Articles on this Page
- 05/26/16--03:40: _Young George Landma...
- 06/04/16--04:55: _Greenwich Industria...
- 06/13/16--02:12: _News and notes from...
- 07/01/16--02:55: _Some important new ...
- 07/10/16--03:57: _George Landmann - h...
- 07/11/16--01:31: _George Landmann - s...
- 07/30/16--11:44: _George Landmann - w...
- 08/01/16--09:32: _Something personal ...
- 08/04/16--04:50: _August is the cruel...
- 08/22/16--05:41: _Developers and list...
- 09/05/16--03:33: _September - news an...
- 09/15/16--04:12: _MORE NEWS ITEMS - l...
- 09/15/16--05:13: _The Commercial Cabl...
- 09/15/16--05:53: _C.S.Mackay Bennett ...
- 09/16/16--05:35: _Newcomen Telegraphy...
- 09/23/16--02:39: _John Pender - The C...
- 10/04/16--02:52: _What has happened t...
- 10/06/16--08:03: _Telcon and the 1851...
- 10/07/16--06:30: _Greenwich Industria...
- 10/08/16--04:57: _Company Magazines
- 05/26/16--03:40: Young George Landmann visits Upper Brook Street
- 06/04/16--04:55: Greenwich Industrial History News
- 06/13/16--02:12: News and notes from Greenwich Industrial History
- 07/30/16--11:44: George Landmann - wild beasts and savages in Barking
- 08/01/16--09:32: Something personal - a prize trip up the river in 1914
- 08/22/16--05:41: Developers and listings, even in the posh bit of Greenwich
- 09/05/16--03:33: September - news and so on
- 09/15/16--04:12: MORE NEWS ITEMS - lots of exhibitions and stuff
- 09/15/16--05:13: The Commercial Cable Company's Maintenance Cableship
- 09/15/16--05:53: C.S.Mackay Bennett - cable ship recovering bodies from the Titanic
- 09/16/16--05:35: Newcomen Telegraphy Conference
- 09/23/16--02:39: John Pender - The Cable King
- 10/04/16--02:52: What has happened to Bendish Marsh??
- 10/06/16--08:03: Telcon and the 1851 Great Exhibition
- 10/07/16--06:30: Greenwich Industrial History News
- 11th October 2016 Terry Powley. Society's Changing Perceptions of Youth in the Twentieth Century
- 10/08/16--04:57: Company Magazines
The next episode in George Landmann's childhood memories involve a visit with his mother and sister to "Mrs Burton, 21 Upper Brook Street".
Upper Brook Street is, of course, an upmarket address and no. 21 is very much still there, and now a listed building - as is no 20, next door. In fact I think George was wrong and that Mrs. Burton actually lived in No.20 - which is, if anything rather grander than 21. The Mrs. Burton who lived there had been Marguerite Lydius from an upmarket French Canadian and New York background - which may have some relevance to Landmann's later Canadian adventures. He says she was a widow with one child, a daughter. She was the widow of Ralph Burton, a career soldier who had seen service in the Americas, particularly in Canada and shortly before his death been elected to Parliament. He had in fact left two children, something which Landmann may not have known or remembered.
Landmann describes at length the dining habits there of a M.Tremble,a Frenchman - but of more interest to us is his meeting there with the Chevalier D'Eon. There have been many, many books and articles written about the cross-dressing Chevalier. Very briefly he/she had had a military career in France but was predominately a spy and a leading member of 'The King's Secret' working for Louis XV and also undertook major negotiations on behalf of the French Government. He is someone who it might be thought almost anything might be true - in particular the reasons why, in the late 1780s, he was living in London dressed as a woman.
I also think that the Chevalier's adventures in the French military and espionage services may have some connections to the background of George's father Isaac Landmann, since there seem to be some co-incidences of place and contacts.
George - who was then nine years old - described the Chevalier's dress in a great deal of detail - 'black silk gown .....puffed-up muslin kerchief ....muslin cap with broad muslin frill' and wearing the Cross of St. Louis (as shown in most portraits of the Chevalier). However he adds that the Chevalier's 'voice was gruff and strong as that of a grenadier .....every appearance of a man in a woman's apparel'. This bears out some of the something noticed by recent commentators on the Chevalier - one article about a recently discovered portrait points out that despite the women's clothing, a great deal of stubble is shown on the chin!
After dinner at Mrs. Burton's, the ladies the retired, and the Chevalier remarked that it was good they had gone because now 'we may enjoy a little rational conversation'. The rest of the evening was spent discussing the 'art of war'. I think this discussion was in French - which shows that young George was not only allowed to stay up and listen to the Chevalier, but that he already spoke at least two languages.
He goes on to talk about the Chevalier's sword fight with St. George. This was a famous event held at Carlton House in front of the Prince of Wales and was painted by Robineau
St.George is another person who has been the subject of extensive research and writings. He was a virtuoso musician from a slave background in Guadeloupe and educated in France. He was 'celebrated' - as Landmann says - 'as the most expert swordsman of his day'. Landmann also mentions in passing that he was 'a man of colour' (a phrase which, to my mind, could mean a number of things some unconnected to his racial background -ie 'called to the colours' was sometimes used to mean joining the army).
St.George later came to dinner with the Landmann's in Woolwich where he met a party of artillery officers and M. Mollard - Charles Lewis Mollard, the French fencing master at the Royal Military Academy. Mollard is described by Landmann as a 'coarse vulgar fellow ... educated among the gendarmerie of Paris'. Inevitably the party went into the garden for a 'carte a tierce' between Mollard and St. George. This proceeded with Mollard being completely trounced - which he refused to believe or accept. St. George then undertook a great feat of agility and skill which 'drew forth loud and reiterated applauds from all the company'. Mollard then lost his temper and the proceedings were brought to a close.
Finally, from Brook Street, young George was taken to 'Astley's Amphitheatre of Equestrian Arts' which was just south of Westminster Bridge and where demonstrations of virtuoso riding skills were performed. It has later been known as 'Astley's Circus' - although this is not a name Astley himself used.
He describes how he saw 'the old original Astley .. mounted on the identical white horse which Lord Heathfield habitually rode at Gibraltar during the siege ... his Lordship made a present of him to Mr. Astley'. I am not at all sure what George meant by 'identical white horse' - since if it was the actual horse which was presented by the regiment to Astley in 1766 - and which went on to be a star performer with Astley, it must have been a rather old by the time George got to see it. Also it was unlikely to have been anywhere near the siege of Gibraltar itself since that was not until 1779. However, I am sure the story was all good for show biz. At the end of the show a blaze of fireworks spelt out 'God Save the King'.
So - the above has been a couple more pages of George Landmann's childhood memories, albeit they are sometimes a bit imperfect. He was a privileged child who met interesting and prominent people in circumstances where other children might have been sheltered. The people he met were from an overwhelmingly military background - but one which was intellectual, cosmopolitan and more than a bit eccentric.
British History online. Upper Brook Street. Web site
Landmann. Adventures and Recollections.
The Guardian. Arts Website
Wikipedia, as convenient (including biographical articles on D'Eon, St.George and Philip Astley)
There are also on line some interesting biographies of Philip Astley, about his military career under Heathfield and his later use of Gibralter to publicise his shows.
Lots of bits and pieces this time - although much of it isn't entirely about Greenwich -
Watchers of the Greenwich riverside path should note that more industrial relics have gone in east Greenwich - the whole of the Pipers/Badocks/Providence site has been cleared and razed - it was never easy to see what was there because of the hostility of the occupants but what has definitely gone is the old house (used as offices until recently), the random stone wall with 'Piper's' name in the stonework, and the ramp in the area used by the Board of Works - and I guess much else that it was never possible to see.
Worse still the interesting stretch of foreshore down river of the site has been cleared and very largely destroyed - this includes barge stands and at least one barge mast - and it would be good to know if they have been kept by someone or, were they just junked?? and what about the wildlife which was there??
ENDERBY GROUP - will be at the Ballast Quay Garden at the Open Gardens weekend 18th and 19th June. They hope to offer riverside walks, and to be joined by the very wonderful Nicola Mudlark - as well as the beautiful garden, the river, and the recently identified East Greenwich Pier remains.
TIDAL THAMES NEWSLETTER
- this comes by email - and we recommend everyone to subscribe to this and to read it. Its all about the River
This month leads with "Cruise Ship Chistening - A New Thames Record". This is of course the naming of cruise ship Viking Sea in Greenwich. While 'Tidal Thames' gives details of the ceremony at Cutty Sark - they also give details of the pilot - Stuart Hay - and the trials on board of Portable Pilot. (they do however miss the irony of the Vikings coming to the area where they once murdered an archbishop!!)
The Newsletter also includes a story of a little dog called Russell who fell in the river and was rescued at the Barrier by a PLA boat. Lucky Russell, lucky he was spotted.
Finally - there are a couple of court cases resulting from collisions on the river off the Peninsula. I think this is about some of these speed boats which dash up and down the river with passengers - fined for navigating against the international collision regulations. Oh dear.
SOUTH LONDON ENGINEER - A NEW BOOK
One of the most important engineers to be based in South London - well, Southwark, at the Blue - was Brian Donkin. The last GIHS talk was given by Brian Strong who mentioned some of Donkin's work here in Greenwich on the East Greenwich tide mill - and there was much more. A biography has just been published by Maureen Greenland, 'Brian Donkin. The very Civil Engineer 1768-1855' published by B.D.Book Associates, 76-78 Cartledge Lane, Holmesfield, Derebyshire, S18 7SB. Please email us for a copy of the order form.
They are advertising as GLIAS events:
2nd July Railways and Buildings of Woolwich Royal Arsenal and Dockyard.
(as ever you can't just turn up - you have to email firstname.lastname@example.org and book a place)
The newsletter also mentions Deptford Working Histories - and urges people to get in touch with them email@example.com (hopefully more on that later)
Surviving London Gasholders - GLIAS notes that East Greenwich holder is still there!!
We have also had a copy of London's Industrial Archaeology, This includes two articles about Crossness - David Dawson on 'The other steam engines at Crossness and the work they did' and Owen Ward on 'The Native Guano Company at Crossness'.
Hopefully more details later - and if anyone wants to send a review, happy to put it here.
WOODLANDS FARM NEWSLETTER
The Farm is now 20 years old and are looking for memorabilia. Please let them know if you have anything. The Farm did include a, sort of non-agricultural, site in the abbatoir and many years ago we published an article about the police raid there in the 1980s. And one of our first speakers was Dave Vaughan on how the farm was set up.
contact them www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org
SOCIALIST OPPOSITION TO WORLD WAR ONE
We have been given the text of a talk at St.George's Church by Prof Mary Davis This has come from the Marx Memorial Library - and although the text doesn't mention Greenwich - or more specifically Woolwich, it should be encouraged to do so. Again - please get in touch if you are St.George's Church - or can give us any info we can publish, or listen to. Thanks,
INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY NEWS
This national newsletter rarely mentions London - but the current issue has another note about the Enderby Group and their work on the wharf and global telecoms. This includes a quotation from Barratts which says they are 'continuing discussions with local interest groups' - and it would be of interest to know who these groups are!!
DOCKLANDS HISTORY GROUP
Their AGM is on 6th July Museum of London Docklands 6 pm and it will be followed by a talk on the River Thames Society.
7th September - they have a talk on London firefloat Massey Shaw
5th October talk on Barge Carrier Systems
2nd November Chris Ellmers on Industrial Discontent in the Thames Shipyards
7th December - Discovering a Lost Thames Pierhead Painter.
We note that they recently had a substitute speaker in the PLA's Environment person - and we have been endeavouring to contact her to come and see us.
