Articles on this Page
- 05/12/15--00:54: _Round up of whats w...
- 05/15/15--13:26: _East Greenwich Tide...
- 06/03/15--10:12: _Summertime to do
- 06/05/15--07:41: _A Parliamentary int...
- 06/10/15--01:15: _Greenwich Dairy - r...
- 06/10/15--02:37: _Second post in one ...
- 06/23/15--02:01: _Coal tar and Coal t...
- 06/24/15--02:36: _Dodging the Column ...
- 07/06/15--01:51: _The night Tower Bri...
- 07/07/15--00:33: _New Woolwich High L...
- 07/26/15--05:15: _LATEST NEWS FROM TH...
- 02/23/15--00:30: _GIHS Meeting -GLIAS...
- 03/24/15--03:13: _Ballast Quay news
- 03/25/15--03:18: _Woolwich gas works ...
- 03/25/15--23:34: _LOTS AND LOTS AND L...
- 03/30/15--00:59: _1966 Ad for Woolwic...
- 03/31/15--01:49: _St Mary's Flats and...
- 04/01/15--03:18: _GREENWICH POWER STA...
- 04/22/15--00:37: _AN IMPORTANT ANNOUN...
- 04/23/15--04:39: _Stuff
- 05/12/15--00:54: Round up of whats what again
- 05/15/15--13:26: East Greenwich Tide Mill - the GLIAS Journal
- 06/03/15--10:12: Summertime to do
- 06/05/15--07:41: A Parliamentary interlude
- 06/10/15--01:15: Greenwich Dairy - request for help
- 06/10/15--02:37: Second post in one day!! stuff in the post!
- 06/23/15--02:01: Coal tar and Coal tar dyes
- 06/24/15--02:36: Dodging the Column - how the company saw it!
- 07/06/15--01:51: The night Tower Bridge melted
- 07/07/15--00:33: New Woolwich High Level Bridge
- 07/26/15--05:15: LATEST NEWS FROM THE GIHS FRONT
- 02/23/15--00:30: GIHS Meeting -GLIAS had been there before
- 03/24/15--03:13: Ballast Quay news
- 03/25/15--03:18: Woolwich gas works - and they are diggin them up
- 03/25/15--23:34: LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF NEWS - MUST CATCH UP
- 03/30/15--00:59: 1966 Ad for Woolwich Ferry works
- 03/31/15--01:49: St Mary's Flats and the - er - Autostacker
- 04/01/15--03:18: GREENWICH POWER STATION
- 04/22/15--00:37: AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
- 04/23/15--04:39: Stuff
Just saw the latest cruise liner turning at Enderbys - it probably isn't industrial history to have noticed a drift of smoke off her - what will the berthing arrangements be when the cruise liners come there???
So what have I got in the post??
I've been asked to give the new website of the Naval Dockyards Society http://navaldockyards.org
Dig at Woolwich - it appears that one of the old Woolwich Gas Works sites has been unearthed by archaeologists. Chris Mansfield as an assiduous Woolwich photographer went down there and took some pics - and was promptly thrown off the site by Berkeley Homes!!! Meanwhile the archaeologists had asked Malcolm Tucker (top London industrial archaeologist) down to see the site. Malcolm (bless him) told them that I (Mary Mills) had a PhD in local gas history, lived locally and would probably like to see the site. Long silence - followed by an email from the archaeolgists to say they had now left the site. Chris Mansfield meanwhile had persuaded Berkeley Homes to let him back in.
(small appendix - 20 years ago I went down to another lot of archaeologists digging up the other old Woolwich gas works site - 'can I have a look at the dig please??' I said - ' Come on in darlin' - we'll show you a thing or two, eh lads!')
Peter Kent - the current PLA online newsletter includes a UTube interview with local artist (and GIHS member Peter Kent) I got this by email but I assume it can be accessed via the PLA website www.pla.co.uk/
Warship Anne Trust - this is a meeting on 4th July 2015 in Hastings about Warship Anne whose remains apparently lie at Pett Level. The speaker list includes some of those who have been involved in research at Deptford and Woolwich Dockyard. Details www.shipwreckmuseum.co.uk
London and the Whaling Trade. This is a pre-notice of the future publication of the transactions of the Conference held on this subject a couple of years ago. It includes a number of papers of Greenwich interest including Richard Sabin on the Greenwich Whale (the 17th century skeleton found at Bay Wharf) and Charles Paton on the Enderby Family (we understand he is about to publish a book on the family). Docklands History Group are inviting advance orders www.docklandshistorygroup.org.uk
GIHS has been talking to local GLA member, Len Duvall. Len has suggested we draw up a list of all those little things around Greenwich and Woolwich, which come from the past and need looking after. Let us have your suggestions - please......................
I know I have been banging on about the East Greenwich Tide Mill for years and years and years - an written about it in various places and with varying degrees of seriousness/pop reportage.
So - I am very pleased to see an article by Brian Strong in the new GLIAS Journal. 'A tidal mill at East Greenwich'. Brian has been closely involved for many years with the tide mills at Three Mills and he is rather an expert on the subject.
Tide Mills are an interesting and rather neglected subject. We all know about water mills with turning dripping wheels and jolly millers who in the olden days ground corn for grateful villagers in idyllic rural settings - we also know about windmills doing much the same thing but with wind. But tide mills?? They were obviously in tidal areas and they tended to be associated with something rather larger in scale than village corn. We need to remember that mills weren't just about corn - they were about every possible industrial process that needed grinding or something similar - and tide mills tended to deal with the heavier stuff. There were many of them round here - there was one on Deptford Creek near where the A2 crosses today at Deptford Bridge. There was what might have been a 12th century one discovered a couple of years ago on the Lovell's Wharf site and an even older one was found at Ebbsfleet when the station there was built. More recent is Three Mills, the largest tide mill in the world, just behind Tesco on the other side of the Tunnel Approach and which was at work until the Second World War. Please visit and be amazed - there is a café and they do tours, check out their Facebook page under 'House Mill'.
