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Notes and news — December 1982

In this issue:

Waiting for the Clapham Omnibus

The Clapham Society's July Newsletter gives the news that funds have been arranged to restore a wooden former tram, later bus, shelter of 1920s vintage. This was built for the LCC and is situated in Long Road, Clapham Common, SW4. A former tram shelter was eventually removed from Woolwich only a few years ago and the bus shelter at Crystal Palace has a time-worn appearance. Can members say if further aged shelters survive elsewhere?

Wooden roadways

At the possible expense of getting a "flea in my ear" I would like to draw to David Thomas's attention (GLIAS Newsletter October 1982) that Lombard Street (City) was, until sometime in the 1950s, paved with rubber blocks (non-skid). I understand that the various banks in the street paid for this operation in order to deaden the traffic noise. I do not know when they were laid. I can remember the blocks well, as I worked in the City 1947-62. Gordon Thomerson

Gloucester Docks

The big development scheme there is planned to include a national waterways museum in addition to houses, workshops, etc. Philip Daniell

VIC 56

At the kind invitation of Henry Cleary, on Saturday 18th October 1982 a GLIAS party set out in almost authentic Scottish weather aboard the SS VIC 56 and sailed from the Greenland Entrance nearly as far as the Thames Barrier before returning. It was a hard struggle back against a strong tide but after the expenditure of much coal we did finally make it, the round trip lasting about 4-5 hours. At Greenwich we were not able to berth and could only wave to Elizabeth Wood and friends on the sailing barge "Xylonite" as we passed. Back at the Greenland Entrance berthing was difficult owing to low water and the wind which made manoeuvring tricky — VIC 56 was lightly laden and presented a large freeboard. On disembarking plucky wee Barbara Hayton was assisted up the jetty tied to a rope made fast by a bowline knot in the approved fashion (she seemed to enjoy it).

VIC 56 was built by Pollocks at Faversham in 1945 and is a steam lighter? VIC stands for victualing inshore craft (a Royal Navy abbreviation). The wartime VICs were a development of the Clyde "puffers" and VIC 56 is an example of the later series of enlarged VICs (too big to go through the Crinan Canal). GLIAS readers may recall that VIC 32 (one of the earlier series which was herself in London a few years ago) runs holiday cruises in the Scottish Highlands which are highly recommended by Dave and Olly Perrett. Of fairly low power, VICs give almost silent travel and from the forecastle one hears little besides the ripple of water under the forefoot. Power is provided by a double-expansion vertical steam engine, VIC 56 has a coal-fired range in the galley for cooking which burns clinker from the main boiler and during the cruise we were provided with mugs of tea. In the forecastle accommodation a coal stove, again burning re-cycled fuel, helped to make a very pleasant occasional retreat from the elements. The sailing barges which should have been on show at Greenwich were prevented from reaching the Thames by storms, but Elizabeth managed to obtain "Xylonite" as a substitute. Berthed near VIC 56 at the Greenland Entrance is the steam tug "Torque" which belongs to the Treloar brothers and it is hoped to arrange a visit to see her in the near future, hopefully she will be in steam. Bob Carr

East Midlands Industrial Archaeology Conference, 23rd October 1982

At the AIA Conference I saw a programme for the above conference to be held at Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham and hosted by the Railway & Canal Historical Society. The theme was the development of transport between Nottingham and Grantham across the Vale of Belvoir. As well as the industrial archaeology, this conference interested me for two reasons: firstly the venue of Harlaxton Manor which is an outstanding example of early Victorian architecture in the Jacobean style. Now used as the European campus of the University of Evansville, USA, the building is not normally open to the public. Secondly, the Vale of Belvoir was the home of my ancestors in the 18th and 19th centuries; in fact my great-great grandmother and her family were born in the village of Harlaxton. So here was an opportunity to combine IA with family history and my wife and I decided to spend the weekend in the area staying at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire (famous for pork pies, Stilton cheese and fox hunting).

Harlaxton Manor proved to be even more magnificently vulgar than expected, appearing as we approached, like a fairy tale castle out of the morning mist. The conference was held in the Long Gallery with exhibitions in the Great Hall and the Golden Room, all extravagantly decorated and linked by a cedar wood staircase rising through two storeys. The college principal, who welcomed the delegates, suggested that the manor's builder had intended to outdo the Duke of Rutland whose Belvoir Castle, also mainly a 19th century building, stands on high ground about 5 miles away.

