Tuesday 27 December 2016

New news


The December issue of Newcomen Links features a report by Richard Buchanan on the seminar held in September at the Royal Institution on 150 years of Transatlantic Telecommunications

Clearly Greenwich and Enderby Wharf features largely in this - Richard is a prominent member of the Enderby Group (and much else) and the inaugural paper was given by Enderby Group's Stewart Ash.  We also understand that the Group contributed a great deal to the planning of the seminar, which was set up by the Newcomen Society's Julia Elton.

Trying to unpick the Greenwich bits from this long and details paper is bit daunting. Throughout the paper work done in Greenwich at Enderbys features again and again.   The best thing people can do is read it - or ask Richard to come and speak to them, and their society, about it.

A problem is that Newcomen Links is a members-only newsletter.  Its impressive, and full of information but you have to join the Newcomen Society to get it.  The web site is www.newcomen,com. They are based in the Science Museum.



We have been sent some information about the Dudgeon ship building family in Deptford and Greenwich. In the 1860s at the far end of the Peninsula a gun manufacturing factory had been set up by Alexander Blakely (see https://greenwichpeninsulahistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/drugs-guns-and-high-finance/).  It appears that when that closed down - which it did, pretty quickly - the Dudgeon family tried to lease the site from Morden College and take over the failing business.  They also looked at the Bessemer site next door.

Blakely is of great interest to historians of heavy ordnance - an Irishman, he developed a rifling process and fell out with William Armstrong -  the historians working on the Dudgeon business would be interested in any other links.



Enderby Group have noted the death of Lord Pender - the descendant of Sir John Pender, a self made man, who was a major force in the setting of the early telecommunications industry,   The Enderby Group has been lobbying for the area around Enderby House to be re-named 'Pender Plaza' and we understand a biography of Sir John may be on the way.  Meanwhile a new Lord Pender has inherited his great-great grandfather's title and, hopefully, will continue the family tradition of interest and patronage of the heritage of this important industry



Along with the Blackheath Society we should all like to congratulate Blackheath historian, Neil Rhind, on his 80th birthday.  We are aware of a big birthday party very soon.  The latest newsletter has a big article about Neil and his career. He has, of course, come and given papers at Greenwich Industrial History Society, on several occasions - most notably, maybe, one about Blackheath based building contractor, William Webster. But there have been many others, all of them worthwhile - and given in Neil's inimitable style.

The Society are also angrily noting changes to the, listed, Blackheath post office, in its unannounced transformation into a chain newsagents shop.  Original doors and other features have vanished. 



The group has written to ask us to protest about demolitions planned along the Hackney Cut (ok this is the other side of the river, in Hackney, but it is a very interesting and important site not too far away, (if you ignore the river)).  There are plans to put more bridges over the cut - and into wonderful Victoria Park . The group asks for protests against the demolition of the existing pedestrian bridge and for bus routes to go down White Post Lane.

They also say that planning applications to alter some of the Fish Island industrial buildings - Algha Works and Swan Wharf - have been refused/withdrawn.

A later posting from the group is about their efforts to get East End Gasholders preserved. They have failed to save either the  No.2, holder which you can see just the other side of the Blackwall tunnel or the stunning and dramatically sited holder at Bethnal Green.  They are hoping that the small holder at Poplar can be made a feature of a planned sports area. They have published material about all these holders - happy to forward info. (they don't have a web site, this is all in emails and links here are not really possible).  They also have a petition available - again only on an email.



The new Lewisham History Journal (No 24 2016) is full of articles about Greenwich.

First off is by Charlton resident the Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury (aka William Newton-Norton) who gives his extensive memories of growing up, a local history enthusiast in Lewisham and Greenwich. He describes the libraries, the talks and the people, and its all good stuff. It includes a photograph of the author, aged 13, being consulted by Sir John Betjeman on the subject of the old Lewisham Town Hall (it was demolished regardless). 

Second, is a long and detailed article on the Green Man Inn which was - er - at the top of Blackheath Hill in - er - Greenwich.  The Inn actually survived into the 1970s and I remember myself a music hall evening there with a singer who blouse always fell off at the end of her act.  This was however, apparently, a later 'gin palace' and it is its older manifestation in which the author, Nancy Wilson, is interested. The Green Man - at the top of Blackheath Hill - was the site of an inn, as a stopping place on the Dover Road, for many centuries. It was preceded by the Bowling Green Tavern.  The article mainly describes 19th century entertainments and events at the inn which was however demolished in 1868.  There is also some emphasis on its role - like many town centre inns of the day - as a place where civic and adminstrative functions, inquests and so on, were held. For instance it is where where Greenwich Peninsula Wallscott Board held its meetings over the centuries, although they don't get a mention here.  This is a long and detailed article - and clealry there is a lot more to be said about this important Greenwich and Dover Road landmark. Sadly the site is now a block of flats.

