Saturday, 8 September 2018

Next lot of riveting news

Some of the items below have already appeared on the Greenwich Industrial History Facebook page.   Facebook reaches different audiences but a smaller one - but the idea is to try to put some of his on both.  But let’s see how we go!

Follow up emails to requests for information below to


The BIG news in Greenwich historical circles continues to be the very shocking closure of the Greenwich Heritage Centre and we understand that even those working in the archive on the last date were not aware that it would not reopen.  The quickly set up Greenwich Heritage Users Forum have now met with Len Duvall, our Greater London Authority member and Chair of the Greenwich Heritage Trust.  Future meetings are being arranged.  A member of Greenwich Industrial History Society was present at the initial meeting along with someone from Greenwich Historical Association and some professional historians.  Most, if not all, of the local history societies are in touch and have representatives eager to take part.  Some national organisations concerned with archive as well as some of the archive owners/depositors have been contacted

It is understood that the buildings in Woolwich in which the heritage centre was based are to be converted into a theatre as part of the new Woolwich arts area.  Meanwhile the archive itself will be stored in Anchorage Point in Anchor and Hope Lane.  We are told access to it will depend on whether you are a ‘professional’ or an ordinary user.  (A distinction which I, Mary, personally find offensive).

Plans for both the old heritage centre building (Building 41) and Anchorage Point need planning consent.  If you are concerned about this situation please make a submission on either or both of them through the Council web site or in writing to the planning officer concerned.

The Planning meeting for Building 41 is likely to be on the 25th of September so it is important to get any comments in as quickly as possible. The case officer is Emily Leslie

We understand the case officer for Anchorage Point is Lesley Agyekumaa-Sasu and we understand it may go to Woolwich area planning committee on the 16th October.

Also please get in touch with any general comments – we can pass them on to the Archive Users Forum.  This is a very brief summary of what is going on.
We have a request for information on Pipers Barge Builders who were on the Greenwich Riverside at what is now Riverside Garden from the 1890s until around 1990.  They built some famous racing barges including ‘the famous’ Giralda and one of their Greenwich built barges survives as a bar on the Embankment. Please get in touch if you can help

Adriaan at the European Industrial Heritage Organisation – has written about a new cranes database.

"As you know EFAITH has launched a campaign to build a European database on harbour and other cranes - see - which is a part of the industrial heritage campaign of the EuropeanYear of Cultural Heritage 2018

Information is now arriving from different countries and we should like to add also harbour cranes that still exist in the UK. I remember there were some in London, but also in Portsmouth and Southampton. Can you spread the message and could GLIAS provide us with details of the cranes that are still standing in London ?
A record card (questionnaire) can be downloaded from - but even if the details are not complete we will be happy to receive the information

Let us know if you think there is something we should send, or if you decide to do it yourself. Happy to post up links to info about the 2 cranes which were sadly demolished in 2000 at Lovell's Wharf - today's Riverside Gardens

THE GASHOLDER – the on line petition is now well up and if we add the paper petition we must be very near 1500 signatures.  You can still sign

Hopefully the campaign group will be meeting SGN along with the planners in a week or so’s time. And thank you very much to Councillor Sizwe James for all his help.

Crossness Engines AGM – this is on 25th September (a Tuesday) at  but the meeting notice doesn’t actually say where it is!

We have a request for information on the British Steel Plant in Riverway – this stood behind the Pilot Pub and was more generally known as Redpath Brown’s or – later – Dorman Long or Bolkow Vaughan.  When it closed there was some industrial action and an occupation of the site.  If you know anything about this please get in touch.


We have a note from a reader who says “I carried out the Electrical installation on the Golden Dawn and her sister ships at Cubow. At that time I worked for Lowestoft based LEC Marine. Would you like more information, what would you like to know??

Cubow were a ship repair and ship building business on the site to the west of Woolwich ferry with a couple of newish blocks of flats (what else!!) . They were still at work in the 1990s

Steve Peterson has told us that he has put on Youtube a copy of his video of Ian Bull’s presentation to GIHS on the Royal Arsenal’s outstation at the Yantlet.  This was riveting and is a must see


In the post:

Subterranea - the 'Magazine' produced by Subterranea Brittanica, about all things underground. Its a fairly posh publication with lots of interesting articles The current edition does include a report of a boat trip which looked at sites for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Although the trip looked at sites upriver of London Bridge the tunnel itself will come down the river past Greenwich. The article has a lot of detail about the tunnel and how it is being built. A number of GIHS members were on the trip - and it even includes a very unflattering picture of one of us.
It also includes a report on their AGM - but does not mention that after the main event the members were treated to a presentation on the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot tunnels on behalf of the Friends Organisation, (FOGWOFT) by Ian Blore and Mary Mills
(Look on the Sub Brit website for how to get/see this

