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Notes and news — January 1974

In this issue:

St Katharine Docks

The fire in 'B' Warehouse on 4th November (GLIAS Newsletter November 1973) did considerable damage to the interior structure and to the brickwork — the Tower Bridge Approach elevation now presents a sorry site. It is greatly to be hoped that the elevations can be reconstructed to their original appearance. 'B' Warehouse was the last of the six Telford/Hardwick structures to survive the Second World War intact and although C1 Warehouse was reduced in size in the 60s to build the new St Katharine Dock House, it is to C1 that attention must be directed if an original warehouse structure is to be retained.

Report on Members' Evening at the "Phoenix" on 13th November

Mr D. Stephenson gave a short illustrated talk on balcony railings, window guards and step rails in central London and in Kent. The fashion for cast-iron balconies probably originated around 1770 at the Adelphi development in The Strand. Robert Adam, the architect, was the leading proponent of neoclassical design, while John Adam, himself an architect, was a partner in the Carron ironworks in Scotland. (The majority of early balconies in Kent appear to have been to Carron Company designs.) Mr Stephenson showed how the Greek anthem ion motif of sprouting leaf forms, resembling a honeysuckle flower, was adapted to balconies and later to dainty windowsill ornaments and finally, in the mid-19th century, became debased to mediocrity. He would like to hear of any examples of anthemion window-sill ornaments in London: he drew attention to the rapid disappearance of early 19th-century ironwork such as street nameplates and doorknockers. The Metalwork Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum has no cast-iron doorknockers, believe it or not and would be very pleased to learn of specimens.

Among other contributions, David Thomas showed slides of German tradesmen variously carved in stone, of Welsh valleys bathed in industrial steam and of Covent Garden Market before breakfast. Peter Murnaghan showed remains of the recently filled Grand Surrey Canal and of the Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Railway, some of which is to be obliterated by motorway earthworks. Ian Bradley showed a former steam flour mill in Button, Mike Buchanan some watermills and harbours in Scotland and Adrian Tayler the immaculately-kept Low Hall sewage pumping engines in Walthamstow, which are to be dismantled for preservation by the borough council.

(Mr Stephenson's booklet on balcony railings in Kent, reprinted from 'Archaeologia Cantiana', is available at 25p including postage from him at 'Grenna', Chapel Lane, Ightham, Kent.) Malcolm Tucker

St Paul's South-West Area

Latest plans involve closure of Ludgate Hill to through traffic and creation of a new traffic route via Creed Street and Carter Lane. Both are extremely narrow streets set in a compact closely-built area, with many small businesses retaining goods delivery hoists. Several are threatened with demolition. The report outlining the proposals may be obtained from The City Architect & Planning Officer, Guildhall, EC2. David Thomas

Unconsidered trifles in WC1

An unattractive street, the Gray's Inn Road, but not without interest. For aficionados of the manhole cover, there are some splendid Vestry of St Pancras Electricity hatches among those of the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company and the London County Council Tramways. Those who prefer things subterranean can observe a neat cross-section of a Fleet River sewer tributary in Colet Street. The stream is the one that rises in, more or less, Coram's Fields and the opportunity to observe it is provided by foundation work on the New Printing House Square building. Further down this feeder to the Fleet, at the foot of the misleadingly-named Mount Pleasant, is a little row of three-decker red brick houses. One of them carries a plaque inscribed 'Dorrington Street 1720'. This presumably was the original name for Mount Pleasant and the date could mean these properties once stood on the open river bank. In Hand Court, off High Holborn, is the West Central Club, a fine piece of terra cotta nonsense. One of its doorsteps is a nice mosaic incorporating, in flowing red and green art nouveau lettering, the words 'City of New York'. Does anyone know the significance? Alan Thomas

(Trifles in EC1 will be considered next time round: notes on other areas will be welcomed.)

Listed buildings in Bromley

The Department of Education statutory list of buildings of architectural or historic interest in the London Borough of Bromley was updated during 1973, but in spite of being considerably expanded it still contains only a few items of I.A. interest. The oldest industrial building is Keston windmill, a post-mill dating from 1716. It is the only Grade I building mentioned here: all others are Grade 2. The early 19th-century horse gin at the Clock House, High Elms Road, Farnborough is included and so is the "Old Bakery", a much-altered mid-l8th century building in Chelsfield village. Also on the outer fringes of the borough are two barns: the 17th/18th-century timber barn at Sheepcote Farm, St Mary Cray; and the 18th-century barn at Orange Court Farm, Downe.

At the opposite end of the borough, the Crystal Palace area is now well represented. The impressive Low Level station of 1854 is listed, along with the decaying remains of the terracing to the Crystal Palace itself. (The ornate brick vaulted subway under Crystal Palace Parade, built in 1865 to link the former High Level station to the Palace, is listed under Southwark.) The famous prehistoric monsters of Crystal Palace parts are now statutory listed buildings! The 27 replicas were constructed in 1854 and consist of artificial stone on frameworks of iron rods. Nearby in Waldegrave Road the carious mass concrete Swedenborgian Church is listed because of its importance as being an early and unusual use of concrete construction. It dates from 1883. Several groups of almshouses are included and of particular interest are nos. 11-25 Belvedere Road near Crystal Palace. This row of two-storey almshouses of c.1850 has an attractive, ornate iron verandah and hood along the front elevation.

