Friday 28 October 2016

More notes and news

Note from the East London Waterways Group -
This is about the London Chest Hospital in Hackney (neither industrial and north of the river as well, sorry about that).   Anyway they are concerned that it is being considered for listing but that this is being opposed by a developer and there seems to be some confusion about what is happening.  They say that of course the 395 promised homes are important but so is architectural quality and clarity about objectives.  I am afraid that the Group sends all this out by email - try

Note from our local pottery  -  Liza will be exibiting at the Oxford Ceramics Fair St.Edward's School, Woodstock Road, Oxford. 29th/30th October 10-5.30. Tickets can be bought at the door.

Your Devoted Frank - Greenwich Heritage Trust are putting on this event where you will hear Frank's story from the trenches of the Great War in his letters to his sweetheart.  11th November 7 pm   £8 via eventbrite or Charlton House office.

Docklands History Group are putting out a call for Thames shipbuilding papers for a conference in May 2018.

Blackheath Scientific Society - programme - all held at Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road,  (think its 7.30)
18th November - Adam Masters Future Missions to Mars and Uranus
16th December - AGM and short talks by members
20th January     - Monica Marinescu Advances in Battery Technology
17th February   - Maria-Magdalena Titirici
17th March       - Christopher Mazur  Driverless Cars
21st April         -  Alvaro Mata - Designing and Manipulating Molecules for Tissue Engineering and                                Regenerative Medicine
19th May          -  Bioengineering and its Impact on Society

Heritage Ironworks Seminar
11th November 9.30-4.30 National Maritime Museum, Ferrous Metals in Heritage Ironwork
£45 including lunch. by - er - today

Time Out - best public sculptures in London,  Our area has so many winners in the top ten London sculptures that I think the judges must be locals???

So - from the bottom of the list to the top.....................

15 - was ArcelorMittal Orbit - that's the curly red thing on the Olympic Park - and, well you can see it from Greenwich and it is rumoured that Amish Kapoor has a studio down on Morden Wharf, So its almost ours,

14  Royal Artillery Monument. This is in Hyde Park - but - again - hey ho - the Royal Artillery were founded in Woolwich and were still here a very few years ago. So we can count that as ours too.

12 - Richard Wilson - Slice of Reality.  this is the slice of ship down round the back of the Dome. Very much deserves to be better known.

6 Anthony Gormley. Quantum Cloud. That's the thing made of lots of sticks just off the QE pier near the Dome. If you look at it sideways it turns into a man,  Very good indeed.

3  Alex Chinneck - A Bullet from a Shooting Star - this is the upside down electricity pylon near the Dome.  Easily the best thing around locally on the arts scene. Terrific. I'd have put it at No.1. double star.

2. Yinka Shonibare Nelson's Ship in a Bottle. This is along Romney Road outside the National Maritime Museum. Ok if you like that sort of thing

Top at No.1. are the prehistoric monsters at Crystal Palace - sadly not ours but still in South London. Well worth a nice afternoon in the park.

Friday 21 October 2016

Telcon plastics

Ad from 1958 - when we made plastics too

Thursday 20 October 2016

Telcon helps out Jodrell Bank

In the extract from a 1957 Telcon Magazine below the cable company works with the Jodrell Bank observatory - although everyone knows now that the underwater cables round the world get our international messages into our computers and phones much faster than any satellite can.  The picture is that which was with the original article

The radio telescope at Jodrell Bank seen from the control room       

Some of our readers mav have heard or read a short announcement on October 9 that the new astronomical telescope nearing completion at Jodrell Bank was being erected against time in order to study the movements of the Russian satellite, which at that time was feared might be falling rapidly to earth. The announcement said, amongst other things, that the telescope could not operate until some cable was obtained.

Meanwhile, a little drama was being played at Telcon, Greenwich, where, just as the hooter was blowing for lunch an urgent message was received asking us to supply some of our high frequency cable. By 2 o'clock, three drums of cable weighing nearly half a ton had been extracted from our drum field and battened up ready for dispatch,only awaiting instructions as to precisely where they should be sent. During the course of the afternoon the Observatory asked us to route the cable to Crewe instead of Manchester, and later on during the same evening we bad a telephone call to say that our cable was safely on site!

Pretty good work!

It is gratifying to record that a message of congratulation was sent to us from the Observatory authorities thanking us for our prompt service.

Telcon Magazine Christmas 1957

Sunday 16 October 2016

History of Avery Hill Park

by Bee Twidale

Avery Hill is a unique park where you can walk and enjoy a cross section of time! The earliest evidence of human activity is a Mesolithic flint tool found by a 1st Royal Eltham Scout taking part in a Young Friends of Avery Hill Park tree planting.

The rugby field and the others around it have medieval origins. After the Norman Conquest the land was gifted to the King’s brother, Bishop Odo. Most of the land was crown property until the nineteenth century. There are records from 1290 of  King Edward buying hay to feed the starving deer at Eltham Palace, from John De Henley; owner of the fields at that time. The wild flower meadow, Henley’s field, is named after him. The Hedgerows are the oldest in Greenwich; the earliest dating back to the 1370’s

There is a Tudor conduit in the North West corner of the park. This ancient building supplied fresh water to Eltham Palace. In Elizabethan times Ann Twist, Mistress of the Royal Laundry to Elizabeth 1st; owned the fields at Avery Hill. Next time you see pictures of fancy Elizabethan neck ruffs, think of Ann Twist!

In the 19th century the first mansions were built at Avery Hill.

The sugar magnate James Boyd developed the parkland and planted most of the fine specimen trees. Colonel John Thomas North, the nitrate king of the 1890’s, developed the Winter Garden, the Italianate Garden and much of the parkland as you see it today. Colonel North’s death notice in the New York Times (6.4.1896) reported; “Colonel North had a mansion in the outskirts of Eltham, in Kent, which was sumptuous and hospitable. Avery Hill is as celebrated in England as Walpole’s Strawberry Hill was.”

London County Council purchased Avery Hill in the early 20th century and established Avery Hill Teachers’ Training College; now part of Greenwich University.

Avery Hill Park has a strong sporting tradition, the LCC organised Polo matches in the 1920’s. Now you can enjoy cricket, football, rugby, basket ball, table tennis, boules and the fitness equipment; much of this financed by the Olympic Legacy fund and the Mayor of London’s “Help a London Park” grant. The mayor’s grant of £400K stimulated the Young Friends of Averyhill Park to design their own park features; a project supported by Greenwich University and Avery Hill Youth Club. More about Young Friends later!

Responding to the initiative set up by Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces; Friends of Avery Hill Park began in February 2007 led by Steve Hull. Their first big initiative was to fill the gap left by the park café (torched by an arson attack in 2005) with a “Container Café”. At this time tagging was rife in the park and the container was a prime target. With grant funding; Averyhill Youth Club and other local teenagers designed and painted a mural on the container café, problem solved! The Friends group went on to play a major part in the rebuilding of the eco-friendly, design award winning café. They have run many successful summer “Parks Fests” centred around the café and performance area.

