Sunday 2 December 2018

another lot of (belated) news

Industrial Archaeology News.

Amazingly there are several reports of Greenwich industrial heritage in the current edition of this national newsletter (187 Winter 2018).

I had forgotten trying to interpret a very dodgy old photocopy of a meeting of some German gas engineers to East Greenwich gas works in 1910 - but here it is reproduced in in its entirety – it consists of a brief visit to the Gas Works by the engineers looking at ongoing work and then having a big lunch with numerous toasts.  I would recommend it.

There is also a reproduction of 853’s posting on the new Woolwich ferries with a picture of one of them, and two pictures of Enderby Wharf from Bob Carr showing before and after versions of the setting of Enderby House. There is also a brief report from me about the damage to the East Greenwich No.2 gas holder in 1917 by the Silvertown explosion. Gosh!!

Also of local interest in this issue ,although not necessarily in Greenwich, is an account of the Millennium Mills – easily seen across the river in Silvertown. Also a list of endangered buildings according to the Victorian Society which includes the Bromley by Bow gasholders, visible to anybody on the north side of the Blackwall tunnel approach behind Tesco. Sadly there is also an obituary to Alan Crocker - few people in Greenwich will have known Alan but he was an expert on gunpowder mill sites but based in Guildford University - and such a nice man.


Trident - Greenwich Yacht Club’s magazine is now with us and full of interesting items .of in particular interest is an article with pictures about the Thames barrier annual tests closure and an account of this year’s closure

Their AGM is on 9 December at 11.00 and there are work days on the last Sunday of each month


We understand that the Greenwich Park History Group is meeting at the Wild Life Centre in the Park at 11 am Friday 7th December.  Everyone Welcome...  It would be interesting to hear from the group as to what their current work is,

We also understand the Friends Annual Lecture will be on the 23rd of January at 7.30 in the Queen Anne building in the University and will feature Will Palin, Conservation Director at the Royal Naval College, on the conservation of the Painted Hall. Details on


We understand that an application has been put forward to list the Plumstead Station overbridge.
Fingers crossed!!!


We have a newsletter from the Heritage Alliance giving many, many details of projects and so on which may be of interest to people involved in heritage. This is in an email and does not seem to be a web site. But try asking

We noted however that a Heritage Day is to be held on the 6th of December – that’s Thursday  - in the Queen Mary Undercroft at the Royal Naval College.  It costs £40.00 to members and £65.00 for non-members. The Chair is Lloyd Grossman and the keynote speaker is Michael Ellis Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Arts Heritage and Tourism.  Another speaker is our erstwhile colleague Duncan Wilson now Chief Exec of Historic England. It would be interesting to know if anyone from Greenwich is going to this event – or were even told about it! (Not members, oh, I see)


We have a note from Greenwich Wildlife Group about the Marsh Dykes and Thamesmead Town Centre Improvement Groups. This is basically concerned with the water environment and is committed to healthy marshes in Erith and ponds at Shooters Hill. There is Marsh Dykes Vision Workshop on 23 January at 11 o’clock and business at the Norwich this case at the wards the email at Lesnes Abbey Lodge.  For info or


There is a planning application in for demolition of a small industrial building in Prince of Orange Lane in West Greenwich. A number of people have objected to this although we understand that the Greenwich Society is happy with it.  It would be interesting to know if anybody knows what the building was used for before its current use by a dentist. Check it out on the council’s planning database and object if you think that a rethink is needed.


A note from the Thames Estuary Partnership announces an agreement between the Port of London Authority and the Museum of London on public access to documents on the history of the Thames.  PLA has also issued a YouTube video about the archive. The archive is at the Museum in Docklands and is a vast local resource


We have been told about a U3A network event at the Metropolitan Archives on the 8th February. This is to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Bazalgette and is to present an in-depth study of the history of London’s drainage to be called 'Down the Drain'. The programme will include David Perrett, Nick Higham and The Friends of Crossness Engines along with the education department of the Tideway Projects and Keats' House Poetry Ambassadors. This should be of particular interest in Greenwich in that not only is Bazalgette's Crossness Engines almost in Greenwich Borough but we do actually have his Greenwich/Deptford pumping station in Greenwich High Road. Details at


This year there have been many Remembrance Day ceremonies and events around the Armistice in 1918. We have to remember that many workplaces erected memorials to employees who had been killed - one of these was the gasworks memorial now in John Harrison way. A ceremony held there was the culmination of a project by Saint Mary Magdalen school pupils who had researched the memorials and the life of the men recorded on it.  This was a brief but impressive ceremony conducted by Rev. Margaret Cave and with contributions from the young people from the school. The ceremony was also to mark the listing of the memorial Grade II by Historic England.


Meanwhile Rob Powell has produced a new booklet which reproduces Greenwich's Roll of Honour which was compiled after the First World War. For details see:


Gas holder petition.  This is still live on the Change web site - now stands at 1528 signatures - and we also have many others on a paper petition which went round thanks to Joyce Snip. Leaving it 'up' on the Change web site enables us to tell petitioners what is happening with the holder.  Meanwhile discussions are still ongoing by campaign group members and the Council with Southern (aka Scotia) gas networks.  Here's what we said to petitioners recently:-

The following is a link to a report of the visit to the gasholder site on Tuesday. More pictures and reports will be added soon, so keep looking!!

The gasholder is still standing - but we are still being told that SGN intend to demolish it.   Today - a very small party of us went to visit the holder, and stayed for an hour or so taking pictures and one person had a drone.  I hope we can add some good pictures either here or on the page.

SGN indicated that it might be possible to have another visit at some time in the near future.  We are not promising anything but if you are interested email me on and if we are able to arrange something we will do so.


We understand from Mark Stevenson the Archaeology Advisor locally to Historic England that work is about to start on a written scheme of investigation at Felixstowe Road, Abbey Wood And also at Vincent Road in Woolwich, Happy to forward Mark's detailed email if people contact me.


Enderby Group

Work is ongoing to add more detail to the Enderby Group website with additional information relevant to the Lay Lines sculpture which is being erected outside the house.

 At the moment there seems to be a lot of speculation about what looks like now a series of short columns.  All will be revealed!  One of the aspects of this is that electronic tags are to be built into the structure which will explain via your phone about the history of the site. Enderby Group is very keen to extend this system to other parts of the peninsula and have been trying to talk to the relevant authorities about this.  Please keep in touch

Meanwhile Youngs have been granted a licence to run Enderby House as a pub despite many objections from local residents who are frightened of noise and nuisance.  Enderby Group have spoken to Youngs (thanks to the Council for arranging this) and hopefully they will make sure that the pub is not just for residents and the local drinkers but for non-drinkers, and walkers on the riverside path  as well as providing accurate information on the heritage of the site.  It is of interest that many of the residents we spoke to say they would rather have had a cafĂ© and heritage use for the house than the pub. It is not expected that the pub will open until next summer.


East Greenwich is not the only gas holder with a campaign group trying to prevent demolition.  We have had information from the East End Waterways Group about the Bethnal Green gasholders.  Unfortunately the Group does not have a website so I can't pass the detailed information on. The Bethnal Green holders include one in particular with a very dramatic appearance across the Regent's Canal. The Group have been giving evidence to An Examination of the Tower Hamlets Local Plan and await the inspectorate's assessment

The group also records demolition of the Poplar gasholders – that’s just the other side of the Blackwall tunnel from us.  Parts of their No.1 gas holder were kept to be used as part of the scheme for new housing on the site – but they report that there are some problems.