Wednesday 30 October 2019

Letters received for the GIHS Newsletter in April 1998

A selection of letters received for the GIHS Newsletter 
in April 1998

(Some of these have been edited to remove irrelevances and make them comprehensible to an audience 20 years later!)

From Ted Barr

Sand Mines.  I had never heard the term before seeing it here – thinking that sand was quarried. There are quite a few quarries in Greenwich – best known of course, those was on the Heath where materials were obtained for ballasting ships.  In his book The Last Grain Race Eric Newby gives an account of shovelling out hundreds of tons of ballast on reaching Australia. Quite a few old quarries are marked on old maps but they need to be sorted out and listed.   One, a bit more modern, is the Charlton Pit run by United Glass in the 1920s and 30s. Charlton sand had high iron content so it was good for white flint glass but it was also used for amber bottles. The pit was in Maryon Park at the bottom of Sand Street by the railway level crossing. As children we used to go hunting for fossils there until chased out by the staff.  At United Glass they used preprinted invoice forms listing the various products: chalk and ballast are obvious but sand was subdivided into various grades such as mild loam, ‘strong loam and strong black foot and were much sought after by foundries.  Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company were regular customers and material was taken by lorry to the Charlton Station sidings, loaded into open trucks and goods trained to their works in Chippenham, Wiltshire.

Wheens Soap Works. Another brand name was Wheen's Olwin Toilet Soap. It was advertised in the 1940s on the back of No. 48 buses. There used to be an apocryphal story going round in that part of Deptford that the soap works bred its own variety of big blowflies - they tolerated local folk but woe betide strangers who would be attacked in swarms

Greenwich Park Branch Railway line - on the Greenwich side of Blackheath Hill Station the railway was in  an open cutting which extended up the opposite side of Blackheath Hill. You could see the rusty disused lines back in the 1920s from the top of old top-heavy LGO B type old Bill buses on the 48 route. A map shows the Blisset Street structure as a tunnel but it is only 4 chains long and the one under Blackheath Hill less than 2 chains using standard railway measurements. For many years before the wars Blackheath Hill Station was occupied by the Elliot Machine Company, a light engineering outfit engaged in war and similar activities. In more recent rimes an advertising sign makers were in occupation with an address in Sparta Street. Throughout World War II the arch and the roadway and presumably what was left of the tunnel was used as a public air raid shelter.

Dead Dog Bay  was a small almost square inlet about 100 foot by 100 foot opposite the river end of Cadet Place. At low tide it was an area of the usual mud and stones but there was also a collection of flotsam and jetsam, often including the carcasses of domestic animals and sometimes sheep washed down river from the upper reaches.

A wharf which I would hope to see included is Durham Wharf where United Glass unloaded heavy oil for boiler and glass furnace heating

From Jess Steele

The only pre-19th century survivor within (Deptford) dockyard is the Shipwrights Palace or Master Shipwrights House built in 1705-8 by Joseph Allin.  The last Tudor survivor was Henry VIII store house (expanded in the 18th century) which was demolished in 1981 to make room for more Convoys warehousing.

English Heritage confirms Priors crane designed by Stothard and Pitt is the oldest working Thames crane.

A telephone call has been received from Priors who own the Stothard and Pitt crane at Deptford Creek. They say they have no plans to get rid of the crane and are in fact very proud of it. They are however likely to acquire another more modern crane in the near future

From Andrew Turner

Greenwich Yacht Club (then based on the old Redpath Brown works site) expect to remain there until August (2000). The only building left is the former Redpath Brown canteen and kitchens. The buildings closer to the River have  been demolished. It looks like some of the Thames Barrier Yacht Club boats and the crane is the east end of the Greenwich Yacht Club site.   A new dinghy area has been created in what was the main Redpath Brown entrance.  Work on the Blackwall Point Power Station jetty might be refurbishment rather than demolition.   Along Mudlarks Way (now Olympian Way) at Angerstein Wharf the footpath has a wire fence either side with steel section supports.  The steel appears to have come from at least seven different rolling mills so presumably are second hand or offcuts (mainly pre nationalisation and probably not from Redpath Brown) round the corner in Lombard Wall most of the supports are stamped BSC and therefore later

From Peter Wright

I have recently become interested in researching my family history. Both my grandfather and great-grandfather were employed at the Arsenal

Edward Eric Wright 1918- 1992 served his apprenticeship and became a tool maker, departing the Arsenal in the war to move to the ROF site in Blackburn Lancashire where he worked until retirement. He received the Imperial Service Medal for his long service

George Edward Wright 1878- 1938 worked as a tool hardener at the Arsenal and lived in Woolwich his entire life

My great great grandfather Charles John Wright (1839) in the 1881 census was the Inspector of Gasworks living in Woolwich

From Simon Payne.

My great grandfather was Charles Stanley Allsopp. The only record I have of him is the entry on my grandfather’s birth certificate which records his occupation as an Arsenal Labourer.  On my grandfather‘s marriage certificate he is listed as a deceased seaman. The family also owned a general store in Woolwich High Street next to the bus depot - I was wondering if there is any way to check to see if financing of the shop may have come from the Woolwich Co-op

These letters are over 20 years old and perhaps I shold do an update

Ted Barr - wrote extensively for GIHS - will reproduce a lot of his stuff here in due course.  He later moved to Yorkshire 

Jess Steele - did amazing research on Deptford but no longer lives locally.  An enormous amount of work has been done at Deptford Dockyard - not least by Chris and Willi who bought the Shipwrights Palace

Priors - the old crane was removed and taken, we understood, to Prior's depot at Fingringhoe. Last year I went to Fingringhoe - to find Priors are no longer on the site and no one has ever heard about the old crane. 

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