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Notes and news — April 1979

In this issue:

Retaining By Re-use

Continuation of Derek Bayliss's list of successful conversions (GLIAS Newsletter February 1979).

3. Conversion to offices:

4. Conversion to shops, etc.: 5. Craft and other workshops: 6. Conversion to museums: 7. Other community uses:

Railway stations in Surrey

Because I work in Millbank Tower (superb views) I am GLIAS representative for Westminster; because I live in Guildford I am a member of the IA Committee of the Surrey Archaeology Society. Wearing my Surrey hat I am considering which Surrey railway stations merit preservation by means of inclusion on a DoE list.

I have every sympathy with the recent complaints emanating from BR that, whilst they are now sympathetic to their responsibilities in the historical field, they must not be forced into a position in which they cannot carry out the running of trains because they are too busy acting as conservationists. It is therefore necessary to limit the list and only sack to preserve those stations of truly major significance. So it is I seek the help of GLIAS members.

Although my real concern is the present Administrative County of Surrey, inevitably there is some overlap with places formerly in Surrey. Prof. H.P. White, in a helpful note, considers that there are two stations in the historic county of Surrey which are a must. They are Sydenham and Anerley, both original London & Croydon stations of 1839 and virtually unaltered. The small street level station at Sydenham is classical in style, while Anerley is 'Cottage Orne' and reminds us that Anerley was so far in the country that it was named after a villa owned by a Scot — the word being apparently from some dialect form of 'lonely'. Not strictly a station, but Prof. White draws attention to 132 Wadden, New Road, Croydon, a cottage belonging to the Surrey Iron Railway. It marks the site of Pitlake where there was an end junction between the S.I.R. and C.M & G. I hope my information still holds good and that no one has flattened them subsequently.

May I seek the views of GLIAS members on the preservation of Surrey stations? My suggestions are Farnham, Belchworth, Leatherhead and Box Hill. Bob Kilsby of "Banestree"

More news from the Surrey Archaeology Society

'Surrey History' a useful annual publication may have to cease for lack of support? Volume II, No. 1 is available from the publishers Phillimore, Shapwyke Hall, Chichester, Sussex at 75p plus postage and contains articles on cabinet making in Guildford in the 20s and recent acquisitions of the Surrey Record Office which include the diaries of Edward Ryde, surveyor to the South Eastern Railway from 1855. The following offprints are also available from the Hon. Secretary, Surrey Archaeological Society, Castle Arch, Guildford (prices include postage):

71. R.A. Collins. Chalk Quarrying in Surrey 1800-1914, 45p
98. Mrs. M Eedle. Street Cleansing and Refuse Collection, 25p
110. P.J. Campling. Nathaniel Cohen and the Beginnings of the Labour Exchange Movement in Great Britain (Egham) 20p
116. G.D. Dowson. Excavation of a Glasshouse (A works cf 1879-92, excavated at Norfolk House, Lambeth in 1968) 25p

News from Brent

General Motors Ltd is planning to vacate its premises in Stag Lane, Hendon and to amalgamate its warehouses in a new £10 million complex in Milton Keynes. The Stag Lane site has a number of interesting IA items including the hangars in which de Havilland used to make its bombers and the old Frigidaire refrigerator re-processing plant is still there. Inquiries are in hand to obtain permission for a preliminary site visit in the near future. My thanks to Bill Firth for bringing this to my attention. Malcolm Osmundson, Borough correspondent for Brent

The GLIAS Journal — London's Industrial Archaeology

Copy for the first issue is now complete. It should be printed by early May and we hope to have a (free) copy available for each member at the GLIAS AGM. I hope that everyone will find something of interest, but unfortunately it is inevitable that some people's favourite subjects have been omitted. This issue contains a foreword from our President, Michael Robbins and 34 pages of text, including 16 photographs. The articles are: London and the steam engine. Part 1; The engines by David Perrett; Limehouse Lock and the 'GLIAS' winch at Camden Town by Malcolm Tucker; Marc Brunel's engine house at Rotherhithe by R.G. Barnes; Eel Traps at West Drayton, Middlesex by Malcolm Tucker & Elizabeth Wood; R.N.L.I store yard at 27 Broomfield Street, Poplar, E14 by Philip Purkis; 'That was brickmaking', part of a transcript from a tape recorded interview with Mr Frank Purse by Pauline Roenisch; and A Century ago: 1878-9 by David Hamilton & Brenda Sowan. The selling price will be 80p (+ 20p postage & packing). Brenda Sowan

For the record

There is at last a volunteer to take over at least most of the work of Recording Group Secretary. This is David Thompson and any queries on GLIAS site work generally or advice of sites that should be visited to recording should go to him. David Thomas will continue to co-ordinate work on sites already visited, and deal with ongoing queries.

