Notes and news — February 1981
In this issue:
Trinity Buoy Wharf
- Trinity Buoy Wharf
- The book of London's industrial archaeology
- News from Dolphin Yard
- Fringes and tassels
- Last days at Kempton Park
- Blackwall Point Power Station
- Power stations generally
- Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Barnet 1: Water, Air & Road
- Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Barnet 2: Rail
The Trinity House Maintenance Depot, Orchard Place, Blackwall, turned out to be more significant than expected; work for the whole of England and Wales is carried out here, items for maintenance and repair being transported by road. A good deal of activity was to be seen on the GLIAS visit of Friday 17 October with a blacksmiths' shop in operation, a large machine shop and a two-storey building containing numerous machine tools in use. Some fine late 19th-century British machine tools were noted on the ground floor of the latter, in particular a planning machine by Whitworth's of Manchester, still in good order *. The equipment of the blacksmiths' shop dates from the early 1950s and includes an hydraulic press/hammer; the large machine shop contained machines said to have come second-hand from the Thames Ironworks (only a few hundred yards away on both sides of Bow Creek). Of note were a pyramid 3 rolls by Craig & Donald of Johnstone near Glasgow, said to be c.1905 and a shearer/punch by S. Appleyard of Halifax (surprise, surprise, not a Glasgow firm!).
Upstairs in the machine shop building we were treated to the sight of rows of merrily twinkling buoy flashers, under test to check that their characteristic signals were as they should be, each with a brown luggage label attached, made out to show the intended station. Buoy flashers run on acetylane gas carried in bottles in the main body of the buoy. The gas is ignited in the flasher atop the buoy by a small almost-invisible pilot light, an automatic mechanical mechanism turning the gas supply on and off as appropriate, the ignition of the gas giving a bright flash. This means of lighting is still favoured for its reliability. A new electronic timing system (no doubt packed with microprocessors) has been developed and one was demonstrated for us; nevertheless the new 'black box' operated a traditional acetylene gas jet, in this case complete with fantail burner. When installed in their housings at the top of a buoy, flashers still perform even if immersed in sea water for an hour or so and may stay at sea for several years. Our guide had been working in the Bristol Channel area maintaining equipment in situ and was full of anecdotes concerning this region, being reminded of incidents as we passed equipment familiar to him, in for maintenance from places such as the Mumbles and Barry. The IANBY system of big automatic light buoys controlled by UHF radio which should largely replace lightships was described and we saw several items of associated equipment in the electronics department. There are problems, such as that of access in bad leather, which is when things usually break down and seasickness of maintenance crews when on board; so far only a few light-ships have been replaced.
By the riverside to the South West of the site a number of foghorns, working on various principles, were mounted/on the roof of a small building and are sometimes tested here. On the south side of the site stands a travelling rail crane dated 1924, by D. Booth & Bros Ltd., Engineers, Rodley, Leeds, once used to unload ships in the river, the system is now defunct, only road transport being used at Trinity Buoy Wharf. The site also boasts a flourishing training school where we inspected various items of equipment, models, etc., including a fine 19th-century lighthouse lens system. The visit ended with an ascent of the lighthouse, thought to have been built towards the end of the century and at one time used for a navigation light. From the top the view was superb. Several paraffin burners had been installed for-test purposes and the tower also served for the training of lighthouse keepers. Thank you Trinity House for a most memorable morning. Bob Carr
*Some of this machinery is to be disposed of. I have contacted Alan Spackman of the Lea Valley IA Society and it is hoped that items may be taken into his safe keeping.
The book of London's industrial archaeology
Members will be aware that the Batsford series on the IA of England has been terminated by the publishers following a series of poor reviews arid the London volume was among those cancelled. Manchester University Press are to publish some of the unpublished volumes and agreement has been reached in principle to publish the London volume. This has meant that a different editorial format to the Batsford books is possible and we intend to have individually authored chapters, e.g. railways, manufacturing, etc., plus a comprehensive gazetteer. The catch is that M.U.P. want the manuscript by the end of this year to publish for the 1982 AIA conference in London. We particularly need to hear from members who are prepared to check the accuracy of the GLIAS card index of sites in areas of London that they know. Interested helpers are asked to contact the Editor, Mike Bussell, 23 Fitzgeorge Avenue, London W14. Dave Perrett
News from Dolphin Yard
Following the transfer of sail maker Les George to other premises, the Port of London Authority have donated the single storey structure (last used by Les and formerly housing a tarpaulin and hatch cloth maker) to the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum Trust. The only snag is that the Trust have to demolish the structure, move it to Sittingbourne and re-erect it at Dolphin Yard. On Sunday 18 January a brave band of GLIAS members, led by Bob Carr, made a contribution to the de-mounting by removing and bundling the cladding from the front of the building — thank you for your help.