One of the most important industrial monuments in Bromley is Shortlands pumping station, where the picturesque Kentish ragstone buildings of 1866 still contain remains of the beam engines. It is unfortunate that in spite of recommendations by both the Borough Council and the GLC, the DoE decided that the station would not be included on the statutory list. Ken Catford

Welcome restorations

Two silk-merchants' houses of c.1715 have recently been renovated in Artillery Lane, Spitalfields. The work was done for an investment company and included the removal of 19th century accretions at the rear, substantial underpinning and the addition of one floor. The attractive ground floor bow windows have been retained.

The GLC's contribution to European Architectural Heritage Year in 1975 will involve restoration of a number of historic buildings. These include Fowler's market building in Covent Garden, while work has already begun on the, quadrangle of the Royal Watermen's Asylum at Penge.

Hopefully, the character of St Pancras station will be enhanced if plans under discussion by the Camden Council planning department are adopted. Concern has recently been expressed by various local and national bodies over the present appearance of parts of the building, which were felt to be not in keeping with the building's standing as a Grade I listed structure.

New life for the Grand Union Canal?

The GLC and British Waterways Board have jointly commissioned a study to investigate the deepening of the Grand Union Canal between Rickmansworth and Brentford, to accept modern barges. If adopted, the scheme could reduce considerably the amount of freight carried by road. Irrespective of the merits of such a change, GLIAS will be concerned to see that the existing character and equipment of the canal is adequately recorded in the event of the scheme going ahead.

The Wandle Group

Remembering that the Wandle river was of great significance in the development of industrial London, it is encouraging to see the formation of a new group to improve co-ordination amongst those interested in all aspects of the river. The group's aims were approved at a meeting in Wallington on 12th October; principal among them is the dissemination of information on recent publications, current research, planning applications and development proposals and requests for information. First project for the group is the preparation of a 'Wandle Guide', which will give details of local and other interested societies and include short articles on various aspects of the Wandle.

Membership (£2 p.a.) is at present limited to organisations and Michael Bussell has joined on behalf of GLIAS. The obvious need is for a local member to act as GLIAS representative at meetings and to channel information. Any volunteers (probably living in the Borough of Wandsworth, Merton or Sutton) are invited to contact Michael Bussell at the address below. Further details of the Wandle Group may be obtained via the same source.

The Study of Bricks

For too long the organised study of this basic building material has been neglected. A British Brick Society has now been formed, with the following main objectives:

Included, for comparative study, is material from outside Britain. Non-structural decorative materials such as terra cotta and tiling are excluded. Regional co-ordinators have been appointed, including one for London and the South-East Counties. The Society's aims can be realised in the main by individual fieldworkers, keeping in touch via Society publications and the Co-ordinators. GLIAS has recently affiliated to the B.B.S. and further details may be obtained from Michael Bussell. Any members who are, or would like to be, active in the study of the manufacture, use and evolution of bricks are particularly asked to notify him, as this information will be of value to the GLIAS Recording and Monitoring Groups.

A book on London's Industrial Archaeology

In Newsletter 27, reference was made to a 'recent development' concerning the production of a new book on London's industrial archaeology (GLIAS Newsletter September 1973). Now that a contract has been signed, it is possible to announce that this will be a volume in a new regional series to be published by Batsfords. The contract was signed by Michael Bussell and Paul Carter, but they will need your help. Although many industrial monuments in London have been noted in the last few years, there are literally thousands more that need to be identified in order to build up a — comprehensive and balanced picture of London's industrial growth as evidenced by the surviving remains. This is not a new project: the GLIAS Industrial Monuments Survey has been under way for some time, but response has been limited. (For further information, see e.g. Newsletter 27 and the two Industrial Monuments Survey leaflets published in 1972 and 1973, or contact Michael Bussell.) There is now an urgency in this task and members are asked to do everything they can in the next twelve months; initially by filling in CBA Record Cards and/or sending further information (however sketchy) to Michael Bussell. Obviously selection will be necessary in preparing the book manuscript, but the wider coverage that members can achieve the more balanced will be the end product. (It should be added that Messrs Bussell and Carter will also be doing fieldwork.)

In case members are wondering what they will be receiving in return for their efforts (apart of course from acknowledgement in the book), it should be added that the authors are assigning their royalties from the first hardback edition to GLIAS. Therefore the Society's funds will benefit in proportion to the sales of the book. (It may be possible for essential expenses incurred by members to be refunded, but no direct payments for material will be made.)

Please help. An additional benefit from members' fieldwork will be a boosting of London representation in the National Record of Industrial Monuments.

Industrial Monuments Survey

In addition to the above, members are requested to send in comments on the handlists already published (corrections, additions, etc.); to return completed CBA Record Cards or obtain supplies of same from Michael Bussell; and to undertake fieldwork in their area to locate monuments as yet unrecorded. Further handlists are being prepared.