East Greenwich was never on that scale but it did have some interesting innovations in working methods, which Brian has outlined. While the mill was still being constructed, Olinthus Gregory walked down the river wall from Woolwich to have a look at it. Gregory was a mathematics master at the Royal Military Academy who would soon succeed Hutton as Professor. Interested in mill machinery he wrote a definitive work 'A Treatise on Mechanics' in which the East Greenwich Mill features prominently. So we have a wonderful first hand description which Brian has extrapolated and explained.
The East Greenwich mill is important in Greenwich history in that it represents what must be the first developer on the Peninsula - a subject we are now all very familiar with. It is also the site where Richard Trevithick's career as an innovative steam engine builder took a nose dive when the boiler of his engine, used to pump the mill's foundations, exploded due to negligence on site. Its a mill we need to be aware of - and all the more because it appears that English Heritage were ignorant of its existence in their site report to the Council. Hopefully Brian's work can help change that perspective
Finally, I am very chuffed that the cover of the Journal has used a design based on Gregory's drawings of the moving parts of various mills. And its shiny! It looks much better than the GLIAS Journal's rather amateurish past efforts.
Please buy it. Cost through post will be £5.50 - £4 for Journal + £1.50 p&p. Cheque made out to GLIAS. By post from Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, Rivendell, Knockholt Road, Halstead, Kent TN14 7ET . GIHS has some copies which we can sell at meetings - or I am happy to sell to anyone who asks me personally for it. That's £4 - please note GIHS is not making any profit. email email@example.com
Oh and - I have been so excited by the mill that I nearly forgot to mention the other really really important local article in this journal. That is about the iron slip cover roofs at Deptford and Woolwich Royal Dockyards. This is by archaeologist Duncan Hawkins - who has come to talk to GIHS in the past about his work at Deptford - and perhaps we should ask him again.
These roofs were revolutionary when they were installed in the Royal Dockyards between 1844 and 1857 to design briefs by the Royal Engineers. They were built to cover over ships being built on slips in the Dockyards. Three were built at Woolwich and three at Deptford - and two of the Woolwich ones are now at Chatham Dockyard where they can be seen. The third is what is now known as Olympia Warehouse at Deptford - and at the mercy of the development process.
This is an important article describing not only an innovative construction method for spanning large areas but is also important in the history of our two Royal Dockyards and in the history of the Royal Engineers (dare I point out that they originate in Woolwich too).
Please buy it and read it for all those reasons.
- and - there is also an article about Stratford Railway Workshops - look, they used to build railway locomotives, big ones, just over the river there in Stratford. You need to know about that as well. And there is an article about Three Mills which I mentioned above although this is about Acetone production.
I think you do need to get in touch and read a copy of this..........................
Lots of stuff in the post - but most of it is about various events - little of it to do with Greenwich and Industrial History. Anyway - here are some bits and pieces.
Our next meeting: 16th June Ian Bull 'The Standard Gauge railways of the Royal Arsenal' - details over on the side panel.
13th-14th June, Ballast Quay Garden. for the London Open Gardens/Squares weekend, Sat/Sun, 10-5pm, with a little exhibition in the 'shed' - photography not history this year
13th - 28th June Exhibition on East of Eden, which is work students in the University Architecture School have done on east Greenwich and the Peninsula . http://architecture.gre.ac.uk
also book on this out soon
Several newsletters and so on, but - its summer - not very much content.
Industrial Archaeology News (173 Summer 2015) has an article by Bob Carr on the use of gas holders round the world. Please note that other countries don't pull them down - they use them for housing, amenity and so on. Its ironic that in Greenwich, where we have such a heritage of engineering, that it seems very likely that we are about to pull down a breakthrough in 19th engineering in the great Greenwich gas holder. Please protest, although I am not sure what any of us can do, once developers move in.
Austria (Simmering - four holders all in housing and community use),
Germany - Oberhausen (very well known and adopted as a symbol for the whole region), Tauchrevier (indoor diving centre), Augsberg (nor sure), Leipzeig (display of panoramas), Dresden (exhibition about the town for tourists), Berlin (flats), Shoneberg (TV studio),
Latvia - Riga (tourism centre)
Czech Republic Ostrava - (auditorium)
Netherlands Amsterdam - (TV studio and trade fairs)
Italy Venice (monument - following a big public protest about demolition) Florence (social centre in a park), Rome (warehouse and parking and art installation),
Greece Athens - (Museum)
Ireland Dublin - (flats)
Denmark Copenhagen - (theatre)
Sweden Stockholm - (cultural centre) Gavle (theatre)
Finland Helsinki - (circus and arts venue), Turku (thermal battery for district heating)
But we just pull them down - because proposals are made by the developers who buy them, and the public sector on the whole has to go along with it.
PS - IA News is almost impossible to get and I don't even have an address you can write to. Association for Industrial Archaeology has a Facebook page. Find it and say you want a copy. There are also a number of excellent gas holder preservation Facebook pages.
Historic Gas Times - the latest edition does have an article about gas holders, but it is 'Memories' of said same. They have given up too.
(What's wrong with this country??)
Two other things:
GLIAS Newsletter. (only 4 sides!!)
I see Dan Hayton is leading a walk round the Greenwich Peninsula on 3rd October. If you want a place and to be given details email firstname.lastname@example.org
The also recommend London Archaeologist Spring 2015 (Vol 14 No.4.) for an article on archaeology at Convoys Wharf
GIHS - has copies of the GLIAS Journal with an article on the East Greenwich Tide Mill, and one on Deptford Dockyard. £4 each (no profit that is the cover price) on sale at meetings or email email@example.com
Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter.
Great article by Richard Buchanan on Enderbys (can we copy it Richard??)
Also note about a new blue plaque at 74 Shooters Hill Road to William Lindlay and William Heerlein Lindley and their contribution to a clean, cheap water supply.
Can we know more?? Is there someone would like to speak about this.
Finally - Steve had reminded me of a terrific programme of local history events in June in Tower Hamlets. See https://www.ideastore.co.uk/
The link below is -hopefully - the maiden speech of Greenwich and Woolwich's new MP, Matt Pennycook, in Parliament.
There is good reason for putting this on an industrial history blog - listen and you will see....
