Tuesday 5 November 2019

Reviews and snippets March 2001

Reviews and snippets March 2001


The February 2001 edition (Vol. 20 No.2.) contains a number of pieces of Greenwich interest.  These include – an article by Diana Rimel on Thomas Tilling (1825-1893) Livery Stables and Depots in the South East (including details on the Blackheath and Shooters Hill depots), an article by Mary Mills on Jim Hughes and Orinoco – in which Mary writes up the late Jim Hughes' notes on Hughes Barge builders at Providence Wharf in Greenwich, an article by Richard Hugh-Perks on 'The barges of Frederick Hughes of East Greenwich  (giving details of Orinoco and other barges), and Bernard Brown on 'Romeo, Law and Order in Old Greenwich 1699-1899 (are the police industrial history??).

THE ISLE OF DOGS 1066-1918

This publication on the history of one of Greenwich's nearest neighbours is produced by the Island History Trust.  It is by Eve Hostettler from Dockland Settlement, 
This is a fascinating account of life and work on the Isle of Dogs – mainly in the past 150 years.  It is embellished with many many interesting photographs- something collected by the Island History Trrust over nearly twenty years.  There was always a strong interchange between Greenwich and the Island with residents from both sides working on the other.  Many Island families migrated to Greenwich as they prospered.  It is highly recommended to anyone interested in our recent industrial past.


This booklet is by Bob Jeffries, a member of the Metropolitan Police River Thames Division – and thus rests on his intimate knowledge of the riverside from Woolwich to Battersea.  It is a commentary on what can be seen from the river – and an antidote to much of the nonsense which tourists are told every day! On your next river trip, you could do a lot worse than take a copy with you!  


The Winter 2001 copy of Crossness Engines Record brings some welcome news from the 'Octagon' – the area of the Crossness Pumping Station built by Bazelgette in the nineteenth century.

Much of the work on cleaning and polishing linkages and connecting rods on the 'Prince Consort' steam engine have been completed and the team are looking forward to setting up the parallel motion linkage.  Concern is growing about these polished parts in the damp engine house and a small team will be set up to check their condition on a regular basis.  For example, the governor put on display 3 or 4 years ago is now having to be stripped for re-polishing.

The Boiler Inspector has visited the site and given the ok for work to proceed in constructing a boiler room. The welders, Ernie Burrell and Albert Stedman, have built brick walls for the new boiler room. 

Two of the original large steam pipes have been pressure tested and will act as reservoirs of steam when the engine is first started up.  Four windows in the Octagon have been fitted with special shutters so there is now a lot more daylight! 

The Record also contains some extracts from Hansard on the 'Great Stink ' of 1858, a miscellany of useful facts on sanitation, and on the Sewers of Paris.


Postmans' Park in the City of London is the site of a national memorial to heroic men and women and was conceived by Mr G F Watts in 1887.  So in 1900 a dedicated wall displaying the names and the heroic deed was instigated, with each one displayed using decorated tiles by Doulton, Lambeth.  One of
the names and their deed is recorded as follows:
P.C. Edward George Brown Greenoff Metropolitan Police many lives were saved by his devotion to duty at the terrible explosion at Silvertown. 19 Jan 1917.
The tiles are in good order and laurel leaves form a border around these words.  Postman's Park is off St Martin's Le Grand, EC2.  The memorial is obviously incomplete and the history of it must be recorded with the Guildhall library.
Kate Jones


I've been told that many artefacts are in store at the MOD Depot at Glascoed near Usk, kept with a view to setting up a museum there with items from other sites – like Woolwich Arsenal, and Waltham Abbey.  I will let you know when I hear more.
John Bowles


The 'Ashburnham Triangle' by Diana Rimel, contains some information about Merryweather's.  
Richard Cheffins.


 The 29th Annual meeting of the History of Technology Group. .This will be held at the Chatham Campus of the University of Greenwich for the weekend 29th June – 1st July 2001. Offers of papers should be sent before the end of April 2001 to Dr.Colin A.Hempstead, 2 Uplands Road, Darlington, Co.Durham DL3 7SZ.   Contributions should be 'welcomed in view of the historical significance of the Thames Estuary and its immediate environs in the development of electrical engineering, papers relating to the various industries and establishments that grew up along the banks of the river from submarine telegraph cables of the 1850s to semiconductors and computers'.


I noticed a request for information in your last issue about the Greenwich Workshops for the Blind. My father was a worker at the Workshop for the Blind and spent most of his working life there until he retired.

