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Notes and news — June 1983

In this issue:

Steam news

On the night of 24 March a small group of enthusiasts, mainly GLIAS members, witnessed the last 'true' working of a reciprocating steam engine on a public utility in Britain. At 10pm precisely after two days of pumping the 1910 Worthington-Simpson engine at Waddon Pumping Station, Croydon, stopped. Only one Cornish boiler was still being hand fired, the others were dismantled. That was the last real working although Thames Water are having an official shutdown on 23 June.

In the week before Waddon closed the first engine was removed from the other Croydon station at Addington Well. This station closed down in the presence of thousands of visitors on 29 June 1975 and the two A-frame beam engines have been on offer to any suitably interested parties since a public inquiry rejected their scrapping. The engine removed in March was the 1893 Glenfield & Kennedy, Woolf-compound rotative engine, it has gone to Strumpshaw Hall in Norfolk. Dave Perrett


On 7 May a small but select group of GLIAS members visited the Woolwich Granada, now a Bingo hall. Despite its plain exterior, in International Modern style by Masey & Uren, the interior in splendid Venetian Gothic impressed even Bob Carr by its magnificence. This was typical of the Granada chain which went out of its way to transport the patron into a luxurious worl when he entered their 'atmospheric' cinema. Theodore Komisarjevsky, a Russian theatre designer was responsible for the Granada interiors, beginning in 1930 with the Granada Dover and eliding in 1937 with North Cheam (demolished), Clapham Junction (closed) and Woolwich (Bingo).

The Woolwich building is listed Grade II and despite the removal of seats from the auditorium (1966) is still most impressive. The entrance hall in an intermediate style between modern and Renaissance leads to the stall and by a double flight stair to the circle lobby which is similar to Tooting and is in a Moorish style, 'Hall of Mirrors' Tooting is thought to be more impressive — not least because there was more money available. The Venetian Gothic auditorium is also similar. The side walls are dominated by huge doorways with Romanesque arches topped with Gothic pointed canopies. The mixture of styles is quite deliberate to heighten the exotic effect.

Our group was well looked after even though we weren't about to play Bingo and the Manager presented us with booklets, which had been recently discovered in a cupboard, published to commemorate the opening and to welcome patrons to '2 acres of dreams'. It was sad to see the Woolwich Odeon on the other side of John Wilson Street, also listed Grade II, but closed. It has a most impressive exterior in faience tile in flowing Art Deco with Egyptian motifs. Completed in 1937 it was designed by George Coles for Oscar Deutsch's chain of Odeons. Sue Hayton

GLIAS accounts 1982-3

For those of you unable to get to the AGM and receive the accounts from the insistent hands of my daughter here is a brief extract. The main event of the year was the AIA Conference which will not appear in the books until next year; however we did not make a loss! The reduced income from subscriptions and increased costs only gave us a surplus on paper of ₤111 and left the General Fund at ₤2,056 which, along with £75 in subs for 83-4 was balanced by ₤1,205 cash at the bank and £881 in publications. Any member who would like a copy of the accounts may send an SAE to the Treasurer. The increased subscription should enable the Society to meet its basic running costs of newsletter and journal out of its annual income. Danny Hayton

Activities (and products) captured in architecture. Part 2 — Food

Part 1 of this series appeared in the April Newsletter; this deals with food and the next will cover all other activities. For completeness, there will be two further parts, for general scenes and finally a round-up of items notified too late to include in respective sections. Members who know of buildings which have as a feature of their design scenes or products, particularly in suburban areas, are asked to let DAVID THOMAS know at 36 Pearman Street, SE1 7RB. Bill Firth, Phil Philo, Chris Rule, Tim Smith, Robert & Jill Vickers, Bet & John Parker, Peter Skilton, are all thanked for their suggestions.

The main food markets and exchanges are obvious sites, although so far none have been identified in the Covent Garden, Borough, Caledonian or Deptford (cattle) market areas. Surely somewhere there must be vegetables, beer barrels or bars of chocolate 'captured'!

1. Billingsgate (old) fish market, Lower Thames Street, EC3. Various fish squirm on grilles above doorways.

Billingsgate (old) fish market, Lower Thames Street, EC3 © Robert Mason 2022

2. Spitalfields Market. The older sections, 1891-3, along Commercial Street, E1 have on Lamb Street a bowl of fruit and figures doing agricultural things.

