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AIMS - to research, publish and promote the industrial history of the London Borough of Greenwich

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    They have raised an  issue of concern on J.Muir & Co Bookbinders 64-68 Blackheath Road. - GIHS would be grateful for info on this

    There are also numerous issue around Enderby House. The Conservation Group has made a submission and it is understood EGRA and the Enderby Group are working with them and each other.  Anyone who wants to find out more and maybe write in themselves are urged to do so - advice from EGRA  (, Enderby Group members ( - or GIHS via  this blog site - email contact over on the left. (

    There are two applications  - 17/232/NM looked after by Planning Officer Y.Mederios and 17/2320/L looked after by Planning Officer T.Choudhury.  It appears they will be taken together.

    Both are for internal and external amendments to Enderby House. A summary of comments are as follows:
    - regret realignment of riverside path and increased height of flood defence walls which puts the setting of the listed house in jeopardy
    - regret no secure gate arrangement in the flood defence wall
    - question natural lighting at ground floor since the roof light has been removed to allow for outdoor seating on a first floor terrace
    - urge that more emphasis is placed on tourist and community aspects in preference to retail used 'now proposed'.


    Thanks for their newsletter.

    They advertise their next meetings as:
    14th October Crossness Nature Reserve by Karen Sutton
    11th November  - A date with buildings by Jim Marrett and Wricklemarsh by Richard Buchanan
    10th March - The effects of the Spanish Civil War on World War II Britain
    All at  2pm Charlton House, Grand Salon

    and also - other people's meetings -
    6th Sept - Secret Chiselhurst. Orpington DAS Christ Church, Tudor Way, Petts Wood 8 pm
    10th Sept  Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary. 11-3 pm
    10th Sept  Friends of Shrewsbury Park Foraging Walk. 2.30 Garland Road Gate Falconwood
    24th Sept..Falconwood Miniature Railway. Open

    4th Oct -  Orpington High Street 1967 Orpington DAS Christ Church, Tudor Way, Petts Wood 8 pm
    8th Oct - Falconwood Miniature Railway. Open
    15th Oct- Crossness Engines. Steaming Day 10.30-4 pm
    15th Oct - Woodlands Farm Apple Day
    20th Oct -Crossness Engines. Static Display  10.30-4 pm
    10th Dec. Falconwood Miniature Railway. Santa Special

    This is followed by an article on a Parish Boundary Stone by Jim Marrett - and follows the sites, removal and retrieval of skips of these items by Jim and Jack Vaughan
    There is also an article but a plaque to boxer Tom Cribb and a bit about his life  1781-1848
    And an article on mulberry trees - with reference to a project to find them and where they are

    - smaller items on - Driverless cars (running along the Greenwich riverside); the future of Shrewsbury House community centre; Rushgrove House in Woolwich and its history and use in the 'Turner' film; the East Greenwich gas holder; changes to the Equitable building in Woolwich,



    The group around the Creek and the Ashburnham Triangle have raised an issue around the future of Creekside and the work on the Tideway Tunnel project and the 'reconstruction' of the Bazelgette Pumping Station.  They are looking for increased public access and a Creekside pathway which will involve industrial heritage.  They would like contact with people already involved in this or who would like to be involved. (Contact them via GIHS).  
    We are also told by Cllr. Mehboob Khan that he is currently chairing a resident liaison group and is happy to hear ideas and so on.



    As everyone knows the first Atlantic cable ran from Valentia in Ireland to Heart's Content in Newfoundland - and last week we were sent pictures from Heart's Content. So?? What about Valentia??

    We were sent an email just yesterday saying that there was 'considerable excitement because the Irish government announced it would definitely be putting Valentia forward to UNESCO in the next round of World Heritage site official nominations in 2020, based on the cable story. The Valentia cables - both the unsuccessful 1858 one, and the successful 1866 one - were of course manufactured in Greenwich. If UNESCO accept the Irish govt's nomination, this may help secure wider public acknowledgement of the vital role Telecon's cables played in linking the world via cable by the time Victoria died.

    By a complete co-incidence last week we were sent  some pictures from Hearts Content

    Bill Burns also adds "The cable station there is of course a museum, just across the road from the cable landing. It's very difficult, however, to protect cable at the shoreline against decay, damage and vandalism without removing it.
    My photos of the site in 2001 are on this page:



    We have a request for info as follows from someone researching the history of drinking fountains:

    They want info on:

    A fountain that was installed on 19-May-1913 in the “v” of Creek Road & Wellington Street. It was 12ft high and made of a combination of grey limestone & red Peterhead granite and contained the inscription:

    BORN 12 MARCH 1843  DIED 11 MARCH 1912

    A plain 6ft 6in cattle trough was installed next to the drinking fountain. It appears that both the drinking fountain and cattle trough were removed by Greenwich council in June-1992 and were probably broken up
    Are there any local experts with knowledge of the Deptford Cattle market and/or the drinking fountain? Do any photos of the fountain exist?



    15th September  Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens

    5th October - Tales of things in the Olympic Park

    Both at Mycenae House. 7.45



    they have published their 2017-18 programme, Meetings are at James Wolfe school in Royal Hill  7.30. £3 for non members

    27th September Fr Kevin Robinson on Our Lady Star of the Sea - which includes exciting maritime tales

    25th October -  Veronica Thornton on Screaming Alice - that's the railway which went to Crystal Palace

    22nd November - Richard Hill - the discovery of a Hawkesmoor drawing of St. Alfege's

    24th January - Mark Stevenson - The Royal Arsenal

    28th February - Andrew Byrne  London 1840: Greenwich

    28th March - Anthony Cross on Charles Spurgeon's Magic Lantern Show

    25th April - Horatio Blood on Bohemian Greenwich

    23rd May - Will Palin on Daniel Asher Alexander



    All sorts of goings on in the Foot Tunnel (at least at the Isle of Dogs end)

    We understand there is a long term problem with a development site alongside the foot tunnel and that plans for it were originally likely to affect the tunnel. The site is an old wharf and there are ownership and other issues. Cyclists are not welcome in Island Gardens and clealry there are strong feelings.

    What do Greenwich historians think about this???



    They have sent info on a load of events- lots of these look really interesting but also look as if you have to book. There is no info on this given, so find your own way

    7th - 24th September - Events at Erith Lighthouse. (this is a new restaurant and other things space)

    8th  September Musical Gems on the Thames . This is a boat trip from Westminster Pier. 

    14th London Infrastructure Summit 8am-6.30 pm.  QE Centre

    16th- 17th September . Open House at Master Shipwright's House.  16th - 17th 10am-5pm (in Deptford, just turn up. super site)

    21st September London First discussion on water scarcity and security  8-10.30 am at Buro Happold 

    23rd September Foreshore Festival. This is at Putney on 23rd 10-4

    27th-28th September Flood Expo. Exhibition and Conference at Excell

    5th October. Thames Estuary Growth Day  8.30 am-5.30 pm

    14th -15th October. London on Sea. Film making course for young people. Hermitage Moorings

    10th October - Fly tipping Symposium. 10.15-4.30 pm Park Plaza

    16th November Thames Estuary Partnership Annual Forum 



    Sorry - thats all a bit of a list of people's meetings. Although I don't know what I'm sorry about because its what they send

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  • 09/11/17--13:06: More news again

    We have heard that there is an application to issue a certificate of immunity against listing on our great Gasholder in East Greenwich.   There are, of course, some good reasons why listing isn't always a good idea, particularly for such a large structure which would need alteration if it is to have a viable future - in its present state it would cost a fortune to maintain and have no useful purpose. However, if it cannot be listed then it can just be pulled down one day and - hey ho!!!  We don't know who has put this application in but we would urge anyone interested to immediately contact, and put your views - whether you are for it or against. You need to do this NOW

    In the meantime here is a jolly little map prepared by the Enderby Group which points out that the holder is a useful focus point for a lot of leisure facilities on the Peninsula and with a bit of imagination could be turned into an exciting landmark.

    Thames Discovery Programme Newsletter

    - this is the word from the REAL archaeologists who go round digging things up, (selectively). And they do it on the foreshore of the River.

    Eliott Wragg reports on some of his summer work - in July in Deptford on the foreshore of the Royal Dockyard looking at a slipway which became visible in 2016 - and which they think is earlier. They also went to look at the pile of timber from 19th century warships at the end of Anchor and Hope Lane - go see this, it was what was left from a shipbreaking yard, huge great hunks of timber, just abandoned.
    Elliot also reports that at Greenwich on the foreshore 'old features had washed away while new ones were revealed including a new windlass and rudder - all probably from 18th/early19th vessels.

    There is also a report 'More erosion at Greenwich'.  This change has taken place since the sea wall was strengthened along by the Old Royal Naval College. There is a drop in levels by the King's Stairs and in front of the Bellot Memorial. More of the causeways have now been revealed and also a large chalk barge bed. They have found a base plate between the jetty and the steps . They hope to use photogrammetry (what's that??) and have some 3D models on show

    Older Londoners Project - they are apparently running this with the University of the Third Age and have started a project with them called 'Sail to Steam' which will research the transition of wooden ship building on the Thames to iron   This will be shared with Riverpedia (what's that??)

    FORESHORE FORUM - this is a weekend of intertidal archaeology - 28th-29th October 2017 at Norton Rose Fulbright, 3 More London Riverside, SE1 2AQ weekend ticket £50  details https//

    Totally Thames Walks - the Greenwich dates for one of these is 22nd September 9.30 am £10.15 each  free if you are over 75
    Remembering the Thames Tea Party  10th October 2-4 pm this is Silver Sunday and part of the older peoples thing. It is at Mortimer Wheeler House, N1 and you need to book  020 7410 2200 or email



    We've all heard of cases where the word 'listing' is used about a building - 'we ought to get that listed' people say, and the next night it is mysteriously burnt down. Well, this is a petition against that sort of thing:



    The Society are advertising a talk on Blackheath Arts Club building which is now, inevitably, flats. In the 1930s it was the home of the GPO Film Unit where, under John Grierson, a series of groundbreaking documentaries were made, including Night Mail and - I think - Fires were Started.  The visit includes a talk by Steven Foxton who is curator of non-fiction films at the National Film Insitute. The event is on October 12th at St.Mary's Halls, Cresswell Park. The snag is that it is £10 bookable through - but they say you also get some wine (personally would prefer a cheaper event and no wine!! - if you come to Greenwich Industrial History its free for members and £1 for visitors).  The building was also used for making aircraft parts in the Second World War. 



    The Enderby Group is concerned with the manufacture of the manufacture in Greenwich of the underwater cables which fed, and still feed, telecommunications around the world. In the first 80 years of the telegraph almost all cable, world wide, was made in Greenwich - and the research facility in Blackwall Lane remains.  The most celebrated cable was that which crossed the Atlantic - and the first three attempts failed. The cable was made in Greenwich and loaded onto Brunel's Great Eastern and taken to Valentia in Ireland - the most westerly point in Europe.  The cable was then laid to Heart's Content in Newfoundland.  

    Recently some pictures of monuments in Hearts Content have gone onto the Enderby Group Facebook page
    There is also (or will be soon) an article about Valentia and World Heritage Status by Richard Buchanon with details not included below

    We are also told that the cable station at Heart's Content is a museum, just across the road from
    the cable landing.  There are photos at

    The Group has learnt about a series of events around the Valentia/Hearts Content link.
    On 27th July last year 3,071 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, identical marine bollards were unveiled simultaneously at Valentia and Hearts Content.  It turns out that this was part of a Festival in Valentia last year. This included a lecture on the Trans Atlantic Cable by Bill Burns  ( see his great web page and a launch of a book by Professor Donald de Cogan 'They talk along the deep: a global history of the Valentia Island telegraph cables" .  There was also the launch of a paper on a World Heritage Site on communications technology funded by Tralee and Kerry County Council. 

    Since then we understand the Irish Government is pushing for World Heritage status for Valentia and for this to be linked to Heart's Content. A statement by the Chair of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation says the cable was 'the equivalent of putting a man on the moon'.  

    There are already moves in Heart's Content to make some sort of heritage link happen and declare the town 'as a twin heritage site'.

    It turns out however that the 'Canso' building at Heart's Content was demolished a few days ago.  It was owned by a local group who were unable to raise the money for restoration.  See:

    there are a vast number of other web sites on this, can supply if asked

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  • 09/26/17--09:57: and even more news

  • Yet another news page - please someone send me an article!!!


    As I write this I have been emailed that the Poplar Gasholders are currently being demolished. These are the holders to the east of the Blackwall Tunnel Approach almost immediately before the Tunnel. They were built by the Commercial Gas Company.  There has been a long campaign to keep them which has been run by a local Stepney and Poplar history group - who have already failed to keep the dramatically sited Bethnal Green holder. (The ones further north which you see from the Tunnel Approach near Tesco are listed)

    LANNION Cite des Telcoms

    Thanks to Ben Page for this report:

    The Cite des Telecoms at Pleumeur-Bodou near Lannion is a large museum of communications sponsored by Orange. We stumbled across it while on holiday and spent a whole day there. There is a gallery within the museum devoted to the history of sub-sea cables, which includes a display of repeaters, one of which is a Telcon one that I guessed might have come from Greenwich, which is why I thought it might interest the group. The central exhibit of the whole museum is the Radome, which is the European end of the first trans-Atlantic TV transmission (now a UNESCO world Heritage site) dating from 1962. For 20 minutes a day (around midnight) the French could watch American TV via the Telstar satellite should they so wish. It takes the form of giant ear trumpet 65 m long and 35m high but precision engineered to the mm. It was protected from the weather by a very elegant, very thin dome which is inflated to retain its spherical shape. There is a ‘son et lumiere’ inside the Radome in English and French which tells its history and explains its engineering.

    One of the things that interested me is how the story of communication is told differently in different places by different museums drawing attention to different innovations at different moments. So, the way I tell the story of Enderby Wharf to my undergraduate geography students (as a way of getting them to think about the materials and infrastructure that underpin the history of globalization) works for me because I can localize it for them by bringing them to Greenwich. Yet from the perspective of the curators who tell the story in Lannion there is a rather different ‘centre’ to the story even though some of the elements (the Great Eastern for example) are shared. Lannion is still the site where one of the main fibre-optic cables that crosses the Atlantic comes onshore in Fra


    On page 3 of the latest issue they are asking what your favourite things are in Greenwich - email - dare you all to write in and say it is the gasholder (or something similar).

    BUT what the Newsletter does include is a really really cracking article about Greenwich Power Station. This is about the 1906 row which erupted between the power station and the Royal Observatory. 'the finger of blame was largely directed towards the London County Council' and there was a Parliamentary enquiry.  The author advises us to look at the full story which is on the Royal Observatory web site - but it would be good to get someone to come and speak to GIHS on it.


    This is a European based industrial heritage organisation (not a web based religion!!). Currently they have an industrial heritage weekend in Barcelona 20-22 October which is the start of their 
    campaign for European Cultural Heritage Year.   They are still looking for themes for this and suggest you look at  They want to know what we are planning to do to celebrate next year!



    The September 2017 issue of Sub Brit's wonderful Journal has just arrived. Only one Greenwich Borough item in it though. "World War II Air-raid Shelter recorded at Eltham".  This is apparently under a school playground and they refer to an article in Post Medieval Archaeology 50 (3) 459-460.



    They are looking for a volunteer administrator - please look at their website  -
    Also on their web site are details and pictures of their Open House Day event at the Shipwrights Palace


    Appleby Brothers were an engineering firm based on the Greenwich Peninsula. We recently had an email from a waterworks in New Zealand  We have put them in touch with an Appleby Brothers specialist and hope to be able to report back soon. Meanwhile have a look at their website - and the pictures of what they have been able to preserve!! 



    The Plumstead People Facebook page has been running a feature on Civic House - this stood at the top of Woolwich New Road and was apparently built as a NUPE Headquarters around 1980. It has now been demolished. Some of us have remembered that it was previously the site of the Woolwich Bus Museum. It is our understanding that this is now the Brooklands Bus Museum - is this so - what do people know about it in its incarnation of Woolwich and how it got to - ugh - West London???



