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Notes and news — April 1982

In this issue:

Kirkaldy Testing Museum, Southwark

David Kirkaldy (1820-1897), a native of Dundee, set up his pioneer materials testing business at The Grove, Southwark, close to Messrs. Easton, Amos & Sons works, in 1865 with a large hydraulic testing machine of his own design. In a few years business had grown sufficiently to warrant purpose-built premises and Kirkaldy moved to a more permanent works at 99 Southwark Street. The Kirkaldy family business of materials testing did not cease here until 1964. It is this testing works in Southwark Street, still complete with David Kirkaldy's original testing; machine, that is the subject of a museum project which is soon to be launched.

For the Museum a steering committee has been set up consisting of Denis Smith (GLIAS), Michael Robbins (Victorian Society), Charles Marshall (Industrial Buildings Preservation Trust), Mark Brightman (Science Museum), Derrick Becket (Sir Frederick Snow & Partners) and Hack Warnes (Cecily Northcote Trust). This committee is now meeting monthly and is formulating a costed 3-5 year plan. Volunteers are working at weekends and during the week staff from the Science Museum are making a detailed inventory of contents. The idea of a Kirkaldy Museum was mooted c.1976 but only now is money at long last available. It is intended to set up a company without share capital and a "Friends of the Kirkaldy Project" will be started. It is hoped to hold a formal launching in May 1982.

Cable-hauled trams in Brixton

The cable-hauled trams started at the junction with the Camberwell New Road (GLIAS Newsletter February 1982) ran the whole length of the Brixton Road to terminate at Streatham Library. Opened to Telford Avenue on 19 December 1892 and extended to the Library in December 1895. Closed for reconstruction for electric trams on 5 April 1904. John Winteridge

Thank you, Chris Ellmers

Chris Ellmers of the Museum of London Modern Department has always been a good friend to GLIAS. Of late we have had special reason to feel grateful to Chris for two very fine visits to Museum of London Stores. On Saturday 21 November we visited a store in the City and on Saturday 30 January we went to Royal Victoria Dock to see the growing collection of treasures Chris and his team are salvaging from Docklands. What a staggering amount of material we saw stacked away. We only hope Chris is not run over by a bus before the great task of cataloguing is complete! Bob Carr

I asked for it

Hive Activities — Having now been one of Don Weighton's beehive factory visitors I can, I hope, satisfy our Ed's curiosity (Newsletter 78). On the gloomy afternoon of 25 February our small party emerged from Don's van at Lee's Beehive Factory, whose compact premises of whitewashed brick and green painted weatherboard stand incongruously in a sprawl of Uxbridge re-development. Our aim was nothing more mysterious than to complete the record made at a previous visit to Lee's, manufacturers of cedar-wood beehives and processors of beeswax for a large and growing population of London beekeepers, before the firm moves from the area. Following Bob Carr's recent injunctions to do justice to the subjective aspects of site recording, however, we allowed ourselves to be distracted momentarily from photography and measurement by the pervasive smells of cedar and wax and the willingness of the staff to talk about not only the manufacturing process but also the intricacies of 'bee lore'. We left having reluctantly to resist the thought of a GLIAS hive — a site report will appear in due course. Geoff Bowles

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Lambeth, Vauxhall and Kennington

Following on from the list of sites in Stockwell and Brixton in the last newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter February 1982), this section is again arranged in a sequence which can be followed on foot. As the total distance would take several hours, it is divided into two halves. Any corrections or extra info, on these or other sites in Lambeth will be gratefully received at 36 Pearman Street, SE1 7RB. Info correct at March 1982. David Thomas

The sequence of site numbering is to fill a gap; numbers 367-392 were used last time.


These sites start at Lambeth Bridge and finish at Vauxhall. Several roads are very busy at all times, but worst during weekday business hours. Although the Thames is very close, little remains of former riverside industries — indeed, much was permanently swept away when the Embankment was built.

