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Notes and news — January 1975

In this issue:


It is interesting for the industrial archaeologist to note that the legislation protecting our historic buildings is being strengthened almost year by year. The basic legislation covering the designation of conservation areas and the listing of historic buildings is contained in the Town & Country Planning Act 1971. The Department of Education's statutory lists of buildings of architectural or historic interest will be familiar to many readers and of particular relevance to the industrial archaeologist is the fact that under the 1971 Act a building can be listed to protect its fixed contents. Thus the exterior shell of a building does not necessarily have to be of high architectural quality in order legally to protect important technological fixtures within the structure.

In 1971, 'listed' buildings were the only ones which could not be demolished without prior permission — it being necessary to apply for 'listed building consent' to demolition. Protection was extended under the Town & Country Planning (Amendment) Act 1972 to include also any unlisted building in a conservation area, planning permission from the local planning authority being required for demolition. A further protection is now in force under the Town & Country Amenities Act 1974 which requires those wishing to demolish unlisted buildings in conservation areas to apply nevertheless for 'listed building consent' from the Department of Education — an even more stringent control than under the 1972 Act. Now pressure is being brought to bear on the Government to make official permission a prerequisite of the demolition of any building anywhere, this being the recommendation of the Dobry Report ('Control of Demolition') published by HMSO in 1974.

Another innovation in the Town & Country Amenities Act relates to the compulsory restoration of dilapidated listed buildings. Now the Department of Education, as well as local authorities, can require the owner of a neglected listed building to restore it and this measure is quite sweepingly extended to unlisted buildings in conservation areas. There is an important amendment concerning the compulsory acquisition of listed buildings. This applies in cases where the owner of a listed building is refused consent to alter or demolish it, but can find no suitable use for the building. The owner can serve a notice requiring the local authority to purchase the building, the price formerly being calculated as being the market value of the site assuming the building were altered or demolished as proposed. Now the price is to be calculated solely on its value of a building and not as a potential redevelopment site. This considerably reduces the cost to the local authorities, who will therefore be less inclined either to avoid serving 'repairs notices' or to refuse demolition consent, through fear of incurring enormous compensation costs.

In Newsletter 34 (GLIAS Newsletter November 1974), the question is asked whether Covent Garden might become the first industrial conservation area. This perhaps illustrates that only a few (abysmally few) conservation areas encompassing historic industrial buildings have so far been designated.

However, interest in industrial monuments is slowly growing and this can be shown by the recent designation of the Gladstone Pottery at Stoke-on-Trent as the country's 3,000th conservation area. There are interesting plans to convert the buildings to form a museum of the Potteries, with working kilns.

Needless to say, Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale comprise conservation areas. In London, the 'Three Mills' conservation area on the River Lea includes the House Mill, Clock Mill and Abbey Mills pumping station. The area was designated jointly by the London Boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets in 1971. Further up the Lea, the 'Ponders End Flour Mills' conservation area is also industrial in character (designated in 1970 by LB Enfield).

However, these are exceptions and it is much more common for industrial buildings to be excluded from conservation areas. An example is the 'St Marys, Rotherhithe' conservation area whose boundary defines a small area around the church, but carefully excludes the Thames-side warehouses which give the area its unique character. Ken Catford

Report: Harrow Coffee Evening

Nine members gathered at David Bednall's on 27 November.

During the evening a length of plateway, a box of glass bottles (empty), part of the photographic survey of Pinner, a full scrap-book of I.A. news cuttings and a number of slides and photographs provided more than enough to talk and find out about — showing that I.A... and its aficionados do not have to be in the same place! All were members from the area, except for one bearded exile from Vauxhall. The coffee was good too. Many, thanks, David, for being host. R P Vickers

Report: Camden Transport Survey

This has now got under way, with recording of existing remains, concentrating on the former Midland Railway goods premises which are due for (and being subject to) demolition. Additionally, attention will be given to Camden railway horse stables and the rail / canal interchange warehouse, King's Cross Goods complex, the land, street furniture, road transport premises and vehicle manufacturers' workshops. This is a joint survey with Camden History Society, who have arranged for material to be deposited at Swiss Cottage, Reference Library; their Transport Study Group have already some plans and a list of sites to investigate.