The conference commenced with a talk by Kenneth Cheetham on the Grantham Canal. Opened in 1790, this canal linked that town and numerous intervening villages with the River Trent at Nottingham. All the usual problems of disputes with landowners, principally the Duke of Rutland, shortage of top water, leaking embankments, etc., beset the builders and operators, but a viable route was established to bring coals and materials eastwards, while farm produce returned to the growing industrial communities of the Notts. & Derby coalfield. The canal was superseded by a railway and was abandoned in the 1930s.

The railway formed the subject of the second speaker, Jack Cupit. An ambitious scheme to link Manchester with the east coast was promoted as the "Ambergate, Nottingham and Boston and Eastern Junction Railway". Only the centre portion was built between Nottingham and Grantham and opened in 1850 and even this portion needed running rights over the Midland Railway for the last 3 miles into Nottingham. After some 10 years, the company was taken over by the Great Northern Railway, whose main line now passed through Grantham and that railway built its own terminus in Nottingham. Later the GNR extended its line to Derby (Friargate) and Stafford.

After a good lunch and a business meeting in the afternoon, Neil Cossons of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum gave a lively talk on "IA Conservation and Interpretation". He showed examples of good and bad conservation and emphasised that the great amount of artefacts and sites now available needed careful consideration to ensure that the best representative sample was retained. The conference concluded with a discussion on various facets of IA in the East Midlands, particularly the fate of the 1819 terminus building of the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway and the adjacent Midland Railway station in Mansfield, Notts which are threatened by re-development.

In the family history field we made a few discoveries at the Leicester Record Office and from tombstones at Harlaxton and Eaton, Leics, however attempts to see and record former residences of my family were unsuccessful. The desirable workmen's villas of the. late 19th century in Leicester and Nottingham had succumbed to slum clearance and re-development. At Langley Mill, Derbys only a back garden wall with attached privies remained; perhaps I have seen at least one family seat!

We also visited the previously mentioned terminus of the GNR in Nottingham which lies within a waterways complex and is now a parcels office and at Mansfield, the group of railway stations and ancillary buildings were well worth seeing. All industrial archaeologists should campaign for the retention of the 1819 building which is claimed to be the oldest railway terminus in Britain. Derek Needham

Stone tramways

Thanks to Bet Parker, Diana Willment and David Thomas for supplying information about the location of several sections of stone tramway in London — far too many to list here.

To recap, a stone tramway (also known as a stoneway, granite tramway, stone tramroad, cartway and aisler causeway) is a section of paved roadway with two parallel lines of large granite slabs, usually about 2 feet wide and anything up to 6 feet or more long, with a horse path of conventional setts between them. They are said to allow a horse to pull a heavier load, particularly uphill and to help in starting a heavy load from rest. They are often found in entries to industrial premises but can also be found in public streets. Sometimes the large slabs are laid against the kerb, as in narrow streets and alleys, but elsewhere they are laid in the centre' of a wider section of paved roadway.

Stone tramways were popular at the beginning of the 19th century, major examples being the Commercial Road Stoneway (1830) in London and a stretch between Towcester and Weedon on the Holyhead Road (1837). Some surviving London examples were given in GLIAS Newsletter December 1981. Others are in Mill Yard, off Cable Street; in several entries around St. John Street, Charterhouse Square and Cowcross Street; on Hoe Street and Tower Mews, off the High St. Walthamstow; Ferry Lane, Brentford and at the Steam Museum, Kew Bridge. Sometimes flat plates of cast iron were used instead of granite blocks, as across Westminster Bridge. Does anyone have any information about this?

The Haytor granite tramway in Devon, mentioned by Philip Daniell (GLIAS Newsletter February 1982), was rather different as the granite blocks were specially dressed with a flange, like a cast-iron platerail, to offer guidance to the vehicles.

Gas lighting

Emergency gas lighting (GLIAS Newsletter October 1982) seems to be fairly common in London. Brian Sturt tells me that some of this has been put in quite recently, say in the last ten years or so. Caxton Hall has gas lamps in the corridors and the Wigmore Hall has a pair of gas lights either side of the platform. The latter are noticeably greener than the tungsten electric lamps. Some cinemas also use gas lights. John Parker has also visited the Woolworth's at the World's End and reports that it still has its traditional emergency gas lamps with wire mesh globes. Are the latter worth the attention of the GLIAS Recording Group? Street lighting by gas is to be found in the Downing Street/St James Park area of Westminster (connected perhaps with the Houses of Parliament?) and of course there is the famous sewer gas lamp by the Savoy Hotel (GLIAS Newsletter January 1975). Bob Carr

Camberwell stables

Three visits have so far been made by the Recording Group to the former Carter Paterson Depot in Hopewell Street, Camberwell Green (GLIAS Newsletter August 1982).

