Friday 9 February 2018

The Ghost in the Dome

You see this all goes back to at least 1998 and maybe further back.

I had done this M.Phil at the Poly in the early 1980s and it was about George Livesey who was the big man in the late 19th century gas  industry.  He had built East Greenwich Gas Works  and I rather thought - as the Millennium neared - well this was my big chance!

I was also researching the history of the peninsula and for a long time I had been going down there and climbing through hedges and finding things (I was younger then), chatting up security men and so on.  I got to know Kay Murch who was the last gas works employee on the site and by then she was site manager for the New Millennium Experience Company.  Kay was a local lady, who had started in the gas works as a typist, and she was all right.

So - its 1998 - one morning I open the Guardian and there is a big three page spread about the Dome, and Kay had taken a group of press men round the site. She had been asked about stories of a ghost - oh, yes, she had said - its George Livesey who built the gas works, Mary Mills knows all about it.'   There it was, in print.

So - next evening there I was on ITV - at what was then the Livesey Museum in the Old Kent Road. Telling the world about George.

And then I sort of forgot about it. But then once the Dome was opened in 2000 I got a call from their press officer - who I knew anyway. And down I went for an interview with Psychic News and Fortean Times.  'Tell us' they said 'did Mr. Livesey have any hobbies'.  'Oh yes, he liked to go to the seaside' .  'Oh' says the press officer 'there is a seaside zone in the Dome ... and its on the site of the old gas company office block'.  Ah ha.  

Next thing I was on the John Dunn show going down the river on Viceroy and telling them all about Livesey live on air - except when I mentioned Blur and Park Life in Riverway (they put music over that bit and told me off - the John Dunn show never had music recorded after 1970).   

Anyway it all pops up from time to time in ghost hunting journals. Personally I think Livesey was a committed Christian, rational and very very bright and would have had no truck with becoming a ghost.

BUT some years later I met some bloke who said to me that he was the ghost in the Dome.  He said that in the Second World War he was fire watching down in the gas company offices. He was tired so he wrapped himself up in a sheet and went to sleep on the comfy deep pile carpet in the director's offices. Then clank clank there is the cleaner in the morning, so he stood up, wrapped  in a sheet ............................ so you see that's how stories start.


Wednesday 7 February 2018


Sorry - that  it has been so long since this blog appeared. It has  been a very very slow month for information coming in and newsletters only started arriving this week. There is a lot going on in the wider world of industrial Greenwich histiory - but not very much we can report on.

The gas holder.   As people will be aware from the local press, following the issue of an Immunity from Listing order by the Department of the Environment,  the Council was asked to agree plans to demolish it.  These were refused by the Council - we understand at officer level - and also we understand discussions are going on about its future. But we do not know any more than that.  
Enderby Group and Enderby House.   Things go apace on the Enderby site with the new housing filling up and an active bunch of new residents (see their Facebook page).  With Enderby House the Group has met the Greenwich Conservation Officer with reference to remediation work there.  We understand she, and someone from Historic England and been to inspect and are now passing on their thoughts to Barratts.  We await more information. As people will be aware part of the site has now been sold but we do not know who to. The sales office has now been demolished which means that work on the Riverside path will start in two phases and would take some time - meaning more closures and the future is still very unclear
The Group has also met with Barratts and the Council about a new sculpture to go on the riverside at Enderby Wharf.  We have been asked not to give details but we were very very impressed and like what is being put forward a lot.
Atlas and Derrick Gardens. The council is considering conservation area status for Atlas and Derrick Gardens in Anchor and Hope Lane. The consultation is now closed and and we await results Atlas and Derrick Gardens were built by Corys in the 19th century to house workers from their coal transhipment site in the River - called Atlas
Siemens. The Government has also issued an Immunity from Listing order on some of the old Siemens buildings in Bowater Road  Again we do not know the current position but there is a great deal of opposition to this both from the Council, the Siemens Engineering Society and a number of important historians who have worked on these Woolwich sites.
White Hart. We understand that the Council is intending to refurbish the old White Hart 'power station' depot building for community use. It has been in use by Crossrail for the past two or three years - so let's see what happens and what the plans are.
Hopefully more information about all of these will be available soon

