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Notes and news — June 1973

In this issue:

White City refuse kiln

Plans for recording the White City refuse kiln on 12 May were postponed at the request of the local authority. We are assured that the buildings are not due for demolition and that we will be informed when the legal negotiations, responsible for the postponement, have been completed. A recording session will then be arranged.

A New Society in Ealing

The first meeting of the Ealing Museum, Art & History Society was held on 30 April at Ealing Town Hall. The new society has been formed by the amalgamation of Ealing Local History Society and Ealing Museum and Art Gallery Society and besides encouraging the study of local history, architecture and archaeology it is also working for the establishment of a Borough Museum. A Newsletter and other publications are planned. Guest speaker at the meeting was Mr Max Hebditch, Director of the Guildhall Museum, who described the progress being made on the new Museum of London, which is being formed from the present London and Guildhall Museums. He also emphasised the contribution that local societies and individuals can make in many fields, including industrial archaeology. GLIAS members in the area might like to contact the EMAHS Secretary, Mrs N.S. Davis at 16 St Stephen's Road, W13, for details of membership.

P.S. 'Old Caledonia'

Not far from the 1864 London, Chatham and Dover section of Blackfriars Railway Bridge (soon to be demolished — large iron crests on end pillars) is a new arrival on the I.A. scene — the P.S. 'Old Caledonia' moored by Waterloo Bridge. Bass Charrington have converted the ship to a bar/restaurant, but have retained the paddles and engines, which can be viewed through glass partitions.

Recording sessions at Woolwich Dockyard

The owners did not find it possible to allow the recording session at St. Katharine Docks on 15 April and so the event was switched at short notice to Woolwich, to give assistance to the groups from Goldsmith's College who were at that time recording the 1843 Sawmill Building. Details of windows, the cast iron structure and the lower regions of the engine house were sketched and measured and Ken Catford has since drawn these up. Further visits were arranged on 12 May when the basement of the Sawmill Building was measured and on 26 May when the elaborate early Victorian structural ironwork of the Engineer's Stores was recorded.

This was the first organised recording work by GLIAS for some time. It is hoped that the society's expertise will increase with further work. Malcolm Tucker

The Industrial Archaeology of Erith & Belvedere

A half-day symposium under this title was held on Saturday, 19 May at the Oaks Centre, Belvedere. The symposium had been organised by the Bexley branch of the W.E.A. and the audience of about 70 included members of GLIAS, Bexley Civic Society and the Erith & Belvedere Local History Society. After an introduction by the Chairman, Peter Barnes, a definition of industrial archaeology was offered by Paul Carter, GLIAS Secretary. He was followed by Malcolm Gribble, Bexley Borough Assistant Curator, who outlined the pattern of industrial growth in the area, emphasising the importance of the River Thames in earlier days both as a source of demand (for gunpowder, stone for ballast, etc.) and as a means of distribution for goods. Later growth was influenced by the coming of the railways and the development of road transport, topics outlined by John Pritchard of the Bexley Library Service (railways) and Tony Riley (tramways and buses). Wharfing and lightering were described by Herbert Clarke, from a local lightering company.

The Crossness Sewage Works Engine House, probably the borough's most important industrial monument, was dealt with in illustrated contributions by Paul Carter and John Smith. This fine building of 1865, with its four James Watt beam engines, has been out of use for twenty years. Although not immediately threatened, it was generally felt in the ensuing discussion that a constructive policy for the future of the engine house was needed. David Samson, a local GLIAS member, was asked to convene a meeting at which local societies, GLIAS and other interested bodies could consider this in greater detail. Members will be informed of developments via the Newsletter, but in the meantime anyone with a special interest — or particular skills or knowledge likely to prove useful — is invited to contact David Samson at 38 Woodland Road, London E4. Michael Bussell

London Hydraulic

A small group paid a visit to the Grosvenor Road pumping station on 12 May. Already workshop machinery has been removed from the boiler room area and dismantling of the four pumps (formerly steam operated and converted to electric power, but retaining cylinders etc.) was imminent. Water storage tanks for water from the Thames and those above the roof were empty.

Another hydraulic building, the long-disused Bankside Station, was in the last stages of demolition early this month. However, a complete hydraulic crane with cylinders, chains and wire ropes was recently discovered in Powells Wharf, part of a large area of warehousing on Bermondsey Wall East which has just been acquired for redevelopment. The four-storey warehouse has brick walls and wooden floor beams and upright pillars. There is a good view of Tower Bridge from these premises which are at present empty but not locked. Terry G. Thomas

Canal visit to the Tring area

A party of 12 assembled at Tring station on the morning of the 19 May. We were met by Mr Bill Mew, the foreman of Bulborne Workshops, who took us round the works. Wooden lock gates are made here by Mr Mew's small team of craftsmen, using the same materials (cast iron and English oak) as in the 18th century. Unfortunately the steam boiler that used to drive the saw belts is no more, but there is still a wealth of venerable yet fully operative machinery. Apart from the interest in the various lock gates under construction — each of which is tailor-made for a particular lock — there was a small railway to be seen at the works as well as attractive examples of early Grand Junction Canal Company architecture. An unexpected bonus was the 'Kingfisher', the old canal company director's launch, which was tied up at the wharf.

From Bulborne we progressed to the Tringford Pumping Station, which performs the vital job of pumping water up from the four nearby reservoirs and into the Wendover Arm — which in turn feeds the Tring summit of the Grand Union Canal. There is little trace now of the old beam engine, which was taken out earlier-this century after 120 years' service; but shouts of excitement were heard from one member of the party, who claimed to have found 'probably the only waggon-top boiler in existence'. Or something.

After lunch in a canalside pub, most of the party returned to Tring station for London. The remainder soldiered on down the Aylesbury Arm, gallantly resisting the beer-induced desire to fall asleep in the sunshine along the way. By the time Aylesbury station was reached it was just starting to rain. Impeccable timing. Andrew Darwin

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© GLIAS, 1973