Wednesday 6 November 2019

Reviews and snippets September2001

Reviews and snippets September 2001

Exhibition on MAUDSLAY SON AND FIELD, ENGINEERING PIONEERS at Kew Bridge Engines, Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, Middlesex TW8.  –  will run until 30th September. It features not only Maudslay but also a photo of our own Jack Vaughan, and Alan Pearsall – plus some very complimentary things about Jack.  

TIDE MARKS Exhibition  The Electrical Store, Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place,  London E14. Stephen Turner has created a  work by tracing the tide along Bow Creek onto a  series of large canvases totalling over thirty metres in length. Placed along  the riverbed at low tide, they record an interval of twelve hours in the life  of the creek

The Woodlands Farm Trust Newsletter
Woodland’s Farm Newsletter for summer 2001 gives bad news about the effect of both constant rain and foot and mouth disease on work at the farm.  Things are improving though and sheep shearing has gone on regardless.  They continue to call for volunteers – particularly to pull ragwort!

GLIAS Newsletter
The August 2001 edition contains notes about the Crossness Open Day and the opening of Firepower (already reported by us!).  And information about the Royal Iris, berthed at the Thames Barrier,

Industrial Archaeology News
Autumn 2001 edition gives information about the Royal Iris – berthed at the Thames Barrier – in a letter from Bob Carr.

Newcomen Society Bulletin
Has been asking for information about the Great Wheel at Earls Court – which some have claimed was built by Maudslay Son and Field in Greenwich.  The replies given in this issue (August 2001) suggest otherwise.  Robert Bossing writes to say that the axle only was made by Maudslay (but not at which of their works).  The ironwork was made by William Arrol and the carriages by Brown Marshall of Birmingham.  Paul Calvocoressi repeats this information – and since he is one of our members – perhaps he could comment on which Maudslay works was likely to be the site of the axle manufacture, and if Arrol might have had anything to do with the Greenwich based Appleby Works (next door to Maudslay in this period, and associated with Arrol).

Bygone Kent
The July 2001 issue contains an article of interest to Greenwich historians. This is Part 2 of Mary Mills’ series for Bygone Kent on copperas manufacture in Deptford and Greenwich.  This describes work at the Deptford works in the mid-17th century and the founding of the Deptford Works by Nicholas Crispe.  It goes on to discuss the possible ownership and operation of sites on the Greenwich bank of Deptford Creek and on the Peninsula.

The August 2001 issue contains several articles of interest to Greenwich historians – one by R.B.Parish details ‘Some Follies of the Weald, Central and South Kent’.    In this he mentions the Rotunda on Woolwich Common ‘remarkable’ and asks the whereabouts of ‘the tower of an underground church – a shaft constructed for a sewer’ which was somewhere in Eltham. 

An article by Bernard Brown is ‘All Change at Greenwich. Or the 'Blackheath Omnibus’.  This is about Stephen Scudds, coach and fly proprietor of Eltham who initiated a coach service from the new Greenwich Railway Station to St.Mary Cray via Eltham and Foots Cray in 1838.  This was extended over the year to other local services based on meeting travellers by train from London who wished to continue into suburbs yet not served by train.   Eventually the business failed and Tilling became the predominant omnibus provider in the district.

Finally, Mary Mills has contributed the third in her series of articles about Greenwich and Deptford Copperas. This article is based on the diary of Elizabeth Pearson, sister of the owner of the Deptford and Greenwich copperas works in the early nineteenth century. It describes some of the entries in her diary with relation to copperas works in the area and to her life in Greenwich before 1820.

Redriff Chronicle
The Summer 2001 issue contains several articles of interest to Greenwich industrial historians. First, there is a resume of the talk given to the Society by Peter Gurnett on Stones. Peter has also given this talk to GIHS in the past and, as Redriffe Chronicle points out, those wishing to read more should look at Peter’s account in the Lewisham History Society Journal for 1986/7 pps 6-46.  Another article by Mary Mills is about the previous history of the old Molins Site in Deptford and describes the Torr family factory which stood on the site previously (Torr were animal charcoal makers).   An article by Peter Gurnett and Malcolm Meachen describes Captain Taylor and his Museum in Amersham Grove.

Historic Gas Times
The September 2001 edition contains a letter about East Greenwich Gas Works (reproduced below) and also another article from Mary Mills on ‘A Phantasmagoria and Mount Etna – on stage'.  If you want to know what it is about you will have to ask me.  There is also a response to a previous article from Brian Sturt which details some buildings built on local gas works. He gives particular details of the amazing sulphate store at Phoenix Wharf Greenwich, completed in 1955 ‘This was designed to protect 10,000 tons of ammonium sulphate and has a near parabolic concrete roof of 60 foot span and rise of 66 feet. The building was demolished just as the world outside was beginning to realise its architectural significance.

