Wednesday 24 October 2018

and lots and lots and lots of news


The Council's response to the gasholder petition is on page 76 of the following:

we are thinking about our next move


GAUF - the Greenwich Archive Users Forum are still in discussion on this dreadful issue with the Council and with the Greenwich Heritage Trust.

Tomorrow - 25th October - the Council's Regeneration Scrutiny Panel is  discussing a report on the planned arts centre to replace the Heritage Centre and Archive.  GAUF members are going along with questions themselves.

(Council scrutiny panels are made up of backbench councillors so that they can question the Cabinet and officers about decisions they have made.  Members of the public are encouraged to go along and submit questions on issues to be raised.)

Next Wednesday, 31st, is rhe full Council meeting. GAUF members and others have put down questions to be answered by the Coincil about the closure of the archive and future plans.

Campaigners - looking at the legal background - note the following
Local planning authorities should maintain or have access to a historic environment record.  This should contain up-to-date evidence about the historic environment in their area and be used to:
a) assess the significance of heritage assets and the contribution they make to their environment; and
b) predict the likelihood that currently unidentified heritage assets, particularly sites of historic and archaeological interest, will be discovered in the future.

Local planning authorities should make information about the historic environment, gathered as part of policy-making or development management, publicly accessible.


There are several planning applications coming in for sites in Charlton and else where


This is a Charlton riverside site apparently on the site of the Johnson and Jorgensen glass works,  This was founded by two   Norwegians who came to England to sell Arctic products in 1884. They became involved with Scandinavian glass works' interests. They imported glass bottles and then built their factory at the end of Herringham Road needing 300 octagon piles of concrete to build. Bottles were then imported from Scandinavia. They became the biggest producer of phials in Europe made with tubular glass imported from Germany. They also made glass tableware in the 1930s and along with United Glass made the majority of wine glasses used in pubs and hotels. In the 1960 they began plastic moulding and made bottle closures. In the 1960s they opened a big new factory and by 1970s were the biggest manufacturers of glass ampoules in Europe. However their big warehouse was expensive to manage. The factory closed in 1981 and the 1920s buildings demolished.

Cory - although we have no information about closure or a planning application we understand that Cory have decided to focus on their river site in Gravesend, making 6 redundancies.  The barge yard is really the last gasp of Greenwich's traditional riverside industries,

Wlliam Cory had a coal business from 1838. Off Charlton they moored Atlas, a disused salvage vessel, used as a floating coal berth and known locally as 'The Derrick'. A second Derrick was built in 1865 as did another Atlas. In 1893 Atlas III was built in Newcastle and remained in use until 1902. The barge works here was set up in 1873. Cory Environmental operate their lighterage business from here. There are two dry docks servicing their tug fleet which is made up of six vessels regularly engaged in the transportation of waste. They include twin screw tug Regain, the first lighterage tug to be built for use on the Thames in 30 years.

Rockwell. The Rockwell development in Anchor and Hope Lane, on the VIP Trading Estate site is now with the Mayor - Greenwich having refused planning consent for development, so someone else is going to make sure the developers get their way. At the back of the site is the  line of the Glenton
Railway which ran from the Valley to the River.  We understand there are still some rails extant,
Glenton's Sand and Ballast Railway.
This railway was built in 1840 by entrepreneur and developer Lewis Glenton. It ran from sand pits in the Charlton Football Ground area to the river. Later British Ropes took over the northern portion to move flax and hemp from the river to their works, and some remains of the railway remain on that site.

Morden Wharf - this is the very large site on the Peninsula alongside the Blackwall Tunnel Approach - all those red pipes.  This was a complex industrial site - so no detail but to remind people that part of the site was the glucose refinery demolished a few years back.  A new preliminary and exploratory approach to the Council wants to demolish Thames Bank House - the large office block alongside Morden Wharf Road and to have a 'residential led' application

Siemens sites - a large development by U&I on what were Siemens buildings. The buildings were granted Immunity from Listing by the Government - no consultation, obviously. There have beeb attempts to reverse this ..but "we've not had much luck so far....the case for listing the early range was reasonably strong …………...but the arguments didn't work.... still, they could be put forward again, in spite of the immunity from listing. It's a pity that the current proposals intend demolishing more extensively, .......................there are obvious arguments about the local importance of Siemens, about demolition in conservation areas, etc, but I suspect they will carry little weight".  

