Tuesday 5 November 2019

Reviews and snippets November 2000

Reviews and snippets January 2001


Issue 28 contains an article by GIHS member, Pat O'Driscoll on her experiences in sailing barge Olive May – and indeed the history of the barge before Pat joined her.  It would not be honest to pretend that the article contains anything about Greenwich – but there are some stunning pictures and stories of a sailing barge at work on other parts of London River – well worth reading! The issue also contains a picture of Thornley Colliery, Co.Durham taken following a disastrous fire in 1875. It is very likely that Thornley Street in East Greenwich was named after this colliery

Contains a report of the visit to Woolwich Arsenal arranged by Mike Neill – and attended by many GIHS members.  It also contains the article on Excavations at the Arsenal taken from our previous newsletter, a report of the Crossness Engines AGM, and a note about the Antigallican Pub in Charlton.

The December 2000 issue contains an interview with the new Director of the Maritime Museum – Rear Admiral Roy Clare. Some GIHS members have already met Roy and we look forward to future co-operation.

Roger Hough has passed us a copy of this monthly magazine – which is to do with railways not chalk mines (sorry, Nick Catford).  Roger points out that –perhaps now that Greenwich is attached to the underground network at last – that it is full of articles of great interest. The edition which Roger has given us is for April 2000 and includes the working timetable for the Jubilee Line as well as all sorts of news snippets and reviews.

Contains a note from Peter Gurnett about the Russian replica ship, Shtandart, which visited us last summer. Peter points out that when Peter the Great left Deptford in 1698 he took with him about 500 English engineers, artificers, surgeons, artisans, artillerymen, etc. Peter points out that this means that the original Shtandart was in effect Deptford built!
The issue also contains a reproduction of a gas bill from someone who lived at 6 Annandale Road in 1917.  This came from the South Metropolitan Gas Company, at Old Kent Road, and showed that the occupant, a Mr. Drapper, owed 18s.6d. for his gas plus 1/3d. for meter rent and 1/6d. for gas stove hire.

The December issue contains a fascinating article by Neil Rhind on 'modern' architecture - and draws attention to a new book by a local author on the subject (Modern Retro by Neil Bingham and Andrew Weaving).
The January issue has an interview by Sarah Hodgson with Terry Scales about his new book, Visions of Greenwich Reach. A Homage to the Working Thames
Neil Rhind writes about Blackheath winters with particular reference to alterations in the course of the Kidbrook stream and the swimming bath once near Blackheath Station – using old carp ponds.

Amazing as it may seem Charlton Football Club supporters have published an article on interest to local industrial historians! This is in their April issue in an article by Keith Ferris and concerns the history of the site of the Valley Ground. 
Anyone who has visited The Valley can see it is an old pit and in the 1800s this was owned by the Roupell Boyd estates but quarried by Lewis Glenton, limeburner. In 1840 the Turnpike Trust gave Glenton permission to build a railway from the quarry to the riverside.  Once work started there was an immediate row – and Keith Ferris gives some details of this.  He points our that the route of Glenton's railway was today's Ransom Road and that the rather strange angle, and bridge, on this road is explained once you realise it is an old railway trackbed – and he further said that lines fanned out over the area of today's football ground.  Part of the railway was reused by British Ropes – and indeed some track remained by the riverside until reasonably recently.

The latest edition, No.8, contains an extremely important article on Mumford's Flour Mill in Greenwich High Road by English Heritage's Jonathan Clarke. This is in fact the text of the lecture given to our Society by Jonathan earlier this year (and snaffled from under our noses by Peter Gurnett!!!). Anyone who didn't come to our lecture is urged to go at once and buy a copy of this text – perhaps one of the most important descriptions of a Greenwich building to be written this year.  If you did come to the lecture you will be rushing out to get it anyway because you will know how good it was!
Also in this issue are articles on Jacobites in Deptford and Henry Williamson in the First World War.  Lewisham Local History Society are a bit coy about where to buy copies from. I got my second copy from Tom Sheppherd, 2 Bennett Park, SE3. I needed a second copy because the first one was stolen by someone who was so overwhelmed by Jonathan's article that they ran off with my copy!

The newsletter of the North West Gas Historical Society, an unlikely place to find Greenwich industry, you might think. BUT – in their December 2000 issue is a reproduction of the directors and chief officers of the Plumstead and Charlton Consumers Gas Company taken in 1870. Gaslight's editor, Terry Mitchell, reckons that this is the oldest photograph taken of interest to gas historians.  It was reproduced in the South Metropolitan Gas Company's Co-partnership Journal in May 1936 and credited with thanks to Woolwich Antiquarians.

