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Notes and news — December 1975

In this issue:

GLIAS in action

Since the Society has no great single 'cause célèbre' to campaign for like the Euston Arch or Liverpool Street, nor a single huge restoration project like Kew Bridge or the Brunel site, on which everyone's interests are focused, people may wonder what GLIAS actually does.

We are becoming known for our recording work and a glance through the events lists of the past year's newsletters will give an idea of the wide range of sites which have been methodically photographed, measured, drawn and researched. On a more immediate level, the Recording Group is also very active in the machinery of preservation, going through listing procedures, suggesting alternative uses for redundant buildings and so on.

Sites which have recently been the subject of their attention include a very distinctive and unusual warehouse at the London Docks, known as the Skin Floor; the former Midland Railway Ale & Porter Store (now known as the Granary Building) at St Pancras; the Silchester Road Baths, a grand building in North Kensington with much early equipment, such, as washing stalls, washing machines, slipper baths and drying horses; also Crips' forge and chainworks in Southwark. David Thomas has already applied to BP's industrial archaeology scheme for funds to publish a report on this site and he very much hopes that the whole works, with its machinery, will become a working museum.

Kew Bridge Waterworks Museum open

The Kew Bridge Engines Trust report that the pumping station has now opened to the public; times — every Saturday and Sunday between 11 and 5pm. All the exhibits, including an 1840 Maudslay engine and an 1859 Bull engine — both the last remaining examples of their breed — are on show. Another attraction which should prove most popular is the 1820 Boulton & Watt lest Cornish engine, which will be in steam every Saturday and Sunday, from 11-1pm and 2-5pm approximately. The pumping station, which is marked in the A to Z, is on the north side of Kew Bridge Road, Brentford; nearest stations are Kew Bridge (BR from Waterloo) or Gunnersbury (District and North London lines) is 10 mins walk away. Admission is 40p for adults, 20p for children.

Low Hall Farm Engine

Still on the subject of steam, John Howes of Waltham Forest Libraries and the Arts Dept., who are corporate members of GLIAS, writes that "it is likely that the fine reciprocating steam engine (a horizontal by Marshalls of Gainsborough) will be restored 'in situ' once all the re-building works are completed at the Low Hall Farm Depot. All the valuable brass fittings are under lock and key and the engine will be on show by prior arrangement and possibly at some set hours each week. Nothing much can happen until late 1976 as the engine house is at present full of street light fittings awaiting removal to an as yet unbuilt store! However, we are aware of the value of the engine and the Society can rest assured that every care will be taken of it."

The local museum, Vestry House, already has a tape recording of the engineman's reminiscences in their archives.

Southwark Workshop, 16 October 1975

A large number of members from GLIAS attended this evening of short illustrated talks at the South Bank Institute — a really worthwhile evening for all concerned. Our thanks are especially due to Brian Bloice who did all the organising and made the evening run smoothly from start to finish.

The introduction was given by Maitland Muller from the Cuming Museum, who was closely followed by Nicholas Falk (Secretary of the Brunel Exhibition project). He talked about conservation in general and more particularly about conservation in the Rotherhithe area. Speaking of the Rotherhithe Workshop Conservation Scheme, he stressed the difficulties faced such as raising finance and deterring the authorities from redevelopment. He described the purpose of the Brunel Museum, namely to tell the story of the Thames tunnel and the history of Rotherhithe and finished his discourse by a show of slides on the area.

The next speaker, David Thomas (GLIAS), gave a detailed account of the work being done and the vast amount of work to do in the Southwark area. He stressed the need for continuing vigilance as far as industrial buildings were concerned as they were fast disappearing under redevelopments etc. He talked of the huge hydraulic system in the docks and the pumping stations which fed the system. His slides included the Excelsior Iron Works, railways in Southwark and public baths and wash-houses in Southwark. Altogether this was a most rewarding talk including all IA topics of interest in the area.

Robert Vickers (GLIAS), the next speaker, concentrated his talk on the area round Bermondsey Street, telling of the innumerable small industries. He spoke of leather works, glue factories and a bakery. He also explained how the workers in these industries were looked after to a certain degree by the foundation of a "Time and Talents Settlement" in 1907. Robert also gave his talk a good deal of illustration with colour slides.

The last speaker, Jim Cox (SLAS) supplemented his talk by a reading from the Lambeth Gazette of 1 Sept 1853, telling most vividly of the foul living conditions in Lambeth. He reinforced this by talking of the glueworks, soap boiling, pottery, gasworks and bad sanitation which made Lambeth such a revolting place to live. Jim's talk was also illustrated with slides, but none reflected the picture that the Gazette had painted (Lambeth has changed a bit!) R Walsham

South-East Herts Tour, 20 July 1975

This was an attempt to get away from London for a day and to remind ourselves that as well as pumping stations and warehouses industrial archaeology can mean windmills, maltings and breweries.

We set out in the morning from Broxbourne. Here we saw a small kiln and a pair of edge-running crushing wheels which had been pulled round a shallow trough by horse, the remains of an artificial stone and terracotta works. We saw a terrace of houses built by the Great Eastern Railway for its workers, the site of a cornmill burnt down about 1950 where an undershot waterwheel and part of a turbine remain and the New River.

At St Margarets the station dates from 1843 and was the junction for the now lifted line to Buntingford. The town has several maltings and mills of which we saw the St Margarets Maltings complex, 1866, of six kilns, for drying the malt and stopping fermentation and three malting sheds. Part of the French Jupp maltings dating from 1840 are still in use. We saw barley spread out on a malting floor and the construction of a typical maltings with low ceiling to floor height, about 6ft, meaning several floors could be contained in a fairly low building and with shuttered unglazed windows in each storey.