The timber clad and timber framed structure is 40ft long by 30ft deep, with large sliding doors. Once re-erected at Dolphin Yard it will be developed as a modern workshop for the various tasks involved in repair and restoration of Thames Sailing Barges as well as, in the not too distant future, the building of a new craft. Further working parties are being arranged and the next is on Sunday 1 March at 11.00, bring lunch and heavy tools, meet at King George V Dock, access via Gate 15, Royal Docks (at the eastern end of the Royals, on the 'island' between the Albert and the George) the sailmakers shop is at the far end, south side of the dock, opposite the entrance to the dry dock.
Meanwhile, back at the Yard, Edward Sargent has been assisting the Trust with the Pratt & Whitney 1891 band saw, on permanent loan from British Shipbuilders. This massive machine (by barge yard standards) was once housed in the R.H. Green & Silley Wier ship repairers yard in the Albert Dock and was moved bodily down to Dolphin Yard earlier in 1980. The wire mesh guards and other 'screens' have been removed and the machine is now inside the sail loft providing an interesting comparison with the hand-operated band saw — probably of the same era! Edward is advising the Trust on the preservation and care of this machine.
The museum reopens on the 17 April, but there is much to be done before that date. Of particular interest to GLIAS members is the original leather bellows housed in the forge. If anyone has a particular interest in helping restore this item please/contact me at Reading 585644 after 20.00. Tony Ellis
Fringes and tassels
At the kind invitation of Mr. Cecil Sindall some GLIAS members have been visiting the interesting specialist weaving firm of A. Sindall in Dalston who make textile trimmings, items such as tassels, cords and fringes. Founded in 1864 the firm moved to its present site in 1906 and is shortly to transfer operations to the former Rolls Royce factory in Derby. The machinery at Sindall's dates from around the turn of the century, many items have been made by Sindall's themselves for their specialised products. Impressive wooden-framed Jacquard looms were installed in 1915 (the year Mr. Cecil Sindall and his twin brother started work) and we had the privilege of seeing these mechanical wonders perform their intricate evolutions as well as watching several other fascinating machines of great mechanical ingenuity in action. Sindall's have 1860 designs on rolls of punched Jacquard cards. The card punching machine and the jig on which cards are made up into a roll were demonstrated for us by Mr. Sindall, The firm has a rope walk making cords, etc., for example the thick red ropes used as barriers in cinemas. Among the more exotic manufactures noted were fez tassels, monks girdles, fringes and tassels for bagpipes and frogging for Royal Artillery ceremonial uniforms. Much work is done for the DoE, the Crown, ecclesiastical and military customers, but as someone remarked you find tassels everywhere. Sindall's had a gas engine and line shafting is still in use with electric drive. In recent years the firm was the only one in London to have power looms. (Ref. Hackney Gazette, 7 March 1980). Bob Carr
Last days at Kempton Park
After 52 years the two giant Worthington Triples at Kempton Park pumping station have pumped their last water to North London. On 4 November the last steam was admitted to the cylinders and the engines stopped, watched only by a party of TWA officials. Known to the public only as the backdrop to a dance routine for Hot Gossip and as the engines for the 'Titanic' on TV, they will be missed by GLIAS members who have seen them over the years. TWA plan to keep them in situ and possibly turn them with an electric drive, they may also be joined by examples of steam plant from other stations. But electric drive is never the same and the world's largest land-based engines will just be museum pieces. Dave Perrett
Blackwall Point Power Station
The GLIAS visit to Blackwall Point on Sunday morning 14 December 1980 proved to be a very interesting power station visit. Lighting had been arranged so we could enter the firebrick-lined portion of a Babcock & Wilcox boiler and plenty of time was spent looking at the coal handling plant on the riverwards side of the station, also on the roof which affords a magnificent view of the surrounding industrial and dockland landscape (the PLA have installed a radar scanner here to monitor river traffic approaching the Thames Barrier being built a mile or so downstream). The present power station of 90 MW capacity was designed before WW2 and replaced an old station demolished in 1947 which had undergone many stages of development since 1900, when Blackheath & Greenwich District Electric Light Company started production with two 125 kW non-condensing steam driven sets. At the time of closure the original station was of 15MW capacity. The present Blackwall Point Power Station ceased generation in June 1980. The control room, unusual in being situated in a separate building on the other side of River Way, is to be retained. GLIAS would like to thank Mr. Parmenter and all the members of the power station staff who gave up their Sunday morning to show us round. We should also like to express our thanks for very kind hospitality.
