Reviews and snippets January 2005
SHARP – you may not know – stands for Sustainable Historic Arsenals Regeneration Partnership.
To launch this, a day seminar was held on the Arsenal site by English Heritage on 3rd December, attended by GIHS members among many others. English Heritage described it as a European Project "which seeks to celebrate the regeneration of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich and share experience and knowledge with our European partners in Spain, Malta and Estonia". Regeneration of the site has transformed a derelict part of London, involving the creation of a large number of residential units; 55,000 sq metres of industrial/office space; a Heritage Quarter of 22 listed buildings; two new museums, Firepower, created for the Royal Artillery and the borough council Heritage Centre; public and leisure space developed; tourism and education promoted; and access to the River Thames given back to local community use. English Heritage, Lead Partner, wishes to take forward the evolving ideals from the regeneration process to advance the creation of a model for broader European application in terms of regenerating industrial heritage sites. The project will create a reciprocal platform that enables our European partners to further develop plans for their local sites within the model that will emerge from this constructive dialogue. Attendees at the seminar heard papers from a number of specialists – including a very impressive site history from Rob Kitchin Smith. We also heard descriptions of work in progress from Malta, Estonia and Cadiz. It must be said that all three of these were minute compared to Woolwich. This is an important project which needs all our support. Some detailed papers are available and any one wanting them is urged to get in touch.
Southwark Revisited (Tempus, £12,99). This consists of articles, by local historian John D. Beasley, originally written for the South London Press. It paints a vivid picture of bygone times that are sure to evoke powerful memories for some whilst providing others with a valuable history of a past way of life.
Bygone Kent (Vol 25 No.12). The current edition contains the latest of Barbara Ludlow’s articles on Greenwich. Greenwich by the Sea – George Lansburys Twentieth Century Dream. This chronicles the efforts to set up the ‘Greenwich Beach’ near the pier in the 1930s and the efforts of East End-based politician Lansbury to effect this. Lansbury was also responsible for the boating pool in Greenwich Park - something which has lasted rather longer than the smell-infested beach. This is a fascinating article to Barbara’s usual high standards.
The London Railway Record. The January 2005 edition carries an article The Collison at Charlton - 1st May 1878. This basically concerns problems caused by the discrepancy between right and left hand running when the Greenwich Line was extended to Charlton in the 1870s. As railway accidents go this was not particularly dramatic – a derailment at low speed with no passenger injuries. However the report of the resulting inquiry were damning - ‘responsibility for this collision must rest with the railway company..… to cover and protect this dangerous and unauthorised crossing at Charlton Station’
Journal of the Greenwich Historical Society. The current issue contains articles on the Greenwich Night Pageant 1933 by Celia Morton Pritchard, A Spoonful of Sugar (about the setting up of Greenwich Hospital) by Anthony Cross, and The Appeal of Greenwich by Arnie Wijnberg. However, the article with the most industrial interest is by Michael Egan and concerns ‘some local watering posts'. No – this is not about local pubs – but about street furniture from which water could be provided to roads, etc.. Michael has identified two such posts in Greenwich – one in the Park and one on the lawns of the Paragon, and he has found two more in Lewisham. He finally lists another 11 which in were in situ in the recent past – a fascinating and very unusual subject.
Two lots of archive pictures in one day must be a record for me! I had given a lecture in Stepney about gas in East London and was surprised when someone who had been at the lecture turned up on my doorstep one morning, having braved the Blackwall Tunnel. He left with me two albums of photographs of gas holders in Newham and elsewhere in North London plus some brochures. None of them was relevant to Greenwich but later on Alan told me he had just seen Faye Gould who said she had some photographs of Ordnance Wharf. This was the old East Greenwich Gas Works Tar Department, now under the Dome, where her husband had been manager for many years. In the past she has come up with pictures of the Lennard Still which was installed there in the 1890s.
I didn’t count how many pictures Faye handed over to me – it must have 400 or 500. They are all of the tar works – and include things like puddles of tar, tarred road surfaces, and endless tar spraying vehicles as well as many, many pictures of the works. I have scanned all of these and passed them on to the Heritage Centre. I can let anyone who is interested and might be able to interpret some of them have a CD to look at if they like.
Obituary - Dick Moy
Dick Moy, owner of the Spread Eagle and reportedly ‘Mr. Greenwich’, was one of GIHS’s founder members – in particular contributing a number of articles on Greenwich based cutlery manufacture to one of our first newsletters. He always promised to come and speak at our meetings – sadly he never made it.
Dick died on 23rd November after a long illness. His life, and death, have been widely reported, including in the Independent on 23rd December, Dick was one of the people who brightened life in Greenwich, and who from the 1950s drew attention to the town’s history and got it onto the heritage map.He will be sadly missed by Greenwich – and particularly by its historians.
Obituary - Tony Robin
Tony - who died on 18th November 2004 - was the current President of Woolwich Antiquarians.
He taught history at Woolwich Polytechnic School and extended his job into active involvement in local history – he was a founder member of GIHS who, sadly never came to speak to our Society.
Deeply committed to Woolwich he describes Jack Vaughan as his ‘mentor and guide’.