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Notes and news — April 1980

In this issue:

Tramshed campaign

South Easterners are fighting to save yet another industrial building that has been found a good use. The Tramshed Community Theatre at Greenwich has been bought by Greenwich Council who want the space for (you've guessed) redevelopment. Objections should be lodged within two weeks. If you want to help write to Greenwich Council or contact Jack Vaughan of 'Save Woolwich Now' (35 Eaglesfield Road, SE18) or Andrew Bullivant of 'Save the Tramshed' (87 Castlewood Drive, Eltham, SE9).

Brunel Exhibition Project at Rotherhithe

Long standing readers of GLIAS newsletter may recall that in the early 1970s this project was set up with the purpose of restoring a small pumping-engine house next to Marc Brunel's Thames Tunnel shaft at Rotherhithe and mounting an exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Tunnel excavations in March 1825 (GLIAS Newsletter August 1978). This anniversary was soon forgotten but despite occasional appearances to the contrary and thanks to generous support from public and private funds, the Project has now achieved its primary objective. Restoration of the building is complete and the surrounding area has been landscaped with trees and shrubs. The landscaping may not be everybody's cup of tea but it does provide a marked contrast to the dereliction of five years ago in what is still a residential area.

14 June is the target day for opening an exhibition about the Thames Tunnel, the Brunels and Rotherhithe inside the engine house. The exhibition will be open to the public on summer weekends this year. GLIAS members are invited to a preview of the interior of the restored engine house at the BEPR AGM on Tuesday 29 April, 1980 at 18.30. Anyone interested in the future of the area is invited to join in the discussion which will be chaired by BEPR chairman Sir Marc Noble (a descendant of Sir Marc Brunel, no less!). The nearest underground station is Rotherhithe (and if you come from the north you travel through the tunnel). Good beer and food at the Mayflower, Rotherhithe Street, adjacent to the BEPR site.

The Brunel Project is currently negotiating to acquire two large and impressive pieces of hardware to display in the engine house. These are part of the mast of the SS Great Britain (the large chunk of timber outside the National Maritime Museum, if not the whole of it!) and a unique horizontal V compound pumping engine from Chatham Dockyard. This is thought to be the only surviving stationary engine made by J. & G. Rennie of Southwark & Greenwich (Rennies' supplied much of the machinery for the Thames Tunnel including the second tunnelling shield and the pumping equipment). The restoration of the last item will provide plenty of scope for industrial archaeologists wishing to get their hands dirty: anyone interested should get in touch with Bob Barnes.

East End life

Having knocked off production of this newsletter for half an hour to look at a fascinating TV programme on the East End, I came back to look over a new publication about the East End. Peter Marcan has produced 'An East End Directory' of 143 pages and 41 photographs, packed with information about Tower Hamlets. He has divided this information into three sections: practical life, history and culture and a section of numbered maps — the book, he says, is intended for those exploring the East End, teachers wishing to use local resources and local inhabitants wishing to know more about their area. For all these it would be pretty good value at ₤3.50 + 50p postage, but I hesitate to say it is a must for an industrial archaeologist unless he or she is the sort of person who wishes to have a guide to the whole picture of an area, past and present, literary and historical, practical and romantic. 'An East End Directory' is obtainable from Peter Marcan.

SS Jervis Bay

Tuesday evening 5 February 1980 saw a GLIAS party at Tilbury for a visit to the first generation deep-sea container ship Jervis Bay of 26,876 tons gross. She was built in 1870 by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, the only large deep-sea container ship to be built in Great Britain. Jervis Bay carries the colours of Overseas Containers Ltd — OCL. This is a container consortium formed by the British and Commonwealth Group, Ocean Transport and Trading Ltd, Furness Withy & Co Ltd and Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co Ltd. Jervis Bay herself is owned by Shaw Savill & Albion Co Ltd, a member of the Furness Withy Group. The ships of OCL are managed by Container Fleets Ltd. This complexity is a result of the high capital cost of setting up a container service. Built for the Australian trade Jervis Bay carries a large proportion of refrigerated cargo.

