Friday 28 February 2020

The 1870 Cable to India

The 1870 Cable to India.

This June will mark the 150thanniversary of the opening for commercial service of the first submarine telegraph cable to India, connecting London with Bombay (Mumbai) and on to Calcutta (Kolkata).  The UK end of the cable was landed in England by the Investigator at Porth Curnow Bay on 6 June 1870.

Investigator landing the shore end in Porth Curnow Bay

This landmark system was the start of a global network of submarine telegraph cables that were built by the Eastern & Associated Telegraph Companies, a group which eventually became Cable & Wireless (C & W).  Porthcurno as it is now known,became the most important cable station in the world as well as C & W’s training college.  It was also a vital communications centre during WWII.  The cable station is now a world class museum and archive PK Porthcurno is planning a series of events in June this year to commemorate this landmark cable system.
You might ask what this has to do with the industrial history of Greenwich, and the answer is quite a lot!
Soon after the Telegraph Construction &Maintenance Co (Telcon) had successfully installed the 1865 and 1866 Atlantic telegraph cables, they approached the British Government with a plan for a cable to India, but the Government was not inclined to fund it.   At that time John Pender (1816-96) was Chairman of Telcon, but in 1868 he stood down in favour of his close friend, Sir Daniel Gooch, Baronet (1816-1889),and the pair of them set about promoting the cable to India.  Over the next two years John Pender founded three limited liability operating companies, and he and Gooch invested in them.  The Anglo-Mediterranean Telegraph Company (founded 18 May 1868) would link Italy, Malta and Egypt; the British-Indian Submarine Telegraph Company (October 1869) would connect Bombay to Aden and then Suez; and the Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company (16 June 1869) would complete the line to England via Carcavelos (near Lisbon, Portugal).  The landing in England was planned initially for Falmouth, but due to concerns over damage to the cable that might be caused by ships’ anchors in the busy port, it was moved to Porth Curnow Bay.

Map of the 1870 Cable System
John Pender was the chairman of two of these operating companies and a director of the Mediterranean company, chaired by Lord William Hay (1826-1911).  All three companies placed contracts with Telcon to make and install the cables.  Up until 1895 Telcon had two factory sites on the Greenwich Peninsula:the original Glass, Elliot site at Morden Wharf, and the much larger Enderby Wharf site.  Between June 1868 and May 1870, the vast majority of the cable was made on these two sites, but to meet the project timescales, some of the manufacture for the Malta to UK system was subcontracted to W T Henley’s Telegraph Works at North Woolwich.  

Telcon was entirely responsible for the laying and commissioning of the three systems, and they used six ships to complete the work: Chiltern, Great Eastern, Hawk, Hibernia, William Cory & Scanderia.  All but the SS Great Eastern loaded their cable from Enderby & Morden Wharves.   The Great Eastern was too big to come up the Thames to Greenwich, so she was moored at Sheerness and the cable was transferred from the factories to her in hulks, 150nm at a time.To keep the temperature of the cable in her tanks down, in 1869 Great Eastern’s hull and funnels had been painted white, and this was refreshed for this voyage to lay cable in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

SS Great EasternPainted White 1869

The final splice of the last leg of the system between England and Portugal was completed by Hibernia on 8 June 1870.   John Pender was in the temporary cable hut on the beach at Porth Curnow with Sir Samuel Canning (1823-1908),the Chief Engineer of Telcon, to dictate the first test message to be sent over his system to Bombay.

