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Notes and news — October 1981

In this issue:

GLIAS Recording Group

For the last six months the Recording Group has been without a permanent secretary. Whilst a number of meetings and one or two 'recording' sessions have been held it is quite clear (at least to the struggling temporary secretary!) that we need someone to take charge.

The main function of the Recording Group is to co-ordinate recording by GLIAS members so that we know what work has been done and can ensure that, with our limited resources of time and people, there is no unnecessary duplication of effort. The Recording Group also provides a forum for those interested in recording work and, from time to time, organises its own recording activities. Just occasionally the results of these see the light of day as a published report! Its members can be called upon to assist if they can with 'rescue' recording of sites when we hear that closure or demolition is imminent. Usually in these cases there is no time to publish such events in the Newsletter. All GLIAS members are welcome to join in with the Recording Group's activities — just come along to our next meeting.

Meanwhile, is there anyone who is willing to be Recording Group Secretary? You don't have to be an expert. The only qualifications are to have some spare time, to have an interest in practical IA, and to live South of Watford! Tim Smith

St Pancras lighting columns listed

The Department of the Environment has recently included twelve St Pancras public lighting columns on the Statutory List of Buildings of Architectural or Historical Interest. Eleven of the columns are in the centre of Tottenham Court Road. This street was the first to be electrically lit by the St Pancras vestry, which was the first municipal authority in London to adopt the electric light system. These columns, which bear later alterations, were originally lit in January 1892. Three of the column doors display the old Metropolitan Borough of St. Pancras coat of arms which is incorrect and was never approved by the Heralds' College. Even the motto is wrong! These columns were to have been removed under a new public lighting scheme which is currently being implemented.

Tottenham Court Road lamps

The other column listed is at the NW corner of Gordon Square. It is the last St Pancras Vestry column to retain its original carbon arc lamp cradle-type fitting, although converted to take an incandescent lamp. It has been out of lighting since 1976, but has remained in situ. Under the acanthus leaf decoration the door displays the Vestry seal: St Pancras standing on a Roman Soldier.

Further details of the historic public lighting columns in St Pancras can be found in "Vestry Arc" by Peter G Scott, available from the author at 11 Duffield Close, Greenhill, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2LG, or from Tom Smith (GLIAS publications) 74 Lord Warwick Street, Woolwich SE18 5QD, price 90p + 30p postage.

GLIAS day trip to Calais

'La Pioche et L'Aiguille' (the pickaxe and the needle) was the title of an exhibition of Calais industries 1817-1914 which lured several GLIAS members across the Channel on August Bank Holiday Monday. The museum curator responsible for mounting the exhibition, M. L-M Gohel, gave a conducted tour of the exhibits with special emphasis on those relating to the lace industry. It was surprising to learn that not only had their lace industry been started by British entrepreneurs but also that at one stage in the 19th century 15% of the skilled labour in the lace factories had come from England.

There then followed a perambulation of the old industrial area of St. Pierre and the typical features of Calais lace mills — the 'tourelles' (free-standing staircase towers giving access to all floors) and 'boîtes vitrées' (glazed extensions to the upper floor windows) — were seen in plenty. The group was fortunate in having a conducted tour of the exhibition and even luckier to meet M. Peeters of L'usine Boulart who showed the group around his mill, where the latest German lace machinery was seen working as well as several old jacquard machines of English design dating from the 1920s. M. Peeters showed the whole process of machine-made lace from the original artist's drawing through translation of the design into jacquard cards; reeling the yarn for the looms, woaving, splitting and finally winding the finished products onto reels and cards for sale to haberdashers and clothes manufacturers.

Finally, the group visited the Town Hall where they were shown a special photographic exhibition of workers' housing as well as receiving a conducted tour of the building. Altogether an exciting day, not only in Calais itself, but also the trip to and from London which involved two train journeys, eight bus rides and two sea crossings. Chris Rule

GLIAS September social

A pleasant evening was had by some 30+ members in the upstairs room of the Black Horse, Rathbone Place, W1. It was nice to welcome some less familiar faces as well as the hard core. Our thanks to lanternist John Parker for skilled operation of his epidiascope-cum-½kw heater. Using it we were able to enjoy turn of the century postcards supplied by Tim Smith, Robert Vickers and others. My own glass slide lecture on the building of Beachy Head Lighthouse in 1902 was premiered, while Peter Skilton and David Thomas took us along on their holidays with normal slides. Dave Perrett

Wet docks — in the dry: Second visit to West India and Millwall Docks on Sunday 12 July 1981

Following the visit on 3 May (GLIAS Newsletter June 1981) which was made in cold and thoroughly nasty weather, plans were made for a car-borne expedition. We met near the original warehouses of 1901-4, ignored areas accessible only to foot-slogging acrobats and made for the impounding station, open this time and with two of the centrifugal pumps busy churning dirty Thames water into the dock. These, with the two primer pumps were all electric. We looked at the former PLA railway engine sheds intact but without doors or tracks. By dint of daring quayside navigation we parked alongside the grain elevators of McDougall's Millwall Mill; the elevator hoses have suckers which were dropped into the ships holds. Nearby were several sets of rollers from the mill which closed in 1978, although it is believed that the flour-bagging section remains in use, supplied from Rank's Royal Docks Mill.