The Jervis Bay is interesting to IAs in being powered by steam turbines. These give a service speed of 21½ knots. Owing to the energy crisis however it is no longer economic to run at such speeds. The power required to drive a ship is roughly proportional to the square of the speed and hence to run a ship at a lower speed requires much less power. Longer voyages require less overall energy. The efficiency of a steam turbine falls off as its speed is reduced from maximum, so to run a steam turbine ship at less than full speed is inefficient and for slower voyages less powerful low-speed diesel engines suffice. The trend has been to re-engine steam turbine ships with diesels and steam at sea is fast disappearing. However the possibility of re-introducing coal-fired ships is being discussed and new steam turbine ships powered by machinery of advanced design might be built in the next few years.

On our visit we were first shown the bridge. The navigational aids which Jervis Bay carries are more sophisticated than those of a standard bulk carrier such as the M.V. Sugar Carrier visited by GLIAS on 25 July 1979 (GLIAS Newsletter December 1979). With a full load of containers Jervis Bay is a much more valuable proposition and it is economic to spend correspondingly more in equipping the bridge. 'Satellite navigation' has recently been fitted. This is an American system which prints out the ships position on a paper roll each time a navigational satellite passes overhead. Unfortunately the American satellite coverage around Cape Horn is rather thin and here, where navigation is difficult due to poor weather conditions, the system is not at its best. Two radar sets are also fitted. Despite sophisticated aids traditional sextant and chronometer navigation is still practised. Sightings are taken daily while at sea by several of the ships officers. Close to the bridge is the ships well-equipped radio station.

Jervis Bay and her sisters have very characteristic funnels. A large pipe sticks up well above the conventional funnel. At the top there is a short horizontal section, mounted transversely, so that looking along the length of the ship this structure has a 'T' shaped outline. These funnels were introduced to give sufficient smoke dispersal. On a container ship its officers have little to do with the planning of cargo stowage. Containers are loaded and unloaded to a pre-arranged scheme worked out at head office. The loading arrangements are given a routine check by the ship's own computer but are found to be most reliable. The descent to the engine room by lift was reminiscent of the GLIAS Chatterley-Whitfield Colliery visit. Jervis Bay's boilers are not unlike those of small land-based electric power station. A traditional steamy atmosphere pervaded the smartly kept engine room with its turbines well down in the bottom of the ship. The overall impression was of white lagged pipes. Electric power is supplied by standard diesel generators. A workshop equipped with a lathe is carried.

Our most conscientious guide was the second officer of the ship, Mr. Craig Thomson. He had had experience of passenger liner service. Despite being in the throes of moving to very hospitably showed us his cabin, efficiently air conditioned, quite spacious and with separate bathroom etc. Our special thanks must go to Mr. Craig Thomson for the great interest he took in our visit and also to Captain J.R.G. Hannah, Operations Manager of Container Fleets Ltd, for permitting the visit.

At nearby Tilbury landing stage was the recent OCL Container ship Resolution Bay of 43,995 tons gross. This is a diesel engined ship. Resolution Bay and her sister ship Mairangi Bay, together with the New Zealand Pacific (Shipping Corporation of New Zealand Ltd), are the world's three largest refrigerated container ships. They are able to carry 1,950 20ft containers, including 1,213 refrigerated units. A considerable proportion of OCL's London Trade is in frozen New Zealand lamb. It has recently been announced that Govan shipyards are to re-engine the two OCL container ships Discovery Bay and Moreton Bay, both launched in Germany in 1968. The present steam turbine engines will be replaced by B & W 6 L80 GFCA diesel engines, NCR. 18,400bhp at 106 rpm, to be built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast. These will provide a service speed of 18 knots. OCL has already contracted with two Japanese shipyards to re-engine its five container ships on the Far East run. Bob Carr

By the way

Bob Carr has just been appointed full-time Survey Officer to the Docklands History Survey which is going to collect and organise information on all aspects of dockland history in order to record and conserve this important aspect of London's history. If you have any information, or can assist in any way, please contact The Docklands History Survey Officer, Dr. R.J.M. Carr, c/o The Dept. of Civil Engineering, North East London Polytechnic, Forest Road, London E17 4DB.