Sketch by Robert Dudley (1826-1909)

The service from London to Bombay and Calcutta opened to the public on 23 June 1870. That evening, to celebrate his remarkable success, John Pender hosted a soirĂ©e at his London residence,18 Arlington Street, marking the inauguration of the first wholly British owned London to India telegraph service.  The guest of honour was His Royal Highness Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, whose presence had been arranged by Pender’s wife Emma (1816-90).The entertainment included demonstrations of modern telegraphy by Cromwell Fleetwood Varley (1828-83), in which the guests were invited to have messages telegraphed to Bombay, Calcutta and New York, receiving replies in less than fifteen minutes.  As a talking point, the grapnel that Great Eastern used to recover the 1865 Atlantic cable was suspended from a balcony above the guests.  The guest list included over one hundred dignitaries and the entire event was captured in a 68-page souvenir booklet.  It was also covered a week later in the Illustrated London News, whose article included a detailed engraving of the gathering, which was held in Pender’s main reception room.

Inaugural Soiree at 18 Arlington Street

John Pender went on to merge these operating companies to form the Eastern Telegraph Co in 1872, and together with Daniel Gooch developed his network using limited liability companies for each new project.  These were brought together into the Eastern & Associated Telegraph Companies in 1902 and they merged with Marconi Wireless Telephone in 1929 to form Imperial & International Communications Ltd, which changed its name Cable & Wireless in 1934.   Even though C & W was nationalised by the Labour Government in January 1946, four generations of John Pender’s family ran these organisations until 1965.   John Pender never sold his stake in Telcon, and when Daniel Gooch died, Pender’s eldest son, James Pender (1841-1921), became a board director to retaining the family influence.  On James’ death he was replaced by John Pender’s youngest grandson, Henry Denison-Pender (1884-1967), who remained a board member until Telcon merged with BICC on 5 February 1959, when he retired.
If you want to learn more about this world-changing project, there will be a talk on the subject at the GIHS meeting on Tuesday 14 April.  In the meantime, to read more on the subject there will be articles in the current and March issues of SubTel Forum and for those of you who subscribe to the Journal of the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals, there will be a more detailed article in the March edition on the management and implementation of this important cable system.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Gilbert's and other pits at Charlton

by Paul Sowan

At our December meeting we heard a presentation from underground historian and geologist Paul Sowan about Gilbert’s pit at Charlton.   Paul has now sent part of an enormous dossier of information on these pits – some extracts are included below and, hopefully, more will follow

The village centre of Charlton (Old Charlton) is on high ground on the Lower London Tertiary beds in south-east London, and overlooks the Thames to the north. Between the village centre and the area of the former Thames-side marshes the ground drops away northwards. Geologically this constitutes the escarpment formed by the Lower London Tertiary beds. The old village centre is about 150 feet above the level of the Thames- side marshes.

New Charlton had developed on the lower ground by the Woolwich Parish boundary, effectively a suburb of that town, by 1839, when two lime burners are recorded there - Sarah Cutts and Lewis Glenton. It later extended westward along the Woolwich Road, and from 1849 was served by Charlton Station, this area becoming known as Lower Charlton.

The North Kent Line of the railway was built along the foot of the escarpment between 1847 and its opening on 30 July 1849. The formerly wooded escarpment has been eaten into by opencast mineral workings (principally for chalk and sand), and in part covered by 19th century and later residential development.

Interestingly, none of the four large chalk and sand pits between Charlton Station and Woolwich appears ever to have been equipped with standard gauge railway sidings into the pits. The Railway Clearing House's 1904 Handbook lists only Beadle Bros.' siding, which was perhaps associated with the Angerstein Wharf branch line of 1852 to the south and west of Charlton Junction. The first edition of the Ordnance Survey large scale plans for the area, surveyed 1866 - 67 and published in 1869, shews several lines of rails in the westernmost pit  - currently the location of Charlton Athletic
Football Club's stand) converging northwards to run under the main east-west passenger line, and thence northwards to the Thames.

No such railways appear to have been provided for the other three pits further east. If only horses and carts were employed to distribute the materials from these, it may be concluded that they were largely consumed in the immediate locality, or alternatively carted to jetties on the Thames and shipped away.
Woolwich Dockyard was immediately downstream, within a kilometre of Charlton Station, and the large chalk and sand pits.  England's first salt-glazed stoneware kiln was set up near the Arsenal early in the 17th century, and, soon afterwards, a glassworks was established on an adjoining site. There was thus, from the 16th century onwards, a demand for ballast, moulding-sand, glass-sand, and other mineral products, including large quantities of clays, lime, and sand for the bricks and mortar employed in the Dockyard and Arsenal buildings.  