GREENWICH SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
They have noted a plaque outside the Tesco in Trafalgar Road saying it was the terminus for the London Tramway Co.Ltd. - would like to know more about this. There is a lot of tramway memorabilia around Greenwich and Charlton, but this is fairly obscure. And it is also usually impossible to get plaques up for things - like the first power station in the world or like the major marine engine manufacturer in the world or like the major fire engine manufacturer in the world, for instance.
Can whoever is responsible for the plaque contact us - and - as ever - write something we cab publish here, or come and speak to us at a meeting.
Planning matters which they list include 110-114 Norman Road with no mention if its industrial past (info please??) and likewise the long article on Hope Wharf.
IRIS WRITES AGAIN
- this is not to do with Greenwich or industry but her fans might like to know that Iris Bryce has produced a book on her life living on a canal boat - 'Canals are my World' Enquiries to www.canalbookshop.co.uk. Iris has written extensively in the past about her life living and working in Greenwich and Woolwich in the 1950s and her husband, Owen - who died recently - more or less invented popular jazz in Britain in the 1940s. We recently visited the Southend Museum where a room is dedicated to him.
MORE ABOUT GASHOLDERS
There has been a long trail of international visitors visiting and coming to see as many British gasholders as possible before they all go. Must mention in particular the curator of the gasworks museum in Augsburg. We have leaflets and pictures if anyone is interested in seeing more. I can't find an excuse for putting them here.
AND - We have been sent a whole lot of new publicity material by Crossness Engines. Its all very very impressive.
For Prince Consort in Steam - 19th June, 24th July, 4th September, 9th October (£8 adults)
Prince Consort not in Steam - 5th June, 3rd July, 14th August, 23rd October (£6 adults)
They are urging all our members to go and see how well they doing and moving forward.
News and notes from Greenwich Industrial History
(well some of it is about Lewisham)
TUESDAY 14th JUNE
Ian Bull speaks on The Arsenal - Then and Now.
Age Exchange Bakehouse - 7.30 - All Welcome
WOOLWICH ANTIQUARIANS NEWSLETTER
This month they are featuring Conservation News - and all the planning applications and cases in Woolwich which they deal with and take up with the Council planners. They explain that they work with other groups in Greenwich on this - the Greenwich Conservation Group is made up of representatives from all the local amenity societies and many resident's groups.
Cases they have recently taken up include the Love Lane development and their concerns about remains of the old Post Office which was demolished on the site. They have objected to 11 storey blocks being built near John Wilson Street (apparently the site is called Thomas Street but they say this is a confusing description). They have looked at plans to replace the Albion Pub - and issues around the conversion of a house in Crescent Road
I would love to give a contact for WADAS but there is no web address given on their newsletter - or indeed emails for the officers, and I don't really want to put people's home addresses here. I can try and forward anything to them if anyone sends comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
They then list 'Woolwich Worthies' deserving of blue plaques in Woolwich - and give details - these include Flinders Petrie, archaeologist, Sylvia Syms, actress, General Gordon, Tom Cribb, boxer, William Vincent, historian, Samuel Pepys, Frank Elliston Erwood, histrorian, The Pioneer Bookshop, Fred Leslie, actor, Joseph Grimaldi, clown, Tom Paine, Boy George, Women workers in the Arsenal.
There must be far more very worthy of a blue plaque - the many distinguished scientists at the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Arsenal, for a start. Some years ago I was asked to help get a plaque to Sir John Anderson in Victoria Way (failed that one!) and also in Victoria Way, that I know of was Inspector of Explosives Vivian Majendie.
WADAS Newsletter gives - as ever - some meetings of other organisations. One of them is the Welling and District Model Engineering Society who have run their little railway just inside the Greenwich border for many years. I recently complained that I had walked round and round their site and never found out how to get in, and was severely told off for saying that. It is behind the big electricity sub station on the old A2 near Falconwood Station. They are open 19th June, 2nd,7th and 31st July, 14th and 28th August, 11th and 25th September and 9th October. 2-5 pm
PREFAB MUSEUM - Elisabeth writes that they have free training places and volunteering opportunities. This is about collecting stories, recording memories and photographs about prefabs. They intend to set up a national archive with an interactive map.
Contact Jane or Elisabeth email@example.com They have a preliminary meeting on the Isle of Dogs on 20th August.
CHARLTON RIVERSIDE - the idea of a history of Charlton Riverside has been floating around in a few quarters. We also understand that a group is being set up to look at Charlton Village - don't let the riverside be neglected, particularly in view of the fact that it is Greenwich's next big regeneration area. Please get in touch if you can help or are interested firstname.lastname@example.org
SURREY CANAL TOWPATH - We understand that a Deptford based group are looking at the towpath of the old Surrey Canal. Please get in touch if you can help or are interested email@example.com
Note from British Transport Treasures -please look at http://www.britishtransporttreasures.com/product/shipbuilding-in-rotherhithe-bull-head-dock-to-the-pageants-part-i-to-part-4-ebooks/ - this takes you to an ad, for some of Stuart Ratcliffe's excellent books on Shipbuilding in Rotherhithe.
Sorry about the time lapse again - down in Ramsgate and then a whole week transfixed by Twitter
below are various requests for comments and help. Reply if you want to firstname.lastname@example.org
-any way - are you free Tuesday lunchtime??
FOGWOFT AND RBG
The Royal Borough of Greenwich will unveil a new interpretive plaque outside the Greenwich Foot Tunnel at 12 noon, Tuesday, 5 July. Deputy Leader Cllr. Danny Thorpe will lead the short ceremony.
More news on the new book about Brian Donkin and the East Greenwich tide mill to come
George Landmann's autobiography continues to ramble on through his childhood - with memories of Woolwich in the late 18th century and many posh visitors to the Royal Military Academy (then still located on what we know as the Arsenal site).There are also some insights to research and development in the Arsenal itself - and some thoughts, from me, that today Woolwich is never considered as having a role in the 'industrial revolution' .... but ...
He says of Woolwich around 1780 - "of the inhabitants though there were several very respectable - but only three kept carriages'
The first of the three he lists is Squire Martin, an 'opulent and independent farmer'. I am unable to find any reference to a Squire Martin in the Woolwich area and would be keen to hear from anyone who knows who he might be - George's idea of the Woolwich boundaries tend to be a bit vague!
He then lists 'Squire Bowater' who is much clearer, and the Bowater family are well documented and owned huge areas in the western part of Woolwich. There is also however a bit of a problem. If we take it that George's memories are of his childhood - say 1780-1790 - then the inheritor of the Bowater estate, John, was in Europe avoiding those looking to recover vast debts from him, having fled the country in 1778. There also seems to have been a certain amount of scandal attached to his marriage. Although, I suppose, young George would not have known about all this.
His final resident who he says 'kept a carriage' is a 'Mr.Whitman who built a house on the northern declivity of Shooters Hill". Mr. Whitman is also obscure - or at least he is not mentioned by Survey of Woolwich. George adds the further information that the house was later owned by "General Cuppage" . I was very disinclined to believe that anyone of such a strange name existed but it turns out that following a distinguished career the General settled in Shooters Hill. His obtituary fails to give his given name, but he was Irish from a family with close ties to Edmund Burke and coming to England he had been educated at the Royal Military Academy. His Shooters Hill house is said to have extended considerable hospitality to 'educated and scientific men'. George says it was 'in front of a piece of water which owing to its peculiar position on the side of the hill appears to be out of level'. Once again I would welcome suggestions about both the house and the water.
George's account of Woolwich then drifts off to a long description of the dissolute life of a Royal Artillery Lnt Sutton. A Captain Thomas Sutton was Assistant Firemaster at the Royal Laboratory and lived near the RMA building when George was a child - and this just might be the same person. George remembers someone with many social contacts, including with 'Lord Eardley of Belvedere'. This is all very interesting although I would point out that Samson Gideon was not created Baron Eardley until 1789, but George's account is, of course, retrospective.
The next couple of pages concern the visit to Woolwicj of 'Madame la Princess de Lamballe' - Marie Louise de Savoy, the intimate friend of Marie Antoinette. . She was incredibly grand with - "a train full five yards long...borne by a young black page .... her hair dressed to rise very high ... a pink silk hat with many ostrich feathers'. She received an equally impressive welcome 'nearly two thousand men of the Royal Artillery ... accoutred as troops of the line .. to man six pieces of artillery .. a salute of nineteen guns' - although George does admit that they had to scratch round a bit to get the two thousand together and some came from Chatham and 'distant parts'. Having read George's account of this grand lady it is actually really disturbing to learn of her end - raped, guillotined, mutilated, her head paraded around Paris on a pike.
The Princess's visit to Woolwich apparently ended with a visit to the Landmann's where she spoke, in French, to George's father Isaac, and ate lunch prepared by his mother. George and his sister were presented to her and she gave him her 'bonbonniere'. This seems to me remarkable - why did she not get dinner from the top officers at Woolwich? It raises again the question of who exactly Isaac Landmann was, what was his past in France? Why had he come to England?
George then moved on to the more workaday aspects of life in the RMA and devotes a couple of pages to the work of Sergeant Bell concentrating on the Sergeant's suggestions for raising the Royal George wrecked at Portsmouth. John Bell was indeed based at Woolwich - and had actually witnessed the wreck of the Royal George. His ideas for raising the ship were demonstrated - as George Landmann relates - in front of a distinguished audience but were not carried out. The Royal George was eventually raised in 1839, using the method suggested by John Bell, by the distinguished Royal Engineer, Pasley. Landmann describes other devices invented by Bell, as does Bell's entry in DNB. He is one of the many people in this period who developed new methods of working - but not one of the ones which will get mentioned in accounts of 'great inventors' or the 'industrial revolution'.
It might be interesting to note the bigwigs who came to see Bell's underwater explosive experiments -
The Duke of Richmond (Master General of the Ordinance - Charles Lennox, distinguished soldier and politician. Ambassador and Privy Councillor - as a sideline he developed Goodwood racecourse),
General Sir W. Green (Chief Royal Engineer. William Green distinguished military innovator, particularly in Gibralter - who later lived in Plumstead)
Col.Morse (Royal Engineer - Robert Morse, who succeeded Green as Chief Royal Engineer)
Major Blomfield, (Thomas Blomfield, Inspector of Artillery, innovator, administrator and much else)
Captain Fage (Royal Artillery - Edward Fage eventually Major General "in his Majesty's Army of Greenwich')
Dr. Masculine (Astronomer Royal)
I am only listing these down because they were the people who came to watch experiments carried out by a non-commissioned officer in Woolwich in the late 18th century. They all have important titles but also all of them were innovators aware of the technical advances being made around them and working on how they could be exploited. An important title sometimes hides a relatively humble background. In the same way technical advances among the military may be transferred to civilian industries but this is rarely noted. Keep in mind that work in Woolwich among these early engineers and artillerymen is a key part of industrial expansion in the 18th and early 19th century. When people talk about the 'industrial revolution' they won't even think about the military input, and they certainly won't even consider Woolwich - perhaps they need to be informed.
Thanks to George Landmann then - and next he goes to school in Greenwich
English Heritage. Survey of Woolwich,.
Landmann, Adventures and Recollections
United Service Journal. Web site
Wikipedia. As appropriate.
George starts school - and sees - well mounted gentlemen muggers.
In 1789 the Landmann family left their house at the back of the Royal Military Academy and moved to Greenwich - or, as George says, Blackheath. This house was somewhere in the area which is now Westgrove Lane, but which house is not clear..
