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

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  • 06/22/18--03:35: Friday morning notes

    We understand that GIHS members and Arsenal experts Ian Bull and Ray Fordham are currently at Crossness as part of the Peabody London International Festival of Theatre event. They are talking to visitors about the history of the Royal Arsenal. We would encourage people to go and see them – and, of course, also the pigeons and ‘Fly by night’ as featured in the Guardian and on the BBC

    Newsletter DOCKYARDS

    This includes a call for papers for their next conference which will be on “we stand on Guard for Thee” Dockyards and naval bases in North America, the Atlantic and the Caribbean.  This is on the 18th of March, 2019 at the Maritime Museum and, as usual, will follow their AGM. Please send 300 word synopsis and title before 30th October 2018 to Dr.Ann Coats. email

    They are also looking for a volunteer Twitter manager.  A report on the Navy Board project at the National Maritime Museum says that this has been extended for another year when it is hoped it will be finished. There are also notes about an oral history project on the knowledge and recollections of work and experiences in the Royal Dockyards 1946 - 1984. Contact if you would like to be involved in any of these projects.

    Thank you to the Editor for a mention of my booklet ‘Innovation, Enterprise and Change on the Greenwich Peninsula’ (still available, see There is also a note about changes at Maritime Books. They also mention preservation of historic cranes - people will remember the two cranes at Lovell’s (aka Riverside Gardens) which were destroyed against local wishes in the 1990s. They have a special offer for members of the Naval Dockyards Society of a book by Dr.Brian Newman “A work of Titans. A history of the Swan Hunter floating cranes” – of interest to anyone researching work on the Thames.

    Rather nearer home for us they review the New Researches Seminar at Docklands History Group last November. Many of the items will be of interest to historians in Greenwich – one about convict prison hulks in Woolwich might well be of interest to Greenwich Industrial History Society as would a paper on “Shipwrights, patronage and the Thames Royal Dockyards”.


    They reported on their May meeting which was about the London Gateway - the new Deep Water Container terminal on the Thames at what was Shellhaven, this includes a great deal of detail which we are happy to pass on if anyone is interested.  Their conference next year will be about the medieval Port of London.  They also mention a new book by Peter Stone on the History of the Port of London.
    Derick Morris is leading a walk around Limehouse for the Group. This starts at 6.00 pm at Limehouse DLR. He charges £4 per person.
    Their AGM will be on 4rh July at the Museum of London Dockland starting at 6.00 pm


    We have a note from Elizabeth Cutajar are about some of the trips they are doing ‘off the beaten track’. Contact them


    It is understood that funds are available for ‘Greenwich Park Revealed’ and a project leader is being recruited.  The WW1 project is underway and some items have been put on the Royal Parks web site about allotments in the War, about the age of park car workers and about sights and sounds during the Great War.  The Queens Orchard has been planted with historic plants, about which the snails have not been helpful. The next meeting is on the 7th of September, at 11 am.


    The Thame Estuary Partnership has commissioned a cultural assessment strategy for the Thames Strategy East Study Area. Museum of London will be responsible for the archaeology and Alan Baxter Associates for the Built Environment. It will take account of the archaeological, cultural, industrial built and environmental heritage. We hope to hear more about this in due course.


    And we are informed that work will start soon at St.Alfege’s Church Greenwich High Road

    And also in Woolwich at the Ferry Approach

    We have the links and details if anyone would like more information


    Thanks to a legacy the Association is offering free places to students for their annual conference 31st August - 5thSeptember (check out

    They also point out that places for this conference are still available for those who will pay. 


    We have their Transactions (No. 64) which is a very good read and includes an interesting article about Steamboat Stewards in 1842 as well as an article on local brewers.

    Their programme:

    10th September.  The enlightened Robert Pocock of Gravesend. Malcolm Jennings

    8th October. Training ship Worcester. Ken Chamberlain

    12th November. Women munitions workers in World War Two.  Ann Kaeif

    10th December. From Greenhithe to Greyhithe and back again. Christopher Bull

    14th January.  Rosherville Village and Gardens.  Michael Thompson

    11th February. Cobham landscape detectives. Andrew Mayfield

    11th March. Medieval Gravesend. Toni Mount

     8th April. World War I poets. Bob and Fern Ogley

    13th May AGM

    10th June. Ex-president's evening

    All meetings at Saint Mary’s church hall Wrotham road, Gravesend   7 for 7.30


    Thanks to Elizabeth we have been sent a copy of the London Archaeologist for Winter 2017 (Vol 14 No11) on thebronze age landscape of the Greenwich Peninsula by Mary Nicholls with Nigel Cameron, Rob Scaife, Karen Stewart and John Whitaker.  This is clearly ab important document for anyone interested in the history of the Greenwich Peninsula and in its archaeology. As with most archaeological reports it bases all of its references from other archaeologists rather than from historians. It is based primarily on studies of sites in Blackwall Lane and in Bellott Street (which is not actually on the peninsula). They describe how the Bronze Age landscape can be reimagined and illustrate what would have been a series of islands between inlets and tributaries feeding into the river. The islands would have been farmed.  They also describe the discovery of trackways. It would be interesting to know how this relates to the subsequent building of the river wall and other later developments in the area. However the article is to be recommended.
     Woolwich stoneware kiln.  This article is in the London Archaeologist, Spring Vol 15 No.4. And is about "The Re-excavation to a 17th century stoneware kiln in Woolwich" by Edward Bidduph and John Cottar. You may remember that we all went chasing down to Woolwich last spring when the kiln which was excavated in 1974 on the Woolwich ferry Approach was examined and destroyed. This article describes the work done on it by Oxford Archaeology. The kiln was used to make salt glazed stoneware bellarmine jugs and is dated at 1660 and is thus believed to be the earliest stoneware kiln in England. The article gives a detailed examination of the kiln and what it produced. It is a very import sat account of one of the most important finds archaeologists have made in the borough and useful or anyone interested not only in archaeology but also in the Greenwich and Woolwich pottery industries

    I had a riveting morning with a group of Goldsmiths students listening to David Cuffley talking about brick making in the London Borough of Greenwich. He has left with use a series of maps and an exhaustive list of references to brick makers in the Borough.  This  is very interesting and  David is very keen to get more information about many of these firms - looking at this myself I can see things which we have featured at various times and also for example he mentions the Greenwich Peninsula brick fields near the Pilot in 1790 which I know a bit about.

    David has promised to speak to us next year on Salutation Alley in Woolwich – and I am also keen to remind people of his wonderful talk to Greenwich Historical Society on the bricks of the Greenwich Park Wall.

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    I wrote this for the OU's student magazine in March 2000  - does anything change. Please comment!!


    Writing a history of the industries which preceded the Millennium Dome on the Greenwich Peninsula was, as it turned out, far from easy.  The official story was about site pollution with a subtext that the old and bad was to become the new and clean.  They didn't want to know about anything that suggested past was not, perhaps, all that awful.  How does the historian cope with a subject, which 'authority' is wary about and which a number of others are likely to be upset by?

    Research into the Dome site raises a lot of issues, some in the wide historical context and others of interest only to historians of particular industries.  My research at the OU on the waste products of early gas manufacture in the context of surrounding industry gave me a head start with some of the manufacturers who had been on site in Greenwich. Further work produced exciting material, which validated some of my previous conclusions and identified a number of exciting and innovative factories.  Any eventual book had to appeal to the widest public, and time constraints would leave much of the research only half-done.

    Despite all this activity I had, however, never really been able to address what I felt were the wider issues raised by the research. Tentative attempts to draw attention to some of them had met with a horrified response from several quarters 'how can you compare the Millennium Dome to the industries which went before it? I was aware, as they should have been, that the construction of the Dome on that particular site in Greenwich was yet another step in the exploitation of the area for economic gain.  I also felt it likely that there were some bodies who would not welcome publicity about their activities – albeit that these activities took place over a hundred years ago. 

    Greenwich Marsh, as the peninsula was once always known, had been embanked and drained in time immemorial and administered by its own management body separately from the rest of the town.  Much of it had been in institutional ownership from the seventeenth century and these charitable bodies acted as developers in the nineteenth century to encourage and promote industry.  Many sites had harboured manufacturers who had been both ground breaking and important in a very wide context. I could not believe that subjects like the first Atlantic cable, the biggest gas holder in the world and guns for the Confederates in the American Civil War, financed by the opium trade, would not find an audience. 

    There were a number of points I wanted to make. First was that the Dome is just another stage in the continuum of development in an area which has been home to many industries with a world wide influence - and that the reasons for this are connected to the geographical context, land use and ownership.   Publicity represented 'Royalty and Time' as the main historical contribution made in Greenwich but it seems very clear that its people have had a much wider impact beyond that.  The presence of the Tudor Royal Palace with its military requirements and the consequent need for scientific research, also engendered by the Royal Observatory have been of great significance to local industry. There were a number of important points concerning individual industries and their influence in a wider context- for example, the aspirations of the gas company which encompassed new ideas on public service and industrial partnerships.

    There was also a wider, more political, context about the role of the historian in regeneration. In Greenwich, throughout the 1980s, we had watched the development of the London Docklands Area. What had been the greatest port in the world simply disappeared. Many sites of great interest to industrial historians were demolished without the smallest attempt at recording. As they were replaced with new developments an ethos emerged which appeared determined to deny what had been there before. Reference to the past was only made in reference to jolly cockneys or to soured industrial relations.   It is remarkable that of all the industrial centres of Britain, London - arguably the greatest of them all, has no industrial museum and this situation seems likely to continue despite brave attempts.  Very few people from outside east London have any idea of the extent of this industrial heartland and most people would not believe in it.  Why has the history of the vast engine for the economy of Britain simply been written off?

    In Greenwich there was already a groundswell about the fate of the site of the Royal Arsenal.  This vast armaments factory had been closed to all except those who worked there.  Among the army of ex-workers however are a number who have become historians. When the site was eventually opened up to the public much had already been demolished and the only 'heritage' input into the site's future was to be yet another artillery museum – nothing about the technological and scientific skills which allowed the military machine to function.   Many ex-arsenal workers were ready to protest and my work on Greenwich marsh found a ready audience with them.

    I began to try and get some support for a book about the industries around the Dome. Publishers and booksellers, could not grasp its wider context, but only saw it as, unsellable, local industrial history.  I was told that no one would be interested outside a few enthusiasts in the local area.  Others, including some local academics, could not see the Dome as part of continuum of development, saying anything that went before it was not of interest and was old and dirty. The official line was that the Dome was a break with the unpleasant past.  They have been perfectly happy to promote the past of Greenwich when it is about Henry VIII, or Lord Nelson,  - but not, in the most extreme example, to talk about the contribution of one local factory to the development of the Internet.   They were also, of course, afraid that something embarrassing might be uncovered.

    I published the book myself in June 1999 with some help from my ex-employers, a Docklands 'community watchdog' organisation. It was not easy to maintain the integrity of the research while at the same picking my way through the various sensibilities. Initially sales were to friends and locals and, then, increasingly to those who had lived and worked on the Peninsula.  The press, except for one national newspaper has taken no interest.  A number of other books have been produced and an 'official' history is on its way.  As far as I am aware none of them have taken on the issues of the past of the site in a global context – the 'old and dirty' theme remains.  The only information about the past which will be available to visitors on site will be the official history of the politics behind the Dome and  - I presume – some populist stuff about 'Royal Greenwich'.

    Recently the landscape designer on the Dome site said that in laying out the park area that they would not adhere to the 'current fashion for industrial heritage'.  This comment reveals a great deal about what is wrong with the way that 'regeneration' tackles history.  Much industrial history has been presented in what has sometimes been a very trivial way.  Objects are isolated from their context and used as decorative features.  Museums are often set up to present the past in a way which is easy to take in and, frequently very superficial. It is no surprise then that the whole subject is seen as a 'fashion' by urban designers - rather than something which was the stuff of so many lives. A similar problems is that it is often very difficult to get decision makers to understand that people researching their family histories are ordinary folk who have become historians through choice and that their search for knowledge will often lead them far beyond the mere names and dates of their ancestors. So sources of information are cut off and destroyed because it is thought they will be of interest only to the few. The desire of people from all walks of life to know about the past needs to be taken in a serious and unpatronising way.

