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Notes and news — August 1970

In this issue:

First GLIAS Annual General Meeting

The Society's first AGM was held on Saturday, 4th July at the Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, WC1. The meeting began just after 2 o'clock with an introduction by the Chairman, Alan Thomas, who in welcoming those present expressed his pleasure at the large turnout — nearly 50% of the Society's membership. He read a message of good wishes from Michael Robbins, the Society's President, who was unavoidably absent from the meeting.

The Secretary, Paul Carter, commenced his report by reviewing the circumstances that had led up to the afternoon meeting held at the Science Museum on Sunday, December 1st, 1968, which was attended by 130 people. A Steering Committee had been elected to formulate policy and draft a constitution for a Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society; this constitution had been accepted with a few modifications at the Society's Formation Meeting held on Saturday, April 12th, 1969 at Westminster Technical College.

At the end of its first year, GLIAS had a membership of 123 individuals and 12 groups. Events of various types had been organised and generally well-supported. These included a Regent's Canal cruise, a 'teach-in' at St Katharine Docks (GLIAS Newsletter August 1969) and visits to several waterworks and pumping stations, Tower Bridge, Croydon gasworks, Whitefriars Glass Company and a brickworks. The Newsletter, originally planned to appear 8-10 times a year had in the event appeared six times, but with an average of five pages each issue compared with the three pages originally intended. Communications had been established with various bodies, including the Council for British Archaeology, the Guildhall, London and Science Museums, the National Monuments Record and Surrey Archaeological Society among others. A number of field projects had been undertaken or begun by the Society and by individual members. A report on the Crossness beam pumping engine house had been prepared by a GLIAS sub-committee and submitted to the Greater London Council who were considering the engine house's future.

Looking to the Society's own future, the Secretary saw the coming year as one of consolidation and at the same time extension of the Society's activities; and he emphasised that its growth depended on the enthusiasm and actions of all its members.

The Treasurer, Godfrey Oxley-Sidey, reported that the Society's accounts (which had been circulated to members before the meeting) showed a substantial surplus at the end of the first year, this having largely accrued from sales of the Thames Basin Archaeological Observers' Group booklet on London's industrial monuments, which were being handled by GLIAS. The gross balance included two amounts of ₤30 owing to the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society and Southwark Excavation Committee from booklet sales, as had been agreed when the TBAOG was dissolved and he thanked these organisations for allowing GLIAS to delay payment of these sums (which had in fact now been paid over). Had there not been the income from booklet sales, the Society would have ended its first year with a small deficit; printing and distribution costs having been the Society's main sources of expenditure.

There being only one nomination for each post of Society Officer and seven nominations for the remaining seven places on the Executive Committee, the meeting elected the nominees unopposed.

Following a short interval, Mr L.T.C. Rolt addressed the meeting on the subject of Brunel's 'Great Eastern'. A vote of thanks to Mr Rolt, proposed by Denis Smith, was carried with acclamation and following this Patrick Beaver's film on the Great Eastern was shown.

Before and after the meeting, those present were able to view the displays in the Entrance Hall which were mostly put up by Society members. Brief details are given below, with the name and address of the exhibitor so that anyone with useful information or wishing to learn more can make contact.

BOC (Edmonton) LA Group featured a small portable display showing some of their activities in the past year, including work at French's brickworks, Buckhurst Hill. Hon. Sec.: Mr P.L. Young, 82 Coolgardie Avenue, Highams Park, London E4 9HX.

Gas Industry Archives showed part of the collection of material Enfield College of Technology are accumulating to illustrate all aspects of the Gas Industry over the past 150 years or so, including some unusual gas appliances. Alan Spackman, Enfield College of Technology, Queensway, Enfield, Middlesex.

Hatcham Ironworks illustrated the sort of project that can be tackled by an individual. Little is known of Geo. England and the products of this, one of London's many ironworks, yet locomotives from the New Cross works were sent to all parts of the world. A. Adams, 59 Sevenoaks Road, Crofton Park, London, SE4.

Industrial Monuments of Barnet showed something of the work being done by the Hendon & District Archaeological Society. Some of the borough's most notable monuments were shown, including Arkley windmill, a railway viaduct and industrial housing. It is hoped other local societies will follow suit. Hon. Sec.: Mrs B. Grafton-Green, 56 Temple Fortune Lane, London, NW11.

'The London Archaeologist' is London's own archaeological quarterly magazine and while still less than two years "old" has published several features on industrial archaeology, including London Coal Duties Markers and St Katharine Docks. The Editor is always glad to consider I.A. material for publication; he is Nicholas Farrant, 7 Coalecroft Road, Putney, SW15.

The London Underground Railway Society display gave a good idea of the Society's work, which includes the issue of an excellent monthly magazine 'Underground'. Meetings, visits and a library are provided for members. Hon. Sec.: J.P. Wirth, 17 Garth Road, Sevenoaks, Kent.

