Thursday 14 November 2019

Letters September 2002

Letters September 2002

From Beryl Mason
I am writing as a follow up to your article on Molassine – the red brick building ‘offices’ on Tunnel Avenue in fact used to be flats.  I used to deliver to that building when I worked for Boots.

From Jeremy Bacon
I am doing some quick research into the 1st Brighton Run 14th November 1896. In the list of entries sent to the press appears:- No 54  Messrs Penn's steam-carriage. On the day only 33 cars started, and No54 did not put in an appearance. Have you any record of Penn's steam-carriage in 1896? Possibly still extant on the 1899 takeover?

From Geoffrey Belcher
Greenwich Development Agency have grant -aided a shopfront at Masterwe/Printing Ltd, 115 Trafalgar Road. At basement level in the rear is a brick oven about eight feet wide. It doesn't seem to me to be earlier than 19th cent but it is close to the former Royal Palace and is certainly commercial in scale. Could it have an earlier beginning? The owners are busy demolishing it but have taken photographs. They have offered any bits to those interested including the Borough Museum

From Nishani Kampfner 

Thank you for your interest in SS Robin – now berthed in the West India Dock. . There is a website -  which has useful information about the volunteer group... Just thought we'd let you know a few recent developments at SS Robin  - we’re delighted to announce that Jim Fitzpatrick MP has agreed to become the project's Patron. We're inviting new Trustees to join the Board - do let us know if you’d be interested. We've redesigned our website at to include our team structure and new identity. Should you require any further information on SS Robin, the world's oldest remaining complete steamship, and her conversion into a photography gallery.

 From David Perret

I have just heard that the GLIAS database our entry for the AIA awards has been awarded the AIA main award for this year. Congratulations to all involved  - particularly to Chris Grabham whose idea it was, and who has spent so much time on it.

(Chris is, of course, also a GIHS member and will be coming to speak about the database at our AGM)

From Alan Glass

I am trying to research a Brass plate found on a beach. The plate is Oval about 4 inches across marked No 710 Henry Sykes Ltd Engineers Southwark St London Owner & Leasors. The plate was found in the mid 1950,s by a very old friend who is now very old indeed, he has wondered for years what it was and I hope that you may be able to give him an answer.  Thank you very much, sorry to be a nuisance but I would like to solve the riddle for old Tom.

 From Ed Feege
I live in Maryland in the USA.  I stumbled across your web site when doing research on a ship reportedly built by Charles Lungley of Deptford Green. As far as I've been able to discern, the ship, named Pevensey, was built sometime in 1864. She was charted by Stringer, Pembroke & Co. (an incarnation of Galbraith Pembroke and Co. still in existence today) to run through the Union blockade between Bermuda and Wilmington, North Carolina during the U.S. Civil War. Her luck ran out on 9 June 1864, when she her crew ran her aground while being pursued by a Union warship. They also rigged her boilers to explode rather than let her fall into Union hands. Today, parts of the wreck can still be seen at low tide in the surf at Pine Knoll Shores in North Carolina. A local diving team has been surveying the wreck as their time and funds permit. I wondered whether you or any members of the Greenwich Industrial Society might know anything about Mr. Lungley's "offspring" such as Pevensey and her sister, Nutfield, which also ran the blockade. Also, would you be able to suggest a good source to provide more in-depth information on Mr. Lungley's shipyard? Any information you might have would be most appreciated.

From Louise Mac Donald
I am looking for ANY information on a Union Jack flag I recently acquired. I'm told it is a stern jack flag from a large ship as the flag measures 9ft 8in by 21 ft long and is stamped on the end (1811 Jack). I'm not sure if you can help me but if you can't would you please send any information where I can research the history of this flag. My father spent 35 years in the Navy and was buried at sea. He also left me with a curiosity for all things pertaining to ships and history.

