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Book reviews — June 1990

A revised edition of the standard work on Ironbridge Gorge, including a new chapter and a postscript by Dr. Raistrick, together with a summary of recent Ironbridge Gorge history by Museum Director Stuart B. Smith. Price £10.50 inc. post & packing, from Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Ironbridge, Telford, Shropshire, TF8 7AW. BILL FIRTH

THE ROYAL DOCKYARDS 1690-1850, Jonathan G. Goad
The first comprehensive description of the architecture and engineering works of the sailing navy at home and abroad. The author is an Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings with English Heritage and in the late 1960s worked extensively at Chatham, Portsmouth and Devonport. BILL FIRTH

Published by Wild Swan Publications. £3.95.
This issue of the Journal marked the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first section of the Eastern Counties Railway on 20th June 1339. Over two-thirds of the contents will interest a much wider audience than just the railway buff. Articles of special interest are Alan Wright's 'The London Terminus of the ECR' describing the history of the rather short-lived terminus in Bishopsgate developed in an 'eccentric disregard for the normal conventions of business and management'. John Watling writes a long article on the growth of the goods facilities of the ECR and GER at Bishopsgate and Spitalfields. One cannot but help noticing the rather precarious structure in the photograph of Bethnal Green West Junction signal box — it housed a timekeeper who had the task, of reporting to the control office at Liverpool St. any of the 'Jazz' trains which did not run exactly to schedule — he would be very busy today! At long last I have been able to make sense out of the mass of railway brickwork above and below ground level on the section between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street stations — an area now rapidly changing out of all recognition. A more general article by Geoff Pember looks at the Great Eastern in East London. The quality of the many photographs and maps in this issue is excellent. DON CLOW

The Transactions of Lewisham Local History Society for 1986-7 have just been published! The only article in this edition is of great interest to industrial historians being a history of 'Stone's of Deptford' by Peter Gurnett. This traces the story of this major London manufacturer from humble beginnings producing nails and rivets under the arches at Deptford Station to a successful multi-national mainly among other things, producing railway air conditioning units, propellers and textile machinery. The Transactions continue with an index. In this should be noted: The Industrial Development of Deptford (1966); Ravensbourne Water (1957); George England and the Hatcham Iron Works (1969); George Baxter — Colour Printer (1970) ; The London and Greenwich Railway (1971); James Starley (1971); Deptford Dockyard (1972); Inns arid Breweries in Lewisham and Deptford (1975); Thomas Tilling and after (1982); George England's Hatcham Ironworks (1983); The Story of Croydon Airport (1985). MARY MILLS

By-gone Kent is a monthly magazine which often publishes articles of great interest to industrial archaeologists working in Greater London. Some of these articles include:
'Flights of Fancy' Kent's Pioneer Aircraft Builders 1900-1914 by David G. Collyer. Includes information of flights from Bromley, Lee and Belvedere. (Vol. 8, No. G)
The Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cables of:'.065-1866, by Arthur Joyce, details of Glass
Elliott & Co. cabling made in Greenwich. (Vol. 5, No. 5)
Woolwich: Kent's first Royal Dockyard, By Philip MacDougall. (Vol. 2, No. 10)
Barging Memories, by W.J. 'Bill' Haisnan. Includes lots of details of bargework on the river in London. (Vol. 2, No. 10)
The Other Woolwich Ferry by Robert L. Eastleigh. This is about the Great Eastern Ferry. (Vol. 9, Mo. 11)
The Bexley Urban District Council Tramways, by Robert L. Eastleigh. (Vol. 9, No. 1) and (Vol. 9, No. 2)
The Building of the Bostall Estate, Abbey Wood, by Rod Le Gear. The estate was built by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society for Woolwich Arsenal workers. The article contains details of the chalk urine. (Vol. 9, No. 3)

