Friday 15 November 2019

Letters November 2002

Letters November 2002

From Myles Dove
Yesterday I had to collect my copy of the Greenwich Industrial History Society news letter from the Blackheath Sorting Office; they could not deliver it because there was no stamp on it and I was left a card stating that there would
be a charge of 99p when I came to collect it, made up of the 2nd class stamp value 19p and a handling charge of 80p, total 99p.
It was annoying to have to collect it and pay a charge in this way but my feelings of irritation increased when I started to read my article about the Greenwich Foot Tunnel Centenary and found that there were many mistakes, several serious ones, in transferring text from my original  - which was typed not handwritten and so this should not have happened.  For example:
Page 3    
As printed in GIHS newsletter   
55 ft below low water
Currently they are 7 am - 1 on Sunday Monday - Saturday and 10 am - 5.50 pm in the Greenwich foot tunnel (different times apply in the Woolwich foot tunnel-1)
As typed in original
              33 ft below low water
Currently they are 7 am -7 pm Monday - Saturday and 10 am - 5.30 pm on Sunday (different times apply in the Woolwich foot tunnel).
Page 4
As printed in GIHS newsletter
Grade I
As typed in the original
              Grade II (actually typed Grade 2)
When the GIHS Newsletter has to be produced in this way with no time allowed for proof- reading and checking copy it seems to me that contributors are not being treated properly.  I feel let down because people who know me will be puzzled to see that obvious mistakes like the wrong statutory grading have been left uncorrected, and people who don’t know me will think I've failed the basic task of checking facts. Please could you ensure that immediate corrections are made on the GIHS Newsletter web site so that people with this facility will have a corrected version.  It may be some time before the next issue of the Newsletter but I shall be disappointed if it doesn’t include a note of these points.

  1. We refunded Myles’ money in full. If anyone else has an unstamped envelope please ring 0208 858 9482 and we will refund your money.
  2. We cannot continue to send out this newsletter entirely based on the pressed labour of one spouse. Please can someone volunteer to help ensure that the newsletter is sent out in properly addressed envelopes with the right stamps on them.
  3. Sorry – time constraints mean that typed articles have to be scanned not re-typed and the scanner does sometimes get things wrong - so
  4. We need another volunteer to proof read. It is not fair on the pressed spouse who has to do all of it. Things need to be read word for word against the original – and to be done reasonably quickly (say within 36 hours).
  5. Contributors need to either provide material on disc. If it is not, and it needs to be scanned, they will need to make it clear if they want to proof read it themselves and be clear that it could mean a two month delay before it is printed.
  6. All of Myles’ corrections went in before it went onto the web site.


From Wesley Harry, Formerly Technical Information Officer, MQAD and recently, Historian, Royal Arsenal. M Q A D at The Royal Arsenal
I feel I must dispel the impression that may have been given by Bruce Blissett's excellent article, that the Department was solely concerned with materials at The Royal Arsenal. It was responsible for Outstations scattered throughout the country, Woolwich being its administrative centre, albeit with its own "Outstation".
At the peak of the Second World War, the total number of staff was 1633, of whom more than half were females, and there were sixty six outstations, ranging in size from 4-man laboratories, to composite outstations employing 90 chemists and assistants. In addition there were numerous substations employing 2 or 3 assistants at detached laboratories on contractors' works, these being controlled from the nearest main outstation. Mention must also be made of two chemists who were posted to North America in September 1940, (one to Canada, the other to U.S.A.) to act as liaison officers in connection with the inspection of supplies of explosives and chemicals for shipment to Britain. In 1937 an inspection station was opened in the Bofors factory, Sweden, to cover a contract for anti-aircraft weapons and ammunition. All these outstations were ultimately responsible to the Head of Department, Woolwich.
When the department ultimately closed, there were still outstations at such places as Swynnerton, Bridgwater, Bishopton and Chorley.