The Young Friends, supported by the local Primary and Secondary Schools, Youth Club and Scouts and Guides have also been busy since 2007 conducting an accessibility survey for wheelchair users. Also finding their green fingers planting crocus & daffodils, snowdrop and bluebell bulbs. The adult friends’ group initiated a survey which led to the Young Friends choosing to design and build a wildflower maze and turf seat funded by a Greenwich Pride grant. By 2009 60 teenagers and 40 primary age children had planted 2K native species bulbs and 1K tree whips and completed a Tree Girth/Age survey.

2010 saw the centenary of Girl Guiding and the local Eltham young women pulled out the stops to enhance Henley’s wildflower meadow with 100 cowslip and primrose plugs & 1K wild daffodil and snowdrop bulbs. Inspired by the Mayor’s “Help a London Park” £400K grant; a team of 12 & 13 year olds from 3rd New Eltham Guides and a Scout from 40th Greenwich  worked with Greenwich Uni. Architecture lecturers and students to produce sketches and models of their “blue sky” designs for the park. These were put on display in the Winter Garden for the Green Chain festival. Heather Yedigaroff of Greenwich Council entered these young people for the “Green Guardian” awards. Amazingly the Guide team came 2nd; they lost out to professional architects from Hyde Housing for the Green Concept award! The Scout was awarded “Young Guardian of the Year”. The team of 12 & 13 year old Guides went on to design and build a balcony garden at Hampton Court Flower show.

2013 saw Averyhill Winter-Garden heating system fail. The friends group supported the universities bid for lottery funding and the uni. gardeners by lending garden fleece to protect the most delicate plants until the heating could be restored. The canary island date palm is the largest in the UK.

In 2015 Greenwich University put the Mansion Site up for sale, deeming it no longer fit for purpose. The Uni had plans for the building to be converted for Academy use. The Friends group instigated Tree Protection Orders being placed on the Winter-Garden trees and significant trees on the Mansion campus. To date, 2016, no buyer has been found.

In the past 2 years the friends’ group has encouraged Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces to clear Pippenhall Farm, our local Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, of massive Bramble overgrowth on the medieval Ridge and Furrow and also 1K square metres of Japanese Knotweed. A new tenant has been found. With ponies grazing once again, Narrow Leaved Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Knapweed, Fleabane, Corky Fruited Water Dropwort and Yellow Bartsia; some of the rarer wildflowers, have begun to re-emerge. Currently Friends of Avery Hill Park are seeking funds to restore the Italianate terrace garden. The design is well underway………watch this space!

Thursday 13 October 2016

Telcon Shop Stewards 1954

Below is the shop stewards page from Greenwich taken from the Autumn 1954 Telcon House Magazine.  There were some bits in this which I couldn't read from the pdf - I hope it makes sense anyway!


Stewards, were faced with the problem of what to do about it. As the committee lacks a George Bernard  Shaw, the task appeared likely to prove extremely difficult. One school of thought was all for leaving the page as bare as a billiard ball but this didn't seem likely to convey much to our readers so we tried another angle. "Let us make it a technical page and demonstrate our mastery of theoretical as well as practical work" we said

What emerged was if the coaxial bearings are made to rotate in an anti- clockwise direction was in complete contradiction to the thesis laid down by the Master Mariners' Association, how would the proportion of time saved be apportioned between Management and Operators.'

This didn't seem likely either to convey much to the average reader, and it is the floating vote that counts, so off we went on another tack, "How about a literary effort after all ?". This appealed greatly to some of us at first but, after careful discussion which produced snippets of army songs, limericks and postcards from Southend; it was thought that we might be accused of being- horror take us-highbrow.

So, far into the night, we wrestled with the problem and eventually agreed upon the following scheme.  In each issue we shall introduce to you one of our members, commencing with our worthy Chairman. If we can we shall .comment on the problems of the workers as we see them, make a report on the activities of the Shop Stewards' Committee, and report items of interest from the various departments. One thing to be borne in mind is that this magazine is by way of being a family affair and although we shall, if necessary, offer criticism to the Management, we cannot be too controversial on this page.

In any we can and to do settle out differences through the usual channels. Our ambition is to help to foster the family feeling within Telcon by means of these articles and to further cement the existing good relations.

Introducing the Shop Stewards -Brother Andrews
Bro. Andrews, known to most of us as Andy, is Chairman of the Shop Stewards' Committee. After having served during the war as an air-gunner in which capacity he travelled to many parts of the globe, including Egypt and India, he returned to   his trade of carpentry and   joined Telcon in 1949. Since   that time he has taken an   active interest in the welfare of   his fellow-workers and was   elected shop steward of his   department in 1951.

He not only gained the confidence of his colleagues but   made a deep impression on the Shop Stewards' Committee, thereby becoming the obvious choice as successor to Bro.   Reader for the post of Chairman, when the latter resigned.   Bro. Andrews is married and has two children, a boy and a girl.   As works convener we find in him sympathy and understanding,   together with a sense of humour, which characterises the man and   helps to make him successful in this difficult role.   Chairman's Report .  The Shop Stewards' Committee is made up of all the Stewards in   Telcon, and represents several Unions. The officers are Chairman   (A.S.W.), Vice-Chairman (N.U.G.M.W.), Secretary (A.E.U.) and   (N.U.C) we try to iron out our difficulties, and problems we cannot solve ourselves   are taken by the chairman to the appropriate authority. We also contact our various Trade Union Branches for advice and information.   

Stewards are also represented on the Production Advisory Committee. Here we can bring our views to the fountain head of   authority, and are given an understanding of the problems facing management in its business of running the factory efficiently and profitably.   

In short we arc a link between workers and management and, within the limits or trade union policy. We have a great deal of   scope. We believe that co-operation and local negotiation are the most fruitful ways of getting satisfactory results. We do not always get our own way as we have to bow down to economic factors just as management has to do, but we think we can claim a good record of successful negotiations. We shall continue to serve   the workers to the best of our ability, remembering that without   their support, moral and financial, we, as a committee, shall perish.   

Committee Announcements

Lectures in Economics .   Management has accepted the recommendation of the Production Advisory Committee and has arranged a series of lectures   dealing with basic economies. These will begin in October. We   ask all workers to attend and acquaint themselves with the vital problems concerning our everyday lives.   

Shop Stewards' Fund .  The Committee earnestly request continuous and increasing   support to their fund in the customary manner. It is important   to have a reasonable capital to maintain the service we strive to render to all members.   

Tinfoil   The management has placed a box by the main gate for the collection of tinfoil. It is hoped that all workers will co-operate in this work as the proceeds will go to the Cancer Research Fund or other   deserving charity.   

Management and Labour Relations   There have been, and no doubt will be, millions of words spoken and written on this very controversial subject, and we often hear or read of the causes of industrial strife, as well as the proposed   remedies for them.   