    I began by describing the difficulties I knew I would encounter in writing a history of the Dome site - and it has been a minefield - but one I have quite enjoyed finding my way through. Perhaps this article is the first step in saying what I really think about the site and its history.  Those who visit the Dome will have no chance to find out about the achievements of its forerunners. I don't want this to sound like a complaint. - I didn't and don't expect anything.  What emerges – and this is also a conclusion from my experience as a 'watchdog' in London Docklands – is that historians and regenerators each need to keep themselves apart.  The regeneration of industrial heartlands all over this country is a political issue and developers will manipulate the background to the site for whatever purpose – often for very good on es.  Historians mustn't be sucked in by this – they need to keep their own integrity and they do need to have an independent and honest stance when meeting the developers.  They also need to be kept informed, or to take steps to find and not be afraid to engage in debate. No one will take you seriously if you go along with trivialities but you do need an intelligent appreciation of what the political agenda is.

    PS  - That was all 18 years ago. I eventually sold a just under 4000 copies of the book, Greenwich Marsh, and am constantly asked for copies (try Amazon!).  It is very out of date now and needs revising. Last year, because of new residents, who might be interested, I considered an update.  Self publishing is all very well but bookshops won't take it, and you end up selling it all, via reviews, by post and in the few friendly shops (thanks to the - now closed - Glass Wardrobe, and more recently Warwick Leadlay and Sabos).  In 2000 my husband was still alive and very willing to pack and post - but I can't face  doing it on my own.  I have contacted various publishers with a record of publishing local history - but, no, they would only take it if - I financed it,  halved the written content and provided more pictures, and guaranteed that the proposed cruise liner terminal would display it in their foyer.  

    and - while I am in a bad temper - I could say a thing or two about the 'independent' bookshops.  Its not so much that they won't take your book but it's the sneers that go with the refusal 'Oh! whose the clever one then?'.   I have never met so many unpleasant people. One (now defunct) local bookshop did take 6 copies of Greenwich Marsh - on the understanding that they kept the entire cover price. They sold the 6 in three days - and then refused to take any more on the grounds that they had to 'cut the leaflets up with scissors'. I have no idea what these leaflets were and why they had to be cut.  As a result of this I don't care how evil Amazon is but I will not go into 'independent' bookshops. I remember the TV series 'Black Books' - it was too right!

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    These pictures show the wreck of Greenwich No.2. Gas holder in 1917.

    No.2. Gas Holder stood slightly to the north of the current holder. It was much larger and was for many years the largest gas holder in the world. Its tank - the ground level part of the structure - is still there and is rumoured to be the future works site for the Silvertown Tunnel.  
    In 1917 there was a massive explosion in a TNT factory in Slvertown on the other side of the River.  No.2. gas holder was badly damaged - and these pictures show the damage. They are part of a collection of over twenty pictures of the damage which we have been sent by the National Grid Archive. 

    During the explosion the gas supply to south London was saved by valvesman Frederick Innis whose quick actions earnt him a British Empire Medal.   I am pleased to find more about him on the Ladywell Cemetery Web site - and hope to add more soon - and a lot more pictures.

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  • 07/16/18--00:52: News now

  • Woolwich Antiquarian Newsletter. 
    The current edition includes an article by Jim Marrett on Woolwich potteries which features the story of the Woolwich stoneware kiln.  He also mentions finds in the Rope Yard Rails area of red earthenware called 'London Ware'. The oldest of these kilns showed that Woolwich had a 400 year old pottery industry

    The Newsletter also summarises a number of sites in ‘A Further Date with Building' by Jim Marratt.  Among other sites he mentions the LCC Shooters Hill Fire Station built in 1927 and designed by J.B.Corslake.  Opposite the fire station is a wall in which bricks were made by 'Stephen'.   He also mentions the Lakedale Road Fire Station and the nearby horse tram depot - and many RACS buildings in Woolwich as well as Beasley’s brewery in Plumstead.

    The two new Woolwich ferry boats are mentioned which are being built in Poland.  These will have small low emission engines which charge batteries at a constant rate.

    The newsletter also gives the news that the Falconwood Model Railway has been told to leave its current site by National Grid. They are trying to identify a new sites - and would welcome information. 


    We have been sent a copy of a book by Roger Williams called “Whitebait and the Thames fisheries”.  This tells the story of how Whitebait became a popular dish and how it moved to Greenwich rom Dagenham as a feature of pub menus.   We have booked Roger to come and speak to us about Greenwich fishing and Whitebait next summer. In the meantime the book is £7.00 from Bristol Book Publishing.

    We have also noted a talk by Roger given to the Docklands History Group on fishing in the Thames.  He pointed out that Greenwich was the biggest supplier of fish to Billingsgate until the 19th century.  This ended when the Royal Hospital was extended and many of the buildings used by the fishing industry were demolised. The industry began to move to the North Sea ports which they helped to build as the railway provided access. Grimsby owes a lot to Greenwich

     Rapid Wire Systems

    GLIAS has noted the local existence of rapid wire systems in shops. These systems was where the assistant put your money into a little metal tray, pulled a lever, and it whizzed off and then came back with your change.  We understand the Age Exchange Centre in Blackheath has a system like this which came out of a shop in Hackney.  In Woolwich the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society had such a system which not only returned your change but also your dividend.

    Greenwich Visitor. 
    The July edition has an article on the gasholder and the presentation of the GIHS petition. It also covers the subsequent resolution at a Council meeting which was voted down. Thank you Visitor for featuring this. 
    Also in this edition is a full page feature and appreciation by Julian Watson of Greenwich historian and writer Beryl Platts who died a few weeks ago.  Julian highlights her work in defeating the plans for the Ringway motorways which were intended to run through central Greenwich and how she drew attention to the historic fabric of our area.  Pat of that heritage is the Borough Hall, in Royal Hill,  and on another page an article by Alan Watkins talks about the Hall and its background as part of Greenwich’s revolutionary 1939 town-hall and how it would make a wonderful museum for Greenwich Town  (as distinct from Woolwich).

    Westcombe News. 
    The July this also featured the story of the Borough hall with architectural details about its history.  They also mention the new bridge which has 'healed 'the missing link of the Thames path.  Another Initiative highlighted by the News is the installation of seven storyboards on the history and wildlife of Blackheath which had been put in place.  In June the News carried the story of the gas holder and the need to sign the petition.

    853 blogger has also picked up the story of the gas-holder in some detail. 

    Perhaps we should point out that none of these commentators on the holder appear to understand that neither the council nor its officers have given permission for demolition of the holder. They have only agreed to a management process by which the holder can be demolished.  The decision to demolish has been rendered unnecessary by the government’s imposition of the immunity to listing order.

    Elizabeth writes to us about a new book by Dr. Peter Hodgkinson. this is about Major Conrad Hugh Dinwiddy who was a ‘civilian turned artillery man’ and as such invented an aerial range finder, an aiming post scheme for firing, schemes for firing artillery from river barges and the use of a monorail for artillery supply. He was killed in battle in September 1917.  He ad bene a pupil at the Roan School and had been s surveyor at East Greenwich Gas Works.  Elizabeth says we must see the website

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    The big news in the world of Greenwich history is the sudden closure last week of the Greenwich archive and the Heritage Centre.  Although this was scheduled it was not expected to be so sudden and promises for the future are not very clear.  The archive is overwhelmingly important to local historians and indeed to visitors who may be from overseas or students working to a deadline.

    As a result of this is that within the past week or so a Greenwich Archive Users Forum has emerged. At the moment this is a very ad hoc body.  Last night some members went to the Greenwich Planning Board meeting where some of the buildings proposed for a new cultural centre on the Arsenal site were discussed. They hoped to draw attention to the issues around the archive and hopefully this happened.

    The Group is keen to build up support among archive users and groups with members who use it.

    Please get in touch if you would like to go on the supporters list ( and hopefully we will have news of the current situation in due course.

    The archive belongs to the Council but has been managed for some years by the Greenwich Heritage Trust - and we are hoping to meet them as soon as possible


    The campaign on the East Greenwich Gas Holder continues - the petition is still open and still growing.  They hope to meet planning officers along with Southern Gas Networks staff soon.  Peter and Mary met Cllr Sizwe James on this recently and he has been extremely helpful. Cllr Nigel Fletcher has also been asking a lot of the right questions and we understand the Council has written to SGN.

    Last week a group of us were taken out to dinner at the Greenwich Kitchen (very nice) on the Peninsula by Malcolm Tucker - who is the great expert on gasholders. This was to welcome to London Barbara Berger whose PhD from Munich University features our amazing gas holder.

    In a different subject area - among the experts who Malcolm had invited were people from the History of Structural Engineering Group and we took them to see some features of the Peninsula – including the Pilot and cottages. They commented that the cottages must be built on a ridge of gravel in order for them to have stood so firmly over the past 218 years.  This is now being investigated.


    Bell Green
    We understand that the gasholders at Bell Green which Lewisham Council locally listed are now facing the same fate as our East Greenwich holder. SGN have got prior approval of demolition from the Government and Lewisham Council have been forced to agree a management programme for demolition. (told you, told you, local listing was useless). We look forward to hearing what more is happening there.

    Crossness Engines.         

    We have a copy of their latest newsletter which sadly on the front page caries an obituary to Harry Collinson. More happily inside they spotlight Langridge, father and son volunteers.

    Crossness of course also had its problems with the big engine house closed because of asbestos. They say a full survey has been undertaken and they need £417,000 pounds in order to clear it. They are fundraising and meanwhile trying to do their best to keep the show on the road

    The valve house has now been opened and has an exhibition of small engines- and they list the huge team of volunteers who worked to achieve this.

    Finally they announce a grant of £29,800 to allow them to buy locomotive Busy Basil for their future Rang Railway.


    There is an article by Allan Green in the Subtel Forum ( on Enderby Wharf. This is a copy of a paper Allan gave to a conference in 2004 and is thus out of date in some details. It is however a major article from a major author on the subject and we would very much commend it to readers.

    Our wonderful gas holder was highlighted by feature writer Jane Shilling - who lives in Greenwich - in the Daily Telegraph on the 18th of June this year. Thanks Jane
    Woodlands Farm
    We understand the farm held an event on the Great War and the effect on farming particularly in the Welling area. Happy to hear more details of this from the farm - please let us know.

    GLIAS Newsletter

    Great to see pictures – actually coloured pictures - in the newsletter. We understand however that this may be costing more than is economically reasonable. GLIAS is therefore looking to produce an electronic version – if you would like to get this email

    GLIAS advertises walks – book via

    • on 13 September around Park Royal and Old Oak
    • on 6thof October around London Bridge and Bermondsey

    They are also rescheduling the GLIAS visit to Morden College – the Blackheath based charity which has an amazing archive of local industrialised area.  This will be on 25thSeptember and places need to be booked before the 21st September (

    With reference to Greenwich –

    • the newsletter features an article by our Richard Buchanan about trends in electrical transformers (but not those in Greenwich)
    • An article by Bob Carr on Greenwich Town hall (that’s GREENWICH Town Hall) giving some details of its modernist architecture. It there the Greenwich activists who have suggested that it would make a good museum of history of Greenwich as a town with an industrial and civic history – apart from Henry VIII and the navy
    • Bob has also highlighted the refitting into an old diesel engine dust cart with a low noise zero emission eRCV by the Borough of Greenwich – which will also give the vehicle a much longer life.

    Finally and sadly the newsletter includes an obituary for Sue Hayton who was one of the mainstays of the GLIAS committee since the early seventies. She was yet another alumnus of Denis Smith’s Goldsmiths College course. She had been responsible for the membership of GLIAS from its outset and also worked on the printing and production of the newsletter. She is a great loss to the society. Condolences to Danny, Alice, Barbara and of course, little Sid.


    A recent visit to the site of Betteshanger Colliery, near Deal in Kent.  involved a discussion about the opening of the Kent Miners Museum there next March.  We were told that in their archive is an address list of families in Greenwich and put up Kent miners in the 1980s strike - some will remember that well.  It would be good if people in Greenwich were able to send their memories of the Kent Miners to compliment this archive and will be happy to forward anything should anybody send in.

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  • 09/08/18--06:42: Next lot of riveting news

  • Some of the items below have already appeared on the Greenwich Industrial History Facebook page.   Facebook reaches different audiences but a smaller one - but the idea is to try to put some of his on both.  But let’s see how we go!