    Crossness Creative Afternoon - creativity and cake with artist Lily German. You have to book through evenbrite but know no more details except it is 6th October  13.00-17.00



    We have invited Lindsay Collier - the brains behind this project and the Walthamstow Pump House Museum to come and tell us about this initiative to bring together several East London industrial heritage projects.
    In the short term we are very very impressed  with their leaflet 'Discover the Industrial Heritage of London's Lea Valley'. A lot of this is based on sites in the Lea Valley Park - which is a  very wonderful institution looking after many beautiful sites of many sorts, as well as sports facilities and much else. Greenwich residents will not realise that they partly pay for this as there is a precept on all London Boroughs to fund the Park. So - go over the river and enjoy it - and see this beautiful beautiful leaflet.
    And read all of Jim Lewis's series of books which show how everything electrical and electronic and much else (market gardening too) was invented and emerged from the Lea Valley.


    Chris Mansfield has put on his Facebook page a wonderful old picture of Woolwich.  He says it is  "Approx' 1870s - 1880s taken from a magic lantern slide this view looks like it was taken from the top of St Marys church .. There is no sign of the free ferry terminals so I think this is probably the oldest photo I have seen of Woolwich".  I also understand he is trying to get an enhanced print.  I am not going to reproduce it here until we see if he can improve it.   I have some interesting comments on it waiting



    We have been sent a copy of Ron Roffey's CD with lots and lots of information about the RACS and other local south east co-ops.  It is very amazing and I think we should do a review of it as a separate page.   It points out that the first recorded co-ops were in Woolwich - the author of one article says "There's too much talk of Rochdale and Eighteen Forty Four. The honour belongs to Woolwich ..the Century before" - quite - we all ought to talk Woolwich up a bit!!  And the mighty Royal Arsenal Co-op is a good place to start.

    - I bet there weren't any other consumer co-ops which had their own mine

    - and - our info is that Ron is in hospital today (26h Sept) can we wish him well

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  • 10/07/17--03:14: and more news today

  • NEXT MEETING - 10th Tuesday

    Our next meeting is a discussion meeting on Industrial Heritage in Greenwich - we hope you will come along and put your views forward.
    We have asked Danny Hayton to come along to Chair it - he is a prominent figure in industrial history and industrial archaeology in London. We hope to have short introductions from - Ian Bull (Royal Arsenal), Andrew Bullevant (GIHS,Woolwich Antiquarians and Shooters Hill Local History Group), Peter Luck (Chair Enderby Group), Mari Tay (Deptford Power, Deptford Working Histories), Elizabeth Pearcey (Archaeologist London Museum of Water and Steam)

    and -in that context - we have been sent a copy of a posting about Greenwich in The Pipeline  -

    This three page article by Andy Brockman analyses the Council's draft plans for the East Greenwich gasholder site and put it into a context of industrial heritage, visitor and development issues, and the consultation by Historic England.  Read it.


    Pumps in Australia -made in Greenwich

    Appleby pumps - Goulburn Waterworks Museum, Australia.   In the last post we mentioned a request for information from the Museum and that we were getting an answer together. We have now been copied into a long and detailed reply which has been put together for them. It is too long and detailed to be listed here as a news item and I hope that, with the author's consent, it can be a separate item.  The Museum is at


    We have also been sent a link to This is a posting about the oldest Thames Tug Brittania and her imminent demise having been sold for scrap.  Brittania is the re-named T.BHeathorn and she was originally built for the South Metropolitan Gas Co. - and was probably based at East Greenwich gas works, and would in all certainly have worked from the jetties there. She was named for Thomas Bridges Heathorn, on of the company directors - and himself the son of Joseph Lidwell Heathorn one of the founders off the Company.



    The October 2017 GLIAS newsletter contains notices of the following events which may be of interest in Greenwich.

    15th October - Crossness. Prince Consort in steam.
    15th November. GLIAS Pub Evening. Kings Arms, Newcomen Street, SE1. from 6.30. general chat and cheer plus some presentations. Anyone who wants to do a presentation contact
    29th November. Crossness Open Day. No Steam.

    The Newsletter contains an article about the Woolwich stoneware kiln by Bob Carr - who came down to see its last few days in March
    Docklands History Group - the speaker at their September meeting was Elizabeth Wiggans, the archivist at Morden College.  Elizabeth has been very helpful to many Greenwich historians and the Morden College archive is one of the most unknown but amazing assets in Greenwich and Blackheath.  The College has owned large chunks of Greenwich since the late 17th century and, much of the older housing we see in both West and East Greenwich was built by them. In the case of its holdings on the Peninsula they ran what can only be described as an industrial development programme there on the west bank in the late 19th century. Elizabeth's talk was about the history of the College from the 17th century and the work done today to house the elderly and to manage their extensive estates.


    The Last Gasometer in Poplar
    We have been directed to The Gentle Author 

    This is an article about the demolition over the last week or so of one of the gas holders on the Poplar Levan Road site - this is on your right immediately as you come out of the Blackwall Tunnel on the other side.   It was built by the Commercial Gas Company - (which was effectively controlled by our own South Met.Co. but don't tell the people north of the river that I said that!). 
    Basically - the demolition crews are getting nearer and nearer.


    Slightly sad endnote  - it is with some regret that we have noticed that the original GIHS web site has now been removed from the Goldsmith's server and is no longer with us.  This was set up in 1998 and included all our original newsletters - but we lost control of it many years ago when our member there retired and were unable to correct basic things on it, like out of date email addresses and so on.  We have a backup of the entire site and are wondering what to do with it - there are several options. Wait and see!!

    PS - hope you all saw the article about the Woolwich Stoneware Kiln in Greenwich Weekender!

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  • 10/09/17--23:44: Tonight's the night
  • Tonight (Tuesday 10th) GIHS is hosting a discussion evening on industrial heritage in Greenwich - all turn up - and lets hope the Bakehouse has enough seats for everyone - 7.30 Age Exchange Bakehouse (which is down an alleyway in Bennett Park at the back of the Age Exchange building in Blackheath Village)

    In the meantime - here are some ideas from one area of the Borough - Creekside -

    Unlocking Deptford Creek

    An urgent call to all Creekside stakeholders* for the current Thames Tideway Tunnel Greenwich works to be used to deliver a  legacy of improved public access  and amenity.
    Mick Delap, Ashburnham Triangle, West Greenwich,  April 2017

    *see Section 4, below.  Plus Appendix 1 - Map; and Appendix 2 - the 19th Century Creek

     1. Introduction: unlocking the Creek.  Deptford Creek is an area of major historical and environmental interest, that is changing fast. In the nineteenth century, a variety of Creekside industrial enterprises made an extraordinary contribution to the emergence of London as a modern mega city. They showed the rest of London, and the world, what it would take to make large scale urbanization work  [see Appendix 2].  This former industrial powerhouse is now being transformed at breathtaking speed into a series of new high rise domestic communities.

    Over the years,  successive plans, at London, and Lewisham and Royal Greenwich Borough level, have highlighted the opportunities for combining the wave of new housing with improved public access to the Creek's environmental and historical riches. But little has been done to give established West Greenwich neighbourhoods, like my own Ashburnham Triangle, and these thousands of Creekside newcomers the kind of public open space and cultural amenities they were promised.

    Now the Thames Tideway Tunnel works along the Creek at Thames Water's Greenwich Pumping Station offer a golden opportunity, at little additional cost, to leave a significantly improved public legacy for the Creek's new inhabitants.

    2.  The current situation:  no trespassing.  At present (and for the foreseeable future, unless post Tideway Tunnel reconstruction plans can be improved), the Creek's environmental, cultural and amenity assets and potential are locked away. Apart from the brief views of the Creek from the Halfpenny Hatch bridge on the east-west pedestrian and cycle pathway, there is no public access.

    The nearby Creekside Discovery Centre, on the Creek's west (Lewisham) bank is a valiant pioneer in drawing attention to the Creek's unique environment,  but lacks resources and support. The situation on the east (Greenwich) bank is even more discouraging.  Royal Greenwich Planning has proposed using Section 106 agreements to provide access to the Creek on two developments upstream from the Halfpenny Hatch bridge.  The Galliard development of the Skillion/Merryweather site required the developer to provide public access to the Creek. A pathway has been built, but, in defiance of Section 106 requirements, it remains locked.  The new Booker development, further upstream, will also have Section 106 requirements for public access to the Creek.  But even if these are honoured, neither the Galliard nor the Booker Creekside paths offer any significant improvement in public amenity.  They go nowhere, and are not long enough to attract walkers or cyclists.

    3. A new Creekside pathway.  What would transform meaningful public access to a significant stretch of the Creek, and at a blow unlock its historical, heritage and environmental riches, would be if the isolated Creekside pathway plans for the Galliard and Booker sites were linked to a new section of Creekside  pathway running south from the Halfpenny Hatch Bridge on the east (Greenwich)  bank of the Creek, along the edge of the Thames Water Pumping Station site.  With careful attention to ensuring the security of the working Pumping Station site, this new north - south pathway could finally open up the Creek and give the newly emerging Creekside community the kind of public amenity it has long been promised.  It could also be linked to Brookmill Park, making the Halfpenny Hatch bridge the northern starting point of the Ravensbourne Trail.

    And what makes all this feasible is the Thames Tideway Tunnel work along this stretch of the Creek,  as the Greenwich element of the project is built over the next two years.  This exact section of Creekside is being taken apart as we speak by the Tideway works.  After which, the site will be restored.  The planning agreements already reached  between Tideway and Royal Greenwich do not call for any planning gain.  If they go ahead as planned, the Creek will be returned to its present shut off state.  There will be no improvements to public access, no unlocking of the Creek's historical and environmental treasures, no significant legacy for the Creekside community.

     The alternative is to use this golden opportunity to amend the post-construction plans to open up the key section of a new north-south pathway.  And to use the pathway to provide the public with properly interpreted access to the history and environment of the Creek (perhaps finally finding a use for at least part of the Grade 1 listed Coal Sheds, the hidden gems on the Thames Water site).  Given the vast scale of the Tideway project, the additional costs would be minimal.  Planning agreements have been reached, and the opportunity to enforce Section 106 requirements has passed.  But if all the interested parties could, on a voluntary basis, agree an alternative legacy plan  - not as a planning requirement, but as a significant public good - then the Tideway Tunnel could still leave the Creek, and the wider Greenwich and Lewisham communities,  with an impressive legacy.

     4.  Moving forward - but how?.  Funding will need to be found.  But for once the real challenge is finding a way to bring the very disparate group of potential stakeholders together.  Central to realising the dream of a new north-south Creekside pathway are Tideway and Thames Tunnel East, as contractors, and Thames Water, as owners and operators of the Greenwich Pumping Station site. For Thames Water, safeguarding  security will be a key issue. Royal Greenwich are the planning authority for the east bank of the Creek, as Lewisham are for much of the west bank.  There is potential for the proposed opening up of the Creek to link productively with existing Greenwich and Lewisham Green Space and tourism initiatives (especially the Historic Greenwich World Heritage Site, and the Ravensbourne Trail).  The Creekside Discovery Centre and Creekside Educational Trust already play a key role in developing public awareness of Creekside environment, history and amenities. They have approached some existing and new developers of Creekside sites. The current owners of the Skillion /  Merryweather,  and the Booker sites are obviously important here.   

    Looking further afield, Greenwich University have ongoing programmes which build on the past, present and future of their immediate neighbourhood.  Local amenity groups such as the Greenwich Society, the Greenwich Industrial History Society and the Ashburnham Triangle Association have also regularly engaged with the Creek's past, present and future. There will be potentially interested development agencies. And individual elected representatives have roles to play, from Greenwich and Lewisham MP's to local councillors.  In particular, Greenwich Councillor Mehboob Khan is already involved as chair of the Community Liaison Working Group for Tideway East's Greenwich and Deptford projects.  One local body with a proven record of unlocking heritage sites is the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. 

    5. Conclusion. The current Tideway Thames Tunnel works on the Thames Water Pumping Station site over the next two years represent a golden opportunity for dramatically improving Creekside amenities. Given the complex web of stakeholders, what is lacking is an obvious individual or body to take overall responsibility for seizing  this opportunity.  Creative Process's 2009 Creekside Charrette is one model.  I hope this paper will re-start a process that ends by finally  unlocking the Creek to the public.

    Mick Delap,
    Ashburnham Triangle, Greenwich, April 2017

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    Bygone Kent - the latest issue includes a great article about the East Greenwich gas holder.  GIHS sent them our current press release about the holder and this has been added to with a lot of research by Francesca Baker.  It is a very very good article and Bygone Kent should be thanked for the effort which has gone into it.


    - and on the same subject, thanks to Greenwich Visitor's Nelson's Column for a mention of the holder and a link to to the man at Historic England and may/may not be dealing with any listings applications.


    Charlton Station - now this is amazing. London Railway Record (October 2017) has a 12 page article on Charlton Station by Peter Kay.  Clearly there is a  lot of detail - and it is railway related material, remembering that LRR caters for spotters with an educated and historical bent.  There is a lot of stuff about the traumas of having to interact with the Greenwich Line as well as the line through Blackheath Tunnel which had different left/right hand running. This led to endless discussions with various railway inspectors, many of which are given in detail. Subsequently there was a collision and that is detailed to.  There is a lot about changes to the buildings over the years - and there is also a little story of a lady who 'bought' a ticket from the porter (er - her lodger) and it turned out to be an already used one he just happened to have.
    Sadly the article - being very serious about railways and written by a man - doesn't pick up on recent changes, particularly the sterling work done by the Charlton gardeners on the down side!


    Night Mail - great evening recently at the Blackheath Society on the subject of the GPO Film Unit which was based in what was Blackheath Arts Club in Bennett Park in the 1930s-40s.  The famous film  'Night Mail' was made there - what you see as apparently internal shots on the mail train were actually filmed in Blackheath, with actors, swaying slightly.   The GPO film unit and its successors at Shell and elsewhere in the work of public information films provided us with a great record of industry around the time of the Second World War - with messages about innovation, dignity in work, co-operation and stuff like that.  A lot about influence from Eisenstein - patriotism, ordinary people and stuff like that, but I won't go on about it.


    Crossness Record - lots of stuff in the current record.  The front page tells us that John Austin has been replaced as Chair by Bexley councillor Professor Peter Catterall (I know John hasn't lived in Greenwich for years - but when I first moved here he was a local councillor - for Charlton Ward - and later Leader of the Council) .  This issue of the record is more colourful and brighter than previous issues and the team are to be congratulated. There is a lots of stuff about the volunteers and even a picture of some Morris Dancers. There is also a long historical article on sewage treatment with a focus on work done on chemical treatment by Sir Edward Frankland in the 1870s
    anyway - see


    Merryweathers - were of course the fire engine manufacturers based in Greenwich High Road  This week a couple of scraps have floated into our inbox. One is from someone who has found a lot of Merryweather related material in Grandad's loft. Neil Bennett - the expert on Merryweathers - is hopefully dealing with this. Apparently some of it concerns James Compton Merryweather.

    Neil has also sent a curious interchange - beginning with an email he sent to the Head of Bloodstock Services at a horse racing establishment.  This was a horse called Fireworks who raced in 1894  owned by a James Compton Merryweather 'owner of a successful fire engine factory'.  Well!! you can always see a company is doing well if the owner is a race horse owner!
    It appears that Fireworks ran eleven times on the Flat winning twice. He won at Epsom  when he was owned by Col. North and then in Leicester when he was owned by Mr. Merryweather


    APPLEBYS.  You may remember that we posted up information about the Goulburn Water Works Museum in Australia and their request for information about Appleby's Greenwich factory and any information about the equipment they have and any information about how it might have been transported to Australia.   They explained:

    "Four Appleby beam engines delivered to Australia which were made in 1883 and used for pumping water in the townships of Albury, Bathurst, Goulburn and Wagga Wagga all in New South Wales Australia?

    Out of the four, Goulburn has the only complete and working beam engine left, which is housed at the GoulburnHistoricWaterworksMuseum in its original pumphouse with the two complete boilers originally used to power it. The pumphouse and engine have been listed on the Australian Heritage Register as have National significance and is also listed with the Australian National Trust.

    The web address of the GoulburnHistoricWaterworksMuseum is"

    We passed this letter on to John Steeds - who is an Appleby descendent. He sent a huge page full of information - and below is an edited version of some of what he said to them.