Spray Street and Woolwich Market.  The indoor market has now been listed. See Darryl's piece

all these extracts about industries from Edith Streets blog


Our Plumstead correspondent tells us that the former Weaver mineral water factory at 64 Plumstead High Street is being 'hacked about, presumably to allow large vehicles and/or equipment through the arch.  Huge chunks of it were removed using a drill'. They are asking the Council to take enforcement action.

The Plumstead Station footbridge. A decision, on what could have resulted in the demolition of the Victorian footbridge at Plumstead Railway Station, was delayed by four weeks at the Planning Board. A temporary stay of execution was decided following requests for deferral from residents (including a GIHS member), Positive Plumstead Project, Glyndon and Plumstead ward councillors, in addition to many detailed questions from the Woolwich and Thamesmead Area Planning Committee. This provides a short time frame for a further site visit, wider sharing of documents and consideration of alternative designs that could allow both step-free access and retention of the existing footbridge. Representatives from Network Rail reported that the bridge is in very good condition.


Association of British Transport Museums & London Museum of Water & Steam seminar on  Operating and Conserving Historic Industrial & Transport Collections at the London Museum of Water & Steam 21st November 2018

This event provides an opportunity to hear more about the new document and hear case studies illustrating the issues faced by those conserving and operating and industrial transport collections. Speakers include Paul & Joyce Jefford, case study contributors to the Guidelines, Christopher Binks from the National Railway Museum and Efstathios Tsolis who as part of the International Railway Heritage Consultancy helped compile the new document.

Tickets for the event cost £25. Register using Eventbrite and then pay for the ticket by using the  link: For further information please contact Tim Bryan (ABTEM Chairman) 

Thames Estuary Partnership  TEP Annual Forum 2018  The Thames 2050: Fit for the future? The aim of the conference is to give a comprehensive briefing across key areas of interest and relevance happening across the Thames Estuary that are of importance to our stakeholders and audience. As the title suggests, we want to explore how we can make the Thames fit for the future in 2050. Wednesday 14 November 15 Hatfields

Docklands History Group. The Group has organised a seminar for new researchers that will take place on Saturday 24th November.  This has been organised by a group of undergraduate and graduate researchers and will give an opportunity for them to share the results of the work.  This will be the second annual seminar for new researchers and will feature a range of topics broadly within four subject-areas as follows:  Exploring Archive Material;  Managing the Thames and Supporting Leisure;  The importance of the Thames in the First World War; and Dockside Communities and Port Labour.  Tickets for the seminar cost £10 and can be booked through Eventbrite.  

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Lots and lots of news here today

This posting covers a lot of ground - there is so much going on and all the newsletters come out at once.  The big stuff - the ferry - the archive - is all at the end.  Keep reading!...……………. 


Barbara has sent us this link to a meeting at Charlton House for a meeting by an organisation called Layers of London

Let’s all go along and find out what it’s all about – what they can do for of Greenwich historians – and what we can do for them

A gate has now been installed at the top of the steps which go down into the river which were used for a  ferry which accessed  the cable ships moored out in the river (see
We understand a plaque is to be installed  - does anybody know what it says? and if it makes any sense

Enderby Group -by the way - are still waiting for an invitation from Barratts to see the refurbished house.

Lots of little mentions of Greenwich in the current newsletter. 

---- a visit to see the painted hall ceiling in Greenwich 
---- our new IKEA and comments that it looks very large and will the parking be adequate?  ( editors note  - that's the least of our worries - isn't it?)
---- a short biography of Ian Willhoughby Bazalgette, the great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette who built the sewers, the Greenwich pumping station, and Crossness.  Ian was a Second World War bomber pilot - a squadron leader with the DFC by the time he was 25.  He died trying to land a burning Lancaster and is buried near Beauvais
- -- a long article about Radiation New World gas cookers. (Ed - my Mum had one of those)

Their newsletter mentions real work and their new tractor!



