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Book reviews - February 2001

Mary Mills has added footnotes and references to her 1999 book 'Greenwich Marsh: The 300 Years Before the Dome' (see review). This is now available at a basic cost of photocopying, a folder and postage (£4) or plus the book (£12) or, free, by email. The 'Greenwich Riverside' walk can also be included at an extra £1.

Mary says that the book has sold very well despite some hostility from bookshops and newspapers. It has, she says, sold almost entirely by word of mouth and through reviews in local history and family history publications.

'The Order of Industrial Heroism' by W H Fevyer, J W Wilson and J E Cribb
ISBN: 0953920704. A4 portrait, thread sewn, stiff card cover, xii and 197 pages, containing 6 plates and 35 illustrations of recipients of the Order of Industrial Heroism. Published September 2000 by OMRS, at £28, plus £3.50 p&p. Available from John Wilson, 'Little Sadlers', Upper Edgeborough Road, Guildford GU1 2BG
This may seem to be an unusual subject to highlight here, but it contains many stories which throw a great deal of light on industrial history.

For example: Albert Boswell, Charlton, SE7 - a foundry worker presented with his award in Greenwich Town Hall - 27th October 1954. A trimmer was grinding a magnesium casting during which a considerable amount of inflammable magnesium dust had gathered on his clothing. A spark from the grinder set his clothes alight and dropping the girder he ran along the main gangway of the shop. Albert Boswell, with two others, went to his rescue and put out the flames. This was at considerable personal risk because of dust on their own clothes.

'British Breweries: an architectural history, Lynn Pearson
ISBN 1 85285 191 0. Published May 2000 by Hambledon Press, £25. Hardcover - 267 pages
Brewers were aware of their buildings' marketing value and employed architects to design them for grandeur as well as functional needs. This copiously illustrated book covers their history into the Victorian period. Bill Firth

'Twentieth Century Industrial Archaeology', by Michael Stratton and Barrie Trinder
ISBN 0 419 24680 0. Published August 2000 by Spon. £29.99. Paperback - 256 pages
A guide to the artefacts, buildings and landscape that shaped our civilisation in the 20th century.

'Essential Islington: from Boadicea to Blair', by Pamela Shields
ISBN 0 7509 2573 6. Published September 2000 by Sutton Publishing. Paperback - 224 pages. In December there was a special offer of £9, including p&p, quoting reference EI/00, from Haynes Publishing, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. Tel: 01963 442030. Email: but this may no longer apply. The RRP is £10.99
An informative and entertaining A-Z of Islington History. Pamela Shields has a passion for Islington where she lived for ten years.

'London, Brighton & South Coast Railway', by John Minnis
ISBN 07524 1626 X. Published March 1999 by Tempus, Stroud £9.99 (paperback)
'London's Railways', by Keith Scholey
ISBN 07524 1605 7. Published October 1999 by Tempus, Stroud, £9.99 (paperback)
Two books of the same format from the same publisher. The first comprises pictures of the LB&SCR, from the author's collection, mainly from the Edwardian period. The second is devoted to railways in the London area and most of the views are from commercial postcards. Dr Edwin Course, reviewing these books in Industrial Archaeology Review, remarks, 'in general both books are to be recommended. London's Railways may be written for Londoners but will be appreciated by railway buffs. The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway will satisfy the railway buffs but will also appeal to other readers, including industrial archaeologists'. Bill Firth

'The Wey & Arun Junction Canal', by P A L Vine
ISBN 0 7524 1721 5. Published 1998 by Tempus, Stroud, £9.99 (paperback)
Paul Vine is well known at least to canal enthusiasts as the author of London's Lost Route to the Sea covering the whole route from the Thames to Portsmouth which included the Wey and Arun Junction Canal from Godalming to Newbridge. This new book concentrates on this section of the waterway and is described as tremendous value. Bill Firth

'Guide to the History of Technology in Europe 2000, 4th edition', by Caroline Turney, Nicholas Wyatt, Elizabeth Barnes and Timothy Boon
Published 2000 by the Science Museum, £9.95. ISBN 1-900747-17-9. 229 pages, paperback
This fourth edition provides updated information on over 1,000 individuals and organisations concerned with the history of technology. Entries for researchers are arranged by their principal research interests, and cross-references are provided for subsidiary interests. These are followed by country lists of organisations, and journals arranged in order of interest areas. There are indexes for persons. organisations, and journals.

