Wednesday 8 August 2018

News, notes and whathaveyou from the world of Greenwich History is th

The big news in the world of Greenwich history is the sudden closure last week of the Greenwich archive and the Heritage Centre.  Although this was scheduled it was not expected to be so sudden and promises for the future are not very clear.  The archive is overwhelmingly important to local historians and indeed to visitors who may be from overseas or students working to a deadline.

As a result of this is that within the past week or so a Greenwich Archive Users Forum has emerged. At the moment this is a very ad hoc body.  Last night some members went to the Greenwich Planning Board meeting where some of the buildings proposed for a new cultural centre on the Arsenal site were discussed. They hoped to draw attention to the issues around the archive and hopefully this happened.

The Group is keen to build up support among archive users and groups with members who use it.

Please get in touch if you would like to go on the supporters list ( and hopefully we will have news of the current situation in due course.

The archive belongs to the Council but has been managed for some years by the Greenwich Heritage Trust - and we are hoping to meet them as soon as possible

The campaign on the East Greenwich Gas Holder continues - the petition is still open and still growing.  They hope to meet planning officers along with Southern Gas Networks staff soon.  Peter and Mary met Cllr Sizwe James on this recently and he has been extremely helpful. Cllr Nigel Fletcher has also been asking a lot of the right questions and we understand the Council has written to SGN.

Last week a group of us were taken out to dinner at the Greenwich Kitchen (very nice) on the Peninsula by Malcolm Tucker - who is the great expert on gasholders. This was to welcome to London Barbara Berger whose PhD from Munich University features our amazing gas holder.

In a different subject area - among the experts who Malcolm had invited were people from the History of Structural Engineering Group and we took them to see some features of the Peninsula – including the Pilot and cottages. They commented that the cottages must be built on a ridge of gravel in order for them to have stood so firmly over the past 218 years.  This is now being investigated.

Bell Green
We understand that the gasholders at Bell Green which Lewisham Council locally listed are now facing the same fate as our East Greenwich holder. SGN have got prior approval of demolition from the Government and Lewisham Council have been forced to agree a management programme for demolition. (told you, told you, local listing was useless). We look forward to hearing what more is happening there.

Crossness Engines.         

We have a copy of their latest newsletter which sadly on the front page caries an obituary to Harry Collinson. More happily inside they spotlight Langridge, father and son volunteers.

Crossness of course also had its problems with the big engine house closed because of asbestos. They say a full survey has been undertaken and they need £417,000 pounds in order to clear it. They are fundraising and meanwhile trying to do their best to keep the show on the road

The valve house has now been opened and has an exhibition of small engines- and they list the huge team of volunteers who worked to achieve this.

Finally they announce a grant of £29,800 to allow them to buy locomotive Busy Basil for their future Rang Railway.


There is an article by Allan Green in the Subtel Forum (  on Enderby Wharf. This is a copy of a paper Allan gave to a conference in 2004 and is thus out of date in some details. It is however a major article from a major author on the subject and we would very much commend it to readers.

Our wonderful gas holder was highlighted by feature writer Jane Shilling - who lives in Greenwich - in the Daily Telegraph on the 18th of June this year. Thanks Jane
Woodlands Farm
We understand the farm held an event on the Great War and the effect on farming particularly in the Welling area. Happy to hear more details of this from the farm - please let us know.

GLIAS Newsletter

Great to see pictures – actually coloured pictures - in the newsletter. We understand however that this may be costing more than is economically reasonable. GLIAS is therefore looking to produce an electronic version – if you would like to get this email

GLIAS advertises walks – book via

  • on 13 September around Park Royal and Old Oak
  • on 6th of October around London Bridge and Bermondsey

They are also rescheduling the GLIAS visit to Morden College – the Blackheath based charity which has an amazing archive of local industrialised area.  This will be on 25th September and places need to be booked before the 21st September (

With reference to Greenwich –

  • the newsletter features an article by our Richard Buchanan about trends in electrical transformers (but not those in Greenwich)
  • An article by Bob Carr on Greenwich Town hall (that’s GREENWICH Town Hall) giving some details of its modernist architecture. It there the Greenwich activists who have suggested that it would make a good museum of history of Greenwich as a town with an industrial and civic history – apart from Henry VIII and the navy
  • Bob has also highlighted the refitting into an old diesel engine dust cart with a low noise zero emission eRCV by the Borough of Greenwich – which will also give the vehicle a much longer life.

Finally and sadly the newsletter includes an obituary for Sue Hayton who was one of the mainstays of the GLIAS committee since the early seventies. She was yet another alumnus of Denis Smith’s Goldsmiths College course. She had been responsible for the membership of GLIAS from its outset and also worked on the printing and production of the newsletter. She is a great loss to the society. Condolences to Danny, Alice, Barbara and of course, little Sid.

A recent visit to the site of Betteshanger Colliery, near Deal in Kent.  involved a discussion about the opening of the Kent Miners Museum there next March.  We were told that in their archive is an address list of families in Greenwich and put up Kent miners in the 1980s strike - some will remember that well.  It would be good if people in Greenwich were able to send their memories of the Kent Miners to compliment this archive and will be happy to forward anything should anybody send in.