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Notes and news — January 1971

In this issue:

The first GLIAS workshop

More than 30 members and friends, some from as far away as Enfield, attended the first Workshop which was held at Kingston Polytechnic on Friday 4 December. A full and varied evening's programme began with a welcome from Bryan Woodriffe on behalf of our hosts, Kingston Polytechnic Industrial Archaeological Society. Following this Denis Smith outlined the aim of Workshop evenings, which were a way of bringing members together in their own area and from outside, to see and hear what is being done, to meet each other and exchange views and information. The sheer size of the metropolis necessitated an approach based on going to members rather than holding meetings in central London and it was hoped that everybody would have the opportunity of attending at least one Workshop in their own area within the next 12 months.

Paul Carter reported on the progress of the Council for British Archaeology's Industrial Monuments Survey and the National Record of Industrial Monuments. The Survey was based on the use of record cards and Paul demonstrated that to fill them in required neither a great deal of time nor vast technical expertise. He suggested that one of the main aims of GLIAS for 1971 should be to prepare as many record cards as possible, of surviving industrial monuments.

Mr Hall of Surrey Archaeological Society spoke of the work being undertaken in the preparation of a handbook of industrial monuments in Surrey. The Society is locating and investigating sites and also finding out what written records exist. It was expected that the first edition of the handbook, while of value in itself, would also act as a 'trigger' stimulating further response.

Among the items on display at the Workshop were some excellent photos of local buildings and Mr West, the next speaker, described the conduct of the Kingston Buildings Survey, which was attempting to record every building in the borough. This of its nature was an ambitious and never-completed task, but it was clear that a number of individuals each working in their own immediate area could achieve impressive results.

Mr Christopher Cox spoke of and illustrated his survey of Battersea boundary posts, explaining that a similar survey of every area in London would amply repay the effort. A similar view was expressed by Miss Dawkins, in her talk on 'Shopwindowing'. She described shops as mirrors of contemporary life, which was reflected in the atmosphere, lettering, vocabulary of signs, etc.

Two contributions of special interest to followers of the tram were then presented. Mr G. Wilson in a tape-recorded talk described how he had set about researching his new book on Clifton Robinson and then Mr Roy Allen spoke on the London United Tramways Company. His approach can only be described as comprehensive, for Mr Allen has, in addition to accumulating photos, accounts and other documentary records, also constructed a model system based on LUT practice.

Following the formal business of the evening, a short colour film starring Bryan Woodriffe was shown; this was made to record a fine anniversary exhibition staged by Bentalls, in which a number of period shops were recreated. Apart from its pleasant evocation of nostalgia, this showed how effective cine film can be in recording scenes and processes.

Over coffee, there was an opportunity to natter or to look around the very varied display which had been mounted. This included Mr Allen's tramway model in operation, a fine selection of mineral water bottles from Mr Bruce Henry and many photos and small relics from the Kingston area. Thanks are due to the Kingston Polytechnic I.A. Society and Bryan Woodriffe in particular, for the inconspicuous but effective organisation that ensured the smooth running of the Workshop and provided a most enjoyable evening.

Closure of Grand Surrey Canal

The Grand Surrey Canal will close for operational use on 31 January. This is a further stage in the complete closure of the Surrey Commercial Docks, which will make an area in excess of 400 acres available for redevelopment. A number of plans are under consideration for this vast site; it has even been suggested as a possible location for a VTOL airport.

The Future of the Royal Mint Site at Tower Hill

Newspaper reports suggest that the Royal Mint, which is moving to a new site in South Wales, may retain its headquarters and establish a coin museum on the historic Tower Hill site. It is hoped that the museum will be able to display the processes involved in coin-making as well as the coins themselves; further details are awaited.

Limehouse Winch

The canal winch, which has already been surveyed by Martin Salzer (GLIAS Newsletter August 1970), is to be moved to a more secure site to be suggested by the British Waterways Board, probably near Camden Road. It will then be renovated and re-erected by a group under the direction of Hugh Morrison. Assistance in this work will be required when the site is agreed.

Limehouse winch at Camden, c1972, © Sidney Ray

An Alternative Site for The Museum of British Transport

A study is being made for the resiting of the Museum of British Transport at Crystal Palace low-level station. The idea was put forward by a committee which includes representatives of the Transport Trust; it offers an alternative to the present proposals, whereby the present Clapham site would be vacated, rail exhibits being moved to an enlarged York Railway Museum. This, however, left the future of the road relics in grave doubt, while London Transport have expressed unwillingness for their items to leave London.

The Crystal Palace site is large enough to house all the exhibits at Clapham and also the British Transport collection of records. Preliminary costing suggests the scheme will cost slightly more than present proposals, but guarantees the secure future of the road exhibits.

Fulham Pottery

The Joint Archaeological Section of Fulham History Society and Hammersmith Local History Group has recently begun work on the important Fulham Pottery site, threatened with redevelopment. An inventory of contents is in progress and it is planned to complete a survey of the existing structure by early spring, following which archaeological excavations will be carried out under the direction of Mr V.R. Christophers, lecturer in Ceramics and an experienced Excavation Director.

View from gate, late 1972 © Michael Bussell Fulham Pottery, c1972 © Michael Bussell

Fulham Pottery began operations under John Dwight in 1672-3, producing the well-known Fulham ware. In three centuries many changes have taken place; the structure that remains today includes one kiln — listed and proposed for a site museum — and is an intriguing mixture of styles and periods, while the excavations may well reveal information of great significance. The inventory will provide a comprehensive record of all movable objects on the site, which is today used partly for storage, for the preparation of modelling clay and the assembly and despatch of water filters.

GLIAS members with some experience of recording buildings and their contents, or of archaeological excavation work, are invited to take part in this important and interesting project. Survey work is taking place most Saturdays and Sundays; excavations will be undertaken intensively between 3 and 12 April. Competent photographers are also urgently required and assistance in draughting the final survey drawings will be needed. Those wishing to take part must be or become members of the Joint Archaeological Section (subscription 15/-), as it is a condition of the Section's undertaking the work that only its members enter the site.

Co-Ordinators Urgently Wanted — Street Furniture

'London — Past and Present' is the title of a series of television programmes produced by the Education Television Service of the Inner London Education Authority, designed for children aged 9-11. The 10th programme in the current series features street furniture and is due to be shown in ILEA schools during the period 22 March - 2 April. GLIAS can help with this; members living in the ILEA area (i.e. Camden/Greenwich/Hackney/Hammersmith/Islington/Kensington & Chelsea/Lambeth/Lewisham/Tower Hamlets/ Wandsworth/Southwark/Westminster) who would be willing to help co-ordinate the work of schools in their neighbourhood, please contact Paul Carter.

A meeting will be arranged for those interested, with representatives of the series to agree methods of recording, presentation of material, etc. It is planned to display some of the completed work at an exhibition in County Hall for a week beginning 5 July. Remember — we shall be encouraging the next generation of industrial archaeologists by assisting in this work.

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© GLIAS, 1971