3. Hop Exchange, 21 Southwark Street, SE1. Hop vines entwine on the main entrance gates and in the pediment above a group pick and bag hops, (initials in monogram are H & M E — hop & malt exchange).

Hop Exchange, 21 Southwark Street, SE1 © Robert Mason 2014 Hop Exchange, 21 Southwark Street, SE1 © Robert Mason 2014

4. Corn Exchange, 58 Mark Lane, EC3. A few disappointing sheaves high up in balcony rail.

5. Friern Manor Dairy Farm Ltd, 1 Crouch Hill, N4. Former cattlehouse with scenes of milk production and distribution of c.1900. Well worth seeing (>>>).

6. 46 (old) Church Street, SW3. Former dairy of W & T Wright, est. 1796; present building 1908. Two large brown heads loom out of the walls; also nice tiles showing 'The mower whets his scythe' in doorway.

46 Old Church Street, Dairy cow 'Ye early mower whets his scythe'

7. Corner Great West Road/Syon Lane, Brentford. Former Isleworth Winery, 1928 with vat design in concrete. (See 'The Golden Mile' below).

8. Vintry House, Queen Street Place, EC4. A nude seeks warmth from grape vines.

9. 23 Britton Street EC1. Several agricultural scenes which appear to culminate in milk, but I've read that they are re-located here from Booth's gin distillery. (>>>)

23 Britton Street EC1, re-located from Booth's gin distillery. © Robert Mason 2016

10. 12/13 Widegate Street, E1 (a narrow passage off Middlesex Street). Sandrock & Nordheim's bakery has scenes of bread making, 1926.

12/13 Widegate Street. © Robert Mason 2019

11. 60 Buckingham Gate, SW1. The bakery erected c.1887 for W. Hill & Co. has been demolished, but four tablets of agricultural scenes have been incorporated in the new development.

12. Blackfriars Lane, EC4. Railway arches once occupied by Spiers & Pond, catering contractors, have a hog's head, pineapple, etc.

13. 16 Southwark Bridge Road, SE1. Above the entrance to Oxo's factory lowers a horned bovine head. Similar features adorn the nearby HQ of Brooke Bond Liebig at the N end of the bridge at Thomas House, Upper Thames Street, EC4.

14. 51 Charterhouse Street, EC4. London Central Markets Cold Storage Co. Ltd. has a large heart shape, with truncated veins, in brown, on its premises. (Can any member advise when this and the adjacent PLA cold store ceased to be used?)

51 Charterhouse Street, EC4. © Robert Mason 2016

15. 79-83 Charterhouse Street, EC4. Offices associated with Smithfield have cows and sheep.

79-83 Charterhouse Street, EC4. © Robert Mason 2016

16. Allsop Place, NW1. The London Transport Catering Training Centre has a plaque of Diana with a bowl of fruit. 1950.

17. 67 Borough High Street, SE1. W.H. & H. Le May, Hop Factors, adorned the façade of their premises with hop pickers; further hops appear over rear doorways. A few other buildings in the area have hop designs in more subtle forms.

W.H. & H. Le May, Hop Factors. © Robert Mason 2022

18. 20 Creechurch Lane, EC2. Offices & shop of Phillip Phillips & Co fruit merchants have tropical fruit adornments in the brick. Their telegraphic address was 'Cokernut' c.1892.

19. 20 Eastcheap, EC3. Camels are led across the front of what is signed as the Midland Bank, but was built for Peek Bros, tea, fruit and spice dealers.

20. 30 Fenchurch Street, EC3. Plantation House, a massive office block, continues to house a number of tea and rubber companies. Above the main doorway are a delicate teapot, two cups and some tea bush branches.

21. Harrods Department Store, Knightsbridge, SW1 has a number of tiled scenes of delicacies in the Food Hall.

Harrods Food Hall © Jenny Meyers 2013 Harrods Food Hall © Jenny Meyers 2013

22. A mystery: 23-5 Eastcheap, EC3 has dogs and hogs heads in a frieze, but the premises were occupied from building by Hunt & Crombie, wholesale spice dealers. Is this a corny pun on the name Hunt? Dates from c.1865.

23. Bad taste, but not food — TV AM have converted the former Henly's garage, Hawley Street, NW1, as their offices and studios and have installed bright blue & yellow eggcup designs along the rear of their premises which back onto the Regent's Canal.

Former TV-AM offices

24. Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, EC3. Two weatherbeaten pheasants perch far above the entrance.

