Wednesday 6 November 2019

Reviews and snippets July 2001

Reviews and snippets  July 2001 

The May 2001 issue contains an article by Mary Mills about the goings on at the first Greenwich gas works and the Greenwich vestry in the early 1820s.  (This is in effect a rehash of her previous article for Bygone Kent).  Also in the same issue is a letter from Brian Sturt about ‘SEGAS musings’.  This includes comments on the first Greenwich Gas works and the Phoenix Gas Company, ending ‘How many gas companies had a lighterage department?  The South Met with five riverside and one canalside works operated a fleet of five tugs and about eighty barges to transfer most materials to and from their works’.

Industrial Archaeology News
The summer 2001 edition has printed a letter from our Chairman, Jack Vaughan; on the removal and destruction of the Lovell’s Wharf cranes

Bygone Kent
Vol. 22 No.6.  Includes an article by Mary Mills on the copperas industry in Deptford and Greenwich – this is just the first of four articles and covers the industry in the late seventeenth century,

Blackheath Guide
In the June 2001 issue Neil Rhind talks about our rural past – this may not seem particularly industrial, but the farming itself was industrial enough for anyone!  Neil describes William Morris who farmed ‘vast acreages’ south of Eltham Road and in 1813 described himself as a ‘milkman’.  In Kidbrooke, he had 1,000 acres of dairy farming.  By 1931, the farms had been taken over by the Express Dairy, which had opened its first branch at 22 Montpelier Vale in June 1880.  The cattle plaque of 1865 led to a cull of every cow in London and the Home Counties and in the Second World War previously dairy farms at Kidbrooke became part of the Air Ministry Depot. 

In the same issue, Peter Kent describes riverside parks ‘parks with their feet in the water’.  He notes that north of the river McDougall Park was given by a ‘flour king’ and Lyle Park by sugar interests. 

GLAAS Review
The newsletter of the Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service gives some information on dirt digs in Greenwich
‘.. Site of the Cutty Sark … investigation found evidence of land consolidation on the edge of marsh land to reclaim land and built in the 12/13th centuries’. 

.. The site of the nation’s munitions factory at Woolwich Arsenal which has been subject to an intense regeneration programme revealed an extensive ditched late ‘Roman cemetery ….   In 1688 the Prince Rupert Fort was built. It was a triangular earthwork built to defend London against the Dutch invasion.  …. There was significant archaeological evidence for the munitions process.  …  including a gun barrel set in the ground and used as a pivot socket for other machines.  It must have been miscast but too valuable to waste.  On the site of the Royal Laboratories built in 1696-7 was a double flued tile pottery kiln dated to the 14th century.  The kiln was probably producing vessels made of a fabric known as ‘London ware’.  This find is very significant as no production sites of London ware have yet been found and indeed no medieval pottery kilns have been previously discovered so close to the City.

We have been sent two walks in the Brentford area of west London.  Both are written are by Diana Willment and take in the fascinating areas of riverside and industrial Brentford.  These walks are very much recommended and will give Greenwich historians a view of a very different part of London’s once-industrial riverside.
Information from Kew Bridge Engines Trust.

A new book of paintings by Anne Christopherson shows the changing scenes of Greenwich and the River Thames since the 1960s  – ‘cranes, jetties, mooring lines, frayed ropes , nails and rivets, rust and paint .. pattern of paving bricks, the sandy mud’…

Some of you may have noticed that the ex Mersey Ferry Royal Iris has been in London for some time.  She is presently at or near the berth where the Russian submarine Foxtrot U475 used to be open to the public before she went to Folkestone Harbour.  The berth is just east of the Thames Barrier.  Royal Iris is in a rather decrepit condition with peeling blue paint but hopefully a silver repaint will take place soon.  The intention is to restore her for use for parties, nightclubs and similar uses.
With diesel engine twin-screw propulsion she had a speed of 13 knots and is 159 feet long with a beam of 50 feet.  The other Mersey Ferries were of about half the tonnage and all straight diesel.  By the mid 1970s Royal Iris was not in regular ferry use by reserved for dining and cruising.  With a streamlined styling, she was an odd vessel.

Sir Neil Cossons, English Heritage Chairman took part in an historic milestone event on 29th May for the restoration of the beam steam engines to achieve full steam at the Crossness Engines at Abbey Wood.   He  tightened the bolt on the Prince Consort engine so guests at the Champagne reception could see the great wheel of the engine turn for the first time in over fifty years.  Whilst not in steam yet – this stage of restoration is putting the reality of steam driven one step nearer.  Other guests celebrating this event included broadcaster Lucinda Lambton, Bill Alexander, Thames Water Chief and local Bexley Mayor Mrs Aileen Beckwith.

Trust Chairman Peter Bazalgette celebrated the event with Sir Neil.  Peter is the great, great grandson of the Victorian chief engineer responsible for the building Crossness, and creator of the popular TV ‘Changing Rooms’ programmes.

Trust spokesperson Alison Miller said: “ This is a real success story for a small band of volunteer enthusiasts who have been working over many years to restore these magnificent engines.  The volunteers are all looking forward to this historic event and delighted to have their work acknowledged by English Heritage, the Government's lead body for the historic environment in England”.

Greenwich Industrial History Society has got itself involved in the above even at Crown Woods School, Eltham. Although our prime function is to raise the profile of industrial history and this looks like a logical effort to support, your Chairman is without experience in the field. Bearing in mind the need to arrange and interesting and possibly relevant exhibit, anyone who can help with the task of helping with this ……. setting up, transporting, manning the stall – suggestions would be welcome. 


Members may already be aware of an event related to the above, important and locally born, engineer. This is actually a day long seminar (July 26th ) and our own Mary is giving a paper.Venue is the Kew Bridge Steam Museum.
There is, I understand, a supporting exhibition, but for how long that is ‘open’ I don’t know. 
Maudslay’s importance in Engineering Heritage cannot be overstated.

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