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Notes and news — August 1975

In this issue:

Mortlake walk: 12.4.75

Charles Hailstones' local knowledge was well expounded on the interesting walk. Next to the 1846 station we saw the 1836 Boatmens Benevolent Association alms houses, before passing by the brewery (founded 1487, currently Victorian, new plant nearly finished) to the Thames. The farrier's shop nearby, appropriately was housing two horses, though all tools and equipment except the hearths, have been removed. Victoria Street concrete cottages, the parochial schools (ex-workhouse) and municipal laundry (what equipment?) were seen en route to Barnes Bridge, where in we walked the footpath to halfway across the river. The odd tower-house was viewed and the mass of lions on gateposts/gables in and around Hillesdon Avenue admired. An interesting curio was the recently renovated tent-tomb of the explorer Richard Burton (d. 1890). Also lots more — well worth it.

Brentford walk: 10.5.75

The walk which Elizabeth Wood led in this area was, to some extent, a disaster trail! We started with Brentford Market, now closed, of which we have recently tried to get the 1905 entrance and façade listed.

Nearby, an excavator occupied a hole in the road which until a week previously had been the site of a sub-surface gents with delightful six-sided 'fish tanks'. The parchment works appeared to be in the middle of an upheaval of re-equipment and all of interest has disappeared from Brentford Docks!

That said, there is quite a lot left, especially around the canal entrance and even a few small large windowed workshops survive — plus the Grand Junction Waterworks street drinking fountain.

We hope to do recording at two sites — the Council Depot which includes a pumping station and the parchment works as soon as possible. Anyone able to help is asked to contact Elizabeth (894 4154). David Thomas

Q & A

Q. Fish Smoking In London I was recently lucky enough to see a traditional fishmonger's smoke hole in action at Purkis & Sons, 138 Hoe St, Walthamstow. The smoke hole, as you will see from the diagram below, is a simple affair, without even thermostats or dampers — the whole process depends on the skill and experience of the fishmonger. Briefly, the fish (herring, haddock, trout, mackerel or salmon) are strung on rods or poles, which are then placed round the sides of the chamber. A small fire of oak chips smoulders on the hearth and the drying and flavouring of the fish takes between one and five hours, depending on the humidity of the atmosphere. The smoke hole I saw was built in about 1890 and I gather that bulk processing and the Clean Air Act have combined to reduce the number of smoke holes in London to some six or eight. I would like to record all these and would greatly appreciate it if other members would tell me of any fishmongers they know who smoke their own fish. Adrian Tayler


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© GLIAS, 1975