There have been four major pits excavated at the foot of, and into, the escarpment at Charlton. These are referred to here, from west to east, as follows:

Charlton Station pit  - Bounded by Charlton Hill on the west, the main railway on the north, and Charlton Lane on the east - indicated as Ballast Pits (sand and chalk) by the Ordnance Survey in 1866 – 67.  (now occupied by the football pitch and stands) Gilbert's pit  - Lying to the east of Charlton Lane / Pound Park Road  and south of Charlton Tunnel - forming the western part of Maryon Park - disused (transferred to LCC) 1938 - this pit contains the  SSSI

North pit - Lying north of the railway line and tunnel, and south of the Woolwich Road - now forming the northern part of Maryon Park

East pit  - Lying to the south and east of the railway line and Mount Street Tunnel. Now forming the eastern part of Maryon Park.

The SSSI represents the eastern working face of Gilbert's pit. The western face of the East pit is only a few metres further to the east, the SSSI being thus positioned on a narrow ridge of unworked ground between the two pits.

In both the Charlton Station or West) pit and the North pit the excavation of Thanet  Sand was carried downwards to exploit the underlying chalk. The upper surface of the Chalk, and base of the Thanet Sand is thus clearly above the level of the Thames in the immediate locality, although Dewey et al.
(1924) observed in connection with the riverside marshes further to the east that: The Chalk which forms most of the southern bank of the Thames between the Erith Marshes and Gravesend is thus saturated with water and numerous springs arise along this stretch. This fact is of paramount importance to engineers.   During recent years the cement manufacturers endeavoured by heavy pumping to lower the water-level in the Chalk in order to make more chalk dry and so available for quarrying purposes, but the cost and want of success rendered the operation unprofitable, and it was abandoned. Previously it had been shown that over-pumping draws river water into the Chalk, where that formation is not protected by impermeable beds. Much of the alluvium, however, is permeable and the Chalk  on which it lies, though at a depth of 70 ft. from the surface, is generally heavily charged with  water

The operators of the chalk pits at Charlton would similarly have been limited in the depth to which they could excavate by the water table at shallow level. One such operator has been identified, and is the subject of a published article by Barbara Ludlow (2001) who informs us: “  For hundreds of years, chalk was dug at Greenwich, Charlton, and Woolwich to be burnt in lime kilns. There were many kilns on the lower slopes of Blackheath Hill and until the beginning of the nineteenth century Greenwich South Street was known as Limekiln Lane. Two other notable sites were Charlton Church Lane and the part of Woolwich, which was  later to become Frances Street.

Lime was essential to the brick and tile making industries. It was also used when making  mortar and manure, however, when Thomas Nichols left Dartmouth, Devon to settle in New Charlton in the late 1840s nuch of the local chalk was built over or worked out. Even so he established himself as a carpenter and lime merchant in Hardens Manorway. Nichols' business prospered and in the mid-1860s, he moved to  site between the North Kent Railway  line and Woolwich Road. Here on the eastern side of Charlton Church Lane and close to the fairly new Charlton Station he concentrated on lime burning. Thomas moved his family into 444 Woolwich Road, promptly named the house 'Lime Villa' and had two Staffordshire style bottle kilns built. The business could not rely on local quarries so he brought in limestone [ie chalk] from Riddlesdown Quarry, near Whyteleafe in Surrey. The 1871 Census shows Nichols employed thirteen men and that they also lived close to the works... Eventually the business passed to Fred Nichols, and in the early 1920s, the then owner Eric Nichols sold the premises. Lime burning was finished in Charlton but the buildings and bottle   kilns, with a chalk capital 'N' set in the neck of both, were purchased by the Crown Fuel Company to produce heating elements for gas fires. In 1950 the Festival of Britain [in 1951]  seems to have inspired the Company to branch out into pottery and use the kilns for making decorated ware and small figures of animals, mostly dogs. These goods marked 'Greenwich pottery' were for export only but they were advertised in the 1951 Greenwich Festival Guide.Towards the end of the 1950s production ceased but a bottle kiln ofc. 1868 and buildings of  about the same date were left. Everything was demolished in 1965 and Barney Close, Charlton, was built over the site.  Before the buildings were demolished an Industrial Archaeologist surveyed the site and a photograph ofc. 1872 was discovered. Nichols is seated and behind him stand five of his workers. A photograph was taken of the attractive mid-Victorian bottle kiln before it was demolished.

