via

The GLIAS Newsletter also contains a report on the Enderby Group's seminar with links to various sites with information on it.   This is essentially the same report which has appeared on this web site (largely because both were written by me).
Other items covered in the newsletter have already been covered here - one of them is an excellent review of the Museum of London's Archaeology Unit study of the Thames Ironworks site which lies opposite the Greenwich Peninsula, the road name change in Bexley to Bazalgette Way, and the admirable GooseyGoo.   There is a link to a project trying to list all letter boxes in Britain (115,000 of them)

Other meetings of Greenwich interest which they have listed are:
7th May  Before the Docks. Conference.
22nd May Crossness Engines Steam Open Day
5th June Crossness Engines Static Open Day

*** AND - we have news that the latest GLIAS Journal is out. We haven't seen it yet BUT we understand it contains two articles about Crossness  - The Other Steam Engines at Crossness by David Dawson and The Native Guano Co at Crossness by Owen Ward

Need to catch up with this - and will go through several back issues and report on what they say about Greenwich!
Meanwhile - this year.
Vol.37 No.1. a  nice review of my Innovations booklet - thank you Pat
Vol.37, No.2. Features a big article about Enderby Wharf

This has a brief note about the Welling and District Model Engineering Society (at Falconwood, just in Greenwich by a tiny margin)
Steam and electric hauled railway open Sundays 2-5 pm  April 24, May 8,22, June 5,19, July 3,17,31. August 14,28  September 11,25, October 9th. They are at the back of the electricity transformer station at Falconwood

The newsletter has a long article about Frank Elliston-~Erwood who was a past Secretary of the Society. A plaque has been put up to him in Foxcroft Road.  There is a long article about him and about the plaque.
There is an article about the closure of Firepower and several obituaries. And - thank you Richard - an article about the Enderby House seminar.

Come and meet this project to build a historic warship on 23rd April,  They have an event with the Sayes Garden people in the foyer of the Deptford Lounge 12.30-3 (the Lounge is round the back of Deptford Church Street somewhere).  They have also produced 'The Lenox Project Vision. A lasting legacy for Deptford' which can be downloaded from their website.

A reader from Norfolk has sent us his memories of Norton's Barge Yard on the Greenwich Peninsula "Over 40 years ago the organisation of the conversion of Thalatta at Norton's (for a youth organisation) watched in Astoundment as Dick heaped nearly 3/4 of a century of the succession of Kentish and (Bugsby's Hole) misc paperwork in a bonfire at H.T.M. despite the protests of the teller. I have often shared opinions as to how much Social History and REAL INDUSTRY  was missed by this singular act of frustration and broken dreams  - I greatly doubt if this witness is still alive if so her would be into his nineties.  Best regards for the unrecorded real TRADESMEN  who are long gone but not forgotten"

ENDERBY GROUP - had heard from some editing Briscoe's Journal of his Antarctic voyages for Enderbys - more on this when we know more.

Write to tell us that this will start soon Subject: Land at Enderby Wharf, Christchurch Way: 15/3844/SD (LAG/011/391) CLO16536 (Enderby Group are of course aware of this)

Sorry to keep on about them (or us as we are otherwise known). We were very happy to welcome Bill Burns from the US to our last committee meeting. Bill is a long distance member of the committee and he runs the very excellent

Delighted to learn that at the time Brunel's Great Eastern was being launched in Millwall, that a tug was launched by a Greenwich Shipbuilder, called Little Eastern.
There are some details about her on  but not which Greenwich shipbuilder was responsible - any info welcome

Richard draws attention to the picture of the Greenwich Park Reservoir which won a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors award and is featured in (of all places!!) Greenwich Time.
on 29th March.  Congratulations on the award, and the picture - and it would be good if Greenwich Time took a bit of interest in something like this again.
Elizabeth comments " the next reservoir northwards is interesting. The building is said to have been designed by Robert Hooke (the listing says Nicholas Hawksmoor but thoughts may have moved on). Anyone know the current state of research.

As part of my research into this Greenwich engineer - I did a talk about him to GIHS on Tuesday and happy to repeat this - I have been trying to find out more about a steam engine which he built which is in store at the Beamish Museum in Durham.  I understand from them that it is owned by Tyne and Tees Museum Service and are waiting for information back from them.  The engine dates from 1849 and came from the Glemsford Silk Mill.  Pic below. Any information we would be grateful - it is not his signature rotary engine though.