Members' Projects

The response to the request in Newsletter 28 for details of members' 'private' projects was sporadic. The list below therefore give details of only those projects for which details were submitted. Future Newsletters will gladly list other projects.

Filming Addington Well engines at work London Transport I.A. Group (B.C. Coward, 19 Roe Way, Wallington, Surrey)

Recording L.T.-owned buildings and installations (esp. where threatened) L.T.I.A.G. (P.C. London, Dept of Transportation Planning, L.T, 55 Broadway, SW1)

I.A. in Barnet Paul Carter, 20 Chestnut Grove, Wembley, Middlesex, HAD 2LX

Thames sailing barges in the Greater London area David & Elizabeth Wood, 20 Walpole Road, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, Middlesex TW2 5SN

Street furniture in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames David & Elizabeth Wood, address as above

Hospitals and workhouses (including equipment) Ian Bradley, Flat 3, 12 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey (642-9536 weekdays)

Laundering A vast, highly diversified and typically urban industry which reached a peak before the introduction of automatic launderettes. Now it is being rationalised, with local firms closing. A high degree of labour intensity remains, with machinery dating back to 1900 — this including such oddities as belt-driven washtubs and steam-powered spin-driers. David Thomas is hopefully trying to discover more about this little-documented industry and would welcome both offers of assistance with fieldwork and simply information on known sites. David Thomas, 4 Heyford Avenue, SW8 (735-2132 evenings)

Sutton High Street David Thomas, Ian Bradley (addresses above)

Fitzrovia, initially photographic survey A.B. Hills, 82 Cranmore Road, Chislehurst, Kent

Cranes Norman Ling, 105 Lodge Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 3JA

Textile printing and wallpaper printing, especially by hand blocks Christine Vialls, 30 Red Post Hill, SE24

History of factories and mines named on 18th/19th C. trade tokens Christopher Brunel, Flat 6, 134 Queen's Gate, SW7

Cranes, hydraulic machinery and steam plant Ron Huitson, 4 Rayleigh Rise, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 7AN

Other projects (not by GLIAS members) worthy of note are:

the Crofton Society world-wide survey of beam engines (GLIAS Newsletter November 1973);
and the Wandle Group and British Brick Society activities (see above).

Register of Photographers

To assist in recording work, particularly at short notice, it is felt to be desirable to have an up-to-date list of GLIAS members who are capable of photographing sites, buildings, interiors, machinery, etc. Would all members so able please drop a line to Michael Bussell, giving the following details:

Name, address, telephone number (home and work if possible), estimate of ability (professional, competent amateur, beginner — don't be misleadingly modest), equipment available (b/w, colour, flash, movie, etc.), availability (weekdays, weekends, always, by arrangement).

There is a particular need for members with time and facilities to record building interiors and machinery on weekdays, which is often the only opportunity owners will grant for access.

A card index will be compiled, available to anyone contacting the Recording Group for assistance.

Threatened buildings

Sutton: Between Sutton High Street and Throwley Way (TQ 259643), a former steam flour mill lies derelict. In later days a pepper mill, then (twice) a bakery, the two older buildings have cast-iron columns. Most original machinery has gone except a sack hoist and an unidentified item, but later equipment remains. Probably due for demolition before too long is Belmont Hospital (TQ 255625), formerly South Met. District Schools. Many buildings, including (empty) original boiler house, two wells with pump rods remaining, blacksmith's shop (equipment removed by L.B. Sutton) and steam engine house (engine gone but drive shafting remains).

Ian Bradley has taken photographs and would be glad to arrange for interested members to visit the buildings. There is an opportunity for further recording work, perhaps as part of the Hospitals project (see above for this and Ian Bradley's address).

Fulham Pottery: Demolition on this site is now definitely scheduled for mid-74, possibly soon after the 6th-7th April Open Days. Archaeological excavations have been conducted since 1971 and a comprehensive building survey and inventory was put in hand. Some outstanding work must be completed on the survey before demolition, to record all the surviving evidence of three centuries of working-life. Please contact Michael Bussell if you can help — even for one day only. Work is normally carried out on Sundays, but if necessary Saturdays can also be arranged. Some experience of surveying desirable, but not essential — guidance available on site.

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

Urgent recording

Volunteers are urgently needed to assist in and preferably direct, survey work in a number of areas that are in the process of being 'removed' either piecemeal or comprehensively. In addition to W11 and Southwark & Lambeth, the following areas desperately need action: Wapping High Street, Clerkenwell, Islington, Brentford dock environs.

Please contact Michael Bussell or David Thomas for further information. (The urgency of these areas requires volunteers to start work in advance of the appointment of Borough Correspondents.)

Any takers? A number of sites mentioned in Newsletter 28 (q.v.) are still awaiting volunteers to investigate and record as necessary: Beckton; Monsted's, Southall; White City (Chunnel Terminal); Gillette, Isleworth

Contact Michael Bussell.

New sites notified:

Work is required to establish what needs recording — and then to do it — on the following sites. Details from Michael Bussell or David Thomas.

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© GLIAS, 1974