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Notes and news — August 1981

In this issue:

Will it happen?

SAVE, the conservation group that recently launched a proposal by architect Richard Rogers for the re-use of Billingsgate Market, has turned its attention to a yet more ambitious project: Battersea Power Station. The station was built in two parts between the 30s and 50s, although its original design (owing much to architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's successful blend of classical principles and modern functionalism) has been realised as a harmonious whole. Every Londoner knows the four great chimneys and the huge brick boiler house at whose corners they stand. To east and west are turbine halls, while the river front is enlivened by cranes and enclosed coal conveyors.

Economics led the CEGB to close one half of the station and total closure is likely in the near future. So what then? To demolish would be expensive and would remove a London landmark (listed in 1980). To preserve the silent shell as an industrial monument would be costly too and arguably pointless. To re-use the 25 million (sic) cubic feet of space is a bold and worthwhile option, but needs imagination and realism in equal measures.

The SAVE proposal is excellent and logical. The vast central boiler house could become an arena for indoor athletics, boxing, tennis, or conferences — even pop concerts. Below this is space for a skating rink and below that again is room to park 1,350 cars. Of the two adjacent turbine halls, one could be an indoor sports centre while the other is proposed for use as a space for the display of large items of historic engineering plant. This last is both appropriate to the building's original raison d'être and practical — there is the height to accommodate these intact, while the existing gantry cranes are powerful enough to lift and install them. Externally, a riverside swimming pool would augment the leisure facilities and the coal conveyors could be adapted as walkways and extended across the road to Battersea Park. These, like the cranes and chimneys — each higher than St. Paul's Cathedral — are rightly recognised as symbols of Battersea's original function and-their/retention is an integral part of the scheme. Ancillary proposals include new housing — public and/or private — between the station and the Park and a riverside walk and square.

The notion of leisure as the central role of Battersea's planned new existence is amply justified: there is a need for such facilities in London at large and in Wandsworth Borough particularly: there is historical precedent in the vicinity — Battersea Fun Fair and the earlier Ranelagh Gardens and the building's huge spaces and long clear spans are ideally suited to sporting use.

And leisure is a growing industry which could bring employment as well as life to this riverside area. SAVE stresses that the proposal is only one of a number of possibilities for the building, but it seems as good as anything likely to emerge. The next step is to find private capital, for the report realistically accepts that public funding is unlikely at present, although Wandsworth Council may be expected to encourage a re-use scheme of this nature. Equally important perhaps is the need for public opinion to endorse a realistic plan such as SAVE is offering. One recalls how local opinion contributed to the abandonment of plans to devastate the Covent Garden area with massive re-development and road "improvements". SAVE is to be congratulated on its foresightedness in preparing a scheme while there is time to debate the building's future and while it is still being maintained at least in large part. Now we must hope for an enlightened developer to appear. Michael Bussell

An illustrated report describing the proposals 'The Colossus of Battersea' is obtainable for £2.50 from SAVE Britain's Heritage, 3 Park Square West, London NW1 4LZ)

All done by mirrors

On the evening of 20 February last a party of 29 GLIAS people attended the Magic Lantern Theatre aboard the narrowboat "Phantasmagoria", then moored on the Regent's Canal at Delamere Terrace. 22 people were packed into the rather cramped auditorium, whilst seven were accommodated behind the screen and able to witness some of the "Showman's Magic". Hand painted glass slides depicting scenes 3" in diameter were back-projected onto a screen 4' in diameter located amidships, the slides being magnified 15 times, compared with the 50 times magnification of the original Victorian shows. The action varied from the simple two position 'flips' of an acrobatic circus equestrian and a 'skipping' child, through dissolving scenes such as 'Day and Night' and the 'Four Seasons', to the very impressive 'Storm at Sea' accompanied by the crash of thunder and the flash of lightning. This sequence depicts an old favourite of mines Eddystone Lighthouse (Smeaton's of course). Then followed a mesmerising sequence of chromotropes turning and twisting, coming and going and changing colour. The show ended with Anita hand cranking a 1905 Molière cinematograph and showing an especially printed reel of the first films of the Lumière brothers. (The original films were all of one minute's duration.)

Doug and Anita Dean, who run this marvellous theatre, are at present on their summer holiday tour, but will be back in September, I believe, to prepare for their next season at Delamere Terrace (October to May). I look forward to seeing their 'second show' which includes a Victorian 'Journey into Outer Space'.

NB I'd never heard of chromotropes either! Tom Smith

Treasurer's report

For those members who could not attend the AGM here is a very brief outline of the accounts which show that we have transferred our cash into stocks of Journal No. 2 and the new own Trails (3 & 4). We have undertaken several new ventures during the year including a trip abroad and making three video tapes. The figures show that in 1980-81 income exceeded expenditure by £254 which was mainly due to increasing the value of our publications by nearly £1,000. Assets of Cash and Publications at £329 and £1,293 balanced out with the General Fund at £1,586 and subscriptions for 1981-82 of £36. If any member would like a copy of the full accounts would they please send a SAE to me at 31 The High Street, Farnborough Village, Orpington, Kent BR6 1BQ. Danny Hayton

Was your old man a dustman?