Will there ever be a way to industrial peace? Why do some industries have more labour troubles than others? These questions always come up for discussion at some time or another, both in   managerial and trade union circles

Each and every one of us in the Telcon organisation should give some serious thought to this problem, because the state of Management-Labour relation depends upon us all. The better this relationship, the better the chance of the Telcon organisation  becoming more prosperous to the ultimate benefit of all concerned.   There is no set formula or code laid down, nor can there be for solving automatically all the problems at one sweep but there are several points which should be considered and which would, in our opinion, make for sound Management-Labour relations.   
At Telcon this relationship is in a fairly healthy condition.   Serious disputes do not arise, as we have our various agreements.  We have our Welfare and   Personnel Department and a very capable Personnel Officer, ready to hear our troubles be they personal, domestic, legal, Management and Labour, or what have you, and to help and advise us regarding   them. Several other committees meet regularly, namely the Departmental Production Committees, Foremen's Committee,  Staff Association Council, Shop Stewards' Committee, Sports and Sick Club Committees. All this contributes towards the good relations between Management and Labour, but have we reached the criterion? What can be done in industry to make for really permanently peaceful Management and Labour relations?   

There are several points upon which we shall comment in the Shop Stewards' Page of subsequent issues of this our House Magazine at Telcon, chiefly under the following headings:-   

1 Should management accept the unions as permanent institutions having a positive value to industry and industrial   relations?   
2. Should careful consideration be given to human relations and brains and money devoted to a tip-top Personnel Department?    
3, Should Trade Unions be responsible to the rank and file of workers and management accept and recognise this position?   
4. Should Management and Unions be in close communication   ready to discuss anything any time anywhere?   
5. Should Management and Unions seek a way to accommodate differences and try to settle, differences or problems   on their merits as they arise with union officials taken into   confidence on all problems?   

We think these points will give enough material. and food for thought and we hope our forthcoming comments will at least make interesting reading.       

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Recollections of East Greenwich - the gasworks that is

The account below is taken from the South Met. Gas Company House magazine - Co-partnership Journal.  As you will see it is about someone who started work as East Greenwich Gas Works was being built - followed by some stories of the 1889 gas workers strike.  I have put some notes at the end about some of the things described


When I started work at East Greenwich, in the first week in 1884, various works had been built on the river bank and a road made for the convenience of people travelling to and fro. On the eastern side of this road were market gardens of poor quality, divided and drained by numerous ditches. It was this ground which the Company bought for the erection of their new works.  
Ordnance drawdock in the 1980s

Towards the end of 1883 John Stradling was sent as foreman to direct the operations.  A footpath which skirted the whole of the river bank and had been used by the public for generations, had to be diverted and from the "Pilot" public-house to the "Ferry Arms" a short new road was made by us on the Company's land. A draw-dock (near where the station meters now are) was cleared away, and a new dock made by us near Ordnance Wharf (1) also a boundary wall was commenced.
Our chief difficulty at that time was caused by waterside people insisting on a right-of-way over the old paths which we had not yet removed so we placed a man to divert this traffic; but it was necessary on several occasions to send a gang of men to his assistance. The difficulty, however, was removed as time went on.  

Jioseph Tysoe
The first engineer was Mr. Ridings, who had an office in Blakeley Buildings (2); but when the first retort house neared completion, and retort settings were to be erected, Mr. Tysoe came and took charge. In August, 1887 gas was first made.  

George Livesey
We had many trials and troubles at the start, but these were gradually surmounted.  In 1889 came the trouble with the Gas Workers' Union, and in the second week of December the strike began.(3)  An efficient force of police was present, and the strikers were escorted from the works, after having piled chairs and seats in the centre of No. 1 Retort House lobby and set fire to them. The fire was soon extinguished. Outside the works on a small mound near the “Pilot “public-house an effigy of Mr. George Livesey (4)  was burnt by the strikers.   

We fed and housed the new men, many of whom were unaccustomed to the work, and some of whom were unsuited to it. In a very short time we had them graded, and began to make headway. When the gasholder began to rise it was  rumoured by the strikers that we were filling it up with air. They  tried to increase the demand for gas by turning on the street  lamps during the day.  
A church service in the works for the blacklegs - replacement workers

An incident which remains fresh in my memory after many  years is our first gasholder mishap.  The temperature was below freezing point, and a keen north wind was blowing. The  water in the tank slowed no signs of freezing ; but evidently  the water in the cups on the northern, side of the holdcr had  frozen so rapidly that it escaped notice. As the holder uncuppcd  the lift canted towards the south, and with a jerk the other side  released itself, parting a scam in so doing. Half an hour after-  wards a strong smell of gas was reported on the southern side  of the holder, and about the same time it was noticed that the  holder was descending at a greater rate than the normal consumption would account for. There being no other holder, very  little could be done, and it grounded. The lesson of the mishap  was so well learned that a second has never occurred.  

The nature of the work and the hours of working have changed  considerably since those early days. At that time one of the most  important figures on the works was the scoop driver, who needed  strength, skill and endurance in a high degree.  Although the chief business of the works has been the manufacture of gas, it has been necessary to employ men of many  trades, and the works have been beneficial to the town of Greenwich  by finding employment for so many men. Many things have  happened since I started at East Greenwich. Many old friends  have gone, and but few remain. It is good to look back over the  years, and to feel satisfaction at having done a man's work among  good men.  I should like to record my grateful thanks to my old friends, both in the office and the works, for the help      


(1) This new drawdock - essentially planning gain because it had been insisted on by the local authority - is now Ordnance Drawdock, at the far end of Blackwall Lane by the hotel, and still a public right of way despite scary notices from the hotel telling you the area is private.

(2) Blakeley Buildings were at the end of Blackwall Lane - people might remember two 1940s houses on the same site, demolished a couple of years ago. The Buildings, which they replaced, was an apartment block built in the 1860s for employees of the Blakeley Ordnance works and never finished. I gas company eventually finished the building and used them for staff accommodation.

(3) The 1889 gas workers strike . See my articles:  and

(4) George Livesey - where do I start?  The evil genius of the gas workers strike and the man who changed, regulated and modernised the gas industry.  Livesey was brought up in the Old Kent Road Gas Works, started work there at the age 14 and remained to become Company Chairman as well as becoming a national figure in the temperence movement..  A clever maverick - he was never ever what people thought he was.  Lots of entries about him - look at the index or search - in

Holders in Blackwall Lane early 20th century

Monday 10 October 2016

A walk along the river in 1951


This from an (undated) Telcon House Magazine - probably late 1951 or early 1952.  This is a walk most of us can still recognise although it is going fast now. It runs from what is now the Alcatel factory - there and back.  I've put a short commentary at the end.

After lunch - a walk down the river when it’s all set fair for a stroll.

Through the factory, sleeping restlessly, to the towpath, presided over by the towering" Monarch," resplendent in her new autumn coat of paint and on past the wharf to Piper's. A stop for a moment to study the battered barges awaiting attention, and a look in the yard at one yet to be launched, sparing a quick glance into the murkiness of Providence Wharf, and then under the towering cranes, between walls of corrugated iron, brilliant in the watery sunshine, and fascinating in their play of light and shade, then led by the path back to the water again.

No time was available for loitering and the path was still leading on, by the tavern with its ambiguous "FREE HOUSE" sign and beyond, into the shadow of the Generating Station, its chimneys belching forth its filth, and its body, splintered as though wounded, lying in a  labyrinth of steel scaffolding; past ugly gaps in the adjacent houses which revived fading memories of diving planes and screeching bombs; the junk yard, full of things that once had meaning, and with its locked gates mocked by the broken fence.