    Follow up emails to requests for information below to


    The BIG news in Greenwich historical circles continues to be the very shocking closure of the Greenwich Heritage Centre and we understand that even those working in the archive on the last date were not aware that it would not reopen.  The quickly set up Greenwich Heritage Users Forum have now met with Len Duvall, our Greater London Authority member and Chair of the Greenwich Heritage Trust.  Future meetings are being arranged.  A member of Greenwich Industrial History Society was present at the initial meeting along with someone from Greenwich Historical Association and some professional historians.  Most, if not all, of the local history societies are in touch and have representatives eager to take part.  Some national organisations concerned with archive as well as some of the archive owners/depositors have been contacted

    It is understood that the buildings in Woolwich in which the heritage centre was based are to be converted into a theatre as part of the new Woolwich arts area.  Meanwhile the archive itself will be stored in Anchorage Point in Anchor and Hope Lane.  We are told access to it will depend on whether you are a ‘professional’ or an ordinary user.  (A distinction which I, Mary, personally find offensive).

    Plans for both the old heritage centre building (Building 41) and Anchorage Point need planning consent.  If you are concerned about this situation please make a submission on either or both of them through the Council web site or in writing to the planning officer concerned.

    The Planning meeting for Building 41 is likely to be on the 25th of September so it is important to get any comments in as quickly as possible. The case officer is Emily Leslie

    We understand the case officer for Anchorage Point is Lesley Agyekumaa-Sasu and we understand it may go to Woolwich area planning committee on the 16th October.

    Also please get in touch with any general comments – we can pass them on to the Archive Users Forum.  This is a very brief summary of what is going on.
    We have a request for information on Pipers Barge Builders who were on the Greenwich Riverside at what is now Riverside Garden from the 1890s until around 1990.  They built some famous racing barges including ‘the famous’ Giralda and one of their Greenwich built barges survives as a bar on the Embankment. Please get in touch if you can help

    Adriaan at the European Industrial Heritage Organisation – has written about a new cranes database.

    "As you know EFAITH has launched a campaign to build a European database on harbour and other cranes - see - which is a part of the industrial heritage campaign of the EuropeanYear of Cultural Heritage 2018

    Information is now arriving from different countries and we should like to add also harbour cranes that still exist in the UK. I remember there were some in London, but also in Portsmouth and Southampton. Can you spread the message and could GLIAS provide us with details of the cranes that are still standing in London ?
    A record card (questionnaire) can be downloaded from - but even if the details are not complete we will be happy to receive the information

    Let us know if you think there is something we should send, or if you decide to do it yourself. Happy to post up links to info about the 2 cranes which were sadly demolished in 2000 at Lovell's Wharf - today's Riverside Gardens

    THE GASHOLDER– the on line petition is now well up and if we add the paper petition we must be very near 1500 signatures.  You can still sign

    Hopefully the campaign group will be meeting SGN along with the planners in a week or so’s time. And thank you very much to Councillor Sizwe James for all his help.

    Crossness Engines AGM – this is on 25th September (a Tuesday) at  but the meeting notice doesn’t actually say where it is!

    We have a request for information on the British Steel Plant in Riverway – this stood behind the Pilot Pub and was more generally known as Redpath Brown’s or – later – Dorman Long or Bolkow Vaughan.  When it closed there was some industrial action and an occupation of the site.  If you know anything about this please get in touch.


    We have a note from a reader who says “I carried out the Electrical installation on the Golden Dawn and her sister ships at Cubow. At that time I worked for Lowestoft based LEC Marine. Would you like more information, what would you like to know??

    Cubow were a ship repair and ship building business on the site to the west of Woolwich ferry with a couple of newish blocks of flats (what else!!) . They were still at work in the 1990s

    Steve Peterson has told us that he has put on Youtube a copy of his video of Ian Bull’s presentation to GIHS on the Royal Arsenal’s outstation at the Yantlet. This was riveting and is a must see


    In the post:

    Subterranea - the 'Magazine' produced by Subterranea Brittanica, about all things underground. Its a fairly posh publication with lots of interesting articles The current edition does include a report of a boat trip which looked at sites for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Although the trip looked at sites upriver of London Bridge the tunnel itself will come down the river past Greenwich. The article has a lot of detail about the tunnel and how it is being built. A number of GIHS members were on the trip - and it even includes a very unflattering picture of one of us.
    It also includes a report on their AGM - but does not mention that after the main event the members were treated to a presentation on the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot tunnels on behalf of the Friends Organisation, (FOGWOFT) by Ian Blore and Mary Mills
    (Look on the Sub Brit website for how to get/see this

    Also in the post:

    Cut-A-Way which has nothing to do with Greenwich at all but is a newsletter for the Thames and Medway Canal Association. I am mentioning it because it refers to one of the more eccentric canals around - and only 20 miles or so down river. (
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GREENWICH SOCIETY NEWSLETTER

    A rather belated report on their Summer number –which includes

    A rant from me about how a museum was needed about Greenwich itself in Greenwich and not just national museums in Greenwich and a heritage centre in Woolwich. This was written before the sad fate of the Heritage Centre was known.

    A note about the heritage engagement project at St Alfege’s church and the appointment of Wendy Foreman to manage it.  Please email for details


    Industrial Archaeology News – this is a national newsletter. Their autumn number includes

    An important article by Robert Carr on industrial chimneys – this is in a national context but e does illustrate it with our own Woolwich Dockyard chimney describing it as ‘rather impressive’.

    In another article, about gasholders, Robert also mentions our petition on the East Greenwich holder.


    The Charlton Society have asked us if we know anything about trenches which are at the top of Hanging Wood in Charlrton


    We understand that the art work on the steps at Enderby Wharf is safe and well and has survived the various contractors working on the path.  It describes the history of cable making on the site and was installed via Carol Kenna and Groundwork in the early 2000s.  Look back on this blog and there is a whole history of it. We also understand that gates are being installed to access the steps and an information plaque (content unknown!).
    Thanks to Jane, the Council's Enforcement Officer for this information and help



    The September issue contains a long and informative article by Peter Luck  on 'Saving Greenwich's Historic Gas Holder' and a Fact File on the 'Significance of the Gas Holder'.  Happy to send copies if people want them.  
    Also thanks to WN for a plug for my little Jetty booklet with a nice article.



    The Autumn edition contains an article by Neil Rhind on the closure of the  Heritage Centre 'appalling'.!

    - and also a long article on the new railway signalling system to be installed at Blackheath Station. Lots of detail - railway fans will love it!  The new cable will run under platform 1 to a high voltage power source at Pond Road interchange. There will be a new signals exchange in the sidings behind Platform 1.  This will mean removal of vegetation which is upsetting some people and there are various other arguments about the boundaries of the conservation area and listing statuses. They think the new box is a bit too big, I think.

    There are also notes about changes at Age Exchange, Lewisham Station and fund raising at Blackheath Halls. 


    The aggregate boats which come into Deptford Creek are all 'Priors' - except its not Priors anymore, but the boats are all family names.  They come from 'Ballast Quay' which is at Fingringhoe in Essex and they bring aggregate dredged there down to Deptford.  If you look on Google Earth you will see  a huge patch of works on the riverside.
    I knew it would be difficult to see anything there - but off I went. Fingringhoe is a substantial village and luckly I could park off road at the gates to Ballast Quay.  lots of 'go away' type signage. I stood and looked in and a man came up.  He said he owned this area and it was his home. To get to the quay you had to walk through his area, and he wasn't having that - and anyway they were very unfriendly at the Quay. Just then a huge great lorry came hurtling down - 'jump quick' said the man, as the lorry shot down the lane through the gates, past his house and on.   The man said that the firm have given up dredging and their mineral rights.  They dug dug dug until they had a huge mountain, and that is what has been coming down to Deptford.  Once that is gone, no more. So - ………………….
    I also asked him about the old crane - he didn't know.
    and so I went home.



    What has GIHS been doing

    We had a meeting with Cllr.Miranda Williams who is now the lead member for culture. We covered a lot of issues - QRtags, the 'cultural offer', Royal Arsenal railways, etc etc.  Happy to send details.
    Mostly it was to try and impress her and her office, Taki Sulaiman, of the interest inherent in industrial heritage and what a lot we have of it in Greenwich. 

    We have also had another more general meeting to discuss current issues -

    Closure of the Heritage Centre - use of the Borough Hall - Plumstead Railway Footbridge - meeting on Peabody plans for West Thamesmead  - Arsenal walk with the conservation officer - the Gridiron - how to get something scheduled as an ancient monument - riverside pill box at the Arsenal - canal and swing bridge - Enderby Group and the house to be a pub - gasholder and researches on its (non) listing history - QR tags and lack of responses from Tracy - Rockwell and the rope works - Creekside meeting by with councillors  - Alan Baxter walk round Woolwich - serenading chimneys - riverside path closures - and etc etc etc

    Don't forget our next talk- look to the left - about the power station and the observatory...…...

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  • 09/20/18--03:35: Comments about the gasholder

  • The petition on the gasholder on Change has allowed people to comment on why they have signed.  We've fished out all these comments - and are quoting them below, without any names attached, but roughly grouped into subject areas.
    - a bit of a warning - some are factually incorrect, particularly those which over estimate the amount of influence and  control that the Council has had over the proposed demolition.  There is at least one which I have no idea what the author is referring to and some others where the writer has made a mistake inn quoting faxts  - although not so as to affect what they want to say.
    Hope you enjoy them.

    A Brexit in industrial history
    Some people referred to their aesthetic appearance

    "Many people think that gas holders are a blot on the landscape. However, in my opinion, they fail to see the unique beauty of the ornate guide frames of telescopic gas holders and the way their appearances change with alterations in light. They are great landmarks and were integral parts of city and townscapes in the past. Also, not to be forgotten, they are examples of remarkable engineering skill. Too may have gone and it would be unforgivable if the East Greenwich gas holder was to suffer the same fate."

    "Our industrial history matters as much as prettier history, although it is actually very attractive"

     "We need a mix of historic and modern buildings/structures to keep Greenwich interesting. The new sculpture by the flyover, the gas holder and the O2 make an interesting trio of shapes "

    A work of art.

    Gas holders are fantastic structures with huge potential.  And they are part of our history..

    It is an iconic structure and example. Much better to look at than the dome!

    It's a beautiful piece of local history

    It's an iconic piece of Greenwich skyline

    Our city is becoming faceless. Surely our heritage is what makes our identity worth preserving?

    "Such an example of our industrial heritage is inspirational for coming generations - when it's gone, it's gone, and we need it to stay and inspire!"

    Fantastic opportunity  to do something spectacular instead of bog standard steel and glass.

    It is an iconic structure and part of our industrial history.

    It’s beautiful

    These are  unique structures and should be preserved

    Many people wanted it to be converted to other use and many referenced the recent flats built at Kings Cross

    This is how it could be utilised rather than another piece of abstract history and heritage banished. Need I say more -

    An iconic local structure could have a relevamt future as part of a housing development - as those gasholders along the Regents Canal have become.

    This is a fine structure making a distinctive contribution to the skyscape locally, from the Thames, and from a wider area across London..  Its guide frame has potential for adaptive and sustainable re-use, as has been demonstrated successfully by the re-erected gasholder guide frames on the King's Cross Central regeneration site."

    "There are good recent examples of gas holders repurposed to good effect. It's good to have variety in our buildings, especially when it supports local heritage to reflect the history of the area."

    "The Gas Holder should be retained and repurposed as one of the last reminders of the Peninsula's industrial history. It would be tragic to lose it. The argument that the land is needed for building homes is rubbish - there are plenty of other development opportunities in the area, including the land-banked Morden Wharf."

    "Gas holders provide brownfield regeneration opportunities and do not require removal or demolition. In Dublin, Bord Gais sold this as a listed building and it has provided a fabulous regeneration and landmark within the City. The protected gas holder frame and land provided 240 apartments and is a stunning development. It also provided diverse communal gardens, and because of its uniqueness, attracted, under the Barrow Street regeneration, jobs- this is where Google set up its European Headquarters Campus.In the past, Georgian Houses were demolished and we today are shocked, the Council should be mindful that employers seek something special for their sites and the public need to see more than high rise cubic buildings. This is a gem with huge potential."

    This historical industrial heritage gas holder should be saved as it a link to the past for the Greenwich Peninsular. What the developer could do is incorporate the external industrial frame i.e. into flats similar to those seen in the new kings cross development. The developer shouldn’t just get away with building more samey blocks of residential flats as is currently happening.

    Urban industrial landmarks should be saved. And this could be converted to another community use.

    "it's a local landmark and should either be saved ""as is"" or something else built within the structure"

    "Look at the way architects have incorporated gas holders into residential projects elsewhere in London. They are stunning, have true architectural quality that will withstand the test of time (or inevitable property price falls). Any developer would be crazy to miss the opportunity to work with an architect who could make something as beautiful here in Greenwich. I’d be first in line to buy an apartment like that - I would never in a million years buy any of the other new builds that are currently being thrown up in Greenwich. Please build something of true architectural (and financial) value, not just more safety deposit boxes for overseas buyers who will drop them like hot coal as soon as the market dips."

