Home | Membership | News | Diary | Walks | Calvocoressi Fund | Books | Links | Database | e-papers | About us

Book reviews - December 2000

'Iron Shipbuilding on the Thames, 1832-1915: an economic and business history', by A J Arnold
Published in November 2000 by Ashgate ( Hardback. 210 pages. £49.95. ISBN 0 7546 0252 4
'Little better documented than King Arthur or Robin Hood' complained one historian in 1998 describing the lack of information on Thames shipbuilding. This study of iron shipbuilding on the capital's river fills this noticeable gap. A J Arnold examines the initial domination of the iron shipbuilding trade by Thames firms from the launch of the first iron vessel on the river in 1832 to the end of serious Thames-side shipbuilding in 1915. For the first time, the factors that caused the industry's demise are explored fully, together with an analysis of the effect it had on its locality.

Extending existing series of data, the book includes information on annual shipbuilding tonnage and the number of vessels constructed, and further looks at tonnage built for foreign citizens, companies and navies, and for the British Admiralty. This broader and deeper statistical survey is supplemented with less systematic documentation such as memorabilia and business records to arrive at the most complete picture yet of a once pre-eminent British industry.

'The Story of William Stanley: a self-made man', by Eloise Akpan
Published by the author supported by Croydon Council, £5.95 plus £1 p&p from the author at 28 Hurlstone Road, London SE25 6JD. Email:
There has not been a biography of William Stanley before. Starting as a ditch digger he became an inventor with 78 patents to his name, a manufacturer of scientific instruments and the founder of the Stanley Halls and Technical School in South Norwood for which he was the architect. His factory in Norwood, although gutted by fire in 1999, is to be restored, keeping original features intact, and turned into housing. His own house is now a children's home as he intended.

This book should be of interest to local residents and those interested in scientific instruments. Bill Firth

'Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain: volume 1, Yorkshire', by George Watkins
Published November 2000 by Landmark Publishing. ISBN: 190152289X. Hardcover. 320 pages. Price £25. Further details from Landmark Publishing Ltd, 12 Compton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 1DA. Tel: 01335 347349. Fax: 01335 347303. Email: Website:
Landmark Publishing are proposing, subject to demand, to publish George Watkins' huge collection of black and white photographs of over 1,500 engines in ten volumes on a geographical basis in association with the National Monument Record where the collection is deposited. Volume 1, Yorkshire is now available. Bill Firth

'Bristol Channel Shipping: the twilight years', by Chris Collard
Published May 2000 by Tempest Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0 7524 1740 1. Soft cover. 128 pages. £9.99
This book has black and white photos of the shipping and ports of the Bristol Channel. Chris Collard, then an apprentice Channel pilot, took the photographs 40 years ago. The pictures depict cargo ships, liners, tugs and paddle steamers which used the ports during the years following the Second World War, all of which belong to our industrial past. This is an excellent record for anyone interested in shipping. Charlie Thurston

'Discover Eltham and Its Environs', by Darrell Spurgeon
Published by Greenwich Guide Books, 72 Kidbrooke Grove, Blackheath, SE3. ISBN: 0951562428. £5.99
GLIAS member Darrell Spurgeon has reissued his 'Discover Eltham' in his 'Greenwich Guide Books' series. While Eltham may not seem to be the best source of IA in Greater London, Darrell has nevertheless done his very best. By including Shooters Hill and Mottingham in the area covered he has found some interesting water industry and farming remains. Sadly the only remaining factory in the area - Stanley's in New Eltham - has now closed although the buildings remain for the present. All in all Darrell has found some surprising things in an unpromising area. Mary Mills

'Shipbuilding on the Thames and Thames-built Ships', edited by Stuart Rankin
Published by Redriffe Chronicle, newsletter of Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Group
Proceedings of a symposium for researchers and authors held on 2 September 2000.

'Visions of Greenwich Reach: a homage to the working Thames', by artist Terry Scales
Details from Greenwich Tourist Information Centre, Pepys House, Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich
A book of paintings illustrating the working river over the past 50 years.

'Isambard Kingdom Brunel: recent works', by R Angus Buchanan, Michael Chrimes, John King, et al
Paperback. 144 pages. Published October 2000 by the Design Museum. ISBN: 187200525X

© GLIAS, 2000