Home | Membership | News | Diary | Walks | Calvocoressi Fund | Books | Journals | Links | Database | e-papers | About us

Notes and news — June 1981

In this issue:

GLIAS Twelfth AGM on 25 April 1981

Over eighty members and guests attended the AGM at the Museum of London. After approval of last year's minutes Robert Vickers was elected auditor for the coming year. The Treasurer reported that the Society's surplus cash had been converted into publications. Income rose to £2,950, but because of the publication of Journal No. 2 expenditure rose to £2,682. The Society's assets stood at £1,622 (full accounts are available). Dave Perrett proposed a number of amendments to the official constitution (previously circulated) which were aimed at simplifying the Society's organisation. These proposals were accepted by the meeting and the Executive Committee has been changed to Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and eight individual members, in addition the journal and newsletter editors, publications officer and recording group secretary would be ex-officio members.

Denis Smith, in his chairman's report, thanked the Committee for its work, Robin Brooks for producing the newsletter, Elizabeth Wood for her splendid work on our exhibition material, Glenn Drewett for arranging the City Poly lectures and all the other members who had worked for the Society, not forgetting Michael Robbins who has agreed to remain our president for another year; he stressed the need for more members to become actively involved particularly in recording — a new recording group secretary is urgently needed — and in preparations for the AIA conference to be held in London from 10-12 September 1982. Bill Firth then proposed a vote of thanks to the chairman.

The afternoon was completed by a talk on Underground London by Ellis Hillman who outlined how a geologist became involved in politics, soil mechanics and the London beneath the streets. His interests in the London Underground Survey, formed in 1968, range from London's five square miles of cemeteries to piles and culverts. Finally, he campaigned for better use of all space both above and below ground.

The 1981/2 committee is:
Chairman   Denis Smith
Secretary/Newsletter Editor   Brenda Innes
Treasurer   Danny Hayton

Members: Julia Elton, Derek Holliday, Dave Perrett (Visits Co-ordinator), Bob Carr, Brian Sturt, Peter Skilton, Bill Firth (Publicity); ex officios Publications Officer Tom Smith, Journal Editor Brenda Sowan, Membership Secretary Lyn Holliday, Recording Group Secretary — position vacant.

Camden transport

Two extremely interesting and 'atmospheric' sites are in the news. First, after several years discussions, planning permission has been given for redevelopment of the area adjacent to Hampstead Road Locks, known as Dingwalls. This is presently a haphazard collection of buildings around and in which are crafty-type workshops, a cafe and the excellent weekend junk market.

Hampstead Road Lock © Robert Mason 2016 Hampstead Road Lock © Robert Mason 2016

Close by, but separated from Dingwalls by a railway line (access from Chalk Farm Road), is a cluster of stables built by the London and North Western Railway for horses used in shunting at the adjacent goods yards and for cartage. There are also former coal drops and cart sheds. Recent applications for planning permission would involve demolition of about half of the buildings to the north of the entrance gate.

Meanwhile, Camden Council is considering a proposal made by Malcolm Tucker to designate the rest of the site a conservation area. Both the stables and Dingwalls sites will be included in the walk on July 16. David Thomas

Harworth Colliery

The underground visit of 1 May organised by Dave Perrett proved to be one of the all-time great GLIAS events. To get underground with the NCB is no easy matter these days. I have tried repeatedly for several years to arrange a visit without success, but it seems insurmountable difficulties can be overcome. When Ron Storer came to City Poly he was accompanied by Derek Bramley; if you were at the lecture you will remember Derek as the man who brought the gas in a rubber bulb from his own pit where he had worked a shift that morning. He demonstrated the use of the miners safety lamp, showing how the flame is affected by gas-laden air. As a result of the lecture it was arranged that we should have an underground visit to Harworth Colliery where Derek is training officer.