Dartford Trevithick Day.
This is on May 7th with a show in Central Park Dartford, and then on the 8th a steam parade in Dartford High Street

Historic England Angel Awards now open for nominations
Since 2011, the Historic England Angel Awards have recognised the efforts of local people and groups who go to great lengths to preserve their heritage. The 2016 Angel Awards are now├é open for applications. You can apply for yourself, or you can nominate another person or group.
There are five award categories to apply for in 2016: Best community action project, Best contribution to a heritage project by young people, Best research project, Best rescue of a heritage site, utstanding contribution to heritage
Read about the full award criteria and eligibility here.
The shortlist, as chosen by a panel of experts, will be named in the summer and the winners will be announced during a glittering prize ceremony that will take place in the autumn.
Find out about previous winners and shortlisted entries of the Historic England Angel Awards here.
(hope these links work, sorry if they don't)

Monday 18 April 2016



As many historians and people in Greenwich will know by now Barbara Ludlow died over the weekend.  This is a brief tribute to her - she was one of the founders of Greenwich Industrial History Society - and we will be putting something more fitting as a memorial to this important Greenwich historian - and a friend to many of us.

In the meantime here is a link to a Facebook page which Rob Powell has set up for tributes and comments - with a picture of one of her books.

Below is a bibliography of Barbara's work which Julian Watson has compiled.   There was probably far more and we would be grateful for any additions.

Barbara Ludlow


Transactions of the Greenwich and Lewisham Antiquarian Society:

Social Conditions on Greenwich Marsh 1837-1901. Vol VII no. 3 1968. This article was based on Barbara’s dissertation for her Diploma in Local History at the University of London.

Greenwich Tradesmen of the Nineteenth Century. Vol. VII no. 6 1972

The Vestry met, the rate was set: Administration in Greenwich, 1770-1800. Vol X no.5 1989.

Out of Kent and into London: Greenwich and the London County Council, 1889-1965. Vol. X no.6 1990.

Greenwich Historical Society Journal:

Book review.  ‘Enderby Settlement Diaries: records of a British colony at the Auckland Islands, 1849-1852.’ edited by Dingwall, Fraser, Gregory and Robertson. 1999. Vol 2 no.3. 2000.

Book review. A Fisherman of Greenwich. By Julie Tadman. 2002. Vol.2 no. 5. 2002.

Whaling for oil: the rise and fall of the ‘Enterprising Enderbys.’ C1750-1855 (part one). Vol.3 no.4. 2007.

Whaling for oil: the rise and fall of the ‘Enterprising Enderbys’ (part two). Vol. 3 no. 5. 2008.


Combe Farm, Greenwich. By Sally Jenkinson and Barbara Ludlow. Gordon Teachers’ Centre. 1987.
Greenwich. By Barbara Ludlow. Tempus Publishing 1994. Reprinted 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008. Images of England series.

The Twentieth Century: Greenwich. By Barbara Ludlow and Julian Watson. Sutton Publishing. 1999.

Greenwich Then and Now in Colour. By Barbara Ludlow and Julian Watson. The History Press. 2012

‘She can Sew a Flannel Cartridge’ in the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. By Barbara Ludlow. A chapter in: Aspects of the Arsenal: the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Edited by Beverley Burford and Julian Watson. Greenwich Borough Museum. 1997.

What's In a Name. Short biographies of people whose names have been given to council buildings, etc., in the London Borough of Greenwich. By Barbara Ludlow. Greenwich Council, 1996

 Bygone Kent Articles:

Billingsgate Dock, Greenwich: the Story of an Old Draw Dock. Vol. 24 no. 2 2003.

‘Of Cabbages and Queens’: the Story of Combe Farm in East Greenwich, parts one and two. Vol. 26. 2005   

Greenwich Industrial History Newsletter and Blog

Notes on the Enderbys. GIHS Newsletter.  December  2006 Vol.9.No.4

A Greenwich Made Theodolite. GIHS Newsletter March  2001 Vol.4.No.2.
The Enderby Settlement Diaries   Book review GIHS Newsletter  VOL 3 No.1.

The Enderbys - note from Barbara Ludlow.. Greenwich Industrial History Blog. January 2009

                                                                                                                                  Julian Watson