Towards a National Lettering Collection was undoubtedly the display which most intrigued many who saw it. The Typography Department of Reading University are collecting material with the aim of establishing a National Collection, not only of printing but also street nameplates, plaques, tombstones, shop signs, etc. Miss Gillian Riley, Typography Unit, The University, London Road, Reading RG1 5AQ, Berkshire.

Windmills around London showed a map locating windmill sites within 30 miles of London, with some fine photographs of eight of the survivors. It may be a surprise to learn that 60 or so sites of interest still remain within easy reach of London. Martin Salzer, 2 Oldfield Road, Bexleyheath, Kent.

Also present in the Entrance Hall was a large and attractive display of books on industrial archaeology and related subjects, manned by a representative of St. John Thomas Booksellers Ltd, 30 Woburn Place, WC1. 'This is a specialist bookshop that, nevertheless covers a wide range of subjects — social and economic history, industrial archaeology and history, transport studies, local history, etc. Members can be placed on the mailing list for catalogues and booklists which are issued at intervals.

Windmills on view

Martin Salzer writes that in addition to the Upminster and Brixton mills referred to in the last Newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter June 1970) as being open to the public, the following are also open for inspection:

Outwood, Surrey (TQ 328456) — Sunday afternoons at 2.30pm

Stansted Mountfitchet (TL 510248) — first Sunday in September and October and Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend, 2.30-7pm. Stansted Mountfitchet mill was restored in 1966 and dates from 1787. It stands by the A11, three miles north of Bishop's Stortford.

Crossness — latest news

A small party of GLIAS members, together with invited guests, visited the Crossness engine house recently to discuss ways of getting the building and its contents preserved and restored. As a result of the discussion, a public meeting is being arranged for early November in Erith, when all interested parties and individuals will be invited to explore the possibility of setting up a Crossness Trust. The Society's own Crossness Action Committee is meeting shortly to consider this.

News has very recently come that Crossness engine house has been spot-listed Grade II by the Ministry of Housing.

Glass in London

A last opportunity to visit this exhibition at the London Museum, Kensington Palace, W8 before it closes on August 31st. Besides displaying examples of the many uses made of glass since Roman times, the exhibition locates and illustrates the wares of some notable London glasshouses. This is the last exhibition to be organised by Dr D.B. Harden who is retiring as Museum Director this year.

The Future of the Albert Bridge

Members may have read of the scheme proposed recently by the GLC for the insertion of a pier in the middle of Albert Bridge, which is being weakened by heavy traffic. This is being opposed by the Albert Bridge Group which includes many local residents. The group maintains that the scheme could only be a short-term measure prior to demolition and rebuilding of the bridge if the present flow of traffic is to continue. They argue that a midstream pier would interfere with the present graceful appearance of the bridge, which was opened in 1873. It was designed by R.M. Ordish (of St Pancras Station roof fame) and employed a rare combination of two structural forms — the suspension span and the stayed girder. The Albert Bridge Group argue that the bridge should eventually be closed to traffic other than perhaps local traffic requiring access, remaining primarily as a pedestrian way linking the Battersea Park area and the north side of the Thames. The GLIAS Committee is in general agreement with these views and has written offering support to the group.

The latest news is that the GLC are still proposing to insert a 'temporary' pier, while a study into the long-term future of the bridge is carried out over a period of seven years. A public inquiry may be necessary before this proposal can go through and GLIAS will continue to keep a close watch on events.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to offer direct support or seeking further information should write to Mrs C.L. Lewis, Albert Bridge Group, 31 Warriner Gardens, SW11.

St Bride Printing Library Exhibition

This permanent display is now on view at the St Bride Institute, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London, EC4. It is open Monday-Friday between 10am and 5pm and contains a fascinating selection of important items illustrating the history of printing. Two of the weightiest specimens are a Stanhope press of 1803 (the world's first iron press) and an 1824 Albion press.

West Drayton Mill

Recently there have been two visits to West Drayton Mill to carry out recording work, led by Mike Kensey and Roger Eddington. Site work has not yet been completed and any members who have already been to the mill, also those who have not but would like to get some experience of fieldwork, are asked to contact Mike Kensey at 59 Kingsway, Ponders End, Enfield, Middlesex (with s.a.e. please) advising which weekends in October and November they would be free. This will enable arrangements to be made regarding access to the site, transport, etc.

Would members with material already recorded at the mill please contact Mike Kensey, who is co-ordinating work. Please notify him of exactly what you have, enclosing copies of sketches and drawings (not originals) if possible.

