Book reviews - February 2002
'British Aircraft Before the Great War', by Mike Goodall and Albert Tagg
ISBN 0-7643-1207-3. £49.95, hardcover. 300 pages. Published by Schiffer in February 2001
This is an exhaustive account of every known aeroplane, glider, helicopter, ornithopter and dirigible designed and built in the British Isles before 1914 with more than 900 of them well illustrated. Among the many manufacturers covered are Avro, Sopwith, Shorts, and Bristol. Many lesser known designers and builders such as Martin-Handasyde and Howard Wright are also covered.
'The First Croydon Airport', by B Learmouth, J Bogle (née Nash) & the late Doug Cluett (ed)
ISBN: 0-9541370-0-0. Available from Geoff Morris, 33 Cowper Gardens, Wallington SM6 9RN. Tel: 020 8669 2812. £8.40, cheques payable to the Croydon Airport Society
This book covers the pioneering days of aviation at Beddington/Waddon/Croydon and was first published in 1977 and reprinted again in 1983 to meet popular and historical demand. The airport's story was deeply researched and begins with the introduction of aviation to Croydon by arrival of RFC fighters during the winter of 1915/16 to combat zeppelin raids on London and by the end of hostilities the National Aircraft Factory number one had been built and was contributing to the production of military aeroplanes.
On 29 March 1920 the designated Airport of London was transferred from Hounslow Heath to Croydon to continue the fascinating pioneering days of civil aviation. It witnessed the development of airlines into Imperial Airways in 1924 and the extension of routes to eventually linking the Empire by air was envisaged as far back as 1921. The introduction of bigger and better aircraft from the early military conversions is traced together with the advances made in the all important air-traffic control through wireless communication and radio direction finding. Glamour was never far from Croydon with its many record-breaking flights starting or ending there and space is given to record some of the outstanding personalities at both ground level and in the air.
As the second print of the book has been unavailable for several years the Croydon Airport Society decided that a second edition was necessary to meet a renewed interest following the opening of a visitor centre in Airport House (GLIAS 195, p13) and this has been achieved through its own funding. Faithfully reproduced from the original research which has stood the test of time, volume one of the airport story is a stitch-bound paperback now extended from 88 to 120 pages to include new photos, documents and information culled from the society's bulging archives. Mike Marshall
'Places and People in the Early East London Gas Industry', by Mary Mills
260 pages illustrated (many badly reproduced) soft bound with a record number of typos. £22.40. (£25 with p&p) cheques to be made out to M Wright. Available by post only from M Wright, 24 Humber Road, London SE3 7LT. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The London gas industry dates from the early 19th century and was the first to become active. Dr.Mills' new work describes gas companies, gas works sites, activists and scientists in east and south-east London in the first 35 years of the industry - plus some scandals. The book includes many articles which first appeared in the GLIAS newsletter - plus a great deal more new material. It complements Mary's 'The Early East London Gas Industry and its Waste Products' (GLIAS 185, p11) and further illustrates the early gas industry's relationship to growth - both suburban and industrial - in east London as well as within contemporary society.
'Southwark Remembered', by John Beasley
Copies are available at £10.99 from Tempus Publishing, The Mill, Brimscombe Park, Stroud, Glos GL5 2QC. Please mention to Tempus that you saw the review in the GLIAS Newsletter since they are prepared to make special offers on copies sold in this way
Southwark Remembered is a new book in the 'Changing Times' series compiled by the well known local author John Beasley. John has always had an affinity to GLIAS and industrial archaeology and it is good to know that at least one item - the Bermondsey gelatin works - was included because John read about it in a GLIAS Journal - but there are many more sites pictured and described which will be familiar to GLIAS members - the Burgess Park lime kiln, Bankside Power Station, Honor Oak Reservoir, St.Mary Overie Dock, Spa Road Station and many many more. There also many sites which have associations with well known industries and industrialists - like Bovril Castle, and Bessemer House. This is an interesting and well researched contribution to south London's history. Mary Mills
© GLIAS, 2002