As well as a meeting on 18 January we will be making lunchtime and weekend visits to premises. Full details of what's going on may be had from David Thomas, who would love to hear from members wishing to find out more, or who have some relevant local knowledge. R P Vickers

Report: The Kingston I.A. Workshop: 1974

The Workshop was held at Kingston Polytechnic on 29 November. There were four speakers: Mrs Anne McCormack, Assistant Borough Archivist of Kingston; Mr Paul Calvocoressi, of the GLC Historic Buildings Division (a GLIAS member); Mrs Christine Gee, Curator of Keats House, formerly Camden Borough Archivist; and Dr John Coiley, Curator of the York Railway Museum. Exhibits included posters illustrating transport history, photographs of Hampstead and Highgate, plans of warehouses on London River produced by the GLC Historic Buildings Division, photographs illustrating the industrial uses of Thames Sailing barges and GLIAS publicity posters.

Mrs McCormack spoke about archive teaching units now being produced by Record Offices. These are folders of reproductions of photographs and original documents on subjects of local interest. The first one produced by Kingston is on transport history in Kingston; a reminder of the value of local archives to I.A. Mr Calvocoressi outlined the GLC Historic Buildings Division's Kingston Project. Many of Kingston's basically mediaeval buildings are not listed and the Division is working to correct this. The Division is also working in Richmond and Bermondsey. As part of their surveys, buildings are photographed and the Division could be a source of photographs for GLIAS. Local societies carry out research into the history of local buildings and it was indicated that they are important in bringing to public notice the likely fate of local buildings.

Mrs Gee spoke of the history of Highgate and Hampstead, with particular reference to her recently published book of photographs of the area from about 1860 to 1910. Photographs were found of postmen, ratcatchers, shops, trams and buses and the building of the Underground. Picture postcards can be a good source of photographs. A word of warning was given on copyright on photographs; it is wise to check whether copyright still applies. To overcome this potentially expensive problem Mrs Gee used only pre-1910 photographs.

Dr Coiley spoke on the new National Railway Museum at York opening September 1975. All aspects of railway history and development will be portrayed. Locomotives and rolling stock will be displayed and there will be films, tape slide programmes and tape recordings. Dr Coiley indicated the value of picture postcards in IA and the importance of always having a camera handy; the subject may not be there when you go back. It was emphasised that the museum should not merely duplicate the work of preservation societies, but should concentrate on research and the preservation of records. R P Vickers


On 13 December, GLIAS made a Platform programme for BBC Radio London. Once a fortnight, Radio London gives a local group 90 minutes of air time, live and uncensored, apart from occasional advice from BBC Producer, Nick Lucy. Denis Smith, Mike Bussell, John Smith, Christine Vialls, Nick Falk and Adrian Tayler had exactly nine days' notice of the broadcast, after another group had backed out and it was not possible to circularise GLIAS members about the programme. We filled the hour and a half with tape recordings and discussion; as a result we have gained a few new members and have also been given a number of useful leads on sites to look at.

Soho Crafts

An extremely valuable and comprehensive survey of the crafts in Soho is being carried out over the next month. The aim is to catalogue all the crafts and craftsmen in Soho, primarily to assess their needs as regards accommodation, so that they are not trampled underfoot by developers to the extent they have been in the past. This will also prove of great use to GLIAS enabling us to locate and then record particular crafts and all volunteers are very welcome. If you work in Central London and can spare an hour or two, drop in at the survey centre at the Marshall Street Baths, Marshall St, W1, where Miss Taylor, the co-ordinator, will give you somewhere to visit. The centre is open Mon-Fri, 9-5.


An exciting new material is now available which will help make the rehabilitation of industrial monuments a more practical proposition. The conversion of industrial buildings to new uses meets with many structural problems, particularly the necessity to comply with today's high standards of fire protection. For example, a warehouse with cast iron columns and beams could not hope to be converted to offices, say, without encasing the cast iron in fire protective material — usually concrete. This would, of course, effectively negate the objectives of preserving the building because of its delicate cast iron design! The new solution to the problem comes in the form of a sprayed intumescent paint, marketed as 'Citex'. A thin coating of this material, sprayed over all the exposed iron surfaces, will retain the visual outline of the structure (albeit with a slightly textured surface), but in the event of a fire will swell in the heat to form an effective fire-resisting casing of 'half-hour' standard which will meet most Fire Prevention Officers' requirements. 'LJ hours' protection and better can be achieved, but the extra thickness of coating would tend to obliterate the crisp outline of the ironwork. The material has already been used in London, in the St Katharine Docks redevelopment and in the conversion of the Clock Mill on the River Lea and is likely to become a common feature of rehabilitated industrial buildings.

Liverpool Street

Everyone must have heard about BR's plan to redevelop Liverpool Street/Broad Street. A campaign to save these buildings and to give BR a viable alternative scheme is under way. For details contact Alan Stones, 15 New End, London NW3.