Children were playing in the road, soldiers with crude wooden swords the eight-year-old in charge ordering.. Wait there while I go and do something important," and returning with an ice cream for his  four-year-old sister. Two more were staring longingly into the sweet shop window, without hope, for their pennies were spent already.

Into the main road, threading through the busy lunch-time shoppers and those who, like myself were merely lookers-on ; failing to resist the attraction of Woolworths, succumbing to the lure of buying ‘Just what I want to do that job;' and realizing on glancing at the clock that time was short and speed essential.

Christchurch Way was elastic, and had been stretched that day by an evil genius to it limit, but the gate was passed on the stroke of .time, and 1 was left with just my impressions of a well- spent lunch hour. 


He has had his lunch and is walking from what is now the Alcatel factory - which was then Telcon. You could then of course get straight onto the riverside path from the factory - unlike now when you are blocked by B*****s.  Monarch is of course a cable ship waiting at Enderbys to be loaded and set off.  He is going towards Greenwich, past Pipers, Lovells  - he mentions Providence wharf, which was inland and I don't know why it was murky.

On to Ballast Quay - with what was still then The Union Tavern.  I don't also know what the scaffolding he mentions round the Power Station is  - I have never heard that it was bombed?? The junk yard is, I guess, Anchor Iron Wharf with the Robinson scrap business.

Then round and back via Trafalgar Road.  Woolworths was what is now the AldLife Charity Shop - it has had an extra floor added but if you look up you will see along the roof line the remains of a classic Woolworth's frontage - perhaps someone could confirm if it had a clock on it?

- oh - and - the pictures are tiny on the original - I know you will think they are too small - but I have actually enlarged them

Sunday 9 October 2016

Telcon roving camera plus Lord Reith

- and - how about Telcon's 1951 roving camera - and who they snapped.

- and just to add that the clipping at the sides of that picture are them not me!

Who they also snapped - on a visit to Greenwich for the Commonwealth Telecommunucations Conference - was Lord Reith himself.  You clearly can't do better than that!!   Here are some snaps of the great man.

Here he is on the way down here, on a the Festival launch

Looks round the works - Telcothene was Telcon's Polythene

And makes his points over lunch

Saturday 8 October 2016

Company Magazines

Hope very much people are enjoying all this stuff about the local cable making industry .... there is a lot more to come.  Every day we are being sent editions of the Telcon works magazine from the 1950s which are packed full with articles about the works and the industry - and we will try to let you see them all.

I did think however that we ought to vary this a bit.  I remembered that we had some Harvey's works magazines (Harvey's were a big metal working company in the Woolwich Road - they made, well, holes).   I got them out to see what we could use - some great pictures, most of which have appeared here, way back, But - oh dear - the editorial content is almost entirely sports, wedding, outings, bigwigs and the like.

I also have a lot of stuff from the early 1900s from the gas works Copartnership Journal - again full of stuff about the works, lots of pictures, and interestingly articles about other local works and institutions where gas was being used as a fuel. However, I scanned all these from flimsy photocopies in days when scanners were dodgy, OCR was terrible and pdfs didn't exist. I could try and rescue some of them but the amount of work would be phenomenal.

So, anyway, I thought I would give you a little taste of the Harvey Magazines - after all it was the 1950s! and if you are lucky sometime I will add in Telcon's 'Hints to Women' (I had forgotten how we had to wear gloves all the time in the '50s. - and my terrible confession is that I rather liked that). They also think people who worked at Harvey's were well off enough to afford cream with their puddings!! - which is more than my family was, Cream came in tins at Christmas, only.

If you go down still further I have put some pictures of women in the gasworks during the Great War.

Harvey's Magazine July 1955

"The Summer seems to be a very slow starter again this year, but the Shops are full of lovely summer dresses, and the new line makes us take a second look at our figures and wish we had not had so many in-between meal snacks during the 'Winter months. 

I think you will all agree we must have trim waist lines if we are to look our best in an " A " line dress. One very good exercise to do if the tummy muscles have become slack, is to stand flat against a wall without shoes on, pull your tummy muscles taut then relax. Repeat this twenty times. You 
can do this at any odd time during the day, after a little while the desired effect should soon be obtained. Another very good thing for us all to do, is deep breathing exercises. Place your hands on hips, and take a deep breath, making your hands rise and fall as you do so. This makes for improvement in our health, which after all IS the main thing, for whatever pretty clothes we may wear, if the face is tired and the figure drooping, nothing will look at its best advantage. 

Here is a tip for a girl who may get a surprise invitation out and her hair is not just as she would like it : 'Wring out a towel in hot water and rub your hair very hard. Repeat this twice, then set with setting lotion. When dry it should comb out quite fresh. . . . . and those spots . . . . Whatever you do don't start squeezing them or the whole evening will be miserable, because you know you have a beautiful red blemish showing. Cover them with Calomine Lotion beneath foundation cream, or- if very angry cover with a flesh coloured round plaster and make up over it . . . . and don't forget a bathing with Boracic Crystals (1 teaspoonful to pint of water warm) is a grand reviver for tired eyes. 

Just a word to the girls with long slim backs, who always seem to have trouble in making a blouse and skirt stay together neatly. Wear a broad tight elastic belt and you will find this will prevent the blouse slipping apart. 

Something refreshing for a sweet during the brighter days :- 

Fruit Sponge Flan 
1 Sponge Filling :-any medium size jar of fruit. 
1 round teaspoon arrowroot.
3 ozs. Castor sugar 
3 ozs. Selfraising Flour 
2 eggs 
Beat eggs lightly, then add sugar beating all the time, for at least 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour and beat to a smooth cream. Pour in a tin about eight inches round, and bake in a moderate oven for twenty minutes. Remove and leave to cool, then place on a tray until cold. Drain your fruit, putting aside the juice, and arrange in the flan. Now blend the arrowroot with a little juice, bring the rest of the juice to the boil and then stir in to the blended mixture, return all . to the saucepan and cook for four minutes stirring continuously. 
Let the mixture cool a little then pour over the fruit, leave to set. Serve cold with cream."

Meanwhile in the gasworks:

Discharging Coke

Women drivers - sorry about picture quality

Filling coke sacks

Mind you - when the war was over the men all got up petitions to management to get the women out!! Management minuted that the women were much better workers.

Friday 7 October 2016

Greenwich Industrial History News


  • 11th October 2016 Terry Powley. Society's Changing Perceptions of Youth in the Twentieth Century

We have their newsletter (they STILL haven't got a website)

They advertise future meetings 
8th (that's tomorrow!!) October Mike Jones on Crossness Past and Present
11th March - Stuart Robinson on A Year of Murder, a year of Poverty.

2.15 at Charlton House, both of them.