From John,
I know this sounds like a strange request but I'm trying to find a record of a suicide, which would have happened in Plumstead High St between the mid 1800s to early 1900s. I know it was a girl who hanged herself & I know It happened in or around the now known as Electric Orange Pub which is near the police station. This is very important to me & if you have anything on your records I'd be grateful if you could find the information I need I promise I'll fill you in.

From Brian Strong (GLIAS Secretary)
I have been contacted by William Richards, who is acting with a group of individuals concerned about the threat to demolish Pain's Wharf (John Penn, engineers and boilermakers) and Borthwick Wharf (cold storage building designed by Sir Edwin Cooper), which he described as the last two buildings of distinction on the Deptford Waterfront except the Master Shipwright's House. He has been in touch with Paul Calvocoressi at English Heritage, who was supportive of a proposal to spot-list, but a good case needs to be made.  I am attaching information on the two sites which has been forwarded to me.

Borthwick Wharf
The exterior has been little altered since Edwin Cooper completed it in 1934. There are some small additions in fletton bricks and the riverside canopy has been partially removed. Borthwick Wharf is visible from the top of Greenwich Park and some distance inland and proudly and vigorously announces Deptford's industrial past.
Edwin Cooper was, a RIBA gold medallist, he succeed Lutyens as president of the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors, Treasurer of the Royal Academy, an honorary member of Lloyds and his works include the listed PLA headquarters at Tower hill, the recently restored Devonport nurses home in Greenwich and the Cooper building now occupied by Greenwich University, the royal college of Nursing in Cavendish Square, Marylebone Town Hall, The British Red Cross memorial, The Star and Garter home in Richmond.
His obituary in The Times credited him- "his tastes being for the bolder effects of classical form, skillfully adapted to modern functional demands."

Payne's wharf is a former marine boiler works built for John Penn and sons in the mid-nineteenth century. It sits on the waterfront at Deptford between two other buildings of significance; the grade II listed Mastershipwrights house and Sir Edwin Coopers building for Borthwick and sons. As a group these three buildings offer a panorama of three centuries of industry on the Deptford waterfront. As separate buildings each has its own distinct architectural form and integrity.
Payne's Wharf is a nineteenth century building, specially built for the world renowned J Penn and sons, the worlds finest marine engine builders.
The riverfront is made up of six vast Italianate arches in brick with deep stucco detailing, prominent decorative keystones and, until very recently, a scrolled name panel above the arches. The scale and quality of this building is not typical of Thames wharfing, the arches being built to give access to the river for lifting boilers into ships or barges in the river. The building is largely constructed of London stock brick with cast iron windows, wooden loading bay doors to the south.
It is not known who designed the building, but one possibility is that Penn himself had a hand in it. The west and south elevations are less dramatic than the river frontage, though the south has a curious gabled roofline. The western boundary forms the walls to the ancient upper Watergate stairs, where the ferry to the Isle of Dogs departed.
The scale of Payne's Wharf is compatible with the immediately adjacent master shipwright's house, both being three stories above ground.
John Penn and sons' amalgamation with Thames Ironworks led to the construction of the worlds first "iron clad", HMS Warrior, now restored by the maritime trust in Hartlepool. This partnership also produced the early dreadnought battleships. The building is listed by the Greenwich Industrial History Society as an "industrial highlight".
The building is currently used for document storage by Hays information management, and is situated in the London borough of Greenwich.
Fast track listing is sought because planning consent for demolition may be sought and secured.