    I am signing because I like to see surviving pieces of history in out cityscape. Put a roller skater rink in there (summer) and an ice rink in the winter. Make it useful. But don't destroy it!!!

    "Keep it, do something with it, they have done so in other areas and those are now assets to those areas.  Make it so."

    "This is an important part of our local industrial heritage, as well as being an iconic symbol of East Greenwich and the peninsula. It should be saved and given an imaginative new lease of life."

    "Gasometers are cool structures, that can be incorporated into the modern urban landscape, just look at the ones in Kings Cross."

    "Greenwich wouldn’t be the same without it and such potential for a fun museum to change the boring new builds. Keep the soul of Greenwich,"

    "Please keep the Gas Holder, it is part of our Heritage. make a leisure park around it, with seats and maybe a small lake, for everyone to enjoy. And community allotments for the Peninsula Residents. Please  DO NOT  Build  HIGH RISE developments, to deprive us of what we need most. Clean Air and sunlight. When it was the Metro Gas Sports Ground, we can remember picking blackberries along Horn lane. Pleasant memories of our little bit of countryside."

    "Quite apart from the gas holder's significance as part of our industrial heritage, take a look at the imaginative use of a former gas holder in Dublin - it's beautiful!"

    "This important historic structure should be reused having a place in the development plans for the Greenwich Peninsula. All across the UK historic structures are being demolished, this gas holder is an important of the area's history and streetscape. Reuse models exist at King's Cross, perhaps those could be followed."

    It is quite possible to incorporate a gas cylinder into a building scheme as shown in the Chelsea Lots Road development

    It’s vital to keep a link with the past and not have everything knocked down. There are modern designs that can incorporate the gas holder.

    Would be very sad to see this landmark and reminder of our industrial past go.  Gasholder Appartments in Kings Cross show what amazing results can be achieved with a bit of imagination

    Historic landmarks are part of local heritage and should be preserved. Reuse and recycle by incorporating it into a new building.

    I believe the landmark frame plus the bell used to a height of say 30 ft could form a valuable space to complement events at the nearby O2. And use the same car park by mutual arrangement of non-coinciding dates
    Due process should be followed and it has not.
    Many commentators were concerned with the local area - East Greenwich
    "This a fantastic landmark and a glimpse of the history of the area, which has otherwise almost completely changed in the past few years."

    Because enough is enough.  Stop destroying what is left of historic Greenwich.  No more houses.  Improve things for existing residents.

    Greenwich is an unique combination of maritime and industrial history with modern landmarks such as the dome. Let’s retain the former to maintain what’s special about Greenwich.

    Greenwich peninsula is an important part of our industrial heritage , the remaining parts must be preserved."

    I want to see a better East Greenwich

    It is important historically and retaining it in some adapted form will add to the architectural diversity of the peninsula.

    The gasholder is beautiful & an important landmark in an area that has changed considerably in recent decades. If similar structures at King’s Cross can be re-used imaginatively so can this one.

    This part of Greenwich is now unrecognizable. Leave the Gas Holder.

    This wonderful industrial building is a part of the history of East Greenwich. It is an important landmark feature and should be saved.

    My local gasometers just got pulled down - terrible cos they're beautiful

    and people had concern about the future

    I'm signing because historic buildings must be protected and uses found that maintain their presence in the neighbourhood for future generations.  Additionally I cannot understand how Council officers approved the demolition which is contrary to approved Council policy.

    We will regret it in the future - like we always do - why can't we learn to hold on to our precious past?

    Let's not destroy all of our heritage. Keep something for us to remember our past. And create some diversity in the otherwise dangerously dull and dreary tower blocks

    I want to see the survival of this historical artefact for the benefit of future generations. It is an important landmark. Do not obliterate history!

    I'm signing because the destruction of this historic monument removes a link with the past which can never be restored and is in danger otherwise of being forgotten.
    Important industrial history monument should be saved for posterity.

    The gas holder is part of our heritage and we can make it something new to take into our future
    Many are concerned about heritage

    This proposal is part of a nationwide calculated destitution of British industrial heritage and resources.  This vandalism must be stopped.

    "Because its part of the History Of the area & is the ONLY remaining artifact to show the scale of what once was the coke/gasworks that once dominated this vast area ! There were two, but the IRA destroyed the other ! Will IRA be invited back should this remaining one become unwanted ?"

     We must keep examples of all our history. Gasometers were a big part of life and the skyline until not so long ago. They tell a story. And this is a particularly fine example.

    This is part of Greenwich history and should be preserved.

    "Crucial to save this historical structure, (and against the lack of accountability, again, by Greenwich Council)."

    "It is a significant part of Greenwich's industrial heritage and a great structure in its own right. The Peninsular is being developed, but that should not mean resetting the clock to Year Zero."

    Stop destroying our heritage!! Soon all of our heritage sites will be just bland concrete!

    The demolition of this gasholder would result in the removal of a structure of great historical interest which should be preserved just like any other historic building.

    This is a very visible link with the historic past of Greenwich Peninsula and should be preserved as part of innovative design such as been achieved in places such as Kings Cross and even Berlin.The borough should stand up for its own policies and see the boroughs inheritance as important and worth encouraging developers to use it positively.

    Too much of our history is being lost!

    The industrial heritage of gas works is an important part of this countries history

    Greenwich Council need to stop behaving like such total hypocrits & prove they do actually respect our local heritage & history by reversing this travesty and preserving the gas holder

    We must preserve this important part of our local history.

    I'm signing because they are a part of our heritage and are fast disappearing.

    It is all that is left of the history of East Greenwich/North Greenwich. Wipe history away at your peril (our peril)  How could you even consider replacing it with more tower blocks?

    "Many other such gas holders around the country have been preserved in one form or another with less historic significance and importance as the surviving Gas Holder construction on Greenwich Marsh.  Greenwich Gas Holder brief history:-Built between 1881 and 1886, at the time the Gas Holders were the largest of their kind in the world. The first, Number 1, built in 1886 and of 8,600,000 cubic feet (240,000 m3) was the world's first 'four lift' (moving section) holder. The second, Number 2, with six lifts containing 12,200,000 cubic feet (350,000 m3), was reduced to 8,900,000 cubic feet (250,000 m3) when it was damaged in the Silvertown explosion in 1917. The gas in Gas Holder was ignited and it was wrecked completely. Number one Gas Holder was also very seriously damaged.  This caused a massive fireball, which rose thousands of feet into the air. Although Number 2 was reduced in size it was still the largest in England until it was damaged again by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb in 1978. The site its"

    "This gasholder is a masterpiece from the gas-engineer Sir George Thomas Livesey, built in 1889. The construction of the guide frame is unique and a milestone in the development of the guide-frame in the 19th century. Thus this gasholder was a significant example in my dissertation "Der Gasbehälter als Bautypus" (eng.: The gasholder as a buidling type)."
    They seem to be hell bent on removing every last bit of our history! I wonder why...

    Gas Holders have a history we need to recognize and not lose forever

    very important part of our heritage

    "This gasholder is historically of great interest and to demolish it would be the act of philistines. Please preserve it, as other councils are doing."

    and had concerns on industrial hstory
    "An icon of the Industrial revolution. Once it's gone, it's gone!!"

    "As unique as any Pictish souterrain, becoming rarer than early saxon burial mounds. One of a few diminishing testaments to our Victorian industrial heritage. Give history some respect. It gives a place a sense of enhanced community and really good development requires that context rather than newness piled upon newness. Without context, like so many 1960's developments, the alternative massed developments will be demolished as shabby failures in 30 years time as plain ugly."

    "Gasholders, a magnificant part of our industrial and visual history."

    "George Livesey’s fine gas holders are major works of industrial engineering, of national significance. The loss of this structure would rob the Greenwich Peninsula of its most important and recognisable marker of its history and industrial archaeology. It must be saved!"

    "We have to celebrate our industrial history,  even if its ugly!"

    As an historic borough I believe that Greenwich should retain such an iconic landmark for future generations.

    Every industrial monument is for itself a fairytale setting that captivates people and therefore worthy of protection.

    Greenwich has a rich industrial heritage and we will be culturally poorer if we tear it all down. It can co-exist with the necessary improvements to the area

    Historical monument to the industrial past

    History is important

    Industrial heritage is important.

    The gas holder is an important part of Greenwich heritage from the time when 'gas' was king.

    These are part of our history in Greenwich- keep them and embrace diversity in building structures.

    These holders represent an important development in structural engineering and also are a handsome part of the Cityscape.

    This is a valuable part of our industrial history.

    This is an important part of Greenwich's industrial heritage

    Industrial history is so important in Britains development and needs to be part of the landscape. There is room for modern and ancient and everything inbetween.

    and the holder as an icon
    This is an important part of the Industrial heritage of East Greenwich and an icon of the local area.

    "This structure is iconic, recognizable the world over, and an important part of industrial heritage. It deserves to be saved, and to be protected against future threats."

    which identifies the area
    This unique structure helps define the area's identity.

    and people are aware of conversions elsewhere

    "It's an iconic gas holder and an important part of the area's history, not only to Greenwich but also as a landmark viewable from the north side of the Thames as well. As gas holders, including historically interesting ones, are torn down all over London surely we can do for Jumbo as King's Cross did for their gas holders and recognise the value these striking structures hold."

    The Gas Holder should be creatively incorporated into a new development not demolished. This has been done effectively in Kings Cross - so why not south of the river? It is iconic and a landmark in the Peninsular.

    and its role as a landmark
    It is a historic landmark for Greenwich

    I am signing because it is the last vestige of the industrial heritage of Greenwich and must be preserved at all cost as a landmark for future generations.

    "As the Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate in Blackheath Westcombe Ward in the local elections in the Borough of Greenwich, I oppose the demolition of this historical landmark."

    "It would be a crime to destroy this beautiful iconic landmark. It seems it has failed to be listed by accident or carelessness. The peninsula has precious little remaining to remind us of its heritage, and the retention of the gas holder was always intended."

    "The industrial history of the riverside is being steadily erased, to be replaced by walls of glass.  The retention and reuse of the gasholders at Kings Cross shows what can be done with some imagination and wit (qualities sadly missing from the development community by and large). RGB Greenwich have commendably acted, recently, to safeguard other industrial monuments downriver at Charlton - it would be tragic to overlook this magnificent and singular landmark at Greenwich."

    An iconic landmark which should be preserved as a part of the heritage of East Greenwich.

    Industrial heritage is important - this is a landmark.

    It's a crucial part of the whole history of Greenwich - and London - visible to all arriving in Greenwich by river.  Greenwich - palaces AND power stations!

    It's a great link to our last and visually it stands out and should remain.

    This is a local landmark. There are many creative ways to use this as housing.

    This is an important historic landmark and should be saved.

    This is an important landmark and it's destruction would be a significant loss to Greenwich's Industrial Heritage and be seen a serious failure of judgement on the part of the Council in years to come.

    This is an important Landmark in an area without much character

    It’s an important landmark  and holds history of the area .

    This is an iconic piece of our industrial heritage apart from being a local landmark.

    It is of historic importance but also could be used in a creative and landmark manner in the future

    let Greenwich become another Battersea... well perhaps... ;

    A great local icon and landmark its possible replacement would be less worth, guaranteed!"

    It is a landmark and if we lose our landmarks we lose our way not only physically but also socially and historically.

    "How many children know the Gas Holder is linked to the tiny row of gas homes beside the Pilot Inn. This gas holder adds a sense of perspective and interest to an otherwise soulless new build area, where we will lose awareness of our rich industrial  heritage. Knock down another bland tower block instead!"

    and people refer to their own local memories
     "I have lived in Greenwich for 40 yearsand whilst so much has changed, Jumbo has always been here and should remain as a reminder of our history"

    "I pass this everyday on my way to work. I've lived here for 7 years and Gas Frame No 1 is still one of my favourite parts about the peninsula. It embodies historical engineering and it's one of the only surviving pieces of architecture after the Blitz on the peninsula. Destroying it means we're destroying another piece of our community. The best parts of London are the ones that cherish the historical landmarks and design new buildings that live in harmony with these structures. Let's work together, and create something that doesn't throw out the old in order to bring in the new."

    "i'm sick of there being nothing left our historic past i have grown up with this there on my travels to my nans as a kid she may not be here anymore but it is nice to see this, it brings back childhood memories, leave it where it is ,, stop trashing our borough with these horrible new builds"

    Enough of Greenwich memories are going let’s stop this from happening

    I grew up in Greenwich and these were an iconic site

    I’ve walked past this monument to my grandparents and great grand parents every day. It must stay. It. Must. Stay!