    - about the transport of the engines to Australia ---------------

    "the date stamp on your Appleby drawings of the pumps is 7th July 1883.   I don’t know how the machinery was transported to Australia, but they may have come aboard the 'Anglo Indian'. My grandfather, PV Appleby, who had been working at the East Greenwich works, was appointed as a supernumerary engineer on the Anglo Indianfor the voyage to Australia.  The Anglo Indian left the UK on 7th July 1883 (the same date as the date stamp on your drawings) and she arrived in Brisbane on 3rd October 1883.  I don’t have any details about the trip except for a press cutting which describes various ports of call and which states that when the Anglo Indian arrived at Townsville on 14th September, she commenced discharging cargo which consisted mostly of heavy machinery, boilers etc.  This, at least, suggests that they may have had the Appleby pumps on board! 

    - about the pumps --
    The only specific reference to the four beam pumps that I can find comes from the Application for Membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers of CJ Appleby’s son, Frank James Appleby.  This reference is repeated in his Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary. The application tells us that Frank James came out to New South Wales in 1884 to supervise the erection of the pumps.  He was also involved in the tendering and construction of various bridges and other items there, .  The  Civils Application makes reference to Sir john Fowler. indeed, several items in my possession include references to Sir John Fowler.   He was the Consulting Engineer to the Government of New South Wales

     - and the Greenwich works

    Appleby Brothers took over the old Bessemer Steel Works in East Greenwich and converted them for their own use in 1878.   At the time when the Bessemer works were initially occupied by the Appleby’s, Appleby Brothers were a partnership. In 1886 Appleby Brothers became a share owned Limited company and the running and management of the Greenwich works changed.   Unfortunately the Limited company only survived for 3 years and in 1889, following a court action, the Limited company and their East Greenwich works were closed.   The old Appleby works then became the works of the Greenwich Inlaid Linoleum Company. After the closure of Appleby Brothers Limited, there was still a demand of Appleby products and CJ Appleby started a new Appleby Brothers partnership with 2 of his sons, including my grandfather, P V Appleby.
    Unlike the other Appleby Works, for which I have plans and some photographs, I have much more limited information about the East Greenwich Works.  However there were at least 4 visitations to the works and descriptions of these were published in the press. They give a very good impression of the vast scope of both the products and international destinations with which Appleby Brothers involved. The first description is from the partnership period (ie. from the time of your pump) and the other three were from the Appleby Brothers Limited period.  Unfortunately these doesn’t refer to the pumps.  However they do refer to some of the bridges which were fabricated and sent out to New South Wales.

    We also have a number of links listed below to British Transport Treasures sent by Stuart Rankin
    Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists ...
    Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists. With an appreciation by Sir Martin Conway MP. London Midland and Scottish Railway [ebook]

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  • 11/03/17--02:00: Notes and news

    Their current newsletter lists out several events which might be of interest:

    11th November. speakers Jim Marrett and Richard Buchanan on 'A date with buildings' and 'Wricklemarsh'
    10th March - Mike Brown on the Spanish Civil War and World War II Britain.
    Both 2.15 Grand Salon, Charlton House.

    December 10th. . Falconwood Miniature Railway. Santa Special. (behind the Electricity Station on Rochester Way).

    The newsletter also features the following article by Richard Buchanan on Enderby House.

    "Enderby House Hopes by  Richard Buchanan

    Enderby House, listed Grade II,was built as a private house on the Greenwich Peninsula, but is also a major industrial heritage asset (the Gas Holder featured in the last newsletterbeing another). It is most famous as the headquarters of Telcon, the firm which made the first Transatlantic Telegraph Cable.
    This cable ran from Valentia in Ireland to Heart’s Content in Newfoundland (with onward connections to London and New York respectively). The Irish Government is applying for Valentia Island to be a World Heritage Site, and encouraging Canada to follow suit for Heart’s Content – or even to form a single joint World Heritage Site.
    This must surely add to the perceived importance of Enderby House, and improve the Enderby Group’s chances to have a Telegraph Cable display in it.  This has garnered general acceptance, including that of Greenwich Council.  However, the developers who own it, Barratt, despite making the odd encouraging noise, have not moved from their original proposal to use the House as a pub.
    The House was built in 1846 with two floors and a basement, all above the old ground level (appropriate to a lower Thames level).  There is an octagon room on the top floor, with its main window built out at 45to the corner of the building to see ships coming up river.  From inside the octagon room the window is just in one of its sides and one is not conscious of the 45O offset, but it makes an unusual external feature.
    Since then the river wall has been raised, and for some years the river path has been at first floor level, where the House has a door to give access to it.  However, the river wall has already been raised a further couple of feet with steps provided to get over it – and is to be raised again – though the river path remains at its existing level (with an ever increasing chance of being flooded).
    Barratt currently have an application to raise terrace and other levels behind the new river wall to suit.  The Enderby Group are objecting to this proposal as it would spoil the setting of the House as seen from within the site.  They are also pressing for flood gates to be put in the river wall so that (when open) access between Enderby House and the river path is maintained; Barratt too would want this access for their pub."


    Running Past Blog

    Running Past blog has produced a really excellent walk with pictures along the line of the old Greenwich Park Railway Line. 

    As the blogger points out, the line is relatively easy to follow between the site of the station - now the Ibis Hotel - and the A2. Various infill measures - the closed police station for instance - are pointed out, and include what is described as a 'ghost bridge'. 

    More, apparently, to come. 



    FOGWOFT (Friends of the Tunnel) have been approached by a Poppy Jackson to say that she has included Greenwich Foot Tunnel in her new book  'For the Love of London. What Makes London Great by the People who Make it Great'.  We await for more info from Poppy/FOGWOFT on this.

    and - by the way - we went the other day to a consulation meeting on 'culture' in Greenwich run by the Greenwich and Docklands Festival. We were asked to write down our favourite things in Greenwich and put them up as post it notes - anonymously.   One of the first to go up was a note 'Greenwich foot tunnel'.  We don't know who in the room put it up - but clealry there are some fans.



    The American Society for Industrial Archaelogy now have all editions of their Journal on line. If you search on line for this remember to use the US spelling 'Archeology'  or you won't find it. Sorry no linl anyway



    Sadly this edition includes an obituary to John West. John has not lived locally for many years but he did co-author an excellent book on the Lewisham Silk Mills. This was the site of the Greenwich Armoury and is where TESCO is now - almost in Greenwich since the border runs along there!  Sad news

    The Society is also asking for info on markers for the Meridian Line - and cites some in Lewisham.  They also hightlight a website   

    They also mention Air Raid Shelters under Blackheath - with particular reference to the Zeppelins.  Another aeriel thing on Blackheath mentioned is model aeroplane compeitions (Blackheath v. Grove Park!).  



    The Enderby Group is pleased to have the international expert on the Atlantic Cable on their committee - but he rarely comes to meetings, after all, he does  live in New York.
    Bill has however written an article of great interest in the TICCIH - The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage - Bulletin (No.78 4th Quarter 2017).  The link is  but as you will see you won't be able to read it unless you join TICCIH
    Basically the article is about the stations at the two ends of the cable - Heart's Content and Valentia - and Bill talks about the history of the cable, what is remains, and the current World Heritage site bid.

    Bill - if you read this - can you let us have a version we could publish here????



    We have had a prior sight of David Ramzan's new book 'Secret Greenwich'.  Obviously, this is about all sorts of things, but does include some industry. Perhaps one of the strengths of the book is that industry turns up under a number of subject headings, and makes it part of Greenwich and society in general. The book is good on football - which is, of course, one of David's enthusiams, and, as a member of the Enderby Group, he has added in some good pictures and stuff about the cables.  And it looks to be really good Christmas presenty material!

    I am not aware what the publication details are, although I know some shops in Greenwich have had advance copies - and I await instructions from David on cost, etc. It is published by Amberley and the cover price is £14.99

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    853 has published dire warnings of the foot tunnel being full up with cyclists by 2025 (
    BUT we understand that a plaque has gone  up inside the tunnel to explain and commemorate the restricted section where it was bombed in the Second World War.
    (and thank you Mark Hodgson for the pictures)


    They have sent a list of events - leading with a notice of their Annual Forum on 16th November which will feature our ex-MP Nick Raynsford. This is at The Crystal (?? where's that??) and you have to book
    (no details given but their web site is

    they also advertise Members Only Event. 15th March,. Watermen's Hall


    There has been some discussion on the Plumstead People Facebook page about the fate of the railbridge at Plumstead Station which looks to be going. See the page to see local views. GIHS's expert says:

    "Network Rail will want to provide access for wheelchairs at Plumstead and by the time they've dug foundations for the lifts they might just as well install a new footbridge. A shame as it's a lovely example. . Once removal has become definite, with a projected date, We should let the railway preservation Societies know about it if it's likely to be scrapped. There'd almost 
    certainly be a taker if NR don't want to re-use it. They recently donated its larger sister bridge at Gravesend and I think they paid for relocation".


    There has also been some discussion on the Plumstead People Facebook page about the fate of the lock remains of the Arsenal Canal . See the page to see local views. GIHS's expert says:

    "The situation with the Royal Arsenal canal entrance lock and swing bridge is most unfortunate. The lock gates were either repaired or renewed in about 1953 and the bridge was given a thorough overhaul at the same time. It dates from c1905/7 and replaced an 1859 example.  The Greater London Council did much further work in 1982 including a new hydraulic drive system for the bridge. And that was that!
    The gates are now heavily corroded, possibly beyond economic repair and the bridge sits on blocks, off its trunnions, yet appears to be in excellent structural condition. The lock area now belongs to Peabody who inherited it from Tilfen Land. They probably have very little interest, it's hardly their core activity. The lock, gates and  swing bridge are grade II listed

    The whole issue of the Arsenal Canal is an important one and something we should look at carefully.  Can anyone help us with a history of it which we could publish to highlight its past??  What does the wider (and very very large) world of canal enthusiasts out their think about it??


    They advertise
    11th November Jim Marrett and Richard Buchanan on A date with buildings, and Wricklemarsh. Charlton House. 2.00


    9th December. Talk on the Pearly Queen of Greenwich. Charlton Society. Charlton House. 2.30

    They have a long and very interesting article on the Crossness Nature Reserve by Karen Sutton
    and a History of Woodlands Farm

    and news on:
    Petition on Automatic Interim Protection for Buildings Proposed for Listing. which had gone to the Raynsford Review on Planning
    Sun in the Sands Pub - the Council have refused permission to demolish it (twice)
    Petition on the Avery Hill Conservatory - neglected by the University
    Kings Arms Pub, Francis Street, objections to demolition
    Crossness Engines - closure through asbestos discovery
    Love Lane - and the very major campaign of objections to the Meyer Homes development at Tesco


    15th November Open Meeting 7 pm Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich
    26th November Lecture on the Armada portrait of Elizabeth. You have to book through their web site.

    They are selling Christmas Cards in St.Alphege Church  £5 for 10

    News on the opening of the viewpoint at the Point (off Point Hill) with a plaque on a pillar with a panorama by Peter Kent.

    Aluna - article on this amazing scheme for a massive lunar clock on the Peninsula by Shane Brownie.  Shane is also part of their community network. Contact him for info

    Westcombe Woodlands - this is the old chalk pit above Maze Hill Station - news of their open day and their bee hives.

    Page with info on listing procedures and Planning

    Historic Pillar boxes - they point out that Royal Mail have refurbished boxes in West Greenwich.

    IKEA - and the razing of the nature book and death to the newts

    News on Blackheath Joint Working Party - and events on Blackheath. And news of the long derelict toilet block

    News on Greenwich Foodbank and its hub in Christ Church, East Greenwich

    Article by Pieter Van der Merwe on the history of the border between the Queen's House and the Park. This is much much much more complicated than you could possibly believe!

    Article on the Appleby Beam Engine in New South Wales - by - er - me. (and thanks Greenwich Soc. editor for publishing it)


    Among lots of local items there is an article by Ann Hill of Wood burners as a source of pollution.

    A feature on Gordon of Khartoum - who was a member of our local Enderby family. Some details of this article on the Enderby Group Facebook page.


    Westcombe News carries an article on the Council's bid to become London's Capital of Culture. Their is currently a consultation on this run by the Greenwich and Docklands Festival and their have been local meetings. GIHS has taken part in some of these - and we hope others do to - remember that our industrial heritage is part of the Borough's culture and we need to ensure it is included in the bid.


    Westcombe News highlight the retirement of Philip Binns from Chair of the Greenwich Conservation Group. This blog and its predecessor newsletter also have reason to be very grateful to Philip.  For 20 over 20 years he has co-ordinated the response on planning applications for local amenity and other societies.  He knows the system and he knows the Borough.
    Blackheath Society had a party to celebrate this a few days ago - and this was attended by Mayor Peter Brooks - who told as how grateful he was for Philip's input when he was Chair of Planning and how grateful the Borough should be to him.


    The planning brief for the land on which the gasholder sits is going to Cabinet for ratification on 15th November.  This is a public meeting, people can attend and can register to speak.  

    The report and draft planning brief are on the council web site and can be downloaded.

    This includes the results of the public consultation on the site - and an enormous number of people (I haven't counted) wrote in to say that the gas holder should be kept.  (thank you all of you).  Only one person wrote to say it should be demolished. There are also reports from various developers and local societies and national societies, as well as some statutory organisations, like Thames Water.  Of those able to comment none of them seem gasholder averse.  We are also aware that some people wrote in and for whatever reasons their input is not included. 

    The planners are now recommending " structures of heritage significance, in particular the gas holder, should be retained",

    This is an important site and one which could be key to the future of the peninsula in providing a focus for non-housing sites and amenity.  It does not just feature the gasholder but the old Dreadnought School now owned and used by the Horniman Museum. There is also the old pub which was recently burnt down and is being rebuilt (without the proper planning consent apparently!!).

    Perhaps - finally - we should add that Lewisham Council has just agreed to locally list the two Bell Green gasholders  - BUT if you go through the Tunnel and look to your right you will see only half of the Poplar holder which is being demolished.

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    An application has gone into the DCMS to make an order which will prevent the East Greenwich gasholder being listed - ever.  

    There are a lot of issues around this - for and against - which I am not going into here, but happy to do elsewhere.  

    The body which will make the decision, in the next week or so is:

    post: Heritage Protection Branch, Culture Team, Department fot Culture, Media and Sport, 4th floor, 100 Parliament street,
             London SW1A 2BQ.
    reference: 1449918  Gas Holder No 1, Millennium Way, East Greenwich, London

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  • 11/26/17--07:48: News items
  • Lots of newsletters and interesting articles

    Bill Burns has an article on the links between Ireland and Canada and the Atlantic Cable in the TICCIH Bulletin 78,.   The link to the web site is  However - they won't let you read it yet, but when the next one comes out it will be archived and you can see it - or you can join TICCIH, in which case you will be sent it to read

    TICCIH is The International Committee For The Conservation Of The Industrial Heritage, with a web site run by MIT in the US<  and their next conference is in Chile - so look at their web site and join them for an interesting, and international life.  The Atlantic cable would be right up their street!!!

    They are also asking for articles for Bulletin 79.  email,


    FRIENDS OF GREENWICH PARK - advertise the following historical events

    ++ 1st December 11 am History Group meeting in the Wildlife Centre.  Everybody welcome.

    7th March 7.30 Friends Annual Lecture. Peter Marsden, World Heritage Site organiser/  £10 - to 52 Greenwich Park Street, SE10 9LT and please enclose SAE



    We have been sent the following link to a current article in The Architects’ Journal (as published in online 9 November), on the progress of the competition being run by the RIBA and National Grid plc for new uses for redundant in-ground gasholder tanks .



    This has news of the launch of the Waterways Forum.    This was created to help ensure the River cariesd more passengers and goods while used for sporting and cultural events.  Speakers included representatives of Cory's, City Cruses, and Thames Clippers


    The current issue contains an article about co--operatives in Woolwich  (earlier than Rochdale) and the start of the Woolwich Labour Party. (very early too).  This is available by subscription only but they can be accessed via their web site



    Readers will remember articles about the Woolwich Kiln and its demise last summer. We have been pointed to a web  link for an analytical view of it - actually this is quite exciting,



    Greenwich Council is hoping to bid to be the London Borough of Culture.  Some of us have been trying to persuade them that industrial heritage is one of our main cultural strengths (fingers crossed), We understand they will mention the Atlantic Cable, but - that should just be the start!  See the video



    Bob Carr has an article in the current Industrial Archaeology News (183 Winter 2017).. He points out how diffficult and secret this internationally important industrial site was - and how hard it is to research. He talks aboiut its size, and also what remains and what we can find out about them.
    He doesn't mention the Arsenal Canal - which is a pity because that is one of the biggest worries at the moment = info later.
    The AIA website is

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    Below - under 'GLIAS NEWSLETTER' is a report of the death of Dr. Denis Smith - and his contribution to industrial history/archaeology - much of it in our area.