George was sent to school 'of which the Rev. Dr. Egan was the master'. James Egan had apparently taken over 'The Royal Park Academy' from his father in law, Dr. Bakewell. Egan was interested in methods of teaching languages and encouraged boys to speak either Latin or French only in school but to do so in a way that 'divests instruction of harshness'. It should be noted that as an adult George Landmann spoke several languages fluently.
George says that the school was 'close to the new church, at the corner of King Street, and is now converted into tea gardens' - somewhere near the park gate at the top end of King William Street. George's 'new church' being St.Mary's which stood on the site now taken by William IV's enormous statue.
Having moved to Greenwich and enrolled at school George then launches into a series of descriptions of muggings on Blackheath - some of which he appears to have witnessed.
1.He describes walking one Sunday afternoon on Chesterfield Walk at a time when many people are having an after dinner stroll. Suddenly everyone turns towards The Green Man - then at the top of Blackheath Hill. They point to a horseman speeding down the hill 'leading to the lime kilns' - exclaiming 'there .. there.. do you see him'. It turns out that the inhabitant of one of the big houses alongside the park had been sitting on his garden wall reading a book when a 'gentleman mounted on a handsome horse' came up to him in a friendly sort of way. When he got close 'the gentleman' whipped out a pistol threatening 'with the unpleasant necessity of scattering his brains amongst the rose bushes'. The victim handed over his valuable at once and the assailant galloped off.
2. A few moments later a 'post chaise with two gentlemen, a lady and a manservant' arrived to say they had been robbed 'near the Rising Sun, by four armed men on foot'.
3. A few days later Paul Sandby arrived on the Landmann's doorstep - Sandby is of course the famous artist who was drawing master at the Royal Military Academy. He had with him his very distressed daughter and had brought her to the Landmann's house to enable her to recover quietly. They had had their watches stolen by a robber by the corner of Greenwich Park - 'at one o'clock in the daytime'.
4. Then - Major and Lady Emily Macleod were crossing Woolwich Common 'along the deep ditch' - by which I assume George means the ha ha in Ha Ha Road. 'A well mounted highwayman commanded the driver to stop or have his brains blown out'. The muzzle of his pistol was thrust into Lady Emily's face. The Major however picked up a bottle of Cologne and pushed it into the robber's face 'declaring in a voice of thunder that he would instantly shoot him'. The robber ran off!!
- George does comment however that although there were lots of robberies 'particularly on the Lower Road' that there were very few murders.
5. Major Patterson of the Artillery ' a very rough muscular man' found it necessary while at a review of troops on Blackheath to take himself to a quiet corner and remove one of his boots. The robber who found him was 'well dressed, also well mounted' - and having removed Major Patterson's valuables galloped to the other side of the field to mingle with the crowd, secure from detection.
6. Once a month cash was sent to the army at Woolwich,. for whatever. This could be two or three thousand pounds and came in a post chaise with a pay clerk. To cross Blackheath it was escorted by six artillery men plus a non-commissioned officer. The officer took up the rear and the soldiers went on either side with fixed bayonets and loaded muskets.
Note - that the robbers always have very very posh horses. No doubt they could afford them.
On the way there they encountered the 'smoking ruins' of Richmond House and a 'dense mob' out to watch the fire.We can thus date this visit to December 1791 which is when the second Richmond House was gutted by fire. The house had been the London residence of the Dukes of Richmond, and had been adjacent to the old royal palace of Whitehall. The original Richmond House of about 1660 had been replaced in 1733-4 by a new house built to the designs of Lord Burlington.
They eventually reached Exeter Exchange. This had been built in 1676, on the site of the demolished Exeter House, London home of the Earls of Exeter, opposite the today's Savoy Hotel. It originally housed small shops but George comments 'it was gloomy dirty and badly paved'. From 1773, the upstairs rooms were let s a menagerie which included lions, tigers,monkeys, and other exotic species, all confined in iron cages in small rooms. It is this that young George was keen to see. What happened next concerned George's hairstyle and a lot of commotion - read his account and wonder! (health and safety again!)
George then - briskly as ever changing subject - begins to talk about balloon flights by the famous Italian aeronaut (and publicist), Lunardi. Lunardi took off for many of his flights from the Artillery Ground in Moorfields - and I am therefore a bit suspicious of a number of web sites which say he left from the Royal Artillery grounds in Woolwich (have they got the right bit of artillery there??). George does not mention these take offs but does say he saw Lunardi's balloon pass over Woolwich and land in Barking. I am going to quote, more or less verbatim, what George says and you can judge for yourselves
"The people of Barking were regarded by the Woolwichers as a set of barbarians .. and it was commonly believed .. that the air of Barking was so insalubrious to women that no female could survive a year's residence there"
Lunardi was rescued from the clutches of Barking people by 'officers of the Artillery' and taken to dine in the mess.
hope GIHS and its readers will indulge me in something personal. I am justifying it with some pictures of the working Thames before the Great War..... but otherwise .....
In 1914 my Dad would have been six and attending Wrotham Road School in Gravesend - its still there. He won a prize that year 'for reading' - a book presented by Mrs. Huggins - who I assume was the Lady Mayoress of the day.
The book he won is now falling to bits - 'Our Holiday on a barge' by Alice Talwin Morris. I am not quite sure what Gravesend Education Committee thought a working class six year old would make of this story of a very middle class family holiday - but now, nearly 100 years later I am beginning to appreciate it.
The story goes that the children - four of them, on the Swallows and Amazons model - want an outdoor holiday, so Father's nice boss, arranges for them all to go on one of the Company's barges, with his teenage son Archie - who also wants an outdoor life. The barge is all fitted up and off they go. The book sort of suggests they go off into deepest countryside but, as Father commutes every day from his City job I would think its just a bit upriver of Windsor.
What I really love about the book are the illustrations. I love the period feel of them, and in particular the clothes - the girls in black stockings, long sleeved sweaters and their hair tied back. Sunny hats. Father in his long raincoat, cap and stockings. And Mother with long belted skirt, and three quarter length coat - ever so fetching. Archie wears white trousers - even lying on the grass, and on the boat. I like the flatness of the drawings. They are also not drawings which are 'childish' they are real life drawings, with no attempt to talk down to a young audience.
The book doesn't say who the artist is but it must have been Alice herself. There isn't much about her on the net - but there is quite a bit about her husband, Talwin Morris. He was art editor for the publisher Blackie and an important innovator in book design. Living in Glasgow they were deeply involved with Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art,. He died only in his early 40s and Alice lived on publishing several children's books - all now going for vast prices on Amazon (but my copy is very very tatty).
Hope you like the selection of pictures
This post includes stuff that has come in over the past couple of weeks. August is usually a slack month - but there has just been a sudden rush!!
(sorry about some of the strange variations in type - have wasted 2 hours trying to sort)
New Plaque for Greenwich Foot Tunnel
On 5 July 2016 FOGWOFT members turned up at Cutty Sark Gardens to celebrate the unveiling of an interpretive plaque for the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. They were joined by a representative of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The ceremony was led by Deputy Leader Cllr. Danny Thorpe, whose staff had designed and commissioned the plaque. It will do a great job in explaining the history and original reasons for the historic foot tunnel. It may even answer the common visitor questions of whether this is a public lavatory or the Greenwich Observatory! It is the latest in a series of projects by the Royal Borough to enhance users experience of the tunnel. FOGWOFThave been closely consulted about all three projects. Since the completion of the major refurbishment scheme in 2014, it would have been easy for the Borough to lose sight of the importance of this working heritage. It is to their credit that they have not; and fogwoft will continue to support innovative actions that improve both tunnels.
FOGWOFT has also been involved in the new electronic system in the tunnels to keep cyclists in order - more news soon
- We also note that the recent BBC thriller 'The Secret Agent' had its final scene down it the tunnel. Fame at last!!
This issue starts with the exciting headline "The Great Stink Exhibition and the start of the Transformation of Crossness into a more formal museum" and continues " The Boiler House has been totally transformed with the introduction of the new National Lottery funded Great Stink exhibition. The exhibition tells the story of why Crossness and the London sewer system was built and the prevention of the spread of Cholera. It also depicts how Crossness was built and comes right up to date with the new Thames Water Treatment Plant" - this apparently includes murals on the walls of the cafe and toilets, a display of old toilets and a new mock sewer tunnel with 'visual and sound effects'.
They also have pictures of their transformed garden - plus a swan and a pheasant who ' struts around .. as if he owns the place'.
More seriously there is an article about Easton and Anderson (based in Southwark and then Erith) and their links to construction and equipment at Crossness.
Open days are all 10-30 am to 5 pm
Prince Consort under steam - 4th September, 9th October
Just open, no steam - 14th August, 23rd October
CET tours - 26th August, 23rd September,. book these two www.eventbrite.co.uk
see more (and all the pictures) at www.crossness.org.uk
We have a note from Historic England to say that archaeological work is to start on two sites - one Re: 278-65 Greenwich Wharf: 14/0460/F -Phase 2 (LAG/011/278), and the other
Alcatel Lucent Telegraph works (LAG/011/489) CLO12333 .
In both cases they have sent us pdfs of the desk stop study and work programme -
please get onto us if you are interested.
The Enderby Group is keeping an eye on the Alcatel site study
but the Pipers Wharf site is the more worrying. The site has been
completely cleared of many items of great interest before work has
started and the archaeologists pre-report seems totally unaware
of the various works and wharves which were once on the site.
undertaking a footfall survey on the riverside path - which has
sadly been cut short by the sudden closure of the path round
Pipers Wharf. They have also been preparing their own vision
document for the future of the area. And challenging the listing
designation of Enderby House. More on all of this to come.
Treasures (thank you Stuart)
their summer newsletter includes some details from the
Community archaeological dig on the Old Keeper's Cottage.
Included is a note from Brian Starkey
about the occupants of the cottage in the mid 19th century.
One of them was an important Fellow of the Society of
Old Loyal Britons in Thames Street.
on the foreshore OF the University site.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel with a nice picture.
Otherwise - nothing about Greenwich and Woolwich!
The following meetings are noted:
GLIAS WALK - this is round Erith and led by Andrew Turner.
1st October,. to book a place email email@example.com
Horseshoe, Clerkenwell Close, at 6.30
They are happy to have audience contributions -
bring your own memory stick, preferably Power Point
and Film Censorship
Bromley Local History Society. Trinity Reformed Church,
Freelands Road, Bromley 7.45
The main article in their current newsletter is about the
Greenwich Heritage Centre's events around nursing
in the Great War.
They mention conservation cases current in Woolwich -
the Granada Cinema and the Guard House.
There is a feature on Gilbert's Pit and the new stairway
access to it. Visits via firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of
the London Geodiversity Partnership. It was used as a
source of sand for local glassworks and the Arsenal.
The Antiquarians also have a nice obituary to Barbara Ludlow.
Meetings: 2 pm for 2.15 pm Charlton House,
13 May The Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr at Lesnes,
Vincent Memorial Lecture Jim Marrett
Sundays, 2 – 5 pm 14,28 Aug 11,25 Sept 9 Oct.
me if someone could arrange a walk for them round the
military and naval sites in Woolwich - now, that seemed
a tall order and at first it seemed that if you wanted a
THOROUGH look at Woolwich you had better book a
week - because it would take three days minimum
round the more easily reached bits and there is a terrific
write up in their newsletter. I am very tempted to quote much
of it - but - roughly - they saw - 'railway subway ... quite
an impressive structure' ....... 'impressive brick built
chimney'..... 'steam factory .. wonderful example'....
'boat store .. utmost importance' ..... 'Clockhouse ...
impressive looking building' ....'impressive columns of
the main gate' ....'many buildings of historical interest'
'Dial Arch for lunch' ...'Royal Brass Foundry ..
unusual and well looked after' ...'all very
thank you to Ian.