The Nichols's kilns, from this account, were close to the junction of Church Lane and Woolwich Road, and not those shewn in the middle of the large Station Pit the other side of the railway line, which is known to have been worked in part for chalk. This large pit presumably went out of production, at the latest, when the football ground was established in it in or shortly after 1900. Fred Nichols certainly worked two chalk pits 'near Whyteleafe' at one time or another. What is usually called the Rose & Crown chalk pit at Kenley, a large working which went out of use as recently as the 1960s, is still a prominent feature on the east side of the A22 Godstone Road just inside the London Borough of Croydon. Over the boundary, in Surrey, were the much shorter lived Whyteleafe chalk pits and kilns; the kilns have gone and the pits are now barely recognisable as the site has been developed for residential purposes. The Rose and Crown pit never had direct access to the railway, although the Oxted line (South Croydon to Oxted) crosses the open pit on a prominent viaduct. The Whyteleafe works further south did have a siding from Upper Warlingham Station, which would have made the transfer of chalk thence to Charlton relatively straightforward

this article first appeared in the January 2006 GIHS Newsletter

Monday 24 February 2020

Glass made in Charlton


One of the ‘forgotten’ factories in Greenwich was the largest glass bottle works in the world. The following article, by R.D.Goodson, appeared in the London Electricity Board magazine in February 1961.

A bottle - who gives more than a passing thought to it other than in respect of its contents. Down in Greenwich in the South Eastern District a lot of people do. At United Glass Ltd’s Charlton factory some 2,100 employees of that organisation spend all of their working life designing, planning and making literally millions of bottles and in connection with the electricity supply, the Board's District Staff watch over its electrical well-being with an almost parental care, as may be expected a consumer who can set up a maximum demand of 4-6 MW with a high load factor is looked upon as a particular asset to the district.

The company originated under the title of Moore and Nettlefold and has carried on glass bottle manufacture on the same site as far back as 1911. It is of interest to note that even at that early date electricity played an important part in production. It is on record that the factory contracted to take an electricity supply of approximately 500 kW capacity. In those days Foreign labour, mostly drawn from East European countries, was used extensively. Production continued up to the outbreak of World War 1. Recommencing in 1920, the original plant was replaced by more modern equipment to meet the ever-increasing need for greater efficiency and economic working. 

Rapid development of the glass industry demanded modernisation of plant. and today the Charlton works rank high in glass-producing efficiency. "There have been changes in the Company title. Quite recently the well-known United Glass Bottle Manufacturers Ltd. (U.G.B) became United Glass Ltd. an organisation of nation wide interest and high reputation. The factory occupies an area of 37 acres, flanked by the River Thames in the vicinity of the Royal Naval College. Within the curtilage of the works is a well-planned system of internal roads, together with some 5.5 miles of railway lines, the latter constituting a veritable private marshalling yard. Goods in and out of the factory area are handled by road, rail or river, whichever is most convenient for the particular purpose. 