It is normal at this time of year to reflect on recording work done, but this will be more than adequately covered in the talks on 26th April and in this Newsletter's pages 6-8.

David Thomas has several and would be pleased to pass on replies.

1. A Mr. Goddall, descendent of the owner of the Camden playing card works of Chas. Goddall & Son, seeks any historical information, photographs of the site or products.

2. A Mr. D Leaback is doing research on several chemical firms and particularly seeks any info, at all on J.C. & J Field of Upper Marsh, Burt, Bolton & Haywood, John Gosnell & Co and especially Parkin & Sons of Greenford and Simpson, Maule & Nicholson of Kennington and Southwark.

3. Bob Kilsby has noticed a Duchy of Cornwall boundary mark on the Embankment near Temple station; he wants to know why it is there.

With repeated threat that the Royal Docks will close at the end of the year, Bob Carr brings us up to date on the biggest task yet to face GLIAS — Docklands.

So far this year we have had three library sessions looking for material relevant to the recording work we hope to do when better weather comes. The first of these was at Tower Hamlets Library, Local History Room, Bancroft Road E1, on the morning of 13th January. Despite being out of the way for many of us, attendance was high — we actually reached double figures. Did the bright weather have anything to do with it? We were also pleased to welcome some new faces. The Librarian Mr Nurse had put out plenty of material to keep us busy. Apart from the usual run of Kelly's directories the local history collection contains numerous box files of press cuttings and other items. Many of these relate to ship building and repairing. Included are firms such as R & H Green and Silley Weir Ltd and the London Graving Dock Go which are still active today as part of River Thames Ship repairs Ltd (a member of British Shipbuilders) as well as many other famous firms now defunct. This history extends back well into the 17th century. The collection of large-scale plans is of special interest for our work on Poplar Docks. Especially fine is the extensive collection of aerial photographs which show good detail for the docks. The library also has ordinary photographs included in the Whiffen Collection. GLIAS would like to thank Mr Nurse for an enjoyable and instructive visit.

The Thames was pre-eminent as a ship-building river until the 1860s when decline set in (see for instance the Economic History Review, second series, vol 3, pp 72-89). Firms which continued after the crash of 1866 included Yarrow's (originally between Nos. 308 & 310 Manchester Road E14) who specialised in torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers (they moved to Tyneside in 1907) and the Thames Ironworks of Canning Town, which closed in 1912. As a final fling the latter company built the battleship Thunderer of 22,500 tons displacement in 1910. After this only repair work has been done on the river apart from tiny yards building barges etc.

Our second visit was to the Museum of London on Saturday morning, 27th January, when we did our best to go through the extensive collection of PLA photographs held there. These high quality photographs cover (mostly) the post WW2 period and depict a very wide range of activities connected with the docks including social as well as straight technological subjects. Thank you very much Chris Ellmers for your hospitality.

All day Saturday 24th February was spent in the luxurious Guildhall Library. The docklands group worked through volumes of the periodical 'Engineering'. We found several articles of interest including a first-rate account of the Royal Albert Dock Extension (King George V Dock) in volume 112 pp2-7. GLIAS would like to thank the Guildhall Library for accommodating us.

Several shipping lines have been helpful in trying to arrange a visit to a traditional dry cargo vessel in one of the up-river London docks. Unfortunately the decline in the number of such ships visiting London has been so rapid that it has not been possible, so far. It could be now too late.