Harworth Colliery started production in 1924. Situated on the concealed coalfield, marl and limestone overlie the coal measures. This means deep mining, here at something like three thousand feet. The pit is about eight miles SE of Doncaster on the fringe of the area at present worked for coal. Tests have shown that coal extends eastwards to the coast so that Harworth, at present a medium yield colliery, has been chosen to become one of the largest. At present 1,300 men are employed; it is intended to increase this to 2,000 by the 1990s, with 8 faces at work. A new shaft is to be sunk and possibly a fourth, while the surface workings will be re-constructed. Other pits in the area will be worked out about 15 years hence. Coal in the Barnsley seam at Harworth is at present worked up to 4 miles away from the shaft to the NE. A boundary of untouched coal 200 yards wide is left around the worked area between Harworth and neighbouring collieries such as Maltby and Rossington. An under-ground fire started in 1966 in the Barnsley seam just to the S of the two shafts at Harworth and the area was flooded. This has since been pumped dry and drifts made down to another workable seam about 600 feet below. This was the district we visited. To reach this from the bottom of the shafts in the Barnsley seam a man-riding conveyor running in one of the two drifts is used. Paddy trains are operated at the higher level and take men the 4 miles ME to their work, but we did not sample this system on May 1st. Our descent down the shaft was particularly gentle. Did we get special treatment as visitors? For those of you who have been to Chatterley Whitfield mining museum this part of the visit would not have been much of a surprise. At Harworth, No. 1 shaft is used for coal winding, with No. 2 in use for men and materials. Air is drawn down No. 1 shaft, is carried through the mine to the coal face and back to No. 2 shaft, up which it is expelled. The present electric winders date from the start of mining operations. Winding capacity is to be increased with the installation of new aluminium skips which will allow 12 tons of coal instead of 8 to be drawn up at each wind. More powerful electric winders will be installed. The 1924 winders could produce up to 3,000hp each.

After a ride on the conveyor we approached the coal face in the lower seam via the tunnel through which air is returned to No. 2 (uptake) shaft. At 3,600 feet it was warm here. Apart from natural heat at this depth the machinery on the coal face, etc., puts out a considerable wattage and warms the circulating air. We inspected pipes to be installed as part of an experimental cooling system, intended to make working conditions in such gates * more bearable. Refrigeration has been pioneered in Germany and especially in metalliferous mining in places such as South Africa where, of course, mines are much deeper. Despite the coal seam being quite thick the (oil) hydraulic roof supports take up so much space that we had to stoop to walk along the face. A high point of the visit was to watch from close quarters the great coal cutter at work and seeing the coal taken along the face conveyor. In order to keep the temperature down a considerable circulation of air is required and booster fans underground are in use as well as traditional surface ventilation plant. The high rate of air flow past the face means that one is all but 'shot blasted' with coal dust the whole time — either this or be cooked — the new refrigeration system is intended to mitigate circumstances. As we approached the other end of the 250 yard face the air became quite balmy and pleasant. The air itself in a mine is usually quite good. One reason for this is the need to dispel gas. Often travelling on the tube in London the day after an underground pit visit I have thought how bad the air is by comparison. Harworth produces a good deal of methane which is largely removed by putting in bore holes and piping the gas to the surface before cutting the coal. On the surface the gas is used as a source of energy, being burnt in boilers to produce steam.

On the way down the ride by conveyor was fairly gentle. The belt was stopped for us to get on and off. To return we had to do it properly, getting on and off with the belt in motion. Most of us found it quite a shock to have our feet pulled from under us as we got on the moving belt. A conveyor belt ride is bumpy too, all those rubber rollers are easily felt through the belt and the journey was a thousand yards or longer. As one gets nearer the face conditions depart more and more from those at Chatterley-Whitfield with the heat and above all dust being most noticeable. The tunnels are well lit and one had little need for the cap lamp with its attendant accumulator with which each of us was equipped. Atmospheric conditions are important at Harworth. The pit is in regular communication with the Met, office at RAF Bawtry and barometric pressure above ground is constantly monitored. One has to swallow on descending the shaft — it's rather like an aeroplane in reverse. We descended the pit after the day or morning shift had started work and came up before the mid-day change of shift; 19 men work on a face with 40-50 being at work in a district altogether. At Harworth coal is wound during all three shifts; it is mostly, for power stations with just a little for domestic use. At one time the colliery had its own coking plant, but this was deemed unprofitable and the ovens were demolished in 1964. A feature at Harworth not so common nowadays is the aerial ropeway carrying stone to the colliery tip.