King's Cross

Most people will know that BR are in the process of electrifying the suburban lines out of King's Cross. As we might expect, drastic changes are taking place to stations, signal boxes and other installations. Graham Vincent of AIA has sent in a list of GNR items surviving at the beginning of November. These are:

GNR wooden signal boxes (to be replaced by a single control box at King's Cross) at Goods and Mineral Junction (between Gasworks and Copenhagen Tunnels); Holloway South (Down and Up); Finsbury Park Nos 5 and 6; Wood Green; Hitchin South and Hitchin Yard. Also a fine GNR distant signal gantry on the down side between Holloway and Finsbury Park.

Gas-lit wooden stations: New Southgate and Friern Barnet, Oakleigh Park, Knebworth. Knebworth has two very rare lamps incorporating the station name in blue glass.

Stratford Loco Works practical

Sixteen GLIAS members, including the Brentwood I.A. Group and a sympathiser from the Science Museum, turned up at Stratford on 16 November (GLIAS Newsletter July 1974). Recording was concentrated on the former Iron Foundry, Carriage Repair Shed, Loco Paint Shop and Moulding Shop. Most of the machinery has been stripped out, but a number of elderly overhead cranes and assortment of wooden patterns and moulds and a hydraulic devil remain. Library research on the project continues and Duncan Law is co-ordinating the photographs, drawings and other material.

© Sidney Ray, 16.11.74

A meeting will be held in the New Year so that we can all see the results of our work. Meanwhile we hope to have interested some more GLIAS members in the pleasures of recording.

Essex Brewery, Walthamstow

A joint party from the Vestry House Museum, the Walthamstow Adult Education Centre evening class and from GLIAS has recorded the interior of the former Tollemache & Cobbold brewery in St James Street, Walthamstow. Features include a large and distinctive lucarne, a Boby malt mill and the usual 'Heath Robinson' structural modifications, so typical of breweries. Our guide Fred Wears, former engineer at the brewery and the third generation of his family to work there, provided Denis Smith with a very informative tape recorded interview.

The only misfortune occurred when one of the party fell into the mouth of an artesian well — someone had nicked the manhole cover for scrap!

Q & A


This column is a medley of appeals for information and appeals for assistance. If you can help, please reply to Adrian Tayler, 28 Tower Hamlets Rd, London E17 4RH (01-521 3805) unless the question says otherwise. If you want to ask a question, please make it clear and brief. Preference will be given to specialised questions rather than those which could be answered with ten minutes' research in your local reference library. Our thanks to all who have put questions or supplied answers for this issue.

On 21 Cranbourne St, WC2, there are cast into the brickwork the letters 'J WISDEN & CO' and below, a cricket bat, stumps and ball. The premises are now a small cafe. Is this the same person as the Wisden of the cricket almanac and, if so, does anyone have any further information on the firm?

Recently a church monument was seen made from Bethlehem Marble. Is this a natural marble, a stone which can be polished (as Purbeck Marble) or an artificial compound (as Coade Stone) — and was it in vogue at any particular time? The example seen had a smooth dull uniform grey-black surface with finely cut flower patterns.

Are there any Chinese Laundries left in London?

The Gin Distillery industry for the UK is and, it appears, has been concentrated in London. Is there any reason for this?

Visiting a Public Convenience in Islington High Street recently, David Thomas was delighted to find it a classic Doulton, 1891, complete with marble stalls and 'fish tanks' (hurry — due for closure). Do any others of this period and design remain? And are there any ladies' loos with 'fish tanks'.
A: There is a similar Gents' in Holborn, 100 yds E of Holborn Tube (Ed).

On the corner of Seward St/Central St, EC1, is the now disused Bartholomew Buildings, 1882, of the City & Central Dwellings Co Ltd. Who were they? Have they any other buildings?

Has anyone any paintings, prints, drawings, plans, models or relics of Thames River Craft they could lend for an exhibition in Twickenham this summer? The exhibition, covering craft from the Middle Ages to 1900, will be in the Orleans House Gallery and is being organised by the Richmond Borough Librarian, Derek Jones. His address — The Retreat, Retreat Rd, Richmond, Surrey.

At the end of May, the ALEXANDRA PALACE is celebrating its centenary. We will have a stand there to recruit new members and we have also been asked to contribute to the Ally Pally's main exhibition. We know that the roof was made at the Thames Ironworks, but does anyone have (or is anyone prepared to dig out) any detailed information on the subject?