The corner of the quay next to Badger's dry dock was by consensus the spot for sandwiches and one from which forays could be made between mastication into the abandoned repair sheds (no machinery left) or the PLA refuse destructors still, in occasional use and similar in design to that at the Royal Docks described in Newsletter 63. It was now time for some site work and groups were formed to concentrate on the former forge, railway engine shed and hydraulic equipment. Of that, more anon. David Thomas

A fitting postscript to David's account of the docks came from Derek Bayliss marked simply without comment. You have it here without the origin and date which Derek supplied; answer, but no prizes, in next Newsletter:

(The rebuilding of the City) "Much has still to be done and another 20 years may elapse before the transformation is complete. A great deal of what we know today will remain, the river and its port, its ships, tugs and barges, its wharves and warehouses."

GLIAS takes shelter

King William Street plaque. © Robert Mason 2018 Saturday 25 July members of GLIAS met to descend into the bowels of the earth yet again (some members becoming quite mole like). This time the visit was to view the twin tunnels of the old City & South London Railway. The visit was organised by Dave Perrett and we were given a very well conducted tour by Peter Bancroft, author and publisher of a booklet entitled: The Railway to King William Street and Southwark Deep Tunnel Air-Raid Shelter.

The party descended by way of the London Transport ventilation shaft at London Bridge, once the entrance to London Bridge underground station. We walked along one of the more recent tunnels which provides ventilation for the Northern line and then retraced our steps to walk along the twin tunnels that run between King William Street and a point just N of Borough station.

The tunnels were started in 1886 and completed in 1890. Their working life was only ten years. A by-pass was later constructed and now joins the 'Bank' with London Bridge and thence on to the Borough. Peter's booklet is well worth reading for the full details of the tunnels' history, but he does not impart the atmosphere one encounters, however as this was his first actual visit this is not surprising! During World War II the tunnels, by now the property of London Transport, were rented to the London Borough of Southwark for £100 per annum and converted at a cost of £105,628 into shelters that could accommodate 14,000 people.

In the shelter that was once King William Street station are long forgotten posters reminding one that 'Careless talk costs lives', others imploring one to invest in 'National Savings' to help the war effort and in the tunnels remains of official notices stating that 'Smoking is not permitted'. I could find no evidence that 'Kilroy' had visited the tunnels, or that the one-time ubiquitous 'Mr. Chad' had, but the small amount of graffiti was predominantly that of children? a picture of a bomb falling, Hitler and a vehicle (dated by the inclusion of a starting handle), also the scratching of two initials linked with an 'L' to two more initials — the universal symbol of adolescent love; however, considering the thousands of people who spent many a long night in the tunnels, there was really little evidence of their occupancy.

There was, as one might expect in a disused tunnel system, a certain amount of water and one member of the party managed to get his feet wet. He should have taken Dave's advice and worn waterproof footwear. We didn't find a white-haired old man with a long beard asking if the war was over yet and to the best of my knowledge we all came out but, now I come to think of it, I don't recall Peter Skilton buying a 'round' in the George afterwards.
Signed: The Mole (with Peter Skilton's paw mark!)


WEST INDIA DOCK GRANITE TRAMWAY? Francis Whishaw's 'The Railways of Great Britain & Ireland' (1842, reprinted David & Charles 1969) refers on p.256 to a "granite tramway", built in the late 1820s and still in use when he wrote, from the West India Dock entrance to the top of Commercial Road. Can anyone say definitely what form this tramway took? Whishaw makes clear that it was not a railway. But was the granite, or any other part of the roadway, raised or recessed to give guidance to the wheels of vehicles using it, or was the granite merely laid flush with the roadway to give a firm and smooth surface? Also can anyone say how long the "tramway" survived? Any information, please, to Derek Bayliss, 30 Muskoka Avenue, Bents Green, Sheffield S11 7RL (>>>)

LAST YEAR WE WERE LOOKING FOR GRAND-DAD'S MANGLE, THIS YEAR IT'S GRAND-DAD'S LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT (Can this be progress?) Does anyone know of the whereabouts of any laundry machinery made by a firm called Armitage & Crosland in the Peckham area? This was the name of a member's grandfather and great grandfather's firm and he already knows that a model of their belt-driven machinery exists in the Science Museum store. Any news to: R.P. Dauson, Waylands, 16 Kings Oak Close, Monks Risborough, Aylesbury, Bucks.

