Monday 13 June 2016

News and notes from Greenwich Industrial History

News and notes from Greenwich Industrial History
(well some of it is about Lewisham)

Ian Bull speaks on The Arsenal - Then and Now.
Age Exchange Bakehouse - 7.30 - All Welcome


This month they are featuring Conservation News - and all the planning applications and cases in Woolwich which they deal with and take up with the Council planners.   They explain that they work with other groups in Greenwich on this - the Greenwich Conservation Group is made up of representatives from all the local amenity societies and many resident's groups.

Cases they have recently taken up include the Love Lane development and their concerns about remains of the old Post Office which was demolished on the site.  They have objected to 11 storey blocks being built near John Wilson Street (apparently the site is called Thomas Street but they say this is a confusing description). They have looked at plans to replace the Albion Pub - and issues around the conversion of a house in Crescent Road

I would love to give a contact for WADAS but there is no web address given on their newsletter - or indeed emails for the officers, and I don't really want to put people's home addresses here.  I can try and forward anything to them if anyone sends comments to

They then list 'Woolwich Worthies' deserving of blue plaques in Woolwich - and give details - these include Flinders Petrie, archaeologist,  Sylvia Syms, actress, General Gordon, Tom Cribb, boxer, William Vincent, historian, Samuel Pepys, Frank Elliston Erwood, histrorian, The Pioneer Bookshop, Fred Leslie, actor, Joseph Grimaldi, clown, Tom Paine, Boy George, Women workers in the Arsenal.

There must be far more very worthy of a blue plaque - the many distinguished scientists at the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Arsenal, for a start.  Some years ago I was asked to help get a plaque to Sir John Anderson in Victoria Way (failed that one!) and also in Victoria Way, that I know of was Inspector of Explosives Vivian Majendie.

WADAS Newsletter gives - as ever - some meetings of other organisations. One of them is the Welling and District Model Engineering Society who have run their little railway just inside the Greenwich border for many years.  I recently complained that I had walked round and round their site and never found out how to get in, and was severely told off for saying that. It is behind the big electricity sub station on the old A2 near Falconwood Station.   They are open 19th June, 2nd,7th and 31st July, 14th and 28th August, 11th and 25th September and 9th October.  2-5 pm

PREFAB MUSEUM - Elisabeth writes that they have free training places and volunteering opportunities.  This is about collecting stories, recording memories and photographs about prefabs.  They intend to set up a national archive with an interactive map.
Contact Jane or Elisabeth    They have a preliminary meeting on the Isle of Dogs on 20th August.

CHARLTON RIVERSIDE - the idea of a history of Charlton Riverside has been floating around in a few quarters. We also understand that a group is being set up to look at Charlton Village - don't let the riverside be neglected, particularly in view of the fact that it is Greenwich's next big regeneration area. Please get in touch if you can help or are interested

SURREY CANAL TOWPATH - We understand that a Deptford based group are looking at the towpath of the old Surrey Canal. Please get in touch if you can help or are interested

Note from British Transport Treasures -please look at  - this takes you to an ad, for some of Stuart Ratcliffe's excellent books on Shipbuilding in Rotherhithe.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Greenwich Industrial History News

Lots of bits and pieces this time - although much of it isn't entirely about Greenwich -
Watchers of the Greenwich riverside path should note that more industrial relics have gone in east Greenwich - the whole of the Pipers/Badocks/Providence site has been cleared and razed - it was never easy to see what was there because of the hostility of the occupants but what has definitely gone is the old house (used as offices until recently), the random stone wall with 'Piper's' name in the stonework, and the ramp in the area used by the Board of Works - and I guess much else that it was never possible to see. 
Worse still the interesting stretch of foreshore down river of the site has been cleared and very largely destroyed - this includes barge stands and at least one barge mast  - and it would be good to know if they have been kept by someone or, were they just junked?? and what about the wildlife which was there??

ENDERBY GROUP - will be at the Ballast Quay Garden at the Open Gardens weekend 18th and 19th June. They hope to offer riverside walks, and to be joined by the very wonderful Nicola Mudlark - as well as the beautiful garden, the river, and the recently identified East Greenwich Pier remains.

