Wednesday 6 November 2019

Engineering firms in the Borough

By Ted Barr

This, the second part of the list, is offered with the idea that others may have further knowledge or can help in other ways. Please add and amend it as you think fit.


Moss Wire Mills Ltd. 123 South Street – wire manufacturers

Kent Wireworks – Wireworkers, 18 King William Street

Stevenson and Davies – paint manufacturers, somewhere in the area of Tunnel Avenue and Dreadnought Street.

Southern Manufacturing Co. – 26-34 Blissett Street, Sheet Metal and Motor Works.

Harrison Barber & Co. Blackwall Lane. Animal Slaughterers and Pet Food Makers (referred to locally as 'down the knackers yard on the marshes' –not be it noted 'down the Peninsula').

Royal Manufacturing Co. Tinsmiths, 48 Royal Hill.

Case Development Co. Engineers. 1 South Street. I never knew what they did but No.1. was at one time occupied by Thompson of Emdyne Works and later Hudson the opticians and optical instruments.

W.A.Wilson 22 Eastney Street, Mineral Water Manufacturers.

Lee Cooperage-Coopers Eastney Street,

Vigzol Oil Co. Oil Refiners. 14 Eastney Street. This was, of course, the former Roan Boys School. We have on the North York Moors Railway a collection of old cabin trunks, heavy leather suitcases, etc. as a reminder of travel in the old days. Among this lot is a 5-gallon Vigzol oil drum which always takes my mind back 70 years to schooldays at Roan.

OK Electrodes later Esab Ltd. Anchor and Hope Lane. Makes of welding consumables. After World War II they moved, I believe, to Gillingham, Kent. The Managing Director was a Mr. Gaughan who was one of the lecturers on my City and Guilds Welding Course at the South East London Tech. during World War II days.

Adams Door Spring Works. Anchor and Hope Lane. The name's enough!

Antifouling Composition Works.  Anchor and Hope Lane. Again, the name tells it all!

British Ropes. Anchor and Hope Lane – rope walks.

Stones Bronze Propellers. Anchor and Hope Lane. I suspect that the products of this Charlton site have turned up the waters of every sea and ocean on the face of the globe. Stone's propellers were fitted to most of the old transatlantic liners both British and foreign.  The bigger products were regularly seen from the United Glass Blowers works on the opposite side of the lane at the end of the day awaiting night time haulage to avoid disruption to traffic.  There was sometimes damage to items of street furniture and the Council's Finance Department has a special expenditure code titled 'Escorting heavy loads through the Borough'. This reminds me of another, somewhat macabre, expenditure code heading for the 5/- (25p) fee payable to anyone fining a corpse washed up on the riverbank (not 'Thames Path').

British Oxygen Co.  (formerly Brin's Oxygen Co. Our Science Master at Invicta always used the old name).  Like Stone's they were among the 'lesser big boys' but employed many people, of whom I knew quite a few.  One in particular, a chap named Bill Faulkner, an area technical engineer, was my workshop tutor at the South East London Tech. I remember one evening he arrived a bit hot and bothered because he had spent all day in Ashford Loco Works showing the locals how to repair cracked cylinder castings of up to 3 tons apiece. He reckoned he had been chased all the way home up the A20 by flying bombs! This would have been 1944.

Penn's Ironworks  Blackheath Road. This must have been a big establishment, once reputed to be the largest marine engine builders in the world.

Merryweathers Greenwich High Road. This also must have been a big business, their products very widely known. The tradition of boiler making is still alive (just) today on the site in the form of a firm making scale model boilers for the model engineering fraternity.  I knew only one man who worked there as a fitter/turner. He never spoke about the place because he was unceremoniously kicked out after 35 years of service,

Francis  Tin box makers on Penn's old site.

Cook, Troughton and Sims. Troughton Road, Instrument makers.

The Optical Works. Garland Road, Plumstead

Hugh Baird. Spread Eagle Yard, Nevada Street/ maltsters. Presumably they supplied Lovibonds, just down the road.

Workshop for the Blind of Kent. :London Street. Now called Greenwich High Road. I seem to have a recollection that they were at one time in Eastney Street, makers of basketwork.

Warnes  of Greenwich High Road. Makers of constructional kits for modellers

Matchless Motor Cycles. The name tells you! They used to employ 1,000 people at Burrage Grove. One of the original Collier Bros.,. Believed to be the sole survivor of the Collier family was known to be living during World War II at a house next door to Tree Tops on the Kent side of Shooters Hill.

This article appeared in the May 2001 Newsletter

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