Wednesday 12 June 2019

All sorts of news and reviews

LAST NIGHT -   Thanks to everyone who came to the Greenwich Industrial History Meeting last night and in particular thanks to Tracy Stringfellow and Charlie MacKeith who were the speakers.  Age Exchange, where we’ve met for the last 20 years, had a flood and we ended up in the garden house at the back of the Railway Pub in the pouring rain.  One lady had fallen and hurt herself - she went home and (I don’t know her name) but best wishes to her from all of us.  Thanks too to Steve who stood for nearly an hour in the rain telling people where the meeting was being held, as they arrived

It was a completely amazing talk from Charlie about Charlton House and the garden building - which has been used as toilets for many years. He was very interesting about all the work done on it and about the light it throws on to Charlton House itself and why it was built.  If you are a local history society - book him at once!


We are aware of local disquiet on the issue of the railway bridge at Plumstead Station. Please Plumstead people as you have now finished Making Merry can somebody send me a note which I can publish here about what is going on?


There are also a crowd funding appeal from the Deptford based Lenox Project for a visitor centre to showcase the area's shipbuilding heritage


A lot of newsletters and so on have come in since I last did this blog -so please read it - sorry but there is rather a lot of it. 

Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter.   As ever this regular newsletter is full of interesting information.

They report on a meeting on Woolwich Women at War by Steve Hookins. This was about women of all sorts who worked in the Arsenal in the Great War- some called ‘Munitionettes’. Of course the women were thrown out when the war ended.  His sounds like a very lively report and the speaker great fun as well as informative

They also note another speaker on Recovery of the Tidal Thames and its Fisheries. Again this sounds very interesting going from when the Thames was declared biologically dead in 1957 to the present day. The speaker, Steve Colclough, described the whole process of degeneration of the Thames and the work done now, including the fish survey. The Thames is now an example of European best practice.

They also report on local conservation issues including Woolwich Town centre conservation – reminding me that we have still heard nothing about getting a blue plaque on the old Woolwich Labour Party Building.  Must get something done.


Docklands History Group. They report on a meeting held in May about Lascars in Shadwell by John Seed. I remember Lascars when I lived in Gravesend as a child where Asian seamen would be seen wandering the streets having come from ships docked in Tilbury. John Seed described their lives in East London in the early 19th century.


GLIAS Newsletter .  

The June newsletter is full of news of their 50th anniversary plans which include a celebratory meal to be held in October. In the Newsletter they are running articles on ‘themes’ relevant to the anniversary.  They start with reminiscences of industrial archaeology evening classes which inevitably feature Denis Smith’s famous evening classes at Goldsmiths in the 1970s and go on with many subsequent classes by Denis. Bob Carr’s numerous evening classes also get a mention in one line – and none of the others are mentioned at all

There is an item on London windmills which includes the Plumstead Windmill pub. 

Graham Dolan’s lecture on Greenwich observatory and the London County Council Tramways Power Station is mentioned and someone has written in with details from the Southern Railway minutes about their problems with the Observatory. This is a quotation from 1923 about correspondence between the Chair of the Railway Company and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport about removal of the magnetic instruments from the Observatory and the money which the railway had to pay towards this.

A book review of Jim Lewis’s new book on the Enfield Small Arms factory mentions its origins in Lewisham at the Armoury Mill


The Crossness Engines Record. The spring/summer edition begins with a wonderful selection of pictures from their birthday party for Sir Joseph Bazalgette. There is a large picture of the cake with his picture on it and others show guests like our Greenwich Mayor enjoying themselves at the event. There is also a poem by John Richmond to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Joseph Bazalgette’s birth.

The Record includes news – one of their members is making little wooden owls for sale - there is a report on the RANG railway which will run from along to Bazalgette Way and its receipt of money from a crowd funding projects - there is a report on asbestos problems and how this has now been overcome, much of it has been already removed – and there is an article on the history of the Crossness School which was for the children of the workers at Crossness.

All good stuff


Greenwich Society Newsletter.  The society has taken to having historical of articles which I am personally very pleased about. The May June Edition has an article by Peter Van der Merwe on the Painted Hall and how it has been used, and the various restorations and works done on it since its inception. Along with that is a notice about the K2 chronometer which Captain Bligh and took on the Bounty in 1787. This is also by Peter van de Merwe

The other article is by me on the warship, Warrior, and how it was built just across the river at Bow Creek and the various contributions made by Greenwich workers to it.

There is also a brief note about Williams the Pirate in response to the article about gibbets on the Greenwich Peninsula by Pieter in the last edition.


Journal of the Greenwich Historical Society 2019. The leading article is 'Mr. Spurgeon Magic Lantern' by Anthony Cross.  This is about the various photographs taken in the 1880s in Greenwich by Charles Spurgeon. They are obviously posed but nevertheless very interesting as is Tony’s article about them.

There is also a very important article on the Trafalgar Tavern by John Bold which describes its building and use in great detail. Another article consists of accounts of National Service by a number of well-known local individuals - including Peter Kent and several others. There is also an obituary to Darrel Spurgeon who of course was a member of GIHS and who wrote a series of guides to various parts of our local area

Finally we should appreciate the high quality of production of this booklet.  This is down to Rob Powell and it is an immensely impressive publication. 