Industrial Archaeology. This is really more about the
provinces -not London - but there are a series of articles
in the current issue about the challenges which local
societies meet as well as meetings with Members of
Parliament - happy to pass on to any one
Along with the GLIAS newsletter they feature the
Kirkaldy Testing Museum in Southwark Street, SE1 -
and if you haven't been there yet - go at once. Its about
FACTS not OPINIONS.
Carr has provided his usual article on London's
industrial history -but sadly nothing about Greenwich
seminar - happy to copy and pass onto to anyone
I am not going to reproduce their list of meetings -
but happy to send to anyone interested in IA
fails after 133 yrs' - hope the time ball is sorted by the time
I am writing this. There is a whole page about the inauguration
of the foot tunnel plaque -and thanks very much GV for that!!!
attraction in Greenwich - the Aviation Experience
which is down at the cable car
(which of course pretends to be an airline).
@Gashistory Once the largest #gasholder in the world @ #Greenwich 1904
#Advert for Clayton Son & Co."
so - this is a lot longer than I thought - must get some lunch -
sorry if its a bit strange, I had a lot of problems with word-wrap - which has led to me having to put in manual line breaks - but also with fonts and type sizes. I have typed some of this four times and it is still not consistent
Mary for GIHS
Readers will remember that about a year ago we published a plea from some West Greenwich residents about an old industrial building in the posh bit of Greenwich which developers wanted to demolish. http://greenwichindustrialhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/greenwich-dairy-request-for-help.html
The building was subsequently listed and everyone (except, obviously, the developer) was happy.
Amazingly, now, only a year later it has been delisted and there is a planning application for it awaiting approval.
It appears that the developers requested a reivew of the decision - and that at least one local organisation was told about this. We do not know if the people who originally campaigned were involved and we understand they may be on holiday - we would of course love to hear from them. It then appears that the Secretary of State decided to overturn the listing decision. There is a long statement about parts of the building which have been reviewed.
Comments on this very welcome
First of all he says
Really - does anyone know anything about this??? Sounds really interesting.
and also Norman says:
Lots of news from the Lenox Project - to build a 17th century warship in Deptford
(who seem to have me down as a VIP supporter)
17th and 19th September they are hosting a London Open House event at the Master Shipwright's House in Deptford. This is where John Shish who built Lenox would have lived. They also say Richard Endsor - historian and Lenox expert - will be talking.
Both the Lenox and the Shipwrights House are MUST SEE
(entrance via large metal gates at the end of Watergate Street)
They also advertise their merchandise, nifty teeshirts, tea towels and the like. Details on their website http://www.buildthelenox.org/
In the same album are many industrial history photos: Deptford Wharf railway, Angerstein Railway and Wharf, the old railway bridge across Deptford Creek which took a gang of men to open, Tudor wells on the site of John Humphries House and many more. The photos are poor quality but are all dated and annotated and are rare views.
http://atlantic-cable.com//CableCos/CCC-Teleg/index.htm#mackay "Here's an 1886 report on the ship"
and from Alan
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01n8f5d/clydebuilt-the-ships-that-made-the-commonwealth-2-the-cs-mackaybennett > Excellent programme available on iPlayer at the moment about a late 19th century cable ship and its role in recovering bodies from the Titanic disaster. Lots about the early history of subsea telegraphy and how they did it
complimentary articles on these issues by Stewart Ash are going to follow forthwith in several new posts. Also the updated report on the telegraphy seminar will be back soon
This article first appeared in SubTel Forum Issue 72, September 2013
Over the last two additions I have written about some of the significant contributions of the Commercial Cable Company (CCC) to trans-Atlantic telegraphy. However, this was not the first time that the CCC has featured in Back Reflection. Some readers may remember that the role played by the CCC cableship Mackay-Bennett in the Titanic disaster in 1912, was described in Issue 61.
While researching the story of the Atlantic Price War, I came across a detailed description of the CS Mackay-Bennett in a book called 'Submarine Cable Laying and Repairing' written by H. D. Wilkinson and published as a second edition in 1908. It struck me that the description in Wilkinson's book would be very close to the arrangements of the vessel when she sailed on that fateful voyage, and that readers may be interested in the layout of a maintenance cable ship that was operating at the beginning of the 20th century, over 100 years ago. So here it is!
"The Cable Ship 'Mackay-Bennett.'- This steamer, owned by the Commercial Cable Company of New York, is employed in the maintenance of the Company's systems in the Atlantic and European waters. The three Atlantic cables of this Company from Ireland to Nova Scotia represent together 6,894 nautical miles (nm), the two from Nova Scotia to the States 1,352nm, and the two European cables connecting Ireland with England and France 839nm, or a total of 9,085nm. Other Atlantic maintenance vessels are the 'Minia', of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, and the 'Pouver- Ouertier', of the Compagnie Francatse. The 'Mackay-Bennett', launched in September, 1884, was built at Govan, on the Clyde, in the yard of Messrs. John Elder and Co, and measures 270ft. by 40ft., by 24ft 6ins by depth moulded. Her tonnage is 1,012.92 net registered and 1,700 gross registered.
Mr. G. H. Bambridge, to whose courtesy the writer is indebted for the accompanying details. In the design of this steamer special pains have been taken to give her good steering and manoeuvring qualities. In addition to the usual stern rudder, a second rudder is fixed at the bow inside the line of the stem, which can be worked by a hand-wheel. This very useful addition enables a course to be kept when going astern (frequently required in repair work), in easing strain on cable or in fetching or getting clear of a buoy or splice. Steam steering gear of Messrs. Muir and Caldwell's system is fitted in the wheel-house aft, and can be operated from either of two wheels, one amidships and one on the poop. A hand-wheel is also fitted aft as a stand-by, giving a third means of steering independent of steam. Her manoeuvring qualities are still further increased by the use of Brown's patent hydraulic reversing gear, previously referred to. As the Mackay-Bennett is a twin-screw steamer and Brown's reversing gear is fitted to each engine, there is not much time lost in turning her round either way. Bilge keels are also fitted which minimise the rolling in heavy weather. The engines are compound surface-condensing, with cylinders 2Sin. and SOin. diameter. On her trial trip a speed of 12.3 knots was attained, the engines developing 2,190 I.H.pl. The coalbunker capacity is 750 tons. Three cable tanks are fitted, having a total capacity to loading lines of 385nm or 710 tons of deep-sea cable, lin. in diameter. The fore tank, No. 1, is 20ft, No. 230ft and No. 328ft in diameter, and the mean diameters of the cones are respectively 6ft 2in, 7ft 2in and 6ft 2in The fore and aft tanks can be loaded to a height of 10ft., and the tank amidships to 14ft. At these heights the fore tank holds 60nm, the mid-ships 195nm, and the aft tank 130nm of the above type of cable. The tanks are all in connection with pumps in the engine-room, by means of which they can be flooded with water or discharged, as required. Steam cable gear capable of dealing with repairing work in the deepest waters of the Atlantic is fixed both forward and aft. That in the fore part of the ship, used chiefly for grappling and picking-up, has a single drum driven by a double- cylinder engine with inclined cylinders, fitted with clutch for single or double purchase, and a brake for paying-out with the engine thrown out of gear. The brake is controlled by a hand-wheel and screw. The aft gear is driven by a similar engine with clutch for throwing out of gear when paying- out with the brake. The bow and stern sheaves are fitted underneath the working deck or platform, as in the 'Faraday'. The testing room is situated underneath the forward part of the bridge. Lord Kelvin's sounding air-tube navigational machine and James's submarine sentry for indicating depths while in motion are carried, and the ship is also supplied with Messrs. Johnson and Philips' sounding machine for deep-sea work. For trimming purposes the Mackay-Bennett is built with a special cellular double bottom running the whole length of the vessel, which can be utilised for water ballast to the extent of 300 tons. The equipment of this handsome vessel is completed with an electric lighting plant consisting of two Siemens dynamos, each with a normal output of 90 amperes at 110 volts. These are driven by a pair of Tangye engines, the light being distributed throughout the ship, and night operations are facilitated by deck-light reflectors fitted with six and eight incandescent lamps."
I think readers can see that many things have changed in the design of cableships in the ensuing 129 years since the Mackay Bennett was launched; however, the basic layout remains very much the same and should be recognisable to those readers who are familiar with today's vessels. For any readers that are interested in finding out more about the history of cableships, I would recommend to you, the bible of this subject; 'Cableships and Submarine Cables' by K R Haigh; Second Edition published in 1978. It is a great pity that there has been no new reference book, on cableships, published over the last 35 years, since during that period many unique vessels have come and gone, and stern working only vessels have become the norm.
1 I.H.P = Indicated Horse Power
© Stewart Ash 2016
One hundred years ago, the 5.5. Titanic, , then the largest passenger ship in the world and owned by he White Star line, set out from Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York, on 10th April 1912. On board were 2,223 passengers and crew. As is well known, at 23:40 (local) on 14th April, she hit an iceberg and sank, going down at 02:20 (local) on the morning of is 15th April. 1,517 people lost their lives that day and it remains one of the worst marine disasters in peacetime. The high casualty rate was due in part to the fact that the ship only carried lifeboats for 1,178 people, which was entirely consistent with the regulations that were in force at the time. A high proportion of the victims were men, due to the 'women and children first' protocol that was enforced by the ship's crew in abandoning ship.
As this year is the centenary of this tragic event, much in the months to come, will be said, written, broadcast and televised describing various aspects of the story. Therefore, we thought we would take the opportunity, in the first issue of 2012, to cover the role that the submarine cable industry had to play in the aftermath of the disaster.
Even as the S.S. Carpathia was steaming back to New York with survivors from the Titanic, the White Star line was in the process of chartering the 1,700 ton, C.S. Mackay Bennett from the Commercial Cable Company to recover bodies from the Atlantic. The charter rate agreed was US$550 a day.
The Mackay Bennett was built by John Elder and Co. in Govan, Glasgow, in 1884. She was named after the two principle directors of the Commercial Cable Company; John W Mackay (1831-1902) and James Gordon Bennett Jr. (1841-1918), who was also proprietor of the New York Herald.
At the time, the Mackay Bennett was on station, alongside in Halifax, Nova Scotla. The cable in her tanks was quickly discharged to shore and replaced with ice. A number of embalmers, undertakers and a large quantity of coffins were embarked. All of the ship's crew volunteered for the harrowing task, and were paid double. The Mackay Bennett set sail, under the command of Captain Frederick Harold Larnder, on Wednesday 1 ih April. Time was of the essence for a number of reasons; firstly, if the floating bodies reached the Gulf Stream they would be distributed far and wide; secondly the probability that the bodies would be disfigured by wild life, making identification impossible, had to be taken into consideration and finally, the need of loved ones and families for closure was recognised.
The Mackay Bennett reached the disaster site on the evening of Saturday 20th April. It quickly became apparent that there too many floating bodies for the Mackay Bennett to cope with and a second vessel, the Anglo American Telegraph Company's CS Minia, was quickly chartered by the White Star Line.
The crew began recovery operations the next morning and, despite heavy swell, managed to recover 51 bodies, of these 26 were considered so badly disfigured as to make identification impossible. These were wrapped in canvas, weighed down with iron bars and committed to the deep in a burial ceremony that evening. The remainder were embalmed and placed in coffins.
On the 23rd April the Mackay Bennett rendezvoused with the SS Sardinian in order to take on more canvas for wrapping bodies. By Tuesday zs" April, the Mackay Bennett had recovered 306 bodies, of which 116 were buried at sea. Overwhelmed by the task they had undertaken, they headed back to Halifax with 190 bodies on board, roughly twice as many as the coffins they had taken. By this time, the C S Mania had arrived at the disaster site and continued to search, she recovered a further 17 bodies before she abandoned the search and returned to Halifax.