The premises are now used by the specialist firm Wallis's Builders as a store and we have had a great deal of co-operation from the manager who lives on the site during the week and has given us access on week-day evenings. He has also shown us such interesting items as a gilded section of the ceiling of the House of Lords, now being renovated by Wallis's.

The Depot consisted of an almost square, two-storey building with one entrance to a cobbled central courtyard, having all the enclosed areas facing the courtyard. Opposite the entrance was a range of three stables with blacksmith's workshop and forge at ground floor level and three stables above at first floor level.. The left hand range of buildings had storage, office and workshop spaces at ground level and a stable for sick horses with small store room above. We eventually decided that the ramp giving access to the first floor for horses had originally been against the right hand wall. The remaining range of buildings, which included the entrance with a small office next to it, had storage space for wagons at ground level and a carpenter's store and workshop and self-contained flat on the first floor. The scullery of this flat was next to the stable for sick horses with a communicating door which facilitated their care by the occupant whose job this would have been. The flat has its own front door to the street close to the main entrance and the present occupant, who has lived in the area all her life, has been able to give us valuable information about the site from the 1930s when it was used by a jam manufacturer.

Inevitably a number of alterations, mainly additions, have been made to the buildings, but it is still easy to trace most of the original structure and infer its former usage. It is an interesting site and worth careful recording although it is not under threat as far as is known. There is a great deal of work still to be done and we hope that when recording is resumed in the Spring GLIAS members will come along and help. Please watch for the dates which will be published in the newsletter. Diana Willment


West Ham beam engines

West Ham pumping station was built to raise West Ham sewage to the level of Sir Joseph Bazalgette's Northern Outfall sewer (1864) along which it could then flow under gravity to Beckton works for treatment. Work started in 1897 and by c.1900 the station was completed, originally as a combined pumping and electric power station? Subsequent growth in the demand for electricity meant a separate power station had to be built elsewhere. Now only two Lilleshall beam engines remain — a tight fit in their modest engine house.

The pair of Woolf compound rotative beam pumping engines at West Ham are double acting and developed 240 hp at 120 psi steam pressure. Their maximum speed was 12rpm but usual running speed was 8-10 rpm. The high pressure cylinders have a bore of 30in with a stroke of 4ft 9 11/16" while the low pressure cylinders are of 48in bore with a 7ft 6in stroke. The engines are interesting in that they are fitted with Meyer slide valves. These have a travel of 8in and are fitted to both high and low pressure cylinders. These double slide valves were invented in 1842 by Dean Jaques Meyer, of Mulhouse in France and enable the cut-off point to be varied independently of the other valve even while the engine is running. (For details of the valve gear see the DALISY bulletin 4, No.1, pp 4-9).


The double web cast iron beams of the two engines are each of about 17 tons in weight and are 28ft long. They were cast in 1895. The engines, built by the Lilleshall Co, Ltd, of Oakengates, Shropshire, have a plate on the cylinders giving a date of 1900. The nine spoked flywheels are somewhat unusual in being cast in three segments and are 22ft in diameter, weighing about 20 tons. Barring was by hand or steam, the barring engine being of the inverted vertical duplex type. The engines drive bucket pumps with, a bore of 5ft 3ins, the stroke being the same as that for the high pressure cylinder: one pump is connected to the high pressure piston tailrod while the other is directly coupled to the beam. Each stroke lifted 600 gallons ie. 1,200 gallons per revolution of the engine, to a 20ft head.

The condensers are of the surface type and are situated in the Sewage discharge main. They contain 143 four inch diameter tubes through which the cooling medium, sewage, flowed. The arrangement gave operational difficulties due to blockages with resultant flooding so that frequent cleaning of the tubes was necessary. The nine Lancashire boilers, 30ft long by 7ft 6in diameter, have been removed and the house is now used as a store. They were coal fired, mechanical stoking being employed latterly. A small Bellis & Morcom steam engine which used to drive a coal conveyor was dismantled soon after closure of the steam plant in 1972 and together with plans is in the keeping of the Passmore Edwards Museum, London E15.

