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GREATER LONDON INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY

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Book reviews — December 2004

‘A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Hertfordshire and the Lea Valley’, by Tim Smith and Bob Carr
Published Association for Industrial Archaeology. Copies of the Gazetteer are available, price £4.95 + 70p p&p from Ruth Verrall, Rivendell, Knockholt Road, Halstead, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7ET
The AIA Hertfordshire & Lea Valley guide is somewhat ‘daring’ in covering both a chunk of industrial London and the neighbouring less-developed counties.

It is a curious, if perhaps understandable, feature of industrial archaeological societies, and most IA books, that they have to date followed a strictly ‘local authority’ ambit.

Industry, and people, did not necessarily adopt such a tidy approach, especially in the area covered that only partly became ‘London’ at the time of the GLC’s formation in the early 1960s.

The Lea Valley is a wonderful place, it has water supply sites in profusion, an amazing industrial history, and it is crammed full with interesting IA. If you don’t know it, go there and take the AIA gazetteer with you.

Tim Smith and Bob Carr have virtuously worked to create a very worthwhile publication. Michael Bussell and Mary Mills

‘Around Hayes & West Drayton – Transport and Industry – Britain in old Photographs’, by Philip Sherwood
Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 2004, ISBN 0-7509-3669-X, £12.99, pp128 www.suttonpublishing.co.uk
This is a useful survey of the area in photographs, maps and trade-cards, with specific chapters on roads, the canal, the railway, the development of aviation, brick-making and gravel extraction and the growth and decline of industry. The industrial record is particularly welcome, as the Hayes Development Company’s estate, just over 100 years old, is currently being refurbished. HMV’s art-deco concrete factory buildings are now in their second or third use, and some of those remaining have been restored and carefully modernised. Since its takeover by Morrison’s, the Safeway HQ on the Fairey Aviation Company’s site, across the railway, where only one original building remains, is already vacated. The 50-year Heathrow third runway issue, of which the author does not hide his views, is covered in depth. The maps are well labelled and can be easily related to the photographs. Charles Norrie

‘Copperas’, by Tim Allen, Mike Cotterill and Geoffrey Pike
Canterbury Archaeological Trust Occasional Paper No.2. £13.95, be purchased from: Heritage Marketing and Publications, Hill Farm – Unit F, Great Dunham, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE32 2LP, www.heritagemp.com
GLIAS members might ask why I am reviewing a book about an archaeological dig in Whitstable, Kent. Well, this is an important book about a major, and very early, industry which was sited all along the Thames down to the estuary. Its raw material, iron pyrites, could be picked from the estuary foreshore and much of it was shipped up river to works in Greenwich, Deptford and Blackwall, as well as being used locally. In Whitstable, however, the remains of works existed available to be excavated – I remember seeing film of this dig, where each tide would destroy the work of the previous hours.

Copperas has been cited as the ‘first industrial scale chemical production in England’. I first became interested in it as part of my research on east London industry – the best description we have of a works is of one at Deptford in 1677 and it is this description which acted as the guide to the dig at Whitstable.

The authors, Tim Allen, Mike Cotterill and Geoff Pike, have been working on copperas and its history for many years, concentrating on sites in Thanet and Sheppey, but have always expressed their intention of writing something more general about this very early industry. This book ‘Copperas’ is the result, giving a great deal of background information as well as showing how the industry can be interpreted from the physical as well as the written information which remains. There are sections on the industry nationwide, but particularly about southern England.

In the later period of production, in the early 19th century, copperas production along the Thames was largely confined to the ownership and management of one family and their influence can be seen throughout the area. Perhaps the next volume should be about how this important early industry was to influence the massive industrial growth that followed it on Thameside – through technology, capital and economic management. Mary Mills


© GLIAS, 2004