Thank you Matt, thank you Matt, thank you Matt
- and - PS - Congratulations, a great speech
GIHS has received the following letter from a Greenwich resident asking for help with a planning proposal - here is what he says:
"I'm sending over some details about the Planning Application to demolish and redevelop 1, Hyde Vale, reference
So - various bits and pieces
OUR NEXT MEETING - IAN BULL - DON'T MISS IT - MORE RAILWAYS - AND ITS ABOUT THE ARSENAL TOO
Dreadnought School - Blackwall Lane - people are always asking what is the old 'derelict' school in Blackwall Lane. Why can't we use it as a new school instead of building, they say. Well - for many many years it has been a branch of the Horniman Museum. Very few Greenwich people have seen inside it - I have never been, for one. BUT the Forest Hill Museum does now run tours (from Forest Hill, but never mind).
They say the store 'houses the majority of our collections: approximately 95% of the Anthropology and Natural History collections and 80% of the musical instruments collection. It will cost you £10 and it is for over 18s only. You have to have a ticket. Thursday 18th June 6.30-8 . Let us know how you get on.
Docklands History Group - notice of their AGM 1st July Museum of London Docklands 6 pm
They have a vacancy for a committee member.
East End Waterway Group - they have been campaigning to save the dramatically sited Bethnal Green Gas holder. It turns out it is still owned by National Grid despite stories in the press that it had been sold to Berkeley Homes. Let's see what happens next.
Greenwich Historical Society - letter to say they are moving their meetings to James Wolfe School, Royal Hill. (for those of you unable to keep with which school is in which building this is the old Board School which was used by Greenwich Community College and was also once a girls school).
English Heritage. thanks English Heritage for sending us some info about sites in the Borough on which work is about to start. I am not including the whole lot of stuff here but happy to send it on to anyone who emails. (firstname.lastname@example.org). They are heavily archaeological - nothing newer than the Iron Age I'm afraid. EH say that there were full desk top studies on the history done, but we, of course, don't get to see those.
1. King Henry Dock. Planning app 11/1584F
2. Plots N205 & N207. These are riverside sites near the cable car and the route of the proposed Silvertown whatsit.
Naval Dockyards Society - call for papers for their conference on 16th April 2016 . They want stuff on Naval Air Stations and the defence of dockyards. See navaldockyards.org.
I also have a copy of their latest Dockyards Newsletter. Nothing in it that I can see about Greenwich - but there is
Falkland Historic Dockyard Museum
Sheerness - ambitious plans
Command of the Oceans update
Admiralty Dock Books
Black Diamonds - Coal and Empire
The Canvey loop
Gibralter No.4 Dock
Naval Dockyard at Key West
Chatham Dockyard and Asbestos
The Milford Haven Lazarette Ships
Memories from Sheerness
|Going through the park|
If you haven't seen 'Dodging the Column' - it is on Youtube. One of the earliest shots shows a chap climbing the bus stop in Woolwich Road, outside the prefabs which predated Phipps House - and he has a hammer in his hand, clearly with intent..... It sort of goes on from there - you'll enjoy it.
|Round the Marble arch|
This column, which was manufactured for the ·Forth Chemicals, Ltd., measured 130 ft. 6 in. in length and had an inside diameter of 8 ft. It weighed 40 tons. No light job this to convey to Grangemouth on the shores of the Firth of Forth, Scotland. Transport was in the capable hands of E. W. Rudd, Heavy Haulage Service, Special Traffic (Pickford) Division, British Road Services, who have now acquired a bit of experience in handling Harvey's "tall orders."
Traction was provided by two 45-ton 100 h.p. Scammell tractors and the column was carried 0n two trailers approximately 60 ft. apa-t.
Great credit is due to the two drivers, Bert Burns and George Bird, who completed the 417 mile journey two days ahead of schedule. Only one snag was encountered: at. Eamont Bridge, Penrith, where the end of the column became wedged on the road at a dip. After some time it was hoisted clear.
|'Rarin' to go' - the column still in the factory|
|Holding up the traffic|
|Hyde Park Corner|
I don't think I should put personal reminisences here - but its hot - and people are moaning about the buses.
In the late '60s - I was working in Stamford Street, and I could get a number 70 bus from outside my office to the Cutty Sark. So - it was a very, very hot evening and I set off for Greenwich.
The traffic was terrible and the bus was hot - even up the front in an RT with the windows open. We got slower and slower - by the time we got to Tooley Street there were buses and cars which had boiled, all over the pavements. Buses were pulled over with the driver and conductor sitting on the platform, looking miserable. Vast great queues at bus stops. Terrible. And it kept getting hotter. Eventually people began to pass round a story - someone had got on the bus who had told them that Tower Bridge had melted and that the road had fallen into the river.
Well you never know, do you?
I have looked in vain on the net for this incident - although one US newspaper clipping says it was in July 1968.. I know Tower Bridge has stuck again recently but none of the reports of that seem to mention it at all.
So what was going on??
New Woolwich High Level Bridge -
I think these are mid-1930s and far from sure where the drawing has come from - and clearly it would be difficult to have loaded it up as one long strip.
Who knows more about this??
SOME BITS OF PIECES FROM MY IN TRAY.......................................
THE ENDERBY GROUP
The Enderby Group is happy to provide a speaker for meetings of all sorts - to tell you about Enderby Wharf and Enderby House and how Greenwich began the telecoms revolution. Email me for details email@example.com
GO TO THE END OF THIS POSTING TO SEE MORE ABOUT ENDERBYS
OUR GASHOLDER - EAST GREENWICH GASHOLDER
Its not good - we still have no idea if the gasholder has been bought by a developer, bent on demolition, who that developer might be, and if there is any support at all for keeping it for whatever use. We can give lots of ideas for re-use - like is done by people all round the world, except here!!!
However - many people out there are interested in our holder. A photograph of it has just been exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition. A limited edition of this photograph was for sale at £150 each (!!) and has now sold out
EAST GREENWICH PLEASAUNCE
Neil Sharman has asked us to advertise 'Do you remember the Pleasaunce in World War Two??' please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This is East Greenwich Pleasaunce - not the park with a similar name in Eltham. They know there was a public shelter for 150 people, and that two high explosive bombs were dropped - but they want to know where these were and if there were also allotments (and I want to know how the avoided digging on the area where all the mass graves are).
