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Notes and news — February 1970

In this issue:

A message from the Secretary to Members

Since the formation of GLIAS in April of last year, the main concern of your Committee has been to get the society known to the public and in this they have been reasonably successful, with membership now approaching 150. They have also been able to put the Society on a reasonably sound financial footing, mainly due to the grant from the Thames Basin Archaeological Observers’ Group from sales of its booklet 'Industrial Monuments of Greater London'.

Whilst this policy of publicity, with visits, etc. will be continued during 1970, the emphasis will now swing to what should be the aim of any Archaeological Society, to get its members out in the field, both recording and assisting in preservation of suitable relics.

Your Committee is already planning a series of training sessions on the site of the former Thames Ironworks, a series of walks to help people become more observant, and the work of dismantling the Gas-engine in Southwark will get into full swing. The Society is likely to become more involved over the future of Crossness Engine House. A card index Record will be set up, using the CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Cards. More projects, both specific and general in nature, will appear in the Newsletter with requests for volunteers, and in addition I shall be contacting many members personally, asking if they can undertake certain projects.

The next Newsletter will be accompanied by a Questionnaire, enabling you to make your requirements known, and a membership list will inform you of those who are in your locality, or with similar interests.

However, all this depends upon the members taking up the challenge. None of us have enough spare time to do all we should like to do, but things get ever more urgent in our area, due to redevelopment and modernisation. I'm sure you will want to play your part in making 1970 a really active year for GLIAS. Paul Carter


Beam Engines and Windmills

With this Newsletter you will receive an information leaflet on beam engines in Greater London, compiled by Paul Carter with a drawing of West Ham Beam Engines by Denis Smith. Further copies may be obtained from Michael Bussell, at 9d each, plus 6d postage on any number. The leaflet was conceived originally as supplementary information for the Society's report submitted to the GLC in connection with the proposed restoration of Crossness Engine House, now under consideration.

Another source of power that interests all industrial archaeologists is the windmill. Would any member care to undertake the compilation of a list of all remaining windmills within 30 miles radius of Central London? The format of the list, which would be published by GLIAS, will be similar to the beam engines leaflet, with location and brief historical and technical details. Please contact the Secretary, Paul Carter, 20 Chestnut Grove, Wembley, who already has some information. Further lists are planned; comment on the beam engines leaflet is invited. Such lists would enable anyone planning a drive or walk in the London area (including visitors) to know what remains to be seen and where.

Gas Industry Archives

Enfield College of Technology, under the guidance of one of our members, Mr A. J. Spackman, are building up a collection of material connected with the gas industry. Mr Spackman, who is a Lecturer in Fuel Technology at the College, has agreed to be responsible for looking after any material members may be able to contribute to this collection.

Material sought includes photos or drawings of equipment and buildings, company magazines, manufacturers' catalogues, records of early showrooms and delivery vehicles, etc. Anyone with such material or seeking further information should contact Mr Spackman through the Enfield College of Technology, Queensway, Enfield, Middlesex.

Council for British Archaeology

The Society has just been elected to membership of the Council for British Archaeology. This is an important step, for the CBA has done much for industrial archaeology in the past. Apart from being kept informed of current CBA policy and activities, member organisations are eligible to apply for grants towards publication and training their membership in field techniques. One of the main aims of GLIAS is to achieve and maintain full co-ordination with other societies in the area which are active in the field of industrial archaeology and membership of the CBA will be of great value in this respect.

Recent Losses

It is sad to report the demolition of two items of particular architectural merit. Campden Hill Standpipe, Notting Hill (TQ 249801): built in 1857 for the Grand Junction Waterworks Company, to the designs of Alexander Fraser, this Italianate yellow brick standpipe was a famous local landmark and had several times featured in books on Victorian architecture.

The 'Regent' Gasholder, Fulham (TQ 260768); indeed a sad loss, with its fluted columns, foliated capitals, spiked finials and decorated grinders with tracery-filled spandrels. This holder, built in 1870, was visible only to the keen observer, but featured probably the most ornamental use of ironwork on any gasholder-framework in this country.

Stanhope Printing Press at Gunnersbury Park Museum

The press, invented by Charles, 3rd Earl Stanhope c.1800, is the earliest extant example in this country of an iron printing press. It is No. 5 of 1804 and was used by Charles Whittingham and his nephew of the same name at the Chiswick Press from 1810 until 1852. It has recently been completely overhauled and put into working order by Messrs Brett and Cox and is on permanent display in the Museum; because of its great weight the press has had to be placed on the only available strong, stone floor in the entrance hall. Miss Goshawk, Museum Curator

Chiswell Street Brewery Redevelopment

Whitbread's the brewers announced in early December that they planned to redevelop their Chiswell Street site, which dates from the early 18th century. It is gratifying to record that specific proposals are made for the retention of the most famous and important early buildings on the site, the partners' dwelling house (1742) and the Porter Tun Room, completed in the 1780s, which has the second greatest clear-spanning timber roof in England.

A visit is to be arranged, both to see the above-mentioned buildings and to inspect and record those parts of the brewery which will disappear in the scheme, which is unlikely to be started before 1972.

Notable 20th Century Buildings Listed

It was announced in Parliament this month that buildings dating from between the Wars are to be considered for listing as being of special architectural or historic interest. Among the first to benefit from this useful and enlightened step are four Underground stations (Arnos Grove, Oakwood, Southgate and Sudbury Town); the Royal Horticultural Hall, Westminster; Hays Wharf head office, London Bridge; and the Metropolitan Water Board laboratories at New River Head, Rosebery Avenue, EC1.

District Line Girders to Be Preserved — Out of London

The January 1970 issue of the London Underground Railway Society Journal describes how two cast-iron girders, replaced during strengthening operations on the roof of the District Line in Westminster, were offered by London Transport to anyone able to accommodate them. No response was forthcoming from the London area, but happily the Bowes Museum has offered to display them in its Open-Air Museum now being established in County Durham. This is an appropriate turn of events, for the girders were cast 104 years ago by the Weardale Iron & Coal Company in Consett, only a few miles away; but it emphasises the shortage of display facilities for such items in London.

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© GLIAS, 1970