And some bad news from the Docks

Demolition work had started on the last original Telford warehouse at St Katharine Docks in mid-March. Probably little will be left of 'C' warehouse of 1828, by the time you read this. Bob Carr

Jonathan Minns and the Hove Engineerium

If you missed Jonathan Minns' lecture on the Engineerium you missed the intriguing story of one man's devotion to an ideal. The underlying theme of his talk was that the training and skills which have been so assiduously acquired should not be lost, but should be passed on and the Engineerium plays a major part in this function. Jonathan first told something of himself, his early training, his ideal and his travels. I believe that he has in infectious enthusiasm for his task, enough to fire the imagination of the most retiring IA Society member. He has an excellent and, to my mind, racy delivery, full of witty asides and anecdotes. Thank you then Jonathan Minns and congratulations Dave Perrett for securing your services. If you are on holiday in the area, or as a day out, the Engineerium is well worth a visit (even a return visit as there is always something new to see) — it is open daily from 10.00 to 17.00 and is in steam at weekends. See you at the Engineerium. Tim Smith

Covent Garden visit in March 1980

With our appetites for the Covent Garden area already whetted by Robert Thorne's excellent lecture last autumn this visit was, of course, substantially over-subscribed. The lucky thirty donned their hard hats on a fine sunny morning and were escorted round by Tim Wacher, deputy leader of the GLC's Covent Garden team. With fine and humorous detail he told the story of the restoration and modification of the 1828-30 Central Market Buildings. The difficulties of meeting the requirements of conservationists (the Victorian Society and Georgian Society argued over the later iron roof), fire officers and accountants, have on the whole been satisfactorily overcome. The major change being the opening up of parts of the basement to create additional piazzas. Most of the small shops areas have now been let to 'traditional' type shops — a red meat butcher opposite a health food shop and northern toffee makers Thorntons displacing Bentincks, etc. When the market reopens in the summer it will be a major addition to life in the area.

Our tour of the new London Transport Museum in the restored flower market was only four weeks before Princess Anne officially opens the new museum, so although the visuals were far from complete the major exhibits — locos, buses, etc. — were in place. Oliver Green, the curator, led us round and explained the general outlines of their plans. The Museum will set new standards of opening hours and price for London, in particular it will be open on Sunday mornings. It will be a true museum of London Transport with full displays and facilities, i.e. a research library (compared to Syon Park which was only a 'collection'.) Thanks to both our guides for giving up their Saturday morning to show us round. Dave Perrett

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Newham, Part 3

116. YOUNG & MARTEN, 1-9 Romford Road, E15 c.1883
First mentioned as lead, glass, iron and colour merchants in Kelly's 1883. In 1911 they were described as builder's merchants, fascia and stallplate manufacturers, timber, lime and cement merchants, etc., today their range is even wider. The early buildings have the name 'Caledonian Works' over the main door, a frieze of green and white mosaic carries the name Young & Marten at the level above the first floor windows. The site is due for redevelopment, but the early buildings may be kept for other uses.

117. No. 143 West Ham Lane, E15 c.1916 (works appear to be empty)
Dunham White & Co. Ltd (Trojan Works) were here from c.1916-57, they moved to Ashford Kent 1958. Dunham White manufactured Lieuvain's glass 'needle', steel and brass Stauffer pattern and other lubricators, lead and steel seals, oil feeders, etc., press tool makers and metal stampers. From 1959 the premises were used by the Deanery Press, who were joined in 1961 by Castle Engineering Products until 1974, then the latter firm until 1976. On this site in the 1880s, until demolition in 1903, stood the Abbey Mills Distillery.