(A. & C. Black 1990) 362 pp, 25 illus. £9.95. (ISBN 0 7136 3137 6)
It might be thought that a nature study book is being reviewed in the GLIAS Newsletter but as the recent "Schedule of Sites of Nature Conservation Significance in the London Borough of Newham" by the London Ecology Unit shows, there is a considerable correlation between urban nature areas and industrial archaeological sites. A recent well-known overlap of interests between ecologists and industrial archaeologists has been over proposed changes to the New River. Abandoned railway yards, canals, reservoirs, mining dereliction, sewage farms and factory sites are grist to the mill of the urban nature enthusiast. This is the kind of site which this ambitious gazetteer covers for the whole of England. The book starts with Greater London (115 pages) and few GLIAS members know London so well that they will not learn a good deal from this survey. Sites are listed by Borough with grid references and useful information on how to approach the site, management, contact and above all whether public access is allowed make this an extremely valuable reference book for the industrial archaeological tourist. Immediately large numbers of industrial archaeological walks come to mind. The notes on history are in general rather weak but after all this is our province. Read together with appropriate industrial archaeology and local history books, a rounded picture will emerge. For provincial areas the gazetteers are compiled by local experts and should make this guide indispensable for GLI/'S members exploring places such as Dudley, Wigan, Bradford, Gateshead and so on. Buy it and see for yourself. BOB CARR

Published January 1987. No. 11. 'Acton Past and Present' £1.00 from Dr. T. Harper Smith, 40 Perryn Road, W3 7NA.
GAS IN ACTON . D. C. Knights
Published 1989 and available from Dr. Harper Smith as above. £1.00
Both booklets are unusual in that they cover a wider area than just the history of the local company: Gas in Acton not only gives a brief history of the Brentford Company but also of railway gas supply. Electricity in Acton describes local power suppliers including those for the railways. Both give some history of the process as well as local details — and local information covers such details as sites of manhole covers. Mr. Knights is to be congratulated on his research which is worth much more than the 20p being charged. MARY MILLS

SOAPSUD ISLAND Acton Laundries. T. and A. Harper Smith. 1988.
£2.00. can be obtained from: Dr. T. Harper, 48 Perryn Hd, Acton, London W3 7NA..
Soapsud Island is a very impressive 44 pages on the Acton Laundry industry - which was much more important and has left more remains than I would have thought possible. It seems that the trade in Acton was so large that speculators erected groups of purpose built laundries. When I worked for a laundry trade journal in the 1960s I often used to think that here was an industry which was going to leave no trace behind it when it went — but here is a book which details numerous concerns of all sizes, as well as giving some background to the industry and its local setting. I was particularly taken with the history of what is apparently still the Acton Conservative Club, which in 1871 was private 'Acton Baths'. In 1895 this was turned into a laundry and in 1927 the same owner reopened it as a billiard saloon. I am sure that there is a very big book to be written about laundries — and in particular the revolution in the mechanisation of the industry in the 1900s — it is books like this which will be the building bricks of that. MARY MILLS

The Edmonton Hundred Historical Society publishes Occasional Papers and nos. 50 and 51 would, seem to be of particular interest. (No publishers' address given, 50 — £2, 51 — £1.50). No.50 — 'Guns and Gun Powder' in Enfield in particularly fascinating. The first article by Audrey Robinson gives the history of the setting up of the Royal Small Arms Factory. It relates how the factory, sited in Lewisham, was moved to Enfield together with its workers and much equipment. She says: 'One of the main purposes of the exercise was to be able to use water power for all the operations involved and not a joint use of water and steam as was the case at Lewisham'. The water wheels were installed by the firm of Lloyd and Ostell from Southwark with advice from Rennie. The article ends with biographies of several of the workers at Lewisham and Enfield including John By, a Royal Engineer. Another biography of John By appears in the Woolwich Antiquarian Transactions — did the two authors know each other? The second article is about Gunpowder and Saltpetre production in Enfield. This is another fascinating story of a hunt for the gunpowder mill in Enfield — and its possible relation to Polycarpus and the Chilworth mills. 'Drovers and Tanners' of Enfield and Edmonton (No. 51) is on droving through North London and its Welsh connections. The second article is about the Leather industry in Enfield and gives a great deal of detail about the history of tanning, together with information on Enfield tanners. MARY MILLS

© GLIAS, 1990