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.