Biography of Stephen Lawrence
While not being industrial this little book is of great local importance.  It is by Verna Allette Wilkins, 

Lewisham Local Studies and Archives Newsletter.
This gives details of ‘Ideal Homes – Suburbia in Focus’ – a website funded by the New Opportunities Fund which will chart suburban development in South East London.   It will include detailed studies of Blackheath and Deptford New Town.

Lewisham Local History Society Newsletter
Gives details of ‘Lewisham Voices’ a project set up with the Museum of London and Lewisham Libraries. This will use digital technology to produced instance images of people and places and leave an interactive record of thoughts, feelings and life experiences of a cross section of the community.

Holiday Geology Guide - Greenwich
This glossy fold out leaflet is one of the most exciting things to turn up for a long time.  It is basically a discussion of the stone work and its relevance in the World Heritage Site area of Greenwich.  This is a geologist’s look at the tourist quarter!  It tells us for instance that the Bellot Memorial is made of ‘Peterhead Granite with paler granite (aplige) veins and small darker patches of hethens of included Highland Rock.  It illustrates ‘shrimp burrows’ on the Wolf Statue and shows us how in the Royal Naval College Chapel is ‘remarkable for its geological deception’ Portland Stone and Cornish Granite are only used where they show – the statues are all cheaper Coade Stone and the Sienna Marble columns are paintings on a papier mache base (you can tell the fake bits by tapping).  This wonderful little leaflet is available from the British Geological Survey 

The Magic of Hot Water.
The latest illustrated guide to come from Andrews Water Heaters – in reality extracts from Paul Yunnie’s collection of pictures and leaflets about his favourite subject – hot water. At £5 this is terrific value for 138 pages and a great picture on every one. 

Kent Underground Research Group Newsletter
The newsletter features the following story about Abbey Wood – ‘Sand Mine, Abbey Wood’ by Nesta Caiger …. On Friday 8th June 1001 KURG investigated a small sand mine in the back garden of 18 Old Park Road.  A short adit had been dug into the sand and it seemed clear that there was another short adit close by which was inaccessible. This was due to a vast collapse of walls and rock – garden debris from a landscaped part of the garden.  The adit had been driven straight into the sand level and measured about 8 ft by 6 ins in length, 4ft 6ins wide.  Pick marks were seen on the walls but the original floor level was unknown, due to the fill of earth – so the roof level above the investigators was only about 4 ft. A probe with a pole was made to try and estimatge where the second small mine could have been and a somewhat limited void was found.  The owner of the house which had been built in the 1930s on land known to have been part of ‘Cook’s Farm’ was a Mr. John Davis.

Has set up a scheme for legacies and donations. Age Exchange was founded in 1983 as a professional theatre company mounting original productions based on older people’s local reminiscences.  The Reminiscence Centre in Blackheath Village opened in 1987 and has 30,000 visitors a year. 

Dr. Mary Mills has been elected to the Council of the Association of Industrial Archaeology – a national organisation based in Ironbridge.

Rumour has it that the path round the Dome is to open to the public on 17th September.  


This new organisation began with a flourish 



This article is from Tony Coles, Grange over Sands and is reprinted from Historic Gas Times, with their permission

I am writing this sat at a leather topped oak desk made by the Chippies at East Greenwich Gas Works pre-1958 and bought for £1.50!

I started in 1956 at Old Kent Road Gas Works, then went to Sydenham Gas Works and then East Greenwich Gas Works. Nothing much had changed!  I do miss the characters.  The Station Engineer at East Greenwich - not a Colonel, but ‘God' was referred to as ‘Kipper’.  I was told not to let him hear you say it, as it was 'gutless and two faced’.
Some time in 1963 I was a Gas Engineering Assistant at East Greenwich, after graduating.  I was relief Shift Controller (paid at the rate of £1,200 when acting!) £870 basic salary. Early on, I had to do a couple of shifts on my own as my mentor Fred Page had a car accident and was off.