As the bodies had been taken aboard the Mackay Bennett, they were given a label with a number on it and any possessions discovered on the body were placed in a small bag with the same number. Despite the best efforts of the authorities in Halifax and the officials of the White Star Line, only 56 of the 190 bodies returned to Halifax by the Mackay Bennett were positively identified.
Arrangements were made for the bodies that could not be identified or, where relatives could not afford or did not want to repatriate them, to be buried in three of Halifax's cemeteries; the Baron de Hirsch; the Fairview Lawn and the Mount 0livet. About half of the 150 people buried in Halifax were never identified, so the top line of their headstones were left blank, with only the body number
engraved for reference and 'Died April 15, 1912'.
The crew of the Mackay Bennett had recovered the body of a small fair haired boy. There were no unique possessions on the body, so he remained unidentified. When people read about this, he became a symbol of the tragedy and the authorities in Halifax were overwhelmed with offers to
sponsor the toddler's funeral and pay for a headstone. The difficult task of selecting a sponsor was
made easier when Captain Larnder and the crew of the Mackay Bennett offered to sponsor the funeral. The boy's epitaph reads:'Erected to the Memory of an Unknown Child Whose Remains were Recovered after the Disaster of the Titanic, April 15, 1912'.
In November 2002, the American PBS television series 'Secrets of the Dead' initially identified the body as Eino Viljami Panula, a 13-month old Finnish baby, the identification being based on dental records. However, Canadian researchers discovered through a test on the child's HVS1, a type of mitochondrial DNA molecule, that this did not match the Panula family. DNA extracted from the exhumed remains and DNA provided by a surviving maternal relative helped positively match the remains and the re-identification was announced on 30 July 2007. The boy was Sidney Leslie Goodwin (1910 -1912) a 19 month old English boy, the youngest son of Frederick Joseph Goodwin and Augusta nee Tyler. The Goodwins were traveling to the USA to join Fredrick's brother Thomas. They had booked third class passage on a small steamer out of Southampton but, due to the coal strike, the voyage was cancelled and they had been transferred to the Titanic. Frederick had five other children, Lillian 16, Charles 14, William 11, Jessie 10 and Harold 9. Apart from Sidney, none of the family's remains have been identified, and it is probable that they are among the 1,188 bodies that were never recovered.
Captain Larnder was killed in action during the First World War, but the Mackay Bennett continued in service as a cable ship until 1922. She was then retired to Plymouth Sound where she was used as a cable storage hulk. During WWII she was sunk at her moorings but later re-floated and refitted. In September 1965 she was refitted and broken up.
Copyright Stewart Ash 2016
Several attempts were made to waterproof telegraph cables, for instance to link parts of cities across rivers, but none succeeded (rubber was a contender but still an inadequately understood material)
Gutta Percha was introduced to London in 1842. It is derived from the resin of SE Asian trees, where the inhabitants used it as an easily worked material, hard below about 65OC and waterproof. Its properties were soon found ideal for many purposes, and a large import trade developed. Faraday suggested it could be used to cover underground telegraph wires in areas of heavy rainfall. Henry Bewley devised a machine to make gutta percha tubing and Charles Hancock modified the design to coat copper wire – to make “cable core”. They formed the Gutta Percha Company in 1845. Cable cores came to have three or four layers of gutta percha to prevent a defect in one from being catastrophic.
In 1849 an experimental (unarmoured) cable core was laid from a ship in Folkstone harbour and connected to the South Eastern Railway’s telegraph to London, and messages sent from the ship to London. In 1850 the Brett brothers, John & Jacob, commissioned a cable to cross between Dover and Calais; it had a single copper wire with gutta percha insulation – and worked for a few days - long enough for the Brett Brothers to retain their exclusive license to land cables in France.
In 1851 an improved cable was laid. It had four cores of the 1850 type helically wound together, bound in hemp saturated in pitch & tallow and 10 galvanised armour wires around the whole. But the end of the cable ran out a mile short of the coast. The extra cable needed to finish the system was made by W Kuper & Co. This firm was based in Camberwell on the Surrey Canal, but had recently expanded to Morden Wharf in Greenwich – it is possible that the extra cable was made there. The system was completed and worked for a number of years. More cables followed, between Britain and Europe, across the Irish Sea, and in the Mediterranean.
Americans were keen to get news from England – an example shows why. One of Canada’s main exports was of grain to Britain; Montreal set the price paid to farmers – London paid according to British market conditions: normally the prices kept in step but the Irish famine caused major problems. In 1850 the US, Canada, and Britain were all on the gold standard (£1 = $4.82), and coping with price fluctuations involved transhipments of gold.
Steamships had already reduced the transit time to two weeks instead of eight or so by sail. If first landfall was at Halifax then news could be rushed by carrier pigeon to Boston and thence by telegraph a couple of days before the ship reached New York. When the telegraph reached St John in 1849 a pony express across Nova Scotia was added to the mix – by the end of that year the telegraph reached Halifax.
The Superintendent of Lines in Nova Scotia was Frederick Newton Gisborne, an Englishman, and in 1852 he was the first to lay a (British) deep-sea cable in North America between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. In 1854 he met Cyrus West Field in New York, and suggested a New York to Newfoundland cable; when “and London” was added Field became interested. He approached the top experts in America, Matthew Maury an oceanography expert and head of the National Observatory and Professor Samuel Morse. Both thought the idea feasible. A survey across the North Atlantic had previously been made, showing a plateau at not too great a depth. Surveys at that time were at widely spaced locations, and taken from ships unsuited to maintaining station while a plumb bob was slowly lowered to the deep ocean bed - this was a hundred years before Sonar.
Cyrus Field then went to England looking for the best firms to undertake the job, and for financial backing. The Atlantic Telegraph Company was established as a business venture, with no in-house technical expertise. One of the investors was John Pender, a Manchester cotton merchant.
By then Kuper & Co had become Glass, Elliott & Co. In early 1857 they were awarded a contract for half the system (and expanded again onto Enderby Wharf just upstream from Morden Wharf); the other half went to R S Newall & Co. The cable core, made by the Gutta Percha Co, had a seven strand copper wire and three layers of gutta percha. The cable companies wound on 18, bought in, armour wires. Extra armour was added for the shore ends to guard against cable chafing from wave action or anchor damage. (Some modern fishing equipment can easily damage cables, but what was then in use was a minor concern).
The British and American governments provided the ships to lay the cable (as the ships were in commission there was no hiring charge): HMS Agamemnon loaded the Glass, Elliott cable at Greenwich, and USS Niagara the R S Newall cable at Birkenhead. The lay was commenced but the cable parted and was lost after only 300 nm had been laid. Cable still aboard was unloaded and more to replace what had been lost was made for another attempt in 1858. Glass, Elliott & Co had found that winding the armour wires with a right hand lay made it possible to coil the cable in a clockwise manner; R S Newall & Co used the traditional rope-making left hand lay. As cable is laid the tension rises as it takes the weight of what has just left the ship before it reaches the sea bottom, causing the armour wires to untwist – as the cable reaches the seabed the tension drops and they regain their original lay. Jointing cables with oppositely laid armour wires would break the joint during the descent; this was circumvented with a joint housing that rigidly held both cables, lowering it to the ocean bed in the middle of the Atlantic, then laying the two cables to the terminals.
This time the lay was successful, but the system failed after a few weeks. This was blamed on the excessive test voltages that had been applied to the cable, but another factor was that the cable kept since 1857 had been stored in the open and had been warmed by the sun sufficiently for the gutta percha to soften and allow the centre conductor to drop to one side. (After 1858 cable was always stored in covered tanks that were kept wet – by flooding them, or by a continuous water spray.
The demise of the 1858 cable was a serious setback and even led to stories that the whole enterprise had been a hoax. Nevertheless useful traffic had been carried, and a transatlantic telegraph shown to be practicable. The British government and the Atlantic Telegraph Co set up a commission in 1859 to study both the design and manufacturing methods used in cable manufacture. It published its report in 1861. This led to the merger of the Gutta Percha Co and Glass, Elliott & Co to form the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company – known as Telcon – to be able to control the quality at all stages of manufacture. The person to organise the merger and become the first Chairman was John Pender
Cyrus Field and the Atlantic Telegraph Co kept faith, and a new cable, to an improved design was ordered from Telcon. The SS Great Eastern, built by Brunel, had failed commercially as a liner and was being sold off – but being big, with screw, paddle and sail propulsion was seen as ideal for laying cable. With one funnel removed to make way for cable tanks, the ship was capable of taking the entire length of cable. Too big to come to Greenwich, hulks were used to ferry the cable to her at Sheerness. The lay started in July 1865. But again the cable was lost, this time only 600 miles from America.
The Atlantic Telegraph Co could not afford a fourth cable. The Anglo-American Telegraph company was set up and commissioned a new cable to be laid in 1866. This was successful; and after laying it the Great Eastern went back to the end of the 1865 cable, and spliced on sufficient cable to complete that system too. By the end of 1866 both systems were working. Messages were priced at £1 per 5 letter word for the first 20 words and 5s thereafter – leading to coded and abbreviated messages. As it turned out the 1865 cable had the longer life.
Dr Moyle described the well documented tale of the completion of the 1865 trans-Atlantic telegraph cable: the failed recovery of the cable when it was lost, and then its pioneering recovery in 1866 leading to the completion of the system. In 1865 the Great Eastern had sailed back behind the point they had reached, then sailed across the line of the cable with a grappling hook, had picked up the cable but the (steel) grappling rope broke. This was repeated twice more. In 1866, with a stronger grappling rope, they partially raised the cable and buoyed it off; they went further back and partially raised more of the cable. Gradually they (there was an escort ship which assisted) recovered the end of the 1865 cable.
The grapple design had a shaft with rows of hooks along its length, the inner diameter of the hooks matched to the cable diameter. When towed across the line of the cable it was hoped that one of the hooks would catch it. This would be felt by a man feeling the grappling rope on board ship as it bumped over the seabed, and detecting it becoming taught. The grappling rope would then be wound in and the strain on the winding engine monitored. If the tension stayed the same they had caught a piece of debris; but an increase showed they had the cable, adding to the tension as it lifted off the seabed.
All the major American and British contributors to this triumph of engineering: Cyrus West who had seen it through, scientists, manufactures, engineers, ships’ captains, etc were honoured or otherwise rewarded – except John Pender. He was out of favour in the British establishment having been embroiled in a bribery case while seeking election to a rotten borough. However later in life he was awarded KCMG then GCMG, becoming Sir John Pender. His London address was 18 Arlington Street (only a stone’s throw from the Royal Institution) - and the then Prime Minister, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, lived at No.20.
Part 2. Where the Telegraph went next
Nigel Linge “Encircling the Globe”
The success of the Transatlantic Telegraph in 1866 was the trigger that unleashed a proliferation of submarine telegraph systems, which continued to 1903. On busy routes, particularly across the Atlantic, systems were duplicated and triplicated. The French put in a transatlantic system in 1869, made by Telcon, from Brest to Duxbury, then the longest system in the world.
On new routes segments were built by individual companies, so that difficulties encountered, and losses made, by one would not bring the whole scheme to a halt; once the whole system was established these companies were amalgamated. John Pender resigned as chairman of Telcon – in order to organise the majority of this activity and chair such companies. He naturally directed their cable purchases to Telcon.