It is hoped to arrange many more events concerning Docklands. Now better weather is coming outdoor visits will be practicable. Keep watching the diary dates section of the Newsletter. However, we do occasionally have to arrange visits at short notice, sometimes during the working day and any members who are able to arrange time for these are asked to contact me. This also applies to members who can help in research during normal working hours. Bob Carr

Twelve months of good and bad

The following article is reproduced, by kind permission of THE LONDON ARCHAEOLOGIST. It appears in Vol. 3 No. 9, Winter 1978. Industrial Archaeology Review, 1977-1978. David Thomas

This annual survey of industrial archaeological activities in London is based on the work of GLIAS, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society. It includes known activities of other organisations in this increasingly popular field, but the author would 'be grateful for notice of any omissions for inclusion in next year's review.

In September the Government announced 'Operation Clean-Up', which will include demolition of empty warehouses, factories and offices with a grant of ₤2½m to nine London boroughs, seven of which border the Thames. This clearly reflects an accelerating drift of industry. GLIAS had already noticed this trend and particularly in the past year has been trying to obtain at least exterior photographs of undertakings known to be closing. 'Operation Clean-Up' also implies that in future there will be less time for bodies to make their case for realistically re-using vacated, but sound, buildings. More alarmingly, there may also be pressure and funds to remove 'listed' buildings which have been allowed to decay. Time will tell whether this is a false alarm or whether such sites as the five fine 1802 warehouses along London Dock's north quay, which are in a sorry state after neglect and unfortunate fires, will be affected. (In passing, would Georgian residential property similarly sited close to the centre of London be allowed to rot?)

Silchester Road Baths and Wash-house complex (W11), probably the capital's most comprehensive such site, is now the subject of a further application for listed building demolition by the Council. A local pressure group, which has produced imaginative plans for a community centre and shops (both needed) has been forced to stand by and watch the effects of an increasing toll of vandalism since a similar application was refused following a public enquiry in 1976.

However, all I.A. news is not gloomy. Kew Bridge Engines Trust has obtained and is now running an 1863 compound rotative beam engine built in Southwark by Easton & Amos and has restored a steam hammer for use in its workshops; these add to the many attractions of its museum. A few miles away London Transport is making essential repairs to the ornate 1901 London United Tramways' generating station (adjacent to Stamford Brook bus garage) rather than demolishing it as originally proposed.

London Hydraulic Power Company ceased pumping in 1977, but their Wapping Pumping Station, together with its equipment, has been 'listed'. An excellent scheme has been proposed involving its use to pump for a canoe and water recreation centre in the adjacent Shadwell Dock Basin.

In Rotherhithe there are several examples of retention and re-use of buildings around St Mary's Church and the Mayflower public house. The London Borough of Southwark has completed conversion of Hope Sufferance Wharf (which they compulsorily purchased) to provide workshops now occupied by some 40 craftsmen, including potters, silversmiths and knitters. Nearby, 99 Rotherhithe Street is now a theatre with workshops above and 119 Grice's Granary and Wharf houses a picture reference library. ₤25,000 has been raised for restoration of Marc Brunel's pumping house above the original Thames tunnel, now used by tube trains.

Practical I.A. — site work

There are ongoing general surveys in many parts of London, but this year's review concentrates on specific sites. In GLIAS work is co-ordinated by the Recording Group Secretary, author of this article.


The 1905 Public Health Laboratory in Colindale might not appear to be I.A. but it was the UK centre for production of vaccination lymph and a number of purpose-built animal houses remain. Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) has been surveying the site. HADAS and GLIAS have completed a photographic survey of railway installation in the Borough which are likely to disappear in the Midland line re-signalling and electrification scheme.


By far the most complex site tackled by GLIAS in the last year has been Ford's Dagenham blast furnace and coke ovens complex which closed in May. Although installed as a replacement as recently as 1961, the furnace, used for production of pig iron, is surplus to requirements. The large associated coke ovens produced gas for use throughout their motor assembly plant (eg for heating) and by-products for sale as well as coke for the furnace.



Maunder's Bakery, 1 Market Square, was measured and photographed, prior to its demolition, by members of the I.A. evening class at Goldsmith's College. Parts of the ornate cast-iron oven fronts, made by H Smith & Sons, Lambeth, have been acquired by the Museum of London to add to their collection of items relevant to London's history.


Camden History Society and GLIAS continued their joint survey of the Borough's industries; sites included a piano string maker's workshop, a reed organ repairer's and the former Allison's piano factory in Charlton Kings Road, NW5, still partially used by Chappells as a store.