From Ron Roffey
Re: Mary Mills book ‘Greenwich and Woolwich at Work’.  We read through and looked at the pictures with great nostalgia.  We were both born in Charlton. My family had several hundred years of service in Siemens. My grandmother was a Garratt of barge breaking fame – my mother worked in James’ shirt factory in Wood Hill and my uncle was a tool maker at Harveys. Joan’s father was a propeller slinger at J.Stone & Co. – her mother worked at Johnson & Phillips and Joan herself worked in the Arsenal.  I played soccer for the minors of J. Stone and cricket at British Ropes.  So you can see why were so fascinated.

From Andrew Gambier
I would like to put together a brief history of Annandale and Calvert Roads – to hopefully demonstrate how this area hasn’t changed for 100 years. Can anyone help?

From L.E.Baldock
Could you please tell me how to find out how the Cutty Sark came to be in its current position – how it was manoeuvred, etc. into that particular space, and the relevant dates.

From Derek Barlow
I was interested to read about the blue plaque on 145 Charlton Road to William H Barlow engineers. We are researching our Barlow family and have had no luck in locating William Barlow’s first wife .We know that there were two sons from that union one unknown the other called Crawford also little is known about him except we believe they were in engineering.  If you have any details on this son or Crawford that you would be willing to share with us we would be very grateful.  Is it possible to have a copy of the inscription on the plaque? 

From Graham Manchester
My Great Grandfather’s company used to be based at Dacre Park in Lee Green. He was the largest importer of working horses in the South East. When trucks came to pass he moved to Anchor and Hope Lane on the site now occupied by Makro and worked for Metropolitan Tar now the Millennium site. After the death of my Grandfather in 1966 the company opened up in Ordnance Wharf and Bay Wharf. The company has at this time 120 plus trucks. In 1976 we moved to the Millennium site to be told we had to be off site in 1999 to make way for the celebrations and buildings (What happened to the ballot for Birmingham and Manchester who knows but in 1976 they knew it was going to be in Greenwich!) The summer of 1976 was the hottest on record and we fought off mutant ladybirds 1" in diameter. The site was so contaminated I had to leave the it due to skin problems. During the excavations I reported this information to a journalist on Private Eye, next thing we knew tons and tons of the contaminated soil was being taken to Aylesbury. They were none too pleased. The site in Anchor and Hope Lane was shared by Hilton Transport and used for the filming of "The Brothers" T.V series. I can always remember the cast walking up Anchor & Hope Lane during filming. As an 18 year old (1972) Gabrielle Drake and Kate O'Mara made a large impression on me!

From John Greig
I have just seen that you have put my query in your newsletter. Many thanks, however, there is one problem, in several instances my name is mispelt as GRIEG rather than GREIG, most importantly in the e-mail address.

From Kay Bigsby
I wonder if you can help me. I recently obtained a birth cert of one of my relatives. On it it states that he was an engine driver in Building works. He lived in Plumstead. Do you know of any Building works that would have been near there that would have been large enough to have engine drivers? The year is 1900. I do hope you can help.

From Melanie Boxall
I read with interest Pat O'Driscoll's piece about the Norton's Barge Builders. Richard Norton ("Dick") was my great-grandfather. Richard Norton senior began the barge company. His eldest son who inherited the business was the Dick Norton that Pat talks about in her article. My grandfather, George Lees Norton, Dick's younger brother, started as an apprentice at the family business, but after just three years he quit and went his own way. Dick's sister Mary had a son, David Bradley, who is now a schoolteacher in the Greenwich area.

From Pete Stobart

The article 'Taken For a Ride' concludes with the statement that the location of the tram graveyard in Charlton is not known. I used to work for Siemens in the days when trams were being taken apart, and was able to easily view the dismantling proceedings as the plot was directly west of the Siemens site, only separated by the service road running down toward the Thames. Assuming there is knowledge of where Siemens was then the tram graveyard site can be easily determined. It utilized the entire block of ground there.

From Dan Byrnes

Is there any chance if you could tell me if anyone lately has done any genealogy (not industrial) research on whaler Daniel Bennett (died 1826) of Blackheath? He had an unknown father but a brother William who was a cooper, I can't seem to find anything on them on the Net for some new writing I'm engaging in. 