The British were keen to have connections to the Empire, India being the first target. This started with the Falmouth – Gibralta – Malta system; except that Falmouth had too much shipping for the safety of the cable and they went from Porthcurno instead. Another cable reached the east of the Mediterranean, then there was an overland route through the Middle East to the Indian Ocean where a further cable went to Bombay. Completion was in 1870. The overland section in particular was slow, and it was bypassed by cables installed via Suez. In 1872 the companies that built the several system segments were amalgamated into Eastern Telegraph Company with Pender as chairman – a post he held until he died in 1896.
The cable systems went on to the Far East, eventually to China and Australia, again with separate companies amalgamated later.
South Africa was first reached by a system which looped down the west coast from one country to the next. This was slow and a cable via Zanzibar down the east coast was laid to speed things up. A more direct cable was also laid down the Atlantic via Ascension Island in 1899 at the time of the Boer War (the British Government spent £5500 on its messages while the press spent ten times as much).
The Americas were opened up by routes in and through the Caribbean from the USA, by the Central & South American Telegraph Company from 1881-3. The India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha & Telegraph Works Co Ltd at Silvertown were their main supplier. With a landline across Panama, the northern, eastern and western coasts of South America were served.
When Pender died he had responsibility for one third of the mileage of telegraph cable wordwide, handling over 2 million messages a year, with 1800 staff, and 10 cable ships – he was called the Cable King. One of his initiatives had been to set up the Global Trust Company – it had shares in telegraph cable systems worldwide, which overall made a consistent profit – and made a good investment for savers.
In 1902 the final link was made in an ‘all red line’, a cable system around the world where all the cable stations were in a part of the British Empire. This was when the Pacific was crossed (its longest segment from Bamfield, Vancouver to Fanning Island); and made use of the trans-Canadian landline of 1871, masterminded by Sit Stanford Flemming.
Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, the year of the first telegraph patent; and died in 1901, just a year short of this ultimate achievement in submarine telegraphy. Techniques, many devised at the outset, stood the test of time in cable manufacture, cable laying and system design.
The first half of the 20th century saw a considerable increase in the capability of cable, with corresponding increase in the equipment at the terminals.
One thinks of ‘earth’ as having zero potential. In one’s locality it does (except that an earth rod in resistive ground is unlikely to be perfect). Across an ocean earth potentials can fluctuate significantly.
A Mirror Galvanometer comprises a coil suspended by its input and output wires between the poles of a magnet, with a small mirror attached to the coil. The incoming current from the cable is passed through the coil, causing it to rotate in the magnetic field. A rising current will turn it one way, a negative current the opposite way. A light shone on the mirror is reflected onto screen marked with a scale. Before starting transmission the spot of light is centred. From then the spot is read as a dot for a rising current and a dash for a falling current – even though the mean position of the spot wanders across the scale (due to earth potential fluctuations). Two operators were needed – one to read the spot and the other to write down the message.
Syphon Recorder. The first improvement was to replace the mirror with a syphon, fed with ink, its end just above a paper ribbon on which it traced a line corresponding to the input signal. Only one operator was now needed.
Initially Simplex working was used, where a message was sent, and the cable given time to discharge before transmitting in the opposite direction. Duplexworking, enabling transmission in both directions simultaneously, was introduced in 1873. At both ends of the cable Send and Receive circuits were connected to two arms of a Bridge, the other connections being to the Cable and a balancing Artificial Line. John Muirhead developed the form of duplex working used on submarine telegraph cables, and held the patent.
Drum Relay. In 1899 S G Brown devised a relay to allow an incoming signal (after initial removal of earth potential fluctuations) to be retransmitted without operator interaction. It was a modification of the syphon recorder, the syphon replaced by a probe which just touched the edge of a drum. This was made of three discs with mica insulation between them, the probe running on the central disc with no signal, one side disc for a dot the other for a dash.
Cable Loading. Oliver Heaviside postulated in 1890s that for distortionless transmission the inductance (L) of a cable mattered as well as its capacitance (C), resistance (R) and leakance (G), ie RC = GL. The inductance of telegraph cables was quite low and had not been taken into account: adding inductance to a cable would enable it to transmit at a higher rate. Early experiments with added loading coils showed no improvement. However, Western Electric developed Permalloy , a nickel-iron alloy, which could be wound as a tape around the centre conductor and provide the necessary inductance. Shortly afterwards, in 1923, Telcon inventedMu‑metal, with small proportions of other metals, which was much easier to apply (as a wire) and just as effective. Rates of 1000 words a minute became possible. Duplex working came with corresponding improvements in artificial lines (in temperature controlled rooms). An early application was a new cable for the Vancouver to Fanning Island segment of the trans-Pacific Cable. Cable manufacture then had a new lease of life as faster cables replaced the old ones.
1000 words a minute was far faster than could be sent by one operator. Mechanisation came in. The Kleinschmidt Perforator enabled the operator to perforate a paper tape at a manageable rate, the tape then fed to a machine for transmission at cable rate (with other operators’ tapes).
Cable loading did not reduce cable losses. The Heurtley Hot Wire Magnifier was developed as a receiver, coming into service in 1919. The incoming signal was passed through a platinum resistance wire arranged to move a needle as it warmed or cooled – and the movement used to operate a relay. The magnifier was a very sophisticated piece of mechanical equipment and worked reliably (before the same could be said for valve electronics).
Multiplexers. Several, eg 5, channels were connected to a single cable by a rotary switch. Pulses from each channel were chopped to one fifth of their normal width and transmitted sequentially. At the receiving end a similar switch distributed the pulses to ongoing channels where they were restored to their normal length. Once synchronised the switches were kept in step by tuning forks. Other equipment included: Varioplex which divided its time between many channels, going faster if few were in use, or slower if the system was busier; and Translators which turned landline (Baudot) code to Telegraph code.
After 1922 staffing at Valencia dropped to 10% of its level in 1919.
There was a brief discussion about the non-use of valves (vacuum tubes) in Telegraph equipment. Valves steadily gained in reliability and longevity during the 20thcentury, but designers remained dubious. However, a feature of Telegraph was the very low frequency spectrum it used; to handle this very large capacitors would be needed – and these were notoriously unreliable until 1970s.
John Moyle “Looking for a Needle in a Haystack – Locating Causes of Malfunction”
Accounts of cable systems ignore reliability! But the number of repair ships in Victorian times was equal to the number of cable laying ships.
Malfunctions were of two types:
Records of malfunctions were rarely made public, and on routes with duplicate cables could escape notice. The Eastern Telegraph Co registered 2.5 malfunctions per 1000nm. However cables, no doubt with the odd repair, could attain a 50 year life.
There was a range of causes, some natural or due to outside agencies; others in-house:
- Earthquakes and Volcanoes: the mid-Atlantic Ridge and other sea bottom irregularities round the world were unknown. There were also mud slides off edges of continental shelves, particularly by river deltas.
- Lightning: if a cable hut was struck a large earth current could flow through the cable to the sea.
- Boring Animals: it was found that brass tape wound around the outside of the gutta percha was too smooth for borers to get a start.
- Anchor damage: choose cable landing places away from ports (even if they are the eventual destination).
- Inadequate Surveying: it usually was - even with well separated positions it was a slow process.
- Chafing: inadequate trenching at the landing site, or insufficient armouring.
- Inadequate Slack: no one wanted a length of cable to be suspended between high points on the seabed. Slack was usually set at 10% in shallow water and 20% in deep water in case of unexpected ruggedness of the sea bottom. Loops of cable on the sea bed were accepted.
- Storage: lengths of repair cable mattered as well as cable awaiting the arrival of a cable laying ship.
- Malevolence: damage inflicted by rival companies; cutting enemy cables in war time.
Locating a break could be done from one or both ends of a system by measuring the resistance of the centre conductor (assuming a short to earth at the break) and comparing the result to measurements made in the cable tanks before laying. Due allowance would be made for the sea bed temperature and the 0.3V effect of a copper/steel cell that would arise at the break. Copper cores generally had a resistance of 10 ohm/nm but could differ.
Defective Insulation did not necessarily stop the cable working; if near shore a counter current could mitigate the effect until a repair could be made.
Dr Moyle had studied many records - of the cable companies, and in the press (who only covered the particularly noticeable malfunctions). He had found that there was an average of one repair voyage per annum for every 500nm of cable.
Part 3. Telephony and Data
Jacob Ward “The Politics of Automating the Telephone Network in post-WWII Britain”
This was tangential to other papers in the conference, but fascinating. It described a traditional political process gradually evolving as it grappled with technical advances.
Britain had a series of Strowger (relay operated) telephone exchanges each specifically wired for its location. Updates to the system, such as adding a new exchange to serve more subscribers, meant physical changes to all the exchanges that would need to make connections to it.
A system using Group Routing and Charging Equipment (GRACE) was introduced in 1959 to allow subscriber trunk dialling, instead having operator assistance. This was a development of automation that London and other cities already had, and worked well.
Nevertheless General Purpose Electronic Exchanges were seen as the way forward - but they would have to work with existing exchanges until conversion was complete.
A major problem was ‘prestige’. The Post Office (BT had not then been hived off) had a fine, international, reputation. Problems were to be solved, however intractable, and the timetable met. A prototype exchange was built. It was soon found that the circuits (made with individual power hungry components) required far more power than a Strowger exchange – an extra fan floor was built. 1958 became 1963. Other problems loomed – different subcontractors had used different component types - high pulse rate interconnections across the exchange interfered with low pulse rate input and output lines. In 1965 they gave up and closed the exchange. However lessons had been learnt and the next attempt was better managed
In 1967 Mr J Merriman revised the philosophy of a general purpose exchange, though telephony was still at its heart. The Empress Exchange was to be the first System X exchange and use pulse code modulation, the design led by Roy Harris. It was based on a ‘switch’, which was ready in 1976, but development continued to 1979 before a general launch. The Carter Committee, 1975-7, made a major recommendation in its report to separate responsibility for procurement from development.
The idea for Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), first propounded by Kituhara of NTT in Japan in 1972, was taken up. A series of specifications was prepared and completed in 1978. This led to the use of packet switching where all types of data – telex, voice, video, etc - are coded into a standard digital form, put into packets with a header giving the destination and content details.
This is the traffic which optical fibre cables carry internationally.
At the time GRACE was introduced coaxial submarine cables carrying telephony (with some circuits given over to telegraphy) were superseding the telegraph cables - and experiencing a demand far greater than they could carry – so highly lucrative rates could be charged. An international control centre in London was planned for them. Construction of the massive Mondial House began in 1969 on a site just east of Cannon Street Station; it opened in 1978. It flourished in 1980s, but did not survive the advent of the World Wide Web and in 2005 was sold and soon demolished.
Derek Cassidy “Submarine Networks: the next stage of their evolution”
Overseas telephone connections have been wanted since the advent of the telephone – and some telegraph cables were able to provide a single channel. In 1884 it was done across San Fransico Bay to Oakland. In 1921 an inductively loaded cable from Key West to Havana was used successfully.
But what really made it practicable was coaxial cable, where a conductor of copper or aluminium, was put round the core to provide a controlled low resistance return path for the signal (as opposed to armour wires or brass tape). This was patented in 1923. In 1928 a coaxial system from Newfoundland to Ireland was proposed, but abandoned in 1930. The first was the Trans-Atlantic Telephone (TAT 1) system in 1956 for 36 channels, with one cable for each direction of transmission and repeaters to amplify the signal.
In 1947 the Irish Post Office and GPO had laid a system from Dollymount to Holyhead comprising a pair of cables with balanced earth, capable of carrying 50 channels.