First, round the works - I went to no 1 CWG plant - a great cavernous building containing eight Humpheries and Glasgow CWG units.  These were set up for naphtha (petrol in effect) reforming.  I wandered up to the first floor where the foreman's office was located - one Ernie Low an ex-serviceman in his forties.  He said ‘Tony do you want tea?' - dare I refuse! I said that I had seen in the Shift Log that the naphtha control valve was faulty on No 1 unit and that it was shut down on standby. (Replacement of the valve required that it was isolated, steamed out to remove all traces of naphtha with a full permit to work issued by an authorised person.) I said ‘I think we had better get the shift process fitter and instrument technician to replace the control valve’ and that I would give a permit. Ernie said ‘Can you do this Mr. Coles?’ I said ‘We can't let the plant stay out of action’.  Ernie then said ‘Can you give a permit, sir?’ I said ‘Well I will have to. I can't leave the unit off.’ Ernie then said ‘You had better put a note in my book, SIR! You are the Engineer - on your head be it!’ I then said ‘You may be right we will leave it for the next shift!’ Ernie then said ‘How about that cup of tea Tony’.
The postscript is that on the Tuesday (it was a Bank Holiday) I came in on days and was instructed to see the Deputy Station Engineer, Fred Cope. After the regular wait of ten minutes in the corridor outside his office - I was summoned in and was asked in no uncertain way why I had left a CWG plant unavailable on a Saturday Night? This plant was important! I answered that I could not issue a permit since I was not yet authorised so to do.

Fred Cope then reached into his drawer and ceremoniously gave me a completed form of authorisation to issue work permits. Had I issued a fudged permit then I would have been dressed down and left under supervision for several more weeks! I did thank Ernie!

Angerstein Railway
By Andrew Turner

The Angerstein branch has always operated as a freight only line, but occasionally enthusiasts' passenger trains have ventured onto the line.  One such ran in July and I took the opportunity to join it and see the area from a different angle.

The tour first visited two other branches once associated with Thames river traffic - the truncated former GWR line to Brentford and the line to Thames Haven in Essex.  From the latter, it made a leisurely run to Charlton, where we turned off onto the Angerstein branch.  After curving past the former signal works and passing under the Greenwich line, the train paused for a few minutes before continuing along the embankment and crossing over the Woolwich Road.  Just before Bugsby Way, the line splits with the section straight ahead now forming part of a run round loop.  The train took the other line, passing a WW2 pillbox and crossing Bugsby Way on the eastern bridge.  Beyond this is a largely vacant area, once presumably covered by sidings.  We continued across this and finally came to a halt about 250m from the River, just short of the covered discharge shed used by Aggregate Industries.  This receives incoming stone by train from Leicestershire for local distribution.  To the east, another siding runs to Tarmac's loading point, where dredged gravel and sand are loaded for distribution by rail to several locations in the London area.  The various items of plant and machinery on the site restricted the view forward and made it difficult to understand the overall layout of the various works.  After a stay of a few minutes, the train set off back along the branch and returned to central London.

SciTech 2001

11 am to 4 p.m. at Crown Woods School, Riefield Road, Eltham SE9

A unique event designed to celebrate the role of science and technology in society - past, present and future.  A fantastic day out that will include lectures, exhibits, and demonstrations, with a few extras (crafts, entertainment and refreshments) to make sure there will be something to appeal to everyone in the family.  Incorporates 9th Annual Car and Vehicle Show.  Free parking at Avery Hill campus

Greenwich Industrial History Society will need help on our stall.  .


LATEST REPORT AND ADVENTURES of a newly preserved tug

June  - Nothing happens for ages and then suddenly it all comes at once!! The Swiftstone finally transferred to us officially on June 1st 2001. She was close to the action though on barge race day, moored on the roads off Wood Wharf at Greenwich... and we have since moved her onto the foreshore and started to really get to know 'the old girl'.  It was an amazing manoeuvre, repositioning the roads' anchor, getting her up on the foreshore (without crashing into the wharf!) and securing her with a web of ropes & chains. A wonderful day and thanks go to everyone involved
Ian Hale wrote – ‘ privileged, here I am standing on the ex-Cory motor tug Swiftstone taking in the sights and sounds of a large turbo-charged diesel engine. This is Swifty's first trip in private preservation and favours will be done today for the barge owners and ex-Tilbury Ferry The Edith – moored near Wood Wharf. We admire the shape of Swifty’s hull, enthuse over the machinery, and generally run out of superlatives! After copious amounts of tea and coffee are imbibed, Reg is presented with a special flag, which now adorns the masthead. .

Greenwich Industrial History Society would like to add our names to the many people who expressed their sadness at the death of Kay Murch.  Kay had worked on the East Greenwich Gas Works site from the time it was a gas works – starting off as a copy typist in the 1960s and ending up as the only person left on site. She went on to become English Partnership’s site manager – looking after the site with the eyes of the world on it through Millennium Year. Kay was a member of GIHS from its earliest meetings – and indeed her support made early organisation much easier than it would otherwise have been – Thanks Kay – and our condolences to Brian.

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