NICOLA WHITE MUDLARK
Nicola has an exhibition of, among other things, messages in bottles, "Waves from the Water" is at the Made in Greenwich Gallery 324 Creek Road 1st-12th August. 11am-6pm www.tidelineart.com
EAST OF EDEN
The Department of Architecture at Greenwich University has produced a rather important book about students work on the Greenwich Peninsula and Thamesmead. There is too much of it to put much here - it will be the subject of a separate posting. But in the meanwhile Ian Worley has put a posting on Facebook about his contribution to it. https://www.facebook.com/iworley This is via a link to Making is Thinking http://making-is-thinking.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/invisible-landscapes-of-eastgreenwich.html Please read
GREENWICH HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Future meetings in their new home:
23rd September - 2000 years of Greenwich. A potted history. Linda Cunningham et al
28th October - Munitions Lasses - Frances Ward
25th November - 50 Years of the London Borough of Greenwich. Julian Watson
27th January - The GHS Pantomime
24th February - Greenwich History Online. Rob Powell
23rd March - F.W.Simms Map - The Parish of Greenwich in the County of Kent 1838. Anthony Cross
27th April - Greenwich. A Photographic Memoir
25th May - possible visit to Chiswick
All at James Wolfe Primary School, Royal Hill.
They also make a note of the DORA Project - another project looking at Second World War bomb sites - they have a presentation on 12th September in St. Alfege Church Hall. https://doraproject.wordpress.com/
I know this isn't in Greenwich, and it is also the other side of the River - but this is an SOS from a really great group - the East End Waterway Group Fish Island is the little bit of Hackney Wick full of old industrial buildings - for example the buildings where the first plastic was developed and made, and much else. It escaped being pulled down for the Olympics, but now the developers are sliding in. Swan Wharf is on the Old Ford Lock on the River Lea - and until relatively recently was still in use and a whole load of exotic substances were imported through it. Now someone wants to build flats - of course - but this is not just an interesting old building, it is a wharf which could potentially be used for handing goods taken by canal and not by lorry.
The group is also trying to secure retention of a number of east end gasholders - the dramatically sited Bethnal Green holders and Leven Road (just the other side of the tunnel)
There is a lot more - http://residents-first.co.uk/category/east-end-waterway-group/
THE BETHNAL GREEN HOLDERS - EAST END ART
For those of you who do not get the many twitter postings from @ we would recommend it. There are many postings about Greenwich , and, because the artists were working before the Second World War, there are often queries asking where people think the site is. Oh - yes - and lots of 1930s paintings of the Bethnal Green holders.
RICH SYLVESTER - HISTORY OF THE WORKHOUSE!!
GIHS members will remember Rich's great talk on the history of the Greenwich Square/GDH site. Well - if you walk up Vanburgh Hill as far as the Health Centre, which is being demolished, you will find a whole exhibition about Rich's work posted on the hoardings. Go see!
I note the headline on their newsletter says 'Our heritage our future' and the front page is all about speakers they have had on Magna Carta. Hopefully they will move forward and fast!!
Inside is 'News from Royal Museums' 'Magna Carta Celebrations' (ho hum) and a note about the new venue for Greenwich Historical Society (fair enough, see below). Must tell them that GIHS always happy to provide info and speakers.
FRIENDS OF GREENWICH PARK
We see their new history group is now up and running with Chocolate Biscuits (must go along!!). Next meeting is 7th September 11 am in the Wildlife Centre. Please keep us informed - happy to post up info, or whatever. email@example.com
LEWISHAM LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY
Lewisham are beginning a project on the history of the Borough and people with info are urged to get in touch. www.lewishamhistory.org
They have future meetings all at 7.45 Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way
31st July Seaside Sauce by Alan Payne -about Greenwich resident Donald McGill
25th September - they have Charlton resident His Eminience The Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury talking about his campaign to save Catford's 19th century Town Hall.
30th October - Martin Costello on Catford Broadway Theatre
they also advertise
6th October Windmills of North West Kent and Kentish London. Bromley Borough Local History Society, Trinity United Reformed Church, Freelands Road, Bromley, 7.45
People round the world are interested in our gasholders and desperate to see them before they are all pulled down. Recently a marathon tour was conducted round London by GLIAS members to take in as many as possible in one day for foreign journalists.. The didn't get to East Greenwich until late afternoon - they had started at 9am!! - and still had five more sites to go. Happy to give details of what you can see and where you can see it.
The Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society has a walk round the Greenwich Peninsula 3rd October Sat GREENWICH PENINSULA: THIS USED TO BE... Led by Dan Hayton. You have to book to go on this: firstname.lastname@example.org, and GLIAS limits numbers - so the whole of East Greenwich can't turn up to tell it like it was/is, however much we might like to. Hopefully they will spend a lot of time at Enderby's and lots with the gasholder.
THE ENDERBY GROUP
The Group has been very busy, albeit, still not sure what will happen to Enderby House. The developers are obliged under the planning consent to repair and reconstruct it - but, since we began making a fuss, a number of organisaitons and individuals have come forward with ideas for it. We will report in duecourse
In the meantime we have produced quite a lot of written material which will be published in due course. Two of these are on Bill Burns's Atlantic Cable web site - http://atlantic-cable.com/ - this site is vast and contains everything you could ever want to know. The two papers produced by the Enderby Group's Stewart Ash are:
Another paper - by me - about the site's non-Enderby and non-cable related industries will appear somewhere or other (probably here, if no one else interested) and most of it is about the Government Gunpowder Depot and a rather interesting father and son engineeers, the Beales.
We also understand that the Royal Academy summer exhibition (see above) had an exhibit on 'Enderby Place' - https://se.royalacademy.org.uk/artwork/Michael-Manser-RA/460
- the other thing of note is that the Enderby cruise liner terminal planning consent has gone through the system and now has consent - local people are pretty angry about that and about the pollution aspects of the proposed liners. The issue is - biazarrely - something called 'cold ironing'. We need to know more - could one of you experts please explain......