118. SCARSBROOK BROTHERS ('SIGNS OF DISTINCTION'), 339 High Street, E15 c.1880
Scarsbrooks have been in this strange old wedge-shaped building since 1963. From the early 1880s until c.1917 it housed Messrs. Helmore and Comerford's veterinary forge. From 1922-30 the Climax Universal Cleaning Co. Ltd. (makers of ship's cleansing materials) were in occupation, followed from 1948-61 by the St. Mark's Cabinet Co. (kitchen cabinets), then Scarsbrooks came a little later.

119. BURRELLS COLOURS, Maryland Road, E15 c.1857
This was originally Savill's Stratford Brewery (ale and porter brewers) from c.1857-1925. Next came Linfoat Cooper Ltd. colour manufacturers 1934-37, followed by J.W. & T.A. Smith, also colour manufacturers (lead products department) 1938-63. SCC Colours came next in 1964-76, Burrells arrived in 1977.

120. J. MATTISON LTD. Bedding Manufacturers 118 Romford Road, E15 c.1926
Makers of 'Southdown' bedding; established 1862, but came to this address c.1926 and still there. Previously at addresses in Blackthorn Street, E3 and Rhodeswell Road, E14. A flock dealer and bedding maker of the same name was mentioned as being at 267 Kingsland Road in the 1867 Kelly's.

121. JOHN J. DUNSTER (Maryland Works) Grove Crescent Road, E15
Radio cabinet manufacturers from 1952-75. The large works housed a variety of furniture makers from 1939-51 and is now used by various textile manufacturers. The building appears to date from the 1900s, but I can find nothing in Kelly's.

122. STOCKDALES LEATHER GOODS LTD. 403 High Street, E15 1893
Established 1867. Charles Stockdale Harness Maker was here is 1893, Mrs. Charlotte Stockdale also a harness maker in 1903, H. Stockdale Sadler 1925 and present title dates from c.1935.

123. BURFORD WHARF, Wharf Road, E15 c.1903
I believe that Pinchin Johnson (varnish makers) were here for a few years c.1903. In c.1910 William Whitford & Co. Constructional Engineers came and from 1922-66 Whitford Armstrong were very much in evidence at the 'Royal Iron Works' Burford Wharf as constructional engineers, government ordnance and railway store contractors, makers of iron bridges, churches, houses, schools, doors, staircases, etc.. The buildings have since been used for some years as a toy wholesaler's warehouse and very recently by SP. & S Records who are not in Kelly's.

124. No. 121-123 The Grove, E15 c.1886
Now used as a store (no means of identification), but in the mid-1880s it was James Dace's Pianoforte Warehouse and in 1893 Joseph Young's pianoforte manufacturers were here; they seem to have left about 1908. About 1911 a booking office appears to have been added to the façade and we have the Grove Picture Palace, later (c.1935) called the Grove Cinema. From 1965-71 the building was used as stores for Optical Products Ltd.

Street Furniture

125. BOLLARDS c.1900 in Park Avenue and Whalebone Lane, E15
Bearing the makers name Frederick Bird & Co. 11 Great Castle Street, Regent Street. Their 'Marlborough Iron & Brass Foundry & Engineering Works' were at 5 Marlborough Mews, Oxford Street, W

126. EDWARD VIII PILLAR BOX outside no. 117 the Grove, E15
Makers name on bases McDowall Steven & Co. Ltd. London & Falkirk.

127. BRIDGE at Bromley-by-Bow, E3 (the eastern end is in Newham) 1889
District Line railway bridge over the River Lea and canal at Three Mills constructed by Arrol Brothers, Glasgow. Built for the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway.

128. SEWER VENT COLUMN on the triangle island site at Maryland Point, E15
Very large and ornament — all made by Wm. McFarlane, Saracen Foundry, Glasgow.