The last beam engine to run was number 2 which ceased operation at 12.00 noon on 10th January 1972. There were plans to remove the engines for preservation, but local objections that Newham was losing its heritage prevented this. With the present economic recession in mind it now seems unlikely that the West Ham beam engines will be the subject of a preservation scheme, especially as beam engines are preserved elsewhere in London, notably at Kew Bridge, but there is still hope. When the West Ham pumping station closed it contained, in addition to the beam engines, three inverted vertical compound steam engines with open cranks driving centrifugal pumps for discharging storm water into the river. These had cylinders of 20 and 33 ins bore and a stroke of 24in and were built by John Cochrane & Co, Barrhead, in 1900. They were removed in 1974, two were scrapped but the third went to the London Giving Dock Co. at Tilbury for preservation and may still be in existence. Does anyone know its whereabouts? Bob Carr

Croydon Airport

Croydon Airport is in the former County of Surrey about 20 miles S of London. Near the Propeller public house on Purley Way is the Croydon Airport Industrial Estate, but as Imperial Way is crossed the next building is the Aerodrome Hotel — a three-storey structure with a Georgian style façade. Next door is Airport House built in concrete treated to look like stone. There are two wings connected by walkways. The central portion is the reception area which on the airport side is surmounted by the famous control tower (four storeys). Another building which survives is the Imperial Airway hangar (c.1927) with its sliding doors (Whiteheads storage) and an eight-sided Admin building behind. Part of the concrete runway is also visible but across the main road is now a large green open space where the grass strip was located.

Of the several aerodromes which have been taken under the umbrella of aircraft museums including Duxford, Cambridgeshire (Imperial War Museum), Southend Airport (Historic Aviation Collection) it is surprising that no move has been made to establish a presence at Croydon. Manchester Ringway has its Alcock and Brown memorials and may display a Dakota DC3 by popular demand in the near future. Let us hope it is a case of "What Manchester thinks .......... David George

Well, you cheeky Mancunian, I found the answer in the evening paper the other day:

'The main ticket hall and control tower of the disused Croydon Airport are to be turned into a museum of civil aviation, history in a scheme funded by Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance.'

Early tunnelling in clay

The Monthly Magazine for November 1812 states that 'The new sewer now excavating, in Hyde Park is one of the greatest works of the kind ever attempted in this country. It is intended for a drain to the numerous streets now built in the neighbourhood of Paddington and will empty itself into the great sewer which enters the Thames at Millbank. In consequence of the height of the ground in Hyde Park, it became necessary in order to insure a sufficient fall to this new sewer, to dig to a very great depths and its formation is carried on by the laborious and expensive process of tunnelling. Pits are sunk at the distance of every seventy yards and the excavations are conducted in a way similar to those in a coal mine. The stratum of clay through which the sewer passes is favourable to the process of excavation and is similar to that which was thrown up in the formation of the Highgate Archway, which so suddenly failed on nearly arriving at completion. The gravel pits in Hyde Park are filling up with the clay dug from the tunnel.' Is the tunnel, of the order of two miles in length, still in existence? Is anything further known about how and by whom it was made?

The reference to the failure at Highgate Archway concerns an even earlier tunnel through the London Clay, made in 1808-9 where 'the new by-pass road was carried on by a tunnel through the hill for a distance of about three hundred yards. This great undertaking was completed in the latter part of 1809 and the tunnel, 24 feet high and 22 feet wide, was arched with brick, but on the morning of 13 April 1812 some of the brickwork gave way. About noon the ground above the tunnel was seen to crack and settle and during that and the following day the whole arch, which had been carried for a distance of 130 yards, fell in. Not a single person was injured, although on the preceding Sunday several hundred people had visited the works out of curiosity.' I am indebted to Stephen Croad of the National Monuments Record for this reference (from H.P. Clunn's The Face of London, 1951) in response to my enquiry in the AIA Bulletin about early road tunnels. Although not the earliest constructed, that of 1823 at Reigate (through sand) still has a claim to be England's earliest surviving road tunnel, as the collapsed one at Highgate was widened out to an open cutting, Hornsey Lane being carried over by the famous archway.

