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Notes and news — May 1975

In this issue:


On the centre pages of this newsletter you will find a map of London and marked on it current and recent recording projects. As you will see, there are some horrifying gaps. Some of these gaps are misleading, since some members do a lot of work but keep the results to themselves; the trouble with this is that the GLIAS Recording Group, which is supposed to co-ordinate our activities, is left in the dark and duplication of work can occur.

Even if we could solve that problem, there are still large and important areas of London which we haven't touched, where we don't even know what should be recorded. What we need are:

A) More members to help in basic recording work. It's not at all difficult and you don't need to be a professional civil engineer or whatever. All you need is a little time, common sense and a notebook and pencil. David Thomas has organised a series of recording events for the summer to give people a taste for practical work, so why should you miss the fun?

B) Borough Correspondents for the boroughs which don't have one (see map). The idea is to read your local paper and keep in touch with local members, libraries, amenity and local history groups etc. It's amazing what we can find out if we are plugged in to local affairs.

So, what's it all for? Firstly to provide archive material to help people writing books and articles now and in the future — people like our own Michael Bussell, who is busy writing a volume on London's industrial archaeology. The archives into which our material goes are both national and local and we also hope to have our own London archive shortly. Secondly, to promote the preservation and restoration of particularly worthwhile relics, whether as museum exhibits or as industrial monuments in their own right. London is bulldozing away too much of its heritage and every hour spent recording or preserving is well spent.
If you'd like to help, join one of David Thomas's visits or contact our Recording Group Secretary, Robert Vickers, 79 Shortlands Rd, Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey


Laminated Roofs Recently a curved, laminated roof, c1870, was discovered at the former Great Northern Railway Temperance Hall near King's Cross. Does any member know of anything similar in the London area?

Landlubbers' "Lighthouses" At the junction of Pentonville Road and Gray's Inn Road, the corner building has on its roof a metal structure which looks not unlike a small lighthouse. Can anyone suggest what this might possibly be? It's been worrying David Thomas for years. (>>>)

Flat-iron building, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

(Possible clue or red herring: I know that a "lighthouse" exists on the top of a nonconformist chapel in Markhouse Road E17; I believe this was actually lit up as a sign to the ungodly of Walthamstow. Ed.)

Plunging Eye Inspection Covers The pavements of Vauxhall have these in profusion; they are about 3 inches across. Are they common in other parts of London?


"Bethlehem" Marble Most likely a pious corruption of Bethersden Marble, in fact not a marble anyway, but a shelly limestone quarried about five miles south-west of Ashford, Kent. Superficially it is much like Purbeck Marble, which is itself not a true marble but can take a fairly high polish. The grandest example of Bethersden Marble is the altar steps in Canterbury Cathedral.

Street Furniture (GLIAS Newsletter March 1975) Andrew Emmerson remembers seeing a stench pipe of the Carshalton type (with weather vane arrow) in Canterbury Road, Herne Bay a few years ago. He also remembers another interesting piece of street furniture, a combine street lamp and electrical distribution cabinet. The lamp was perched atop a round cast iron casing, the size of a London twin pillar box and painted green. Do any remain? (An answer to this may be found in Robin Brooks' talk at the Albert on 21st May. Ed.)

Trade Signs: (GLIAS Newsletter March 1975) Many sitings, including:

One correspondent mentions four signs to be seen in Edinburgh; surely some of these are to be found in London? They are:

Bourne Hill, Colchester

The National Trust are planning to restore this 1591 watermill to working order. It has been used both as a cloth and flour mill and the machinery is still in place. The Trust plans to spend £1,500 on it. Anyone who would like to help please contact Mrs Gillian McGregor, Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks.

Alexandra Palace Centenary, 24-26 May

The 'Ally Pally' is 100 this year and an extensive public jamboree is being held to mark this anniversary. The interest from the IA point of view is primarily the roof, made by London's own Thames Ironworks, the large shipbuilding, metalworking and electrical concern at the mouth of the Lea, which closed in 1913. Parts of this roof, particularly over the Palm Court, are not in the best of condition and if you go there you will notice that gauze has been stretched across to form a transparent false ceiling, which catches any falling nuts and bolts. I should add, however, that the structure is still basically perfectly safe.

A Centenary Exhibition in the Palm Court will include displays on the building of the 'Ally Pally' and GLIAS and numerous other local societies will be exhibiting in the West Corridor. Other attractions include concerts and a variety of outdoor happenings, including fireworks and a parade of veteran fire engines on the Monday.

The celebrations are open from 11am to 6pm (some events in the evening too) on 24, 25 and 26 May. Admission is free and car parking extensive; otherwise by BR or Piccadilly Line to Wood Green and catch a bus.

We need help to man the GLIAS stand at the Alexandra Palace Centenary. If we can find twelve volunteers, that would make the job very light work. All you have to do it keep our piles of literature stocked up and answer simple (?) questions about industrial archaeology put to you by interested parties. If you can spare an hour or two over that weekend (24-26 May) please ring Adrian Tayler on 521 1805, day or evening.

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© GLIAS, 1975