129. CAST IRON TROLLEYBUS SWITCH POINT BOX in Wilmer Lea Close, E15 c.1939. Made by R.A. Bradshaw & Son Ltd. of Deptford. (>>>)

Addition to:
77. The brass foundry of Messrs. Carter & Aynsley, who made the brasswork for East Ham Town Hall, was in Abbey Road, West Ham in 1911.

Bet & John Parker

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Kensington & Chelsea

130. CAST IRON GATES, SE corner of Kensington Gardens (in Westminster)
By the Coalbrookdale Company (as mentioned by Dave Perrett) for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The site of the original Crystal Palace was the open expanse of grass across the road to the east.

131. ROYAL ALBERT HALL Kensington Gore, SW7 (in Westminster)
By Capt. Francis Fowke, 1867-71. Elliptical domed roof, clear spans 219ft by 185ft, with crescent-shaped radial trusses in wrought iron.

132. SCIENCE MUSEUM, Exhibition Road, SW7
Until 1909 was part of the South Kensington Museum (see V&A below), using improvised buildings on present site, that of the 1862 Exhibition. Present buildings 1914 onwards. The final resting place of many important items of industrial equipment and documentation. Science Library nearby in Imperial Institute Road.

Science Museum © Robert Mason 2013 Science Museum © Robert Mason 2013

133. VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM, Cromwell Road, SW7
Established 1856 as South Kensington Museum of Science & Art out of funds from the Great Exhibition. Includes within its brief Industrial Design, with extensive reserve collections of ceramics, etc. Majolica and mosaic decoration by Minton's and others on the West Staircase and the former Refreshment Room. 1866-78 (iron roofs from the original temporary buildings of 1857, the 'Brompton Boilers', now enclose the Bethnal Green Museum in Tower Hamlets.)

Victoria & Albert Museum © Robert Mason 2013 Victoria & Albert Museum © Robert Mason 2013

134. PEDESTRIAN SUBWAY along Exhibition Road.
Over 400 yards long, faced with glazed bricks. Built 1885 by the District Railway from South Kensington Station to former exhibition site on west side of Exhibition Road.

135. HARRODS DEPARTMENT STORE, Brompton Road 276 794
4½-acre site with extensive plant rooms including artesian wells and generation of electricity by steam turbines and diesels, successively modernised from layout of 1908. Vacuum steam heating system using exhaust steam, early use of 'total energy' concept. Two electrically-driven vacuum pumps by Cole, Marchant & Morley Ltd, Bradford c.1880.

Harrods foundation stone © Robert Mason 2016 Harrods © Robert Mason 2017


And so, inevitably, another I.A. site disappears, having become obsolete and unnecessary. The last few months have witnessed demolition of two massive gas holders at Ford's, Dagenham, the refuse destructor and associated buildings at White City and yet more of the long-derelict buildings which formed part of Stratford Locomotive works. All had a nil value for adaptive reuse. But not all sites must by definition be obliterated once they cease to be used for their original purpose. I read recently .."WINE BAR/DISCO. Repeat of the highly successful evening for singles only late in September at the Port A Bella Dock Club.... Unique setting, candlelit, alcoves, brick-vaulted arches, romance in the air!"

And the setting? None other than a very well converted basin on the Grand Junction Canal, near Ladbroke Grove, which started life in 1891 as a transfer point from cart to barge for rubbish produced in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea! (then Kensington Vestry). The photograph below was taken in 1976.

As a twist of fate, this wharf owes its survival partly to its own inadequacy, for the White City refuse destructor was built to cope with a volume greater than could be dealt with at Portabella, which became a Council depot for which the space was more than adequate. Thus everything was simply left as it was.



Oxo Tower. © Robert Mason, 2004 "TURN THE OXO TOWER INTO A TOURIST DRAW... ONE of the capital's finest examples of Art Deco architecture.... The Coin Street Action Group wants the site to be used for houses with gardens, a pub, a park and a new riverside walk. Said a spokesman 'The tower is an interesting building, but the acute need in this area is for housing'" — Evening Standard, 22.5.79.