Before going underground we were shown the control room where all that is happening in the pit is under constant surveillance. Instruments and television cameras provide information on events at key points in the flow of coal from face to ground level. Communication with the men on the spot is made by telephone and loudspeakers so that when underground one is continuously informed of the stopping and starting of conveyors, the running of trains of materials, etc, and any upset or emergency. The control room also contains the Colliery telephone exchange and it is possible to phone anywhere at home or abroad from underground in the pit, we were told even to Australia if need be. Telephone conversations from mine to mine separated by long distances are not unknown.

Perhaps the visit was a little rougher than some expected. I was flat out in bed for several, days after. Admittedly this was most likely a coincidence, but the day did bring home the very real differences that exist in society. All we did was visit the coal face, for a miner several hours work has to be done once there and every working day at that. Back in London the evening after the visit the cleanliness of office workers on the tube returning home from their work in the City was striking. The impression of excessive elegance — young men in ultra slim suits — such white shorts — made one wonder how anyone could go to work so clean, yet alone return from work in that state. In such a frame of mind the northerners disparagement of 'southern softies' was easier to reconcile. It takes several days after an underground colliery visit to become clean. It must be stressed that this is after using the very adequate bathing facilities at the mine. Perhaps with practice it is possible to get clean more quickly. Several members of the party complained of the dust, much of this is stone dust deliberately introduced as a safety measure against fire and explosion. The 'John Smith's' in the miners' welfare after was most welcome.

Harworth is a modern deep pit with thick seams. In older collieries with thin seams nearer the surface things are different. The workings we saw on the visit were quite dry. Many pits have problems with water which makes conditions uncomfortable. One might ask what has all this to do with London and why should GLIAS be making such a visit? London's industry has been powered by coal for many years, from the third quarter of the 19th century much of this came (and some still does come) by rail from the York-Derby-Notts coalfield. Most of the coal produced by Harworth is for power stations in the Trent Valley area from which London obtains electricity. Even the production of electric power for London has consequences in that the associated pollution, especially thermal, is suffered by the north alone.

Many thanks Derek for taking us on a first-rate visit and thanks also to our other guide the safety officer at Harworth. We are also most grateful for being treated to a very welcome meal in the colliery canteen. Our events co-ordinator Dave Perrett did an especially fine job in getting us down a real working pit and in making the travelling and meeting arrangements so convenient. It looks as if Dave will be pulling off another success on 4 July with his coach outing to Lounds Hall Mining Museum, Sherwood Colliery and Papplewick Pumping Station so don't miss this if you can help it. Bob Carr

Further reading: "Once a Miner" by Norman Harrison, Oxford University Press 1954. A very good account of Mr. Harrison's experiences at Snowdown Colliery in Kent.

Obituary: Elsa Lewkowitsch

Elsa was a smashing, chirpy, happy, semi-retired lady with fingers in many pies including the Recording Group whose members were sorry to hear of her death at the end of last year. David Thomas

Town trails

All members should have received with this newsletter, copies of GLIAS I.A. Walks numbers 3 & 4. Robert and myself hope that you find them interesting. It is not difficult to write a trail about any area that you know. You should go from one centre e.g. a tube station to another centre or in a complete circle. The route should include both important large buildings and minor details. Don't make them too long. The previous GLIAS walks have been well received and over 6,000 have been sold, benefiting both the society's finances and our reputation. Trails 1 & 2 need re-writing, but we will have to wait for the completion of a number of new roads, etc., south of the Thames. So come on, write a trail, it's easy and we'll help you to do it. We are also keen to hear of places that will buy the trails in bulk at a discount for re-sale. Dave Perrett

