Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Reviews and Snippets August 2006

.Reviews and Snippets August 2006

An Appreciation of Beverley Burford

Beverley Burford died on 20th May 2006 after an eighteen month battle with cancer in her spine. She had a full time job running the Borough Museum which she did effectively but without fuss, so she was always able to welcome people and spend time dealing with their wants.

When the Museum was formed it was bequeathed an extensive range of pertinent books, particularly on botany and zoology, which forms the core of a reference library for Museum use (still held separately from the Borough Archives), for which Beverley was the librarian. Then came the Heritage Centre project, to amalgamate the Museum with the Borough Archives from Mycenae Road, Blackheath. Beverley worked late, regularly. She might throw one out at five o'clock, but she stayed on - but still the piles on her desk rose. The move loomed. Items were packed. Unpacking at the Arsenal was hasty, so at first things could not easily be found. Beverley was not a retiring museum curator - she was a front-of-house manager, making sure that all who came were properly welcomed, looked after, and suitably impressed by the Heritage Centre.

She leaves a substantial legacy and some other ideas for the future of the Heritage Centre deserve to come to fruition.

R J Buchanan
(this is a condensed version of an appreciation of Beverley written for Woolwich Antiquarians’ Newsletter)


Mysteriously and unsolicited through the post came a parcel – it turns out to be a scrapbook about a Merryweather employee ‘Mr. L.C.Miller leaves Greenwich’. Obviously we would be interested to know more about Mr. Miller – but, for now, here are some highlights from the scrapbook. And thank you to Paula Clatworthy of Mousehole who bought a job lot of books, found the scrapbook and sent it to us.

So, who was Mr. Miller? The scrapbook says: “On January 31st, 1956, Mr. L.C. Miller, DSO, BSc (Eng), Director and Works Manager of Merryweather & Sons Ltd.,Greenwich, retired. After 47 years with the Company Mr. Miller was born in 1889, the son of Mr. L. Miller who was also a Director of Merryweathers. After gaining his degree he joined Merryweathers in 1908. In 1911 he was appointed Assistant Works Manager. He served, throughout the first World War with the Royal Garrison Artillery, gaining the DSO in 1917 for 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion'. In 1938 he was appointed Works Manager and was elected to the Board in 1942.”

The scrapbook contains two menus for two farewell meals for Mr. Miller. The first ‘Luncheon’ was at the Constitutional Club in London on 30th January – the menu “Crème soup …. Delice de Sole Meuniere …. Carre d’Agneau, Roti, sauce Menthe, Choux de Bruxelles, Pommes Chateau … Coupe Nebraska … Café”.
The second ‘Dinner’ was at the Prince of Orange in Greenwich High Road, on 31st January. The menu: ‘Cream of Tomato Soup, Roast Chicken and Savoury stuffing, Baked and creamed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, Garden Peas …. Fresh Fruit salad and ice cream … cheese and biscuits … Coffee’ (you could write a whole social history from those menus!).

Many of the pictures are of these farewell events – and since I assume readers don’t want lots of pictures of people eating – some of the other pictures of other subjects are included below.

---- During his last day at Greenwich Mr. Miller visited several of the shops throughout the works. Foreman, J.Collins, with twenty years service, has a word with Mr. Miller in the Fitting Shop
-----Bomb damage at Merryweathers
-----On the evening of January 31st Merryweather people from works and offices gathered to drink Mr. Miller’s health. Here they listen intently while the Chairman speaks.
-----Miss Meekings, Mr. Miller’s secretary for eleven years, make final adjustments to Mr. Miller’s wall charts.
-----This modern picture apparently shows a stripped down Merryweather boiler from one of their Greenwich-made fire engines.
-----Mr. Miller calls in at the Blacksmith’s Shop for a last glance. At the steam hammer (left to right) are Foreman, S.Sheen (52 years service), L.Mitchell (18 years service), and T.Stevenson (5 years service).
Naval Dockyards Society – are advertising the following publications:
Naval Dockyards. A Bibliography £1.50 (also on their website navaldockyards.org/publications)
Index to the list of workmen and apprentices in His Majesty’s Dockyards in 1748. £10.00
Portsmouth Dockyard in the Age of Nelson by Ray Riley
Volunteers Required!
The centre-piece of the museum is David Kirkaldy's large testing machine built in the 1860s. The materials testing machine was made to David Kirkaldy's design and built by Greenwood & Batley of Leeds and is still in working condition. In addition the museum has probably the largest collection of old testing machines in this country. The museum needs more 'Friends' to keep all this equipment in good order and to bring stored items into use. There are opportunities for office work (inventories etc.), display, design and mechanical work on the various machines and many other skills. We are a small friendly team, who normally meet twice a month, including being open to the public on the first Sunday of the month. We have planned a special 'Open-day' for possible new volunteers on Saturday 


Iris Bryce has a new book published (her seventh). It's title The Hill Folk, was the term used by the villagers of Wrotham, in Kent for the people who lived high up on top of the North Downs. In the 1950's Iris and her husband Owen bought a derelict farm on the highest point, approx. 800 ft. and purely by accident, these two Londoners born and bred found themselves starting an Organic Market Garden in 1953. The Hill Folk tells the story of their next twenty years or more, years that changed their way of life - one that no money could ever buy.

