Wednesday 19 August 2020






All meetings will be virtual, held via Facebook Live, YouTube, Zoom or similar technology (technology to be decided).


Video attendance will be free of charge, live as they are delivered, and each meeting will be recorded for free viewing afterwards.


For full details, see or see our Facebook group at


We hope to resume in-person meetings in 2021, depending on current laws about meetings, but we want to continue to make meetings available online at the same time.


There will be no charge for any GIHS meetings, live or virtual, at least through to the summer of 2021.


Tuesday 13 October

Starting online at 19:30

Greenwich and Woolwich, the birthplace of the global telecoms industry and the internet

The global network that we now call the internet was built in factories along the river in Greenwich, Charlton and North Woolwich. One of them is almost certainly the oldest working factory in the industry. And the optical fibre technology that the internet uses today was invented by an electronics engineer trained in Woolwich and North Woolwich.

Alan Burkitt-Gray, SE London-based telecoms and technology journalist and secretary of GIHS 


Tuesday 10 November

Starting online at 19:30

Greenwich Marsh to Greenwich Peninsula – 300 years of regeneration

The Greenwich peninsula, now the home to the O2, North Greenwich station, hotels, endless blocks of flats and tunnels to the other side of the river, has been the scene of industry for a thousand years – with tide mills and factories that made gunpowder, rope, soap, linoleum, concrete and steel, not to mention the gasworks.

Dr Mary Mills, industrial historian and joint chair of GIHS 


Tuesday 8 December

Starting online at 19:30

The Eastern Telegraph Company’s first cable system – the Red Sea Line to India

It’s 150 years this year since the UK was first connected directly to India, via Gibraltar, Malta, Alexandria, Aden and the Indian Ocean. The cable was made in Greenwich – and the Aden-Mumbai stretch was laid by the Great Eastern, the Brunel’s paddle steamer that was built on the Isle of Dogs. 

Stewart Ash, SE London-based submarine cable consultant and historian


Tuesday 4 August 2020


Greenwich Industrial History Society

Newsletter August 2020

Like every other Society we had to pause our meetings from March onwards. But we have an exciting offer to all members – and to followers of our Facebook group: online meetings, via Zoom, to start this autumn.

We are building the agenda for our autumn schedule of online meetings, and we will announce the topics and speakers shortly.

Among the subjects we are considering are Greenwich’s contribution to the communications revolution from 1851 onwards; the Great Eastern and its role in the first cable from Britain to India; the East Greenwich gasholder, recently demolished. Please let us know of other wishes and suggestions. Please email or with your ideas.

AGM report

The GIHS officers are now Andrew Bullivant and Mary Mills as joint chairs; Alan Burkitt-Gray as secretary; Juliet Cairns as auditor; and Elizabeth Pearcey as a co-opted extra member. Our treasurer resigned, and so Alan, Mary and Juliet are now doing it between them. It has taken some time to sort out the paper work which our late, and very valued, treasurer, Steve Daly left. But we are working on it.

We are not going to charge a membership subscription for 2020-21. All our online meetings will be free and – when we finally are able to gather back in our regular meeting place – meetings for winter, spring and summer 2021 will be free too.

Please contact Elizabeth Pearcey (details below) for membership enquiries.


Facebook page and the GIHS blog

There is a lot going on in industrial history in Greenwich at the moment and we attempt to report as much as possible on the Greenwich Industrial History page on Facebook. If you are a Facebook user, search for the society, go to, or go to this specially shortened link

We will also post details of all our meetings – including our online meetings – there.

Our Facebook group now has 500 members and new people are joining all the time. Many of them are young people who are moving into the new flats on the Peninsula.

We are also still running the GHIS blog at for longer items – and there is an Instagram and a Twitter account.

Over the past couple of years we have hosted a small advisory group for people involved in various projects and campaigns. Hopefully this has provided a measure of mutual support.  If you would like to contribute please contact us.

So what is going on? A quick run round

Being Greenwich, this is all about development sites – and, with all the activities listed below, things are really still on hold. Until the start of lockdown we had regular meetings of members who were involved in various projects, so please keep in touch so we can tell people what it going on.

·       THE GASHOLDER. Clearly this has now been demolished . We are left with an amazing photo archive and much new information. We had four site visits and a commemorative artwork is planned. We are also in touch with many historians and activists with an interest in the gas industry and gas holders. The Silvertown Tunnel will include major works on the site of the No 2. Holder (demolished in 1985) and we hope that this will provide items of interest.

·       ENDERBY WHARF. The Enderby Group continues to monitor developments. It is to our regret that Barratts – which developed the site – never constructively engaged with the group. Enderby House has now been passed to Young’s brewery, although what is happening is still not clear. Our members worked closely with Bobby Lloyd who designed a commemorative artwork for the site. We have had a number of articles and books published and are grateful to Bill Burns, who runs the Atlantic Cable Web site

·       ROYAL ARSENAL. We are in close touch with the group running the Royal Arsenal website and with other activists on the site. Before lockdown there were successful pub-based information sessions and the group also hosts a lively facebook page and has a terrific website.

·       GREENWICH ARCHIVE. We have been closely involved in drawing attention to the deficiency in the current arrangements through the Greenwich Archive Users Forum.

·       DEPTFORD DOCKYARD. We are in touch with residents who seek to challenge the development plans for the site – which were agreed some years ago and may now be revised – and they hope to get the historical context re-examined.

·       SIEMENS SITE. We have members working with the developers here and other members working with local campaigners. It is hoped that the new development will include some reference to the past of this important company. Sadly, as many will be aware, Brian Middlemiss from the Siemens Engineering Society was killed in an accident. He and other members had provided a vast amount of help and support over the years.

·       MORDEN WHARF. A planning application is now in for this important site. Members have been involved in providing historical information here.

·       SILVERTOWN TUNNEL. Planning applications for the actual works are now being registered. We are looking at plans for an archaeologist on site and are seeking advice on their remit. Clearly we would like them to evaluate the remains of the two holders on site  (YES – two holders.

·       DEPTFORD CREEK.  We have been happy to support West Greenwich residents who have been campaigning for a Creekside footpath to be opened – as planning consents have ruled. They would like this to include information with reference to the many industrial sites on the Creek – and to include buildings currently in use by Thames Water for construction of the Tideway Tunnel

·       PUBLICATIONS. Many members are involved in the production of community based newsletters and leaflets on Greenwich’s industrial history – for example Richard Buchanan’s monthly newsletter for Woolwich Antiquarians.  Stewart Ash has produced many articles, and three books – one on the Enderby family and one on the cable industry in Greenwich are on the Atlantic Cable website. His biography of Sir John Pender is available through Amazon.  Mary Mills continues to produce an article most weeks on Greenwich industry in Greenwich Weekender and hopes to re-publish Greenwich Marsh –first published in 1998 but this time longer and with proper references – again via Amazon.

·       REQUESTS: We currently have requests for information on:

o   Greenwich Ferry Countess of Zetland

o   Old photographs of Park Row

o   Always happy to take on issue and see what we can come up with.

·       Alan Burkitt-Gray, o   ( 7 Foxes Dale, London SE3 9BD Phone 079 6202 1330

·       Mary Mills o   (24 Humber Road, London,SE3LT

·       Elizabeth Pearcey o   (125B Dalling Road London W6 0ET.: 020 8222 8468.: 07738 473547.