Power stations generally
It was hoped to advertise a visit to Bankside Power Station in this Newsletter, but the station is closed and no staff are available to act as guides. Twenty-two CEGB power stations in England and Wales are to be closed or 'mothballed' (see The Times of 12 September 1980 and GLIAS Newsletter April 1980)
Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Barnet 1: Water, Air & Road
194. BRENT (WELSH HARP) RESERVOIR TQ 215 870 (partly in Barnet) NW.9
Formed in 1835 on completion of dam (in LB of Brent) across Brent Valley to provide water for Grand Junction Canal.
195. Site of GUTTERSHEDGE FARM, now Park Road NW.4 TQ 225 879
Sir Francis Pettit Smith (1808-74) inventor of the screw propeller lived here and demonstrated a model of his invention on the farm pond in 1836. Thomas Tilling, motor bus pioneer also lived here.
196. Former HANDLEY PAGE AIRCRAFT CO. 110 Cricklewood Lane NW2 TQ 244 861
The Company moved here from Barking in 1912, prior to move to Claremont Road.
197. Former HANDLEY PAGE FACTORIES Claremont Road/Somerton Road NW2 TQ 240 862 Occupied by the Company 1914-1970, now in other use.
198. R.A.F. MUSEUM Grahame Park Way, NW9 TQ 221 903
Incorporates two early hangars, c.1914, with timber Belfast truss roofs.
199. GRAHAME-WHITE HANGAR, R.A.F. Station, Hendon, NW9. TQ 221 901 Listed as an historic building.
200. Former ENTRANCE GATES TO GRAHAME-WHITE AVIATION CO. LTD. Re-sited at entrance to R.A.F. Museum (TQ 220 904), formerly in Aerodrome Road, NW.9 TQ 219 890. Listed.
201. There are a number of other normally inaccessible un-researched sites on the R.A.F. Station.
Firm evidence for Roman Watling Street (now Edgware Road) and a Hampstead Hendon — Mill Hill Roman road (the Viatores suggested route 167) is very scanty. Physical evidence of a number of North-South routes remains and is included here. There are also a number of East-West routes well known by name and from documentary evidence, but for which no physical evidence is visible.
Blacksmiths' forges, although associated with transport are considered as craft workshops to be covered under industry rather than transport. Motor garages and filling stations have not been covered; this is a sector of IA that deserves investigation.
202. SPANIARDS TOLL HOUSE, Spaniards Road, NW3. TQ 266 872
This is on the borough boundary with Camden.
203. TOLLGATE COTTAGE, Hadley Green, TQ 248 975
204. Site of CHILDS HILL TOLL HOUSE, Castle Public House, Finchley Road, NW2. TQ 250 864 Blue plaque
205. Site of EDGWARE TOLL HOUSE Edgware Road, TQ 195 913
On the Edgware — Kilburn Turnpike, opened 1711 (now Edgware Road). Early 19th century cast iron, V-shaped, round headed, all marked Hendon Parish:
206. In front of 3/4 Grafton Terrace, NW2 TQ 236 859 London 4, Watford 10.
207. 20-25M north of junction Edgware Road/Goldsmith Avenue, NW9 TQ 217 885 London 6, Watford 8
208. 70-75M south of junction Edgware Road/The Greenway, NW9 TQ 207 898
London 7, Watford 7.
209. Formerly at Staples Corner, TQ 226 873
The London 5, Watford 9 stone was removed when the flyover was built and is in safe-keeping. It is hoped that the Borough may re-erect it at an appropriate point.
210. On the continuation of this route, half-way up Brockley Hill, TQ 178 934 Rectangular stone milestone, 18th century?
On the Finchley — Regents Park Turnpike, built 1826, milestones similar to the above:
211. Outside 604 Finchley Road, NW.11 TQ 252 872 Regents Park 3, Barnet 6¼.
212. Junction Regents Park Road/The Avenue, N3. TQ 249 902 Regents Park 5, Barnet 4¼.
On the Holyhead Road (later Great North Road) which existed before the 19th century, but was re-surveyed by Telford in 1810s
213. SO-BBM south of junction High Road, N12/Ravensdale Avenue TQ 263 925
London 8, Barnet 3, similar to above.