Survey of London Printers: Printing machines are (or at least used to be) built to last and there are many venerable presses, composing machines and such like in everyday use in London printers. However, there is a trend away from some of the older processes such as letterpress, die-stamping and ruling towards offset litho. This is taking its toll of the older machines and we would be well advised to record these crafts before they vanish. We have an offer of help from the Historical Group at the London College of Printing, which will be invaluable both in terms of technical know-how and of contacts. Recording will mainly be on weekdays in eastern central London. If you are interested, contact Adrian Tayler, 521 3805, days and evenings.


Peabody Trust: This question produced several responses, including useful references. Below is the bare outline:-

George Peabody (1795-1869) settled in London in 1837 after making several business trips to the UK. Financially successful, he made many gifts to charities and good works in Britain and America including, in 1862, £150,000 to ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis and to promote their comfort and happiness. Trustees were appointed, who decided on housing as the most appropriate area at a time when railways and their associated goods yards had caused considerable demolition of dwellings. Six estates were completed 1862-70, all comprising several blocks of tenements designed by Henry Darbishire and erected by Cubitt. Further gifts made the total donated up to £500,000. The Trust, which is still in existence, continues to modernise properties (e.g.: at present, Hatfields, SE1) and has built new flats since the way (e.g.: Roscoe St, EC1, 1957). Originally restricted to a 12-mile radius of the Royal Exchange, on the East side of which there is a statue of George Peabody.

Peabody Estate, Clerkenwell

George Peabody. F Parker, Vanderbilt Univ. Press, 1971.
What Do Peabody Do? — 5p stamps from Mr Doe, Peabody Trust, Premier House, 150 Southampton Row, London WC1 (also produce various reports).

At least three other Trusts were set up, the Guinness, Button and Lewis. Do any members have any information on these? How do their relative sizes compare with each other — were any comparable Workers'/Tenants' Association Trusts set up on the same scale? Is there a definite regional bias within London for this sort of accommodation? How do the Metropolitan Board of Works fit into the picture? Replies, please.

Taxi Cabmen's Shelters: Several replies, including one enclosing an article from the TGWU Record, 5/74, whence most of this story has been gleaned.

In days of horse carriages, taxi men were expected to be seated on the 'Box' awaiting custom. One day, Captain G C Armstrong, seeking a cab during a heavy snowstorm, found the men sheltering from the weather in a nearby pub rather than sit freezing.

Armstrong, a regular cab user, gathered associates and formed the Cabmen's Shelter Fund to provide covered waiting/rest facilities.

First shelter was built 1875. Well-wishers made donations, providing a total of 65 shelters, each costing about £150, by 1915. Early models, with octagonal ends, seated 10. Some had tea-making facilities; that at Leicester Square possessed cooking facilities. This one was erected by Sir Squire Bancroft opposite his theatre in Haymarket (small plaque on side). The list below of 13 remaining shelters is thought to be complete — please write to the Editor if any disappear or if others exist, even if now disused. Of note is their concentration in West Central London — is this a reflection of stronger demand in these areas resulting in shelters remaining while others in East and South London have disappeared?

Although basically similar in external appearance, shelters differ in size and detail. Members living/working near them are urged to take a look at them and jot down details on a CBA record card, returning same to Mike Bussell (from whom blank cards may be obtained).

The London Taxi Cab, C N Georgiano; David & Charles

Sewer-Gas Lamp, Carting Lane First experiments in gas street lighting took place in Golden Lane in 1807 and the City of Westminster was the first authority in the world to light a public street — Pall Mall — by gas in 1812. Although nearly all gas lamps have been converted to electricity it is intended to preserve the unique gas lamp in Carting Lane. This is a Webb 'Patent Sewer Lamp' of which no other example survives in London.

Sewer-Gas Lamp, Carting Lane © Robert Mason 2016 Sewer-Gas Lamp, Carting Lane © Robert Mason 2016

In 1895 J E Webb patented a street-lighting column which combined its purpose of illumination with that of sewer gas extraction and destruction. The one in Carting Lane was installed in 1900 to dispose of gases aris­ing from the drains near the Savoy Hotel. The lamp operates on town gas and not on sewer gas.

'Anonymous' Pillar Boxes These were manufactured by A Handyside in 1879-1887 in two versions with slots in high (1879-83), lower (1883-87) positions. The Secretary to the Post Office admitted that omission of the Royal Cipher was a mistake, and since 1887 this has always been included.

'Anonymous' Handyside pillar box, corner Thurloe Place/Square, SW7. © Robert Mason 2013

Details on these, and other box varieties, may be found in 'The Letter Box', J Farrugia; Centaur Press 1969, which has a list of dates and locations of the majority of Victorian letterboxes in the UK. Handyside also exported letter boxes to the Empire, Portugal, etc. Was there in fact a standard design for the world market, hence omission of identification? Comments please.

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© GLIAS, 1975