    The following things are covered below - with other bits of news interspersed in between:

    East Greenwich Gasholder
    Charlton Riverside Consultation
    The Royal Arsenal Canal Swing Bridge
    Enderby House
    Plumstead Station
    Royal Naval Dockyards Society Newsletter
    Royal Arsenal Building 19/C1
    News from Trinity Buoy Wharf
    Mystery Building in Maryon Park
    Lewisham History Journal -  article on the Silvertown explosion
    Industrial Archaeology News - article on the Royal Arsenal
    GLIAS Newsletter
    Discussions on Industrial Heritage in Greenwich



    We are informed that this has received a Certificate of Immunity against listing. The letter from the Government's Department says (I've summarised this a bit - its was a bit intimidatingly long)


    After considering your grounds for review the original decision to be minded to issue a Certificate of Immunity. is upheld. The reasons for this are as follows.

    Historic England provided advice that the Gasholder doesn't meet the criteria for listing. ....a decision then had to be made on whether or not to ... to issue a Certificate of Immunity. . .... there would have to be good reason for not issuing it ..... only .. one circumstance may provide reason ..... That would be if  ... if significant new evidence of architectural or historic interest may .... emerge that could potentially alter the decision not to list. .......the case of the No.1 Gasholder it is thought very unlikely that significant new evidence would emerge and there are no valid reasons for withholding a Certificate of Immunity."

    among the people who have seen that response, one of them says he can see a weasel in it. Looking hard for that myself!!

    Meanwhile Lewisham has locally listed the holders at Bell Green.  No weasels there, only a mole who says that this is all to do with scuppering Aldi.



    We have a note from the Council as follows:

    "Royal Borough of Greenwich is beginning a public consultation on new heritage designations within  Charlton Riverside. We are proposing to create two new Conservation Areas and add several buildings to our Local Heritage List. We would welcome views on the proposals. They comprise what we consider to be significant areas of 19/20C industrial heritage, including the remaining legacy of Siemens Telegraph and Cable Works.  We are asking for comments on:

    ·      the proposed conservation area boundaries and architectural and historic interest of the two areas

    ·      the architectural, historic or environmental merits of the proposed locally listed buildings

    The consultation can be found at along with downloadable maps and a summary of the proposals. The consultation will run for 5 weeks and will close on at 5pm on Wednesday 17 January 2018.

    and - as an added extra on that   CHARLTON CHAMPION

    This is the latest episode of Darryl's commentary on the Council's Charlton Riverside proposals (more about this below). It is headed 'A ten-storey love song?? Greenwich Council's surprising plan for Charlton Riverside. 
    Well, read it and see



    Concerns about the swing bridge on the Royal Arsenal Canal were raised with the Council. Here are their answers

    Do Peabody have plans to renovate and conserve the Swing Bridge? 

    Answer:  Peabody own and maintain the swing bridge. They have advised that their maintenance regime focuses on preserving the bridge in its current condition and that they have no immediate plans to renovate the bridge although it will be considered as part of a future Broadwater Dock development scheme.

    Has this been raised already, by RBG, in talks with Peabody?

    Answer: There have been no specific plans agreed regarding the swing bridge but the Council has been in discussions with Peabody about this matter. Additionally, the Housing Zone funding allocation for Plumstead and Thamesmead (please see the linked Cabinet report for further information ) includes funding for preparing feasibility studies and a master plan for Broadwater Dock and the Council will be fully engaged in these documents development.

    Have organisations, such as Historic England and the Canal and River Trust, been contacted for advice?

    Answer: The swing bridge structure is Grade II Listed and also features on the Heritage at Risk Register (under category C: poor condition, slow decay; no solution agreed).  The Council has been liaising with Historic England’s Heritage at Risk team on the matter and Historic England have advised that they have been making efforts to discuss and agree a strategy towards repair and conservation with Peabody. The Council has discussed this with Peabody and requested a response and update.

    The current status and support in making this a condition of any planning approval?

    Peabody have advised that they are some way off submitting a planning application for the Broadwater Dock development scheme and, therefore, there has not yet been any pre-application meetings with the Council.



    We have a report from Greenwich Council:

    "We visited Enderby House along with colleagues from Historic England. The building has been inaccessible for over 18 months since Barratt had deemed the timber structures unsafe. We agreed a programme of essential stabilisation works back in April and these works were carried out in July/August. We have requested urgent improvements to the ventilation as well as an updated timber survey. We are heading towards agreeing schedules of work and the submission of a listed building consent application for the timber elements once full information has been provided and an approach agreed."

    The Enderby Group hope to meet Rebecca soon and clarify the situation further



    Concerns have been raised about the footbridge at Plumstead Station.  The Council says:

    "Regarding Plumstead Station ..on 31st October 2017 Network Rail submitted a prior approval application (Reference 17/3443/PA) for 'Construction of a new footbridge with 2 new lifts shafts and associated lift motor rooms, creation of a new access walkway, construction of a new bin store, demolition of existing footbridge'.   The Planning Department confirms the proposals fall within permitted development rights rather than requiring a full planning application.  At this time a decision has not yet been made. 

    More details from the following link:

    Despite seeking information from Network Rail, we are unable to advise a likely timeframe for the works. However, the proposal will allow the station to remain open during the construction work. On completion of the work the station will become fully “accessibility” compliant in accordance with the latest relevant standards.

    - and PS - we have information from elsewhere that the old footbridge might be sold to a railway preservation group - suppose that couldn't be made a planning condition???



    Their AGM is on 24th March 10.00 am at the National Maritime Museum

    Call for papers for Conference 24th March 2018 - on Naval Operations and bases in the Mediterranean during the 18th Century.  Send title and 300 word synopsis by 20th December 2017 to Dr.Ann Coats

    Dockyards Newsletter - the current issue contains the following items of interest to Greenwich Borough.

    News from Chatham - this concerns Machine Shop 8 at Chatham Dockyard Museum. This building was once Slip Cover 6 at Woolwich Dockyard designed by Fox, Henderson in 1844-45. It now has planning consent for use as a leisure centre and will contain a climbing wall. This will include a new frame and cover for the building.

    Report on the Lenox Project. The last twelve months have seen some steps forward, commencing with registration as a charity for more effective future fund-raising. They have completed ther ibusiness-plan. Their London Open House event on 16/17 September at the Master Shipwright’s House was extremely successful, gaining many new supporters and raising funds. The official visitor numbers were 1,039 though there were probably had more. They also launched a  film made by some of our volunteers, which can be seen on the website With the aid of funds from the Tideway Tunnel project, they are about to embark on an outreach programme into local schools, which will involve older pupils in teaching primary school children.



    Museum of London Archaeology Unit are urging us to take part in a survey about their future work. 



    - they are advertising the following events

    11th January Waste and the Thames - What's the future. To held at Walbrook Wharf (the City's waste facility).  Register interest
    15th March, Thames Estuary Partnership. Members only.  A deeper insight into the organisation's activities. To be held at Watermen's Hall
    17th-18th January. Coastal Futures Conference. Royal Geographical Society
    7th February.  British Water Winter Reception. House of Lords/
    21st April  Take on 50K in a day for AHOY.   This is a rowing challenge for Deptford's AHOY Centre.


    7th March Annual Lecture.  This year they have Peter Marsden the World Heritage Site Co-ordinator - thus allowing us to point out that the special zone around it includes some industrial buildings (notably Greenwich Power Station). you have to pay to go to this though £10 (with semi obligatory wine) cheques to Friends of Greenwich Park, 52 Greenwich Park Street, SE10 9LT


    Enquiry  - can anyone help with the following

    " I have an old painting  - on the back of the original frame is the name and address of the framer. The text is in old copperplate script  and somewhat damaged and difficult to decipher, but what I am able to read of the framer's details are:

    J. ?I. Illman, 87 Trafalgar S?quare. East Greenwich.

    On the front of the painting are the artist's initials (O.I.) and a date of 13, which could refer to 1913 but more likely 1813.

    Any information on the dates and address of the farmer's business activity could help with the dating of the painting."


    We have been asked to point out two things

    1. European Heritage Protection legislation is not being transferred into English Law
    2. The English Tourist Board does not mention industry - even when it is in a World Heritage site.



    The Port of London Authority has the following consultation on air quality



    Following concerns on this building Ian writes:  I met one of the architects from Bennetts Associates, the firm working on the Council's cultural proposals for the Arsenal. He assured me that the building's extensive 'shop floor', probably the best in London if not South East England, will be preserved pretty much 'in  aspic'. All the cranes will stay as will the railway lines and hopefully the surviving sections of wood-block floor. The former boiler house to the north of the building is likely to have its mid C20 mezzanine floor removed, same for mid C20 walling in that area.  Remarkably, the architect's Father in Law had worked on the design of  the building's four cranes in 1952.

    I think we can be assured that the Arsenal will have a significant preserved Victorian industrial building. At last...

    He informed me that prior to Greenwich Council buying a lease Berkeley Group were looking at transforming the building into a 'Boutique Hotel'.



    Good to hear that Trinity Buoy Wharf have appointed a Maritime Heritage Project Manager

    *** fact check - for those of you who never look beyond the foreshore - Trinity Buoy Wharf is opposite the Dome and is where there is a lighthouse at the entry to Bow Creek - and a lot of preserved vessels and some Clippers moored.

    They hope to establish a new maritime heritage collection here, and already provide berths for the historic Thames Tug vessels 'Knocker White' and 'Varlet' which was previously at the Museum of London Docklands. They have also agreed to take on the Steam Tug 'Challenge' to be a permanent though fully mobile addition to our collection. They are also working as part of the SS Robin Trust with the aim of moving Robin from the Royal Docks, to a new home at the East India Dock Basin close to where she was built and launched.

    and - incidentally - the new Manager is Richard Albanese who has worked for and been associated with the London Museum of Water and Steam for many years.



    Our attention was drawn to a building alongside the Green Chain walk near Maryon Park. Basically we were told it lay behind alongside a footpath. The footpath runs into Maryon Park from the point at which Thorntree Road becomes Woodlands Terrace - about opposite the end of Kinveachy Gardens.  The path goes up between a newish house and the last of the older houses. It was not possible to see it from aeriel photographs but it seemed to have an electrical use - 'a pleasant little structure with a somewhat ornate metal ventilator on the roof'.  I went up there and couldn't see anything other than the scant remains of a brick structure of some sort

    Then - aha - we were told that it was a substation for the Woolwich Electric Company and that it has been knocked down very recently.

    So?? has anyone any information.  Why was it knocked down?? Does anyone have a picture of it??



    IA NEWS is published by the National Association for Industrial Archaeology. (No 183 Winter 2017).  It contains an excellent article by Bob Carr about 'Woolwich Arsenal'.  This is no criticism of Bob or his article but that headline says a lot!  This was not 'Woolwich Arsenal' but 'The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich' - and trying to explain about the 'most important factory in the world' to people from north of Watford (or, indeed, south of Gillingham) is an uphill job. Bob has done very well in the limited space to say something important about the Royal Arsenal.  It maybe that, with consent, we can reproduce his article in an edition of this blog.  He makes the very strong point that because of the culture of secrecy there we know very little about its long and diverse history.  In less than a page he has tried to explain about the tumps, and the guns, and the railways, and the ships and the piers, and the gridiron, and the massive and mysterious hinterland.  There should also be something to say about all those satellite factories - nearly all of them north of Watford.  But there is also a whole page of photos.

    (ps - is it true that Greenwich Heritage Centre are refusing to accept lifetime collections of Arsenal material from nonagerians)

    IA NEWS also has articles of more general interest -

    - a report on the seminar on the Impact of Developer Funded Work. Is there any other??  This seminar also included Michael Shapland's paper on Enderby Wharf.  The article concludes that AIA should work to 'promote the next generation of industrial archaeology research'.

    - article on the future of industrial archaeology societies. This seems to be saying that we are all in our dotage and that the under-30s don't care/  Very possibly

    and another couple of bits about Greenwich (or nearish)

    - note ahout the listing of Outram's amazing 'Temple of the Winds' pumping station. This is on the Isle of Dogs and you can see it from the golf course on Delta Wharf on the Peninsula

    - note about the setting up of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation which is fund raising in connection with a World Heritage site status bid.



    Remarkably this issue is almost entirely taken up with an article on the Silvertown Explosion in 1917. Other articles are about Prendergast School and Sydenham clergy

    The Silvertown article is by Gordon Dennington. Naturally he mentions the explosion in East Greenwich No.2 gas holder and a subsequent fire. I think what he says is interesting and he has used fire brigade sources - and not gas industry ones. He says the fire brigade thought that the damage was due to the 'compression wave from the holder' - and that is what the gas company also thought.  He does not mention - and probably had no way of knowing - that the workers in the valve room heard the explosion and turned off the Greenwich holders before the shock wave reached them.  From memory I think one of them received a bravery award.  No-one ever mentions what should be obvious: at the time of the explosion there were many other holders - some, like the one at West Ham  were much nearer - and not far away were the ones at Poplar, Bromley by Bow and our, still extant, East Greenwich No.1.  All of those held. What was different about No.2 was its 'flying lift.'  (and I would be grateful for an engineer's opinion on that comment).

    Anyway - please read Gordon's article about one of the biggest disasters to hit East and South East London in the 20th century

    Future meetings
    26th January. The Real Dad's Army Mike Brown
    23rd February. Law and Order in Crofton Park 100 years ago,. Carol Noakes
    23rd March - AGM plus Steve Bullock on being Mayor of Lewisham
    17th April - Further eastwards down the A2.  Malcom Bacchus
    all at Methodist Church Hall. Albion Way, 7.45



    It is with sadness that we see the front page of the newsletter the news of the (not unexpected) death of Dr. Denis Smith. Our local connection to Denis, who chaired GLIAS 1972-2012 and did much else, taught a class on Industrial Archaeology at Goldsmiths - and many of those active in industrial history in South East London attended it and were influenced by him.

    So - to the newsletter itself.  GLIAS is advertising:

    17th January - Conkers, Cordite and the birth of modern technology. Martin Adams
    21st February - Iron Men - Henry Maudslay and his Circle. David Waller (lets hope he says lots about Maudslay's days in Woolwich)
    21st March - James Brindley in London and his plans for the Thames.Victoria Owens
    18th April - London Underground's Edwardian tile patterns and their context. Douglas Rose
    16th May - The Post Office Museum and Railway, Chris AGM 6.15
    All at 75 Cowcross Street, EC1 6.30

    and also -

    an article by Richard Buchanan about the Woolwich stoneware kiln.  Again might reproduce this here - with permission - Richard provides the view of someone closely involved

    They have given a list of field work mentioned in the London Archaeologist annual review.  Some of these are about Greenwich and unknown to us - please send more details if you have them. They include:

    Greenwich Wharf - this is a recording of a large shed used by Pipers.
    (Why do we know nothing about this??? Who did the recording and why didn't they contact local groups?  They seem to think that it was partly built with materials from the "18th powder magazine" - with what evidence? - the magazine was demolished in 1770 and the remains sent down river to the Arsenal - the chances of them still lying around in 1869 would seem to me to be minimal!!!  Please get in touch, archaeologist, whoever you are and give us some proof!!   - and tell us why you never contacted historians who have studied the site, and Pipers themselves)

    Convoys Wharf - sawpit and other bits from the Royal Dockyard



    Only a passing mention of East Greenwich Gas Works in a long article by Brian Sturt on the Great War - it is, of course, the Silvertown Explosion again 'London was lit up like a summer's day'.  Brian, of course, knows that that was exactly what the holder was designed to do, should it be breached or caught alight.

    and finally - SERIAC

    Next South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference is in Windsor 21st April 2018.,
    No web site.  You have to book on a form (included in the GLIAS Newsletter) £15 plus £12.50 for lunch, if you want it . and send to Graham Smith, 114 Shaw Road, Newbury, RC14 1HR

    but - aha - the sponsoring organisation is BIAG - they have a website(!!!)  and here is a link to the SERIAC booking form  and programme.