Last week's GIHS meeting was entertained by the speaker, John Kennedy Melling, on the Noakesoscope. That, it turns out, was an ingenious sort of magic lantern, showing moving pictures, invented by one of the Noakes, Greenwich based forage merchants.
One of the mysteries is what happened to the machine - which Mr. Melling had hoped to acquire on the death of the last Noakes, but which went to a descendant and hasn't been seen since 1961! Where is it??
Mr. Melling told us a lot about some of the family - there was a famous conjurer who lived in my road in Blackheath. He told us how a boat used to tour the canals giving shows by various similar bits of equipment - and --
We have been pointed in the direction of the following item from the Greater London Archaeology Society's Newsletter No.75 - please see
"ALL DONE BY MIRRORS
On the evening of 20th February  last a party of 29 GLIAS people attended the Magic Lantern Theatre aboard the narrow boat "Phantasmagoria", then moored on the Regent's Canal at Delamere Terrace. 22 people were packed into the rather cramped auditorium, whilst seven were accommodated behind the screen and able to witness some of the "Showman's Magic". Hand painted glass slides depicting scenes 3" in diameter were back-projected onto a screen 4' in diameter located amidships, the slides being magnified 15 times, compared with the 50 times magnification of the original Victorian shows. The action varied from the simple two position 'flips' of an acrobatic circus equestrian and a 'skipping' child, through dissolving scenes such as 'Day and Night' and the 'Four Seasons', to the very impressive 'Storm at Sea' accompanied by the crash of thunder and the flash of lightning. This sequence depicts an old favourite of mines Eddystone Lighthouse (Smeaton's of course). Then followed a mesmerising sequence of chromotropes turning and twisting, coming and going and changing colour. The show ended with Anita hand cranking a 1905 Moliere cinematograph and showing an especially printed reel of the first films of the Lumière brothers. (The original films were all of one minute's duration.)
Doug and Anita Dean, who run this marvellous theatre, are at present on their summer holiday tour, but will be back in September, I believe, to prepare for their next season at Delamere Terrace (October to May). I look forward to seeing their 'second show' which includes a Victorian 'Journey into Outer Space'.
NB I'd never heard of chromotropes either!
Let us know if you were among the party??
Author of the piece Tom Smith was a GLIAS member for several years and was GLIAS Sales Officer. He was a Widnes man who spent much of his life in the Royal Artillery, and after leaving the Army he settled in Woolwich. Before he retired he worked as a clerical officer with the Post Office
Great to see on Facebook that there is a dig in Woolwich which has found bits of one of the old Woolwich gas works. Details on Chris Mansfield's page. https://www.facebook.com/historic.woolwich/posts/419236568246487
There were a number of gas works in Woolwich. Below is a quick scan of articles written about them in the 1930s and published in Co-partnership Journal (South Met. Gas Co house journal)
The Royal Dockyard was not closed until after we had been a year or two in Woolwich, and one of my oldest memories is that of being taken on the Jetty to see the Ironclad Repulse launched. I think only one more vessel, the Thalia, was built before the yard was closed. The mast pond of the Dockyard adjoined our wharf. It was not really a pond but part of the river enclosed by floating timbers chained to piles, or "dolphins," in such a manner that they rose and fell with the tides. On the closing of the Dockyard this enclosure and the foreshore past Taylor's coal wharf were purchased by the Company and embanked to form what is now Tuff & Hoar's Wharf. This increase in the area of the works gave space for a gasholder eighty feet in diameter (the existing holders were thirty to forty feet), new scrubbers, and purifiers.
Short's Alley was always a source of annoyance. It was a very dirty place, and undesirable folk were nearly always in it. It was diverted slightly when my father found he had not quite enough ground for the second gasholder (No. 6). A small holder (No. I) was scrapped, and the building constructed of old firebricks and clinkers was shortened, but a circle of the diameter required could not be struck entirely within the boundary of the works. The difficulty was got over by pulling down a house which belonged to the Company and, by giving as much ground as was taken, altering the course of the alley a few feet. By what authority it was done I do not know, and it was a matter of surprise that; the owners of shops in High Street did not complain.
SO - in addition to the two articles above I have added something I wrote many years ago which was published in Bygone Kent and (a shorter version) in the GLIAS Newsletter
THE FIRST WOOLWICH GAS WORKS
In the early days of the gas industry, between 1810 and 1820, a number of entrepreneurs began to look round for towns in need of a gas works. In 1815, or thereabouts, a prime candidate must have been Woolwich – a flourishing centre with a number of big industrial sites, which surely must have needed a good source of lighting. It is no surprise therefore to find a speculative gas works built there.
Previous articles in this series, about Greenwich, have introduced a number of men who built and sold ready made gas works to local authorities and private individuals. In Greenwich the first approaches had been made to the local authority in the early 1820s by a Mr. Hedley, followed by a Mr. Gostling. In the 1830s a works had been built in Deptford by a Mr. Barlow. Some of these, and others we will meet again.
In 1817, or thereabouts, a Mr. Livesey and a Mr. Hardy built a gas works in Woolwich. If the name Livesey is familiar, it is because he was George Livesey's great-uncle, Thomas. After 1870 George Livesey became the leading figure in the gas industry in London and has recently been notorious following a press story about 'the ghost in the Dome'. To some extent however George had inherited the mantle of great uncle Thomas. Thomas Livesey was a hosier based in the City of London. In 1812 he had been one of forty men who had bought a block of shares in the first ever gas company, in London, with a view to changing the way it was being run. In 1813 he had been elected to the Court of Governors as the candidate of this group and, quite literally, set about finding out how a gas company should be set up and managed. A great deal has been written about the invention of the technology of gas manufacture but it is rarely mentioned that Thomas Livesey designed gas company management – in many ways just as important. Busy as he was with this role he clearly had time for other things, and like many others, an eye for a profit on the side.
The other partner in the Woolwich gas works was a Mr. Hardy, a coal merchant and a friend of Thomas Livesey. He was also at that time a partner of Mr.Hedley who was later to tender, unsuccessfully, to build the first Greenwich gas works. Hardy and Hedley operated a gas equipment and ironmongers business out of an office in Kings Arms Yard off Cheapside in the City of London. Thomas Livesey also used this address sometimes although his hosiery business was round the corner in Wood Street.