-   the current edition includes a long article about the fates of all our gasholders starting with the two doomed holders at Bell Green - and moving on to Bromley by Bow and elsewhere. (Ed  - I’m sorry that the author has not seen fit to mention our East Greenwich holder - hmmm)
-   An article by Bob Carr which  supplements his previous article about Greenwich Town Hall.  He  points out that some of it is still in use by the Council but is currently 'under used'. He quotes local architectural commentator, Owen Hatherley, on the Town Hall and its relationship with other civic buildings of the same date.  Ray Plassard has also contributed with information about William Moss and Sons, the construction company who built Greenwich Town Hall.
-  Bob has also contributed an article about the importance of the 1803 explosion in the boiler of the Trevithick Engine, working on the  Greenwich Peninsula. He notes that a similar engine was installed at Woolwich Arsenal around the same time.  He points to how rival manufacturers Boulton and Watt used the accident it to get an advantage in publicity and thus to hold back the use of high pressure steam in London for some years.  He relates this to the development of railways and steam road vehicles.
The GLIAS committee is appealing for new members with expertise in the following area - - publicity and marketing (with  knowledge of social media)  - web site development -- planning applications - sales and recruitment (must have a car in which to transport publications)  -- the database - archiving photographs and slides.    If you can help please email Dave Perrett
We have been asked by the Friends of Mycenae Gardens for help to find them a gardener
Charlton Society and others have been putting in objections to new plans for blocks of flats (9 storeys) on Charlton riverside wharves.  One of them is on a site apparently called 'Flint Glass Wharf'.  We had never heard of this and would be interested in any information as to what this is or was?  It is NOT a reference to the United Glass bottle factory in Anchor and Hope Lane but further along the river towards Woolwich.  Flint glass????

Thanks Greenwich Visitor for publishing the first two chapters of my work on Greenwich Industry - it started off as a planned book - but publishers don't exist for local industrial history, and local bookshops refuse to talk to you or to take copies (even for free!). Thanks GV for the interest. Mary

Westcombe News have published an article by Keith and Anna Townend about what they would like to see as the future use for our East Greenwich Gas holder - using it to house an industrial museum for Greenwich. (ed - wouldn't we all like that).   For the rest of us discussions with Southern Gas have made it quite clear that they intend to continue with demolishing the holder and say they are being pushed by other bodies - Transport for London,  Ofgem and ultimately the government.  (Thanks to Cllr. Sizwe James for enabling a meeting with them)
We  understand that Hansons on the Greenwich Peninsula at what was Victoria Deep Water Wharf would welcome visitors to the site to see their new factory 

Please also note the picture we reproduced on our previous post here - and on Facebook  - about a large find on their site.

The website for their contractors is


The Society has a meeting on 19th October 7.45 at Mycenae House on 'Pharmaceuticals in the Environment from Cocaine to Seafood Cocktails'.



- under  'building conservation news' they note: that the original Royal Military Academy (Building 40) on the Arsenal site is being refurbished as part of what is now to be called the Woolwich Creative District - ……………...that  Building 41, up to now used as the heritage centre, will be refurbished as a music venue (see below for details of the row) ...…………………...  they note the proposal to demolish the Plumstead Station footbridge (more of that below too) ………………. and finally list some of the Council's proposed additions to the local list: The 'Gog and Magog' grid iron on the Thamesmead riverside, the Arsenal Danger Buildings, Gun emplacements on the Thamesmead riverside, and the clock tower on Thamesmead Town centre which was pinched from Deptford dockyard in 1981 and has been in Thamesmead ever since
- an article about erosion of the foreshore and its results

and also, more briefly -- the closure of the Woolwich Ferry (see below) - the knife arch installed at the Powis Street Macdonalds (the first Macdonalds in Britain) - and, sadly, the death of Darrel Spurgeon, a great local historian, …………



This Deptford based project to build a reproduction 17th century warship has sent us a newsletter about the Open Day event at the Shipwrights Palace and about the range of objects they have for sale to raise cash. See



The PLA (fun) Newsletter shows pictures of the Beluga Whale seen in the Thames.  (Congratulations to's Rob for taking THE pictures  of the creature - and why do all the reports describe it as 'lost' ? They don't know that it doesn't know exactly where it is. Give it credit for a bit of brain!)