Vauxhall map

351. Albert Embankment 1866-70. Built by Metropolitan Board of Works to carry interceptor sewers to downstream discharge (Crossness) plus to embank the river.

352. St. Thomas' Hospital. Opened Queen Victoria 1871; partly built on reclaimed land. In five separate blocks of wards to isolate disease; northern blocks war damaged and demolished. 26 Doulton fairy tale/nursery rhyme tile scenes of 1896 in children's (Lilian) ward.

353. Lambeth Pier. Small waiting area, believed to be c.1912 for L.C.C. river passenger boats. (>>>)

354. Lambeth Bridge, 1932, 5 steel arches.

Lambeth Bridge © Robert Mason 2016

355. St. Mary's Church — tombstones. The church and yard are being converted to a museum dedicated to Tradescant, gardener; his ornate tomb is in yard. (The church is open 11.15-15.00 M-F, 10.15-17.00 Sun). Of IA interest are two tombs of Coade Stone of the Seeleys, near the porch (NB interesting but only part readable inscription on side — Mrs. S is from Pump House near Bromsgrove, perhaps Tardebigge?) — and of Captain Bligh.

356. Lambeth Palace. Not for ecclesiastical reasons — the former stables can be seen through a gateway off Lambeth Road, now residential/offices. (>>>)

357. Corner Lambeth High Street. Pharmaceutical Society offices include a small 'museum' of chemists jars in the reception area. Can be seen from outside, but should be visited in office hours to read display cards.

358. Fire brigade H.Q. 1936.

359. Bridges for barges to pass under the Albert Embankment to basin within former Doulton's pottery works.
(A further bridge gives access, still available, to a draw dock. This is the old parish landing facility which had to be retained when the embankment was built)

360. South Bank House, 28 Black Prince Rd, SE1. Former showrooms, part of offices of Doulton, pottery, tiles, pipes, etc., maker. Note use of a variety of their products as decoration. Last kiln closed 1956; firm moved out 1971. Their 1930s head office nearby was demolished 1979 (GLIAS Newsletter June 1979).

361. Corner Black Prince Rd./Newport St, SE11. Remaining fragment of Ragged Schools, set up 1851 by Hy. Beaufoy, local industrialist, JP, benefactor. Most of the building was demolished c.1902 when L&SW Rly widened their viaduct.

361a. A successor establishment to 361 was built at 39 Black Prince Rd, opened 1909. In use.

362. Vauxhall Walk, SE11. Surrey Iron Works of Horatio Myer. Original building of c.1877 considerably expanded over the years, including both sides of street. Initially solely maker of iron bedsteads, now still in same line, but divans/mattresses. Most if not all to move to join newer large factory at Huntingdon during 1982. (A copy of the firm's history, 'Myer's First Century' is in the Minet Library archives).

363. 37 Albert Embankment, SE1. Modest factory/warehouse of c.1870, now used by Sandeman as offices. Adjacent Crown Tavern on corner of Tinworth St.

364. 5 Glasshouse Walk, SE11. Built 1911 for St. Pauli Breweries Co. Ltd, based in Bremen. 1915 Kelly's — Finest Pilsner Lager Beer. Girl Brand. Depots London, So'ton, Hull, Boston, Newcastle, Bristol, K. Lynn, Leith, Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Tralee, Cork, etc. Appears to have been short lived, the premises being used to make planes for H.M. Government by 1917! Several uses since.

365. Vauxhall Bridge. 1906. Five arches. Note eight bronze figures on river side of piers.

Vauxhall Bridge © Robert Mason 2016

366. Stairs alongside, dating from days of ferry before bridge.

393. Vauxhall Railway Station. Entrance facing towards Pimlico, which was once included in station name; recently renovated. Opened 1848 when London & South Western Railway built viaduct for its passenger services from near the original Nine Elms terminus (now Covent Garden Mkt) to Waterloo.