We are sorry to hear of the death of Greenwich historian, Beryl Platts. Beryl was not an industrial historian but she always had something interesting to say in her work on central Greenwich and the Crooms Hill area of which she had a vast store of knowledge. Condolences to her family - and her daughter Elizabeth, a distinguished archaeologist and member of the Enderby Group
Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter
The Antiquarians current newsletter gives details of a talk by iim Marrett on buildings in Woolwich with some interesting personal details. He described how he had a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee mug with a picture of the Arsenal main gate on it and the date '1977'.   The society hopes to have installed plaque to the memory of the people who worked in the Arsenal in 1917 including Lilian Barker who was superintendent for the women workers including those in danger buildings.  He said that a monument in Plumstead cemetery commemorates 16 people killed in the Arsenal in a guncotton and Lydditte explosion in 1903.  
He also talked about the Bull Pub on Shooters Hill saying that the arms of William and Mary which were once in its tap room are now in the Courage headquarters.  He also said that the Parish boundary stone of  1812 is in his back garden
Woolwich walk  - Wonderful Woolwich
We have been told about a  series of walks arranged by the London Metropolitan Archive which includes Wonderful Woolwich on 14th March.  Tickets available through Eventbrite but we have no further details
Enderby wharf advertising for homes – we spotted the following information given on the Barratt website advertising homes on the wharf:
"The development was named after Samuel Enderby, a maritime entrepreneur and explorer who founded a shipping company in the 18th century.
His residence, Enderby House, a listed building, now forms part of the new development"
We asked the Enderby Group's Stewart Ash what he thought about this. And he says:
The development may have been named after Samuel Enderby (senior or junior) they don’t say, but that is not where the site or the house got their names from, and neither Samuel ever lived there.  Both were dead before the site was acquired!  The site gets its name from the Enderby Hemp & Rope Works, established by Messrs Enderby Brothers (Charles George & Henry) in 1830, the year after Samuel Jnr died.  Charles, George and Henry were Samuel Jnr’s sons.   Charles Enderby, member of the Royal Society for the Arts and founder member of the Geographical Society had the house built in 1845-46 and lived there from April 1846 to August 1849.
So - please Barrett’s talk to us and we will help you get the information right next time you put advertisements out.  Happy to help!
Historic England 
We have a note from Mark Stevenson at Historic England to say that archaeological work on Phase 9 Woolwich Riverside will start soon, He has sent us a document about the site and we’re happy to forward that to anybody if they get in touch
Mark also sent us details of archaeological work for the Valley House scheme area, But no more details than that work will start soon.
GLIAS Newsletter February 2018
They advertise
20th February talk on "Iron men - 19th century engineer Henry Maudslay and his circle."  People will be aware that the start of Maudslays career in Woolwich and that there is a stained glass window of him in Woolwich Town hall - so everybody should go to this 
21st March. James Brindley in London and his plans for the Thames
18 April. London’s Underground Edwardian tile patterns and some their context
16th May. AGM  Talk about the Post Office Museum and Railway
These talks are all at 75 Cowcross Street EC1M 6EL at 6.30
GLIAS also advertise
11th April.  John Pender. The Cable King. this is a talk for elite Newcomen Society by the Enderby Group's Stewart Ash. It is at 5.45 pm at the Dana Studio, Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queen’s Gate,  SW7 5HD.  details 
A memorial service for Dr. Denis Smith will be held on the 9th June at Thaxted  Parish Church at 14.30
We are sorry to learn from Lewisham Local History Society of the recent death of Gordon Dennington. Gordon  edited their  Newsletter for 15 years and also came to talk to us in Greenwich on a couple of occasions. He will be missed.
Bromley Borough Local History Society
We understand that on the 6th of March they have a talk the Lubbock family. This distinguished family had a role in Greenwich as successive family members chaired Morden College. the talk is 7. 45 at Trinity United Reformed Church. Freelands Road, Bromley 
Ordnance Jetty
We note that local wildlife enthusiasts as well as the 853 blog are concerned about plans by the 02 Hotel Intercontinental and their plans to convert the  disused Ordnance Jetty into a restaurant for  river buses and hotel vistitors. Details on 853 blog.