    Greenwich Industrial History Meeting

    on Industrial Heritage in Greenwich

    The original meeting was held on 10th October with a roster of invited speakers discussing their perspective on Industrial Heritage in our Borough

    There were also some lively contributions from the members present

    Following this we had another meeting with the speakers and some other interested parties.  We talked about a lot of things - one of which was to try and produce a gazeteer of industrial relics in the borough.  A number of us are working on this - and are keen to speak to anyone else out there who would like to contribute.

    Other ideas and comments

    "It strikes me that promoting the conservation and or re-use of buildings as part of a green strategy taking the historic and natural environment together would be well worth looking at and presented properly and forcefully should appeal to both RBG and City Hall"

    "People are more likely to use our streets when their journey is interesting and stimulating, with attractive views, buildings, planting and street art and where other people are using the street. They will be less dependent on cars if the shops and services they need are within short distances so they do not need to drive to get to them."

    "My suggestion is a briefing document - perhaps in the form of a short booklet - written in readable language with many illustrations.  An introduction to the industrial heritage of the Royal Borough, emphasising the unique richness and the value (able to be capitalised on by tourism etc) to the local authority, residents, visitors and so on.  Published by GIHS or even better GLIAS, which would show local councillors the regard felt outside the borough for the local industrial heritage."

    " We need to pick up on the meeting some of us had three or four years ago with the Heritage Trust and come back with some proposals. 

    and .....................  and ...................................

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    Rope making and the birth of the submarine cable industry.
    by John Yeardley

    In the nineteenth century a dramatic change took place in the cordage industry with the invention of wire rope. Some companies took to this revolutionary metallic raw material and a new industry was born. Much of this development was centred in London.

    In the beginning. George Wright Binks, a foreman ropemaker at Woolwich Dockyard, about 1830, conceived the idea of forming a rope from twisted iron wire instead of hemp and began practical experiments to that end in the dockyard ropery.

    George Binks tried unsuccessfully to interest the Admiralty in his invention but his efforts caught the attention of a Captain Harris R.N. who in 1835 put up the money to establish a small works in Great Grimsby in Lincolnshire. Binks and his two sons continued the development and in the same year produced the first true stranded wire rope. In 1838 the factory was moved from Great Grimsby to new premises in Greenwich Road, (now West Ferry Road,) Millwall.

    George Wright Binks
    Lewis Dunbar Brodie Gordon, a young Scotsman who had worked with Brunel on the Thames Tunnel until 1837 became interested in the possibilities of rope made from iron wire and discussed it with a boyhood friend and brilliant engineer, Robert Sterling Newall. He wrote to Newall in June 1838 and the latter, working very quickly, replied at the end of July with a drawing of a machine to produce a four strand wire rope.

    In 1840 Newell took out a patent for "certain improvements in wire rope and in machinery for making such rope" In the same year Gordon and Newall, in partnership with Charles Liddell (a pupil of George Stephenson), established a factory in Gateshead trading as R.S.Newall & Co

    In 1850 a submarine cable of copper wires coated with Gutta Percha was laid between Dover and Calais for the Anglo French Telegraph Company but it lasted only one day through chafing on rocks. Newall then proposed that such a cable could be improved by armouring it with a layer of wires, in effect making the cable the core of a wire rope. The contract to make such a cable was however given to Wilkins and Weatherley, rope makers ofWapping. After a legal battle over patents Newall took over their premises and the cable was successfully laid in September 185l.

    Other cables soon followed including the Dover - Ostend cable in 1853 on which Newall cooperated with William Kuper.

    Kuper and Company had been one of the first to manufacture wire rope with a factory on the Surrey Canal but had failed to prosper and gone bankrupt in 1849 whereupon a mining engineer called George Elliot came to the rescue by acting as their sole agent and manager. The works were moved to Morden Wharf, East Greenwich and by 1854 Elliot was so successful that he became proprietor by paying the creditors in full with interest. Kuper than retired and was replaced by Richard Glass. The company was then renamed Glass, Elliot and Co and began increasingly to go in for producing submarine cables. In 1856 they enlarged their premises by taking over what had formerly been Enderby's Hemp Rope Works.

    Newall rope making machine
    Samuel Enderby, born in 1717, went into partnership with an oil merchant, Charles Buxton and in 1752 he married Buxton's daughter. They owned a number of sailing ships and one of them was involved in the famous Boston Tea Party. In 1775 he took over the business and started fitting out ships for whaling. By 1790 he owned 68 whaling vessels and had estates in Lewisham, Bermondsey, Eltham and Lee and lived in Crooms Hill House. Various sons became involved in what was a very large and important business. (One of his grandsons was General Gordon of Khartoum fame). The company vessels obviously used vast quantities of rope and in 1829 they established their own rope factory in Greenwich. The enterprise was fairly short lived for the factory was destroyed by fire in 1845 putting 250 people out of work. Although the machinery was covered by insurance the factory never reopened' and was eventually sold to Glass Elliott and Co.

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    An application to demolish the East Greenwich gasholder has been submitted to Greenwich Council. by its owners Southern Gas Networks.

    (if that link doesn't work go to Greenwich Council's planning search system and type in 'Millennium Way' and it should be the first thing that comes up.

    The consultation period is apparently 20th December - 11th January - which is a stunningly cynical move on the part of Southern Gas - when not only many local residents but many of the planners will be on holiday, and getting anything done nearly impossible.

    The following link goes to a great picture of the holder taken the day after the IRA attack in 1979.  I have always understood that the bomb was not on the holder itself, but on an adjacent installation

    Listing - people are asking - 'can't we get it listed??'  - well, no. There have been a number of applications for listing over the years - and all of them refused. BUT NOW last week the Department of the Environment granted it immunity from listing - ie. it can never be listed.

    BUT it may still be possible to get it 'locally listed' - ie Greenwich can put it on a list of local buildings which they think are important. It doesn't give it very much in the way of protection but it does put up a marker for it and would give councillors confidence to keep it - although what they want can easily be overturned by the Government Planning Inspectorate.

    See what Peter says below

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    CLEARLY we are all working very hard on the probable terrible fate of our wonderful gas holder. There is lots of stuff around on many local blogs and newsheets.  Everyone is being urged to contact the Council planners and tell them what they think.  

    The Council is in a very difficult position. A Certificate of Immunity from Listing has been issued by the Goverment agency.  Immediately the owners, Southern Gas Networks, have told the Council that they intend to demolish it and are asking the Council to approve their demolition plan.  They have followed the same plan with other local councils, and holders are coming down despite widespread public protests. Local listing can be done -but it has no legal force if the owners decide to go ahead and demolish anyway. That shouldn't stop us making a fuss - at the best we can buy time.

    Subterranea Britannica

    Their 'magazine' arrived the other day. Full of interest and some of it about Greenwich.

    First - they have an item about the work done by veteran underground explorer Harry Pearman and the Chelsea Spelaelogical Society Records, and how good they are and what a collection of information.  They don't say - but some of the best work is about Greenwich - all sorts of things from the Park Conduits, Plumstead Mines and obscure bits of Blackheath can be found there. I know - but they don't say - that Harry worked for Greenwich Planning Department in the 1960s, hence all this info.   Its been a great source for everyone since.

    An article by Mark Chatterton describes 'The Road Tunnels of Great Britain' which briefly describes our own Blackwall as 'in the east of London and built  to carry goods between the docks on the north and south banks of the river Thames' - eh?? where does that come from.  Anyway the Blackwall should have had much more than a brief mention - its a triumph of engineering over too much traffic!  He also mentions The Silvertown Tunnel ' it is planned to be open by 2021'. oh ho!

    Another article is about the Thames Tunnel Tour in October. In this foray a group of people began on the Waterloo and City line, or at least they looked at it and then went on the Northern Line to Embankment. They then went on the Circle Line to Tower Hill and had a look at the Tower Subway (from above, you can't go down there) So they went on the DLR to Cutty Sark and then lunch, and back over to the Isle of Dogs through the Foot Tunnel. And then back on the DLR to Limehouse and then they walked back through the Rotherhithe Tunnel (aaargh!!).And then - the highlight - to the oldest tunnel of them all, Brunel''s Thames Tunnel and the East London Line. So - Greenwich was their lunch break!!!  They do mention some interesting things though.

    You can get copies of this through the Sub Brit web site -


    Crossness Record

    More news from Crossness Engines

    - the chimney. a  whole page article about the chimney which once stood at the works - to keep the many people who ask about it informed

    - a report from Petra, their Outreach Worker.  Petra works with local schools - for example in September Charlton's Cherry Orchard School paid a visit - the trust is also now employing an Education Assistant, Calleen Everitt

    -  news of RANG - and the arrival of Busy Basil from Haig Hall in Wigan

    -  the formation of a wildlife pond - and the possible installation of toad ladders

    - and they still need volunteers. If you want information on this get on to Greg


    Call for papers on Maritime Animals.  They seem to want not so much marine wildlife but stuff like the ship's cat (and attendant rats).
    The conference will be at the National Maritime Museum April 26-27th 2019. Contact
    They are also looking for good maritime animal stories in addition to the papers


    this includes

    - item on Air Quality Strategy for the Port of London as a UK Port first. A consultation paper is available from the PLA consultation ends on 23rd January.

    - Thames Skills Academy - first appreentices. This is a scheme for deck apprentices and engineering appentices.

    - advert for a new book on the heritage of the Tidal Thames - this is a Museum of London Archaeology book and is really about their work along the foreshore.  Its £15 and you can get it from PLA or the Museum.


    We are told by the Council conservation department that they have been told that Historic England have issued an imunity to listing document for the oldest range of Siemens buldings 18-32 Bowater Road.  They do not think that Siemens was significant enough.

    I am aware that a lot of people are getting together info to challenge this - and any one interested is encouraged to contact   Siemens - who closed as long ago as the 1950s - were a major international firm working mainly in telecoms and also cable. To say there were no significant is ignorant and insulting.  Please support a bid to get this overturned.


    - and while we are on about Siemens- Brian Middlemiss from the Siemens Society send all at GIHS best wishes for Christmas and the New Year


    Docklands History Group

    Any post-graduate or PhD student working on a subject related to the history of the Port of London and/or the River should contact Edward Sargent for details of a working group and how papers can be contributed.

    Please also look at their facebook page


    Finally  - we have a copy of a very very good book from Museum of London about the archaeology and history of Deptford Dockyard.  More on that soon

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  • 01/11/18--02:04: Siemens Woolwich, History



    Siemens Brothers had one of the largest and most important works in Woolwich - which closed as long ago as the 1960s.  A consisderable number of buildings remain on the riverside on the Charlton/Woolwich borders.  The area is now being considered for a Riverside Conservation Area and at the time time there are news of Immunity for Listing Orders coming from the Department of the Environment.  The Siemens Brothers Engineering Society have prepared a huge amount of information to support this - and we have been sent copies and now have clearance to put them on this blog.  This is the first few pages - there is a lot more to come!! (and thanks for all this to Brian Middlemiss and his colleagues)

    Charlton Riverside Conservation Areas and Locally Listed Buildings Consultation

    Supporting Information

    The Siemens & Halske Company was founded in London in 1858 and in 1863 with continued expansion bought a piece of land on the Thames in Woolwich and built on it a cable factory,  a mechanical workshop and stores. In 1865 Halske withdrew his support for the Company  and William and Werner Siemens took over the assets and re-registered the business as Siemens Brothers, London.

    Siemens Brothers became a Limited Company in 1880 and pioneered research, development, engineering and manufacture of Electrical Cables, Telegraph, Telephone, Signalling and  Measuring Apparatus, Wireless Equipment, Lamps, Lights and Batteries. The Woolwich  Works [now the Westminster Industrial Estate] was bounded by Warspite Road, the Thames, Hardens Manorway and the main Woolwich/Greenwich Road and employed an average of around 8,000 people in the post war years.

    A large area of this site between Bowater Road and the main Woolwich/Greenwich Road has  already been lost to modern factory units and the new Greenwich University Technical College. It is therefore imperative that no more is lost and the remaining buildings should be conserved not only as the remaining legacy of Siemens Telegraph & Cable Works, one of the area's biggest industries and employers, which stood at the forefront of technological advancement in the international telecommunications industry, but because these remaining buildings represent a significant part of local heritage.

    A book written by LD. Scott, printed in 1958 and published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson [London] provides a detailed history of 'Siemens Brothers 1858 - 1958'. This is a hardback book consisting of 279 pages and was presented to Managers as a part of the Company's centenary celebrations. and to demonstrate the significant role Siemens Brothers played in the telecommunications industry. This book has a pull-out map which details the development of the Woolwich Works, colour coded by building periods.

    Cable: Siemens Brothers were one of the major cable making companies of the world between mid-Iv" C and mid-20th C, for underground and submarine use. The Company entered the submarine cable business in the early 1860's, laying cables all over the world. The Company also played a significant role in the design, development and manufacture of  the well-known PLUTO [Pipe Line Under The Ocean] cable, used as a 'pipe' to cany oil across the Channel to Normandy for use by the Allied invading forces. It was originally known as the 'HAIS' cable; H [the initial letter ofthe name of the instigator, Hartley, of
    Anglo-Iranian] AI [Anglo-Iranian Oil Company] and S [Siemens Brothers]
    . The Company had its own wharf on the Thames at Woolwich and operated its own cable ship, C.S. Faraday,which was purpose designed by William Siemens.

    Telegraphy: Siemens Brothers started with this product in the mid-Iv'"C; it being the firstelectrical form of communication and continued well into the 20th C particularly for ships.
    Cable ship Faraday

    Telephony: Siemens Brothers were one of the five Telephone switching equipment manufactures in the UK to supply to the Post Office who ran the nation-wide network
    . They also supplied world-wide. The UK's first electronic exchanges were designed and built by Siemens Brothers, called TXE-4 by the PO. When adopted by the PO, other manufacturers also produced these exchanges.

    The Siemens Brothers Engineering Society. The Society was formed in 1897, the 50th anniversary of the founding of Siemens & HalskeIt was a formally constituted organisation and Alexander Siemens was the first President being the nephew and adoptive son of Sir William Siemens. At the time of the formal 
    termination in 1968 [when Siemens Brothers closed] there were over 600 members.

    The Society was re-formed in 1968 by two former officers of the original Society. 'A Society linked no longer by employment but by memories and fellowship.' The re-formed Society continued to meet regularly right up to 2013 when the age of the members dictated that closure was inevitable, this was 45 years after the closure of the Company! In 1991 the Society, realised that there was little information/archive material in existence around the local libraries about Siemens Brothers & Co. Ltd. This being somewhat alarming for a Company that had a business continuity at Woolwich for 100 + years, the Society set about accumulating its own archive.

    Over the succeeding years the Society had accumulated such an immense amount of archive material, donated by Members of the Society, that it became necessary in 2001 to form a six- man Archive Project Committee. The work of this committee resulted in the publication of an Archive Material Catalogue which detailed almost 1400 items of documentation and  hardware. One hundred copies of this catalogue were printed [June 2004] and given wide circulation including six 'New Holders'of the archive material itself Some 80% of this material is held at the Greenwich Heritage Centre [GHC].

    Subsequently the Society went on to produce a 'Supplement' to this catalogue, printed in October 2006, which detailed a further 300+ items, and given the same wide distribution. After this period the Society went on to produce its own history. This was printed in two parts '1897 - 2008' [October 2009] and '2009 - 2013 The Final Five Years' [July 2015], again both parts being given the same wide distribution as the archive material catalogue. .