West India Docks peramble — or wet docks squelch: GLIAS visit Sunday 3 May 1981

A fresh breeze turned to continuous rain as a foolhardy band took some five soaking hours to make a comprehensive tour. Outside the main gate at the end of West India Dock Road stands the 1806 excise offices, later a pub and now offices again, adjacent to a Salvation Army hostel and opposite the site of a similar customs building. Near the gate are two large early warehouses, one of 1802 and some of the original dock wall which forms part of additional warehousing added as trade expanded. To the W were deserted offices and stores of the 'quadrangle', the former maintenance/stores area, A curiosity was a toilet with one door leading to a row of four 'pedestals' — ideal for a group of squatters! Nearby, a derelict, dusty forge shop contained five hearths. On up stairs to the windiest possible place, the flat roof of No. 11 warehouse for a depressing panoramic view of the empty docks and a clamber into the cabin of a crane, 1953 vintage with tram-type controls, which ran on rooftop rails.

The present impounding station (c.1914) was busily pumping away, its electric motors propelling water into the dock through the channel of the one-time City Canal, as we passed on to a sheltered lunch-spots the pit beneath a hydraulic swing bridge of 1926/7 that carries the road and disused railway lines across the entrance to the Millwall Dock. Apparently it is still swung occasionally to allow shipping access to a solitary wharf still in use. Two beefy hydraulic pistons are linked to each other and the bridge by a rope; one is used to swing the bridge open, the other to close it.

Alongside the lock entrance was noted a small hut housing modern pumps for hydraulically opening the gates. We passed over these and after a quick look at a derelict late 19th-century office block to a ship-repairing dry dock, now disused. To gain access to the N side of the Blackwall Basin necessitated a crawl beneath a further hydraulic swing bridge carrying Prestons Road to emerge on the S side of Blackwall Locks, rebuilt c, 1890 and now disused, as is the impounding station of the same date adjacent. An up-rooted hydraulic capstan was lying nearby, giving us the opportunity to look at the three pistons beneath. Then a long detour was needed around Poplar Docks, still owned by BR and used for a meagre traffic in goods transferred from rail to lighter for further transhipment (GLIAS Newsletter June 1979), before we finally passed the building site for the new Billingsgate market — a reinforced concrete 1914 transit shed which is being given new facing and extended — to head at last for a much needed cuppa.

GLIAS hopes to make a further visit on 12 July to record the forge, Quadrangle and Blackwall Entrance Lock areas. David Thomas

More Pinner

Anyone who has got interested in the history of Pinner (perhaps by reading the account of Pinner Hill Farm in the last newsletter — GLIAS Newsletter April 1981) should write to Pinner Local History Society, 121 Eastcote Road, Pinner, Middlesex HA5 IET sending £1.20 + 35p for p&p for a copy of 'A PINNER MISCELLANY': 35 pages with 9 maps and 3 diagrams of recent research undertaken by this active society.

Goodbye riverside London?

The Architect's Journal of 4 March 1981 includes a feature by Charles Knevitt on yet another Thames-side property boom that threatens both the character of London's river (such as remains) and the future of some major industrial monuments. It reports Michael Heseltine's declared hope that new development will enhance the appearance of the Thames and contrasts this with the reality of current plans (whose architectural promise seems less obvious). Proposals such as the 'Green Giant' opposite the Tate Gallery and the Coin Street scheme, have received wide publicity. Less well-known are prospects for industrial sites whose future looms uncertain as their original use becomes uneconomical or their owners see an opportunity to exploit rising land values. Of particular importance to GLIAS are:


Courage Brewery, Horsleydown (next to Tower Bridge approach) — due for closure this year, future uncertain.

St. Mary Overy Wharf, Clink Street, Park Street — major development plans seem likely to wipe away the special flavour of this area with its narrow winding streets flanked by tall warehouses.

Courage Brewery, Park Street and Bankside Power Station — scheduled for closure this year.

Battersea Power Station — listed but due for closure in the next few years. SAVE is considering re-use possibilities.


London Docks: Western Docks being filled for housing, North Stacks demolished and new printing works under construction the skin floor survives, but no feasible re-use scheme has yet appeared.