Livesey and Hardy built their gas works in Woolwich on a site known as 'Roff's Compound' or 'Edgar's Coal Wharf'. This was on the river in the area of today's Bell Watergate and next to the Waterfront Leisure Centre – then in the midst of small streets and wharves. Roff was a well-known wharfinger in Woolwich for many years and his wharf was still marked on a map nearly forty years later in 1853 – by which time there was also a 'steamboat' pier on site. I am not aware of any contemporary map or plan of the works or even exactly where the site was but it is very likely that it had good riverside access.
It is likely that it had some local support since it has been said that the first Manager was a Mr.Sanderson who had a business in Richard Street Woolwich where he exhibited gas lights before the works was opened. Perhaps he was the same Mr. Sanderson who later had a paint and glazing business in Powis Street.
Whatever the plans for the works were it seems that it was not successful and after only six or seven years Livesey and his friends set about trying to dispose of it. In 1824 they tried to sell the works to the South London Gas Company. When this approach failed they tried to sell it to the Bankside and Greenwich based Phoenix Company. They asked Phoenix in February 1825, and then in November 1827 and in December 1828 when they offered it to them for £6,500. Phoenix turned it down.
One of the reasons Livesey and Hardy were so keen to get rid of the Woolwich Gas Works was that as Thomas Livesey was Deputy Governor of the Westminster based Chartered Gas Light and Coke Co. he was not supposed to have an interest in another gas company. In fact the Chartered took a very dim view of his extra-curricular activities and in May 1827 he had to make a sworn statement to the effect that he had disposed of his interest in the Woolwich Gas Company. This, as it turns out, was not really true. In what follows Livesey is always described and treated as the owner of this works.
It seems that he had transferred the legal ownership and the Woolwich gas works was actually owned by a corporate body of which a Mr. Ainger was a trustee. Ainger was yet another coal and iron merchant - this time based on Bankside. Livesey must have known him well since he had been selling coal to the Chartered Company from its inception.
The years went by. It was offered around to other gas companies, like the Phoenix at Bankside. They could have had for £6,500, but neither they, nor apparently anyone else wanted it.
Previous articles about the gas industry in Greenwich have described the dissatisfaction of local businessmen with the existing private gas companies and their efforts to set up one which would be more responsive to their wish for cheaper gas. In 1832 in Woolwich another gas company was set up, the Woolwich Equitable. Ten years later another company was set up to rival it – The Woolwich Consumers Protective Gas Company. There was to be talk of 'serious defalcations' at the Woolwich Equitable and the rows between the two rivals fill many pages of the Kentish Mercury. Neither of these situations will be dealt with in this article.
The Woolwich Equitable advertised that it would sell 'cheaper and purer' gas and set about trying to buy up the old works in order to supplant them. They began to negotiate with Mr. Livesey and Mr. Ainger. This should have been no problem since they had been trying to get rid of it for at least the previous ten years. A valuation was commissioned from Mr. John Barlow.
Barlow, who was the builder of the Greenwich Railway Gas Works at Deptford, and many others, was in many ways an interested party and, in the interests of honesty and fair play, another valuer was brought in. This was a Mr. Robert Brown of Royal Hill. I assume that this is the Robert Brown, Architect of Royal Place in 1839 not Mr. Robert Brown, Plumber, of Blackheath Hill also extant in 1839 (or perhaps they were the same person).
The valuation report was very long and very damning – the works was 'very dilapidated' to say the least. In negotiations Ainger and Livesey began frantically to talk the equipment up – they explained that the wooden tanks were after all, only fifteen years old and the pipework would last at least a hundred years. The report apparently didn't agree with them. Ainger then accused the Woolwich Equitable Board of trying to cheat him.
The new gas company decided that it was desperate to 'buy up the competition' and continued negotiations regardless. Livesey began to talk about problems with an Act of Parliament and the Board of the Equitable brought their solicitor along to see him. A settlement was reached in July 1832 at a meeting between both sides and their lawyers. In the following January a list was produced of Messrs. Livesey and Ainger's various misdeeds and Woolwich Equitable Directors were perhaps most annoyed that £245 of the purchase money was to find its way into Mr. Livesey's pocket.
The old Woolwich works was taken over, run for a while, and closed down. While negotiations had been going on with Livesey and Ainger other arrangements were taking place for a new works to be built specially for the new gas company. It's nice to know that the contract to build the new works went to Mr. Barlow – who lost the contract to survey the old works.
This story in some ways echoes that in Greenwich in the same period – and probably many other places as well. An early works built by speculators which was inefficient and soon became ruinous. After all you would expect things to improve as people had more experience of the technology. It is perhaps ironic that Thomas Livesey, so successful in his management of the first and largest company then in existence – should get in such a mess at Woolwich. It also throws considerable light on the standards of honesty not only of Livesey but also of others of the time and to the lack of statutory regulation.
The Woolwich works went on to be racked with scandals until taken over by South Met. in the 1880s.
This article has been compiled from archive sources at London Metropolitan Archives and supplementary material including an article in Co-partnership Journal
PS - there was of course yet another Woolwich gas works inside the Arsenal
LATEST STORY FIRST - Yesterday we put on this site stuff about an archaeological dig in Woolwich which had found an old gas holder. Well - later that day photographer Chris Mansfield told us, through Facebook, that he has been thrown off the site for publishing his pictures on line!!!
GREENWICH POWER STATION
There has been a 'consultation' by Transport for London on plans to upgrade Greenwich (possibly oldest working) power station. This seems to be to put more generation equipment into the long unused easterly hall so as to provide extra potential capacity for the tube while joining local power networks to provide energy for locals. Details are a bit thin on the ground at the moment but local groups are reporting on this and planning to find out more. See East Greenwich Residents on http:// www.egra.london/ and the current Greenwich Society Newsletter http://greenwichsociety.org.uk/News/Newsletter/
This is a big big subject - it appears that it has either been sold to a developer, or not, as the case may be. It is likely that the site is being snapped up so it can be demolished for housing. In many parts of the world redundant gas holders are being turned into all sorts of facilities - including blocks of flats built inside them. Our holder - East Greenwich No.1 - was the biggest in the world when it was built, and built to revolutionary principles, probably with advice from leading modern movement designers.