Glenn Rigden - Deputy Chairman- Institution of Engineers Australia Heritage Committee
I am trying to obtain some information on the Appleby Brothers Co. who supplied four compound beam engine-pumping stations to the NSW Public Works - Harbours & Rivers Branch back in 1880 - 1883. I would greatly appreciate if there was any information on the actual order and supply of the engines.  We have a complete operating beam engine still intact with the original pump house and boilers in Goulburn NSW which was one of the four. The remaining has been demolished. The site is on the Australian national estate listing and as an industrial society we are aiming to plaque this significant site.  Can you assist in supplying any information or in giving me any leads?

Rod Groombridge Townsville & Districts Subsection Naval Association of Australia
I am presently doing some research for the Maritime Museum here in Townsville on a 5" Naval Gun that is at the Museum. The only history we have on it is that it was possibly one of the four that was sent out and two were to be placed on HMQS Paluma and what happened after that is another search. What we are after is the history of this gun and we would appreciate any information that we can gain. The information of the origin of the gun is as follows 5" B.L. Gun 5" V.C.P. Mk1 Made by R. L. Carriage Dept 1887 Exd at R.C.D. Woolwich 1887 t Carriage 12cwt Reg. No. K778 If you have any info on who ordered them, cost etc or anything it would be greatly appreciated.

From Paul

My grandmother was born at Anchor and Hope Alley No 22. Her family, the Hampshires, were bakers and also Lightermen on the Thames Barges. Can you advise me whether Anchor and Hope Alley was an Alley off of Anchor and Hope Lane.

From Kathy Lawson

Where can I find information about a Robert Lockhart/Lockhead Lawson, who was a House Surgeon at Greenwich Naval Hospital?  – on one of the Hospital ships, which were moored there. He was a local GP living at St Mary’s Barry Road Camberwell, at the time of the 1881 Census. His wife Harriet nee Poland, daughter of a Lewisham Fur Trader. Robert died in 1898 .

From David Riddle
Did you see this?  In the News Shopper? Probably just Jack Cade Cavern though? ”Mystery of the hole explained?  I write regarding the caves at Blackheath Hill. I lived and worked in the Deptford and Greenwich area for over 60 years.  Copies of News Shopper are sent to me every month and, I noted with interest, the large hole that appeared on Blackheath Hill.  As a teenager I often explored underground caves in this area.  Several times we entered the workings through a small covered shaft, which was situated at the rear of a service garage, in Hyde Vale, some 150 yards from Blackheath Hill.  When we walked through from the bottom of the shaft we came to a large cavern, about 18-ft high, situated under the hill. Other narrow passages led off in the direction of the heath and we were told at the time these led out towards Chislehurst Caves. I trust this information will be of interest.

From David Asprey

Cubow Shipbuilders Can you help us? We are trying to trace photographs of ships. We carried out the electrical design and installation at Cubow Shipbuilders. The ships we are interested in were built between 1972 and 1982. I believe in 1972 the Yard was called Fairmile Marine but I may be wrong. I do not know the ships’ names but I do have a list of Yard numbers. Will you be able to help or point me in the right direction?

From: Len Chapman
The Tunnel narrows significantly as you approach the lift on the Tower Hamlet’s side. The construction also changes and appears to be exposed cast iron rings bolted together. On one of our many trips through the tunnel, my wife asked the Lift Operator the reason for this. He said during the last war, two bombs had landed in close vicinity to that tunnel entrance and caused cracking. The cast iron rings were, in fact, a repair to the tunnel to overcome this damage. I wonder if anyone can confirm this.

From Jill Murphy

I have a relative Joseph Cleverley who was listed as a "dock policeman" in the 1881 UK census. He was the younger brother of my great great grandfather Charles Cleverley and they appear to have been the only two surviving sons. Where would I find more on Joseph Cleverley?

From Chris Mazeika

I am sending you some information about Deptford Dockyard (Convoy’s Wharf). Outline planning permission is being sought. Proposals include 3,400 car-parking spaces, 3,600 homes, three towers up to 40 storeys, industrial and commercial premises including a propsal by mayoral candidate, Nicky Gavron, to erect a waste transfer station on the site of Henry VIII’s Great Storehouse of 1513.  Please contact me. 