    Siemens UK Ltd. Siemens UK is the UK arm of the giant German Company Siemens AG. The former 
    Siemens Brothers & Co. Ltd and Siemens UK are often confused, same family but different Companies. However the Siemens Brothers Engineering Society owe a huge debt of thanks to Siemens UK. Following a chance meeting between the Society's Archivist and the Siemens UK Archivist at the old Woolwich Local History Library; Siemens UK went on to support all of the Engineering Society's activities from 1994 to its closure in 2013. In particular this included funding the printing of all four documents detailed above. Before this chance meeting Siemens UK had been unaware that the Engineering Society still existed.
    The Siemens plc., [UK] had in 1993 published a book entitled "Sir William Siemens - A Man of Vision". This was in celebration of William Siemens who had begun building Siemens in the UK 150 years previously in 1843. The Archivist dearly wished she had been aware of the Siemens Brothers Engineering Society a few years earlier as this book also covers the history of Siemens Brothers & Co. Ltd., including life at the Woolwich Works, life on board the Faraday and the Cable Business. All Members of the Engineering Society were presented with a copy of this book.

    William Siemens was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883, sadly only a few months before his death. He had provided communication to many parts of the British Empire via cable laid by the Company, enabling direct contact, for the first time

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    Information from Siemens Engineering Society
    Siemens Brothers & Co. Ltd., Building Identification and Site AgentslManagement 
    Building Identification:

    We have done our best to identify the original use of the buildings proposed for conservation.
    Our information is a little patchy as virtually all the Members of the Siemens Brothers Engineering Society came from the Telephone side of the business as opposed to the Cable Business
    . This was despite the Society being open to all employees.

    Map Key No 1  Third Phase of Expansion to Cable Factory 1929-1948

    Map Key No 2 

    Second Phase of Expansion 1900 - 1928Wood-Workers Building, cable drums etc.

    Map Key No 3 Third Phase of Expansion 1929 - 1948. Instrument Factory and Marine Radio School

    Map Key No 4 Second Phase as above. Copper Wire Factory, known as the IR Building. IR was short for India Rubber, an early form of cable insulation.

    Map Key No 5 Not Siemens Brothers - Trinity Wharf 

    Map Key No 13 First Phase of Expansion to the original Cable Factory 1865 - 1899, now the earliest surviving building of the Siemens Telegraph Cable Works. Cable insulation and core-testing.

    Map Key No 14 First Phase of Expansion as above. Workshop extensions for dynamo shops, milling machinery, armouring and lead sheathing.

    Site AgentslManagement
    In March 2004 towards the end of the Archive Material Catalogue Project, the Committee decided it would be nice if some form of permanent plaque and/or memorial to Siemens Brothers could be established on the site of the old Woolwich Works. This lead us into contact with the site managing agent, who at the time was The Co-operative Insurance Society(CIS). The CIS were very keen on this idea as a part of their redevelopment and landscaping of the site. This resulted in a sculptress being hired who produced a model of a sculpture based on ideas and equipment we had provided, with an associated plinth, the wording for which had been agreed by all parties. Unfortunately, this project never came to fruition because the entire CIS Property Portfolio was taken over by AXA Real Estate.

    We continued liaison with AXA, who took some time to get to grips with a huge portfolio. Although sympathetic, our project took a backseat, but AXA gave us 6 monthly updates on the progress being made on the site. This included liaison, with Greenwich Council,  refurbishment and re-use (leasing) some of the original Siemens buildings and possibly  saving the original and earliest Siemens building, as well as a residential aspect. This 'site regeneration'plan represented a significant investment, but it all depended on the success or otherwise of the AXA plans and the market demand for refurbished warehouse/workshop accommodation. Market demand we believe was low and the situation has now changed completely with the arrival of the Charlton Riverside Development.

    During 2011 we were contacted by Mott MacDonald [Consultants for the Greenwich University Technical College] about the previous use of the land [part of our old site] on which the GUTC was to be built. We provided a full background and in short; the Architects were sympathetic to the original building and the wording on the formal plaque [unveiled by HRH The Duke of York] was extended to include a reference to the original factory site. We were invited to the opening and had a guided tour. Recognition for Siemens Brothers at last

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    Copperas manufacture was an important industry in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the earliest works were in Greenwich and Deptford

    I wrote a lot about this industry nearly 20 years ago - but I guess very few people will have seen the articles - or be able to access them now (refs later). 

    So - if you want to know what copperas is, and how it was made in the 17th century - and why it was important -  read on!  This is a four part article - and this is Part I and it tells you bit about some of the posher people involved.


    There were several copperas works along the banks of the Thames and Medway.  I am hoping in this – and following – three articles to extend that story to Greenwich – and eventually to add in cavaliers, slavery, 'moles', stately homes, young ladies and other things of that sort!

    The manufacture of copperas was a major chemical industry before the industrial revolution.  It was a way of making a black dye as well as vitriol (sulphuric acid) and a number of other chemicals – but more of that later.

    It was made from stones picked up from the shore along the Thames estuary and there was a concentration of works in the Whitstable area and on Sheppey.  A few years ago archaeologist have undertook digs for its remains - particularly in Whitstable and Tankerton. As a result a number of articles were written.

    Copperas works were not only found at the sea side – they were to be found right up the Thames with a large group in Greenwich, Deptford and Blackwall. These works probably dated from the mid-seventeenth century, or, maybe, even earlier. The Deptford works, about which most is known, appear to have been promoted by a particularly busy Royalist entrepreneur  - a Sir Nicholas Crispe.

    The Crispe family were well known in the Thanet area. In the seventeenth century a Crispe family lived at Quex House, near Birchington , and they were certainly involved in the copperas industry in Thanet. In the 1550s a Sir Henry Crispe from Quex had had an interest in a copperas works at Stonar - where the huge Pfizer chemical factory complex stood until its recent closure.

    There was a later Quex based Sir Henry who had an exciting life during the Civil War when he was captured and held to ransom in Flanders. There were certainly some later links between this family and the Deptford copperas works however, but  - this is the confusing point - I do not think that the Deptford 'Sir Nicholas Crispe' had anything to do with Quex.

    This other Sir Nicholas Crispe might have had Kentish relations – but he came from Gloucestershire. His family had originated in Leicestershire but Nicholas' father and co-partner, Ellis Crispe, came from Marshfield, near Bath, and was an Alderman of the City of London. He was also a member of the Worshipful Company of Salters – a City Livery Company whose original interests had been in the manufacture and distribution of salt but which had expanded to become involved in what we would describe as the chemical industry. Indeed, the Company now maintains the Salters Institute of Industrial Chemistry.

    Nicholas was one of three sons – his brother Toby was a well known and controversial cleric who was an 'antionomian'. The Crispe family had not forgotten their roots in the Gloucestershire countryside and almshouses which they donated in 1612 still stand in the village of Marshfield.

    At the age of 20 our Nicholas had set off for Africa and was responsible for the first permanent English settlement at Kormantin, in today's Ghana.  I am very, very sorry to say that he set this up in the 1630s as a slave depot and as a stopping place for East India Company ships. He and his partners traded on the East African coast to the exclusion of all others and in 1621 Charles I, gave him an exclusive right to trade on the Guinea Coast and he set up a trading organisation known as the Guinea Company. He made a great deal of money.

    In the early 1630s Crispe rented a piece of land in Deptford alongside the Ravensbourne river in an area known as 'Broomfield' and this is most probably where the copperas works was built. It is the area on the Deptford side of Creek Bridge.   It was part of the estate which later belonged to John Evelyn, the diarist, however at the time when Crispe first leased the land Evelyn had no connection with Deptford and Crispe's arrangement was probably with Evelyn's father-in-law, Richard Browne, who owned the estate before the Civil War. We should note that the Evelyn family had made a fortune from the manufacture of saltpetre - for use in gunpowder!

    Something else happened in Deptford which probably had some relevance to the copperas industry but which had much wider importance. The copperas liquor needs to be heated and Crispe used 'Newcastle Coals' to do this but it seems likely that a more efficient fuel was needed and tried. In 1636 Thomas Peyton 'of Deptford' was granted a patent for 'charking sea coals'. 'Sea coals'– is coal which has come from North East England and arrived up river by ship and 'charking' sounds very much like the process which would be needed to turn coal into coke and thus provide a fuel which was capable of producing a greater heat.

    It is not clear exactly who Thomas Peyton was but he was someone who probably knew Deptford well. That could have been Sir Thomas Peyton of Knowlton near Chillenden who may have had an interest in property in the Mottingham area. He certainly had an interest in coal supplies to London since he acquired the right to levy customs on that for the price of £2,000.

    In 1636 Peyton was in his early twenties and recently married. His wedding had taken place at St.Bride's Church in the City of London so it likely that he had a London home as well as that in Thanet.  John Evelyn knew him, and described visits by mutual friends and social visits in the early 1650s. Peyton had been involved in one of the many skirmishes of the Civil War when he was appointed Lt.General of a party of 6,000 horsemen and 1,000 foot soldiers. At Deptford this force met Fairfax who had four regiments of horsemen and three regiments of infantry. Battles ensued at Northfleet and Maidstone. 

    Was this Thomas Peyton from Knowlton the man who invented coke? It was a very important step because this is the first occasion on which the preparation of something we all take from granted - coke made from coal – has been traced. Was he doing this in order to use the coke to heat the copperas liquid for Nicholas Crispe?

    At the beginning of the Civil War Nicholas Crispe had made so much money that he contracted with the King for a 'customs farm' - that is he bought the right to administer the customs and make a profit from them. In 1641 he was knighted and became a Member of Parliament. He was however expelled from the House of Commons because of his monopolies – and one of the accusations made was about his manufacture of 'copperas stones'. Over the next four years he devoted himself to the Royalist cause, raising regiments, providing ships, undergoing a court martial and so on.

    Eventually he was pardoned and settled in Hammersmith where he began to experiment with new ways of making bricks.  He tried to sell some of his bricks to John Evelyn and later provided the bricks for the garden of the Royal Palace at Greenwich.

    In 1655 Crispe visited John Evelyn at Deptford – to make a suggestion about a 'mole to be made at Sayes Court'.  A  'mole' being some sort of breakwater or pier in the river. There are a number of letters from Crispe which Evelyn filed and kept – and they show that Crispe had really terrible hand-writing. The letters describe a number of visits which Crispe made to Sayes Court in order to discuss his 'mole' but on each occasion - Evelyn was apparently always 'out'.

    By 1656 more coke was again being made in Greenwich but by a different Royalist entrepreneur. Evelyn, crossing the river by the Greenwich Ferry 'saw Sir John Winter's new project of charring sea coale'.  Winter (or Wynter) is better known in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. His grandfather was Admiral William Wynter, the associate of Sir Francis Drake, while another relation was one of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. The family had used their wealth to buy land at Lydney in Gloucestershire where they exploited the coal and timber.

    In 1655 Winter was actually incarcerated in the Tower of London for his activities in Ireland in support of the King – but, although his estates had been confiscated, he seems to have been allowed out to further his business interests in Greenwich and Deptford. Through this he gained a lucrative monopoly in coke manufacture.

    I know of no connection between Winter and Peyton – or between either of them and Nicholas Crispe – but, in the relatively small world of the 1600s, it is almost impossible that they did not know each other, given their devotion to two common causes – that of the King and the exploitation of natural resources.

    To return to Deptford and the copperas works. In 1658 a lease on the site seems to have been reviewed and put in the names of Crispe's three sons, Ellis, Nicholas and Samuel. The document says that the site is 'part Broomfield, called Great Crane Meadow' and had been in the previous possession of Evelyn and his wife's grandfather, Thomas Prettiman. 

    There is however another and very interesting name on the lease – that of 'Thomas Kilsey'.  I was unable to decipher the writing on the lease which gave Kilsey's address which was 'Lower ---- Kent". What is the missing word – Lower Halstow or even Lower Goldstones? 'Goldstones often means copperas!

    In the Civil War Kelsey was a Cromwellian General whose remit in the Parliamentry forces was the whole of Kent and Surrey. He was undoubtedly a connection of the Kelsey family who lived in Greenwich and whose most famous member was Henry Kelsey, the explorer who went to America with the Hudson Bay Company in the 1680s.  Were the Kelsey family  involved in the copperas works?

    Sir Nicholas Crispe remained busy in Kent, as elsewhere. In 1660 he set up  the culture of madder (a plant yielding a red dye)in Dartford and then, back in prison for non-payment of debt, he petitioned for his release - giving his promotion of the copperas works as an example of his usefulness to society.

    In 1662 he was back and visiting John Evelyn, this time with a 'project for a receptacle for ships'.  This idea was also noted Samuel Pepys who discussed the project with Crispe and noted that it entailed a dock at Deptford to take '200 ships of sail'.  Evelyn also noted Crispe's 'success with distilling'.

    Nicholas Crispe died in 1666 – still selling bricks at 12/- per 1,000. His heart is buried in St.Paul's Hammersmith as part of a monument to the memory of Charles I. He left three sons who seem each to have inherited a third of the copperas works. This was, as well will see, to complicate the ownership considerably as time went on. One of the sons, Ellis, died not long after  - according to Samuel Pepys the cause of Ellis' death was 'eating cucumbers.

    Nicholas Crispe, another son, was also a 'customs farmer' for the Port of London, and he seems to have taken on the Deptford copperas works. As part of the new regime there seems to have been some sort of evaluation and perhaps modernisation work. A plan was made of the works in 1674 which shows that it was sited on Deptford Creek and covered the area from the Creek to slightly north of Creek Road. There were a number of buildings on the site and a small dock.

    One of Crispe's friends was a Daniel Colwell, who was a member of the newly formed Royal Society. Colwell went down to Deptford copperas works and wrote an article about it for the Society. This is a very valuable document because it outlines in detail the set up and working practice of the works in the seventeenth century – and has often been used as an example when other works have been examined.

    Colwall's description has recently been by archaeologists when looking at the of excavations in Whitstable – I would recommend articles about this in the Spring 1999 Industrial Archaeology News by Tim Allen, and on web pages put out by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

    Copperas is made from stones picked up along the shoreline and cliff faces – and more of that later.
    Colwell described how the stones were put into 'beds' - trenches of about a hundred by fifteen feet and twelve feet deep.  They were then covered with rain water and left there for several years until the liquid became concentrated enough to dissolve a boiled egg in three minutes! This liquid was then boiled to crystallisation and could be used as a black dye. Strongly heated, it produced 'oil of vitriol', leaving behind another dye, Venetian red.

    Meanwhile Nicholas Crispe was consolidating his family's wealth with a fine Kentish residence.  In the early 1680s he bought Squerries Court at Westerham and the fine house which still stands there, and is open regularly to the public, was built by him. He stayed in Westerham for less than twenty years but the house remains as a living symbol of the sort of money made by a family which was prepared to take active sides in the political (and real) battles of the mid-seventeenth century while perfectly prepared to work with the opposition while there was money to be made.

    the next article will follow in the next posting.

    The above article is an edited and updated version of an article in Bygone Kent Vol.22 No.6

    Sources - many and varied
    Documents in the Kent and Surrey archives
    Documents in the Greenwich local history archive
    Pepys Diary
    Evelyn's Diary - and the collection of his letters in the British Library
    Royal Society Transactions - and some help from their archivist
    (and no help from the internet in 2001!!)

    Mary Mills 

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    Copperas in Greenwich and Deptford - Part II The Eighteenth Century

    The Deptford copperas works was set up by a Royalist entrepreneur called Nicholas Crispe - he was only one of several industrial innovators in Greenwich in the seventeenth century.  

    By the 1670s the Deptford copperas works, at Hounds Marsh Meade on the banks of the Ravensbourne, was in full swing. Today the area of the works lies between the Ravensbourne and Copperas Street, SE8 - that  street name is only one of many place names near the Kent and Essex coastline which reveal a connection to copperas - and the older name for the copperas stone, 'gold stone', is found in Upper-and Lower Goldstones to the west of Sandwich.  

    The copperas stone was found on the seashore and on the cliffs around the estuary - they were, and are, 'a bright shining silver colour'. These stones were picked up by seafront workers and sent off to the works by contractors. In 'Bygone Kent' Vol 13  No. 7 Harold Gough described the work of the
    copperas pickers in the Whitstable area in some detail. In the seventeenth century much of the stone came from land owned by Sir John Hayward's Charity at Minster in Sheppey. In 1707 an agreement was made between the Trustees and Sir John and Sir Charles Crispe. This was for the carriage of copperas stones to Deptford or Blackwall. 

    Crispe's Deptford agent was a Mr Bird. Sheila Judge says in her article on the Hayward Charity in 'Bygone Kent' Vol, 11m No. 3 that this was unsuccessful and that from 1723 John Crispe had to organise his own deliveries.  