I am working on Chiswick Municipal Stables, Corney Road, W4 and would be interested to hear any personal experiences or reminiscences of horse, steam or early motor refuse collection. Can anyone, particularly, refute the Borough Surveyor's claim that the steam dust wagons he introduced in 1897 were the first in London? Information please to 11 Hamilton Road. Geoffrey Bowles

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Corrections to Newham

Corrections to Gazetteer Nos. 69 & 129: Two trolleybus switch point boxes. We have been informed by a very knowledgeable young man (we don't know his name unfortunately) that both of these boxes were probably used by the local Council as switches or fuse boxes for lighting. Bet & John Parker

Some notes on two firms closely connected with Stratford for many years:

Jenson & Nicholson, Carpenters Road, E15

Founded 1821 by William Kingham at 37 Barbican in the City of London, he was joined later by John Denson, they specialised in the manufacture of carriage varnish, William Kingham died in 1844, the firm moved to Chiswell Street in 1855 and to Belle Isle in 1858 when the Chiswell Street premises were retained for offices. (Belle Isle was in the King's Cross area of London.) Jenson & Nicholson came into being in the early 1860s. In 1871 fire completely gutted their factory and they moved to Stratford via premises at 65 Goswell Road, taking the name 'Goswell' for their Carpenters Road works. At this time they began to expand and to sell worldwide. 'Robbialac' was invented for an Italian client who wanted a blue-white finish like the one produced by della Robbia (Luca della Robbia 1400-1482 was a sculptor of the Florentine School who perfected a method of producing terra-cotta figures coated with a glaze formed from a mixture of tin, litharge, antimony and, other minerals, which gave endless durability.)

In the 20th century Jenson & Nicholson have produced adhesives for fixing cork tips to cigarettes and another for fixing soles to uppers, sou'wester varnish compound, insulating varnish for tape used in electric motors, the 'dope' for greaseproof paper, decorative finishes for treating paper for boxmaking and bookbinding. They plotted Chemical warfare in the Second World War; produced varnish to coat silk to put over burns sustained by the armed forces also a process for defeating bacteria caused by the humidity of the Far East, which destroyed cameras and electric equipment; surface treatment for barrage balloons; camouflage paints — of course. The works were in the front line of bombing, a large part of the factory was destroyed and many machines worked in the open air. Since the war many other paints have been evolved, e.g. a paint for adhesion to metal alloys; fancy finishes, "rivalling" the wrinkled effect used on camera cases, etc.; fake leather finishes; industrial varnish compounded to withstand enormously high voltages, including solventless varnish (eliminates the hazards of application); lacquers for insides of tins for better preservation of food and all manner of wood finishes and marine finishes. In the 1960s became part of the Berger, Jenson & Nicholson Group.

Yardley's, Carpenters Road, E15

First mention of a Yardley in connection with soap making was in the days of Charles the First when someone of that name was recorded as having gained concessions for the manufacture of soap for the whole of London. The first date for a Yardley definitely connected with the present business was 1756 when William Yardley was born and when he died in 1324 owned premises for supplying Lavender, Cosmetics and Soap in Thorney Street Bloomsbury. His son Charles took over, exhibited at the Great Exhibition 1851 and by 1879 Yardley's were exporting to the States. In 1883 moved to Ridgmount Street Bloomsbury and in 1890 became Yardley & Co. Ltd. Moved to Stratford in 1904. The factory was extended in 1919 and a box factory was built in High Street Stratford c.1937.

In the Second World War the works suffered severe blast from flying bombs and the High Street factory was damaged. Some of the works had been moved to Boreham Wood in 1939 (the unit there was requisitioned for the De Havilland Aircraft Co.) Output was severely restricted at Carpenters Road in 1940 by the "Limitation of Supplies Order" which cut to 25% of pre-war figures the permitted buying of basic materials. Products of half a dozen firms were made at Yardley's and war work was carried out for Crooke's Laboratories and Howard's of Ilford.

In 1942 part of the building was given over to the manufacture of components for light aircraft and the making of sea-water purification tablets. The box factory made anti-radar devices and aircraft flare tubes. On the west facing wall of the former box factory is the "Lavender Sellers" trade mark, adopted and adapted (1913) by Yardley's, from Francis Wheatley R.A.'s "Primrose Sellers" group issued 1793 in the 'Cries of London' series. The factories moved to Basildon Essex in 1966. Yardley are now a subsidiary of the British American Tobacco Company.

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Newham 4 (cont.)

285. YARDLEY'S (former) BOX FACTORY, High Street, E15
c.1937 Railings with 'Y' motifs and the west end of the building has a tiled picture of the 'Primrose Sellers' (from Wheatley's Cries of London series) adapted by Yardley.

286. THE GROVE BRIDGE, High Street, E15
Built in 1933 to replace St. Michael's, Peg's Hole and St. Thomas' Bridges. Contractors Id & C French Ltd, Engineers W. Lionel Jenkins MA M.Inst C.Eng.

