Civil Engineering Heritage Series – London and the Thames Valley by Denis Smith. (GIHS members will remember Denis’ lecture to us last year on Henry Maudslay)
GLIAS NEWSLETTER – the August 2002 edition includes two articles by Mary Mills (both previously reported in this newsletter) – The Molasses Incident Photos and What’s Under Blackheath Hill.
BYGONE KENT – The July 2002 edition contains three articles of interest to Greenwich historians: Mary Mills’ article on a geological walk around Westcombe Park, Memories of Dene Holes in NorthWest Kent by A.J.Drew – but – most importantly - ‘Munitionettes: Women Workers in the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich’ by Barbara Ludlow. In addition there is a review of ‘A fisherman of Greenwich’ by Julie Tadman (covered in our last edition) and a letter from Mary Mills adding some ship names to her earlier article on Maudslay, Son and Field.
Crossness Engines Trust – The Crossness Record of Summer 2002 contains the usual lively selection of articles on sewage and related topics. These include – an article on toilets in China – a review of a book ‘Now Wash your hands!’ by Stephen Arnott – an article on roof alterations in the 1890s - and job titles at the Southern Outfall. In addition ‘News from the Octagon’ reports on the progress of work on site to date.
A Post Excavation Assessment of Archaeological Works at Vic Industrial Park, West Street, Erith. This study was commissioned by Wimpey Homes and covers a large section of the Erith riverside – more details in due course.
SOUTH EAST LONDON MERCURY – both Chairman Jack Vaughan, and Secretary Mary Mills were quoted in a recent edition of the Mercury. Mary had been asked to comment on the 100th birthday of the foot tunnel – and was unaware when she made the comment that an event had been held to mark it. Jack was asked to comment on the endangered lock on the Arsenal Canal – I think I read it that Jack wants it restored – or is it the whole Arsenal he wants restored? (or course!)
INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE. The Summer 2002 article is a bumper one for Greenwich. First of all is a wonderful article by our member, Peter Jenkins, on Webster and Horsfall. – who made the wires, which went into the cables, which went across the Atlantic on the Great Eastern ……. The issue also contains another article from Mary Mills on Joshua Taylor Beale and his son John, Engineers on the Greenwich Peninsula, and a reprint of the clay pipes article in our last issue.
TAKEN FOR A RIDE? By Iris Bryce
Whilst driving to Cromford, Owen and I took a sudden decision to detour to Crich and visit the Tramway Village. Imagine our delight on seeing a large banner at the entrance which read 'TAKE A RIDE ON THE LAST TRAM IN LONDON. CELEBRATE JULY 5th 1952. We couldn't believe our luck in visiting on July 5th 2002! We collected our two old pennies along with our maps and brochures and within a few minutes we saw a number 38 tram with the destinations GREENWICH - EMBANKMENT at the front. Eagerly we climbed aboard and off we went, however there was something that didn't seem quite right somehow and it wasn't until we came to the end of the line that I realised what it was. The conductor jumped off to move the overhead pole round in order for us to return to base! That's what was wrong - we did not have overhead poles on the trams on our routes. On the way back we had to stop when we reached a single track and wait for the tram coming the other way. The driver and the conductor came and sat down with us and gave a talk on how the Crich Tram Village had started. They asked for any questions and not one of the other four passengers had anything to say, so I mentioned that I had probably had many rides on this 38 tram as I travelled that route to school and to work for many years. I also added that in those days it did not have the electricity supplied by overhead lines. There was a brief silence, then the driver said, 'I'm glad there's only four of you here, you see you've caught us out. This tram was in fact taken out of service in 1936 as it was no longer worth repairing. For-the next thirty years it was used as a garden shed. When the Tram Village was started the lady it belonged to gave it to us and it is now actually made of two trams. The top is built up from a Leeds tram and the bottom is part of the original No. 38. Your part of London were not allowed to have overhead wires due to some kind of bye law I think, but of course we had to convert this in order to include it in the programme. He smiled and said, 'We never expected anyone like you to be here on this day of all days'
I had another query however, and said 'I always thought the last tram was a No.40. I'm sure that was the one photographed on the Kentish Independent and Kentish Mercury, and I took my 5 year old daughter to Beresford Square in Woolwich to watch the No. 40 go by'. The driver gave a sigh, 'Take a good look in the glass cases in the Exhibition Hall, you'll see that you are right again. We couldn't get that one as it is believed it ended up at the tram graveyard in Charlton.' I did look in the glass cases, and there was the newspaper cutting about the No. 40 tram from Abbey Wood to New Cross Gate.. However I did learn something. I did not know and still do not know where the Tram Graveyard was in Charlton.