- one on Charlotte Matthews of Pre-Construct Archaelogy who has been photographing buildings with dates on their facades. She would like to know if anyone can recommend some. 
- Plaques to Woolwich Worthies - which includes their founders Tom Vincent and Frank Charles Ellison-Erwood, and boxer Tom Cribb - reported frustrations
- some memories of Nora Wickham who was a past Treasurer and recently died.
- a note on the closure, in Greenwich, of the Thames path
- report on the Council's Public Spaces Protection Order (against street drinkers)

They also report on work by the Enderby Group - as follows:

A “Plaza” proposal for Enderby Wharf at Greenwich Peninsula  by  Richard Buchanan

The Enderby Group is working on a proposal to treat the environs of Enderby House as a whole, with the working title of the “Plaza”.  It would unite the House, the space around it in front of Barratt’s apartment blocks, the Thames Path and the jetties and cable loading equipment on the foreshore; it would provide for commercial use, refreshment and portray the heritage of the area.  Also of historic interest are the adjacent Steps & Causeway (used by boats to ferry crew to cable ships moored in the river – and, allowing for rebuilding in the meantime, to gunpowder ships when the Navy had their proof testing Magazine there).

This we will put before interested parties, three being: Barratt London who own and are to restore and extend Enderby House, and landscape its surroundings: Submarine Network Systems (successors to Telcon, and now part of Nokia) who are responsible for the jetties and cable loading equipment on the foreshore; and the London City Cruise Port immediately to the north.  The major interested party is of course the Council of Royal Greenwich.  It has two roles - as the planning authority under whom Barratt London and the London City Cruise Port operate - and as the manager of the Thames Path.

Should the idea be received favourably, a possible name is “John Pender Plaza”.  John Pender established and became the first chairman of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company (Telcon) who laid the first successful transatlantic telegraph system in 1866.  He then went on to found cable companies around the world - who bought their cables from Telcon.  He died at his home in Footscray in 1896, and is buried at All Saints Church, Footsray.  There is already Telcon Way, a new road on the north side of Submarine Network Systems leading to the yet to be built London City Cruise Port, which will connect with the “Plaza”.

The Woolwich newsletter also advertises:

Blackheath Scientific Society - 18th November Future Missions to Uranus and Neptune, Adam Masters.  8.45 Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road,

Welling and District Model Engineering Society, Rochester Way, adj Falconwood Station (I've still not found out how to get in there!!).  October 9th Open day 2-5

(thanks for the resend, Steves)

they give a detailed report on emergency repair work to protect a section of river wall from the Royal Steps to Bellot Gardens. There is dramatic erosion of the foreshore exposing the chalk footings of the wall and introducing a risk of scour. They are working on a repair which will minimise sensitive archaeology by a method also used at the Tower of London - and everything will continue to be accessible.  
(meanwhile - this is by me, Mary, because its not covered by the Greenwich Soc - down in east Greenwich erosion to the river wall means path closure for maybe two years, no one can find out what is being done or what is going on, and any archaeology has been shifted out quick as you like)

- and back to the Greenwich Society - in general news they feature two sites on the old Greenwich Park Rail line (unbeknown to them!!). On is the happy opening of the Community Garden in Burney Street - the other is the closure of Greenwich Police Station. (They ask - what will happen to that site?? er - rebuild the railway??)


This dynamic little publication ( features this month pictures of the new London Bridge - although never a word about those of who cannot actually see the station because our trains no longer stop there).  Nice pics too. Also a note about an abortive visit to Deptford to see the inclined plane. 

GLIAS NEWSLETTER (Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society)

Sorry we missed Andrew Turner's Erith walk - hope it went well. GIHS happy to put a report on the blog??
They advertise:

16th November - GLIAS Pub evening Horsehoe Pub, 24 Clerkenwell Close, EC1ROAG,. This is an open evening and anyone can come along with a 5 minute presentation on their favourite IA related hobby horse. Helpful to tell Dan first though so he can programme you in

18th January Conkers, Cordite and the birth of modern biotechnology - Prof Martin Adams
15th March  Crossrail Archaeology - Jay Carver and Andy Shelley
19th April  The Royal Arsenal, Then and now. Ian Bull (NOT TO BE MISSED)
17th May AGM
All at 18.30 The Gallery, Alan Baxter Ltd., 75 Cowcross Street, EC1

.... but nothing at all about Greenwich otherwise


This is an emailed publication, so sorry, can't give a web link

The current issue features

Article on planned discounts for Greener ships.   The lack of regulation on emissions from ships of all sorts has been a big issue in Greenwich. PLA are to give discounts to cleaner ships. Happy to send more info on this.

Michael Heseltine and the Growth Commission are said to have sailed down the river - past us all - to see how we were getting on. They are apparently looking for a vision.

Tate and Lyle - which is right opposite us - go to the cafe on the arts complex on the old Siemens site and watch the action of the Tate and Lyle Wharf. Anyway the newsletter features an article on them and their work at the refinery following a visit

Cory - down in Charlton where we still (just) have a bit of real riverside, Cory have their tug depot. They have three new barges - report and pix

Thames Tideway Tunnel - report on that too


- by Mark Smithers.  Tell us more?? Review copy??

As Firepower goes the Heritage Centre seem to be following up the Artillery (rather than the Arsenal, which is what most people are interested in - or indeed the Royal Engineers who also had historic links with the Woolwich and Arsenal site).  We have been sent a copy of a form - although not by the Heritage Centre.  There doesn't seem to be a way of dealing with this electronically but there IS and email address  The form wants to know basically about you helping set up a gallery about the Artillery 


The Enderby Group have been lent a number of Telcon house magazines from the early 1950s.  They are being scanned and we intend to reproduce some articles here.  Sorry if this blog gets to be Telcon Telcon Telcon - please send other info. we are always happy to publish (within reason)


Their newsletter is with us - It reports on their Open House day opening when nearly 1,000 people went along. They also report on an ITN programme in which they featured.  They ask us to publicise their gifts - happily


We have seen a programme for a very interesting conference on 4th November at the National Maritime Museum about the archives of maritme related archives around the country.  There is no booking or cost information with what we have been shown but we think Lizelle de Jager, (Research Department Executive at the Royal Museum Greenwich) at is the person to contact.

In relation to this - we used to get all sorts of info from the NMM about events and other things. We always publicised it, and sometimes also went along.  This doesn't come any more and its not clear how to get it started again. Hopefully someone from that august institution will read this and see that little small organisations get stuff from them.


Thursday 6 October 2016

Telcon and the 1851 Great Exhibition

The Enderby Group has been handed some issues of the Telcon Company Magazine from the early 1950s - Telcon, of course, was the name of one of the predecessor firms to Alcatel at Enderby Wharf, although essentially there is a continuum for work from one to the other.  GIHS has had access to these and intends to publish some of the articles in them here.

Below is an article about exhibits in the 1851 Great Exhibition. We can date this article to 1950 when preparations for the Festival of Britain were underway and Telcon was anxious to prove 100 years continuity of work and progress

by L.R. Nicholson

Did you know that Telcon was represented at the famous 1851 exhibition in the Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, the centenary of which will be commemorated in the Festival of Britain? Yes! Telcon has the distinction of being among the select band of exhibitors represented at both exhibitions, for we are showing many of our products, including gutta percha insulated submarine cables, in several sections of the South Bank Exhibition.   

We mention gutta percha insulated submarine cables specially, for our 1851 exhibits were made of gutta percha, the application of which, as a submarine cable insulant, was destined to make Telcon world-famous in the field of international communications. Replicas of a few of our 1851 exhibits, produced with the original gutta percha moulds, are to be shown in the independent centenary exhibition to be held in the galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum.   