They also note that two new clippers will join the fleet of passenger boats which run the fast service on the river - and they note also that Clippers now claim to have served four million passengers (I guess that's passenger journeys not actual individual passengers)

Finally they report on the Great River Race - a 21 mile heavy duty row from Woolwich to Ham.


Greenwich Heritage Trust has done a lot of work on the Charlton House summerhouse/toilets. People may remember an earlier web site on this interesting building.  They have sent me some info on something called the Summerhouse blog (but I can't work out how to put a link through to this here. It just boots up as a Word page with no strap line).

Anyway its all been done up and the toilets removed and Charlton House management can arrange tours and information.  Not at all clear what it is to be used for though.


We understand that a planning application is in for this Greenwich Peninsula site.  We had hoped that U&I, the developers, might be going to give us a break from the relentless march of poky flats - but apparently not.  It will also mean the demolition of Thames Bank House. We are aware that a lot of research has been done on the industrial history of this site - and hope that some of this can be published.  Details of the application is on the Council planning web site


This is a tangled saga -basically how to keep a pretty old footbridge which is a funny design and provide wheelchair access.  It went to Planning Committee again last night with a planning application from the railway for removal. Debs has reported, on Facebook  that the planners decided a  "four week delay to consider alternatives. Positive Plumstead Project will be invited to a site visit to demonstrate alternative ideas"


The death has been reported in the national press of Sir Charles Kao, Nobel prize winner. Charles Kao came to Woolwich from Shanghai in the 1960s to study electrical engineering at what was then Woolwich Polytechnic. Following a career which was with what was then Standard Telephones and Cables he was develop optical fibre transmission and thus 'transformed the world and provided a backbone for the internet'.   The Nobel prize came in 2006.

(they deport immigrants like that today)


One of the biggest events locally has been the ending of the lives of the three 1960s Woolwich ferries.  You could do worse than to read Darryl on this
The ferry will be closed while modifications are made to the ramps for two new boats being built in Poland (so much for British shipbuilding!).  In a departure from tradition - where ferries have been named after Woolwich politicians and scientists - they are to be named after the poor lad who was killed on the ferry a year or so back, and a sentimental singer from Essex.
We had been told that John Burns would be towed to Holland to be broken up a week before the others, but in the end the three went off together, sadly followed down the river by  boats and some shore based residents  (although where were the hoots and blasts that would once have come from every vessel until they were clear of the Nore?  Also where was Greenwich Council, Newham Council, TfL and the London Mayor.   Come on, this is the Free Ferry, its important!)
(confidentially, the only thing that makes me cry these days is the sound of a ships's hooter).


The protests about the sudden and disgraceful closure of our local archive are ongoing - with discussions, questions and much else. Things are moving so fast its difficult to say anything.  I am going to quote here what Richard has put in the Woolwich Antiquarians newsletter (hope that's ok Richard) and just say 'keep in touch for the latest.  Richard begins by describing 'The Creative District' - apparently archives and heritage don't count as 'creative'.

"The Woolwich Creative District

The Creative District is a creature of the Royal Greenwich Council, who are acting as the developer.  It is to be located in the Royal Arsenal in a group of listed buildings either side of No.1 Street beyond the new blocks of flats.  Going down from the Brass Foundry are: on the left, set back across Artillery Square, Building 40 (B40), the original Military Academy; next comes B41, of four wings, the Heritage Centre lingering in the west wing.  On the right are B19, latterly used as a store by Berkeley Homes; and B17 & B18, latterly used by FirePower.

B40 already houses a dance company; B41 is to be a music venue with rehearsal and performance space; B19 & B17 are to be theatrical, as is B18 for an initial (5 year?) period.

PunchDrunk, a theatre company, are interested in running the B19, 17 & 18 complex.  The Council wants them to entice people to come to the Creative District, but doubts that they would bring in much revenue.  However, the music venue is deemed to be more profitable, hence the desire to evict the Heritage Centre from B41.  When PunchDrunk leave B18 the Heritage Centre could set up a museum there, paying for any necessary adaption.  B18 would have space for a museum, but not for the Archive as well.

