Monday, 2 March 2020

Reviews and snippets January 2006

Reviews and snippets January 2006

Recent archaeological work carried out during the demolition of Wood Wharf at the north end of Horseferry Place SE10 which was at the southern end of the Greenwich Steam Ferry (ref Engineering 17 February 1888, and The Engineer 2 December 1892) has provided some surprising information. It had been thought that there were two or three steam engines on each bank to work the pair of travelling platforms each side of the river and to raise and lower the slowly moving landing stages (one on each bank) which were adjusted as the tide rose and fell. However excavation now reveals that there was only one engine bed at Wood Wharf and it appears that a single (large) steam engine (using steam from three locomotive boilers) perhaps worked the three platforms by a complicated drive. The platforms were not counterbalanced by each other but by massive weights in shafts.

There were three of these, one for each platform, over 150 feet deep (this depth has been verified by diving). Further excavation revealed remains of a drain at a lower level which ran to an outfall a short way to the north of Wood Wharf. It is thought this drain predates the Steam Ferry. Having independently counterbalanced moving platforms would allow the platforms which communicated with the landing stage to move at any time as traffic dictated. This is analogous with the lifts or elevators in a tall building. The implication is that heavy traffic was anticipated. Mention has been made that it was an American system installed at Greenwich and one wonders if ferries of a similar kind ever operated in New York. The arrangement is rather unlike British practice at the time. The use of locomotive boilers to drive stationary steam engines was not that uncommon and even the locomotive's cylinders and motion might be used. In 1879 the Metropolitan Board of Works purchased six broad gauge engines from the Great Western Railway in order to use them at pumping stations. They were obtained at a reasonable cost - £500 each. Two went to Crossness, one to Falcon brook, Battersea, one to Effra Vauxhall Gardens and two were put in store. The pair at Crossness drove centrifugal pumps and provided steam for other plant. It is not known how long they survived.
Bob Carr (extracted from GLIAS Newsletter.)

Clive Chambers is due to speak on the ferry remains at our February meeting.

The Swiftstone Trust

Swiftstone is a locally preserved tug. The following extracts are from a review of their work in the past year along with work on preserved firefloat, Massey Shaw.

On September 18th 2004 Swiftstone took part in the Thames Festival at Bankside. We went on up to Bankside for the festival where we circled round hooting and tooting for the benefit of spectators. They waved and blew bubbles appreciatively. 

On October 25th 2004 we went to inspect Woolwich Arsenal pier for a potential mooring. It was not ideal for the Swiftstone but Massey Shaw is currently moored there.

In October 2004 ft was discovered that Swiftstone had a leak. Not too bad at that time and, as she was moored at Wood Wharf on the foreshore the water that came in with the tide and for the most part drained out with the tide. On the night of October 22nd Ian and Julian spent a very uncomfortable time digging away the sand and mud and gravel in a torrential downpour to find the leak.

On 28th October 2004. Reg was informed of a break-in on the Massey Shaw. Vandals had been aboard, smashed in the  cabin door  and gained access to the crew space and galley area. The lads of the were greeted by a sorry sight. The vandals had drunk some and stolen other bottles of beverages, had left excrement and committed acts of general havoc.

On 1st November Reg got another phone call to say that Massey Shaw appeared to be sinking. The phones ran red hot for a time – fortunately Swiftstone’s pumps were working so Massey Shaw was pumped out and refloated and it was found that the engine room had been broken into and  valves had been opened causing the sinking.

Later that day Massey Shaw was towed away by agents of the insurer's after which she went to Woolwich Arsenal Pier.

We were hoping for a repair of Swiftstone in time for summer events but it was not to be.  There are so few repair facilities on the Thames and we had to wait our turn at Corys. This is the first time that Swiftstone had been in the dry dock at Cory despite having been owned by them for more than 50 years.
In our search for potential moorings for Swiftstone we discovered in the Greenwich area a long jetty in reasonably sound conditions. We were informed by the owners that they had no objections at all and would be rather pleased if  we could take over the river licence from PLA and that is where we hit the bumpers in a most drastic way. The PLA are  demanding an enormous amount of paper work from us, -  business plans,  financial accounting and a guaranteed source of finance to completely  demolish and remove the structure from the river at some unknown time in the future and they want  survey  reports on the structure and planning approval.

Association for Industrial Archaeology Awards

The AIA award programme aims to enhance the understanding of industrial archaeology and to encourage high standards in fieldwork and publications. Annual awards are made in the following categories
    Fieldwork and Recording
Applications for the three awards above must be received
by 31st March.  Entries are also invited at any time from voluntary groups for the Conservation Award.

Beam engine gets Lottery cash boost

Hidden away in Crossness Record is the information that Crossness Engines have been offered a lottery grant.  However News Shopper’s Linda Piper provided a more detailed account telling us that The Heritage Lottery Fund had awarded the money to the Crossness  Engines Trust for the restoration of the Grade I Listed  buildings and to create a series of visitor facilities.
“ The first installment of £99,000 of Lottery cash will      enable the trust to produce detailed restoration and      development plans.  Once those have been approved the rest of the cash  will be released to start the work. As well as the restoration of the original buildings, new facilities such as a cafe, lecture room and library will be created, together with car parking and the launch of a revamped website. The trust will then be able to tell the story of London's  sewage problem and feat of engineering which               overcame it. “
She continues: “There will be activities for schools and visitor  workshops, talks, guided tours and hands-on activities as well as dressing up and role play to bring the sewage works to life.  Described by the Heritage Lottery Fund as "a heritage gem," the complex is currently open for only 30 days a year. Once restored, the trust plans to open it three day week during spring and autumn and two days a week during the winter.”

They quote The Lottery Fund London manager  as saying  "The buildings at the pumping station are nationally important and the proposed scheme will open up its history to as many people as possible”. Peter Bazalgette, great great grandson of Sir Joseph and chairman of the trust, said: "The trust's volunteers have already restored one of the magnificent engines. "Now they are a concrete step closer to their dream the creation of an exhibition and steam centre at t heart of the community which will become the Thames Gateway."

Gasworks to the Dome Project

The Independent Photography Project  are starting a new series of workshops for Gasworks to Dome for 2006. It will focus on training for taking 'then and now' digital photos of Greenwich Peninsula - and setting everyone a brief for going out and doing it  - and then looking at some existing websites, for inspiration! Over the coming weeks we will develop our group's idea for the project's final multimedia presentation, and we'll be bringing in a new digital arts specialist to help us do that.

Woolwich Town Hall Centenary 2006

The Town Hall in Wellington Street celebrates it's 100th birthday in 2006. Designed in high Edwardian gothic style by Sir Arthur Brumwell Thomas, it was built in 1906 to replace the earlier Town hall of 1842 in Calderwood  Street. Costing £95,000, the Town Hall was opened by Will Crooks MP who used a golden key to open the door. The Town Hall is noted for its outstanding architectural detail and for the fine stained glass windows by Geoffrey Webb, which depict local historical figures and associations. There is also a statue of Queen Victoria by Frederick  Pomeroy which was funded by public subscription. 

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