Saturday 5 August 2017



On 10th October Greenwich Industrial History Society wants to host a discussion on the current state of Greenwich's Industrial Heritage - and what we should be trying to achieve.  If you have ideas and would like to join in - please come along (Age Exchange Bakehouse 7.30).  BUT - perhaps more importantly - if you feel strongly please volunteer to do a couple of minutes presentation on your views. Please get in touch so we can arrange the programme.

AND NOW - what is being said and where:

The July/August issue is full of stuff about our local industrial history (even if  some of them were written by me, Mary)  there is:
** report on the Greenwich Revealed proposed works in Greenwich Park.  Not strictly industrial of course - but involve the history of works on a massive scale to create what was fundamentally a leisure complex.  **more on this below**  If you have more info on these works let us know.
**an article on the discovery of an 18th Hawksmoor drawing of St. Alfege church - again not industrial but part of a whole lot of works currently being done on the history of the church.  We would like to know more about these finds - please get in touch.
** an article by Pieter Van Der Merwe on Erebus and Terror, the Franklin Expedition's ships.  Of great interest is that the engines in Franklin's ships were recycled from Greenwich Railway locomotives.  *** more about this below***
** an article which draws attention to the 120th birthday of the Blackwall Tunnel and talks about the history of the publicly funded free river crossings in the late 19th and early 20th.
** attention is drawn to Enderby House in an article on local 'buildings at risk' and talks about the current restoration.
** a 'newsflash' about consultation on the gasholder site.

the newsletter also advertises:
** The Society's Annual Lecture on 26th November with two speakers on the Armarda Portrait of Elizabeth. Tickets £10 from
** meetings of the Decorative and Fine Arts Society.


Labour Heritage Newsletter.
The current edition has a long article by Stan Newens on the history of the Co-operative Party - and Greenwich has a large and active branch.  Stan points out that when, in 1927, the Labour Party tried to get Co-operative Parties to affiliate to it, only the Woolwich based Royal Arsenal Society did so. What he doesn't say is that Woolwich and the Royal Arsenal Co-op then went its own way with its Political Purposes Committee and the Greenwich Branch of the Co-op Party only dates from the demise of RACS, relatively recently.   
This needs pointing out to Labour Heritage - which also doesn't mention the Woolwich based co-ops which pre-date the Rochdale Pioneers, or Woolwich Labour Party which pre-dates the national Party by many years.
None the less this is an important article on the Co-op Party, everywhere other than Woolwich!
(Its good to be different)


The Temple of the Storms
If you walk down the Greenwich Peninsula on the west side and look across the river - and its this view which justify this item - you will see a strange Egyptianesqe building on the other side.  This is actually a storm water pumping station and it has just been listed. It was built under the London Docklands Development Corporation which generally didn't support public buildings and certainly not eccentric ones! It was designed by John Outram and is seen as the first post modern building to be listed.  Go and see it - it is totally extraordinary with many clever and esoteric features.  Really - go and look!!


Old Flames
Great to hear from a local group of ex-gasworkers. They say they are putting together a history of British Gas.  Happy to pass any info or contacts on.


The current newsletter has a long article by Malcolm Tucker about the listing of gas holders. Not too much about our great holder in Greenwich - its all, sadly, by Old  Kent Road and Vauxhall. Malcolm does say however "George Livesey and his brother Frank continued to develop gasholder design. A larger and more spectacular  version, East Greenwich No1 was constructed in 1884-8 and still stands prominently on the riverside . Like all gasholders it is now disused.  ................. the Livesey's ultimate development .. was the 'flying lift' ... in 1890-92 they built East Greenwich No.2. to an unprecedented capacity of 12 million cubic feet using six telescopic lifts of which two were flying.  That holder no longer survives.  (note - GIHS thinks the tank of no. 2 survives - can anyone confirm that??)

More about gasholders to come in a separate blog

GLIAS draws attention in an article by Bob Carr about the Ashburnham Triangle activists who have drawn attention to the first motor vehicle in Britain which was built in Greenwich.  This was Edward Butlers velocycle built by Merryweathers. 
GIHS will has asked Mick Delap to come and talk to about this and other issues in the Spring.