Although extensive and deep tunnelling, with or without working shafts, was by this time a well-established technique in mines and canals in the hillier parts of Britain the development of tunnelling techniques in the softer and more mobile rocks of the SE called for the development of new skills. Were these London and SE tunnels the work of contractors who already had tunnelling experience in more favourable rocks further north and west?

Between 1807 and 1909 the civil engineering contracting partnership of William John Jolliffe and Edward Banks (1807-32) (GLIAS Newsletter August 1982) was responsible for the making of an ambitious drainage adit for an underground stone quarry at Merstham in Surrey. Although tantalizingly little is recorded about this structure, it appears to have been of the order of 500 or so yards long, made inclined gently upwards through Gault Clay without so far as is known any intermediate working shafts, so as to de-water a flooded underground quarry. Joliffe's training was as a curate, but Banks was a Yorkshireman with considerable civil engineering experience behind him by this date, who had been concerned amongst other works with the 3¼ mile Marsden tunnel under Standedge. Interestingly, the partnership undertook some work, believed to be trial borings in the river bed for Marc Brunel in connection with the making of his Thames Tunnel in 1824-42 (the contract was worth £486). Whether the 'North Hyde Works' (for £931) for which they are also known to have been responsible had any connection with the Hyde Park Sewer is not known. Paul Sowan

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Brent

Rail Transport

The suburban "New Lines" stations, opened in 1912 are, in many places, almost as built:

416 QUEENS PARK, Salisbury Road, NW6 TQ 245 832
Two island platforms to serve four tracks with all-over roof. Terminus of Bakerloo line with carriage sheds both east and west of station.

417 KENSAL GREEN, College Road, NW10 TQ 232 827

418 WILLESDEN JUNCTION, Old Oak Lane, NW10 TQ 218 829
Actually in L.B. of Hammersmith but included here for completeness. Low level LNWR station much as built including Willesden Low Level Junction Signal box. High Level NLR station has been modernised. At south end of platform's is Willesden High Level Junction Signal Box.

419 HARLESDEN, Acton Lane, NW10 TQ 209 834

420 STONEBRIDGE PARK, North Circular Road, NW10 TQ 196 842
Platforms partly modernised.

421 WEMBLEY CENTRAL, High Road, Wembley TQ 182 850
Rebuilt in 1960s 28 NORTH WEMBLEY, East Lane, Wembley (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979)

422 SOUTH KENTON, Windermere Grove/The Link, Wembley TQ 174 870
Opened in 1933 to serve a rapidly growing residential area — an interesting example of a wayside suburban station fitted into a restricted site.

423 KENTON, Kenton Road, Harrow TQ 167 883

424 BRENT VALLEY BRIDGES, North Circular Road, NW10 TQ 196 840
Impressive series of brick bridges taking ex-LNWR/LMSR across the Brent Valley. Most southerly bridge is believed to be original London & Birmingham Railway structure opened in 1837.

425 COAL OFFICES, Coventry Close, NW6 TQ 254 836
Three typical Victorian coal offices remain (Kilburn High Road Station).

North London Railway

Some two miles of the NLR are in the borough between Brondesbury and Willesden Junction. The stations were all rebuilt by the LNWR in similar style to their own stations in 1911-16. The platforms are now reduced to shelters but the booking offices remain.

426 BRONDESBURY, Kilburn High Road, NW6 TQ 247 844

427 BRONDESBURY PARK, Brondesbury, Park NW6 TQ 242 838

428 KENSAL RISE, Chamberlayne Road, NW10 TQ 235 832

Visible from High Street, NW10 near junction with Scrubbs Lane.

Metropolitan Railway

430 BRIDGE COMPLEX, Christchurch Avenue / Kilburn High Road, NW6 TQ 246 846
Bowstring girder bridges. The oldest remaining are the most southerly, built by Metropolitan Railway in 1898 for exclusive use of Great Central Railway. The middle, modern pair are on the original site of the first bridges of 1879 which were replaced in 1977. The most northerly bridge was opened in 1914 as part of the four-tracking programme of the Metropolitan Railway whose name is cast in the parapet. Listed as of architectural/historical interest.

431 MANAGERS HOUSING, Neasden Lane, NW10 TQ 207 863
Fronting on to Neasden Lane between Quainton and Verney Streets of the MR's workers' housing estate (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979, item 47) is a three-storey terrace block built for the company's managers. The shop fronts are more modern.

Bill Firth

(More of BILL FIRTH's Brent Transport Gazetteer will be in (Newsletter 84)

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© GLIAS, 1982