The Cable King
As many readers will know, this year is the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first successful telegraph cables to be laid across the Atlantic. The 1866 cable was completed between Valentia, Ireland and Heart’s Content, Newfoundland on 27th July and just six weeks later the 1865 cable was finally completed on the 8th September 1866. Celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic have commemorated this historic event. However, there is another anniversary that is arguably more significant for the submarine cable industry. 2016 is the bi-centennial anniversary of the birth of the man who probably did more than any other individual to make the Atlantic Telegraph a success. He then went on to found a submarine telegraph cable empire that encircled the earth and earned himself the epithet ‘Cable King’ before his death. That man was John Pender (1816-96).
John Pender was born on 10th September 1816 in the village of Bonhill in the Vale of Leven, just 24 miles to the northwest of Glasgow. He was the middle child of seven of James Pender and Marion née Mason. In 1810, the Penders had moved from Campsie in Stirling to Bonhill so that James could take up a job in one of the printing and bleaching businesses that had grown up in the area. John Pender’s obituary, published in the Dumbarton Herald in July 1896, indicates that James worked at the Bonhill Printworks known as ‘Wee Field’. The family lived in a cottage on Burn Street and from 1823 John attended the village school, also in Burn Street. He apparently showed a natural aptitude towards mathematics and drawing.
Sometime between 1824 and 1829, the Pender family moved to the Gorbals, which at that time was an area of up-market residences for the merchant classes, a mile or so outside the city of Glasgow to the south of the river Clyde. This was the boom period for the Gorbals, and moving there at that time suggests a significant rise in the Pender family fortunes. John was sent to Glasgow High School to continue his education. Unfortunately all of the early nineteenth century records of the school were destroyed in a fire some years ago and no details of his academic performance have survived. John left school at the age of 14 and took up an apprenticeship as a ‘Pattern Maker’ at Croftengea, one of the Bonhill calico print works. In 1835, Croftengea became John Orr Ewing & Co, when it was taken over by John Orr Ewing (1809-78) and Robert Alexander, where they began producing ‘Turkey Red’ dyed products. John Orr Ewing was a business associate and friend of James Pender and, on completing his apprenticeship in 1837, Orr Ewing facilitated his son’s advanced into a management position. A report of 1839 in the New Statistical Account of Scotland described the company as employing 192 men, 142 women and 104 children with an output of close to three million yards of printed goods per year.
John Pender married Marion Cairns, the daughter of a Glasgow tailor, on 20th November 1840. The parish records give his profession as ‘Calico Printer’. Marion quickly presented John with a son, James, born in Bonhill on 28th September 1841. However, she died just a few weeks later, on the 16th December, her twenty-second birthday. The cause of her death is unrecorded but it was most likely due to complications related to the birth of her son.
The business of John Orr Ewing & Co thrived and expanded, selling their Turkey Red products in Glasgow and Manchester, the centre of a growing export trade to China and India. John Orr Ewing was making a fortune! In late 1843 he decided to retire and sell his shares in the business to his partner, which he finally did in 1845. The two John’s would become lifelong friends and it was Orr Ewing’s decision to quit the business,combined with the recent loss of his wife, that encouraged Pender to make a new start by moving to Manchester and start making money for himself. In January 1844, he set up his own business, John Pender & Co ‘Commission Agents’ with offices at 20 David Street and took up residence at Grove House in Higher Broughton, then a small township to the north of the city. The detached house was on the main Manchester road, and he lived there with his two year old son James and his youngest sister Marion who was his housekeeper.
Over the next few years John Pender & Co flourished and John moved his offices to 29 Dale Street and his residence to Bredbury Hall in Stockport. On 12 June 1851, he married Emma Denison (1816-90), an heiress from Daybrook in Nottingham, whose ancestry can be traced back to mid-sixteenth- century landed gentry. Emma encouraged John to diversify his investments and so when the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co was launched in Liverpool on 10th June 1852, she suggested that he should take a major stake in the company. On 23rd May the following year, the chief engineer of the Magnetic, Charles Tilston Bright (1832-88), oversaw the installation of the first successful cable across the Irish Sea from Port Patrick to Donaghadee and a telegraph service between London and Dublin was then set up. Pender closely followed the development of this service and it was this that stimulated his life-long interest in the electric telegraph.
Pender’s textile business continued to grow and by 1856 he sold Bredbury Hall and moved to the larger estate of Crumpsall Hall on the Middleton Road to the northwest of Manchester. His family then comprised Emma and James plus Henry Denison Pender (b. 8th Oct1852), Anne Denison Pender (b. 9th Nov 1853) and John Denison Pender (b. 10th Oct 1855).
In October 1856, John Watkins Brett (1805-63), Charles Tilston Bright and Cyrus W Field (1819-92) came to Liverpool and Manchester promoting the Atlantic Telegraph Company and Pender was one of the first to take shares in this company. Although he was appointed a director of the Atlantic Telegraph Co he did not take a leading role in the project at this stage. At the end of that year his last child, Marion Denison Pender (b. 4th Dec 1856), was born at Crumpsall Hall. The following year Pender was appointed Chairman of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co, which took over the English & Irish company and would provide a vital link in the Atlantic Telegraph.
Pender appears to have had very little to do directly with the 1857 attempt and 1858 failed Atlantic Telegraph cable. When the joint British Government and Atlantic Telegraph Co investigation report was published in April 1861, Pender was focused on his textiles business, because the early part of the American Civil War (12th April 1861 – 9th May 1865) had created a cotton famine in Manchester and alternative sources had to be found.
On the 12th December 1862, John Pender was elected the Liberal MP for Totnes in a by-election and, in order to undertake his parliamentary responsibilities, he purchased a London residence at 18 Arlington Street.
It was Richard Atwood Glass (1820-73) who recognised that if an Atlantic Telegraph was to be successful it would need a single company responsible for all aspects of the project. Unfortunately, Glass did not have the standing or reputation to make this happen. However, in late 1863 he shared his thoughts with Cyrus Field and Field took the idea to Pender. Pender believed such a thing could be possible so he took on the task. He was reappointed as a director of the Atlantic Telegraph Co on 17th March 1864, and then oversaw a merger between the Gutta Percha Co and Glass, Elliot & Co.
On 4th April 1864, the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co known as Telcon was formed with Pender as its first Chairman. To achieve this outcome Pender had put up a personal guarantee of £250K. One month later Telcon was awarded the contract for a new Atlantic Telegraph.
As part of Pender’s grand plan, on 14th January 1864 a consortium led by Daniel Gooch (1816-89), and Thomas Brassey(1805-70)supported by John Pender purchased Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s (1806-59) ship, the SS Great Eastern, at auction in Liverpool for £25,000. A new company, the Great Eastern Steamship Co, was established with Gooch as chairman and Pender and Brassey as directors. She was converted for cable work and, as part of the refit one of her five funnels (second from the stern) was removed to make way for a cable tank. She was then chartered to Telcon for £50,000 worth of Telcon’sshares.
As is well known, the 1865 cable lay failed when the cable parted just 600 nautical miles short of Newfoundland. Daniel Gooch was on board, and on the return passage he wrote a letter to a friend expressing confidence that they would return the following year and complete the task. Prior to the Great Eastern sailing from Sheerness on 15th July, John Pender had been on the husting where he had been re-elected as the member for Totnes at the General Election on 12th July.
To Gooch’s disappointment, the Atlantic Cable Company was fully extended. New capital was required to keep the dream alive, and due to the American Civil War, none could be expected from America. Once again, it was Daniel Gooch and John Pender who answered the call. They raised £600K of new investment, co-founding the Anglo-American Telegraph Company in March 1866. Both became directors of this new company, and Richard Atwood Glass was appointed as its first Chairman. This company took over Field’s New York, Newfoundland & London Telegraph Company, appointing Field as a non-executive director. Unsurprisingly, a contract to build a new Atlantic cable was given to Telcon; the fee for this was paid in Anglo-American shares.
The SS Great Eastern sailed from Sheerness on 30th June 1866, and to confound long-held superstitions, the lay from Valentia commenced on Friday the thirteenth, with the well-known outcome, described earlier.
A number of the key men involved in the Atlantic Telegraph were recognised by Queen Victoria for their contribution to the success of this massive undertaking. Captain James Anderson (1824¬-93), commander of the SS Great Eastern, Richard Attwood Glass, the managing director and Samuel Canning (1823¬-1908), the chief engineer of Telcon, were knighted. Daniel Gooch and Curtis Miranda Lampson (1806-¬85) were created baronets. Lampson was originally an American from New Haven, Vermont but had become a naturalised British citizen in 1849. He had joined the board of directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1856, becoming its vice-chairman then,in 1866, he became a director of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company. Although the contribution of Cyrus Field was recognised and greatly appreciated, it was considered inappropriate to offer an American citizen an English honour.
Despite his pivotal role in the final success of the Atlantic Telegraph, John Pender received no recognition whatsoever. He was chairman of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co, founded and was Chairman of Telcon, a director of the Atlantic Telegraph Co, founder and director of the Anglo-American Telegraph Co and was also on the board of the Great Eastern Steamship Co. He had taken more financial risk and almost certainly done more than any other individual to ensure the success of this project but no rewards came his way.
Why this should have occurred has never been made public but it is almost certainly due to the Totnes General Election. Shortly after the election, a petition alleging corrupt practices was brought by John Earle Lloyd and Edmund Tucker. This led to a House of Commons Select Committee hearing under the chairmanship of Edward PleydellBouverie (1818-89). Evidence was heard from 16-23 March 1866 and the outcome was that John Pender’s election was declared void, and in addition, he was found guilty of bribery by offering Robert Harris, a local blacksmith and Conservative agent, a position worth £300 per year, if he voted for him.
This type of vote buying was common practice in a number of so called ‘Rotten' or 'Pocket' Boroughs at that time. Although Pender strenuously denied these accusations and Harris was exposed as a convicted perjurer, the political mood was for clamping down on such electoral practices. On 6th June 1866, Queen Victoria ordered a Royal Commission to look into electoral corruption at the Great Yarmouth, Lancaster, Reigate and Totnes elections. The commission finally reported in March 1867; the report was a precursor to Benjamin Disraeli’s (1804-81) Reform Act of 1867, under which Totnes was disenfranchised in 1868. The Queen’s honours for the Atlantic Telegraph were made public on the 15 November 1866, so it would have been impossible for Pender’s key role to have been acknowledged by the Queen at that time.
In 1868, Pender stood down as chairman of Telcon and set about building the submarine cable empire that would become the Eastern & Associated Telegraph Companies. By 1870, England was connected to India and from June 1872, messages could be sent from London to Sydney over Pender’s cables.
In January 1873, John Pender sold his Crumpsall Hall estate and the family moved to Arlington Street. The entire contents of the house were sold at auction, promoting speculation in the newspapers that Pender was a ruined man. The truth was that both Arlington Street and Minard Castle, his summer estate on the northwest bank of Loch Fyne in Argyll, were fully furnished and there was no room for the extra furniture. Pender sold the Minard Castle estate at the end of 1875 and on 16th May 1876 he took out a 21-year lease on Foots Cray Place, a Palladian mansion in Kent, owned by Coleraine Robert Vansittart (1833-86).
Over the next few years his contribution to subsea telegraphy was recognised by many countries around the world, but it wasn’t until 1888 that it was finally acknowledged in Britain, when he was knighted Knight Commander of St Michael & St George (KCMG). This was later elevated to Grand Cross of St Michael & St George (GCMG) in 1892. Interestingly these awards were both granted while Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil (1830-1903), 3rd Marquis of Salisbury was Prime Minister. Cecil’s London residence was at 20 Arlington Street,next door to Pender!