I don't know if I'll be made welcome at Crich again, but I can certainly recommend it as a well worthwhile visit.
MARC BRUNEL IN WOOLWICH
By Jack Vaughan
I have been recently trying to uncover connections between Marc Brunel – father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel – and the Royal Dockyard, Woolwich. Over the years there has been much talk and speculation about a link – but, disappointingly, I have failed to find anything. Of course there is a connection via the ships’s running-blocks, thousands of which would have been used in the large
wooden warships constructed at Woolwich in the early 1800s – up, in fact, until the yard was closed in 1869.
There is of course a 'block’ connection between Marc Brunel and Henry Maudslay – who was born in Woolwich. The subjects is well covered in biographies. Marc’s prolonged adventures with sawmills in 1808 at the Royal Arsenal Woolwich are also covered in biographies. I can say that Marc's original drawings of these mills are held by the PRO. I obtained a set before they moved to Kew and I hope they have survived. Some models of the block machine are in possession of the National Maritime Museum.
GREENWICH ENGINES ON DISPLAY
The following engines on display in Museums and fire stations were made in Greenwich by Merryweather at their Greenwich High Road site:
Alresford, Hants 1892 Merryweather steamer kept in the local fire station.
Banbury – in the fire station is an 1890 Merryweather ‘Double Vertical’ steamer which once served Blenheim Palace, and now wins prizes at local shows.
Beaulieu, National Motor Museum – has a Merryweather Valiant which has appeared in a number of films.
Bressingham Steam Museum – displays a Merryweather Valiant.
Bridport - the local fire station displays a preserved Merryweather ‘Greenwich Gem’.
Kirkaldy - the local fire station displays a 1902 Merryweather machine.
Glasgow Transport Museum – a Merryweather ‘Greenwich’ is on display.
Leiston – a Greenwich Gem is on display at the Garrett Long Shop Museum
Science Museum – has the third engine built by Merryweather – Sutherland. In 1863 it won first prize in a trial of fire engines at Crystal Palace.
Maidstone Town Museum – has a 1902 Merryweather Valiant.
Newcastle on Tyne Museum of Science and Engineering has on display a Merryweather Metropolitan. The machine won many prizes in Europe and was later used for training.
Oxford – a Merryweather Metropolitan of 1887 is on display in the City fire station.
Redruth – displayed by the West of England Steam Engine Society is a Merryweather Double Horitzontal.
South Yorkshire Fire Museum – displays a Merryweather Valiant.
Shropshire Fire Brigade HQ, Shrewsbury -A Merryweather Valiant is displayed in front of the building.
Wolverton Museum of Industry and Rural Life has a Merryweather Greenwich Gem.
Mulhouse, France – the Musee de Sapeurs Pompiers has a 1868 Merryweather machine
Transport Museum of Ireland – display a Merryweather machine.
Feuerwehr Museum, Salem, Germany – have an 1888 Merryweather engine.
Museum of Fire, Sydney – has a Merryweather Valiant
Power House Museum, Australia – another Merryweather on display
Fire Service Historical Society New Zealand – another Merryweather.
Southward Car Museum, New Zealand – an 1888 Merryweather.
Museo "Jose Luis Claro Cruz", Santiago, Chile – has an 1869 Merryweather machine. And an 1872 machine.
Tokyo Fire Museum – another Merryweather exhibit.