Wednesday 27 November 2019

Reviews and snippets September 2003


The latest issue  of The Crossness Engines  Record contains the usual information from our local steam museum along with news and entertaining articles. One - less usual record - is as follows:


In July 1908  a neatly penned note observed that the Main Drainage Committee's Chief Engineer approved an allowance of 1/- per head for refreshments for children from the Outfalls at Barking and Crossness during their excursion. This exciting day out was a journey on one of the new sludge vessels as no doubt it took its cargo out to the Barrow Deep, five miles off Clacton, Essex. A rudimentary calculation of  the number of children at the southern outfall  repeals that about fifty children would have been of an age to make such a trip. Assuming a similar number would be available from the northern outfall, the prospect of the Captain and crew being responsible for about one hundred little souls either running around or throwing-up, beggars belief.  The one hundred plus miles round trip can be very pleasant, but the excitement of the day, sandwiches and pop and maybe an on-shore breeze against an ebbing tide making for unwanted motion, could no doubt turn some of the )youngsters a shade of eau de nil. Whatever the weather conditions or minor discomforts, I am sure that many children would carry memories of that 'day out ' for many years to come.  The thought occurred to me - who was the first person to promote the idea of a sea-going trip for children of the work-force of the two outfalls and when did the practice cease '


A recent issue of 'Historic Gas Times' concerns the use of gaslight on ships in the 19'h century. After discussing its use by  such luminaries as lsambard Kingdom Brunel (on Great Eastern) the article turns to the Royal Navy. The experience of the Royal Navy was also unfavourable.  Following oil gas manufacturing trials at Woolwich in the early 1860s, the battleship HMS Resistance was equipped with an oil gas plant in 1862 and HMS Monarch in 1869.  It was reported that pressure waves from the firing of the ship's heavy guns extinguished the lamps and the prospect of gas air mixtures accumulating in the enclosed spaces of the ships did not encourage the adoption of the system in others


The August issue of Bygone Kent contains an article by Barbara Ludlow on 'Royalists, a Regicide, Paupers and Iron Masters. The colourful past of Highbridge, East Greenwich  -- and this is just part one.   Without revealing all it is perhaps fair to say that this first part is not strictly industrial since the Crowley family of ironmasters, although hinted at. Only take possession by the last paragraph by which time Barbara has only reached 1704.  The preceding two centuries had seen a number of colourful characters. posh houses. Executions for treason and the foundation of Trinity Hospital whose inmates were then not allowed out without permission. and had a weekly correction into those who might have broken some of the rules.


John Keyes  is s resident of the Charlton area who has just published his biography and this is of particular interests in that it is many ways a history of the post-war labour movement.  John came originally from Ireland vice Liverpool where he worked in the Camel Laird shipyard and then the LMS railway before the war.  As a labour party activists he met and acting as agent for Bill Hamling in a by election at Wavertree.  John then became a full time Labour party employee as agent for Woolwich East and took the step of moving from Liverpool to Dallin Road in Plumstead. He was soon embroiled in a by election following the death of Ernie Bevin and a couple of years later saw Bill Hamling selected as candidate for the Woolwich West constituency.  In the early 1960s John became the Labour Party’s London regional organiser and retired in 1979.  This is a book which is likely to be of great interest to anyone even those who have only a slight knowledge of local politics.  Woolwich was of course a heavily industrialised area and it is inevitable and local politics had a close interaction with local industry and trade unions.  For those with a Labour Movement background it will be exceptionally fascinating.

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