Reviews and snippets January 2003
The December 2002 issue includes an article by Peter Kent in his River Watch series. He talks about all the changes, which have come in to the area in that time – and includes his usual wonderful illustrations. In the same issue Neil Rhind does his best with Jack the Ripper – was Jack a Blackheath man called Montague John Druitt?
GLIAS NEWSLETTER NO 203
The newsletter has quite a bit of Greenwich interest - some bits reproduced elsewhere without permission. There is also a series of notes by Bob Carr about the river based around trips in the Gravesend area. He notes that SS Sheildhall was at Tilbury in November (she is an ex-Glasgow sludge carrier now based in Southampton). He also mentions a derelict steamship in Gravesend Canal Basin and asks for information. Bob Rust describes the GLIAS cruise along the Gravesend riverside – Henley’s riverside cable works reminded him of ‘visions of Greenwich, loading at Lovells’s or Badcock's and watching the cable snaking out of Submarine Cables Ltd. Into the ship lying alongside Enderbys. The place, I was told that the first trans-Atlantic cable was made’.
Fourth Annual Report from the Greenwich Maritime Institute. The Institute has continued to flourish with a postgraduate programme and has hosted the Maritime World Conference and the report gives details of activities of staff and students in this period.
Kent Underground Research Group Newsletter No.75 December 2002. Contains an article by Mary Mills on the Blackheath Hole.
Heritage Today – December 2002. This is the magazine for the members of English heritage. This contains an article by GIHS member Malcolm Tucker on ‘Monuments in Metal’ – gasholders. This outlines Malcolm’s report on gasholders for English Heritage – but does not mention our own holder at East Greenwich (which, together with its predecessor at Old Kent Road is the subject of a great deal of the original report on the grounds of its importance as a ground breaking structure).
CONVOY'S WHARF RECOLLECTIONS – Bob Rust
(Reproduced from GLIAS Newsletter)
I regularly loaded paper out of Convoy's (GLIAS Newsletter 200, pi 1) and was surprised that no mention was made of the huge almost semi-circular building, like a Nissen hut but nearly 100 feet across. We were always told that it was a listed building and was the slaughterhouse of the cattle market. On the right just inside the gate were the sheds that replaced some destroyed in the 1940 Blitz. These had a plaque commemorating their building.
When I first started loading from there, there were several ranges of beautifully built yellow stock brick buildings, apparently left over from its days as the Royal Navy Victualling Yard. When these were demolished by Convoy's to expand the wharf, the demolition contractor took the bricks as payment for the job. The unique one was the 30ft square windowless building used as a gear store. This had walls about 5ft feet thick, a massive steel door and a corrugated iron roof. We were told that this was the powder magazine and was constructed so that if there were an accidental explosion the blast would go straight up. There was also a large open area where a shed had been destroyed by arson during the newspaper strike. On the downstream end was the decorative wharf front of Payne's with its name built into the pediment. While behind that was the range of buildings, which the dockers called Nelson's House (which is of course at Woolwich) but which seem to fit the description of the workhouse built on the site of Sayes Court. There is also the connection with Peter the Great and Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake.
LONDON RIVERS ASSOCIATION – this organization, which was Greenwich based until very recently, has launched a sheet on which people are invited to note things of concern on the riverside and report to the association. Please contact Mary on 0208 858 9482 for details of LRA and their new contact address..
THE HEATH Neil Rhind’s popular history and guidebook to Blackheath has been revised and updated for 2003.
This history – the definitive story of 1,000 years of recorded events, and based on primary sources, not legend and hearsay - has remained in print for many years but was last revised in 1985. The new edition published on 7 December 2002 brings the story up-to-date.
The author separates fact from fiction in the story of the ancient underground caverns and chalk pits as well as more modern structures, like the soon-to-be-restored Heathkeeper’s Lodge and the Gibb Memorial shelter. He nails (once again) the nonsense that Blackheath was named after the so-called Black Death of 1349 and demonstrates that the name was in the record by the 12th century – 200 years before the pestilence.
OUR REVIEWER WRITES:
This fascinating work by the acknowledged authority on Blackheath is a rewrite of his earlier study. Lavishly illustrated, this book deals with principal events and buildings around the Heath and much else besides.
Although not obviously an industrial area readers will discover that besides sand and gravel extraction there were mills, a brewery and a laundry industry. In addition to architecture there is plenty to interest students of crime, sports and entertainment not to mention military history and public administration.
Those who attended Harry Pearman’s recent talk on the caverns below the Point will find references and illustrations.
Thoroughly recommended to all with an interest in the history of the area.