    My dad worked at that has works myself and siblings were brought up knowing that was were our dad worked for many many years so it was like home from home for me anyway

    My father worked there but mainly it helps to balance the plethora of high rise buildings across the river.

    These are familiar sights that are disapearing from our heritage when we were independant of fuel from around the world. To some they maybe an eyesore but to many others they are the first sign of home !

    "One of the few remaining reminders of  Old Greenwich in this area, please save it!"

    Greenwich is jammed with recent high-rise residential developments; its unique character has become lost in a sea of bland buildings, increasingly blocking-out the skyline.  I am in favour of retaining the famous gas-holder at East Greenwich and in retaining some of the character of a great historical and industrial area."

    So much here on the Peninsula is changing ... The Gas Holder is a beautiful reminder of our history and so needs to remain for future generations to learn from ... if this goes most of the peninsula will be square angular blocks of same-ness

    "Had family that worked at the Greenwich Gas works,such a small thing to keep to local history alive."

    We're losing so much and gaining little.   Leave it alone Greenwich
    and a need for 'place making'
    How many 'places' are there on the peninsular - it's an opportunity to place make & retain heritage.

    As examples of this already uncommon building type get rarer so they endow their surroundings with an even greater feeling of place.

    It's an amazing structure

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  • 10/03/18--07:08: New listing recommendations
  • We have been told about some new public consultations by Greenwich Council.  Astonishingly and hearteningly this includes one which is asking for comments on additions to the 'Local List' - this is the list of local buildings which the Council thinks should be kept but are not thought good enough for local listing.  Nothing has been added to the Council list for about 3,000 years - so this is very good news.  Some of these are recommendations by the Council itself and others have been sent in by local groups.  If you would like to see details and to comment see 

    Meanwhile we have been through the list and exracted those of, roughy,  industrial interest - we save taken the ones just about old houses out.

    and ………………… they are ………...

    Bridge over River Quaggy, Lee Roas A single span bridge with an enamel street sign attached to side.

    53 Meadowcourt Road SE3. A single storey 20th cenrury building .looks industrial

    Firemen’s cottages, Meadowcourt Road  three cottages north of the fire station and originally part of the complex.

    Weigall Road bridge.A brick bridge with flint panels over the Quaggy River. A cast iron plaque refers to the Borough of Woolwich in 1902

    Pillar box – Weigall Road. pillar box with the cypher of George V

    Ravens Way. Flats  originally the Ravensbourne Club built in 1921 as sports club for the employees of Cook Son & Co (St Pauls) Limited, clothing wholesalers

    Ravens Way stone/sundial . The sides bear sun and animal motifs representing times of the day

    Bannockburn School  Church Manorway. Built  by the London School Board in 1903

    Plume of Feathers gateposts. Plumstead High Street. The surviving part of the Tram terminus with cafe.

    240-244 Frontage of Former Horse and Groom pub

    236 Plumstead High  Street

    Plumstead Police Station. 1980s built with brick work detailing,

    Bannockburn School and premises manager’s house –  Plumstead High Street

    Barclays Bank    107A Plumstead High Street. an important landmark on the High Street.

    Alan Ives/Café Delight 118-118A Plumstead High Street  It has some interesting stone work.  
    Formerly Plumstead Law Centre. 105 Plumstead High Street with interesting architectural features. 

    Paddy Power/Belfry Social Club (formerly Conservative Club) 100A Plumstead High Street. , interesting stone work.

    65 Plumstead High Street. Decorative stonework 6N

    63A/63 Plumstead High Street Part of a terrace with interesting roof and stonework features.
    66-80 Plumstead High Street. unusual Dutch gable roof line. 

    64 Plumstead High Street interesting stonework 

    2-10 Plumstead High StreetCrenellation features
    Plumstead Railway stationVictorian iron bridge, and typical shelter design and posts on station.

    Angerstein Freight Railway pedestrian crossing and arched walkway
    (accessed ? via Fairthorn Road) steps built for Combe farm workers to save having to go round under the bridge in Woolwich Road. The rail line extended to the Gasworks in 1890s, LCC tram depot with various branches to factories.

    Angerstein Freight Railway bridge, Woolwich RoadThe bridge was the only element of the line which needed Parliamentary approval. It also retains a modest, functional, sturdy, old-world industrial feel ? to it – very representative of the character of Charlton.

    Factory walls, Ramac Way.  A long old wall remains with x3 interesting metal/wooden doors which are significant in telling the story of the important industrial buildings

    Victoria Works, Johnson and Philips ? Factory wall entrance remains, Dupree Road.

    Railway Electric substation, Troughton Road , Built in 1926 on the site of the station’s coal depot following electrification.

    Pickwick Arms, 246 Woolwich Road? (Originally called Roupell Arms) built in 1830 and rebuilt in 1862.

    Entrance wall to Harvey’s factory, Hol mwood Villas, off Woolwich Road

    Eggcorn studios. Interesting and characterful original ironwork gates, walls

    Rose of Denmark public house, ? 296 Woolwich Road .Substantially rebuilt after war damage,

    New covenant church, Troughton Road  Built 1900 by architect J Rowland, originally the Mission of the Good Shepherd. ? Wavey mosaic seating added around the exterior

    White Horse PH, 704 Woolwich Road, Early 18C origins as a beer house, ‘rebuilt 1897’

    Former Lads of the Village PH, pre-dates 1850, rebuilt 1899.

    ‘Danger Buildings’, Royal Arsenal Nitration Plant, Tripcock Point, Thamesmead SE28. Series of 10 small roofless brick structures each surrounded by high blast mounds,

    Royal Arsenal ‘Gridiron’, Thames Path, West Thamesmead SE28 Timber roll-on dock devised by the Royal Arsenal to enable large guns mounted on railway vehicles (‘proof-sleighs’) weighing over 200 tons to be transported by barge down river to the testing range at Shoeburyness.  Dates from1885/6.

    Gun Emplacement, Tripcock Point, West Thamesmead SE28. WWII built late 1930s/early 1940s. Concrete, adapted from standard hexagonal pillbox type. Column survives for mounting an anti-aircraft gun; continuous embrasure allowing extensive field of fire over Thames for heavy machine guns. 

    Observation Post, Thames Path, West Thamesmead SE28 Mid-late 1930s. Two storeys, unusual polygonal design. Concrete with corrugated aggregate/metal covering, some of which has fallen off. An observation post to watch for mine-laying in the Thames; 180 degree field of view on two levels.

    Tripcock Ness Lighthouse, Tripcock Point, West Thamesmead SE28
    Distinctive landmark, small red lighthouse, 30ft high erected 1902 by Trinity House

    Clock Tower, Joyce Dawson Way Shopping Centre, Thamesmead Town Centre SE28 Original 18th century clock and cupola from the Great Storehouse at Deptford Royal Dockyard (demolished in 1981). Dates from 1782, clock surmounted by open temple-style belfry and weather vane. Located in storage at Conveys Wharf Deptford, it was transported for repair to the Royal Arsenal and erected in Thamesmead in 1987 over a specially commissioned supporting tower in classical style. Donated to Thamesmead as the centrepiece for the new town centre.

    LESC SubStation, Greenwich High Road, Greenwich SE10 Sub-station for the London Electric Supply Corporation (LESC) dating from the 1920s,

    BT Telephone Exchange, 14 Maze Hill,  Greenwich SE10  Large prominent telephone exchange building of brick with insignia of George VI along with the date 1947 and inscribed with lettering ‘Telephone Exchange’

    57 Greenwich High Road (Former Rose of Denmark PH)  Greenwich SE10
    Last surviving historic pub on this part of the High Road,

    Blissett Street SE10 (Former Royal George PH)  Greenwich SE10 Named after Royal Navy’s flagship the Royal George built at Woolwich Dockyard in 1756. Dates from around 1850.

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    The Greenwich Industrial Historians Diary

    some things you might like to go to:

    4th October - THATS TOMORROW - Dr. Jane Grant on Millicent Fawcett and Votes for Women 1918-2018.  St.George's Church. Glenluce Road, SE3 8.00 pm

    6th October London Archaeologist 50th Anniversary Conference. Includes Dave Perrett on Five Decades of Change in London's Industrial Archaeology.  see for details

    10th October - Prof David Perrett Henry Ford's Holiday in 1928.  Newcomen Society. 75 Cowcross Street, EC1

    24th October.  Julian Clarke on The Leviathan and the Internet. The Great Iron Ship and the Thread Across the Ocean  Greenwich Historical Society James Wolfe School, Royal Hill, SE10. 7.30

    26th October The Unexpected presence of Africans in Tudor society. Lewisham Local History Society (ahem - no details but they usually meet at the church in Albion Road, Lewisham 7.30)

    21st November. GLIAS Pub Evening. Rugby Tavern, 19 Great James Street, WC1. 6.30  If you would like to give a short presentation contact

    24th November Study Day Early Gunpowder Weapons 15th to 17th Centuries.  Waltham Abbey see

    28th November.  Centenary Armistice. First World War. The Maze Hill War MemorialGreenwich Historical Society James Wolfe School, Royal Hill, SE10. 7.30 

    30th November A walk down New Cross RoadLewisham Local History Society (ahem - no details but they usually meet at the church in Albion Road, Lewisham 7.30)


    19th February. Tim Shaw. HMS Warrior. Built Bow Creek 1860. Newcomen Society. University of Portsmouth. 7.00

    6th March. Dr. Russell Thomas. The History of Gas Making in the UK. , Newcomen Society. Thinktank Lecture Theatre, Level 2, Birmingham Science Museum, Curzon Street, Birmingham. 7.00

    16th May. John Anning HMS Xantho and the Greenwich built Penn Engine. Newcomen Society. Room 1, BAWA, Southmead Road, Bristol, 7.30

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    We have been sent the photos below by the nice men at Hansons, at what was Victoria Deep Water Wharf.  They found it while clearing the wharf for their new factory.  I know I am deaf but I think they said that a crane big enough to move it would cost £50,000 a day.

    Comments welcomed. Please

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    This posting covers a lot of ground - there is so much going on and all the newsletters come out at once.  The big stuff - the ferry - the archive - is all at the end.  Keep reading!...……………. 


    Barbara has sent us this link to a meeting at Charlton House for a meeting by an organisation called Layers of London

    Let’s all go along and find out what it’s all about – what they can do for of Greenwich historians – and what we can do for them

    A gate has now been installed at the top of the steps which go down into the river which were used for a  ferry which accessed  the cable ships moored out in the river (see
    We understand a plaque is to be installed  - does anybody know what it says? and if it makes any sense

    Enderby Group -by the way - are still waiting for an invitation from Barratts to see the refurbished house.

    Lots of little mentions of Greenwich in the current newsletter. 

    ---- a visit to see the painted hall ceiling in Greenwich 
    ---- our new IKEA and comments that it looks very large and will the parking be adequate?  ( editors note  - that's the least of our worries - isn't it?)
    ---- a short biography of Ian Willhoughby Bazalgette, the great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette who built the sewers, the Greenwich pumping station, and Crossness.  Ian was a Second World War bomber pilot - a squadron leader with the DFC by the time he was 25.  He died trying to land a burning Lancaster and is buried near Beauvais
    - -- a long article about Radiation New World gas cookers. (Ed - my Mum had one of those)

    Their newsletter mentions real work and their new tractor!



    -   the current edition includes a long article about the fates of all our gasholders starting with the two doomed holders at Bell Green - and moving on to Bromley by Bow and elsewhere. (Ed  - I’m sorry that the author has not seen fit to mention our East Greenwich holder - hmmm)
    -   An article by Bob Carr which  supplements his previous article about Greenwich Town Hall.  He  points out that some of it is still in use by the Council but is currently 'under used'. He quotes local architectural commentator, Owen Hatherley, on the Town Hall and its relationship with other civic buildings of the same date.  Ray Plassard has also contributed with information about William Moss and Sons, the construction company who built Greenwich Town Hall.
    -  Bob has also contributed an article about the importance of the 1803 explosion in the boiler of the Trevithick Engine, working on the  Greenwich Peninsula. He notes that a similar engine was installed at Woolwich Arsenal around the same time.  He points to how rival manufacturers Boulton and Watt used the accident it to get an advantage in publicity and thus to hold back the use of high pressure steam in London for some years.  He relates this to the development of railways and steam road vehicles.
    The GLIAS committee is appealing for new members with expertise in the following area - - publicity and marketing (with  knowledge of social media)  - web site development -- planning applications - sales and recruitment (must have a car in which to transport publications)  -- the database - archiving photographs and slides.    If you can help please email Dave Perrett
    We have been asked by the Friends of Mycenae Gardens for help to find them a gardener
    Charlton Society and others have been putting in objections to new plans for blocks of flats (9 storeys) on Charlton riverside wharves.  One of them is on a site apparently called 'Flint Glass Wharf'.  We had never heard of this and would be interested in any information as to what this is or was?  It is NOT a reference to the United Glass bottle factory in Anchor and Hope Lane but further along the river towards Woolwich.  Flint glass????