Access by river for export overseas is facilitated by a well-equipped wharf - always served by a sufficient depth of water in the Thames at that point. The buildings, apart from the production area, include an administrative block, drawing office, engineering workshops, research laboratory and storage sheds, supported by a miscellany of ancillary accommodation. The 2.100 people regularly employed include technical and administrative staff. Their shift-to-shift requirements are catered for by an efficient canteen service, which operates throughout the 24 hours in each day. Electricity is supplied at high voltage with a service capacity of 6,600 k VA delivered to two main substations known respectively as North and South.

The summated maximum demand recently recorded over the two points of supply is 4,600 kW with an annual consumption of over 30 million units. Security of supply is of paramount importance and with this in mind the Board’s engineers in designing the supply arrangements, provided a supply at 10.4 kV direct from Blackwall Point Main Substation, consisting briefly of 0.15 sq in feeder ring (unit protected) incorporating the two substations (North and South) in the United Glass works with a further injection feeder (also unit protected) from Blackwall Point main substation to the North substation. In addition to this, further security of supply is given by interconnection at three points on the Main Substation High Voltage feeder network. Glass production is a most interesting process and is carried on continuously throughout the year by means of four large oil fired furnaces with electrically driven fan cooling and electrically operated boost melting device each boost has an electrical capacity of 6500 kW. 

An interesting feature of glass bottle manufacture is that all scrap is remelted. It is the practice to feed this broken glass into a large hammer mill. The material when ground to a fine powder in known in the trade as ‘cullet’. Cullet is mixed with sand, soda ash and limestone. This is the raw material used in modern manufacture, of glass.

Colour variations are obtained by the introduction of chemicals to the mixture. In the Charlton factory white flint, green and amber bottles are produced. Raw materials stored in silos are always available for immediate transference to an electrically driven "batch" car. This vehicle is, in effect, a mobile hopper with a built-in weighing machine. The driver halts the vehicle under each silo in turn until the correct quantity of material required for the particular process, is collected. The contents, known as the "batch", are eventually tipped into a drum mixer, similar in design to a large concrete-mixer. Bucket elevators move the "batch" into hoppers above the furnaces, from where the material is gravity fed into them. The quantity of feed is carefully regulated by electronic control. 

Due to modern development of refractories and to electric boost melting, the output of the furnaces, which have been in existence for some while, has been increased from 180 tons per day to 440 tons per day. The electric boost melting applied to each furnace enables the manufacturers to obtain an additional 30 tons output per day per furnace. With the regenerative type of furnace installed in the factory, boost melting is achieved by passing an electric charge through the molten glass in the furnace. The old type of furnace used in 1911, it is of interest to note, had an output of approximately 30 tons per day. Electricity is continuously required by the present day furnaces for oil atomization and cooling. The molten glass is normally held at a temperature of 1,500 degrees C. and it needs little imagination to realise the importance of continually cooling the exterior of the furnace. In the early days of glass manufacture, production was hampered by the comparatively short life of the furnaces, not more than 6-8 months. Modern design however, provides a furnace life of 3 to 4 years. The process is continuous. Once ignited, a furnace is producing molten glass until rebuilding is necessary. At the end of its useful life the furnace is "tapped" and the remaining molten glass drawn off. This is an important part of the life operation for if the glass is allowed to cool in the furnace the solid mass would present an almost impossible task to break out. The drawing-off in molten state enables the glass to be used over again as "cullet” when the renewed furnace is again commissioned. 

At Charlton, the process known in the trade as "tank furnace" practice operates with fascinating continuity. The quantity of molten glass in the tank is controlled with infinite care, a depth of 42 inches being maintained throughout with a maximum tolerance of one-tenth of an inch. Approximately 110,000 tons of batch material are used in the four furnaces each year. An apparently never-ending flow of glass passes on its fiery way like lava from an erupting volcano. Continuously channelled into the insatiable maws of the bottle-forming machines. The visitor will inevitably experience an illusion of Dante's Inferno. This, however, is quickly dispelled by the well-ordered stream of perfect bottles, which emerge and move, inexhaustibly, towards completion stage. 