Cane Hill Hospital, built in 1883-6, was once largely self-sufficient with its own farm. Initial site work has involved drawing and measuring the original cast iron cow stalls (Musgrave Patent). The Borough's disinfecting station has also been visited, together with the now derelict plant at their Factory Road site which was last used for producing 'Tottenham Pudding' animal food. GLIAS and others successfully suggested 'listing' a fine factory on South End, built c1868 for Cooper & Sons, boot and shoe manufacturers, at the time the largest industrial employer in Croydon. The distinctive airport control tower was also 'listed' in August.

Kensington & Chelsea

Spillers-French ceased milling flour at their Thameside Chelsea Flour Mills, Lots Road, in June. GLIAS made a photographic record of equipment no longer required; semolina milling continues.


Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Excavation Committee has carried out work involving excavation of a 19th-century bread oven behind 20 Lower Marsh. The remains of an 18th-century pottery at the south end of Vauxhall Bridge have been excavated by Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society.

Merton and Wembley

In both these boroughs, refuse destructors erected in the 1930s remain, albeit out of use following changes in the type of domestic rubbish and clean air legislation. Both have been surveyed, the exercise enabling comparison between methods and plant used.


Two premises in Mill Street have been visited and photographed: Vogan's split pea, pearl barley and lentil mill and the nearby former St Saviour's flour mill, latterly used as a normal warehouse. In Peckham, attention was focussed on a non-ferrous foundry, using techniques largely unchanged in the last 80 years, (Fig. 2) while in Clink Street a small warehouse was used as a site training exercise.

Tower Hamlets and Newham

P.L.A. plans to close both the Royal and Millwall/West India Docks, later changed to proposals for radical cutting of costs and labour force plus at least partial closure, have made these docks the major priority in site work for the next two years. To date, Poplar railway dock has been studied and a photographic survey made of Rank Hovis McDougall's Millwall Flour Mill shortly before closure.

Pressure by several societies failed to stop demolition of 'B' warehouse at St. Katharine Dock, but it is good to see that the Maritime Trust has built up a collection of craft here, including the schooner 'Kathleen and May', the steam drifter 'Lydia Eva' and the Thames sailing barge 'Cumbria', which have joined other interesting vessels already moored in the Dock.

Elsewhere in Tower Hamlets, several blocks of artisans' housing have been demolished, such as Gladstone Buildings (1868), erected by the Industrial Dwellings Company, in Willow Street; the development of this form of housing and its social 'impact deserves more attention.


London's Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association's London Branch has set up a group to monitor planning applications, co-operate with local societies and produce plans for disused or threatened navigable arms, basins and wharves. A good example of potential achievements is Portobello Dock, off Ladbroke Grove, which has been converted into a canal cruise boat base and restaurant.

Tape recording

This is an essential corollary to site work, both in providing facts and in helping to recreate the atmosphere and impressions that only a voice can convey of premises and processes as they were perhaps half a century age. Many other societies are also involved m this work; GLIAS subjects have included a foreman and former Manager of a now-closed brick works in Enfield, a man who was employed by the RNLI at their Poplar depot in 1929 and a telephone engineer who started work with the Post Office in 1920.

GLIAS has decided to produce a Journal, which will appear in 1979, including site reports which may otherwise have been published separately. Thus the last year has seen only:

VINCENT & SON LTD, CABINET MAKERS, BRICK LANE, LONDON (45p, 30p to members, plus 15p p & p).

Contacts in GLIAS

General Secretary: Brenda Innes, 9a Upper Park Road, Bromley, Kent.
Site and recording work: David G Thomas, 4 Heyford Avenue, London SW8 1ED (see below).

In addition to the specific site work mentioned in this article, GLIAS members carry out much essential documentary research and some are making local fact-finding surreys.

As always, there is a pressing need for more volunteers; members who would like to help are urged to contact the Recording Group Secretary for general items and offers, or Bob Carr for Docklands. There are also some Boroughs with GLIAS members who act as 'LOCAL CONTACTS' — a list will appear in the next Newsletter.

NB. Recording Group Secretary is now DAVID THOMPSON.

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© GLIAS, 1979