Forthcoming Lewisham meetings  (at Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, 7.45)

27th January  Royal Fans, History and Owners, Mary Kitson
24th February Above your head, below your feet. Street furniture. Sue Hayton.
31st March.  AGM  Modern Nature - living on the edge. Creekside Eco Centre. Nick Bertrand
28th April.  The Lieutenancy - Col. Jane Davis
26th May   The Crofton Park Story - Carol Harris
30th June    Gaseous Goings On. - by - er - me (I intend to say a lot about Greenwich)
28th July  Sydenham Hill.  Ian MacInnes
29th September - Abraham Colfe,   Julian Watson
27th October - The Lenox  Julian Kingston
24th November - Penguins, not Polar Bears.  Sandra Margolies
8th December - Members evening.



Enderby Group and GIHS member Richard Buchanan gave an (archaeological - one of his other hats) talk about the Bronze Age barrow on Shooters Hill on BBC London local news. Sadly this doesn't seem to be on IPlayer - but anyone who has a copy I am sure lots of others of us would like to hear what Richard had to say



The December 2016 edition of Sub Brit's Magazine is packed with interesting articles of all sorts (they have a world wide remit) - so, what do they say about Greenwich??

There is just one half page - but very interesting. This is about the days when the Plumstead Bus Garage was on the corner of Kings Highway and Wickham Lane.  Underneath it was, of course, one of the many Plumstead chalk mines - and I guess double decker buses are quite heavy!!  The article is about regular descents into the mine by London Transport's engineers to check its stability. 



This excellent newsletter is also an email only production. So:

- PLA have purchased Peruvian Wharf, just across the river in Newham. They intend to turn it into a proper river wharf and terminal to service the London building industry. They have had a long fight to save its protected status.

- they have produced a new recreational users guide to the Thames. available from safetymanagement@pla.co.uk

- MBNA Thames Clippers have been named Ferry Operator of the year for the second year running. This follows the announcement that they have commissioned two new vessels - 170 passenger capacity 



14th March - they have a talk on London Lighthouses, particularly the one at Blackwall (which you can see from Charlton!).  Clore Learning Centre, Museum of London. 6.30

The Eltham Society Newsletter is listed for their Journal Prize. (we don't get to see this at GIHS could someone send it or tell us where to get it). Congratulations to Eltham anyway
(Generally the LAMAS prize is for paper productions only - someone needs to ask them why they ignore electronic media)

LAMAS list out details of lots of local history societies and their meetings. Many of which are very interesting - and it provides a service by giving information about meetings you wouldn't otherwise hear about.  At the moment Greenwich doesn't feature in this - I know GIHS has been removed (and I know why - its about the wrong sort of subscription) but Greenwich Historial Association also doesn't feature anymore, or come to that Woolwich Antiquarians.  Can someone tell them that historical research in the borough continues apace.



Woolwich Labour Party was the first organised Labour Party - and it opened its headquarters in Woolwich New Road some thirteen or so years before the national Party got itself together.  The building remained as the HQ until they moved over to Eltham (and I need the date of that move - please, Eltham Labour Party).  In the meantime it was also the Transport and General Workers office and also The Pioneer Bookshop.  For many years it housed the Pioneer Press,   Woolwich Antiquarians have been getting plaques put up all over the place in Woolwich.  I (Mary) have been pursuing the issue of a plaque on the Woolwich New Road building and am anxious to get more information. marymillsmmmmm@aol.com

Woolwich Antiquarians have been trying to get plaques put up to all sorts of people over the past few years - but that it tiny tiny compared to the amount which could/should go up. The outskirts of Woolwich and Charlton were stuffed full of important scientists and engineers as well as all the military.  We should stop ignoring all this and get our past recongised a bit more. Lets start - Victoria Way, for instance - Sir John Anderson at one end, Vivien Majendie half way up - and lots of others in between

I hope not only to get a plaque in Woolwich New Road and some sort of commemoration sorted out, but to get something published - not only locally but in the Labour Heritage publications and other such.

Talking of which ...............


The current newsletter draws attention to the 1917 foundation of the Co-op Party.  Now Greenwich and Woolwich have a large and active Co-op Party - one of the largest in the country, we understand. And they are keen to have some sort of commemoration event.  More on that to come.  The situation is a bit more complicated in Greenwich and Woolwich because Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society on the whole didn't have any truck with the Co-op Party but had their own Political Purposes Committee - so the Greenwich Party was only dates from when RACS was sold off to that lot in Manchester.

There is also a lot of stuff being put out about the early Co-op movement and something called the 'Rochdale Pioneers' - this is all nonsense and the whole of South London should be aware that the earliest consumer co-ops were in Woolwich, getting on for a century earlier.   More of that in the 

(and I hope they don't dare say that Woolwich in the 1750s was any sort of 'Metropolitan elite')



We have been contacted by campaigners looking to research the presbytery of our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Charlton Road. There is a blue plaque on the building to Peter Barlow.  This was the older Barlow, an engineer with a distinguished career at the Arsenal.

Hopefully we can give some details about Barlow and his work - I understand there is a local expert researcher - please get in touch. 

Meanwhile the campaigners would be grateful for any information



This has been a very long newsletter and several items have been left over:

- Thames path closures

- real progress by the Enderby Group

and much more

sorry. back soon

Peace and love 


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