The story of our association with the Hyde Park Exhibition is intriguing. This ambitious undertaking was the culmination of many years' hard first, discouraging work by the Royal Society of Arts, its energetic secretary Francis Whishaw, and others.   

Whishaw started a scheme in 1844 for an annual exhibition of national products with money prizes for the makers of articles of good design, but met with little support from manufacturers. However, before he left the Society to join the staff of Telcon's parent Company The Gutta Percha Company, at Wharf Road, as an engineer he had two small exhibitions and had seen a committee formed to find ways and means of producing an annual show and of obtaining the patronage and interest of the Prince Consort, who was President of the Society.   

Bigger and better exhibitions, continued to be shown at the premises of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1848 the display was visited by 73,000 people, and in 1849 the premises proved to be quite inadequate, so well was the exhibition patronised.  

 Eventually the Prince Consort  the President of a Royal Commission, the purpose of which was to consider   the organization of an international exhibition in 1851, and a great deal of the eventual success of this exhibition was due to his personal enthusiasm, ability, and drive.   

 The Gutta Percha Company which amalgamated with Glass, Eliot & Co. in 1864 to form our present Company was launching out at this time, and in 1848 and 1849  exhibited at the Royal Society of Arts articles of an ornamental kind, such as "Stag and Dog" and oval picture frames - all moulded, of course, in gutta percha - but nothing apparently from the wide range of more useful goods it was then producing.

The Telcon Story, it will be recalled, tells how Henry Bewley and Charles Hancock, the founders of The Gutta Percha Company, quarrelled violently over the right to use a wire-covering machine, and how Hancock broke away to form his own company known as the West Ham Gutta Percha Company. A bitter competitive war was waged by these two concerns, culminating eventually in the latter's bankruptcy, but both had their exhibits at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in 1851.     

The Gutta Percha Company must have had an impressive display, for it included samples of raw gutta percha, waterproof cloth, fishing net floats, driving bands, both round and square, decorated frames, and ceiling centres and mouldings in imitation carved oak and  rosewood. But, strangely enough, having made the first submarine telegraph cable, which was laid across the Straits of Dover in 1850 and marked the beginning of a vast network of under-sea cables throughout the world, and being engaged during the period of the 1851 exhibition in the manufacture of a second cable to cross the English Channel, the Company did not show any of this gutta percha insulated conductor.     

Another point of interest concerns the gutta percha ornaments exhibited in 1848 and 1849 at the Royal Society of Arts.   Charles Hancock was a great artist (he had a picture accepted by the Royal Academy when he was 19 years of age), and it was he who designed these figures "Stag and Dog" and similar articles when he was with our Company at Wharf Road. These same exhibits were to be seen at Hyde Park in 1851, but on the stand of the rival company which Hancock had started at West Ham in opposition to The Gutta Percha Company.     

No monetary prizes were given to exhibitors at the Crystal Palace. The Council Medal was awarded sparingly, and only to firms whose products possessed originality as well as outstanding excellence, whilst the second   medal, known as the Prize Medal, was an award of merit only. Out of 14,000 exhibitors, 170 Council Medals and nearly 3,000 Prize Medals were presented, and our Company had the honour of receiving one of the coveted Council Medals.

 Most of the exhibits were for sale, and Queen Victoria made many purchases. Incidentally, The Gutta Percha Company made a bargain when it bought a powerful beam engine which was installed at Wharf Road immediately after the exhibition closed. It supplied power to the whole of the factory,  and Chatterton, who gave his name to the famous compound, when he was works manager of the Gutta Percha Company, owned a lead works next door and had this plant powered also from the same  engine. This amazing machine worked continuously from 1851 until 1933, when the Wharf Road works were transferred to the present Telcon Works at Greenwich.  

 Manufacturers will be acknowledged in the official catalogue of the Festival of Britain only, but anyone familiar with TeIcon products will have no difficulty in recognizing our exhibits in the Transport and Communications, and the Power and Production sections of the South Bank Exhibition, or at   the Victoria and Albert Museum, without reference to the official list  

Tuesday 4 October 2016

What has happened to Bendish Marsh??

This is an important article about part of the Peninsula

What Has Happened to Bendish Marsh?
by Stewart Ash
Bendish Marsh is the name that was given to a 4 acre field on the western Greenwich Peninsula, inland from Enderby Wharf.  Its name probably came from the 17th century dyke and sluice of the same name that feeds into the Thames alongside the steps and causeway at Enderby Wharf.

The first known document recording ownership of land on the Greenwich Peninsula dates back to 918 and sets out the gift of land known as Old Court Manor, to the Abbey of St Peter, in Ghent by Alfred the Great’s youngest daughter, Ælfthryth (877-929).  This land comprised 276 acres and included a large area on the Greenwich Peninsula,

Over the next 800 years this land was owned by various kings, queens, monasteries and noblemen. In 1698, the land was Crown property and a lease for a large part of Old Court Manor was acquired by Sir John Morden (1623-1708), from Margaret Boreman,the widow of Sir William Boreman (c.1617-1686),for £9,000.  A year later, Sir John obtained the freehold of this land from the Crown.  On his death, the land passed to his widow, Susan née Brand (1638-1721) and as they had no issue, on her death the land came under the control of the ‘Trustees’ of Sir John’s charity ‘Morden College’.
By the terms of Sir John’s will, upon his death, seven ‘Trustees’ were to be chosen from the Levant (Turkey) Company to administer the College (and its endowed estates), and if this company should cease to exist, then they were to be selected from the East India Company.  Finally, if the East India Company ceased to exist, then Trustees should be drawn from the Court of Alderman of the City of London.  This stipulation meant that there were three distinct phases of Trustee selection.  From 1708 to 1826, Trustees came from the Levant Company; from 1827 to 1884, they were selected from the East India Company and, from 1885 to the present day,Trustees have been selected from the City Aldermen, many of whom have been Lord Mayor of London.  In recent years only past Lord Mayors of London have been eligible for the position of Trustee.  It was these Trustees who shaped the development of the land that made up part of the Old Court Manor estate.  Their decisions have also influenced the way in which the Greenwich Peninsula as a whole has developed over the last 300 years.

The first known map showing Old Court Manor was produced by Samuel Travers (1650-1725), Surveyor General of Crown lands,from a survey conducted in 1695 of the Crown lands in Greenwich and on the peninsula.  A copy of Travers’ map is held in the Morden College Archive; it shows all the Old Court Manor land as pasture and marshland, with the notable exception of the Gunpowder Magazine, which stood on Crown land, at what is now Enderby Wharf, from 1695 to 1769.  This map does not give names to the fields on the peninsula.

According to the Modern College’s official history published in 1982, the first detailed survey of the College lands of Old Court Manor was carried out by the Trustees in 1721.  However, no record of this survey could be found in the College Archive.The first survey map, held in the College Archive, is John Holmes’ survey of 1732. This does identify the field names and Bendish Marsh is among them.