"LARGE REINFORCED CONCRETE WAREHOUSE IN LONDON. RAPID CONSTRUCTION METHODS. ONE of the most important contracts in progress at the moment in London is the new warehouse which is being erected by Messrs. Holland & Hannan and Cubitts, Ltd, for Oxo Ltd, at the site of the old G.P.O. power station close to Blackfriars Bridge" — Concrete & Construction Engineering, Vol 23, 1928.

"LONDON BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK. COMPULSORY purchase of land in: Upper Ground and Bargehouse Street, London SE1..... for the purpose of a mixed development comprising of a substantial proportion of offices, a Public Open Space, a fever wall and some residential units" — South London Press, 20.11.79.

This well-known landmark has nine floors. Two have a headroom of 12ft 0in, the rest 9ft 6in. There are three internal lifts, four staircases and at one time numerous external cranes. It has been mostly disused for about seven years. It looks structurally sound.

Who's to join me photographing the demolition and then making hollow criticism of 'planners' in a 'real ale' pub? David Thomas

London Power Stations 1979

David Thomas wrote a report on the disappearance of London Power Stations (GLIAS Newsletter October 1979). Below is a table giving information for the remaining stations compiled from CEGB sources. Does anyone have more up to date information?

Name Built Turbines Boilers Steam press. /temp. Fuel
Size Make No FT* BAR °C
Acton Lane 1954-58 5X31 R.W. 7 CG 41.4 454 Coal
Bankside 1963 1X100 E.E. 1 OF 103.4 538 Oil
Barking 1952-54 3X77.5 B.T.H. 5 OF 62.1 482 Oil
Battersea 1944-54 1X100
6 PF 41.4


Blackwall Point 1951-53 3X30 E.E. 3 PF 41.4 454 Coal
Brunswick Wharf 1952-56 2X63
11 OF 62.0 482 Oil
Croydon 1950-51 4X52.5 M.V. 8 PF 41.4 454 Coal
Deptford 1953-57 3X55.5 M.V. 7 CG 62.0 482 Coal
Northfleet 1960-63 6X120 G.E.C. 6 OF 103.4 538 Oil
Rye House 1951-52 4X32 R.W. 4 PF 41.4 454 Coal
Tilbury ‘A’ 1959-60 3X60
6 OF 62.1 482 Oil
Tilbury ‘B’ 1965-72 2X315
4 PF 158.6 566 Coal
West Ham 1949-52 4X30 C.A.P. 8 CG 43.1 460 Coal
West Thurrock 1962-65 2X200
A.E.I. 5 PF/GF 162.0 566 Coal or gas


R.W. — Richardson Westgarth
E.E. — English Electric
B.T.H. — British Thomson Houston
M.V. — Metropolitan Vickers
G.E.C. — General Electric Company
C.A.P. — C.A. Parsons
A.E.I. — Associated Electrical Industries.

CG — Chain Grate
PF — Pulverised Fuel (coal)
OF — Oil Firing
GF — Gas Firing.

Machines at Acton Lane, Blackwall Point, Rye House and West Ham were built during the period of "Control of Turbo-Alternators" Legislation — repealed 1953. Plant at Barking, Battersea, Croydon and Deptford is of pre-war design. D.K. Cross, 8.11.79

Spratt's patent pet foods

Member Jim Barr is researching the history of the firm and products and would like to hear from any member who is able to say exactly how their Poplar factory operated and means of transport for raw materials and finished goods (it had rail, canal and road access). Also, can anyone say what rationing or restrictions applied to pet foods in World War 2? Jim's address is 19 Verity House, Merchant Street, London E3.

Colin Phillips

Colin was a charming, enthusiastic member who, having recently retired had certainly no intention of becoming idle. His wide range of interests included I.A. and his write-up of last April's site training visit to 33 Bermondsey Wall appeared in GLIAS Newsletter 63. It is with both sadness and shock that we heard of his sudden death last month.

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© GLIAS, 1980