214. Junction Barnet Hill/Meadway TQ 251 964
Stone milestone, possibly dating from Telford's survey.
Hampstead — Mill Hill, on a winding route, rectangular stone milestones, stated by Peter Collinson to be newly erected in 1752.
215. Brent Street NW4, between Lodge Road & Church Road TQ 233 893
216. Holders Hill Road, NW7, close to Hendon Park Cemetery TQ 241 906
217. Top of Bittacy Hill, NW7, opp. UK Optical Factory TQ 237 921
218. The Ridgeway, NW7, on green by War Memorial TQ 224 029
219. Highwood Hill, NW7, near junction with Hendon Wood Lane TQ 222.938
220. In Ravenscroft Park, Barnet TQ 241 965
Boundary stone inscribed inter alia "This stone was originally a boundary stone of the Whetstone & Highgate Turnpike Trust which built Barnet Hill about 1823" (not marked on the map on p.9)
CATTLE/HORSE TROUGHS & DRINKING FOUNTAINS (not marked on map on p.9)
These are an historic link with the final days of horse-drawn traffic immediately before the start of mass production of the motor car. The following (all of which bear the primary inscription "Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association") are known:
221. Corner Wellgarth Road/North End Road, NW11 TQ 257 872
Secondary inscription: "George & Annie Bills. Australia". NB This trough was taken into care by Borough Engineers Dept., for duration of the still incomplete Wellgarth Development, with a promise of re-erection when building is finished.
222. Meadway Gate, NW11 TQ 254 881
Now used as a plant container by Barnet Parks Dept.
223. Outside 40 The Burroughs, NW4 TQ 226 890
Secondary inscriptions "Be kind and merciful to all animals in memory of Louis David Benjamin, 1917"
224. Top of Bell Lane, NW4 TQ 235 890
Secondary inscriptions "Be kind and merciful to your animals. Erected by Mrs. F.C. Banbury"
225. Junction Nether Street/Ballards Lane, N3 TQ 252 907
No drinking fountain. Secondary inscriptions "In memory of John White of this parish, surgeon, obit AD 1868 and Emily his wife, obit AD 1891"
226. At junction Ravenscroft Park/Wood Street, Barnet TQ 241 965
With dog trough underneath.
NB How many of these are in their original positions has not been checked. They were often at the top, or part way up a hill. Some may be as first placed, others patently are not.
227. HORSE MOUNTING STEPS in front of The Griffin, High Road, Whetstone TQ 264 939. Remains only.
Any members resident in or frequently visiting the Borough who would like to help record the diminishing amount of street furniture are asked to contact Bill Firth at 455 7164
TRAM & BUS DEPOTS
228. Former FINCHLEY TRAM DEPOT, Woodberry Grove, N12 TQ 264 919
Built by Metropolitan Electric Tramways, 1906, now a bus garage.
229. HENDON BUS GARAGE, Church Road, NW4 TQ 229 894
Built by London General Omnibus Co, 1913. Entrance originally onto Church Road.
230. EDGWARE BUS GARAGE, Edgware Station, TQ 196 919 Originally built 1925, completely re-built 1939.
For the benefit of the future industrial archaeologist mention should be made of the arterial roads of the 1920s, Hendon Way/Watford Way/Edgware Way/North Western Avenue (Watford by-pass) started 1924. Barnet Way (Barnet by-pass) started 1924, the North Circular Road (1925) and the Great North Way system (1926); and, in the 1970s, the M1. One good area at which to study modern roads and flyovers is between Staples Corner, TQ 226 873 and Brent Cross, TQ 237 880, approx. 209 on map on page 9.
Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Barnet 2: Rail
GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY, MAIN LINE
Opened 1855, much altered in recent years by electrification and up-grading for 125mph high speed train running. Many GN features have disappeared only quite recently.
STATIONS All c.1890, but may incorporate parts of 1855 stations; all altered, but some Victoriana remains;
231. New Southgate & Friern Barnet TQ 287 923
232. Oakleigh Park TQ 270 948
233. New Barnet TQ 265 959
234. a. Southgate Tunnel TQ 277 936 to TQ 274 941 Original 2-tracked bore 1855.
b. 4-tracked c.1890.
In Friern Hospital wall at New Southgate station, bricked-up arch through which line serving hospital ran. No other visible evidence now remains.
Bill's IA of Barnet will be continued (with a railway map).
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© GLIAS, 1981