From Len Chapman

A couple of years ago I bought an apartment at Lockes Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. The Site Manager at that time told me the site had previously been a foundry and the propellers for the rms Queen Mary had been cast at that foundry.  Coincidentally I had sailed as an Engineer Officer on the QM so my technical interest was aroused.  I contacted the University of Glasgow who hold all the QM archives but they could only identify that the propellers were manufactured by Stone Manganese Bronze. The order documents did not state where the propellers were produced.  I have been looking for other sources of information without success until I located your website. That makes reference to J Stones and Co Deptford as the producers of the propellers for the QM. That appears to contradict the information the University of Glasgow has, unless J Stones was part of the Stone Manganese Bronze Company.  I wonder if your members have the answers to the following questions:  Were the rms Queen Mary's propellers supplied by J Stone? If so when (they may have supplied replacement propellers)? Did J Stones have a foundry located at Lockes Wharf? I know the University of Glasgow will be interested in the answers!
Incidentally I did visit the Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre a couple of years ago. I encountered it purely by chance. I used to sail from the Royal Albert Dock in the "good old days" so the exhibits brought back many memories.  I went to Poplar Technical College as an Engineer Cadet but did not get to know Greenwich until I bought the apartment. I did regularly sail past Greenwich on my way to berth alongside Butlers Wharf and Shadwell Basin at a time when Docklands meant ships and cargoes and not high rises and people!
(Mary Mills points out that the Queen Mary’s anchors were made at Stone Foundry in Charlton – see Wonders of World Engineering Part 23). 

From Cllr. John Fahy

Making the Most of Our Civic Heritage
English Heritage have recently produced a consultation document setting out some guiding principles for decision-makers. I believe the time is now opportune to establish an Advisory Group of interested residents who can help the Council in supporting its own heritage buildings but also to work with others in creating a stronger voice for Greenwich.
I have been extremely encouraged with the initial response to my suggestion and I now write formally to invite you to consider this proposal and invite you to nominate a member of your Group to join this advisory group. Once I have received a response hope to convene a meeting in early September. I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
The Council owns the following listed sites:
Charlton House and  Stable buildings
Woolwich Town Hall
Woolwich Old Town Hall
23/25 Woolwich New Road
Clockhouse, Woolwich Dockyard
Woodlands, Mycenae Road
Shrewsbury House
West Greenwich House
Charlton Assembly Rooms
Well Hall Pleasance – moat, bridge etc.
Tudor Barn
Severndroog Castle
Charlton Park walls
The Tarn ice well
Charlton cemetery drinking fountain
Andrew Gibb Memorial shelter
Rachel McMillan nursery
Woolwich Polytechnic School, Sandy Hill Road
Eltham Hill School, bothy and boundary wall
Wybourne School, Footscray Road
Deansfield School, Glenesk Road
Gordon School, Grangehill Road
Maze Hill School, Royal Hill
Plumstead Manor School, Old Mill Road
James Wolfe School, Randall Place
Crown Woods School
Greenslade School, The Slade
East Greenwich Library
West Greenwich Library
Woolwich Library
Eltham Library
Plumstead Library
Borough Hall
Rothbury Hall
Coronet Cinema, Well Hall road
Entrance to both foot tunnels
Conduit Head, Southend Crescent
Callis Yard
Greenwich Theatre, Nevada Street wall.
From Peter Mumford
I was very interested to see from your website (which I have only just discovered) that someone from English Heritage recently gave a talk on the Mumford mill. My name is Peter J.G. Mumford and the mill was owned by my family. I was taken around the mill just before my family sold it in the early sixties when it was an empty shell having been stripped of its contents by Rank Hovis when their lease ended. I have many old photographs  of the mill and indeed some original plans (I think). I will have to dig. I lived in London for many years and often used to pass the mill but I haven’t seen it for about fifteen years. I would be very interested in knowing what info you have about the mill, and indeed if you could advise me of the current ownership. I long to see inside it again and would very much like to show my sons what their grand parents and great grandparents and great great grand parents achieved.