In 1960, W V Bartlett statedin his essay ‘The River and Marsh at East Greenwich’ that a plan dated 1734, described as ‘a particular of lands late of Sir William Boreman’ does still exist.  It shows the layout of the fields on the peninsula with the following field names: Balsopps Marsh, Bendish Marsh, Bishiop’s Marsh, Catt’s Brains, Crabtree Croft, Dog Kennel Field, Foster’s Hole, Further Pitts, Goose Pool, Great Meadow, Great Pitts, Hawk’s Marsh, Lady Marsh, Little Pitts, Peartree Meadow, Pound Marsh, Pond Meadow, Short Bendish, The Pitts and Thistlecroft.  A plan dated 1734 is not held in the College Archive. However, many of the above field names can be found in Sir William Boreman’s will.  Therefore, the field name of Bendish Marsh can be traced back to at least 1686.  It is probable that the name dates back even further to the early part of the 17th century when Bendish Sluice was built as part of the major drainage system introduced to the marshes at that time.

These fields, can also be seen on Timothy Skynner’s plan, commissioned by the Greenwich Court of Sewers and made in 1745, shown below.

Timothy Skynner’s Plan, 1745

Skynner’s Plan shows the field boundaries and each plot, although not named, is given an alphanumeric reference.  The Plan also denotes some areas as ‘Singles’ and others as ‘Doubles’.  The field boundaries in most cases are defined by the 17th century drainage system.  The annual drainage rates levied by the Court of Sewers on Doubles were twice those on Singles, e.g. in 1704, the rates were 12 shillings per acre and 6 shillings per acre respectively.

John Rocque’s Map of Greenwich, 1747

The first published map showing the lands comprising Old Court Manor was made by John (Jean) Rocque (c.1709-62). He was the son of French Huguenot immigrant parents, who became a surveyor and cartographer.  Rocque is best known and remembered for his detailed map of London.  He began work on this in 1737 and the map was published in 24 printed sheets in 1747.  The lands comprising Old Court Manor are shown on the sheet above, in the top right corner, the Gunpowder Magazine can be seen but no field names are included.

In 1771, the College Trustees commissioned their surveyor, Michael Searles (1722-99), to conduct a further survey of the land on the peninsula.  A map of this survey is also held in the College Archive and it identifies the field named Bendish Marsh.

At the beginning of the 19thcentury a rope works was established on the land where the Gunpowder Magazine had stood.  It is possible that Henry Vansittart (1777-1843), who purchased the land from the Crown in 1802, was the first person to permit the manufacture of hemp ropes on this site.  In 1808, the rope works was in the hands of James Littlewood but he became bankrupt in 1817, and the rope works was made over to a Mr Young, who operated it until 1828.  Horwood’s map of London, dated 1819, is the first to show a ‘rope walk’ on the site.  The ‘rope walk’ also appears on the later Greenwood map of 1827.This ‘rope walk’ ran parallel to and just behind the line of houses that now stand on the north side of Mauritius Road.  Since the 25th July 1815, Morden College had leased virtually all of its land to the north of the rope manufactory, including the field known as Bendish Marsh, to John Field, a Greenwich farmer.

In 1830, the rope manufactory was purchased by Charles (1797-1876), George (1802-91) and Henry (1800-76) Enderby, collectively Messrs Enderby Brothers.  Over the next few years they invested a great deal of money in developing it by adding a sail works and a hemp factory to the already existing rope-making facilities.  A boiler house and steam engine were added to mechanise the ‘rope walk’ and drive looms.  Until then, horses had been used to provide the power to form and lay the ropes.  Over the boiler room were hemp and spinning rooms and in other factory buildings were joinery workshops and weaving looms.  This facility became known as Enderby’s Hemp& Rope Works;at its peak it covered some 14 acres (5.66 hectares) and employed 250 local people.  During this period, the river frontage acquired the name ‘Enderby Wharf’.The land known as Bendish Marsh was not part of this property.

George Smith (1782-1869) became the surveyor for Morden College in 1838.  Immediately, the Trustees instructed him to carry out a detailed survey and evaluate their land holdings on Greenwich Marsh for industrial development.  Whether this initiative came about because the Trustees were then being drawn from the East India Company and policies were changing, or perhaps the idea had been stimulated by the success of the Enderby Hemp & Rope Works, combined with the less successful leasing of their own land on the peninsula to Bryan and Howden for industrial development, is unclear.  Bendish Marsh would have been part of this survey but unfortunately, the maps and records of the survey could not be found in the College Archive.  However, the lands that Smith surveyed are marked in Red on the 1842 Tithe Map, shown below.

The 1842 Tithe Map

In 1838, the Enderby brothers acquired from Calvert Clark a small parcel of land on the riverfront to the north of their Hemp & Rope Works.  This is shown on Simms’ 1838 map as 266a, as can be seen it contained a square building,area 266a is described as a ‘cottage and gardens’.

Simms 1838 Map
In 1839, the brothers tried to lease additional adjacent lands from Morden College.  This land was Bendish Marsh, to the north of the rope walk, to the east of plot 266 and the dyke shown on the Simms Map.  However, obtaining a lease proved difficult, as it appears that a licence was needed from the trustees if anything other than a bleach house was to be built on the land.  As an alternative, the Enderbys offered to exchange some land already owned by them for Bendish Marsh but this apparently required Parliamentary approval, involving significant additional cost, and so negotiations broke down.
On 8th March 1845, the Enderby Hemp & Rope Works was destroyed by fire.  No records have been found to indicate that the factory ever reopened; however, the Kentish Mercury of 13 September 1845 ran the following:
Liberality.— On Saturday last the workmen in the employ of Messrs. Enderby took possession of the new factory, which has been erected in place of the one burnt down some few months since. In the evening a supper was prepared for a portion of them at the Ship and Billet, Woolwich road; and also for another portion at the Star and Garter, Park Street. The expenses were borne by Messrs. Enderby, who have generously given all the persons who were thrown out of employment by the fire, half their weekly wages since that period.
This appears to confirm that at least part of the factory was rebuilt but whether it recommenced trading is less certain.
Charles Enderby decided to build himself a dwelling house on the riverfront and work commenced in June 1845.  He approached the Morden College Trustees again regarding the Bendish Marsh land and the minutes the Trustees’ meeting of 29th October 1845 record that it was agreed that Bendish Marsh could be leased to the Enderbys as ‘Bleaching Grounds’ but not for building.  On the 13th November 1845, Charles Enderby wrote to the Trustees of Morden College offering to take Bendish Marsh on a 7 year lease. 

Bendish Marsh

At that time Bendish Marsh comprised 4 acres, 0 roods and 11 perches.  It is shown in the plan above, along with other Morden College land in Red. It is bounded to the south and west by the Enderbys land (white) and to the east by Blackwall Lane (then known as Ship and Billet Lane).  The light blue area is land belonging to Norfolk College and the puce land was in the hands of the Calvert Clark family. 

The building of Charles Enderby’s house was completed in April 1846 when Charles took up residence.  He had wanted the Bendish Marsh land to provide direct access to his new residence from Ship and Billet Land, by-passing the rope works site.  The lease, that was to run until Michaelmas 1854, was executed on 24th December 1846 in the names of all three brothers and shortly afterwards,it was reported to the Trustees that the Enderbys had culverted the dyke,running alongside Bendish Marsh and had built a coach road to the new house.