THE WORKING OF THE FORGE AT WEST INDIA DOCKS? The disused forge was recorded on 12 July, but we need to gain a better idea of what it was like whilst in use before publishing the site report. Can anyone help? Every bit of information could be useful, please contact Peter King at Flat 10, The Dell, 32 Harefield Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex.

ANY MORE SITES LIKE CHISWICK MUNICIPAL STABLES? An excellent report on this remarkably intact site has been prepared by Geoffrey Bowles and is attached as a supplement with this Newsletter. Does anyone know of any comparable sites in London? Please tell David Thomas, 36 Pearman Street, SE1 7RB (928 8702)

Quickly for falling standards and dead lead

After several years disuse two well-known sites in N Southwark are being cleared. Get in quick if you want to see the remains of Grey & Martin's City Lead Mills, Southwark Bridge Road/Bankside or Stevenson & Howell's Standard Works Great Suffolk Street/Bear Lane, where flavouring and essences were made. Both sites have been recorded and reports will appear in due course. David Thomas

The printed word — on stone

On a chance visit to Silkstone Church nr Barnsley in South Yorkshire (while re-tracing the course of the Silkstone Railway, an early 19th-century horse railway) I discovered a memorial tablet to Joseph Bramah, inventor of the Bramah lock and the hydraulic press (1749-1814), not mentioned in the standard biography 'Joseph Bramah: A Century of Invention' by Ian McNeil (David & Charles 1968), although he devotes a chapter to Bramah's childhood in the district and quotes the inscription on his tomb in Paddington churchyard. The tablet at Silkstone reads: "This stone is inscribed to the memory of Mr. Joseph Bramah, late of Piccadilly and Pimlico, London and formerly of this parish, who died 9th December, 1814 in the 66th year of his age. By rare genius and unusual perseverance he advanced himself to considerable eminence as an Engineer and Mechanist and matured several inventions of the greatest Public Utility. He was not less remarkable for a benevolent disposition and a steadfast faith in the blessed Founder of our Holy Religon [sic]". Derek Bayliss

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Newham 5 (cont.)

Street Furniture: A clang? of coal hole covers

307. Outside 735 Romford Road. Marks 3. Norwood Ironmongers, Stratford (their address was 19-25 The Broadway).

308. Outside 955 Romford Road, Mark: H. Freund & Co. Tower Hamlets Road, Forest Gate.

309. Outside National Westminster Bank, Stratford Broadway. Marks Nicholls and Clark, Shoreditch London.

310. Outside The Stratford Express Offices, Romford Road. Marks Young & Marten, Stratford. Pat. No. 13403.

311. Outside No. 6 Shirley Road, E15. Marks Miles & Ginn, Brunswick Works, Mile End Road. This firm was listed in Kelly's Directory 1900 as 'Lead and window glass merchants, varnish makers & colour manufacturers, builders' ironmongers and paperhanging manufacturer,' 43 Mile End Road.

Bet and John Parker

London Borough of Barnet: A posting? of pillar boxes

The following list of interesting pillar boxes in Barnet was prepared by Andrew Smith and is the only contribution so far received in response to an appeal for help in recording the street furniture in the borough.

Pillar Boxes by A. Handyside & Co. Ltd. Derby & London Foundry: Britannia Foundry and Engineering Works.

Anonymous High posting aperture Large 19¼" dia. 1879-c.1884

Anonymous High posting aperture Small 15¼" dia. 1879-c.1884
Anonymous Lower posting aperture Large 19¼" dia. 1884-1887
Anonymous Lower posting aperture Small 15¼" dia. c.1884-1887
V.R cypher Large 19¼" dia. 1887-c.1899
V.R cypher Small 15¼" dia. 1887-c.1889
Later E VII R cypher Large 19¼" dia. 1901-1904
Early E VII R cypher Small 15¼" dia. 1901-1904
Later E VII R cypher Small 15¼" dia. 1901- 1904
Pillar Boxes G.R. cypher, type 'D' Oval 1932 Posting aperture one end stamp vending machine other end. Derby Castings Ltd formerly A. Handyside.
Telephone kiosk No. 4A with posting box and stamp vending machines (2) in rear wall Carron Co. Falkirk 1929
E VIII R cypher Large 19¼" dia, McDowall Steven & Co. Glasgow 1936 Eagle Foundry, Broad Street.
Wall boxes VR No. 2 (small) Smith & Hawkes Ltd Birmingham 1861-1871
Wall boxes; VR cypher: Large 'A' W.T. Allen & Co Ltd EC1 c.1884-1901
Wall boxes VR cypher Small 'C' W.T. Allen & Co Ltd EC1 c.1884-1901
Wall boxes E VII R cypher Small 'C' W.T. Allen & Co Ltd EC1 1901-4
Andrew Smith

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© GLIAS, 1981