There was a Workshop for the Blind with a shopfront in Greenwich High Road situated in the middle of the block, which now has the Ibis Hotel at one end and a residential home at the other end.  The premises in Greenwich High Road were large with a glass fronted shop window, which displayed for sale the goods made by the blind people.  A variety of basketware was made for business (laundry baskets etc,) and for the public (shopping/picnic/gardening baskets etc) all of which were beautifully displayed in the window.  When this shop closed for redevelopment of the block my Father was transferred to Eastney Street.  At Eastney Street were made fendoffs (rope buffers) for ships and also mattresses.  The foreman was named Jim and when Greenwich High Road was closed he opened up a small shop in Trafalgar Road selling the basketware.  Jim had all his faculties and was an accomplished singer.  He had a good relationship with the men.
On one occasion that I remember visiting by father in Eastney


Recently I cleaned up a small theodolite which I inherited. Theinstrument, pocket sized really, was made at Troughton and Sims in Charlton, although it says 'London' on the case. It must have been made at the beginning of the century and I was told it was an 'apprentice's piece'.  Made of wood and brass it is fully comprehensive with a compass, spirit levels, protractor and many different measuring tables. I do not want to dispose of it but I am wondering if this small neat instrument could have been used by Surveyors?
Barbara Ludlow

With reference to the letter from Linda Dobinson in Vol. III Issue 4 – this information should be of help.  The Tunnel was built between 1892 and 1897 – width  24½ ft. 

Now, a few reminiscences from my commuting days between 1937 and 1939 on the 108 bus from the Standard to Bromley by Bow.  In those days, there were narrow footways each way with granite kerbs so the carriageway was a lot narrower.  The tunnel was open to foot passengers but the practice was for horse drawn and motor traffic to hug the kerbs which became highly polished.  The iron tyred cartwheels made high pitched squeaky noises, which went eerily along the tunnel.  There was no overtaking and the speed was that of the slowest – if you got behind a cart well that was 'life', to use the current vernacular!  As regards cleanliness - it was always well kept and the only smell was motor exhaust.  The air was always foul and a hazy, dirty, greyish, blue.  I'm sure Julian Watson at Woodlands could give a full history of the building of the tunnel.
Ted Barr

Pat O'Driscoll's Account of a' recent visit'

I too have recently walked the path from 'The Trafalgar' to the Blackwall Tunnel entrance.  Oh!  What a change from the 1920s!  In those days, it was full of interest, almost continuously by the water's edge and one could see what was going on in many of the factories. 

Now - 2000, and all that!  Just an elongated brick paved pedestrian precinct, guard rails and high walls and fences full of threatening notices, guard dogs CTVs and the rest of it.… As I approached each corner, I almost expected to see watch towers, searchlights and machine guns pointing menacingly down!  The name, too, - why change it?  It was always the 'Riverbank', which is what it's basically for and marked as such on the Ordnance Maps for 100 years. 

I have many more memories of a personal nature, which have no place here, but I'm always pleased to talk about the path to anyone patient or mad enough to listen!  .

And also … 'The Greenwich so-called Peninsula'.  Does anyone know the identity of who dreamed this name up!  A peninsula is just not what it is.  My Oxford dictionary defines a peninsula as a 'piece of land almost surrounded by water or projecting far into the sea'.  The maps label the area as 'Greenwich Marshes' and it formed part of the Borough's political administration as 'Marsh Ward'.
Ted Barr

  Stone's of Deptford

This is a response to a letter from Louise Carpenter.  The full name of the company was J.Stone & Co. Ltd., Arkwright Street, Deptford, SE8.  They were founders and manufacturers of train lighting systems used on railways in many parts of the world.  The use of the apparent plural was simply local slang, or perhaps, jargons.  Most of the big names in industry were on the lower levels of the Borough and folk higher up in Charlton and Blackheath mostly went down hill to work ...  'down at Stones' ... or 'down Johnson's' – meaning Johnson and Phillips Ltd. ... or  'down Harvey's' – meaning G.A. Harvey Ltd.  In my day at United Glass on the riverbank, it was 'down the glass blowers'.  The only local exception was Molins of Evelyn Street Deptford - the name being Molins Manufacturing Co, Ltd, Makers of tobacco machinery.  Some of these organisations were known again locally as the Greenwich sweatshops because of low pay, non union recognition and appalling working conditions which by today's standards would be as alien as funny little men from Mars!
Ted Barr


This is a response to comments in a letter from Norman Bishop.  I too was at Invicta School 1919-1924. In the Second World War, it was an AFS Station.  The mine fell on the gas-meter sheds alongside their quarters in the main building.  There were many fatalities, including two of my friends – Walter Smith who lived opposite the school and Charlie Barrow, from Hassendean Road.
Ted Barr


The National Railway Museum at York have a number of fire engines.  Have they anything from Greenwich?
Ted Barr

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