    Thanks Greenwich Visitor for publishing the first two chapters of my work on Greenwich Industry - it started off as a planned book - but publishers don't exist for local industrial history, and local bookshops refuse to talk to you or to take copies (even for free!). Thanks GV for the interest. Mary

    Westcombe News have published an article by Keith and Anna Townend about what they would like to see as the future use for our East Greenwich Gas holder - using it to house an industrial museum for Greenwich. (ed - wouldn't we all like that).   For the rest of us discussions with Southern Gas have made it quite clear that they intend to continue with demolishing the holder and say they are being pushed by other bodies - Transport for London,  Ofgem and ultimately the government.  (Thanks to Cllr. Sizwe James for enabling a meeting with them)
    We  understand that Hansons on the Greenwich Peninsula at what was Victoria Deep Water Wharf would welcome visitors to the site to see their new factory 

    Please also note the picture we reproduced on our previous post here - and on Facebook  - about a large find on their site.

    The website for their contractors is


    The Society has a meeting on 19th October 7.45 at Mycenae House on 'Pharmaceuticals in the Environment from Cocaine to Seafood Cocktails'.



    - under 'building conservation news' they note: that the original Royal Military Academy (Building 40) on the Arsenal site is being refurbished as part of what is now to be called the Woolwich Creative District - ……………...that  Building 41, up to now used as the heritage centre, will be refurbished as a music venue (see below for details of the row) ...…………………...  they note the proposal to demolish the Plumstead Station footbridge (more of that below too)………………. and finally list some of the Council's proposed additions to the local list: The 'Gog and Magog' grid iron on the Thamesmead riverside, the Arsenal Danger Buildings, Gun emplacements on the Thamesmead riverside, and the clock tower on Thamesmead Town centre which was pinched from Deptford dockyard in 1981 and has been in Thamesmead ever since
    - an article about erosion of the foreshore and its results

    and also, more briefly -- the closure of the Woolwich Ferry (see below) - the knife arch installed at the Powis Street Macdonalds (the first Macdonalds in Britain) - and, sadly, the death of Darrel Spurgeon, a great local historian, …………



    This Deptford based project to build a reproduction 17th century warship has sent us a newsletter about the Open Day event at the Shipwrights Palace and about the range of objects they have for sale to raise cash. See



    The PLA (fun) Newsletter shows pictures of the Beluga Whale seen in the Thames.  (Congratulations to's Rob for taking THE pictures  of the creature - and why do all the reports describe it as 'lost' ? They don't know that it doesn't know exactly where it is. Give it credit for a bit of brain!)

    They also note that two new clippers will join the fleet of passenger boats which run the fast service on the river - and they note also that Clippers now claim to have served four million passengers (I guess that's passenger journeys not actual individual passengers)

    Finally they report on the Great River Race - a 21 mile heavy duty row from Woolwich to Ham.


    Greenwich Heritage Trust has done a lot of work on the Charlton House summerhouse/toilets. People may remember an earlier web site on this interesting building.  They have sent me some info on something called the Summerhouse blog (but I can't work out how to put a link through to this here. It just boots up as a Word page with no strap line).

    Anyway its all been done up and the toilets removed and Charlton House management can arrange tours and information.  Not at all clear what it is to be used for though.


    We understand that a planning application is in for this Greenwich Peninsula site.  We had hoped that U&I, the developers, might be going to give us a break from the relentless march of poky flats - but apparently not.  It will also mean the demolition of Thames Bank House. We are aware that a lot of research has been done on the industrial history of this site - and hope that some of this can be published.  Details of the application is on the Council planning web site


    This is a tangled saga -basically how to keep a pretty old footbridge which is a funny design and provide wheelchair access.  It went to Planning Committee again last night with a planning application from the railway for removal. Debs has reported, on Facebook  that the planners decided a "four week delay to consider alternatives. Positive Plumstead Project will be invited to a site visit to demonstrate alternative ideas"


    The death has been reported in the national press of Sir Charles Kao, Nobel prize winner. Charles Kao came to Woolwich from Shanghai in the 1960s to study electrical engineering at what was then Woolwich Polytechnic. Following a career which was with what was then Standard Telephones and Cables he was develop optical fibre transmission and thus 'transformed the world and provided a backbone for the internet'.   The Nobel prize came in 2006.

    (they deport immigrants like that today)


    One of the biggest events locally has been the ending of the lives of the three 1960s Woolwich ferries.  You could do worse than to read Darryl on this
    The ferry will be closed while modifications are made to the ramps for two new boats being built in Poland (so much for British shipbuilding!).  In a departure from tradition - where ferries have been named after Woolwich politicians and scientists - they are to be named after the poor lad who was killed on the ferry a year or so back, and a sentimental singer from Essex.
    We had been told that John Burns would be towed to Holland to be broken up a week before the others, but in the end the three went off together, sadly followed down the river by  boats and some shore based residents  (although where were the hoots and blasts that would once have come from every vessel until they were clear of the Nore?  Also where was Greenwich Council, Newham Council, TfL and the London Mayor.   Come on, this is the Free Ferry, its important!)
    (confidentially, the only thing that makes me cry these days is the sound of a ships's hooter).


    The protests about the sudden and disgraceful closure of our local archive are ongoing - with discussions, questions and much else. Things are moving so fast its difficult to say anything.  I am going to quote here what Richard has put in the Woolwich Antiquarians newsletter (hope that's ok Richard) and just say 'keep in touch for the latest.  Richard begins by describing 'The Creative District' - apparently archives and heritage don't count as 'creative'.

    "The Woolwich Creative District

    The Creative District is a creature of the Royal Greenwich Council, who are acting as the developer.  It is to be located in the Royal Arsenal in a group of listed buildings either side of No.1 Street beyond the new blocks of flats.  Going down from the Brass Foundry are: on the left, set back across Artillery Square, Building 40 (B40), the original Military Academy; next comes B41, of four wings, the Heritage Centre lingering in the west wing.  On the right are B19, latterly used as a store by Berkeley Homes; and B17 & B18, latterly used by FirePower.

    B40 already houses a dance company; B41 is to be a music venue with rehearsal and performance space; B19 & B17 are to be theatrical, as is B18 for an initial (5 year?) period.

    PunchDrunk, a theatre company, are interested in running the B19, 17 & 18 complex.  The Council wants them to entice people to come to the Creative District, but doubts that they would bring in much revenue.  However, the music venue is deemed to be more profitable, hence the desire to evict the Heritage Centre from B41.  When PunchDrunk leave B18 the Heritage Centre could set up a museum there, paying for any necessary adaption.  B18 would have space for a museum, but not for the Archive as well.

    Closure of the Greenwich Heritage Centre – The Borough Archive

    The Heritage Centre, in the west wing of B41, was closed on 21stJuly 2018, with very little notice and no consultation with societies such as WADAS.  It holds the Archive of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, which is of interest not just locally but internationally to historical researchers and to relations of ancestors who lived and worked here. This is now the only London Borough without an open Archive.

    This was to allow the Museum ‘collection’ to be packed up ready to go to a warehouse at Charlton riverside for up to six years, when it could be returned to furnish a Museum in Arsenal Building 18.
    Neither the Council nor the RGHT (Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust) realised that archive material in the 'collection' was the Borough Archive!  Nor had they realised that Borough Archives and Museum collections are distinct entities with different legal requirements for their management.  Borough Archives belong in law to the Council, who have to keep them open, and in a good environment.  The RGHT manage the Archive on behalf of the Council.  Although some council departments use the Archive, the Creative District planners had never heard of it.
    Concerned users formed the Greenwich Archive Users Forum (GAUF), who have persuaded both the Council and RGHT to talk to them and heed their advice.
    At present the Heritage Centre is still in its home in Arsenal Building 41, perhaps also in Building 18 where items lately stored in the old Plumstead Museum were temporarily housed (some being Archive items).
    A proposal to keep the Archive where it was, and still is, in the west wing of Building 41 until there is a new permanent home for it, is being actively promoted by GAUF.  Archives, with valuable and often fragile items, should be moved as little as possible.  And they should be stored in a safe place (even where they are in Building 41 is 2m below the river wall - and Building 18 is at the same level).  The situation is still fluid."

    and ps - as I finish this - quick look at the morning's  post - and here's Darryl  - on the latest on Spray Street

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    The Council's response to the gasholder petition is on page 76 of the following:

    we are thinking about our next move


    GAUF - the Greenwich Archive Users Forum are still in discussion on this dreadful issue with the Council and with the Greenwich Heritage Trust.

    Tomorrow - 25th October - the Council's Regeneration Scrutiny Panel is  discussing a report on the planned arts centre to replace the Heritage Centre and Archive.  GAUF members are going along with questions themselves.

    (Council scrutiny panels are made up of backbench councillors so that they can question the Cabinet and officers about decisions they have made.  Members of the public are encouraged to go along and submit questions on issues to be raised.)

    Next Wednesday, 31st, is rhe full Council meeting. GAUF members and others have put down questions to be answered by the Coincil about the closure of the archive and future plans.

    Campaigners - looking at the legal background - note the following
    Local planning authorities should maintain or have access to a historic environment record.  This should contain up-to-date evidence about the historic environment in their area and be used to:
    a) assess the significance of heritage assets and the contribution they make to their environment; and
    b) predict the likelihood that currently unidentified heritage assets, particularly sites of historic and archaeological interest, will be discovered in the future.

    Local planning authorities should make information about the historic environment, gathered as part of policy-making or development management, publicly accessible.


    There are several planning applications coming in for sites in Charlton and else where


    This is a Charlton riverside site apparently on the site of the Johnson and Jorgensen glass works,  This was founded by two   Norwegians who came to England to sell Arctic products in 1884. They became involved with Scandinavian glass works' interests. They imported glass bottles and then built their factory at the end of Herringham Road needing 300 octagon piles of concrete to build. Bottles were then imported from Scandinavia. They became the biggest producer of phials in Europe made with tubular glass imported from Germany. They also made glass tableware in the 1930s and along with United Glass made the majority of wine glasses used in pubs and hotels. In the 1960 they began plastic moulding and made bottle closures. In the 1960s they opened a big new factory and by 1970s were the biggest manufacturers of glass ampoules in Europe. However their big warehouse was expensive to manage. The factory closed in 1981 and the 1920s buildings demolished.

    Cory - although we have no information about closure or a planning application we understand that Cory have decided to focus on their river site in Gravesend, making 6 redundancies.  The barge yard is really the last gasp of Greenwich's traditional riverside industries,

    Wlliam Cory had a coal business from 1838. Off Charlton they moored Atlas, a disused salvage vessel, used as a floating coal berth and known locally as 'The Derrick'. A second Derrick was built in 1865 as did another Atlas. In 1893 Atlas III was built in Newcastle and remained in use until 1902. The barge works here was set up in 1873. Cory Environmental operate their lighterage business from here. There are two dry docks servicing their tug fleet which is made up of six vessels regularly engaged in the transportation of waste. They include twin screw tug Regain, the first lighterage tug to be built for use on the Thames in 30 years.

    Rockwell. The Rockwell development in Anchor and Hope Lane, on the VIP Trading Estate site is now with the Mayor - Greenwich having refused planning consent for development, so someone else is going to make sure the developers get their way. At the back of the site is the  line of the Glenton
    Railway which ran from the Valley to the River.  We understand there are still some rails extant,
    Glenton's Sand and Ballast Railway.
    This railway was built in 1840 by entrepreneur and developer Lewis Glenton. It ran from sand pits in the Charlton Football Ground area to the river. Later British Ropes took over the northern portion to move flax and hemp from the river to their works, and some remains of the railway remain on that site.