Meanwhile the club in Blackwall Lane is doing light shows on it https://twitter.com/studio338/media
A group of architects have produced a model of what they think should be done with the holder. Their work seems to have had little, or no, local publicity although it was shown at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. It was done by Patrick Judd and Ash Bonham as a project by the Royal Institution of British Architects and the Architects Journal and the worked received a commendation. They are trying to get the holder listed - but, quite honestly, we've been there and back already!!
Barbara Ludlow tells us that a book by Conan Fraser (who apparently died last year) has been published in New Zealand - The Enderby Settlement - Britain's Whaling Venture on the Sub-Antarctic Island 1849-1852' Published by Otago University Press. Price not known.
Meanwhile the Enderby Group is busy busy busy - hope to do a detailed article soon
Photographer Peter Marshall has now got a page on Facebook about his new book which is largely about pictures on the Greenwich riverside. Here's what he says: "Here's the final volume in my London Docklands series of books with pictures taken before 1985. The book is published as a PDF (ISBN 978-1-909363-13-7) and can be downloaded from Blurb for a fiver and you can print any pages you wish for personal use. If you want a printout of the whole book, this is available from Blurb, but copies are cheaper direct from me at £25 + £2 p/p for UK customers. 90 pages,82 b/w photographs'
EAST END WATERWAY GROUP
This group campaigns on a number of issues on the other side of the river. They have been actively involved in trying to prevent the demolition of a number of gas holders - and have just lost the fight with the great and dramatically sited holder in Bethnal Green. Nearer to us is the campaign - and on line petition - on the holders at Levan Road - which you can see immediately to your right as you emerge from the Blackwall Tunnel. http://residents-first.co.uk/poplar-holder-station-petition/
They are also actively involved in trying to stop demolitions of some wonderful 19th century industrial buildings at Hackney Wick (where the first plastic - Zylonite - was developed, and much else). https://mail.aol.com/webmail.std/en-gb/suite
We have their 150th anniversary newsletter - that 150 years of the engines, not of the Trust. They have a full report of the opening in the newsletter with lots of congratulations to Mr. Bazalgette. The newsletter also includes a tribute to Michael Dunmow - one of their most prominent activists and also a assiduous researcher on industrial Bexley. He will be missed. There is an item on the various bands which have recorded videos and so on among the engines. www.crossness.org.uk
We also have news of the demolition of the old Maybloom Working Men's Club in Plumstead. This interesting building - a purpose built club from 1928 - was almost impossible to see from the road, which why its end seems to be unnoticed. (thanks to Chris Mansfield for the info).
THE FOOT TUNNELS
We have been sitting on an interesting article in the Institution of Civil Engineers Newsletter about a visit to the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels. This is a great interest as it involves issues which could be taken up in our Greenwich and Woolwich Tunnels. Requests to reproduce the article have been ignored (sigh!!)
WOOLWICH ANTIQUARIANS NEWSLETTER
Always interesting. Would recommend article in their February issue on Lord Marks of Woolwich 'The forgotten engineer'. (hopefully we could reproduce this).
We have been asked to remind people about the AGM of the Naval Dockyards Society on 25th April at the Maritime Museum. This is followed by a conference on 'The Royal Dockyards and the Pressures of Global War 1793-1815' . Details http://www.navaldockyards.org/
following is a scan and transcript of a booklet produced by Woolwich Council in 1961 about their new flats and new parking system - and, look, this is a scheme produced by a supremely confident Labour Metropolitan Borough. Woolwich had done this development themselves - in other boroughs it would have been undertaken by the London County Council - but Woolwich had special consent to do it themselves. We all know now about the wretched Autostacker - but that shouldn't be a reason to denigrate the St.Mary's scheme as a whole. We forget that this was a clearance scheme of a terrible terrible slum area - designed to propel Woolwich into the modern world. They were using the latest and most fashionable architects - and the flats were noted by Pevsner - and they were doing it all inhouse.
Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich
The Coffee House and Lounge at St. Mary's Church - The Council's Multi-Storey Garage
Rehousing of families from some of the most unfit dwellings commenced in January, 1952, and up to the present, 718 families have been rehoused from the area. Some 600 properties have been demolished, and a further 180 acquired and held pending demolition as and when the families in occupation are rehoused. To date, 485 new dwellings have been erected, all by the Borough Council's direct labour organisation, and a further 89 are now under construction. A parade of shops and a number of garages also have been provided. The present scheme in Frances Street and Samuel Street has been designed by Messrs. Norman & Dawbarn, is being constructed by Wates Ltd. and the Quantity Surveyors are Messrs. Falkner & Partners. The scheme comprises 279 dwellings, together with two shops, and garages, made up as follows :-
One 2 storey block containing 8 Bed-sitter Flats 1 Three Bedroom Maisonette
Servicing is carried out in the well-equipped bays on the ground level of the stacker. Two lubrication bays, fitted with modern equipment, can carry out a "while-you-wait" lubrication service. A washing bay and tuning bay are situated behind the lubrication bays.
By 1910, steam turbine technology had proved superior to the piston engines installed four years earlier, and four steam turbines were installed for the second stage opening that year. By 1922 the original engines had been removed and replaced with turbines. In 1933, the London Passenger Transport Board took over all road and Underground services in Greater London, including the power stations at Greenwich, Lots Road in Chelsea and Neasden.
The London Transport Conversions to oil and gas firing
In 1967 it was decided to replace the steam turbines with gas turbine plant burning oil delivered, as the coal had been, by river. The changeover from coal made possible a reduction in the staffing level by almost 90 per cent. The most visible evidence of coal firing is the 50 massive steel bunkers, each with a capacity of 270 tons, which occupy the upper part of the Boiler House. The gas turbines were modified in 1975-77 to burn either natural gas or oil, with gas as the main fuel and oil as a back-up. With post-war power stations like Bankside in Southwark already closed and being converted for other uses, London Underground's two remaining generating stations (Greenwich and Lots Road, Chelsea) are rare survivors from early this century.