Two types of bottle-making machines are used. One operates on a flow principle, while the other incorporates a suction method. The difference briefly, is that the former is gravity fed by molten glass, while the latter sucks the material from a revolving pot furnace. With each type of machine a small quantity of glass known as the "gob", having a consistency of treacle, is passed into a preliminary mould known as a "blank" or "parison". It is at this stage that the first shape is formed by injecting a small quantity of compressed air into the "gob". The "parison" is important as it plays a major part in determining the thickness of the glass and strength of the finished product. The first stage complete, the "parison” is transferred mechanically to the finishing mould, where compressed air is again introduced to blow the glass to its final shape. The bottle still red hot is moved by conveyor belt on its next stage to an annealing oven or Lehr. Careful control of cooling is essential. The bottles are annealed by slow baking in the Lehr in gradually diminishing heat. The bottles, cool by now, are handled for the first.. and only time, when they are inspected for Haws. Periodic sample tests for quality, size, shape and liquid capacity ensure that the finished article is to specification. Bottles are then cartoned and despatched by road and rail or exported by ship direct from the Company's wharf.

United Glass Ltd. is proud of their product and use only the finest quality material. Their product has an ever expanding market both at home and abroad. Their exports at present represent approximately 10 per cent of their production and are marketed principally in Holland and the Scandinavian countries. At home, the firm supply bottles to milk, pharmaceutical, brewery and other similar trades. It is their proud claim that the customer has only to state the shape of the bottle, the quantity and the order will be satisfied. This they do to the tune of six to seven million bottles a week. How important the glass industry is to our modern way of life! Just imagine a world without bottles, windows, mirrors, drinking glasses, and television tubes!

Letters June 2005

Letters June 2005

From: Mrs Betts
Thank you for sending the GIHS Newsletter, etc. to my husband. Jim enjoyed belonging to the Society and would have renewed his membership, but sadly he died in January.

From: Trisha Jaffe
50 years ago, Kidbrooke was opened as the first purpose-built comprehensive in the country. This year, we are celebrating all that comprehensive schooling has achieved in the intervening years. We are also very aware that the challenges to the principle and practice of comprehensive education get greater by the year. We are inviting you to join us in celebrating all that has been gained in education at a conference that the school has arranged. At this we will also be looking at the future of the comprehensive ideal. How do we build on the best of what has been, in order that we have schools for the 21st century that include everyone? We do hope that you will feel that this is a conference that you can both enjoy and one that can challenge thinking about the future. 

While you are at the conference, you will be able to enjoy a lunch, selected from the menu that has been developed by Jamie Oliver as part of his, Jamie's School Dinners programme. Along with our kitchen staff, he has transformed eating in this school, and hopefully, beyond in the LEA. I do hope that you will join us for the day on 1st July, 2005.

From: Brian Middlemiss
The Siemens Brothers Engineering Society has collected, catalogued and formally re-housed almost 1500 items donated by members and friends in an endeavour to record for posterity something about the existence of the Company in Woolwich - its history, products, pioneering design and manufacture in electrical equipment and telecommunications world wide. 

Importantly too, we have many items and photographs depicting the varied work and social activities engaged in, by a site employing around 7000 or so people. We are particularly anxious to bring our archive material to the notice of members of Societies, Associations and Education Departments such as yours, which nurture a continuing interest in specific aspects of times past. Much of the enthusiasm and impetus shown, by our now ageing members, for the archive project stems from thoughts that 37 years have elapsed since the works closed and thus we are among the last engineers really able to leave a knowledgeable record of how world telecommunications grew and functioned before our present day electronic environment arrived! On behalf of the Engineering Society I would therefore welcome any help which you could give by generally 'spreading the word' regarding the various locations of our Archive Catalogue and Material.