    Once the stones arrived at Deptford they were put into specially made trenches to the depth of about two feet - and there they stayed for five or six years to 'ripen by the sun and the rain'. Adding water, apart from rainwater, to the stones retarded the process. More rain was all right, but it made for a weaker solution in the end.  The trenches - the 'beds' were a hundred feet long, fifteen feet wide at the top and twelve feet deep but 'shelving all the way to the bottom'. The bottom of the beds was securely rammed with 'strong clay and then with rubbish of chalk' so that the liquor would not leak but be 'conveyed into a wooden shallow trough ... into a cistern under the Boyling House'. 

    The stones, remaining when the liquid had been drained, formed 'a kind of Vitriolik Earth ... (which) will swell and ferment like leavened dough'. Every four years another layer of stones would be added - and, if a new bed was dug, then part of this 'ferment' would be put in the bottom of the trench for 'the old Earth never becomes useless.'

    The cistern into which the liquid ran was made of 'strong oaken boards, well joyned and chalked' and held 'seven hundred Tuns of Liquor'. The liquid itself was tested for strength by seeing if an egg would float in it, or not. These eggs would always be dissolved by the liquor within a minute or so. The liquor would also burn a hole in any fabric or leather on which a drop fell.  

    From the cistern, the liquor was pumped into a 'boyler of lead' in which had been put pieces of cast iron in a carefully constructed pile. As boiling continued and the liquor evaporated so more liquor and more iron would be added - and this might take three weeks to accomplish. 

    At Deptford, however, Nicholas Crispe had set up a system to boil three cisterns in a week. This was accomplished by the use of a lead 'heater' placed at the end boiler and filled with water - which meant that hot, rather than cold, water could be added to the cistern as evaporation took place. 

    As can be imagined this was a foul-smelling process.  The eventual liquid was taken from the boiler into a 'cooler ... made of tarras' and here the copperas crystallised - sometimes onto twigs, although not at Deptford. The resulting copperas was bright green - its more usual name in the seventeenth century was, in fact, 'green vitriol'.  

    So far this article, and its predecessor, have concentrated on Nicholas Crispe's Deptford but there is good reason for thinking that by 1700 there were also copperas works in the Greenwich area. A Greenwich property list of 1695 notes that a site has been 'lately converted to a copperas works'. This was a site owned by a Sir Samuel Thompson and was at the end of Lamb Lane in Greenwich. Lamb-Lane was roughly on the line of Bardsley Street - the road from central Greenwich to the  Ravensbourne before the building of Creek Road. 

    This copperas works on the Greenwich side of the Creek would thus have been roughly in the area of today's Creek Bridge 'and opposite, and slightly down-river of, the site of the' Deptford works. I have no idea at all who Sir Samuel Thompson was - and I would -be grateful for any suggestions.  

    At around the same date a passage is marked on a deed from the Greenwich Vicarage  Garden to 'The Copperas House'. This passage must have gone towards the Ravensbourne to roughly the same area .. In this area was a large house called either 'Copperas House' or 'Ravensbourne House' which has been described as 'Tudor' - but the assumption is that it dates from the time the copperas works was 
    started in Greenwich, presumably post-Civil War. 

    By 1718 it seems likely that the house and the works was associated with a Joseph Moore. Eighty years later the copperas works in Lamb Lane is associated with a George Moore and he may be the man who held farmlands. on the Greenwich Peninsula and was probably a relation of Thomas Moore of Coombe Farm at Westcombe. It may be that around  1800 George Moore attempted to open  another copperas works on the Peninsula in the area where the Government gunpowder works had been - today the site of the Alcatel factory.  

    Although the Moore family seem to have had an interest in copperas manufacture in Greenwich throughout the eighteenth century - at Deptford Creek as much as on the Peninsula, they do not seem to have owned the Copperas House on the Ravensbourne in 1800. 

    Throughout the eighteenth century the site at the end of Lamb Lane, and possibly Copperas House too, seems to have been in other ownership, or occupation. In 1695 a Mr Vanderwar is listed as living in Lamb Lane, and as late as 1743 'Vanderwall' seems to be living there in a large house. By 1761 'Samuel Vanderwall' had died, leaving a widow, Martha, who then married a John Williams of Panthowell near Carmarthen. On an estate plan of 1777 the land at the end of Lamb Lane is marked as having belonged to 'Vanderville Esq' but that it is now 'Neat Esq' and 'Neat' is shown on a slightly later plan, which also shows land at the back of the churchyard sold to Pearson. 

    None of these people have been traced, or shown to have an interest in copperas elsewhere - except for Mr Pearson, of whom more later.  

    Another nearby copperas works, although not in Kent, was that at East India Dock on the north bank of the river. This works seems to have been started in the seventeenth century by Thomas Middleton, an ex-Lord Mayor of London and the brother of Sir Hugh Middleton who built the New River. He was married to a sister of  Nicholas Crispe, and it was eventually inherited by the same members of the Crisp' family who owned the Deptford copperas works. From the 1760s it was managed by Ephraim Rinhold Seehl. 

    Seehl wrote a number of works on copperas manufacture. The manuscript of an unpublished book, dated 1768, by Seehl on copperas manufacture describes his thirty years in the business and compares manufacturing methods in 'Germany, Sweden and Italy' with that in Britain. He clearly considered himself an expert saying that he had been offered large sums of money for his knowledge which he was now writing down for the benefit of his wife. His second book 'on the art of making the true Volatile Spirit of Sulphur' describes the chemical processes to which the copperas crystals could be put.  The manufacture of what was in effect sulphuric acid from copperas was becoming more important and chemical factories were established near to these works. 

    Nowhere is this more apparent than in Moore's 1800 works on Greenwich Peninsula where the rate books list George Moore as the owner of a 'vitriol works' in 1800 and, what is presumably the same works, owned by a Lewis Price in 1832 'near Bendish Sluice'.  

    To return to the Deptford Works. For the century after the second Nicholas Crispe died until 1800 they passed through a fragmented ownership. The younger Nicholas Crisp had inherited only a third share of the works. The other partners were his uncles, Thomas and John Crisp, and John Knapp, a London drysalter, or chemical merchant. When this younger Nicholas Crispe died in 1698 his portion of the copperas works passed to his sons Charles and John - and the works were usually ascribed to their ownership, although they were only in fact part-owners. 

    Both Charles and John lived outside London. It appears likely that the works must have been in the care of professional managers. One interested party was a John Rice who, in the mid-1740s, seems to have tried to modernise the works - since he offered Ephraim Seehl a large amount of money in return for expertise - which was not forthcoming. Rice must have had a close - but as yet unexplained - relationship. with the remaining Crisp family members, since his son's name was 'Charles Crisp

    When Charles Crisp died in 1740 the estate was further split between three sisters and soon some portions of this were sold to, pay debts. By the mid-eighteenth century a substantial portion was in the ownership of a Iacob Hagen, a Quaker stave merchant from Bermondsey. He was involved in a partnership on a copperas works in Walton, Essex, together with Ephraim Seehl and a John Twyman. 

    Much of this account so far has rested on the evidence of parcels of deeds, inherited by various County Record Offices. Robert H. Goodsall analysed the ownership of the various Whitstable and Tankerton works from such material in his article on the 'Whitstable Copperas Industry' published in 'Archaeologia Cantiana'. More recently, work has been done on the Queenborough copperas works by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. 

    So far as the Deptford works is concerned the evidence is very patchy - most of the material available is that which concerns that portion of the ownership held by the Hagen family.  

    What is, however, clear from Robert Goodsall's article is that in the late eighteenth century all of these works were consolidated into one ownership by one, ambitious.young man. Goodsall describes how gradually the Whitstable and  Tankerton works were acquired by Charles Pearson or by a young lady called Elizabeth Radford. When Charles and Elizabeth married in 1780 Charles gave his 
    address as 'Ravensbourne House, Greenwich'. 

    The Hagen papers give no indication of a sale of the Deptford works to Charles Pearson. Mrs Walsh, a descendent of the Pearsons, indicated in a memorandum given to the Whitstable Museum, that he
    had negotiated for the works there about four years previously.  There is no apparent reason why this young man from Northampton should have  taken an interest in copperas. He was a glover by trade with a haberdashery business in the City of London - and by setting up this business he had already
    done very well. Why did he in effect take over the majority of the copperas industry on the Thames Estuary? 

    It must have seemed like a new beginning for an industry which had been profitable for nearly two hundred years. It was, in fact, the beginning of the end. Inthe meantime, however, it is from Charles' and Elizabeth's daughter that we know most about what was happening in the Deptford copperas
    works in the early nineteenth century - but her perspectives on it will have to wait for another article. 

    This article is based on material in Kent County and Surrey County archives, and in the London Borough of Greenwich.  Material in Tower Hamlets archive was also used and also the Whitstable Museum.  Some articles on the subject are noted in the text  and I would also like to thank Mrs Walsh for additional information.  

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    Part 3



    In the late eighteenth century Charles Pearson controlled several, if not all of the, copperas works along the Thames and Medway estuaries.  

    Charles had a haberdashery business in Fleet Street  -  said to be at no.169 on the corner of Red Lion Court, although a drawing of 1829 shows Pearson's 'hosiery warehouse' at 475 Strand on the corner of Lancaster Court.  Despite controlling a large part of this very valuable chemical industry the haberdashery business seems to have continued. 

    In "The Story of Copperas and the Castle", Geoffrey Pike has described Charles Pearson's works in Whitstable and Tankerton and the life of his family there.  Charles had four children, Charles, Clara, Amelia and Elizabeth and at Tankerton he built a 'tower'– which has evolved into the building now known as 'Tankerton Castle' - the local commmunity centre.   

    The family did not live only in Tankerton – but spent part of the time in London at the Fleet Street premises, and some time in Greenwich at Ravensbourne House.  Charles, and his son Charles, were both to become closely involved in Greenwich politics, and, to some extent in other industries in the neighbourhood.

    Charles Pearson seems to have owned, and lived, at Ravensbourne House from the time he married Elizabeth Radford in 1780.  We know very little about the house then except that it was said to have been 'Tudor'.  It was somewhere in Lamb Lane – today Bardslay Lane – between Greenwich Town Centre and Deptford Creek. However, there is some confusion over through some entries in a diary kept by one of Charles Pearson's children.  

    Most of what we know the family and their daily life comes from a diary kept in the early nineteenth century by Charles's daughter Elizabeth.  She had been born in 1781 in Tankerton and named after her mother. She kept a diary for a couple of years in her early twenties and began it again in her early forties. In it she detailed her life as the family moved between their various homes. Geoffrey Pike quoted a number of extracts from it to illustrate her life in Tankerton and Whitstable – perhaps one day someone will do the same for the time she spent in the City of  London.  Elizabeth spent a considerable amount of her life in Greenwich – although sometimes the entries to not always make it clear exactly which of her homes she is describing. Unfortunately as a young lady she had very little to do with copperas manufacture!

    The puzzle over 'Ravensbourne House' arises through one of the earliest references in Elizabeth's Diary which describes the 'old mansion at Deptford'– on the west bank of the Creek. Mrs. Walsh, who owns the Diary, assumes that this was Ravensbourne House, which was, of course, in Greenwich on the east bank.  

    It is quite clear from the records that Charles Pearson owned copperas beds on both banks of the river – hence in 1813 he was rated in Deptford for 'copperas works, land , garden, wharf and mill" and in Greenwich in 1810 for 'Dwelling house, two coal houses, copperas works'.   We must assume that Elizabeth knew what she meant by 'Deptford' and 'Greenwich'.   It is, of course, possible that there were big  houses on both sides of the Creek built for the owners or managers of the two copperas  works since they had originally been in different ownership.  The 1678 plan of the Deptford works certainly seems to show a big house on there, as does the 1777 plan of the area of the Greenwich works.  Without other evidence however this may be a problem which remains unresolved.

    Elizabeth says in her Diary that the 'old mansion at Deptford' was burnt down in January 1797 and that it had only been insured a few days previously with the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company, but that 'the directors very honourably paid although the policy had not been completed'.  In correspondence Mrs. Walsh has commented to me that the Phoenix Company was a 'recent diversification' for Charles Pearson, and she adds 'are we to draw any conclusions?'.    

    The house was then rebuilt.  A year later Elizabeth recorded a visit to see the 'house at Deptford' and three years later, in 1804,  she noted that the new house was almost finished and 'the eagles and lamps have been replaced and old fashioned glass put up again, not withstanding great opposition'. Sadly, she doesn't say who the opposition came from! She adds that all the painting had been done by 'Samuel Grimwade, my fathers' manager at Deptford'.  

    Mrs. Walsh, in correspondence, referred to a painting of the house in possession of some members of her family and described it, from memory as 'a Jane Austin Gothic villa'– and I am not really clear where the eagles might have been on a building of that nature.  The exact location of the house is far from clear on any of the maps and plans available but it seems to have been somewhere near the Creekside – and in an increasingly industrial setting an unlikely location for pretty Georgian villa.  

    On the 1741 Roque Map two buildings are shown out on the marshland  beyond Greenwich church.  This may be in the same place as the tiny building drawn on the Metcalfe Estate Plan of 1777 and again appears on the 1832 Morris Map of Greenwich but by then it is at the end of newly built Claremont Street,  The building does not appear on the Greenwich Tithe map of the mid 1840s nor on the 1861 Ordnance Survey.  By the 1860s the road pattern which exists today had been set but the road names have changed – 'Ravensbourne Street' is now 'Norman Road' and 'Pearson Street' has come 'Haddo Street'. This seems to accord with the local directories which show that Charles Pearson had moved to Maze Hill by the mid-1830s and presmably his new Ravensbourne House fell to an incoming tide of housing and industry.

    In the years before 1805 the Pearson family travelled to Greenwich from Tankerton or from London in various ways – usually by public transport. Elizabeth describes how she, her two sisters, and their mother together with a Mrs.Johnson took the stage coach to Greenwich. Brother Charles, together with 'Jane the Cook and James the Porter' walked. The unfortunate James had to walk back again to London after tea!  

    A few months later Elizabeth, Clara and their mother, took the 'four o'clock Bromley Stage'. This did not go all the way to Greenwich but dropped them somewhere in Deptford from whence they walked to the Creek, and down along the Deptford bank to take the ferry. This ferry ran across the Ravensbourne in the area of today's Creek Bridge and took the family across to Greenwich.   

    Coming to Greenwich from Tankerton they came by 'post chaise'… 'Father, mother, Amelia, Clara, Charles and Mr.Smith and I .. nine hours in coming .. had tea… I and Amelia to bed with headache'. 

    On another occasion Elizabeth and her mother left Greenwich in order to visit friends at Stamford Hill in north London by a 'hackney coach'.  

    At the same Charles Pearson, his son Charles, and Thomas Tilson went off to Walton on the Naze in Essex in a 'post chaise'.   Walton was of course another place from which copperas stones could be obtained.  Five years later in 1810 John Basley White, the cement manufacturer, recorded that he had made agreement with a 'Mr.Pearson who has a large copperas works and lives his Greenwich.. . and his steward Mr. Tilson'.   Charles Pearson had in fact also acquired the manor of Walton, in the same way that he had Tankerton – a couple of years before this he had been taken ill there 'with the ague' and been brought home 'in a chaise' by his teenage son.

    The Tilson family were close to the Pearsons and were to remain so.  One of the first entries which Elizabeth made in her diary was a reference to 'Aunt Tilson' of Islington.   In 1804 she had visited young Mrs. Tilson, looking 'prettier than ever' in bed after the birth of little Tom. A year or so later they were visited by 'the maid with little Tom Tilson, who roared all the time'.  

    Tom Tilson was to grow up and, like his father, provide many useful services to the growing Pearson business - and to the south London gas industry.

    In these years Charles Pearson was mixing with a wide and influential body of society.  Elizabeth recorded what she could, but very much from the sidelines.  In 1801 she notes the proclamation of peace and the large party which she attended, full of people that she hardly knew – Barclays, Grevilles, Charringtons, Pepins  - many of them names to be associated with  the Whigs, with the Quakers and anti-slavery movement.  Many of them extremely wealthy families.  

