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Notes and news — November 1970

In this issue:

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason Many members will have seen newspaper reports in mid-September that the City Corporation has plans to give Tower Bridge a £400,000 'facelift', including replacement of the present steam engines by electricity, which would apparently reduce annual operating costs of £175,000 by 85%.

The future of Tower Bridge seems uncertain: demolition is unthinkable and happily, improbable, but river traffic in the Pool of London is declining, while the new London Bridge and a proposed underground river crossing nearby could substantially reduce or even eliminate the heavy traffic that roars across the bridge today. The happiest solution might be for the bridge to close to river and vehicular traffic, leaving it open to pedestrians. The splendid steam engines and hydraulic equipment could be retained as a monument of Victorian engineering and made accessible to the many tourists visiting nearby Tower at London.

The GLIAS Committee will be keeping in touch with developments. A further visit to Tower Bridge is being arranged; only one visit per annum is currently possible, as demand for conducted tours of the bridge is so great — clear evidence of public interest.

Tower Bridge and its renaissance as part of an imaginative scheme for the areas north and south of the Pool of London, received lengthy discussion in 'The Necessary Monument' by Theo Crosby, recently published by Studio Vista (21/- paperback, h/b also obtainable). The author describes the inception of Tower Bridge (a relatively conventional solution compared with other extraordinary designs proposed), proceeding to consider the bridge's role today and its possible future. Mr Crosby concludes that the retention of Tower Bridge and other 'monumental' buildings is essential if towns and cities are to retain their identities and remain tolerable places to inhabit. The book is of interest to anyone seeking a well-illustrated account of Tower Bridge and also highlights the wider importance of such structures in their surroundings.

The Regent's Canal Group

In addition to its current affiliation to the Council for British Archaeology and the Transport Trust, GLIAS is joining the Regent's Canal Group, a body comprising the Islington, Hackney and St Pancras Civic Societies, the Paddington Waterways Society and the Inland Waterways Association. The Group was 'brought together by a common concern for the canals of North London, with their air of dereliction and neglect and an awareness of opportunities for their greater use and benefit to the public'. It has already published a reasoned study document considering future possibilities for improvement (Regent's Canal: A Policy for its Future, 1967, 6/-), from which, the above quotation is taken.

Affiliation to the Group entitles GLIAS to appoint two members as delegates to the Group's meetings. A number of members are already actively interested in the Regent's Canal and if they or anyone else would be prepared to represent the Society, please contact Paul Carter for further details of what is entailed.

'Chronicle' Industrial Archaeology Competition

The BBC2 archaeology programme 'Chronicle' is again holding a competition in which individuals and societies are invited to enter projects. A shortlist of entries is then filmed and these are shown in the broadcast programme, following which cash prizes are awarded by the three judges (Neil Cossons, Kenneth Hawley and Kenneth Hudson). The publicity given to industrial archaeology by this competition is of great value and helps to correct misconceptions as to what it is all about.

GLIAS entered the competition and has recently been shortlisted for filming. The date of the broadcast is not yet confirmed, but will probably be in February or March 1971.

CBA Annual Report

The Council for British Archaeology's Annual Report has recently been published for the year ended 30 June 1970. It is a substantial document well worth the effort of reading and only two points can be noted here. The intense pressure of redevelopment leading to the destruction of sites is emphasised, while (more happily) interest in IA continues to grow and mention is made of the fact that some 20 Colleges of Education now study the subject, another 20 showing 'partial interest'.
Copies of the Report may be borrowed from the Society's two representatives, Paul Carter and Michael Kensey, 59 Kingsway, Enfield, Middlesex. Please send an addressed envelope at least 9"x6" bearing a 10d stamp when writing.

Results of Membership Survey

A questionnaire was sent to members with Newsletter 7 and an analysis has now been made of those returned (about 40% of the total sent out). The Committee are grateful to Michael Kensey and Charles Hailstone for undertaking this analysis and to those members who troubled to return the form.

Members appeared generally satisfied with the Newsletter. Short notice of some events was commented upon — it is hoped this will improve in the future. Suggestions for a correspondence section, views, more technical information on current work, brief research reports and mention of buildings demolished or threatened are largely dependent on members providing this material. A monthly Newsletter will unfortunately not be financially practicable until membership has at least doubled and here members could help by a personal recruiting campaign. A GLIAS Journal was favoured by about 30 members, but the Committee feels that financial restraints and the number of periodicals already published do not justify the launching of a Journal at present.

A number of members were unaware of 'The London Archaeologist', an independent and very moderately-priced quarterly magazine which covers all aspects of archaeology in the capital. It has recently earned articles by GLIAS members on St Katharine Docks, Crossness, London Coal Duties Boundary Marks and a New River Aqueduct. The national quarterly 'Industrial Archaeology — The Journal of the History of Industry and Technology', is now approaching its eighth year of publication and maintains a high standard of both contributions and production. Annual subscription is 50/-. The journal is published by David & Charles, South Devon House, Railway Station, Newton Abbot, Devon, from whom may be obtained a leaflet describing this and related journals ('Transport History', 'Textile History' and commencing in 1971 'Maritime History').