Closure of the Greenwich Heritage Centre – The Borough Archive

The Heritage Centre, in the west wing of B41, was closed on 21st July 2018, with very little notice and no consultation with societies such as WADAS.  It holds the Archive of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, which is of interest not just locally but internationally to historical researchers and to relations of ancestors who lived and worked here.  This is now the only London Borough without an open Archive.

This was to allow the Museum ‘collection’ to be packed up ready to go to a warehouse at Charlton riverside for up to six years, when it could be returned to furnish a Museum in Arsenal Building 18.
Neither the Council nor the RGHT (Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust) realised that archive material in the 'collection' was the Borough Archive!  Nor had they realised that Borough Archives and Museum collections are distinct entities with different legal requirements for their management.  Borough Archives belong in law to the Council, who have to keep them open, and in a good environment.  The RGHT manage the Archive on behalf of the Council.  Although some council departments use the Archive, the Creative District planners had never heard of it.
Concerned users formed the Greenwich Archive Users Forum (GAUF), who have persuaded both the Council and RGHT to talk to them and heed their advice.
At present the Heritage Centre is still in its home in Arsenal Building 41, perhaps also in Building 18 where items lately stored in the old Plumstead Museum were temporarily housed (some being Archive items).
A proposal to keep the Archive where it was, and still is, in the west wing of Building 41 until there is a new permanent home for it, is being actively promoted by GAUF.  Archives, with valuable and often fragile items, should be moved as little as possible.  And they should be stored in a safe place (even where they are in Building 41 is 2m below the river wall - and Building 18 is at the same level).  The situation is still fluid."

and ps - as I finish this - quick look at the morning's  post - and here's Darryl  - on the latest on Spray Street

Saturday 6 October 2018

Large mystery object on the Peninsula

We have been sent the photos below by the nice men at Hansons, at what was Victoria Deep Water Wharf.  They found it while clearing the wharf for their new factory.  I know I am deaf but I think they said that a crane big enough to move it would cost £50,000 a day.

Comments welcomed. Please

Wednesday 3 October 2018

New listing recommendations

We have been told about some new public consultations by Greenwich Council.  Astonishingly and hearteningly this includes one which is asking for comments on additions to the 'Local List' - this is the list of local buildings which the Council thinks should be kept but are not thought good enough for local listing.  Nothing has been added to the Council list for about 3,000 years - so this is very good news.  Some of these are recommendations by the Council itself and others have been sent in by local groups.  If you would like to see details and to comment see 

Meanwhile we have been through the list and exracted those of, roughy,  industrial interest - we save taken the ones just about old houses out.

and ………………… they are ………...

Bridge over River Quaggy, Lee Roas A single span bridge with an enamel street sign attached to side.

53 Meadowcourt Road SE3. A single storey 20th cenrury building .looks industrial

Firemen’s cottages, Meadowcourt Road  three cottages north of the fire station and originally part of the complex.

Weigall Road bridge.A brick bridge with flint panels over the Quaggy River. A cast iron plaque refers to the Borough of Woolwich in 1902

Pillar box – Weigall Road. pillar box with the cypher of George V

Ravens Way. Flats  originally the Ravensbourne Club built in 1921 as sports club for the employees of Cook Son & Co (St Pauls) Limited, clothing wholesalers

Ravens Way stone/sundial . The sides bear sun and animal motifs representing times of the day

Bannockburn School  Church Manorway. Built  by the London School Board in 1903

Plume of Feathers gateposts. Plumstead High Street. The surviving part of the Tram terminus with cafe.

240-244 Frontage of Former Horse and Groom pub

236 Plumstead High  Street

Plumstead Police Station. 1980s built with brick work detailing,

Bannockburn School and premises manager’s house –  Plumstead High Street

Barclays Bank    107A Plumstead High Street. an important landmark on the High Street.

Alan Ives/CafĂ© Delight 118-118A Plumstead High Street  It has some interesting stone work.  
Formerly Plumstead Law Centre. 105 Plumstead High Street with interesting architectural features. 

Paddy Power/Belfry Social Club (formerly Conservative Club) 100A Plumstead High Street. , interesting stone work.

65 Plumstead High Street. Decorative stonework 6N

63A/63 Plumstead High Street Part of a terrace with interesting roof and stonework features.
66-80 Plumstead High Street. unusual Dutch gable roof line. 