Also in the post:

Cut-A-Way which has nothing to do with Greenwich at all but is a newsletter for the Thames and Medway Canal Association. I am mentioning it because it refers to one of the more eccentric canals around - and only 20 miles or so down river. (
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GREENWICH SOCIETY NEWSLETTER

A rather belated report on their Summer number –which includes

A rant from me about how a museum was needed about Greenwich itself in Greenwich and not just national museums in Greenwich and a heritage centre in Woolwich. This was written before the sad fate of the Heritage Centre was known.

A note about the heritage engagement project at St Alfege’s church and the appointment of Wendy Foreman to manage it.  Please email for details


Industrial Archaeology News – this is a national newsletter. Their autumn number includes

An important article by Robert Carr on industrial chimneys – this is in a national context but e does illustrate it with our own Woolwich Dockyard chimney describing it as ‘rather impressive’.

In another article, about gasholders, Robert also mentions our petition on the East Greenwich holder.


The Charlton Society have asked us if we know anything about trenches which are at the top of Hanging Wood in Charlrton


We understand that the art work on the steps at Enderby Wharf is safe and well and has survived the various contractors working on the path.  It describes the history of cable making on the site and was installed via Carol Kenna and Groundwork in the early 2000s.  Look back on this blog and there is a whole history of it. We also understand that gates are being installed to access the steps and an information plaque (content unknown!).
Thanks to Jane, the Council's Enforcement Officer for this information and help



The September issue contains a long and informative article by Peter Luck  on 'Saving Greenwich's Historic Gas Holder' and a Fact File on the 'Significance of the Gas Holder'.  Happy to send copies if people want them.  
Also thanks to WN for a plug for my little Jetty booklet with a nice article.



The Autumn edition contains an article by Neil Rhind on the closure of the  Heritage Centre 'appalling'.!

- and also a long article on the new railway signalling system to be installed at Blackheath Station. Lots of detail - railway fans will love it!  The new cable will run under platform 1 to a high voltage power source at Pond Road interchange. There will be a new signals exchange in the sidings behind Platform 1.  This will mean removal of vegetation which is upsetting some people and there are various other arguments about the boundaries of the conservation area and listing statuses. They think the new box is a bit too big, I think.

There are also notes about changes at Age Exchange, Lewisham Station and fund raising at Blackheath Halls. 


The aggregate boats which come into Deptford Creek are all 'Priors' - except its not Priors anymore, but the boats are all family names.  They come from 'Ballast Quay' which is at Fingringhoe in Essex and they bring aggregate dredged there down to Deptford.  If you look on Google Earth you will see  a huge patch of works on the riverside.
I knew it would be difficult to see anything there - but off I went. Fingringhoe is a substantial village and luckly I could park off road at the gates to Ballast Quay.  lots of 'go away' type signage. I stood and looked in and a man came up.  He said he owned this area and it was his home. To get to the quay you had to walk through his area, and he wasn't having that - and anyway they were very unfriendly at the Quay. Just then a huge great lorry came hurtling down - 'jump quick' said the man, as the lorry shot down the lane through the gates, past his house and on.   The man said that the firm have given up dredging and their mineral rights.  They dug dug dug until they had a huge mountain, and that is what has been coming down to Deptford.  Once that is gone, no more. So - ………………….
I also asked him about the old crane - he didn't know.
and so I went home.



What has GIHS been doing

We had a meeting with Cllr.Miranda Williams who is now the lead member for culture. We covered a lot of issues - QRtags, the 'cultural offer', Royal Arsenal railways, etc etc.  Happy to send details.
Mostly it was to try and impress her and her office, Taki Sulaiman, of the interest inherent in industrial heritage and what a lot we have of it in Greenwich. 

We have also had another more general meeting to discuss current issues -

Closure of the Heritage Centre - use of the Borough Hall - Plumstead Railway Footbridge - meeting on Peabody plans for West Thamesmead  - Arsenal walk with the conservation officer - the Gridiron - how to get something scheduled as an ancient monument - riverside pill box at the Arsenal - canal and swing bridge - Enderby Group and the house to be a pub - gasholder and researches on its (non) listing history - QR tags and lack of responses from Tracy - Rockwell and the rope works - Creekside meeting by with councillors  - Alan Baxter walk round Woolwich - serenading chimneys - riverside path closures - and etc etc etc

Don't forget our next talk- look to the left - about the power station and the observatory...…...

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