Industrial Archaeology News. This includes an article by me about George Landmann, the Royal Engineer who built the Greenwich railway and gives a bit of biographical information about him. I've always felt that strongly that Landmann is never mentioned in works on railway engineers although what he did with the Greenwich Railway in particular was ground breaking.

This edition also includes an article by Bob Carr 'On the Origin of Tall Industrial Chimneys'.  I am very aware that Bob has been looking all over the place for evidence of early chimney building. He mentions a numberof chimneys  in Woolwich and includes the two built in the Dockyard in the early 1840s, and says that there were others in the Arsenal.  So, all of you people who are researching the Arsenal - Bob would be very interested in anything about chimney design and construction you might have come across.

There is also quite a bit of news about Crossness Engines.  They note that planning permission has been given by Bexley Council for the installation narrow gauge railway and modification of an existing building for use as depot facilities. They also note the need for track and sleepers and so on.
there is also an article about the Bazalgette party and some details of the work being done at Crossness – which course would not be familiar to people from outside our area who would read IA News..


And while I’m blowing my own trumpet – do people see the articles which I have been doing fortnightly in the Greenwich Weekender? The current one is about the Turkish ferries built on the Greenwich Peninsula by Maudslay Son and Field . One of them, built in 1871, was still in use in the late 1990s


Forthcoming meetings – these are garnered from all the different newsletters I’ve got here:

19th GLIAS Walk 6.30 Medicine and More. Free. Meet Henry VII Gate, Bart’s Hospital Smithfield,
22nd June. Royal Greenwich Big Band and Eltham Hill Steel Pans. Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
22nd June. Thames Barge Match Gravesend  www.boatingonthethames
23rd June Countrypolitan Band Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
23rd June Low Tide Walk through Deptford Creek. 11-1 pm Creekside Discovery Centre, 14 Creekside
23rd June Crossness Public Steaming 10.30-4 pm  Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood
23rd June House Mill Guided Tour. £4 11-4 Three Mill Lane, Bromley by Bow (behind Tesco)
27th June The Great North Wood Project. Friends of Oxleas Woodlands. Shrewsbury House. 7.30 pm
30th June Here to Havana. Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
30th June House Mill Guided Tour. £4 11-4 Three Mill Lane, Bromley by Bow (behind Tesco)
3rd July Chris Ellmers. A Very Very Naughty Boy. Docklands History Group. 5.30 Museum of London Docklands West India Quay Hertsmere Road.  £2
6th July. Jim Marrett. Royal Greenwich. Four World War 1 VC’s.    Woolwich Antiquarians Charlton house 2.00 pm
6th July GLIAS Walk 2.30 Dartford. Tickets from 
7th July KIX Jazz Orchestra Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
7th July House Mill Guided Tour. £4 11-4 Three Mill Lane, Bromley by Bow (behind Tesco)
7th June Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries Open Day. 11-4 pm
8th July. Art and Architecture of Calcutta. Dr John Stevens. Arts Society. Greenwich University, Old Royal Naval College, King William Court,  7.15 £10
9th July. Cricket Match. Greenwich Society v. Blackheath Society. Rangers Field, Greenwich Park.6.00 pm
11th July. Development of the Thames Tideway.  Harpinder Birdi.  London Museum of Water and Steam, Kew Bridge. Tickets £5. From
14th July Heroes Band Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
14th July House Mill Guided Tour. £4 11-4 Three Mill Lane, Bromley by Bow (behind Tesco)
17th July 19th GLIAS Walk 6.30 Tower Bridge to Rotherhithe. Free. Meet Riverside, City Hall
20th July. Restoring Urban Rivers. Charlton Society. Charlton House  2.30
21st July Meantime Band Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
28th July South London jazz orchestra and Live Band Lindy, Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
29th July House Mill Guided Tour. £4 11-4 Three Mill Lane, Bromley by Bow (behind Tesco)
29, 30, 31st July South East London Wool and Textile Festival. Woodlands Farm 11-4 pm
3rd August GLIAS Walk 2.30 Rickmansworth. Tickets from 
4th August Silver Ghosts. Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
11th August Shadey scandals. Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
18th August The Old Jelly Rollers. Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
25th August Greenwich Concert Band. Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
26th August Galaxy Big Band Greenwich Park Bandstand 3 pm
7th September GLIAS Walk 2.30 Camden Housing. Tickets from 
5th October GLIAS Walk 2.30 City Geology. Tickets from 
12th October. Pearly Kings and Queens. Clive Bennett and Gwen Jones.  Woolwich Antiquarians Charlton House 2.00 pm
9th November. The Conflict Archaeology of Woolwich. Andy Brockman.  Woolwich Antiquarians.  Charlton House 2 pm

12th GREENWICH ANNUALE. Exhibition of photographs by members of the Greenwich group of London Independent Photography 17th June to 30th June. Greenwich Gallery, Peyton Place, Royal Hill, Greenwich, SE10. Open weekdays 9.30am -5.00pm, Saturday & Sunday 1.00pm - 5.00pm.