The proceedings of a Conference held in September at the House Mill at Bromley by Bow have been published.  It contains items on tide mills – at Bromley by Bow but also at Eling, Woodbridge and at the Tower of London, as well as details of some abroad. 

 Merryweather and Saskatoon
Go to the web site of the City of Saskatoon - its in Canada! There you will not only find pages and pages and pages of pictures of Greenwich built fire engines but a company history embellished with archive pictures of the factory in Greenwich High Road…. (Someone said something about a prophet not being recognised in their own country…?).

This is the claim made on a web site http://www.mysterymotors.com/directory.htm.  The author says that this was built at the Merryweather works in Greenwich High Road by Edward Butler. ….  Tell us more someone!

In 1861 a William Montague Glenister and a Mr. Merryweather patented the first twin hand pump action fire tricycle – the forerunner of the modern fire engine.  Glenister had begun his career in the police working for the Great Western Railway and then becoming Superintendent in Hastings.  In 1861 he also became the first Captain of the new Hastings Fire Brigade. 
-        is he anything to do with Glenister Road, SE10?

We are indebted to Peter Jenkins for the following notes taken from the Surveyor General's minutes.
Woolwich Wharf September 15th 1806 ' Captain Hayter, commanding Royal Engineers at Woolwich … the Steam Engine used in the construction of the New Wharf at Woolwich required repairs for a sum not exceeding £350.  Ordered that Captain Hayter be acquainted that the Board approve of Mr. Lloyd being employed to repair the Steam Engine upon the terms of his proposal'
Royal Carriage Department January 25th 1809 Maudsley to provide a steam engine, plus an extra boiler for the Royal Carriage Works at Woolwich.  (N.B. the engines is to be connected by drums and shafts to straps  - thus it is a rotary engine) February 24th 1809 Bramah had made repairs to boiler and valves at the Royal Carriage Department.
Royal Armoury Mills at Lewisham – December 16th 1808 – John Faulder allowed 52/- a chaldron for Wylon Moor Coals, the market price, for the steam engine at Lewisham.  April 1st 1809. 36hp steam engine at Lewisham working extremely well. Lloyd made straps for the drums.   April 18th 1809 Two labourers required to carry coal and sift cinders at Lewisham.


The Maze Hill Pottery is in the Old Ticket Office of Maze Hill Station in Woodlands Park Road, SE10 and is very much in business. Lisa Hammond, the potter, developed a soda glaze technique while at Goldsmiths and has worked on the process ever since. She draws attention to the similarity of this process to that undertaken at the Woolwich kiln – now under restoration Lisa not only makes and sells pots at Maze Hill, she also runs classes in the subject. Another Greenwich pottery can be found very close by in Chevening Road - where Sarah Perry makes stoneware.


The great gasholder at East Greenwich is not generally seen as an attractive object.  Things are not the same abroad:
Milan - an almost exact copy of the East Greenwich gas holder is being turned into a Museum and exhibition centre. .
Oberlin, North America, a small gas holder is an estate feature: h
Oberhausen in the Ruhr the enormous gasholder (of a different design) is now an entertainment and exhibition complex. 
Brisbane, Australia, a holder is a feature in a new park. cultural events have already been held in the gas holder while it, and three others, are being renovated. 
Gelsenkirchen, Germany, a spherical holder is now a used as a feasture in a 'greening' process throughout the city. 
Amsterdam …other similar projects in Florence and  in Portugal. 

John Bowles has passed us copy of the SAVE Britain's Heritage newsletter from February last year.  This includes a special item on gas holders with particular reference to proposed demolition of those at St.Pancras They go on  'perhaps a more interesting approach might be the one adopted at some sites in the German Ruhr …. Kings Cross is not the only site under threat. Britain was once a world leader in the gas industry and thr race is on to survey surviving sites and assess which ought to be preserved before they are all gone.  You can help by letting SAVE know of any particularly attractive or historic gas holders near you that you believe deserve consideration for listing'.  

This is the subject of a Conference to be held in May in Orebro County, Sweden – under the auspices of the Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Industrial Era in Sweden.  It asks how industrial monuments can be used to create identity, and can they be a force in a changing society? 


J.Stone & Co. – The Charlton branch of this firm is mainly known for making large propellers and, in more recent times, for thurst units as well. Such famous ships as the Queen Mary were fitted with Stones propellers and fitted with Stone's propellers and transport of these from the works was always a great source of interest.