Support was promised for site visits, conducted walks, rescue work, further canal trips, members' film and slide evenings, training sessions and an annual conference for members' projects to be presented. Less interest was shown in one-day general conferences, coach tours to sites outside London and museum visits. A number of specific suggestions were made for visits and these are being followed up. There was a strong demand for lectures, so members will be glad to know that a series is being arranged by London University Department of Extra-Mural Studies in co-operation with GLIAS. Also, the Workshop evenings starting in December will, it is hoped, combine the functions of lectures and informal discussion evenings.

A number of suggestions were made for Society action. Some of these were already in train 'behind the scenes', while the others are being actively considered.


A gratifying result of the survey reported above was the number of members who are carrying out projects, either privately or with the Society. Below is printed a list of projects being undertaken by members who indicated that assistance would be welcome; anyone with useful information, or interested in collaborating, should contact the member named.

'B' Warehouse vaults, St Katharine Docks — Mrs P. Holland, Manor School, Warrender Way, Ruislip, Middlesex
History of factories and mines named or depicted on 18/19th-century tokens, truck and other tickets — Christopher Brunel, Flat 6, 134 Queen's Gate, SW7
Study of firms and garages in GLC area who made or assembled cars and motor-cycles — Godfrey Oxley-Sidey, 32 The Avenue, Cheam, Surrey
History of Croydon gasworks, 1827-67 — Mrs M. Huitson, 4 Rayleigh Rise, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 7AN
History and work of Hatcham Ironworks, SE14 — Dave Adams, 59 Sevenoaks Road, Crofton Park, SE4
Windmill survey and coal-hole covers — Ian Mitchell, 15 Shardeloes Road, New Cross, SE14
Crossness, London Subterranean Survey, 'Sanitary innovations' — John Smith, 22 South Audley Street, W1Y 6DN
Distribution of clay pipes locally — Clinton Hudgell, 11 Argyle Road, N. Finchley, N12
GLIAS windmill survey — Martin Salzer, 2 Oldfield Road, Bexleyheath, Kent & Jonathan Hopton, 55 Bexley Lane, Sidcup, Kent
Early railways in the Midlands (help needed on building work, construction methods, work in repair shops) — J.E. Norris, 38 Grove House, Waverley Grove, N3
Survey of Surrey Canal — David Dunn, 263 Norwood Road, SE24
Cranes, hydraulic machinery and steam plant — Ron Huitson, 4 Rayleigh Rise, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 7AN
Local borough boundary marks and local housing — Christopher Cox, 29 Bolingbroke Grove, SW11
Gas street lamps and other street furniture in Chelsea and Westminster — R.P.G. Richards, 1 Beaufort Street, SW3
Museum of bottles, esp. mineral and beer and the history and industries involved; Victorian glassworks in London — Bruce Henry, 52 Carlton Avenue West, North Wembley, Middlesex
Police boxes — Miss V. Glass, 69 St Peter's Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1HS
Textile printing and wallpaper printing — especially the blocks used for hand-block printing — Mrs C.M. Vialls, 30 Red Post Hill, SE24

The Beam Engine at Markfield Road Pumping Station

The magnificent beam engine at Markfield Road, Tottenham, N15 (O.S. TQ. 344888) was installed to pump sewage from Tottenham and Wood Green to the Northern High Level sewer at Hackney and is one of London's finest industrial monuments.

The engine is outstanding for its high quality of design and finish, including much ornamental cast-iron work so beloved of Victorian engineers. Mr Brian Frear in a detailed report has drawn attention to a number of unusual and striking features on this engine and has clearly shown that every effort should be made to preserve it. Fortunately, the site is included in the Lea Valley Regional Park and recently the Park Authority wrote to Enfield College of Technology seeking professional advice on how the engine might be preserved as a feature of interest in the park.

The site was visited by two of the College staff, Mr P.J. Huggins and Mr A.J. Spackman (both also members of GLIAS and the Enfield Archaeology Society's I.A. group). Their report revealed that although the engine had been shut down for seven years it was in remarkably good condition and apparently complete. The flywheel can still be moved and with an external power source the engine could run again, adding to its interest and appeal to visitors.

However, much restoration work needs to be done before the pumping station and the engine can be opened to the public. It is here that the help of GLIAS members is most urgently needed. The first essential is to organise working parties to clean up the engine and building and carry out repainting in the next four months or so. The Enfield Society's I.A. group is fully behind the venture and it is hoped that GLIAS members will also volunteer to join in this worthwhile project.

If you would like to help, please contact: Mr A.J. Spackman, 35 Cranfield Crescent, Cuffley, Herts (phone Cuffley 3870). Should you like to see the engine first, a visit can be arranged.

(Thanks to John Sykes for the above information)

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© GLIAS, 1970