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Notes and news — August 1976

In this issue:

A review of recording work by GLIAS and affiliated societies during 1975-6

During the past year recording work by GLIAS members and various affiliated societies, has confirmed and results of some of the work have already been published, or will be published in the next year. This review is arranged by borough. If a borough is not mentioned it indicates that no work has been done in the year, or that the Recording Group has not been told about it.

Barnet The Hendon and District Archaeological Society have continued to work on recording the borough's industrial sites.

Camden Camden History Society and GLIAS have been jointly recording sites connected with transport in Camden and so far have concentrated on the area from St Pancras and King's Cross Stations to Kentish Town. Sites studied include the 1865 Ale Warehouse built by the Midland Railway for Bass the brewers, Somers Town goods depot, including coal chutes and hydraulic machinery (the site of the new British Library Building), the London and North Western Railway's rail/canal transfer warehouse at Camden Town and a stable complex also at Camden Town built and added to from about 1855 to the 1890s.

Records are being placed in Swiss Cottage Library. A survey of non-transport sites has also been started.

Greenwich Members of the Extra-Mural IA class at Goldsmith's College have been involved in the SLAG (Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich) Project. Work completed includes a survey of Woolwich Dockyard and Kirkaldy's Testing Works (see Southwark). Reports on both sites are being prepared.

Hammersmith A survey of the Wood Lane patent top fed refuse destructor of 1904, its concrete framed successor of the 1950s and the early 20th-century disinfecting station for decontaminating clothes and bedding, etc.

Wood Lane patent top-fed refuse destructor of 1904, Michael Bussell 1976

Hounslow A photographic survey of the Brentford area was made at the beginning of 1975 including Brentford Market with the original part of 1893 and the expansion of 1905, the Pier House Laundry at Strand on the Green built between 1905 and 1911, the canal dock area and buildings on The Butts Farm Estate of between about 1891-5 which formed a market garden for Whiteley's store in Bayswater including processing and packing sheds, workers' housing and dormitories and a chapel.

Islington The Islington Archaeology and History Society I.A. Group has begun a survey of the borough and already located 70 sites of interest. Sites recorded include the former wash house at Essex Road Baths, a former vinegar works in Brewery Road and an early 19th century warehouse on City Road basin being used by the Staffordshire pottery firm Davenports.

Kensington and Chelsea GLIAS was contacted earlier this year by the Notting Dale Local History Centre for support at a public enquiry to consider an application to demolish the listed Lancaster Road/Silchester Road baths. The Centre want to establish the baths as a community centre and baths museum. Because of recording work already carried out we were able to give them useful information.

In cooperation with the Sir William Halcrow IA Group Bartle's Ironworks in Lancaster Road was recorded before demolition early 1976. The works produced coal-hole covers and other street furniture still to be seen.

Newham GLIAS and the Brentwood IA Group have been surveying the Stratford Locomotive Works of the Great Eastern Railway, later part of the London and North Eastern Railway. Work has concentrated on 'the former iron foundry and carriage repair, paint and moulding shops. Much machinery has gone but overhead cranes, wooden pattern moulds and a hydraulic 'devil' remain. Work continues and it is hoped a report will be published.

Southwark A number of sites in the borough have been recorded:

  • Hibernia Wharf, Montague Close, SE1 This is a large complex of riverside warehouses built about 1836 with later additions. A cold storage system was installed around the turn of the century, parts of which remain and the warehouse was used for storing cheese, butter etc. A report will be published.

  • Stevenson & Howell, Southwark Street EC1 A firm of essence and flavouring manufacturers with a worldwide reputation established about 1890. They moved from Southwark at the end of 197*. We arrived too late to see most of the machinery but managed to rescue plans and records and get some idea of what they did.

  • W A Crips, George Row SE16 This is probably the last surviving chain makers in Bermondsey and a complete survey was made as the business is unlikely to last much longer. They made chains for Thames lighters and all kinds of ironwork for other uses. Belt-driven machinery of the early 20th century remains.

  • Tower Bridge, Maintenance Workshop This was built at about the same time as the bridge — 1894-5 — to ensure that the steam engines and hydraulic machinery of the bridge and any other parts could be repaired as quickly as possible. On the ground floor was a forge and carpenter's shop and the Tangye steam engine which originally powered the belt driven machinery. This includes lathes, drills and milling machines some dated from 1895 5 which are now electrically driven. Electric motors are being installed for the bridge and it seems unlikely that the workshop will be needed. A report is being produced.

  • Kirkaldy's Testing Works, 99 Southwark St, SE1 David Kirkaldy, one of the pioneers of materials testing, established his works here in 1873. Much of the original machinery survives, including his massive testing machine on which almost every engineering material from all over the world is tested. Parts of the original Tay Bridge were tested here after its collapse. The future of the building is under discussion. A thorough survey has been made.

    Tower Hamlets Work has been done at a number of sites in the borough which contains so much of IA interest:

  • Commercial Road Goods Depot This was a large range of six-storey warehousing with rail access built by the London Tilbury and Southend Railway in 1886 for Tilbury Docks traffic. A survey of the building's structure, hydraulic cranes and lifts was made before demolition in 1975.

  • In Shoreditch there are many small late 19th-century workshops connected with the furniture trade. A chairframe maker's, upholsterer's spring makers and an engravers and die sinkers have been studied and two reports already published.

  • Boundary Estate: Cookham Buildings Laundry This estate was the first LCC high-density development built in 1895 to replace slums by well-built housing for working-class families. A laundry was provided for tenants, Although now out of use for seven years, washing stalls, hydro-extractors and drying rack remain. On the first floor was a small community centre with cards room, tea bar and small stage. The original plans have been found and it is hoped a report will be published.

    This is a shortened and revised account taken from a four page article on IA work in London 1972-76 by M Bussell and R Vickers in the 'London Archaeologist', July 1976. Copies of this can be obtained for 25p, post free, from Ms Sally Petchley, 92 Kingsway, West Wickham, Kent. Robert Vickers

    Visit Report: Liverpool

    Following after Exeter (GLIAS Newsletter June 1976), our second excursion out of London was a day with lots to see, including two Mersey ferries and even a bit of the vernacular thrown in.

    Mike Chitty and colleagues from the NW Society for IA and History led us on a tour full of sites and contrasts, with massive iron-clad office blocks, gaunt Exchange Station, 'Beetle Lane', the silent brooding Stanley Dock, with the Leeds & Liverpool Canal inconspicuously leading out then, after a distant view of the huge Albert Dock complex, a plentiful lunch.

    Then on to Birkenhead, where the surviving 1886 Barclay Compound butterfly beam Mersey Railway tunnel draining pump slowly moulders in a rather empty building. The docks still have a hydraulic mains, the pump-house having two three-cylinder plus direct drive electric pumps and a remarkably fast moving accumulator rising and thumping back out its base.

    By the time we regained Liverpool all of the party were beginning to feel the effects of six hours on their feet, but eight stalwarts continued after tea up to the Catholic Cathedral and the 'Phil' for a jar (gents loo a marble marvel) before a closely timed route march back to Lime Street with four minutes to spare for our train. Our thanks to Mike and colleagues for volunteering to lead us and for doing it so well. David Thomas

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  • © GLIAS, 1976