Tuesday 5 November 2019

Letters January 2001


From Barbara Ludlow.  Re: Stratford and Co. Barge Builders. This was St.Mary and St.Andrew's Wharf, Woolwich. There is a photo on p.71 in my Greenwich book 

From Peter Adams.  A fellow genealogical researcher has directed me to your Industrial History Society website.  In the 1871 Census my grandfather was at John Street, Rochester aged 18 working as a Wood Pattern Maker in an 'Iron Factory'. His father and grandfather were both James Bowden, Iron moulders from Phillack Cornwall. Any help regarding his Greenwich connections would be greatly appreciated. I would particularly like a copy of any J Penn articles and am happy to meet any cost.
The following is part of his obituary from the Hastings and St.Leonards' Observer. 2nd Feb 1929.
AN ENGINEER: - On 22nd January, Mr James Bowden of 62 Vicarage Road, died at the age of 76 years. Apprenticed to engineering at the age of 13 years, he became chief pattern maker at the Thames Iron Works, and for the 15 years previous to his retirement, at the age of 72, was engineer's pattern maker at Vickers engineering works, Crayford. During his career he made patterns for the engines of H.M.S. Dreadnought and H.M.S. Thunderer. Tributes included one with "Sincerest sympathy from Greenwich branch of United Pattern Makers' Association, in the loss of one of its founders, Bro James Bowden was a straight man".

From Angela Pascoe:  Hello - I've just discovered your web site and it seems very interesting. I lived near St Alphege' s until I was 14 so I know the area quite well. Many of my ancestors lived and worked in Greenwich eg...Harryman (fishermen/seamen), William Simpson (oil mill labourer at gas works), Robert Simpson (proprietor at the Ship Hotel).  My Nan worked at the now demolished factory in Roan St during the last war.  I'll enjoy looking at the web site in peace once my children are in bed. Good luck.

From Neil Mearns
I am currently researching material for a book to be entitled "Guardians of the Tyne",  a history of the River Tyne Police, the Tyne Improvement Commission Docks and Piers Police Service, and the Tyne Fireboats. I am particularly interested in obtaining additional information concerning a fireboat, which was built by Messrs. Merryweather & Son, Greenwich in 1916. I would be extremely grateful if any members of the Greenwich Industrial History Society could assist me with any knowledge they have regarding the availability of records relating to Merryweather & Son.
The information which I have concerning the fireboat is detailed below:
Calcutta / Merryweather
*  Steam Fireboat; Constructed by Merryweather & Son Ltd., Greenwich to the order of the Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta, India: 1916;
Requisitioned by the Admiralty on completion of trials with agreement to deliver to Calcutta at end of the War: 1916; Sailed from River Thames, crewed by Royal Navy (Chatham): 28th August, 1916; Arrived in River Tyne: 29th August, 1916;
Based on River Tyne and crewed by Royal Naval Reserve borne on the books of H.M.S. Satellite, under orders of Senior Naval Officer, River Tyne; Placed out of Admiralty commission at Boulogne, France: 21st February, 1919.
* On 14th June, 1916, Captain Superintendent, Tyne District proposed that the vessel be named Calcutta. However during voyage to Tyne her name was reported as Merryweather. It is unclear which name was officially adopted.

From B.M.Starbuck. 
My interest concerns the Gravesend Gas Works, where in the late 1800s my family held a contract to supply coal. Their fleet of 'cats' included the sailing schooners 'Sea Witch', the 'R.N.Parker', 'Jane Duff' and ill-fated 'Glenroy' lost with all hands in a gale off Yarmouth. At one time Starbuck and Rackstraw was the oldest private firm of shipowners in the Port of London.

From Andy Hollings: 
I can send you photos of Appleby's steam engines in NZ, very well preserved. I know Arrol was Sir William Arrol who purchased Jessop and Appleby in the 1900's and then went out of business shortly afterward.

From Alan Smith.  
I have in my possession a silver pocket watch made in Switzerland with a Molassine trademark in enamel on one side. This is in a presentation box and has been passed down through family lineage to myself. The original recipient was an Albert Smith who lived 1868-1917. I am trying to find out whether the watch was given as a token of service to the company or had some other purpose. I originally thought that Molassine was an American company until I recently found on the web the GIHS newsletter. If he was an employee, it is quite possible he resided near to Greenwich. You will appreciate that with a name like Smith I have a few problems!

From John Spreadbury
Any info on Greenwich workshop for the blind in Easteny St [now Feathers Place] thank you

From Lorraine Ong.  
My Great grandfather and great great grandfather were noted as being watermen on marriage certificates.  My father always believed his grandfather was a merchant seaman!  What did watermen do? They both were born and lived around Northfleet, Plumstead and Gravesend areas.  Do you have any publications available on this? My Ancestors were both named Charles J Ginn b 1859 and Charles Ginn b 1835! The latter being the son of Scarff Ginn from Essex. approx. b. 1807. I do hope that you can help me with compiling a picture of the life of my grandfathers.

From John Day.  
Re. the note on Merryweather steam fire engines in the last issue (appliances is the proper term), why has 'Sutherland', the horse drawn engine of 1863, believed to be the oldest preserved steamer, been left out? After all, Kensington is not all that far from Greenwich. There is a picture of it in 'The Fire Engine' by Simon Goodenough published by Orbis in 1978,  p.55. It is also pictured in 'The Engineer' (Vol. 16, p59, July 31, 1863), because it gained first prize in its class in the Steam Fire Engine trials of that year. The full report of these trials is on pages 9, 23, 32, 47 and 59. It gives all the dimensions and performances. Later in the same volume is a copy of a paper on the History of the Steam Fire Engine by W.Roberts, who built some of the earliest three wheeled engines.  Other references to steam fire engines that have mention of Merryweather are in the same journal (Vol.12, pp.8 & 279, Vol.14, pp.12, 26, 259 & 295, Vol. 22,  p241, Vol. 28, p114 and Vol. 74, p412.  Just to stir things a bit more, there is an engraving of the Merryweather 'Greenwich' steam fire raft in 'The Story of the Fire Service' by Tony Paul, published by Almark Publishing in 1975, page 40.  The engraving shows the name as M.F.B. Active.    If somebody likes to research the subject, the following may be helpful: -  James Compton Merryweather, Fire Protection of Mansions, 1884, James Compton Merryweather, Handbook of Fire Brigades, 1886, Roper's Handbook of Modern Steam Fire Engines, 1888

Forgot to tell you in the last epistle that there is a series of 22 instalments of '60 Years of Thames Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering' in Vols. 84 and 85 of 'The Engineer,' July 1897 to June 1898. Don't look to me to abridge them, I'm too busy with a model of the Crofton No. 2 engine and researching a paper on Multi-barrel guns over a time scale extending from Ezekial to the present day. Just realised that Simon Goodenough's book was republished in the same format as a soft back in 1985 under the new title of 'Fire, the Story of the Fire Engine,' its all part of a racket to make sure nothing is easy.

From Mary Anne Gourlay.  
I have just been reading your website and came across the Enderby Settlement Diaries. I am interested in this subject as I am doing research on the Enderby Co.  I would like to obtain a copy. I am also researching my family whose background is the Greenwich region.

From Nicholas Hall.  
My article on the gun maker Blakeley should be coming out in our next Royal Artillery yearbook - with a suggestion as to why Josiah Vavasseur named his Blackheath house 'Rothbury'!  I went to see if the Bear Lane premises of the London Ordnance Works survived in Southwark  - they don't, but the pub predating it  does.  It is so annoying: the London Ordnance Works building was still there in 1974 when I was working at the Tower so I could have seen it if I'd known!

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