St. Katharine Docks: the last Telford warehouse (C) is to be demolished and replaced by an office block — its neighbour (B) was pulled down after a fire in 1973 and in its place has risen a new block (claimed to respect the character of Telford's original design).

Billingsgate Market: the fish market is being relocated; Sir Horace Jones' original market building is listed and a re-use proposal has been advance for SAVE by Richard Rogers (architect of Centre Pompidou, Paris), while planning application has been made for a scheme which will retain the original building as an adjunct to a large office development.

Upper Thames Street and Queenhithe: plans are being developed that would eat even further into this surviving enclave of 19th century warehouses.

If these developments and the many others listed in the A3 article come to fruition, then we will lose virtually all the remaining riverside buildings of London's commercial past in the upstream port area. What has replaced them so far inspires no confidence that Heseltine's hopes will be realised for giving the Thames the quality of architectural framing it deserves even less does one see any chance of a rational conservation policy emerging — the time for that is perhaps already past. It is ironical that the only positive re-use proposal (for Billingsgate) should have come from a declared 'modern' architect, Richard Rogers and that his equally 'modern' colleague Norman Foster should have advocated in an 'Omnibus' programme on BBC TV on 24th March that London's riverside decay offers a unique opportunity to bring the Thames back "into" the life of London. Would that the property companies, their institutional funders and the planners would listen and respond? Michael Bussell

West Drayton coal duties boundary mark

A critic of GLIAS has told me, in the expectation that we should get something done, that the 'pyramid type' coal post in West Drayton has been knocked over. Attempts to elicit more information were unsuccessful since as a GLIAS member I should know all about coal posts in West Drayton! It seems to me that the most likely post if the one on 'E. side Staines railway line, by Bigley Ditch' 052800, but 'N. side rly. main line, W of Staines branch' 051801 could fit. I quote from the TBAOG list. The honour of GLIAS is at stake. Would any member in the area look for the post and either contact the LA or let us know so that the Committee can do so. Bill Firth

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Corrections to Brent

(GLIAS Newsletter August 1979)

25. WEMBLEY HILL STATION Opened 1906. Should read Great Central Railway.

26. Station name should be Sudbury & Harrow Road. Opened 1906.

28. North Wembley station opened 1912. Not really a tube station, only four LT trains a day each way serve it on Mondays to Fridays.

The illustrated booklet on the British Empire Exhibition published by the Wembley History Society and mentioned by Mr. Osmundson is still available, price £1.00 post free from Mr. P.O. Esslemont, 25 Thomas A Beckett Close, Wembley, Middx HA0 2SH. Please make cheques payable to the Wembley History Society. Richard Graham

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Barnet 2: Rail (cont.)

Other stations, designed by S.A. Heaps, LER Architect, only examples in this style:

263. Brent Cross, originally Brent, TQ 238 879, 1923. Site of passing loops used briefly to allow non-stop trains to pass slow trains at platforms.

264. Hendon Central, TQ 230 885, with office block built over it. Opened 1923.

265. Colindale, TQ 214 900, rebuilt after WWII bombing.

266. Burnt Oak, TQ 203 907, opened 1924,

267. Edgware, TQ 195 919, opened 1924, E wing demolished in 1939 as part of uncompleted plans to rebuild for extension to Bushey Heath. Inside, platforms 2 and 3 are original, platform 1 is a 1939 addition.

Other features:

268. Brent Viaduct, TQ 238 880, The whole length of line from Golders Green station to the far side of the bridge over Sheaveshill Avenue, TQ 236 881, is built on brick arches or in brick supported cuttings with a number of brick arch or iron bridges and might be regarded as an industrial monument in itself. (If it dated from the 1840-60 railway age it certainly would be).

269a. Borrough's Tunnel, TQ 229 887 to TQ 222 894, built in the same way as the deep tunnels
269b. under London.