394. Nine Elms Cold Store (a good vantage point for this and 293 is the footbridge across the s. end Vauxhall Bridge). Public cold store of 1,300,000 cu. ft. capacity, located to be served by railway siding, lighter and road. Opened 1965, closed 1979. Plans made to convert to flats/offices by removing some cladding from concrete frame. (Building described Architect & Building News 16/6/65.).
(Directly in front, as complete contrast, Brunswick House, built 1758, which since 1850s has been used as a railwaymen's social centre).

395. Rowton House, Bondway, SW8. Opened 1892 by Lord Rowton as the first of his model lodging houses. Renovated 1974 to provide 150 bedsits.

396. 71 Bondway, SW8. Five-floor brewery, 1885, for Barrett & Co. Has changed hands several times between beer brewers and mineral water makers. Now offices & store for Link. (At the end of Bondway, on the other side of Miles St, stood Bruton's Lead Works. Only part of the wall remains.).

397. Coronation Buildings, South Lambeth Road, SW8. Only two blocks remain of five built c.1905 by London & SW. Rly. Five floors. Demolition in progress.

398. Wheatsheaf Lane, SW8. Small Mission Hall, 1896, for railway employees. In other use.

399. Off Old South Lambeth Rd, SW8. John Beaufoy's vinegar and British wine distillery. Vat house of 1812 surmounted by later wooden cupola & clock. Part destroyed by bombing in 1941 — note tin roofing. Now used only for blending vinegar; this will cease in September. Some wooden vats in use. It is difficult to get a good view of the site, which is surrounded by other buildings but a good idea of the general layout can be had from Rita Rd, at the rear, (photo from Rita Rd, 1978).
(In Fentiman Rd, opposite Rita Rd, are some almshouses built 1854/5).
See also GLIAS Journal article Beaufoys of Lambeth

400. Lawn Lane, SW8. Former Sunny Bank Laundry, founded 1875, although the premises look later than that. Now occupied by University Tailors. No more known.

401. 5 South Lambeth Rd, SE11. Milk bottling plant. A pipeline runs from Platform 1, Vauxhall Stn, for milk train unloading. Built for London Wholesale Dairies, now used by Unigate. Date not known; looks c.1935.


The first two sites are included in advance of research to find out more further details welcome.
The Kennington area still has quite a number of small industrial sites in mews and back streets. I have concentrated on the larger sites only.

Kennington map

402. Palfrey Place, off Clapham Rd, SW8. Large garage of Keith & Boyle (London) Ltd motor vehicle distributor. On 1956 O.S. map this is shown as 'London Terminal Coach Station'. Is this at least in part the predecessor of Victoria Coach Station? (>>>)

403. 11 Claylands Pl, SW8. Workshop of Carey, smiths. In one corner a blacksmith's hearth.
(For those who have a liking for architecture of Charles Holden, cast eyes across Clapham Rd. to Belgrave Children's Hosp, built 1900-03.)

404. 1 Brixton Rd, SW9. Very extensive garaging for the General Motor Cab Co, started c.1910, providing for horse and mechanical taxis. Some 2,000 cabs were based here at one time. The cooperative which operates repair, etc. facilities for owner-drivers recently (1/82) went into liquidation.
(En route to next site, note use of former civil defence stretchers as 'railings' for council estate property. Note also in Harleyford Rd. the 1824 Church of England National Society School, voluntary, with boys and girls rooms either side of staff lodgings.)

405. Premises of New London Brewery Co Ltd, extensively changed when taken over by Marmite in 1927. Closed 1967, used on and off as St. Mungo hostel. Latest (2/82) info is proposal to rehabilitate part as workshops. Photo of yard taken 1978.

406. Assuming that entertainment really IS part of IA, the vestry of St Peter's church, to to the R. of the church, is of interest. This was the house of the Manager of Vauxhall gardens,the pleasure gardens for the gentry which became a bit non-genteel before closing in 1859. Church (1864, designed John Pearson, painted interior) needed vestry and utilised existing property.