Sir John Pender died at Foots Cray Place on 7 July 1896 and is buried in All Saints’ churchyard, Foots Cray, alongside his second wife Emma (d. 8th July 1890) and his son Henry (d.13th January 1881). There is strong circumstantial evidence in the family papers to suggest that he was soon to be created Baron, but he died before Queen Victoria could sign the warrant.
Unquestionably John Pender was a major, if not the greatest, contributor to the success of the Atlantic Telegraph. In building his submarine cable empire he did more for submarine cables than any other man and undoubtedly deserved the title ‘Cable King’. His cable empire became Cable & Wireless, a name that like John Pender has now been consigned to history after the takeover of Cable & Wireless Communications by Liberty Global plc.
What Has Happened to Bendish Marsh?
The first known document recording ownership of land on the Greenwich Peninsula dates back to 918 and sets out the gift of land known as Old Court Manor, to the Abbey of St Peter, in Ghent by Alfred the Great’s youngest daughter, Ælfthryth (877-929). This land comprised 276 acres and included a large area on the Greenwich Peninsula,
Over the next 800 years this land was owned by various kings, queens, monasteries and noblemen. In 1698, the land was Crown property and a lease for a large part of Old Court Manor was acquired by Sir John Morden (1623-1708), from Margaret Boreman,the widow of Sir William Boreman (c.1617-1686),for £9,000. A year later, Sir John obtained the freehold of this land from the Crown. On his death, the land passed to his widow, Susan née Brand (1638-1721) and as they had no issue, on her death the land came under the control of the ‘Trustees’ of Sir John’s charity ‘Morden College’.
The first published map showing the lands comprising Old Court Manor was made by John (Jean) Rocque (c.1709-62). He was the son of French Huguenot immigrant parents, who became a surveyor and cartographer. Rocque is best known and remembered for his detailed map of London. He began work on this in 1737 and the map was published in 24 printed sheets in 1747. The lands comprising Old Court Manor are shown on the sheet above, in the top right corner, the Gunpowder Magazine can be seen but no field names are included.
In 1771, the College Trustees commissioned their surveyor, Michael Searles (1722-99), to conduct a further survey of the land on the peninsula. A map of this survey is also held in the College Archive and it identifies the field named Bendish Marsh.
At the beginning of the 19thcentury a rope works was established on the land where the Gunpowder Magazine had stood. It is possible that Henry Vansittart (1777-1843), who purchased the land from the Crown in 1802, was the first person to permit the manufacture of hemp ropes on this site. In 1808, the rope works was in the hands of James Littlewood but he became bankrupt in 1817, and the rope works was made over to a Mr Young, who operated it until 1828. Horwood’s map of London, dated 1819, is the first to show a ‘rope walk’ on the site. The ‘rope walk’ also appears on the later Greenwood map of 1827.This ‘rope walk’ ran parallel to and just behind the line of houses that now stand on the north side of Mauritius Road. Since the 25th July 1815, Morden College had leased virtually all of its land to the north of the rope manufactory, including the field known as Bendish Marsh, to John Field, a Greenwich farmer.
At that time Bendish Marsh comprised 4 acres, 0 roods and 11 perches. It is shown in the plan above, along with other Morden College land in Red. It is bounded to the south and west by the Enderbys land (white) and to the east by Blackwall Lane (then known as Ship and Billet Lane). The light blue area is land belonging to Norfolk College and the puce land was in the hands of the Calvert Clark family.
The building of Charles Enderby’s house was completed in April 1846 when Charles took up residence. He had wanted the Bendish Marsh land to provide direct access to his new residence from Ship and Billet Land, by-passing the rope works site. The lease, that was to run until Michaelmas 1854, was executed on 24th December 1846 in the names of all three brothers and shortly afterwards,it was reported to the Trustees that the Enderbys had culverted the dyke,running alongside Bendish Marsh and had built a coach road to the new house.
Charles Enderby lived in the house for three years, during which time he hosted several dinners in the ‘Octagon Room’ for representatives of the Geographic Society, of which he was a founder member, and the Royal Society, of which he had become a fellow in 1841.
In August 1855, William Coles Child (1814-73) approached the Trustees about leasing Bendish Marsh. The Trustees offered him a lease with 3 months’ notice at £42 per annum. In early October, Coles Child turned down this offer as he had been unable to acquire the adjacent Enderby property at a reasonable price. On the 8th October 1855, John Smith gave notice to quit Bendish Marsh. Then on 26th January 1856, a Mr McKenzie took up a year by year lease, on Bendish Marsh at an annual rent of £10. This lower rent was agreed due to the fact that Mr McKenzie already leasing other lands from the College on the peninsula.
The area of Bendish Marsh is defined by a flooded dyke on the top half of the western side. On the northern edge to the western side it is defined by a flooded dyke for just under half the length, then by a dry ditch running south and then east to Ship and Billet Lane (Blackwall Lane). The southern edge is roughly along the line of the rope walk and associated buildings. The southern and lower western boundaries are shown on the plan by a broken line ‘- ____ - ___’. The 1907 plan of the site is very similar in this area and includes the same ‘boundary line’ denoting the southern and lower western edge of Bendish Marsh.The 1958 site plan and the 1970 plan, drawn up at the time of the STC takeover of Submarine Cables Ltd, both have thisbroken line ‘- ____ - ___’, showing the boundaries of the Bendish Marsh land.
The Telcon lease of Bendish Marsh was due for renewal in 1945, but there are no records in the College Archive to indicate that it was renewed at any time up to the present day or that the land was sold to Telcon. However, in 2003, just prior to selling the river frontage, Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN), commissioned a land registry search into the ownership of the site lands. The author is grateful to ASN for allowing access to this report.
The report indicates that Telcon acquired the small parcel of land owned by Norfolk College, at a time when the rest of the property was held under a single title 276267. On the 7th April 1928, Bendish Marsh and the Norfolk College land were separated from the main holding under a separate title 354883. Then, on the 16th April 1928, title 354883 was subdivided into Bendish Marsh; title TGL94231 and the Norfolk College land; title TLG12330. Why Telcon should have done this is unclear. It may have had something to do with possible sale of land due to the impact of the ‘Great Depression’ on business,or perhaps separating the land into parcels was done to align them with the different business units that would appear on the site during the 1930s. In 1935, Siemens Brothers and Telcon merged their submarine cable interests as Submarine Cables Ltd (SCL). The submarine cable manufacturing facilities of SCL were then centred on the title 276267 land.
The above indicates that Telcon had possession of the freehold of Bendish Marsh prior to 1928. While no records have been found to date to show when this purchase occurred the most likely explanation is that it happened about the same time that Telcon gave up its lease on Morden Wharf. Telcon’s predecessor W Küper& Co first came to Greenwich in 1851 taking up an underlease from Charles Holcombe (1792-1870), the primary lease holder of Morden College land, at what Holcombe named Morden Wharf. In 1854, W Küper& Co became Glass, Elliot & Co and when that company secured the first Atlantic Telegraph contract it need more space, so Glass, Elliot acquired the derelict Enderby Hemp & Rope Works in 1857. For the next 38 years both sites were utilised, but according to ‘The Telcon Story’ published in 1950, Telcon gave up the lease of Morden Wharf and consolidated its manufacturing facilities on the Enderby Wharf site in 1895. It seems likely that at that time, Telcon could have arranged to acquire from Morden College, the freehold of this 4 acres that was right in the heart of its factory site.
Stewart Ash 2016
The Gutta Percha Company which amalgamated with Glass, Eliot & Co. in 1864 to form our present Company was launching out at this time, and in 1848 and 1849 exhibited at the Royal Society of Arts articles of an ornamental kind, such as "Stag and Dog" and oval picture frames - all moulded, of course, in gutta percha - but nothing apparently from the wide range of more useful goods it was then producing.
REMEMBER OUR NEXT MEETING - ALL WELCOME - PLEASE COME ALONG
Hope very much people are enjoying all this stuff about the local cable making industry .... there is a lot more to come. Every day we are being sent editions of the Telcon works magazine from the 1950s which are packed full with articles about the works and the industry - and we will try to let you see them all.
I did think however that we ought to vary this a bit. I remembered that we had some Harvey's works magazines (Harvey's were a big metal working company in the Woolwich Road - they made, well, holes). I got them out to see what we could use - some great pictures, most of which have appeared here, way back, But - oh dear - the editorial content is almost entirely sports, wedding, outings, bigwigs and the like.
I also have a lot of stuff from the early 1900s from the gas works Copartnership Journal - again full of stuff about the works, lots of pictures, and interestingly articles about other local works and institutions where gas was being used as a fuel. However, I scanned all these from flimsy photocopies in days when scanners were dodgy, OCR was terrible and pdfs didn't exist. I could try and rescue some of them but the amount of work would be phenomenal.
So, anyway, I thought I would give you a little taste of the Harvey Magazines - after all it was the 1950s! and if you are lucky sometime I will add in Telcon's 'Hints to Women' (I had forgotten how we had to wear gloves all the time in the '50s. - and my terrible confession is that I rather liked that). They also think people who worked at Harvey's were well off enough to afford cream with their puddings!! - which is more than my family was, Cream came in tins at Christmas, only.
If you go down still further I have put some pictures of women in the gasworks during the Great War.
"The Summer seems to be a very slow starter again this year, but the Shops are full of lovely summer dresses, and the new line makes us take a second look at our figures and wish we had not had so many in-between meal snacks during the 'Winter months.
I think you will all agree we must have trim waist lines if we are to look our best in an " A " line dress. One very good exercise to do if the tummy muscles have become slack, is to stand flat against a wall without shoes on, pull your tummy muscles taut then relax. Repeat this twenty times. You
can do this at any odd time during the day, after a little while the desired effect should soon be obtained. Another very good thing for us all to do, is deep breathing exercises. Place your hands on hips, and take a deep breath, making your hands rise and fall as you do so. This makes for improvement in our health, which after all IS the main thing, for whatever pretty clothes we may wear, if the face is tired and the figure drooping, nothing will look at its best advantage.
Here is a tip for a girl who may get a surprise invitation out and her hair is not just as she would like it : 'Wring out a towel in hot water and rub your hair very hard. Repeat this twice, then set with setting lotion. When dry it should comb out quite fresh. . . . . and those spots . . . . Whatever you do don't start squeezing them or the whole evening will be miserable, because you know you have a beautiful red blemish showing. Cover them with Calomine Lotion beneath foundation cream, or- if very angry cover with a flesh coloured round plaster and make up over it . . . . and don't forget a bathing with Boracic Crystals (1 teaspoonful to pint of water warm) is a grand reviver for tired eyes.
Just a word to the girls with long slim backs, who always seem to have trouble in making a blouse and skirt stay together neatly. Wear a broad tight elastic belt and you will find this will prevent the blouse slipping apart.
Something refreshing for a sweet during the brighter days :-
1 round teaspoon arrowroot.
3 ozs. Castor sugar
3 ozs. Selfraising Flour
Beat eggs lightly, then add sugar beating all the time, for at least 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour and beat to a smooth cream. Pour in a tin about eight inches round, and bake in a moderate oven for twenty minutes. Remove and leave to cool, then place on a tray until cold. Drain your fruit, putting aside the juice, and arrange in the flan. Now blend the arrowroot with a little juice, bring the rest of the juice to the boil and then stir in to the blended mixture, return all . to the saucepan and cook for four minutes stirring continuously.
Let the mixture cool a little then pour over the fruit, leave to set. Serve cold with cream."
Meanwhile in the gasworks:
|Women drivers - sorry about picture quality|
|Filling coke sacks|
Mind you - when the war was over the men all got up petitions to management to get the women out!! Management minuted that the women were much better workers.