GLIAS advertises: 

Walk round the Arsenal site by Ian Bull 2nd September, book via
Walk - Did Hiram Maxim do anything for Crayford. 7th October book via
Talk - an Archivists Eye View of Morden College. Elizabeth Wiggans speaking to the Docklands History Group  5.30 Museum of London Docklands



This draws attention to a project for research on the Royal Parks in the Great War. They also have a 'war garden' and some heritage veg in what is now called the Queen's Orchard (aka the Dwarf Orchard)

They are also organising a trip to the Heritage Centre to see a panorama of a trip to Greenwich in 1836. This is for members of their history group which meets for reminiscence and research in the Wildlife Centre with tea and cakes (which is more than you get from GIHS!).  Best thing if you are interested is to join the group - details on the website

The newsletter also gives more details of Greenwich Park Revealed. Work will include restoration of the trees  particularly the historic avenues; reinstatement work on the 'Giant Steps' escarpment; a learning centre for schools programme, a training  base and an events centre; better signage, digital media and paper-based material; a ha ha along the deer enclosure to replace fencing; improvements to the Boating Lake and the Pavilion cafe 

A long email from Elizabeth Blanchet describes current activity. As people may remember a prototype museum was set up on the historic Excalibar Estate in Catford - and was burnt down, maybe deliberately.  Elizabeth describes the work down with the Association Memoire de Soye in France and the close work undertaken with the association. However some prefabs are to be exhibited at the Museum of Rural Life in Surrey and it is hoped to house the archive there.
Locally they will hold a 'celebration' event at St.John's Community Centre  on the Isle of Dogs on 2nd December  1-5 



Historic England tells us that work is to start on:
Building 11 Royal Arsenal 
10 Orangery Lane. Eltham
(thank you Mark)



We have been shown a blog page 'The Franklin Expedition and London Bridge Station' by Patrick Sweeney.  This is of course from the perspective of London Bridge Station.  It also refers to another blog by Peter Carney (no link to this ??). This apparently argues that the engines actually came from the London and Croydon Railway - which also ran to London Bridge. He also has some interesting things to say about how and why the engines were run, the plumbing arrangements on the ship and - lead poisoning.  The engines were expected to aid the passage through ice and also provide hot water for a number of applications.
We have also been referred to learned papers in Newcomen Society archives - I.J. Vol.81 No.2. 2011  by William Battersby and Peter Carney.  We also understand that it is hoped the sites can be dived for more information on these engines.

We also think there was a link to Enderby exploration in the Antarctic - again, let us know.



We are interested to know more about Dreadnought School in Blackwall Lane which, like the gasholder, is on a site recently consulted on by the Council. It is a London School Board School from around 1893 - and sadly not of a quality which suggests a design by one of their star (and very listable) architects.  It has been used as a store by the Forest Hill based Horniman Museum since 1969 and we understand they own the freehold. It has never been owned by Greenwich Council.  Please get in touch if you can tell us anything


A recent holiday in Broadstairs alerted us to the entry point for many undersea cables - hopefully those made in Greenwich. We were particularly interests in a little building on the cliff edge at the end of Dumpton Gap Drive corner of Western Esplanade.  We understand it has been recently sold - but - again - any info?? gratefully received.

the building at Dumpton Gap 

Sign to the rear of the building
(thanks Dick)



Rob Powell has put up a posting on his blog with some fascinating cuttings about the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
He points out that the 4th of August was the annivesary of the opening of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel in 1902.  He had found cuttings from the Coventry Free Press 'it must be seen by the eye of imagination through the lens of knowledge' and much more.



Richard Buchanon has kindly sent us a history of conservation areas - and do you know what!!  I quote:

" Now - London’s first conservation areas.  There were two, both designated on 17th January 1968 and both by the London Borough of Greenwich. ......these two covered the old Greenwich town centre and Blackheath; the area which was mainly in Crown ownership was added later."
(sorry no link for this - perhaps Richard can help with that) 


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