Friday, 18 January 2019

A rather biased lot of news this time

Greenwich Society Newsletter

We have only just received the November edition of the Greenwich Society Newsletter but there are some interesting things in it which need reporting:

One article is about the Dreadnought Hospital Building and this included a tour which would’ve been interesting. The article by Ann Baglin describes its history as an infirmary built in 1764 which eventually became the Seamen’s Hospital.  That had been originally aboard an old warship, Grampus, later replaced by Dreadnought, hence the name.

Pieter van der Merwe has contributed an article ‘A New Stairway to Heaven’ – the steps which once ran up the hill in Greenwich Park from the Queen’s House to the Observatory.

More relevant to industrial history is the first of a series along the Thames Path by Sheila Keeble. November’s Newsletter was on  Deptford Creek to Enderby Wharf - most of this is about rubbish and closures and the environment as it is today with very little about the past. Shelia notes that the environment agency has said that the river wall is in poor condition along this stretch.  Next month we are promised that Sheila will walk from Enderby wharf to North Greenwich and it will interesting to see what she says about the new sculptures and works which have taken place.  Shelia notes the blandness of the area and says “elsewhere industrial heritage is a selling point but here every crane, warehouse and wall has been stripped out’.  (I am stretching myself not to comment – support from the Greenwich Society ten years ago would have helped).

(and then there is my own contribution to the newsletter about the national listing and re-dedication of the Gas Works War Memorial in Millennium Way with pictures of the students from St. Mary Magdalene School who researched it)

The Newsletter also mentions the dispute over the change of name from the Old Royal Naval College to take in its original name of the Royal Hospital and its past as a Palace. It is something which has stirred up a lot of strong feelings. People are apparently angry at the loss of the ‘naval connection’ in Greenwich – (although of course Greenwich was a fishing village with two naval dock yards (for ship construction and repair) up the road and a big almshouse for old sailors which when it closed was taken over as a college for training posh young naval officers).  People are urged to write and tell the Foundation what they think to


Greenwich Historical Society.

We have their list of future events, all of which will take place at James Wolfe School at 7:15 for 7:30

23rd January. A pantomime ‘Old Royal Naval Gazing’ $3 for non-members
27th February. Margaret Lincoln. Two short talks - one on Thomas Bowrey, a Wapping shipowner, and the second on 18th century criminal activity along major roads in south London
27th March Anthony Cross on “Our good old Governor’ Admrial Hardy in Greenwich
24th April Julian Bowsher on Greenwich Palace.
22nd May Kevin Robinson on the Ironworks of Pomroy Street, New Cross and the Ffestiniog Railway Locomotives

And that all at


Kent Archaeological Society have confirmed their programme for the South East Region Industrial Archeology Conference on 13 April.  this includes Simon Elliot on Ragstone quarries in the Medway Valley; Terry Bird on Tutsham Mill – a linseed crushing plant on the banks of the Medway; Robert Hall on sound mirrors in particular those at Fan Bay near Dover’; Tim Allen on a brick and tile works in Tonbridge, Elizabeth Walker on Short Brothers Aviation at Rochester’; Petra Cox on Crossness Engines, and Tim Belcher-Whyte on Rochester Bridge. Tickets from Mike Clinch  £12 if pre-booked.


We have an invitation to the launch of a new book about Thamesmead with photography and interviews by Tara Darby and text by John Grindrod.  It’s called the Town of  Tomorrow. 50 years of Thamesmead.  I understand there was an interview on the Robert Elms show yesterday about it. It’s available from the Here  Press and we look forward to seeing it


Greenwich Archive Users  Forum.  This is continuing with its work on the closure of the Greenwich archives and Heritage Centre. It has had meetings with Len Duvall who is Chair of the Heritage Trust. GAUF has produced a newsletter which Elizabeth Pearcey would be happy to send you should you contact her and ask for it.,


The Arches.  There has been a derelict places website posting about The Arches and what a bad state it’s in.  This was of course the old Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich swimming pools and leisure centre also used as a dance hall and so on when it was newly  built in the 1920s.  https//


I have been sent some news in the Kentish Mercury about the expected demolition of the gas holders at Bell Green despite local listing - although it was clear that this listing was unlikely to protect them. We also see that the Bromley gasholder near Bromley Tesco’s has now been demolished . This is inevitable given the programme which the government set the gas industry to demolish all holders. Our Greenwich holder is also still on the demolition list despite being one of the most important in the country and is now threatened not  the only by the governments order but by the Silvertown tunnel.  The petitioners have been doing their best but the forces against it re overwhelming


Docklands History Group programme –  these events are held at the Museum of London Docklands at 5:30

6th February Darren Knight on Old Rotherhithe .
6th March Jane Sidell on Riverside Archaeology
3rd April Drinking the Thames – The Grand Junction Water Company
1st May  Joihn Seed Lascars in Shadwell
18th May Annual Conderence on the Mediaeval Port of London
5th June Pete Smith Rotherhithe and Bermondsey
3rd July Chris Ellmers A very very Naughty Boy
7th August walk round Historic Hammersmith
4th September David Gibson Thames Sailing Barges
2nd October Andy Slater. Running the West India Docks
6th November Robert Hampson on Conrad and the Docks and the river
4th December Christmas Social


Greenwich  Council is consulting on additions to the Greenwich Local Heritage List.  Please see this and respond before 15th February
There are a number of industrial sites on the list – we noted them a few postings back – please say how much you want them.


Greenwich Council's Regeneration Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel back in early December heard a number of speakers from community groups on regeneration and how it could become community led . We understand that as a result three representatives have been appointed to liaise with the council and hits officer and members on these issues.
Greenwich Industrial History Society made a contribution to the original meeting talking  about the historical background and the need for good standard research of sites and the contribution which well-informed local people could make.  We were followed by other speakers – notably from Ashburnham Triangle and from Speak Out Woolwich, and several others who stressed the need for regeneration to preserve and respect industrial heritage.  There is a follow up meeting in the Woolwich Town Hall on Monday 21st 70.00 pm

(and views expressed here are the author’s own and not those of GIHS generally)

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