Forms for potential new entries in the fifth edition are at the back of the volume. Paul Sowan

'Dangerous Energy: the archaeology of gunpowder and military explosives manufacture', by Wayne D Cocroft
Published 2000 by English Heritage, National Monuments Record Centre, Great Western Village, Kemble Drive, Swindon, Wilts SN2 2GZ. 320 pages, paperback. ISBN 1-85074-719-0. £45
This work deals with specifically military explosives manufacture in England, with substantial passing reference to factories also in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. About 45% of the text is concerned with the gunpowder industry, from the Middle Ages onwards. Much of the remainder describes the functioning and extant remains of the chemical explosives industry from the later 19th century onwards (nitro-glycerine, nitrocelluloses, trinitrotoluene, and related compounds and mixtures), and rocket fuels, The manufacture of explosives for civil use, principally mining, quarrying and civil engineering applications, and of nuclear weapons is not covered. Detailed illustrated descriptions of specific sites, with maps showing the railway infrastructure so characteristic of the later ones, include Chilworth (Surrey), Faversham (Kent), Holton Heath (Dorset), Waltham Abbey (Essex), and Woolwich Arsenal (London), among others. Filling stations are also described, but regrettably a whole class of important WWII monuments - underground armament stores - is ignored completely, These, too, formed an important part of the rail-linked complex from raw materials via factories and filling stations to supply to theatres of war.

Some aspects of the social history of the industry are noted, including the employment of women, the provision of workers' housing, and the results of accidental explosions.

A chapter is devoted to the survival, re-use and conservation of buildings and structures, There is a gazetteer of sites, including those in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland; a glossary and list of abbreviations; a bibliography (11½ pages); and an index (14 pages). Paul Sowan

'Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland, with the privatised situation as at the 31st December 1993', by Alan Jowett
Published 2000. ISBN 0-906899-99-9. 240 pages, hardback. £34.99 inc. p&p from Atlantic Transport Publishers, Trevithick House, West End, Penrhyn, Cornwall TR10 8HE. Tel: 01326 373656. Fax: 01326 378309. Email:
This volume contains 96 maps showing the railways of the British Isles (including the Isle of Man and Ireland) as they existed from nationalisation (1948 in Great Britain, and various later dates in Ireland) through to 1993. The maps are drawn in 'Railway Clearing House' style (with lines colour-coded), with the status of lines, passenger and goods stations, tunnels, viaducts, engine sheds, and other detail. Facing each map is a gazetteer page, listing all such features under separate headings, with National Grid map references and explanatory notes. Opening and closing dates, where relevant between 1948 and 1993 are given. 'Beeching' closure proposals are identified. as well as proposed re-openings.

Lines into industrial or Ministry of Defence complexes are not shown. 15 preliminary pages explain the symbols and conventions used, the intricacies of Irish nationalisation, and include map indices to assist in the location of specific map pages.

There is a one-page detailed bibliography of Railway Clearing House maps, other maps and gazetteers, regional histories, and other works. The index of stations occupies 28 pages, and there is a one-and-a-half page index of railways. There is no overall index for other features such as viaducts or tunnels. Paul Sowan

'The First Severn Tunnel', by Keith Walker
Published by the Forest of Dean Local History Society, Bess Anstis, Albion House, Parkend Walk, Coalway, Coleford, Gloucs GL16 7JS. Tel: 01594 832890
This article reports fieldwork and archival research concerning an attempt to drive a tramroad tunnel, apparently intended as an extension of the Bullo Pill Tramway, under the river Severn in 1811-12.

The engineer, Robert Tipping, sank a shaft near Newnham on the west bank of the river, and succeeded in driving 226 yards of tunnel 12 feet wide and 13 feet high towards Arlingham, until the work had to be abandoned in November 1812 as a result of an inrush of water, The locations of a 12-foot square working shaft at Newnham, and possible locations of further shafts and under-land extensions of the intended tunnel towards the Bullo Pill Tramway are also reported. Information is also included on the Bullo Pill Tramway's tunnel at Haie (or Hay) Hill, 1,083 yards long, dating from 1809-10; this tunnel was widened to accommodate a single broad gauge track in 1854.

Although records relating to the Severn Tunnel Company [Act, 24th May 1810. 50 Geo. III] have not been discovered, documents relating to Richard Trevithick's equally unsuccessful Thames Archway or Driftway of 1805-08 are reported found at Gloucestershire Record Office, and it is suggested that the Severn Tunnel Company had acquired these as a model for their own tunnel.

The place of the failed Severn tunnel of 1811-12 in the development of under-water tunnelling schemes from Ralph Dodd's unsuccessful attempt to make a Gravesend - Tilbury tunnel under the Thames in 1798, to Marc and Isambard Brunel's Thames tunnel of 1825-43 is described.

The paper is illustrated with an aerial photograph of the Newnham shaft location and other traces of the work of 1811-12, a view of the southern portal of the widened Haie Hill tunnel, photographs of established or suggested shaft locations and other relevant archaeological features, two maps, and a section. References to archival and published sources are given. Paul Sowan

© GLIAS, 2001