Friday 22 June 2018

Friday morning notes

We understand that GIHS members and Arsenal experts Ian Bull and Ray Fordham are currently at Crossness as part of the Peabody London International Festival of Theatre event. They are talking to visitors about the history of the Royal Arsenal. We would encourage people to go and see them – and, of course, also the pigeons and ‘Fly by night’ as featured in the Guardian and on the BBC

Newsletter DOCKYARDS

This includes a call for papers for their next conference which will be on “we stand on Guard for Thee” Dockyards and naval bases in North America, the Atlantic and the Caribbean.  This is on the 18th of March, 2019 at the Maritime Museum and, as usual, will follow their AGM. Please send 300 word synopsis and title before 30th October 2018 to Dr.Ann Coats. email

They are also looking for a volunteer Twitter manager.  A report on the Navy Board project at the National Maritime Museum says that this has been extended for another year when it is hoped it will be finished. There are also notes about an oral history project on the knowledge and recollections of work and experiences in the Royal Dockyards 1946 - 1984. Contact  if you would like to be involved in any of these projects.

Thank you to the Editor for a mention of my booklet ‘Innovation, Enterprise and Change on the Greenwich Peninsula’ (still available, see There is also a note about changes at Maritime Books. They also mention preservation of historic cranes - people will remember the two cranes at Lovell’s (aka Riverside Gardens) which were destroyed against local wishes in the 1990s. They have a special offer for members of the Naval Dockyards Society of a book by Dr.Brian Newman “A work of Titans. A history of the Swan Hunter floating cranes” – of interest to anyone researching work on the Thames.

Rather nearer home for us they review the New Researches Seminar at Docklands History Group last November. Many of the items will be of interest to historians in Greenwich – one about convict prison hulks in Woolwich might well be of interest to Greenwich Industrial History Society as would a paper on “Shipwrights, patronage and the Thames Royal Dockyards”.


They reported on their May meeting which was about the London Gateway - the new Deep Water Container terminal on the Thames at what was Shellhaven, this includes a great deal of detail which we are happy to pass on if anyone is interested.  Their conference next year will be about the medieval Port of London.  They also mention a new book by Peter Stone on the History of the Port of London.
Derick Morris is leading a walk around Limehouse for the Group. This starts at 6.00 pm at Limehouse DLR. He charges £4 per person.
Their AGM will be on 4rh July at the Museum of London Dockland starting at 6.00 pm


We have a note from Elizabeth Cutajar are about some of the trips they are doing ‘off the beaten track’. Contact them


It is understood that funds are available for ‘Greenwich Park Revealed’ and a project leader is being recruited.  The WW1 project is underway and some items have been put on the Royal Parks web site about allotments in the War, about the age of park car workers and about sights and sounds during the Great War.  The Queens Orchard has been planted with historic plants, about which the snails have not been helpful. The next meeting is on the 7th of September, at 11 am.


The Thame Estuary Partnership has commissioned a cultural assessment strategy for the Thames Strategy East Study Area. Museum of London will be responsible for the archaeology and Alan Baxter Associates for the Built Environment. It will take account of the archaeological, cultural, industrial built and environmental heritage. We hope to hear more about this in due course.


And we are informed that work will start soon at St.Alfege’s Church Greenwich High Road

And also in Woolwich at the Ferry Approach

We have the links and details if anyone would like more information


Thanks to a legacy the Association is offering free places to students for their annual conference 31st August - 5th September (check out

They also point out that places for this conference are still available for those who will pay. 


We have their Transactions (No. 64) which is a very good read and includes an interesting article about Steamboat Stewards in 1842 as well as an article on local brewers.

Their programme:

10th September.  The enlightened Robert Pocock of Gravesend. Malcolm Jennings

8th October. Training ship Worcester. Ken Chamberlain

12th November. Women munitions workers in World War Two.  Ann Kaeif

10th December. From Greenhithe to Greyhithe and back again. Christopher Bull

14th January.  Rosherville Village and Gardens.  Michael Thompson

11th February. Cobham landscape detectives. Andrew Mayfield

11th March. Medieval Gravesend. Toni Mount

 8th April. World War I poets. Bob and Fern Ogley

13th May AGM

10th June. Ex-president's evening

All meetings at Saint Mary’s church hall Wrotham road, Gravesend   7 for 7.30


Thanks to Elizabeth we have been sent a copy of the London Archaeologist for Winter 2017 (Vol 14 No11) on the bronze age landscape of the Greenwich Peninsula by Mary Nicholls with Nigel Cameron, Rob Scaife, Karen Stewart and John Whitaker.  This is clearly ab important document for anyone interested in the history of the Greenwich Peninsula and in its archaeology. As with most archaeological reports it bases all of its references from other archaeologists rather than from historians. It is based primarily on studies of sites in Blackwall Lane and in Bellott Street (which is not actually on the peninsula). They describe how the Bronze Age landscape can be reimagined and illustrate what would have been a series of islands between inlets and tributaries feeding into the river. The islands would have been farmed.  They also describe the discovery of trackways. It would be interesting to know how this relates to the subsequent building of the river wall and other later developments in the area. However the article is to be recommended.
 Woolwich stoneware kiln.  This article is in the London Archaeologist, Spring Vol 15 No.4. And is about "The Re-excavation to a 17th century stoneware kiln in Woolwich" by Edward Bidduph and John Cottar. You may remember that we all went chasing down to Woolwich last spring when the kiln which was excavated in 1974 on the Woolwich ferry Approach was examined and destroyed. This article describes the work done on it by Oxford Archaeology. The kiln was used to make salt glazed stoneware bellarmine jugs and is dated at 1660 and is thus believed to be the earliest stoneware kiln in England. The article gives a detailed examination of the kiln and what it produced. It is a very import sat account of one of the most important finds archaeologists have made in the borough and useful or anyone interested not only in archaeology but also in the Greenwich and Woolwich pottery industries

I had a riveting morning with a group of Goldsmiths students listening to David Cuffley talking about brick making in the London Borough of Greenwich.  He has left with use a series of maps and an exhaustive list of references to brick makers in the Borough.  This  is very interesting and  David is very keen to get more information about many of these firms - looking at this myself I can see things which we have featured at various times and also for example he mentions the Greenwich Peninsula brick fields near the Pilot in 1790 which I know a bit about.

David has promised to speak to us next year on Salutation Alley in Woolwich – and I am also keen to remind people of his wonderful talk to Greenwich Historical Society on the bricks of the Greenwich Park Wall.

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