    Morden Wharf - this is the very large site on the Peninsula alongside the Blackwall Tunnel Approach - all those red pipes.  This was a complex industrial site - so no detail but to remind people that part of the site was the glucose refinery demolished a few years back.  A new preliminary and exploratory approach to the Council wants to demolish Thames Bank House - the large office block alongside Morden Wharf Road and to have a 'residential led' application

    Siemens sites - a large development by U&I on what were Siemens buildings. The buildings were granted Immunity from Listing by the Government - no consultation, obviously. There have beeb attempts to reverse this ..but "we've not had much luck so far....the case for listing the early range was reasonably strong …………...but the arguments didn't work.... still, they could be put forward again, in spite of the immunity from listing. It's a pity that the current proposals intend demolishing more extensively, .......................there are obvious arguments about the local importance of Siemens, about demolition in conservation areas, etc, but I suspect they will carry little weight".  

    Spray Street and Woolwich Market.  The indoor market has now been listed. See Darryl's piece

    all these extracts about industries from Edith Streets blog


    Our Plumstead correspondent tells us that the former Weaver mineral water factory at 64 Plumstead High Street is being 'hacked about, presumably to allow large vehicles and/or equipment through the arch.  Huge chunks of it were removed using a drill'. They are asking the Council to take enforcement action.

    The Plumstead Station footbridge. A decision, on what could have resulted in the demolition of the Victorian footbridge at Plumstead Railway Station, was delayed by four weeks at the Planning Board. A temporary stay of execution was decided following requests for deferral from residents (including a GIHS member), Positive Plumstead Project, Glyndon and Plumstead ward councillors, in addition to many detailed questions from the Woolwich and Thamesmead Area Planning Committee. This provides a short time frame for a further site visit, wider sharing of documents and consideration of alternative designs that could allow both step-free access and retention of the existing footbridge. Representatives from Network Rail reported that the bridge is in very good condition.


    Association of British Transport Museums & London Museum of Water & Steam seminar on  Operating and Conserving Historic Industrial & Transport Collections at the London Museum of Water & Steam 21st November 2018

    This event provides an opportunity to hear more about the new document and hear case studies illustrating the issues faced by those conserving and operating and industrial transport collections. Speakers include Paul & Joyce Jefford, case study contributors to the Guidelines, Christopher Binks from the National Railway Museum and Efstathios Tsolis who as part of the International Railway Heritage Consultancy helped compile the new document.

    Tickets for the event cost £25. Register using Eventbrite and then pay for the ticket by using the  link: For further information please contact Tim Bryan (ABTEM Chairman) 

    Thames Estuary Partnership  TEP Annual Forum 2018  The Thames 2050: Fit for the future? The aim of the conference is to give a comprehensive briefing across key areas of interest and relevance happening across the Thames Estuary that are of importance to our stakeholders and audience. As the title suggests, we want to explore how we can make the Thames fit for the future in 2050. Wednesday 14 November 15 Hatfields

    Docklands History Group. The Group has organised a seminar for new researchers that will take place on Saturday 24th November.  This has been organised by a group of undergraduate and graduate researchers and will give an opportunity for them to share the results of the work.  This will be the second annual seminar for new researchers and will feature a range of topics broadly within four subject-areas as follows:  Exploring Archive Material;  Managing the Thames and Supporting Leisure;  The importance of the Thames in the First World War; and Dockside Communities and Port Labour.  Tickets for the seminar cost £10 and can be booked through Eventbrite.  

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  • 11/10/18--05:30: Article 0


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       SS Wye Tempest at Christie's Wharf Charlton on February 26th 1921  - this is roughly at the river end of the Angerstein Railway line.

    We were sent this amazing picture by John Wainwright  -thanks John

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    We have just been sent 100 or so photographs of Greenwich Councl depots taken in 1999.  All of them are now closed and gone  Hopefully we can show you some of the pictures - many of which are very interesting.

    If would be good if any Council ex-depot workers could tell us something about the buildings in the pictures and perhaps some of the background to the depots - Langton Way in particular, and also Westhorne Avenue.

    Anyway - for a start - these are the depots concerned:

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    Photo Michael Mulcahy

    Yesterday Tuesday 18th  A group of us went to the East Greenwich Gas holder site  to look round and take pix.  Hopefully various members of the party will contribute to this posting. So far

    Here's an introduction from Peter Luck:

    A damp Tuesday morning: an hour or so without rain and with fairly good light. A group assembles for a walk around the base of East Greenwich no1 gas holder. The owners, SGN, dispense safety gear and the group, campaigners, historians, councillors and photographers takes a slow ramble around with historical guidance form Malcolm Tucker and details from our SGN shepherd, Scott Lewis. Mostly we photograph at the base of the holder with a few steep views upwards or across the top of the bell. One of us stays put and flys a drone for a level view of top details and more dramatic images too. As we leave, with a promise if another visit, the discussion on what can realistically be saved enters a new phase. SGN begin de-watering the tank in the early new year.
    Photo Peter Luck

    Neil Clasper has turned to Twitter -  see

    and so has Nigel Fletcher -who was actually tweeting while we were still there!

    Will add more as it arrives

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    Industrial Archaeology News.

    Amazingly there are several reports of Greenwich industrial heritage in the current edition of this national newsletter (187 Winter 2018).

    I had forgotten trying to interpret a very dodgy old photocopy of a meeting of some German gas engineers to East Greenwich gas works in 1910 - but here it is reproduced in in its entirety – it consists of a brief visit to the Gas Works by the engineers looking at ongoing work and then having a big lunch with numerous toasts.  I would recommend it.

    There is also a reproduction of 853’s posting on the new Woolwich ferries with a picture of one of them, and two pictures of Enderby Wharf from Bob Carr showing before and after versions of the setting of Enderby House. There is also a brief report from me about the damage to the East Greenwich No.2 gas holder in 1917 by the Silvertown explosion. Gosh!!

    Also of local interest in this issue ,although not necessarily in Greenwich, is an account of the Millennium Mills – easily seen across the river in Silvertown. Also a list of endangered buildings according to the Victorian Society which includes the Bromley by Bow gasholders, visible to anybody on the north side of the Blackwall tunnel approach behind Tesco. Sadly there is also an obituary to Alan Crocker - few people in Greenwich will have known Alan but he was an expert on gunpowder mill sites but based in Guildford University - and such a nice man.


    Trident - Greenwich Yacht Club’s magazine is now with us and full of interesting items .of in particular interest is an article with pictures about the Thames barrier annual tests closure and an account of this year’s closure

    Their AGM is on 9 December at 11.00 and there are work days on the last Sunday of each month


    We understand that the Greenwich Park History Group is meeting at the Wild Life Centre in the Park at 11 am Friday 7th December.  Everyone Welcome...  It would be interesting to hear from the group as to what their current work is,

    We also understand the Friends Annual Lecturewill be on the 23rd of January at 7.30 in the Queen Anne building in the University and will feature Will Palin, Conservation Director at the Royal Naval College, on the conservation of the Painted Hall. Details on


    We understand that an application has been put forward to list the Plumstead Station overbridge.
    Fingers crossed!!!


    We have a newsletter from the Heritage Alliancegiving many, many details of projects and so on which may be of interest to people involved in heritage. This is in an email and does not seem to be a web site. But try asking

    We noted however that a Heritage Day is to be held on the 6th of December – that’s Thursday  - in the Queen Mary Undercroft at the Royal Naval College.  It costs £40.00 to members and £65.00 for non-members. The Chair is Lloyd Grossman and the keynote speaker is Michael Ellis Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Arts Heritage and Tourism.  Another speaker is our erstwhile colleague Duncan Wilson now Chief Exec of Historic England. It would be interesting to know if anyone from Greenwich is going to this event – or were even told about it! (Not members, oh, I see)


    We have a note from Greenwich Wildlife Group about the Marsh Dykes and Thamesmead Town Centre Improvement Groups. This is basically concerned with the water environment and is committed to healthy marshes in Erith and ponds at Shooters Hill. There is Marsh Dykes Vision Workshop on 23 January at 11 o’clock and business at the Norwich this case at the wards the email at Lesnes Abbey Lodge.  For info or


    There is a planning application in for demolition of a small industrial building in Prince of Orange Lane in West Greenwich. A number of people have objected to this although we understand that the Greenwich Society is happy with it.  It would be interesting to know if anybody knows what the building was used for before its current use by a dentist. Check it out on the council’s planning database and object if you think that a rethink is needed.


    A note from the Thames Estuary Partnership announces an agreement between the Port of London Authority and the Museum of London on public access to documents on the history of the Thames.  PLA has also issued a YouTube video about the archive. The archive is at the Museum in Docklands and is a vast local resource


    We have been told about a U3A network event at the Metropolitan Archives on the 8th February. This is to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Bazalgette and is to present an in-depth study of the history of London’s drainage to be called 'Down the Drain'. The programme will include David Perrett, Nick Higham and The Friends of Crossness Engines along with the education department of the Tideway Projects and Keats' House Poetry Ambassadors. This should be of particular interest in Greenwich in that not only is Bazalgette's Crossness Engines almost in Greenwich Borough but we do actually have his Greenwich/Deptford pumping station in Greenwich High Road. Details at


    This year there have been many Remembrance Day ceremonies and events around the Armistice in 1918. We have to remember that many workplaces erected memorials to employees who had been killed - one of these was the gasworks memorial now in John Harrison way. A ceremony held there was the culmination of a project by Saint Mary Magdalen school pupils who had researched the memorials and the life of the men recorded on it.  This was a brief but impressive ceremony conducted by Rev. Margaret Cave and with contributions from the young people from the school. The ceremony was also to mark the listing of the memorial Grade II by Historic England.


    Meanwhile Rob Powell has produced a new booklet which reproduces Greenwich's Roll of Honour which was compiled after the First World War. For details see:


    Gas holder petition.  This is still live on the Change web site - now stands at 1528 signatures - and we also have many others on a paper petition which went round thanks to Joyce Snip. Leaving it 'up' on the Change web site enables us to tell petitioners what is happening with the holder.  Meanwhile discussions are still ongoing by campaign group members and the Council with Southern (aka Scotia) gas networks.  Here's what we said to petitioners recently:-

    The following is a link to a report of the visit to the gasholder site on Tuesday. More pictures and reports will be added soon, so keep looking!!

    The gasholder is still standing - but we are still being told that SGN intend to demolish it.   Today - a very small party of us went to visit the holder, and stayed for an hour or so taking pictures and one person had a drone.  I hope we can add some good pictures either here or on the page.

    SGN indicated that it might be possible to have another visit at some time in the near future.  We are not promising anything but if you are interested email me on and if we are able to arrange something we will do so.


    We understand from Mark Stevenson the Archaeology Advisor locally to Historic England that work is about to start on a written scheme of investigation at Felixstowe Road, Abbey Wood And also at Vincent Road in Woolwich, Happy to forward Mark's detailed email if people contact me.


    Enderby Group

    Work is ongoing to add more detail to the Enderby Group website with additional information relevant to the Lay Lines sculpture which is being erected outside the house.

     At the moment there seems to be a lot of speculation about what looks like now a series of short columns.  All will be revealed!  One of the aspects of this is that electronic tags are to be built into the structure which will explain via your phone about the history of the site. Enderby Group is very keen to extend this system to other parts of the peninsula and have been trying to talk to the relevant authorities about this.  Please keep in touch

    Meanwhile Youngs have been granted a licence to run Enderby House as a pub despite many objections from local residents who are frightened of noise and nuisance.  Enderby Group have spoken to Youngs (thanks to the Council for arranging this) and hopefully they will make sure that the pub is not just for residents and the local drinkers but for non-drinkers, and walkers on the riverside path  as well as providing accurate information on the heritage of the site.  It is of interest that many of the residents we spoke to say they would rather have had a café and heritage use for the house than the pub. It is not expected that the pub will open until next summer.


    East Greenwich is not the only gas holder with a campaign group trying to prevent demolition.  We have had information from the East End Waterways Group about the Bethnal Green gasholders.  Unfortunately the Group does not have a website so I can't pass the detailed information on. The Bethnal Green holders include one in particular with a very dramatic appearance across the Regent's Canal. The Group have been giving evidence to An Examination of the Tower Hamlets Local Plan and await the inspectorate's assessment

    The group also records demolition of the Poplar gasholders – that’s just the other side of the Blackwall tunnel from us.  Parts of their No.1 gas holder were kept to be used as part of the scheme for new housing on the site – but they report that there are some problems.