407. Vauxhall Street, SE11. Factories of c.1910. The nearest, No. 152-164, was a bootmaker's, the furthest, 166-170, the factory of W.E. Gayler, Piano maker. In the 1960s and '70s both were used as one unit by Englehard, metal refiners. Presently used as a printing works.

408. Gasholder Place, ending with a holder of the Phoenix Gas Co. which had its works to the SW of Vauxhall Br. Note phoenix cast into metalwork.

409. Imperial Court, Kennington Lane SW11. An imposing pile built as a school by Licensed Victuallers' Association 1836, with swimming pool/drill hall added in 1890, for 'the children of decayed Licensed Victuallers' who are fed, clothed & educated' — from the Morning Advertiser reporter, a then insightful Charles Dickens. NAAFI moved in when kids moved to Slough 1921. See 'Service to the Services' (NAAFI, 1972).

410. Montford Place SE11 gin distillery of James Burroughs started life more sedately but still in the business of getting pickled; the main red brick building with the legend 'Established 1820' is the former works of Hayward's pickles. (However, I have been unable to trace the firm back to before 1850).

411. Victoria & Albert Model Dwellings, Kennington Park. Originally erected at Knightsbridge Barracks in conjunction with the Great Exhibition in 1851, model dwellings commissioned by Prince Albert in his role as President of the Society for improving the Conditions of the Working Classes. Designed to be healthy, but also innovations — no wood used in the construction (ceiling & roof arches brick, floors concrete) and larger than normal hollow bricks. In effect predecessor of Peabody-type flats. Originally four dwellings.

412. Church of England Children's Society HQ. Vestry Hall, built 1853, surplus when Brixton town hall completed 1908.

413. Kennington Cross. Underground 'gents', 10 urinal 'stalls' and one fish-tank cistern above (a second was smashed by vandals c.three years ago). Photo taken 1975.
Above, one of the Metropolitan Cattle & Drinking Trough Association horse troughs, disused. Note low-level trough for shorter creatures.
(Opposite, in Kennington Lane, is Durning Library, a rather exotic, or ugly, depending on taste, pile of 1889.)

414. Renfrew Rd. SE11 Former fire station, c.1910 — note look-out tower above. Next door is Magistrates Court of 1869 — a sharp contrast with the County Court in Cleaver St (1928).

415. Lambeth Hospital, Renfrew St. A large rambling site, closed as a hospital in 1977. Built 1872. Some bits to be included in development of the site.

The sites end in Renfrew Road not only because the Borough boundary is close, but also because the Court Tavern, a Shepherd Neame pub, is here.

For anyone with time to spare, a deviation into the Duchy of Cornwall estate, opposite Imperial Court, is recommended.

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Lambeth — Brixton additions

Sue Hayton has very kindly sent some notes:

373. Astoria Cinema. Edward STONE (not Store); interior by Ewen Barr & T.R. Somerford. The latter was designer of the Temperance Billiard Halls — see site 385. The cinema's proscenium arch was in the shape of the Rialto Bridge. Opening publicity called it 'an acre of seats in a garden of dreams'.

382. Empress — most dates from 1931 rebuild of 18-98 Wylson & Long Theatre. Cinema c.1958.

389. 103 Brixton Hill. Originally Fyke's Cinematograph Theatre, later the Clifton and New Royalty. Open from about 1910 to 1957.

The Blackheath hole

Alas, the most likely explanation for this is mundane. In the report (GLIAS Newsletter December 1981) I did not mention the smell — rather like creosote. This in turn is also similar to chemical used for 'bucket' toilets, i.e. emptied elsewhere, not flushed. We conclude that it was associated with the caravan, park at the site and probably where contents of toilets were tipped, to be cleared away by tanker as needed. Next time we find one, someone else can volunteer to investigate! David Thomas

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© GLIAS, 1982