Charles Enderby lived in the house for three years, during which time he hosted several dinners in the ‘Octagon Room’ for representatives of the Geographic Society, of which he was a founder member, and the Royal Society, of which he had become a fellow in 1841.
In August 1849, Charles Enderby set sail in the Samuel Enderby for the Auckland Islands.  He would never return to the house.  At that time Messrs Enderby Brothers was in major financial difficulty.  George Enderby wrote to the Trustees on 29th October 1849 requesting that they take back the Bendish Marsh lease.  The Trustees refused to do this but agreed to try and find an alternative lessee.  In the meantime the lease was put in the hands of Messrs Lodge & Co, solicitors. No new tenants were immediately forthcoming.
On the 22nd July 1854, George Smith reported to the Trustees that the Enderby lease on Bendish Marsh would expire at Michaelmas.  He begged permission to find an alternative tenant and on 14th October a Mr John Smith was approved as a yearly tenant with 3 months’ notice.

In August 1855, William Coles Child (1814-73) approached the Trustees about leasing Bendish Marsh.  The Trustees offered him a lease with 3 months’ notice at £42 per annum.  In early October, Coles Child turned down this offer as he had been unable to acquire the adjacent Enderby property at a reasonable price.  On the 8th October 1855, John Smith gave notice to quit Bendish Marsh. Then on 26th January 1856, a Mr McKenzie took up a year by year lease, on Bendish Marsh at an annual rent of £10.  This lower rent was agreed due to the fact that Mr McKenzie already leasing other lands from the College on the peninsula.

When Glass, Elliot & Company purchased the Enderby property in 1857, no approach was made to the Trustees concerning the adjacent Bendish Marsh land.  However, on 7th April 1864, Glass, Elliot became part of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company (Telcon) and on 4th May, Telcon secured a contract for the 1865 Atlantic Telegraph cable.  On the 12th May, Telcon’s solicitors wrote to the Trustees offering to take a long term lease on Bendish Marsh.  The lease was finally executed on 6th April 1867.  It was for 4 acres, 0 roods and 8 perches, for a term of 80 years, commencing in 1865 at a ground rent of £100 per annum.  There were also a number of covenants requiring Telcon to make significant capital investment in buildings and infrastructure on the land.

On the 1893 Plan of the Telcon site, the outline of Bendish Marsh can still be seen

Plan of the Telcon Factory 1893

The area of Bendish Marsh is defined by a flooded dyke on the top half of the western side.  On the northern edge to the western side it is defined by a flooded dyke for just under half the length, then by a dry ditch running south and then east to Ship and Billet Lane (Blackwall Lane).  The southern edge is roughly along the line of the rope walk and associated buildings.  The southern and lower western boundaries are shown on the plan by a broken line ‘- ____ - ___’.  The 1907 plan of the site is very similar in this area and includes the same ‘boundary line’ denoting the southern and lower western edge of Bendish Marsh.The 1958 site plan and the 1970 plan, drawn up at the time of the STC takeover of Submarine Cables Ltd, both have thisbroken line ‘- ____ - ___’, showing the boundaries of the Bendish Marsh land.

The Telcon lease of Bendish Marsh was due for renewal in 1945, but there are no records in the College Archive to indicate that it was renewed at any time up to the present day or that the land was sold to Telcon.  However, in 2003, just prior to selling the river frontage, Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN), commissioned a land registry search into the ownership of the site lands.  The author is grateful to ASN for allowing access to this report.

The report indicates that Telcon acquired the small parcel of land owned by Norfolk College, at a time when the rest of the property was held under a single title 276267.  On the 7th April 1928, Bendish Marsh and the Norfolk College land were separated from the main holding under a separate title 354883.  Then, on the 16th April 1928, title 354883 was subdivided into Bendish Marsh; title TGL94231 and the Norfolk College land; title TLG12330.  Why Telcon should have done this is unclear.  It may have had something to do with possible sale of land due to the impact of the ‘Great Depression’ on business,or perhaps separating the land into parcels was done to align them with the different business units that would appear on the site during the 1930s.  In 1935, Siemens Brothers and Telcon merged their submarine cable interests as Submarine Cables Ltd (SCL).  The submarine cable manufacturing facilities of SCL were then centred on the title 276267 land.

The above indicates that Telcon had possession of the freehold of Bendish Marsh prior to 1928.  While no records have been found to date to show when this purchase occurred the most likely explanation is that it happened about the same time that Telcon gave up its lease on Morden Wharf.  Telcon’s predecessor W Küper& Co first came to Greenwich in 1851 taking up an underlease from Charles Holcombe (1792-1870), the primary lease holder of Morden College land, at what Holcombe named Morden Wharf.  In 1854, W Küper& Co became Glass, Elliot & Co and when that company secured the first Atlantic Telegraph contract it need more space, so Glass, Elliot acquired the derelict Enderby Hemp & Rope Works in 1857. For the next 38 years both sites were utilised, but according to ‘The Telcon Story’ published in 1950, Telcon gave up the lease of Morden Wharf and consolidated its manufacturing facilities on the Enderby Wharf site in 1895.  It seems likely that at that time, Telcon could have arranged to acquire from Morden College, the freehold of this 4 acres that was right in the heart of its factory site.
On 28th August 1944, the plot of land on which 2 Mauritius Road stood was registered by SCL under title SGL191335.  The house was demolished to widen the main gateway to the site at the end of Christchurch Way.  From that date onward the numbering of the houses on the north side of Mauritius Road starts at No. 4.  On 8th December 1961, the freehold of the south east corner of the main site, title 276267, was sold under title LN215230.  This is the land on which the Meantime Brewery now stands.
In 1970 Standard Telephones & Cables Ltd (STC) acquired SCL and on 4th June 1974, STC obtained title absolute on the four parcels of land 276267, TLG12320, TLG94231 (Bendish Marsh) and SGL191335, which made up the Enderby Wharf site.  When Alcatel purchased STC Submarine Systems in 1996 these four parcels of land came under its control.  From 2004 ASN began the process of consolidating and upgrading its manufacturing facilities; this process involved reducing the size of the site.  In 2008, the river frontage was sold to West Properties; this included a small part of the western side of Bendish Marsh.  West Properties went into administration and it wasn’t until 2013 that Morgan Stanley acquired West’s assets and appointed Barratt to develop the site.  This reduced ASN’s land ownership to 5 acres and in 2014 a further 2 acres were sold to the Cathedral Group (now U + I plc), this included title SGL191335, a part of Bendish Marsh and small part of title 276267 .  U+I plc, in partnership with Weston Homes, is undertaking the ‘Telegraph Works’ development on this land.

The land that was once Bendish Marsh has now been divided between the Barratt Enderby Wharf development, the U + I Telegraph Works development and the ASN factory.  The new road ‘Telcon Way’, owned by ASN,runs across the northern part of the western end of Bendish Marsh.  It is very likely that Telcon Way follows a similar path to the coach road built by Charles Enderby in 1846.

Stewart Ash 2016