John Ford, from the Siemens Brothers Engineering Society is booked to speak to GIHS on 11th October

From: Rich Sylvester
I would like to tell you about the new Memories and Stories of East Greenwich project. The group will research and record local memories and the industrial heritage of the Greenwich Peninsula (the former South Met Gasworks - generally known as the Dome site). Stories and local history records take us back to the 1800's of Greenwich Marsh

On the same site 200 years on we are in the early phases of a major housing development around the "Dome" - and the landscape has been extensively remodeled with groundwork and remediation of the "brownfields" left by the industry of the interviewing period. By the river we can still identify the wharves and sites of industrial buildings that once thrived with local business such as whaling and rope making. The pubs and street names give us further clues, while on the pockets of foreshore still accessible to the public we can find old nails and fragments of clay pipe which are all part of the jigsaw that we will piece together to tell or remind us all of the amazing history of this area.

The children from Millennium and Meridian Primary schools will investigate the changing riverscape through inter-generational interviews and web-based dialogue focusing on the changes to industry and local life from 1930 to the present day. Through a series of workshops with an oral history tutor, they will record the memories of local residents, who remember the river and its historical role. The over 50's Club will attend training sessions in IT and historical data recording, assisting with web-based research; scanning images and documents from the local heritage centre. One result will be the production of 2000 heritage trail maps providing a snapshot of a rapidly disappearing cultural heritage. The project will provide a channel for local people (new residents and present) to express and explore what they know and value about the Peninsula. To this end we are pleased to hear from anyone who lives or works on or around the Peninsula as well as those who have lived or worked there in the past.
Richard Sylvester (Co-ordinator) 

From: Felicity Harrison
I have been lent a postcard, posted in 1906, which is captioned Molassine Co's Dinner, Sturminster Newton 1906 to use a part of a series in our local magazine. I live in Sturminster and was intrigued to see this card. Having read various articles and clips about the company in your newsletters on the Web I feel that the connection must be cattle feed as, until recently, the town hosted the biggest calf market in the country and dairying was the major industry. But... according to the information the company wasn't formed until 1907 and why were they in Sturminster? Please can you shed any light on this or point me towards the right direction to further my research?

From: Anne Benney
Volunteers from the Blackheath Society clear and tidy the Station "garden" twice a year. We did it the other last Sunday and some thought "station garden" was misleading. "Wildlife garden" has been tried but doesn't quite suit either. Although there are bound to be ideas from within the Blackheath Society, I wondered if a member of the Greenwich Industrial History Soc. might have a suggestion. If you can help to give this stretch of disused rails its proper name I'd be glad to hear from you - maybe it should be called whatever was its original name (the sidings or shunting yard perhaps) - we'd like to get it right or at least arrive at a consensus.

From: Pamela White
I came across the article posted on the Internet entitled Greenwich Millennium Site, 200 Years of Innovation. The section that was of interest to me gave mention of the East Greenwich Gas Works. My great-grandfather, George Cutler, was an engineer and worked in the Samuel Cutler and Sons firm that built the two gasholders. I would be most interested to receive any information that you may have on the firm, Samuel Cutler, and on gas works in general. Am I correct to assume from the material on the Web, that one can still see the remnants of the gas holder, located on Tunnel Ave and visible from the A102(M), Blackwell Tunnel Approach? If one wished to view the gas holder, what would be the best location? I also understand that the firm owned by Samuel Cutler was located on the Isle of Dogs. Has anyone ever done an industrial history of the firm? It would appear from what I have read that the labour history as well as the engineering background of the era and the project are most fascinating.

This query has been referred to a number of gas industry historians who hopefully will report further. However, Brian Sturt says "I am not certain if the holders at East Greenwich were built by Samuel Cutler and Company. I am almost certain that the second holder was built by Clayton's". Attached is an article on Cutlers from the Gas Journal, Volume 212, October 2nd 1935, pages 37-39.