270. Under the 1938 New Works Plan it was intended to extend the line beyond Edgware to a terminus at Bushey Heath which is now the site of Aldenham bus depot. Quite a lot of work was done before it was stopped during WWII; it was never resumed before the plans were finally abandoned in 1954. The route of the line can be traced, the major relic is the part-built arches of the viaduct which would have taken the line across Edgware Way near Spur Road, TQ 188 930.

LT Piccadilly Line: About 1 km of the northern extension of this line (1932-3) lies in the easternmost corner of the London Borough of Barnet and two of the major civil engineering works of the line (excluding stations) are in the Boroughs

271. Viaduct over Pymmes Brook valley, TQ 292 931, the northern end is in LBB.

272. Southgate Tunnel, southern portal, TQ 292 937.

Bill Firth

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Newham 4

272. G.E. RAILWAY PRINTING WORKS (former) Burford Road, E15
Built 1893, enlarged 1901. Printed bills, timetables, books, forms, posters, etc. Building 354' long, 68' high. Composing room was on the top floor. Closed in the 1950s.

273. JENSON & NICHOLSON, Carpenters Road, E15.
Came c.1872. Founded in 1860s. Makers of 'Robbialac', varnishes, lacquers, wood finishes. Became Berger, Denson & Nicholson in the 1960s. (See detailed history of this firm in the next newsletter >>>).

274. A. BOAKE ROBERTS, Carpenters Road, E15
A. Boake started here c. 1870 with a staff of three or four hands. Have been manufacturing chemists since. In 1960 were taken over by Albright & Wilson and in 1966 merged with others in the group to form Bush, Boake Allen They now make perfumery and flavouring chemicals.

275. S.H. Johnson, Carpenters Road, E15
Founded 1876, Brewers engineers, chemical engineers, filter press manufacturers, etc. Now part of Johnson Progress Engineering Ltd. The name is shown in very fine cast iron lettering (1880s?) on the front of the building.

276. YARDLEYS (former works), Carpenters Road, E15
Came to Stratford 1904. Makers of all kinds of soaps, toiletries, Lavender Water, perfumes, etc. Went to Basildon, Essex 1966. (Detailed history in next issue of Newsletter >>>).

277. SEEMEEL (Wolsey Works), Carpenters Road, E15
British Feeding Meals 1929, made fish meals and fish by-products. Animal food was produced from fish waste collected from Billingsgate, fish curers, retailers and merchants throughout London. In WWII they were pioneers in converting domestic refuse into animal food. Became a subsidiary of Spillers. Recently closed.

278. W.J. CEARNS LTD. Carpenters Road, E15
Came 1913 and made iron buildings of every kind (churches to cottages), now building contractors and steel fabricators.

279. STANLEYS (STRATFORD) LTD. Warton Road, E15
1917 — 'makers of oil, chemical and petroleum jelly, general merchants and shippers'. Now make waterproofing and fireproof flooring materials.

280. V.W. CO. LTD. Warton Road, E15
A late 1920s firm who started with motor radiators, cylinders, wings, bonnets and exhaust boxes and now do general sheet metal work, turning, milling, machine tool designs, etc.

Established 1841, probably in Commercial Road, Limehouse, came here 1879. Have been making marine glues, resins, sealing compounds ever since.

282. USHER WALKER LTD, Marshgate Lane, E15
Printing inks and rollers. Opened in Sugar House Lane, Stratford 1892, bombed 1940, rebuilt in Marshgate Lane 1948-54. Incorporate Slater & Palmer who began in Marshgate Lane 1882.

283. COWAN COLOURS LTD. (Magnet Works), Barbers Road, E15
1911. Specialise in producing pigment for industrial colours and dyes. Belongs to Johnson Mathey Co. Ltd.

284. DANE & CO LTD. Sugar House Lane, E15
Printing inks. Established here 1853. Make ink of all kinds, varnishes, water colours, screen process colours and 'Day Glo' fluorescent colours. Colourful tiled advertising panel depicting a Great Dane on one of the more recent buildings in High Street, Stratford.

Bet & John Parker's Newham gazetteer will be continued.

Next issue >>>

© GLIAS, 1981