From Peter Wood
I do hope the following may be of interest to you and your readers.
The bronze Memorial Plaque was, as many people reading this will know, presented to the next of kin of those who died in the Great War of 1914-18. I have been doing some research into the subject for the last few years, based on the earlier work of Philip Dutton at the Imperial War Museum. My research has uncovered a fair amount of intrigue, and myths, with regard to the production of these medallions - often referred to as the 'Death Plaque,' and 'Dead Man's Penny.' Production of the memorial plaque was first carried out in Acton. But from June 1922 to 1930 (and maybe later), the brass foundry section at Woolwich Arsenal carried out the work - and made approximately 700,000 plaques distributed to all countries of the British Empire. All the plaques made at the Arsenal are stamped WA on the rear of the plaque. I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has knowledge, and photos, of  events at Woolwich with relation to the production of these plaques. Each plaque is around 4.5 inches in diameter, weighs around 4 ounces, and the name of the deceased was cast (or sometimes engraved); no rank was ever mentioned, with the idea being that everyone was equal in death.
A scroll accompanied each plaque which did include a person's rank - and the regiment/service in which the deceased had served. 

From Michael Cooke
Earlier in the year I visited Greenwich because I am doing some research into the early days of the electric telegraph (and submarine cables). My interest centres on Owen Rowland (1820-1877) and his contribution to its development.
My research has revealed his involvement in electric telegraphy from 1848 when he assisted Sir William Fothergill Cooke. Around 1860 he was engaged as Electrician to the Joint Committee set up by the Government to look into the construction of Submarine Telegraphs, following the failure of the first attempts at laying a transatlantic cable. Several of the Appendices in the resulting Report contain results of investigations carried out by him. These were mainly concerned with testing of the insulation of submarine cables, mainly of test pieces but also of the cables being manufactured.
I visited Greenwich to see what has survived of the site of the old cable works of Glass Elliot as almost certainly Rowland would have been in close contact with the company during the time leading up the successful cable being laid by the Great Eastern. I was very pleased to find the ‘visitors area’ at Enderby’s Wharf with its information display board. I found it most interesting.
I am wondering whether any other relics of cable making 150 years ago have survived at this site: eg. The old tanks used for storing the cables? Have any of the old company records survived, and are they available somewhere for researchers to consult.
Is there any publication that goes into detail about the early days of cable making at Greenwich?  I also am wondering if you can point me in the direction of anyone who has made an in depth study of electric telegraph submarine cable making, testing and their deployment in the mid-19th century.

From David Kempton
I am performing a slow labour of love. That being the publishing on the web of "Wonders of World Engineering". I did a search on this recently and found that you had referred to it with regards to the Queen Mary anchors. ( I believe that you or the person who typed it may have meant to say "propellors".)
Anyway, if you felt my site worthy of a mention in your next edition of GIH I would be very grateful. Its only going to be through encouragement that I'll complete this task !!! I'm only up to issue 12 but if you mention it I'll put that article from 23 on as a "queue jump"

Mary Mills replied: Oh dear - yes, I did put anchors, didn't I? I think Wonders of World Engineering is terrific. My father worked at Fleetway, Gravesend where many of these Harmsworth part works were printed and I always had the pictures to play with as a child. We had copies of all of them but I have no idea what happened to them, since they had all disappeared by the time my parents died.

From Pat O’Driscoll
I have been reading Mary Mills’ new book ‘Greenwich and Woolwich at Work’ – perhaps I can make some comments on the picture on page 22 of the mast holding up the foreshore at Piper’s Wharf – the Lucy Richmond was Piper’s ‘roads’ barge – moored off the yard out in the river.  She was apparently put ashore at the yard about 1940 so that men could try to locate some leaks which had developed. One night she broke her ropes and launched herself, and was found downstream by a waterman. She was then broken up. Her mast was used to reinforce the river bank outside Piper’s for many years. It was only a few years ago that it disappeared – it was towed away by the PLA after it came adrift and local children were playing with it.

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