287. CHANNELSEA BRIDGE, High Street, E15
First built by Queen Matilda wife of Henry I, sometime between 1100 and 1118, to carry the main road over the Channelsea River. In 1957 the Channelsea was culverted between High Street and Lett Road and another stretch from High Street to Abbey Lane is also now culverted.

288. CONCRETE BRIDGE, Bridgewater Road (off Warton Road), E15. 1938 Contractors? Commercial Structures Ltd.

Dated 1849. Across the road from Berger, Denson & Nicholson.

290. NORTHERN OUTFALL SEWER, Marshgate Lane, E15
1863. The sewer provided main drainage for North London and took the flow from Hackney to Barking. Work carried out by the Metropolitan Board of Works to whom Sir J. Bazalgette was Engineer in Chief. There is a mid-19th century (?) cast iron "plaque on the brick support of the sewer which states: ESSEX SEWERS This erection placed on the ancient River wall by permission of the Court of Sewers subject to all their rules and orders. The owner is required always to keep the surfaces of the ground up to this -> STANDARD LEVEL <-

291. STRATFORD MARKET, Burford Road, E15
Established 1879 by the Great Eastern Railway Company. Approximately 22 warehouses each 60' x 15'. Lightweight cast iron and wrought iron clad in timber matchboard. Market still in use.

Began life as Stratford Bridge station on the line from Stratford to North Woolwich in the late 1840s. Became Stratford Market station in 1880. Closed 1957. There is a bronze Q/S bench mark inset on the side of the station building in Bridge Road.

293. Just a name 'VINOLIA' painted on the end wall of a building in Warton Road, to mark the Vinolia Soap Works here from 1898-1907 when they moved to Port Sunlight. Somehow the name has survived two wars.

294. Another name 'BOROUGH THEATRE' in the High Street
Opened 1896, Designer Frank Matcham. Seated 3,000. Beerbohm Tree, Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry played here. Became the Rex Cinema 1933, Bingo 1969, now unused.

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Newham 5

295. BARD BROS LTD. 512a Romford Road, E7
1943. Table Jelly Manufacturers. Some of the buildings housed the stables of the North Metropolitan Tramways Co from c.1896-1908.

296. TREBOR LTD. Katharine Road, E7
Confectionery firm set up at Forest Gate (1907) by A. Robertson and WB. Woodcock; the present factory was built in the mid-1930s. Trebor make a range of confectionery; boiled sweets, 'chew' sweets, peppermints, bitter lemons, etc.

297. STREIMERS (NOUGAT) LTD, Victoria Street, E15
Nougat factory founded by a Jewish immigrant from Austria (Morris Streimer) c.1898. Works originally in High Street and Ward Road E15, came to Victoria Street c.1936.

298. BONALLACK VEHICLES LTD. 268 Romford Road, E7
Motor distributors, repairs. Established 1825 elsewhere in London, first came to Stratford Broadway (van, wagon, carriage and cart works) in 1886. In 1906 they moved to 268 which was used as a showroom, a large motor vehicle body works was subsequently built at the rear. Their used car department is still at this address.

299. UNITED PAINT CO LTD. 57a Victoria Street, E15.
1927 Make a large range of paints, emulsion, stone finish, gloss, etc. The buildings were the stables of the North Metropolitan Tramways from the 1880s to c.1903. It is said that some of the stable fittings are still in place.

300. POTH, HILLE & CO LTD. High Street, E15.
Established 1870, appear to have come to Stratford some time in the first few years of this century. Make a great variety of waxes including beeswax, carnauba wax, ozokerite, polish waxes for boot, floor and furniture polish makers, Japan wax, Spermaceti, etc.

301. SAUNDERS (TARPAULINS) LTD. 6 Park Lane, E15.
"Artists in Canvas". Tarpaulins have been manufactured in this building since c.1898, first by a firm called Lomas who started working elsewhere in Stratford c.1880. Saunders came in 1969.

302. M. PETRUSHKIN LTD. Sugar House Lane, E15.
Established 1894. Came to Sugar House Lane 1956. 'Petapak Products'. Make cardboard boxes, fine paperboard containers, cartons, etc.

1868. Tallow, meal, animal food and fertilizer manufacturers.

304. JOHNSTONE & CUMBER LTD. 24 Sugar House Lane, E15.
c.1878. Printing ink manufacturers.

305. H. HART (DRAIN RODS) LTD. Victoria Works, Credon Road, E13
1870. Established by Herman Hart in the Commercial Road area of London as makers of chimney cleaning machinery, came to Victoria Works c.1929, how make drain cleansing machinery.

306. FIRE STATION, Stratford Broadway
The 1878 West Ham No. 1 Fire Stations hose drying tower still there. Now part of the Municipal Offices. New fire station built in Romford Road 1964 houses the London Fire Brigade Eastern Command and 'F' Division HQ.

Bet and John Parker

There is a little more NEWHAM still to come, but I would welcome some more material for the Gazetteer and, of course, IA news of all kinds. Please send it to me by mid-September for the October newsletter. Brenda Innes

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© GLIAS, 1981