Yes, we're stripping Victoria and she doesn't mind! Work has started on the restoration of the second James Watt beam engine but this time, instead of tearing in and getting our hands dirty taking the engine apart, a reasoned and logical approach has been adopted in the hope that this aspect of our restoration work will qualify for official recognition by the National Museums Organisation.
From: Crossness Record
New Street Lighting on Shooters Hill
Shooters Hill has recently been graced by new lamp posts, the third set since the 1930s when the Laing and Wimpey estates added their suburban sprawl. The original set had a cast iron base about eight feet tall (of a type suitable for gas lamps), a mild steel extension doubling the height with a swan neck at the top from which an electric lamp hung: lighting was by filament bulb. The lamp posts were painted a shade of leaf green, fitting in well with the various colours the houses were then painted and their garden plants. In the 1960s these were replaced by slightly lower, reinforced concrete posts (those used to rusty reinforcement breaking out of concrete fence posts doubted its use for lamp posts, but most were as good the day they came out as when they went in). These had a tapering triangular design with the comers chamfered, becoming hexagonal at the top; here a 45° angled-back top supported a lantern which shone across the roadway. Lighting was by twin 18 inch fluorescent tubes, quite bright when new, though they gently dimmed with age. Eventually the fluorescent lanterns were replaced by sodium lamps in smaller lanterns. The third, 2006, set are a response to health and safety fears - crashing into a concrete post might cause it to shatter and land on the crashing vehicle, while a steel one would merely bend. The new set are a simple tubular design, a three foot high base with a plain post rising to a height of 20 feet, directly into a lantern that overhangs the roadway: lighting is again sodium. Big Brother also has space in the lantern to fit a camera. When installed the posts and lantern were both grey, not very attractive; then the Council said they would paint the posts black - which sounded worse - and did, leaving the lanterns grey. The new lamp posts now blend nicely in the neighbourhood, most houses having similarly proportioned black drainpipes, other paintwork now mainly being (conservation area) white.
From: Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter

The stylish period chimney, oval in cross section, at the Greenwich District Hospital site was felled at 10.30 am on Sunday morning 18 June 2006. Controlled explosives were used. Roads in the vicinity were closed and there was a good crowd of onlookers. Little is now left at this location.
From: GLIAS Newsletter

The advent of the Docklands Light Railway to Woolwich has caused the demolition of some well-loved (and locally listed) buildings. However, two early houses facing Rope Yard Rails from across Beresford Square have now been revealed, whose front gardens had long ago been lost to commerce and been built over.
From: Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter

This message was sent out to cyclists in Tower Hamlets, Greenwich and Southwark by Barry Mason, co-ordinator of Southwark Cyclists. Mr. Mason instigated the celebrations for the centenary of the Greenwich foot tunnel in 2002. If anybody is interested in his suggestions, please contact him at the number below.

“Local authorities can do things brilliantly but look at the state of the tunnel and despair. The no-spitting etc. signs at the start say it all. I keep coming, back to my fantasy that a local group takes over the Foot Tunnel from Greenwich Council and its the quaint dead hand of municipalisation. We turn it into an integral part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site experience. Tourists are encouraged to walk the tunnel for an entrance fee that works from 10-5 every day. Commuters get free passes and only need use them during charging times. The tunnel gets smartened up...... and users get told much more about it. Why is there that extra reinforcing steel-work at the northern end? 1944 bomb damage.

With maybe 200,000 tourists a year using the tunnel at £3 each it might be possible to run the operation at a modest profit... with maybe capital works underwritten by Tower Hamlets and Greenwich Councils. Phase 2 is a new visitor centre at Island Gardens with much better cafe, loos, cycle hire and the gateway to the Isle of Dogs. Tower Hamlets says it wants more tourists but currently does nothing to lure them north, or south from Canary Wharf City. With a bit more sense, lift maintenance etc. would be done overnight. Not during the day - for the whole of June. At present the foot tunnel might be just about the UK's most subsidised cycling route. It doesn't have to be like passing through the Greenwich cloaca... it could be restored to white-tiled glowing brass pristine shineyness with a bit of thought and love. The tunnel should be listed by English Heritage. It's a wonderful thing whose neglect is a sin. Those domes over need to be opened to visitors too. I'm copying this to Sustrans Flagship pre-2012 project.

If anybody's serious about this take-over possibility then let's talk direct... but I'm not interested in endless wittering... simply effective dialogue to get the tunnel into safer hands. A couple of years ago a few of us got the original engineers, Binnie and Partners, to help celebrate its 100th birthday. Neither Council were a bit interested until the event was organised. Then Mayors limo'd up in droves for the champagne. 20 of us sang Happy Birthday to you while stradding the TH/Greenwich white line border under the waves. And think about a quick ferry across while we're at it and if that horrible bridge downstream in Thamesmead goes in, the Woolwich Ferry will soon close. And that's very sad....but. Think about the Woolwich Tunnel too. And if you're one of those idiots who cycle through it at speed brushing pedestrians on the way, shame on you, stupid."
Taken from an item in the GLIAS Newsletter.
Sponsor a tile at Crossness
One of the Crossness Engine Trust's objectives is to return the Beam Engine House to its original 1865 condition. To this end, they have been actively looking at the possibility of replacing an area of missing floor tiles in front of the north facing windows on the Beam floor. They feel that this colourful display of Victorian tiling would add to visitors’ enjoyment of the Engine House. It is laid with tiles of varying shape and colour (red, black and harvest blue) to form a geometric pattern. They have located a company at Burslam, Stoke on Trent, which still makes an exact match of the original
tiles, in both size and colour.
The Trust is seeking help from those who would like to contribute to this restoration project. This will take the form of sponsorship and you can sponsor as few or as many tiles as you wish, up to a maximum of the 900 required, at a cost of £l per tile.

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