Windmills of Essex

Further to the note in the last Newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter June 1970), Mr Ian Robertson, Curator of the Passmore Edwards Museum, Romford Road, Stratford, E15, writes that Mr K.G. Farries, who is working on the definitive account of Essex windmills, is basing his researches on the museum 'where a considerable collection of windmill material is being amassed. The research has now reached a crucial stage and I would appeal to any member of GLIAS who has photographs, documents, or other material relating to Essex windmills to contact me at the above address. Any information will be very much appreciated and, of course, acknowledged.'

Industrialised or System Built Housing

GLIAS chairman Alan Thomas would welcome any clues, no matter how trivial, to the history of prefabricated home building. All sizes of structure, from post-war 'prefab' to tower block are relevant — and, of course, any age. Alan's address is The Coach House, 112 Langton Way, Blackheath, SE3.

Canal winch at Limehouse

This item, mentioned in Newsletter No. 4 (GLIAS Newsletter September 1969), was recorded by Martin Salzer. Recently GLIAS approached the Regent's Canal Group to ask if they can persuade British Waterways Board to agree to the dismantling, restoration and resiting of the winch by GLIAS somewhere along the more accessible part of the Regent's Canal. Is any member willing to direct the project, if the BWB agree? It will be the Director's job to arrange the work programme, including transport to the new site and re-erection.

Marking the Boundary

GLIAS, under the direction of Mr Christopher Cox, are to institute a survey of Boundary Markers within the GLC area. Markers abound throughout the region, demarcating parishes, trusts of various forms and transport authorities. In some areas or subjects these have been reasonably well dealt with, while much has on the other hand been sadly neglected. If any member has recorded markers, or knows of a locality or subject that has been covered, will he please advise Mr Cox to avoid duplication of effort. Assistance will also be needed in the Survey, by photographing and measuring markers and compiling information and anyone keen to join in should write to Mr Cox at 29 Bolingbroke Grove, London, SW11 (s.a.e. please). Further details of the survey will be available soon.

Public Baths & Wash-Houses — Investigators Wanted

This project, mentioned in Newsletter No. 4 (GLIAS Newsletter September 1969), has not yet been taken up. One or two buildings have been demolished unrecorded since then: of those that remain, many are of considerable architectural merit and several still contain interesting machinery and other equipment. This so necessary feature of the town is likely to disappear during the next ten years as whole areas are rebuilt, or else be modernised beyond recognition. A small team of three or four, maybe fewer, could find this sparsely-documented building type a fascinating and rewarding study.

Help Wanted to Catalogue the P.L.A. Picture Collection

During the recent visit to the Port of London Authority Paintings and Prints Collection, Mr F.W. Marsh, Archivist to the P.L.A., explained that it has not as yet been possible to catalogue this most valuable source of information and details. It is felt that a collection with so much material of interest to industrial archaeologists and others is something which concerns GLIAS directly. Mr Marsh hopes to start work on the project, later this year, but at the moment it is difficult for him to find the time necessary. However, the assistance of a GLIAS member would enable the task to be undertaken in a shorter time and once completed, the catalogue would be of enormous value to members of the Society and others. Anyone who would be interested in assisting, please write first to Paul Carter. Note: the work would of necessity have to be undertaken during weekday office hours.

The Subterranean Survey of London

The London Subterranean Survey Association has been formed to encourage the systematic recording of underground features in London — tunnels, gas, water and sewer pipes, electric cables, etc. It is surprising to realise that many of these have never been mapped; pipes and tunnels have been 'lost' for years only to be rediscovered during building operations, road widening, or other works. Clearly, this is a haphazard and often expensive and dangerous state of affairs, which the LSSA hopes will eventually be superseded by the availability of comprehensive and accurate documents locating underground features.

Such a task is obviously going to require a lot of voluntary help: it is also up — or perhaps beneath — the industrial archaeologist's street. Two schemes are being undertaken which GLIAS members might like to assist.

Illustrated Survey of Manhole Covers

This is a project which will combine the functional activity of locating and recording manhole covers, with the interesting study of variations from street to street and borough to borough. Many London foundries produced covers with their name, address and often the date cast into the surface and these are frequently the most prolific and easily recognised survivors of such foundries' products. The directory could well be published in book form.

Hackney Pilot Survey

In conjunction with the Inner London Education Authority, the LSSA is arranging for senior schoolchildren in Hackney Borough to survey the surface manifestations of underground features. Thus covers, hydrants, etc. will be plotted and recorded and underground watercourses traced. It is hoped that the survey will attract public attention as well as providing experience in carrying out such work.

Committee member John Smith is a member of the Council of the LSSA and would be glad to hear from anyone keen to assist or who just wants to know more about the Subterranean Survey. Members who are schoolteachers might also be interested to see how the Hackney Survey could be emulated in their district. John Smith's address is 22 South Audley Street, W1Y 5DN.

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© GLIAS, 1970