The head of the New River at Amwell is marked by a suitably inscribed Coade stone block. On the way there we saw Rye Common Pumping Station, 1882, a typical New River design and Broadmead Pumping Station, steam powered until 1935.

We stopped for lunch at Ware at a new riverside pub where amongst other things, we saw a narrow boat cruiser moored. Ware station, with a single-storey station building dating from 1843, has a goods shed with the remains of drive shafting and belt wheels. We saw the Victoria Maltings built in 1907 and enlarged 1936 and the new maltings of W Paul, 1966, which have taken business from others nearby.

Behind the Star Brewery, 1862, now a store, is a row of three maltings of 1845 currently being converted for new use. It was in one of the malt drying kilns that we established the current GLIAS record for kiln cramming, getting in all thirteen members of the party. We were able to see the wire mesh on which the malt was spread above the fire to dry.

At Stansted Mountfitchet we had a guided tour of the tower windmill built in 1787 and in use until 1910. It was extensively restored 1966-69 and is open in the afternoon on the first Sunday of the Month April to October and Sundays and Mondays at Easter, Spring and Summer Bank Holidays. An important feature of this mill is that the machinery is virtually complete.

In Bishops Stortford we saw the 1828 Corn Exchange saved from demolition but for which a future use has not yet been found. The Triad Maltings is a group of maltings taken over by the local authority in 1969 and now used as an arts centre. Some of the buildings have been extensively altered, some are original.

From here we made our way back to London after a full and interesting day. Thanks to advance planning by the group leader we were able to see more than we otherwise would have and this made the day enjoyable. Robert Vickers

Congress on I.A. Conservation, 3-9 September 1975

The Second International Congress on the Conservation of Industrial Monuments was held in Bochum, West Germany. Some 70 delegates were present, from most of the European countries, the USA and Japan. Working sessions dealt with the theoretical aspects of I.A. (heavy going for the less academically inclined); documentation and preservation of industrial monuments and social aspects of I.A.

Two evening film shows, numerous visits to monuments in the Ruhr and lavish hospitality from various official bodies and industrialists completed an intensive but enjoyable programme.

The formal sessions and the more sociable discussions over a glass of Pils, gave valuable opportunities for comparing the different approaches to industrial archaeology on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The Congress papers and discussions will be published; in the meantime, Transcriptions of the First Congress (held at Ironbridge in 1973) are now available from Neil Cossons at Church Hill, Ironbridge, Telford, Salop TF8 7RE, price £6 plus postage. 203 generously illustrated pages (all in English) this volume will appeal especially to those interested in the preservation of industrial monuments. Michael Bussell

Q and A


Q & A is a column which relies on readers' contributions — so if no-one writes in, there's no column. The aim is to help those engaged in research or recording projects find solutions to questions which are not answered in the standard reference books, but where another member with specialist or local knowledge may be able to help. Please feel free to contribute with a question or an answer. Write to Adrian Tayler, 28 Tower Hamlets Ed, London E17 4EH.

Q: Civil Engineering Folk Songs Davie McClymont is attempting to compile an anthology of folk songs connected with Canals, Roads, Railways, etc. If you have anything which you think is appropriate, please contact Davie direct at the Library, Institution of Civil Engineers, Great George St, London SW1.

Q: Waterworks Source Material Simon Molesworth, an architectural student at Cambridge, is researching a thesis on Victorian water company buildings in the London area. He would be grateful for any information as to the whereabouts of any original architects' drawings, photographs, lesser known documentary sources, etc. Please write direct to him at Peterhouse, Cambridge CB2 1BD.

Q: London's First Traffic Lights Andrew Emmerson writes: I am trying to assemble some information on what I believe were London's first traffic lights and indeed perhaps the first in the World. If I am not completely mistaken, these stood at or near St George's Circus, were lit by gas and blew up after not too long a period. Can someone please oblige with references to these which have appeared in print? Postal costs refunded and I'll prepare a digest for the Newsletter. Write direct to Andrew Emmerson at 38 Station Road, Wokingham, Berks RG11 2AE.

Q: Veteran Garage Equipment George Hart tipped me off about Hughes Motors (est. 1902) in College Close, Edmonton close by Silver Street station. The forecourt is no longer in business but has a battery of handcranked pumps, a quaint attendant's booth and a number of wooden pylons supporting advertising beacons. Are there any more such places in London? Does anyone know if a proper study has been done on, or a collection made of early petrol retailing equipment? Answers to Adrian Tayler, please.

Q: Wooden Roads David Perrett has noticed wood block road surfaces (not to be confused, of course, with rectangular granite setts) in Newcastle Close off Farringdon Road and in the western courtyard below the steps of St Paul's. I've also noticed some in Smart's Place, WC1, beside the big IPC building in High Holborn. I gather that tarred wood blocks were popular at the turn of the century as they quietened the crash of horses' hooves and metal-tyred carriage wheels; when roads were being remade, discarded blocks were very popular as firewood and boys used to pay the foreman of the gang a penny a bag for them. Do any readers know of other remaining stretches of wooden roadway? Answers to Adrian Tayler, please.


A: Fish Smoking Many thanks to everyone who wrote in following my appeal for information on the few fishmongers who still smoke their own fish. I'll follow up these leads as soon as possible.

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© GLIAS, 1975