    One of the people present was  'a little old woman, introduced as Buonaparte's aunt from Sir William Scott's'.  Whoever the old woman might have been, Sir William Scott was a very important man – a maritime lawyer, privy councillor and brother to the Lord Chancellor – which shows the sort of society into which Charles Pearson was moving.

    Much of what Elizabeth noted was however going on at some distance from her. She rubbed shoulders with  society, and with events, but mostly at second hand.  She met John Russell, RA, in Greenwich and heard him describe his pictures. On another occasion she saw Lt.Col. George Landmann, at church in Greenwich, and she noted Col.Despard's trial for High Treason.

    There were family outings   - twice, in 1801 and in 1804, Elizabeth was taken with her sisters to see the newly built West India Docks.  They regularly visited Greenwich Park  and not only for their regular afternoon walks. 

    In 1804 they went to see a display of 'pikemen' undertaking exercises and a few months later noted 'there has been a great deal of music in the Park all day, I think we were foolish in not going to see it'.   

    On many occasions Elizabeth recorded walks around Greenwich – walks which are still easily followed today and indeed are along routes along which local people might well still take on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. On her twenty-third birthday she, together with friends and her brother and sisters, went for a  'walk.. through the Park and Vanburgh Fields and down Crooms Hill to home'.    A few months later they ventured further afield to go 'through the Park to the ruins of Sir Gregory Page's'  - that is to the ruins of the vast and opulent Wricklemarsh House which had been sold and stripped bare some twenty years earlier. It had stood on the site of today's Cator Estate in Blackheath – and a considerable walk from Elizabeth's home at Creekside.  

    Nearer and more typical of her excursions was 'through the Park, Heath, Maize Hill and Hospital'.  By the Hospital she meant, of course, the buildings which were until recently the Royal Naval College and perhaps we should also note that she always spells 'Maze Hill' with an 'i'– as 'Maize Hill'. 

    Such walks were of course also of a social nature. Elizabeth might describe a  'pleasant walk .. through the Hospital, up Maize Hill by Woodlands.…. met Mr. Edmeades and Mrs. Johnson'   - Woodlands most likely being the farmland and quarries covering today's Restell Close, rather than Woodlands House, further on. On another occasion 'upon the Heath went over a house late in the occupation of Lady Stewart'– which goes to show there is nothing so interesting as poking about in someone else's remains.

    One day Elizabeth noted that her brother Charles had gone to London to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – but nothing so interesting for her. That same day she was to go to tea with 'Mr. Holmes of Westcombe Park'. I know nothing about Mr.Holmes except that for some years he was tenant of Westcombe House on the corner of what is Westcombe Park Road and Vanburgh Hill – my own home is built on what was the gardens.  

    Some visitors to the house were clearly other young people. One regular visitor in 1804 was Philip Horn. Who was he? She gives no details.  Elizabeth never married,  but it would be sad to think that she never had a suitor, that there never was man in her life.  There was also a 'Mr.Platt' who came 'both Sunday and Monday'– and on other occasions to see 'Eamy'– fourteen year old sister Amelia.  Once again there are no details given,  he could as well have been the doctor on a medical visit as much as follower.  There was also a young man, Joseph Fabian, who seems to spent a suspiciously large amount of time with the girls.

    Philip Horn's visits to the family however seem purely domestic and  very relaxed, almost as if he was accepted as a family.  In March 1804  they breakfasted,  he came back again 'for tea and read. .. mother ironed and pleated frills … supped'. A few days later Philip went for a walk with brother Charles ..  and then 'Philip and Charles went to see the play' . The next day a . 'very pleasant walk through the Park, Maize Hill, Hospital … worked, dined'. Philip was eventually seen off on his way to Plymouth – perhaps he was to become a sailor and left Elizabeth's life for good.  Future references were no longer to visits from Philip but from a Frances Horn and her father, clearly a friend with whom Elizabeth corresponded.

    Much of Elizabeth's life was spent in purely domestic tasks .. 'mended stockings'… broke sugar'. .. 'went to the butchers'. .. 'altered sleeves of black gown' .  In evenings it was 'whist with Mrs. Hines against father and mother' .. or 'whist with Mrs. Johnson against father and mother .. lost nine pence'.  

    At one point she admits 'whist almost every night till I'm tired of it .. reading my only pleasure'.  Her reading was, however,  hardly any more lively 'Newton on the Prophecies' .. 'Prideaux's Connection' .. 'Grecian History'  or, at the best 'Peregrine Pickle". 

    It is only to easy to reach the obvious conclusion that it was the men of the family who had all excitements. Elizabeth's life of idleness seems so boring at times that, despite her comfortable circumstances, it is easy to feel sorry for her.

    When Elizabeth's diary resumed in the 1820s, although her life had not changed materially, she was clearly more independent and living in a world of exciting changes.  Her father's business in Greenwich was changing too and as the copperas industry began to lose its momentum he began to diversify. These changes were to reflect strongly on the area around Deptford Creek.  

    This draws strongly on material from Elizabeth Pearson's diary. I would of course like to thank Mrs. Walsh - with whom I have now lost touch and the whereabouts of which I do not know.  A photocopy of the MS was deposited in Whitstable but can now not be found. I would like to thank both Barbara Ludlow and  Geoffrey Pike for copies of their notes taken from the MS.

    Mary Mills

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    Part 4


    Elizabeth Pearson was the daughter of Charles Pearson, who owned copperas works up and down the Thames and Medway estuaries.  In the early nineteenth century, she kept a diary.  The first part of the diary runs from 1796 to 1804 when Elizabeth was in her early twenties, but, following a gap of sixteen years she took it up again in 1820.  Elizabeth's time was divided between three homes – the family haberdashery business in the City of London, the 'Castle' at Tankerton near the copperas works, and 'Ravensbourne House' in Greenwich.  Since this narrative is about the copperas industry in Greenwich and Deptford then what Elizabeth had to say about her life in Greenwich is very relevant.  At the same time the copperas industry itself was beginning to change and the 1820s was a period in which Charles Pearson himself, and his son, began to try new outlets and ideas.

    By 1820 travel between Greenwich and the Kent coast had suddenly become interesting and easy.  No more of the 'nine hours in a post chaise' which the family had endured previously.  One of Elizabeth's earliest diary entries in the 1820s is with the news that 'brother has come from Ramsgate.. in the Favourite Steam yacht' and a month or so later Elizabeth herself 'returned home by the London Engineer Steam Yacht .. had a delightful voyage.. brother returned home by the Majestic Steam Yacht'. 

    Steam boat services on the river had revolutionised life for many travellers, but the Pearsons with their regular journeys between Tankerton and Greenwich must have been particularly grateful.  The time keeping and speed with which these vessels accomplished a hitherto uncertain voyage was revolutionary - a traveller of 1825 noted in the Maidstone Journal that 'Captain Rule of the Eclipse Steam Packet … told many of his passengers within two minutes of the time he should arrive at his destination..'

    'Favourite' was originally owned in 1817 Gravesend Steam Packet Company to operate between London, Gravesend and Sheerness.  She had been built in Blackfriars by Lafort and Sons, was 160 tons with engines by Boulton and Watt. In 1820 she was taken over by the Margate Steam Packet Company in 1820 and run until 1828. 

    'London Engineer' was, if anything, more famous.  She was built by Daniel Brent of Rotherhithe and said to 'mark the first major departure from the basic design'.  She was 120 ft long with a wooden hull and a draught of 5ft.  Her engines were by Maudslay Son and Field and she had paddle wheels built to a special and novel arrangement.  Elizabeth would have sat in her comfortable saloon with its upholstered settees rather than the aft cabin with wooden benches. 

    I know nothing about  'Majestic' but the family also travelled by 'Eclipse' steam packet, one of the earliest such boats run by the Margate Steam Packet Co. from 1816. 

    Steam was changing the lives of everybody – and the steam packets were not only for well off people like the Pearsons.  Perhaps the last word on the atmosphere around them is best described by Robert Surtees on the occasion Mr. Jorrocks left Margate in a hoy without his trousers. Passengers at Margate jostle for the rival charms of 'Royal Adelaide, fast and splendid' and 'splendid and superb Magnet'…  everyone furiously betting on which will reach the Tower first  'for the Monday steamboat race is as great an event as the Derby'.  Once out at sea 'both firemen … boil up a tremendous gallop'….until 'Royal Adelaide manages to shoot ahead for a few minutes amid the cheers and exclamations of her crew' but 'the stiller waters of the Thames favours the Magnet and she shoots ahead….'    Was this really the atmosphere for a polite middle aged lady like Elizabeth Pearson?

    In Greenwich Elizabeth had developed a local friendship with the Millington family, visiting frequently and involving herself in a number of tragedies which befell them.  The Millingtons lived in a vast and opulent Jacobean house which stood on the Greenwich riverside on the roughly the present site of the Greenwich Power Station.  This house had been built by a Gregory Clement in the seventeenth century and later bought by Ambrose Crowley.  Crowley had a large ironworks at Winlaton on the Tyne and in 1703 set up a warehouse on the Greenwich riverside – where, since the area became known as Anchor Iron Wharf, it is assumed anchors were on the main branches of his trade along with 'hatchets, iron chains, chaffing dishes, hammers, hoes', and so on and including a line in shackles for the slave trade.

    By the mid-eighteenth century, the Crowley family were no longer active in the business and in 1782 an Isiah Millington, had become a partner.  Millington and his family lived at Crowley House in Greenwich and became friends of the Pearsons.  Mrs. Walsh, a descendent of the Pearsons and owner of the diary, has said in her paper on the family that Charles Pearson may originally have become interested in copperas through a relationship with Isiah Millington at City Company dinners at the George and Vulture in Fleet Street.  Be that as it may the Millington family and their industrial interests in Greenwich might be the subject of a future article, since it is their relationships with the Pearson's which is of interest here.

    Mrs. Walsh also suggested that the iron necessary for copperas manufacture might have come from the Millington Iron Works – and this is perfectly possible since any scrap iron would have been suitable.  I do not think that the Millingtons had an ironworks in Greenwich adjacent to the copperas works on Creekside. The indications are that they continued with the warehousing business at Anchor Iron Wharf while also branching out into other business activities in the area. 

    Elizabeth Pearson often recorded visits to the Millington family – sometimes with her sister Amelia, and with other friends, like the Mr. & Mrs. Morris she mentions in November 1820.  In May 1821 she noted the sudden, and apparently scandalous death, of John Millington 'in lodgings at Sydenham … he returned from America … leaving his wife, his child is dead … his death can be considered a benefit to his family'.  What scandal is hidden there I do not know – since I have been unable to unearth anything about John Millington, except that he is not the scientist of the same name, who also went to America in this period.

    In November of the same year Elizabeth recorded the death of old Mrs. Millington at Crowley house 'in her 89th year and confined to her room two years and five months'.  Mrs. Millington had been a close friend of Elizabeth's own mother and she remembered her dearly as she saw ' our dear mother's kind old friend in her coffin'.  Mrs. Millington's son, Crowley Millington, had been away at the time of his mother's death but on his return Crowley House once more became a lively riverside home – and Elizabeth records how her sister Amelia went there regularly for music lessons.

    Since her mother's death Elizabeth had acquired more domestic responsibilities.  She records a visit to Woolwich in search of a servant, and again to discuss arrangements for her new employee.  Still her evenings and many days were spent in domestic work 'cutting out new shirts' but with some opportunities for more intellectual pastimes 'writing extracts from Bishop Hershey's sermons on the Sabbath'.

    When she was in her early twenties Elizabeth had recorded the birth and subsequent noisy behaviour of young Tom Tilson – a child of one of her fathers' associates.  Tom was now grown and setting out on what was to become a successful legal career.  In 1820 Elizabeth went to see him 'sworn in' and later visited the Tilson family's new house at Brixton Hill.

    Much of Elizabeth's life in Greenwich, and indeed in Tankerton, had little to do with the copperas works, which provided the income for her standard of living.  In September 1820 she records a visit to the Tankerton works and again in 1821 'we all walked to the Deptford Works' but most of she records some of father and brothers' business activities and they slowly reveal a move away from the manufacture of copperas alone and towards other industries.

    In 1822 she recorded that 'an accident at the gas works' had kept her brother in town.  This accident appears to be unrecorded and unknown but it is in indication of the interest in the gas industry which Charles Pearson Jnr was beginning to take.  There are a number of records about this interest from the gas industry itself – but it is not always easy to distinguish between 'Charles Pearson' father or son in what is recorded, and there is also some confusion with another and different Charles Pearson who was the City of London solicitor and who also had an interest in the early gas industry. 

    Charles Pearson is recorded as one of the earliest movers of the South London Gas Company, based in Bankside in the early 1820s, he was fact elected as their first auditor.  Thomas Tilson was also a member of their first board. The company had been started by a Mr. Munro and Elizabeth Pearson records that 'brother dines at Mr.Munro's in Nelson Square' in 1822.  As I have recorded in other articles about the Greenwich Gas Industry the South London Gas Company soon became the Phoenix Gas Company and began to build a works in Greenwich on the banks of the Ravensbourne – somewhat to the north of the copperas works. 

    Soon the Greenwich vestry was also embroiled in a legal battle between rival companies.  In the records are thanks given to 'Mr.Pearson for his conduct in defence of Mr.Hammond' and 'Mr.Pearson' appears to represent the Greenwich vestry in negotiations with the gas company.  This might be a totally different Mr. Pearson – it seems unlikely that Charles Pearson Jnr or Snr would negotiate for the vestry in this way – however it might be noted that a still younger Charles Pearson was to embark on a legal career and eventually became a solicitor in Gravesend.  This was Charles Hill Pearson who, at fifteen in 1824 would have been too young to be the person referred to.  Once the Greenwich Works was built then the gas mains were taken through the copperas works site. 

    By the early 1830s, the copperas industry was beginning to falter, overtaken by new ways of making both sulphuric acid and dyes.  Pearson was to try and diversify into a wider field in the chemical industry.  In 1833 he approached the central London based Gas Light and Coke Company with an offer on 'sal ammoniac and Prussian Blue' and later asked the prices of the gas industry waste 'ammoniacal liquor' from the north London based Imperial Gas Company.  He was sufficiently price conscious to complain about the price and the quality and was told sharply to 'try at the other works'. 

    As late as 1835 it was revealed that the staircase of his Greenwich house had been treated with Mr.Kyan's very poisonous sublimate solution as an attempt to demonstrate a new method of wood preservation.  He was also clearly involved with some newcomers to Deptford –Messrs. Beneke who had come from Germany to try new ways of chemical manufacture.  Pearson was to help pay their bills with some of the London Gas Companies during 1833.

    'Old' Charles Pearson died in 1828 leaving £27,000 to his children – his final days seem to have been spent in Greenwich in a new house in Maze Hill.  We know no more of what happened to Elizabeth but she would have become a wealthy woman under her fathers' will.  Young Charles set about spending the money he had been left – among other things he invested in the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway and the 'Pearson Arms' can still be found on the Whitstable seafront.  He was to die in 1870 at his daughters' home in Bloomsbury.

    The Greenwich works seems to have stopped production in the 1830s but it is quite clear that chemical works continued to flourish on Deptford Creek through a number of successors – like Beneke – with whom Charles Pearson had been involved.  At around the same time a vitriol works is recorded elsewhere in Greenwich, on the Peninsula, now owned by Lewis Price and Co. it could once have been Moore's copperas works almost adjacent to a number of enterprises belonging to the Millingtons. 

    By the 1840s the Greenwich works on Deptford Creek was in the hands of the 'Union Joint Stock Banking Company of Coventry'– they sound very like liquidators to me!

    I would like to thank Mrs. Walsh, who originally introduced me to Elizabeth Pearson's Diary, and also Geoffrey Pike who has been kind enough to send me some photocopied extracts. Other material from archive material in the LMA and some published works including 'Royal River Highway' by Frank Dix and, of course, R.S.Surtees 'Jorrock's Jaunts and Jollities'.   I do not know the current whereabouts of any of the diary except for extracts I have in notes - enquiries at Whitstable Museum have got nowhere, and I have lost touch with Mrs. Walsh

    And thanks to the inimitable Julian Watson who saw me all through these articles in 17 years ago!! and was the first person to like and share the first posting of these four articles earlier this evening.

    All of them have been re-edited but the main substance appeared in Bygone Kent Vol 22. 

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