From David Riddle
A public meeting at the Greenwich Borough Halls was informed by Transport for London last night that 'with a fair wind' the works to repair Blackheath Hill would take a further four months. There is apparently no evidence whatever of actual 'caverns' beneath the road or it's surroundings. What appears to have happened is that various chalk workings have occurred on either side of the
carriageway over the past 400 years, as well as in the vicinity of the old, and reasonably well documented, Jack Cade Cavern off Maidenstone Hill. These, generally, did not pass under the 'King's Highway' which was, even 400 years ago, deemed 'illegal'. One passage has been positively identified that appears to link the workings on either side of the road. These working have been filled with a loose mixture of chalk Thanet Sand (the other main geological material in the area.  There is no clay).
This material has then come under any one or more of five influences;
1. Natural settlement of the fill from its own weight. Obviously occurs. but not of a 'catastrophic nature' in itself.
2. Vibration from heavy vehicles. Deliberate 'vibratory rolling' to compact new road surfaces is limited in effect to 300-500mm, so this is considered to be relatively unlikely as a main cause.
3 Vibration from construction works. No works in progress at the time. '
4. Natural rainfall water. This caused leaching of the sand component and slippage of the fill down the chalk spine's slope. Regular.. and a likely significant contributory cause.
5. Sudden flushes of water from burst water mains (another was hit by the workmen at 1pm yesterday and was still running as the meeting concluded at 8pm!) and flash floods. Highly likely main contributor to the incident.
It is considered that 4 and 5 are the most likely causes of the incident, but the real cause "will never be known".
After extensive surveys, the final results of which are still not through, last week 'grouting' work began to inject a 'mortar' mix under pressure into the previous mining in-fill that lies on either side of a chalk 'spine' that lies beneath the centre of the carriageway.. i.e. the original Roman Road. This 'fill' varies in thickness from just a metre or so at the top to thirty metres further out. The mortar will bind the sand and chalk so that the sand is less likely to leach.
The current test grouting is taking place in the area of carriageway above the one known tunnel. Once permissions have been granted, works will then move to an area of pavement outside Glennie House where both vertical and diagonal bores under the property will be made to inject grout. As long as no structural damage is evident from this work, the procedure will be carried out over a 300m section of the Hill on either side of the carriageway. An exhibition of photographs and diagrams of the old caves, the survey works and the plans for remedial action was held in the week following the meeting. A great deal of additional information was provided and many questions were dealt with.
I have printed copies of the PowerPoint slides if anyone is interested.

From Ray McBrindle

With forebears involved in the Arsenal and living in the district since at least the middle 1800s, I have been able to make good use of the excellent on-line Greenwich Industrial History materials on the net. I now have an enquiry about blind workers in Greenwich.
My mother's grandfather, Charles McClellend, lived in Roan Street in the 1870s and went to live in Maidenstone Hill after marrying in 1879. Charles was recorded as being blind in the 1881 census. It took a bit of working out, but he appears to have been a ship fender maker. I have found  
A number of blind people in the Greenwich area in 1881, many of them involved in basket making and fender making. I have found the letter from Beryl Mason in GIH, March 2001 which suggest that there was a blind workshop in Greenwich, including the manufacture of
fenders and baskets. She mentions rope, which I had not thought of, so appears to nudge me along the track a bit more. But I would like to know of any information or sources of information that might lead to a better understanding of the likely place(s) that Charles might have worked at, and what fender making involved. Was Greenwich a particularly good place for blind workers to be? In the mid-1880s the family moved to Harvard Road, near Hither Green, and in 1886 Charles was described as a master basket maker there. He appeared to be reasonably well paid, because he supported a family of six girls.
Can you help please, or point me to someone who can? I would be very grateful.

From John E.McLean
Thank you for forwarding the copy of your last newsletter which included a brief history of my grandfather’s clay pipe making. This short article was the result of my wife’s association with Iris Bryce of many years standing.  I understand that Philip Wooland contacted you about the article and he has now been to see me.  I gave him grandfathers’ pipe mould and he was delighted.  I am so pleased to be of some help.
(We understand that Philip Wooland is planning on writing an article – which we will publish in due course – about the pipe making works of Mr.McLean’s grandfather).

From J.Martin
We are looking for any kind of information on the company Jessop  & Appleby Brothers. We’re doing research on an old yard crane called Titan that was built by them early in the last century, It was used to build the present Port of Las Palmas where we work.  We would appreciate any information you can give us.

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