The future of Greenwich Generating Station
Negotiations were concluded last month for SEEBOARD Powerlink, a private sector consortium, to take over responsibility for London Underground's high-voltage power distribution network. It is planned that Lots Road will be de-commissioned within two years, and that part of the Greenwich plant will be refurbished and retained for emergency back-up use only. London Underground's power requirements will then be purchased from private electricity suppliers for delivery to the system via the Powerlink network.
On the western side of the building are the 11 massive white reinforced concrete reserve coal bunkers added over the yard around 1927. Conveyors were used to transfer coal into and from these bunkers to the boilers, in the latter case on a circuitous route via the pier!
Eight gas turbine alternator units were installed in the former Boiler House with two units exhausting to each of the four chimneys, but more recently one has been taken out of service. They were built by Stal-Laval Ltd. which later became part of the ASEA- Stal Group and is now in the ABB organisation. Each unit has five main components: a gas generator, a power turbine, an alternator, a transformer and an automatic control and monitoring system.
The run-up, loading and shut-down of the gas turbine alternators is fully automatic following the operation of a single push button, and is controlled by equipment located in the two Plant Instrument Rooms which were constructed between each pair of chimneys. Full monitoring instrumentation has been provided to facilitate minimum supervision by staff. If the gas turbine alternator malfunctions, the fault will be registered on the associated control cubicle and, if necessary, the set shuts down.
A lot of things have happened - will report later - but in the short term we are looking to draw up a list of items of industrial heritage interest from all round the Borough.
Clearly there are some BIG things - the gasholder and so on
but there are also lots of little things - street furniture and so on.
A lot of things have disappeared and many were 'tidied up' for the Olympics - a good example was the tram telephone box in Blackwall Lane which no doubt ended up a skip somewhere - and the Blackheath Electricity Co. junction box on the A2 traffic island - removed for the sake of tidiness!!
If you know of anything - BIG - small - let us know. Either append it as a comment here - or send to email@example.com
Various newsletters have turned up - for instance
Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter
Forthcoming meetings include: 2nd May Richard Buchanan on the Atlantic Telegraph. Charlton House. 2.15 pm
Friends of Greenwich Park Newsletter
The Friends are announcing an inaugural meeting for a Greenwich Park History Group. 22nd May 11 am Wildlife Centre. Info firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenwich Society Newsletter
Includes a great picture of Greenwich Marsh in the early 19th with accompanying text. It is thought the site shown is part of what is now the building site on the riverside at Enderbys. Thanks to Roger Marshall for the picture and the interpretation.
The newsletter also includes details of the new - Creek Swing Bridge - Westcombe Woodlands project - Low Carbon plans for East Greenwich Power Station - Planning at Marsh Wall Isle of Dogs - Creekside East Development.
Lewisham Local History Society Newsletter
Among articles (of Lewisham interest obviously) one on some of the work of Margaret MacMillan, nursery pioneer, in the Greenwich bit of Deptford.
26th June Pioneers of Photography. Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13. 7.45
Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society. Newsletter
19th May. AGM and talk on the Importance of Technological Developments in the History of
Brewing in London. 18.15.-18.30 Swedenborg Lecture Theatre, Barter Street, WC1
David Wood - sadly an obituary to this great expert on sailing barges - full of info on Greenwich barges and of great help and support on the subject
Crossness Engines - brief note on their 150th anniversary
Sainsburys Peartree Way - a brief note to regret the imminent demolition of this prize winning building and its inclusion in '100 buildings 100 years' as the best British building of 1999
Thames and Medway Canal Association
OK - not in Greenwich - but just down the road, a group of enthusiasts working on restoration and promotion of a canal which doesn't actually go anywhere! It went through the Higham tunnel - now used for trains between Gravesend and Strood. Its a great tunnel too!!
AND - perhaps most importantly - Greenwich Power Station, Local residents around the power station have been consulted on this BUT - only the locals immediately adjacent. Because I live up the hill a bit, I and my neighbours heard nothing. I went to the consultation and as a result they have sent me a handout. Some of which is scanned below (sorry this programme doesn't accept PDFs). This is a very important local industrial building - we all need to know about it.
"As part of our strategy to reduce the impact of transport operations on the environment, we have developed a proposal to install up to six new gas engines in Greenwich-Power Station's Old Turbine-Hall. This will provide a steady-source of cheap, reliable, low carbon power for London's Tube. We are also developing plans with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Greater London Authority to use surplus heat from the Power Station to supply hot water and heating for nearby schools and homes. This will reduce utility bills for residents and Improve local air quality, by eliminating the need for gas fired domestic boilers. The scheme directly contributes to the Mayor of London's target to produce a quarter of London's energy demand from local sources by 2024, as set out in his Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy.
The proposal is still at a very early stage. We will shortly commence concept design work for the installation of the first two engines. This will include emissions modelling as part of our emissions permit application to the Environment Agency. It is anticipated that physical works for the first two engines will not start before late 2016/early 2017. The installation of the remaining four engines is expected to be staggered over the next 20 years.
The new engines will be made using the latest technology and will be highly efficient. They will run on natural gas, and create no smoke or smells. Additionally, with Greenwich being an Air Quality Management Area, emissions will be further reduced through the use of emissions abatement equipment.
Greenwich Power Station was built in 1902 to power the Capital's tramways and Tube railways, which were being electrified at that time. It is currently an operational power station and functions as an emergency electricity source for the Tube network in the event of a major power supply failure from the National Grid. It currently operates 400
hours per year on average, with no noise disruption to the local community.
While Greenwich Power Station is not currently listed, it is a building of significant heritage. The current proposals preserve this historic building through avoiding any changes to its external appearance, therefore it is anticipated that no planning application will be required. The change from traditional gas and oil powered electricity generation to combined heat and power generation will preserve the use of this important asset well into the future.
and ps - Other events which might be interesting:
9th May, Trevithick Day. Dartford Park
Various East London canal towpath walks www.waterways.org.uk