- this comes by email - and we recommend everyone to subscribe to this and to read it. Its all about the River
This month leads with "Cruise Ship Chistening - A New Thames Record".  This is of course the naming of cruise ship Viking Sea in Greenwich. While 'Tidal Thames' gives details of the ceremony at Cutty Sark - they also give details of the pilot - Stuart Hay - and the trials on board of Portable Pilot.  (they do however miss the irony of the Vikings coming to the area where they once murdered an archbishop!!)
The Newsletter also includes a story of a little dog called Russell who fell in the river and was rescued at the Barrier by a PLA boat.  Lucky Russell, lucky he was spotted.
Finally - there are a couple of court cases resulting from collisions on the river off the Peninsula. I think this is about some of these speed boats which dash up and down the river with passengers - fined for navigating against the international collision regulations.  Oh dear.


One of the most important engineers to be based in South London - well, Southwark, at the Blue - was Brian Donkin.  The last GIHS talk was given by Brian Strong who mentioned some of Donkin's work here in Greenwich on the East Greenwich tide mill - and there was much more. A biography has just been published by Maureen Greenland, 'Brian Donkin. The very Civil Engineer 1768-1855' published by B.D.Book Associates, 76-78 Cartledge Lane, Holmesfield, Derebyshire, S18 7SB. Please email us for a copy of the order form.

They are advertising as GLIAS events:
2nd July Railways and Buildings of Woolwich Royal Arsenal and Dockyard.
(as ever you can't just turn up - you have to email and book a place)

The newsletter also mentions Deptford Working Histories - and urges people to get in touch with them  (hopefully more on that later)

Surviving London Gasholders - GLIAS notes that East Greenwich holder is still there!!

We have also had a copy of London's Industrial Archaeology,   This includes two articles about Crossness - David Dawson on 'The other steam engines at Crossness and the work they did' and Owen Ward on 'The Native Guano Company at Crossness'.
Hopefully more details later - and if anyone wants to send a review, happy to put it here.

The Farm is now 20 years old and are looking for memorabilia.  Please let them know if you have anything.  The Farm did include a, sort of non-agricultural, site in the abbatoir and many years ago we published an article about the police raid there in the 1980s. And one of our first speakers was Dave Vaughan on how the farm was set up.
contact them
We have been given the text of a talk at St.George's Church by Prof Mary Davis   This has come from the Marx Memorial Library - and although the text doesn't mention Greenwich - or more specifically Woolwich, it should be encouraged to do so.  Again - please get in touch if you are St.George's Church - or can give us any info we can publish, or listen to.  Thanks,

This national newsletter rarely mentions London - but the current issue has another note about the Enderby Group and their work on the wharf and global telecoms.  This includes a quotation from Barratts which says they are 'continuing discussions with local interest groups' - and it would be of interest to know who these groups are!! 

Their AGM is on 6th July Museum of London Docklands  6 pm and it will be followed by a talk on the River Thames Society.
7th September - they have a talk on London firefloat Massey Shaw
5th October  talk on Barge Carrier Systems
2nd November Chris Ellmers on Industrial Discontent in the Thames Shipyards
7th December - Discovering a Lost Thames Pierhead Painter.

We note that they recently had a substitute speaker in the PLA's Environment person - and we have been endeavouring to contact her to come and see us.

They have noted a plaque outside the Tesco in Trafalgar Road saying it was the terminus for the London Tramway Co.Ltd. - would like to know more about this. There is a lot of tramway memorabilia around Greenwich and Charlton, but this is fairly obscure.  And it is also usually impossible to get plaques up for things - like the first power station in the world or like the major marine engine manufacturer in the world or like the major fire engine manufacturer in the world, for instance.
Can whoever is responsible for the plaque contact us - and - as ever - write something we cab publish here, or come and speak to us at a meeting.
Planning matters which they list include 110-114 Norman Road with no mention if its industrial past (info please??)  and likewise the long article on Hope Wharf.

- this is not to do with Greenwich or industry but her fans might like to know that Iris Bryce has produced a book on her life living on a canal boat - 'Canals are my World' Enquiries to  Iris has written extensively in the past about her life living and working in Greenwich and Woolwich in the 1950s and her husband, Owen - who died recently - more or less invented popular jazz in Britain in the 1940s.  We recently visited the Southend Museum where a room is dedicated to him.

There has been a long trail of international visitors visiting and coming to see as many British gasholders as possible before they all go.  Must mention in particular the curator of the gasworks museum in Augsburg.  We have leaflets and pictures if anyone is interested in seeing more. I can't find an excuse for putting them here.

AND - We have been sent a whole lot of new publicity material by Crossness Engines. Its all very very impressive. 
Dates are;
For Prince Consort in Steam - 19th June, 24th July, 4th September, 9th October (£8 adults)
Prince Consort not in Steam - 5th June, 3rd July, 14th August, 23rd October (£6 adults)

They are urging all our members to go and see how well they doing and moving forward.