This article – more detail in a future issue – says that George and Samuel Cutler set up a factory for the manufacture of gas works plant in 1844 in the City Road, Islington. In 1858 the business had expanded and the firm moved to Providence Ironworks Millwall. The firm was particularly identified with gasholder construction – they were the largest moving metal structures in the world and Cutlers were identified with the largest. They operate 24 hours a day year-in year-out in all weathers almost unattended. (The article says some have run for half a century in this way – the East Greenwich Holder has now operated for 120 years – and others still longer).
Malcolm Tucker also confirms that the East Greenwich holder was not built by Cutlers but by Claytons.

From: Gill Selley, Woodbury Local History Society
I am researching Montague Wigzell, born in the City of London in 1831, the son of Eustace Wigzell. He was an artist and inventor. He came to Exeter in 1854 as the first headmaster of the Exeter School of Art and in 1866 became the first headmaster of the Croydon School of Art. 
In 1861 he formed the Patent Spiral Fluted Nail Company and manufactured this in Topsham, near Exeter. In 1866 he was declared bankrupt. In his bankruptcy examination it was stated that he had seven 'ventilators', another of his inventions, at the Greenwich works. From 1859 he had invented a gun battery, various types of nails, a double ventilator and a candle-making machine. There is evidence that he was making candles and ventilators as well as his spiral fluted nails at Topsham, but he must have had a family connection or perhaps a manufactory in Greenwich. He had a brother called Atwood who described himself as a 'practical engineer', and there was a Eustace Wigzell who was thought to be a marine engineer from Greenwich, possibly his father or brother. I would be very grateful if you have any information about Montague Wigzell in the Greenwich area. I have found that Wigzells were living in the area in the Victorian period. In 1855 a Eustace Wigzell Esq. was living in Blackheath Road and in the 1881 census a Eustace Wigzell, aged 31, described as a mechanical engineer (possibly son of the former), was living in Deptford.

From: Jeff Nicholas
I wonder whether you or some of the members of your Historical Society might be able to help me. I have the task of writing a small biography of Edward G Barnard M.P. for Greenwich between 1832 and 1847. He was from the famous Barnard shipbuilding dynasty. My task is to find out more about E.G. as there is a major street named after him here in Adelaide, South Australia. He had something to do with the South Australian Commission which was set up under act of parliament in 1834 to see through the settlement of a new colony in South Australia. Is there a painting or image of him somewhere? We know that he owned Gosfield Hall and spent a lot of money on it. Is there anyone in your society who might be interested in following him up for me?

From: Toby Butler
Thank you for your interest in Memoryscape. I am very keen to evaluate my research, so I'll be organising some walks that anyone can come to (I'll provide a CD-Walkman) and I'll give out a short questionnaire afterwards; I would also like to organise a small group discussion after the walk. If anyone wants to come on an organised walk, just tell them to get in touch. Also, if you know of a group or organisation who would like to come on a walk, please let me know and I could do one specially. It would take about two hours - I am particularly keen for people to listen to the walks actually walking, not at home or in a meeting room.

Of course, the walks can also be done on your own and I will happily send a free copy to anyone who is willing to actually do the walk and fill in a questionnaire for me! They just have to give me a call or e-mail and I'll send one off to them. If you need any more info, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Toby is arranging a walk for GIHS members on 24th July. 

From: Bob Carr
Do you know David Lloyd. Who is he? He is very interested in the Greenwich Steam Ferry.

The Greenwich and Rotherhithe Steam Ferries share David Lloyd’s web page with two railway sites from the West Country – so, no, we don’t know who David Lloyd is. David......... are you there?

The Greenwich Steam Ferry was the one that ran from Wood Wharf, Horseferry Road to the Isle of Dogs – Clive Chambers described some of the archaeology of the site in a recent talk to GIHS. David’s site describes the two original boats, Countess of Lathom and Countess of Zetland as well as the cylinders sunk in the riverside wall and the steam engines themselves. There is a lot of interest in the site – but nothing at all about the recent demolitions there.

The Webmeister reports in 2017.. David Lloyd's site is unfortunately no longer functional, but Forgotten Highway's site may be of interest regarding this particular ferry crossing.