64 Plumstead High Street interesting stonework 

2-10 Plumstead High StreetCrenellation features
Plumstead Railway stationVictorian iron bridge, and typical shelter design and posts on station.

Angerstein Freight Railway pedestrian crossing and arched walkway
(accessed ? via Fairthorn Road) steps built for Combe farm workers to save having to go round under the bridge in Woolwich Road. The rail line extended to the Gasworks in 1890s, LCC tram depot with various branches to factories.

Angerstein Freight Railway bridge, Woolwich RoadThe bridge was the only element of the line which needed Parliamentary approval. It also retains a modest, functional, sturdy, old-world industrial feel ? to it – very representative of the character of Charlton.

Factory walls, Ramac Way.  A long old wall remains with x3 interesting metal/wooden doors which are significant in telling the story of the important industrial buildings

Victoria Works, Johnson and Philips ? Factory wall entrance remains, Dupree Road.

Railway Electric substation, Troughton Road , Built in 1926 on the site of the station’s coal depot following electrification.

Pickwick Arms, 246 Woolwich Road? (Originally called Roupell Arms) built in 1830 and rebuilt in 1862.

Entrance wall to Harvey’s factory, Hol mwood Villas, off Woolwich Road

Eggcorn studios. Interesting and characterful original ironwork gates, walls

Rose of Denmark public house, ? 296 Woolwich Road .Substantially rebuilt after war damage,

New covenant church, Troughton Road  Built 1900 by architect J Rowland, originally the Mission of the Good Shepherd. ? Wavey mosaic seating added around the exterior

White Horse PH, 704 Woolwich Road, Early 18C origins as a beer house, ‘rebuilt 1897’

Former Lads of the Village PH, pre-dates 1850, rebuilt 1899.

‘Danger Buildings’, Royal Arsenal Nitration Plant, Tripcock Point, Thamesmead SE28. Series of 10 small roofless brick structures each surrounded by high blast mounds,

Royal Arsenal ‘Gridiron’, Thames Path, West Thamesmead SE28 Timber roll-on dock devised by the Royal Arsenal to enable large guns mounted on railway vehicles (‘proof-sleighs’) weighing over 200 tons to be transported by barge down river to the testing range at Shoeburyness.  Dates from1885/6.

Gun Emplacement, Tripcock Point, West Thamesmead SE28. WWII built late 1930s/early 1940s. Concrete, adapted from standard hexagonal pillbox type. Column survives for mounting an anti-aircraft gun; continuous embrasure allowing extensive field of fire over Thames for heavy machine guns. 

Observation Post, Thames Path, West Thamesmead SE28 Mid-late 1930s. Two storeys, unusual polygonal design. Concrete with corrugated aggregate/metal covering, some of which has fallen off. An observation post to watch for mine-laying in the Thames; 180 degree field of view on two levels.

Tripcock Ness Lighthouse, Tripcock Point, West Thamesmead SE28
Distinctive landmark, small red lighthouse, 30ft high erected 1902 by Trinity House

Clock Tower, Joyce Dawson Way Shopping Centre, Thamesmead Town Centre SE28 Original 18th century clock and cupola from the Great Storehouse at Deptford Royal Dockyard (demolished in 1981). Dates from 1782, clock surmounted by open temple-style belfry and weather vane. Located in storage at Conveys Wharf Deptford, it was transported for repair to the Royal Arsenal and erected in Thamesmead in 1987 over a specially commissioned supporting tower in classical style. Donated to Thamesmead as the centrepiece for the new town centre.

LESC SubStation, Greenwich High Road, Greenwich SE10 Sub-station for the London Electric Supply Corporation (LESC) dating from the 1920s,

BT Telephone Exchange, 14 Maze Hill,  Greenwich SE10  Large prominent telephone exchange building of brick with insignia of George VI along with the date 1947 and inscribed with lettering ‘Telephone Exchange’

57 Greenwich High Road (Former Rose of Denmark PH)  Greenwich SE10
Last surviving historic pub on this part of the High Road,

Blissett Street SE10 (Former Royal George PH)  Greenwich SE10 Named after Royal Navy’s flagship the Royal George built at Woolwich Dockyard in 1756. Dates from around 1850.