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  • 01/08/19--13:04: News for the New Year

  • Industrial Archaeology Review

    This academic style journal covers the whole of Britain and thus articles about Greenwich are few and far between. The current edition however almost the last page carries a book review of Stewart Ash’s book on John Pender. As people may know Stewart has been for a long time a mainstay of the Enderby Group and is a great expert on cable manufacture.  It’s fair to say to that the Industrial Archaeology Review’s report on his book is ecstatic describing it as ‘absorbing and informative’ and in fact ‘magnificent. So congratulations to Stewart.
    Stewart Ash. The Cable King-John Pender. Self published 2018 and available on Amazon 

    IA review also gives a short note which covers James Hulme’s article on the Charlton Riverside in London’s Industrial Archaeology 16.

    IA Review 2/40 2018


    Subterranea – The Magazine for Subterranea Britannica. Issue 49 December 2018

    Sadly nothing about Greenwich in this, otherwise interesting, journal.  Th.D. nearest they get to us is a long article on the Gravesend Cold War Bunker.  (You know, my Auntie used to go down there couple of afternoons a week to make the tea).


    Crossness Record (Vol. 21 Issue 3) Winter 2018.

    Much of this issue is taken up with issues around the need to fund raise following the discovery of asbestos.  In fact we have already noted on Twitter a crowd funding page for this

    Away from this there are pictures and information about the proposed Railway RANG and the news that track laying is about to start.  Volunteers are needed
    There is a historical article about the Crossness School which was set up in 1865 for the children of workers, in what was then a remote spot. Another article covers last summers ‘Fly By Night’ where there was a spectacular display by pigeons flying in various formations with lights tied to their legs.
    More info from


    GLIAS Newsletter (299 December 2018)

    Lectures and events
    16th January – Tom Furber on Marc Isambard Brunel and the Making of London
    27th February Mildred Cookson on Rolling Flour Mills of London
    17th March. Graham Dolan.  Ripples in Time.  The building of the Greenwich Power Station and the Unintended Consequences for the Royal Observatory.
    15th May, AGM followed by Richard Albanese on Trinity Buoy Wharf.
    All these at The Gallery, Alan Baxter Ltd.75 Cowcross Street, EC1 (go through the archway to the back) 6.30

    Greenwich gets a bit of a mention with ‘Delivery Driver Memories’ by Bob Rust. He talks a bit about the Merriweather Building – and then about the bakers shop on Blackheath Hill and the eventual collapse of the hill.

    The programme is out for the 2019 South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference which this year is on April 13th and is to be held in Dartford hosted by Kent Archaeological Society. Topics to be covered include – Ragstone industry – Aircraft Manufacture at Shorts – Sound Mirrors – Excavation of a brick works – Linseed Oil Mill – Rochester Bridge construction – Crossness Engines. Further info Mike Clinch


    Blackheath Scientific Society meeting
    18th January 7.45 Mycenae House. On History and Recovery of the Tidal Thames and its Fisheries, Steve Culclough


    Subterranean Greenwich web site has run a piece on London Power Tunnels under Blackheath ad Greenwich Park
    This tells us that this year work is to begin on boring a tunnel under our feet. The article has a lot of information from the consultant’s report about cavities and hazards and the like.  Read it


    The London Inheritance blog has also been in Greenwich  has this week covered the riverside walk between Cutty Sark pub and Enderbys (and – er – thanks for the plug for my book).


    And also – little tear – it’s been goodbye to John Burns, James Newman and Ernest Bevin and hullo to Ben Woolacot and Vera Lynn.

    Lots of stuff on Twitter and Facebook.  End of an era but the Free Ferry goes on.   BUT – off went those three old ferries to be broken up.  Once upon a time every boat on the river would have saluted them all the way down to the Nore.  What’s wrong with us all now??


    Enderby Group

    While Enderby Group has worked on the heritage issues of Enderby House we have been told that Barratts were going to lease, or sell, the house to Young’s Brewery.  Late last year Enderby Group members attended a meeting with Council Officers and representatives of Barratts and Young’s where we were briefed on Young’s intentions for the site and discussed with them the possibility of some input from the Group.  It has to be said that Young’s were very friendly, and we are also grateful for the input from Council Officers.

    A few weeks later Young’s application for a licence for Enderby House was granted.  As local people will be aware there has been a great deal of dissent among residents on riverside licensed premises and the Council recently turned down a licence application from Hopstuff Brewery for a site nearby.  There were less objections from residents about the licence for Enderby House – but objections were made and several turned up to speak against the licence at the Council’s hearing. As a result there are many conditions on the licence about where and when drinks can be served and how drinkers can be discouraged from sitting outside the premises.  It was of interest that some of the residents who objected told Enderby Group members privately how much they would have supported our proposed mix of café/bar along with heritage input and community space.

    We wait to see what will happen – but there is a vast amount of work to be done to the interior of the house before it can open and we hope to be in discussion with Young’s on heritage input soon.

    Pending awaiting approval – a note about building 10 on the Arsenal – news about the gasholder – new about the archive –news about Plumstead Station.  – and someone interested in a Tudor Navigation Beacon.

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  • 01/13/19--02:13: What's going on??

  • GIHS Meeting Tuesday 15th January

    If you are on the Peninsula east riverside, or Charlton - look over the river and there is a gaggle of boats on the other side at the entrance to a Creek. There is also a lighthouse - yes really.

    This is Trinity Buoy Wharf - where at one time bad buoys were made good (they are now reformed in Harwich). Come and listen to Richard Albanese who manages the site now and will tell us all about those boats
    Age Exchange Bakehouse Bennett Park, Blackheath Village, 7.30



    Yesterday GIHS  members, and members of local groups and societies discussed:

    The closure of the Greenwich Archive

    Creekside - the need for a Creekside Path - the current planning application for Saxon Wharf

    Westminster Industrial Estate - and an invite to meet the developer on the Siemens Buildings

    Plumstead Station and the wrangle over the replacement bridge

    Local listings in Plumstead and how they need to be extended  both in Plumstead and beyond

    Local listing of riverside items on the ex-Arsenal Riverside and need to extend this too

    Enderby House, Youngs and the Lay Lines sculpture

    QR tags - how we need to get the system extended without vast expenditure

    East Greenwich gasholder - report on meeting with the Council and SGN

    News of other gasholder demolitions - Southall, Chelmsford

    Photos of Greenwich depots - and writing up reports on the depots

    Proposed demolition of building in Prince of Orange Lane

    200th Anniversary of Joseph Bazalgette's birth

    Reminder of South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference in Dartford
    The Woolwich Ferries - why no big event to mark their passing??

    -  and I've probably missed lots out because we went on all afternoon

    Any comments?? 

    Have you anything you want to add?? or think we should raise?? Do you want to be involved in the future.
    Add a comment here - or email on

    And thanks to GCDA for letting us use their board room.

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    Greenwich Society Newsletter

    We have only just received the November edition of the Greenwich Society Newsletter but there are some interesting things in it which need reporting:

    One article is about the Dreadnought Hospital Building and this included a tour which would’ve been interesting. The article by Ann Baglin describes its history as an infirmary built in 1764 which eventually became the Seamen’s Hospital.  That had been originally aboard an old warship, Grampus, later replaced by Dreadnought, hence the name.

    Pieter van der Merwe has contributed an article ‘A New Stairway to Heaven’ – the steps which once ran up the hill in Greenwich Park from the Queen’s House to the Observatory.

    More relevant to industrial history is the first of a series along the Thames Path by Sheila Keeble. November’s Newsletter was on  Deptford Creek to Enderby Wharf - most of this is about rubbish and closures and the environment as it is today with very little about the past. Shelia notes that the environment agency has said that the river wall is in poor condition along this stretch.  Next month we are promised that Sheila will walk from Enderby wharf to North Greenwich and it will interesting to see what she says about the new sculptures and works which have taken place.  Shelia notes the blandness of the area and says “elsewhere industrial heritage is a selling point but here every crane, warehouse and wall has been stripped out’.  (I am stretching myself not to comment – support from the Greenwich Society ten years ago would have helped).

    (and then there is my own contribution to the newsletter about the national listing and re-dedication of the Gas Works War Memorial in Millennium Way with pictures of the students from St. Mary Magdalene School who researched it)

    The Newsletter also mentions the dispute over the change of name from the Old Royal Naval College to take in its original name of the Royal Hospital and its past as a Palace. It is something which has stirred up a lot of strong feelings. People are apparently angry at the loss of the ‘naval connection’ in Greenwich – (although of course Greenwich was a fishing village with two naval dock yards (for ship construction and repair) up the road and a big almshouse for old sailors which when it closed was taken over as a college for training posh young naval officers).  People are urged to write and tell the Foundation what they think to


    Greenwich Historical Society.

    We have their list of future events, all of which will take place at James Wolfe School at 7:15 for 7:30

    23rd January. A pantomime ‘Old Royal Naval Gazing’ $3 for non-members
    27th February. Margaret Lincoln. Two short talks - one on Thomas Bowrey, a Wapping shipowner, and the second on 18th century criminal activity along major roads in south London
    27th March Anthony Cross on “Our good old Governor’ Admrial Hardy in Greenwich
    24th April Julian Bowsher on Greenwich Palace.
    22nd May Kevin Robinson on the Ironworks of Pomroy Street, New Cross and the Ffestiniog Railway Locomotives

    And that all at


    Kent Archaeological Society have confirmed their programme for the South East Region Industrial Archeology Conference on 13 April.  this includes Simon Elliot on Ragstone quarries in the Medway Valley; Terry Bird on Tutsham Mill – a linseed crushing plant on the banks of the Medway; Robert Hall on sound mirrors in particular those at Fan Bay near Dover’; Tim Allen on a brick and tile works in Tonbridge, Elizabeth Walker on Short Brothers Aviation at Rochester’; Petra Cox on Crossness Engines, and Tim Belcher-Whyte on Rochester Bridge. Tickets from Mike Clinch  £12 if pre-booked.


    We have an invitation to the launch of a new book about Thamesmead with photography and interviews by Tara Darby and text by John Grindrod.  It’s called the Town of  Tomorrow. 50 years of Thamesmead.  I understand there was an interview on the Robert Elms show yesterday about it. It’s available from the Here  Press and we look forward to seeing it


    Greenwich Archive Users  Forum.  This is continuing with its work on the closure of the Greenwich archives and Heritage Centre. It has had meetings with Len Duvall who is Chair of the Heritage Trust. GAUF has produced a newsletter which Elizabeth Pearcey would be happy to send you should you contact her and ask for it.,


    The Arches.  There has been a derelict places website posting about The Arches and what a bad state it’s in.  This was of course the old Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich swimming pools and leisure centre also used as a dance hall and so on when it was newly  built in the 1920s.  https//


    I have been sent some news in the Kentish Mercury about the expected demolition of the gas holders at Bell Green despite local listing - although it was clear that this listing was unlikely to protect them. We also see that the Bromley gasholder near Bromley Tesco’s has now been demolished . This is inevitable given the programme which the government set the gas industry to demolish all holders. Our Greenwich holder is also still on the demolition list despite being one of the most important in the country and is now threatened not  the only by the governments order but by the Silvertown tunnel.  The petitioners have been doing their best but the forces against it re overwhelming


    Docklands History Group programme –  these events are held at the Museum of London Docklands at 5:30

    6th February Darren Knight on Old Rotherhithe .
    6th March Jane Sidell on Riverside Archaeology
    3rd April Drinking the Thames – The Grand Junction Water Company
    1st May  Joihn Seed Lascars in Shadwell
    18th May Annual Conderence on the Mediaeval Port of London
    5th June Pete Smith Rotherhithe and Bermondsey
    3rd July Chris Ellmers A very very Naughty Boy
    7th August walk round Historic Hammersmith
    4th September David Gibson Thames Sailing Barges
    2nd October Andy Slater. Running the West India Docks
    6th November Robert Hampson on Conrad and the Docks and the river
    4th December Christmas Social


    Greenwich  Council is consulting on additions to the Greenwich Local Heritage List.  Please see this and respond before 15th February
    There are a number of industrial sites on the list – we noted them a few postings back – please say how much you want them.


    Greenwich Council's Regeneration Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel back in early December heard a number of speakers from community groups on regeneration and how it could become community led . We understand that as a result three representatives have been appointed to liaise with the council and hits officer and members on these issues.
    Greenwich Industrial History Society made a contribution to the original meeting talking  about the historical background and the need for good standard research of sites and the contribution which well-informed local people could make.  We were followed by other speakers – notably from Ashburnham Triangle and from Speak Out Woolwich, and several others who stressed the need for regeneration to preserve and respect industrial heritage.  There is a follow up meeting in the Woolwich Town Hall on Monday 21st 70.00 pm

    (and views expressed here are the author’s own and not those of GIHS generally)

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