Electrical Engineering
The earliest practical application of electricity was the telegraph and about the middle of the nineteenth century many firms set up business to make telegraphic cables and instruments. Submarine cables, in particular, were in great demand and Greenwich/Charlton. Having ready access to the Thames, were ideal areas for their manufacture.  As electrical engineering developed later in the century most of the early firms widened their scope to cover virtually all electrical equipment.

Elliott Brothers (Lewisham) – Originally scientific instrument makers they moved to Lewisham late in the nineteenth century. Electrical instruments became their speciality soon after the move and in more recent times electronic control systems.

Glass Elliot & Co.  (East Greenwich) – This company in conjunction with the Gutta Percha Company made past of the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1857 and many others over the next decade or so on including the second transatlantic cable laid by the Great Eastern in 1865.

W.T.Henley (Greenwich) – This was another firm initially prominent in telegraphic work but mostly known in later times for power cable production.


We have been sent a copy of 'The Order of Industrial Heroism' by W.H.Fevyer, J.W.Wilson and J.E.Cribb. (pub. Orders and Medals Society).  This may seem to be an unusual subject to highlight here, but it contains many stories which throw a great deal of light on industrial history in our area. For example:

Albert Boswell, Charlton, SE7 – a foundry worker presented with his award in Greenwich Town Hall – 27th October 1954
A trimmer was grinding a magnesium casting during which a considerable amount of inflammable magnesium dust had gathered on his clothing. A spark from the grinder set his clothes alight and dropping the girder he ran along the main gangway of the shop.  Albert Boswell, with two others, went to his rescue and put out the flames. This was at considerable personal risk because of dust on their own clothes.

James Ernest Hawes, Charlton, SE7 – presented at Minor Hall, Greenwich,  8th January 1954.
James Hawes was a 51 year old employee of South Eastern Gas Board,  known locally as 'Big Jim'.  In October 1953 at Phoenix Wharf a storage tank burst and released 30,000 gallons of liquid ammonia. W.J.Bell, a stoker, was trapped and overcome in a boiler room where the liquid was 18 inches deep. Without waiting for a respirator, Hawes took a deep breath, and waded 20 yards through the ammonia to where Bell was lying face down, and carried him out. While others tried, in vain, to revive Bell by artificial respiration, Hawes went back into the fumes to look for two fitters who were thought to be trapped in the engineer's work shed, but who had actually managed to escape.

A group of Arsenal enthusiasts have now set up their own website .it includes a lot (but rather small)  pictures of the Arsenal in the past as well as today. It includes details of developments and of the archaeological dig, which has been going on recently. There are links through to many relevant local and national organisations including the new Firepower project, and to the Royal Arsenal Woolwich Historical Society. This is a really important initiative which should soon put the Arsenal and its past firmly into a world-wide web presence.

GIHS member Darrell Spurgeon has re-issued  'Discover Eltham' in his 'Greenwich Guide Books' series. While Eltham may not seem to be the best source of IA in Greater London, Darrell has nevertheless done his very best.   By including Shooters Hill and Mottingham in the area covered he has found some interesting water industry and farming remains.  Sadly the only remaining factory in the area - Stanley's in New Eltham – has now closed although the buildings remain for the present.   All in all Darrell has found some surprising things in an unpromising area,   


Locally based river-interest organisation, The London Rivers Association, hopes to launch an annual award together with URBED. This would be to encourage good waterfront design as a catalyst in promoting urban renaissance – a similar scheme in the USA attracts 80 applications some from the UK. Do you think this is a good idea? Do you have comments on the criteria for judging the award, would you or your company be interested in entering.


It is with great sadness that we would like to note the death of Howard Bloch.  Howard was known to many GHIS members as the Local History Librarian for the London Borough of Newham where he worked for many years. During this period he published several books and articles most covering the heavily industrialised area of West Ham and the Royal Docks – some of which was once in Woolwich. His last book 'Germans in London' was about German immigration in Canning Town and detailed much about the sugar industry there in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Howard was closely involved with the community and it's history in Newham - for example he was involved in community plays, talks and walks. Although he continued to write the history of the area he left his job in Newham some years ago, eventually moving to Lewisham Local History Department where he worked until this summer.   In this period he helped set up Greenwich Industrial History Society – leading the Society on its first outdoors event in a walk around the North Woolwich area. He made many contributions to this newsletter – and there is a backlog of articles by him, which will appear in due course. So many people knew Howard and worked with him and many of them will want to pay tribute to his dedication and hard work. He had many friends and admirers and it is with great sorrow that we have all since realised that he himself never knew that.

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