The Golden Mile — The Great West Road and its industries

This folded large sheet, printed both sides, is an excellent introduction and description of the industrial buildings which clustered along a mile of this main road, opened in 1925. A sketch map shows the location of each and text gives original use, architect and description. I enjoyed using it as a guide whilst on a Sunday morning stroll; pity that even then the traffic on this road and, for part of the way on the overhead motorway, is so heavy. The publication was produced by Gunnersbury Park Museum in 1982 and can be obtained from them or from TOM SMITH, 74 Lord Warwick Street, Woolwich, SE18 5QD, for 35p plus postage. P.S. Not mentioned, but worth noting, are former sewer lamps, all Webb's Patent. David Thomas

District heating

While in Paris a couple of years ago I came across a hole in the road with a notice next to it proclaiming it to be the work of the Compagnie Parisienne de Chauffage Urbain. There was a map showing an extensive network of pipes around the centre of Paris and a potted history of the system. Apparently the company was granted a concession to distribute heat (chaleur) in Paris in 1927. An accompanying photograph showed 'l'ancienne usine de Bercy; which resembled an electricity generating station. Whether or not electricity was also generated there and what form the heat took, steam or hot water, I do not know. The only similar system I know of in London was that at Battersea Power Station which supplied waste heat to the housing estate in Pimlico. Is this now defunct? And were there any other similar schemes in London? Tim Smith

(A notice on the side of Battersea PS says a new district heating scheme is being built there for the Pimlico estate, visible from railway. Ed.)

Last word on the Radio Times?

The practically complete run of RT in Goldsmiths' College Library enables me to correct the date of Vol.1, No.1 to 28 September 1923 and specify that the price per issue remained 2d until Vol.110, No.1425, 2 March 1951, after which the swingeing 50% price increase was introduced. Mike Taylor

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology

Item 455 (GLIAS Newsletter February 1983)
There is some confusion here between two different aircraft companies. The Kilburn Polytechnic Annexe in Edgware Road (208 896 on my map) is the former headquarters of the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd, formed by George Holt Thomas early in 1912. Originally they built Farman designs under licence from the French Company, but in June 1914 they hired Geoffrey de Havilland as chief designer and thereafter built aircraft known as De Havilland DH1, DH2 etc. The office building dates, I think, from about 1914 when Holt Thomas embarked on a big expansion. There was a further expansion to meet large increases in War Office orders about 1917, which is probably represented by the block of factory buildings on the N side of Grove Park (not Grove Road) at 206 897. There is another block of slightly different buildings N of these (204 898) which may also be part of the Airco plant, but were probably a different company. All Airco's flying was done from Hendon aerodrome, where they had some hangars.

In 1919, Holt Thomas's company virtually collapsed — it was taken over by BSA who stopped all aircraft manufacture. De Havilland managed to get financial support to start a new company — the De Havilland Aircraft Co. Ltd — on a much smaller scale and they started a new factory at Stag Lane aerodrome (197 903). Initially they rented the aerodrome from the small company, London & Provincial Aviation Co, who had opened it as a Flying School in 1914 and had continued operations during the war but ceased flying in 1919. L & P had a number of wooden sheds, which were taken over by the De Havilland company in 1920. One of these huts became the office of the new company and is proudly preserved today as a company museum at the British Aerospace (formerly De Havilland) factory at Hatfield (214 087). The De Havilland Company flourished at Stag Lane and most of the later factory buildings still survive. The aircraft manufacturing side progressively moved to Hatfield after 1930s the airfield closed in January 1934, but aero-engine manufacture continued (latterly as the De Havilland Engine Co Ltd) until about 1954. There were other aircraft manufacturers in the area, notably Grahame-White at Hendon, but that is another story. J.A. Bagley

Mouth of Bow Creek/Blackwall Area (cont.)

466. RENNIE IRON BRIDGE The abutments of the Rennie Bridge may still be seen. They are situated between the Pipe Bridge and the former railway bridge.

467. Apart from the modern road bridge which carries East India Dock Road across Bow Creek there are two other bridges to the S. At TQ 391 813 there is a PIPE BRIDGE of inverted bowstring construction thought to date from the last quarter of the 19th century, which probably carries a sewer. S of this, again

468. at TQ 391 812 are the remains of a RAILWAY BRIDGE. The Eastern Counties & Thames Junction Railway built a branch off their line (from Stratford to the mouth of the River Lea) to the pepper warehouse of the East India Docks. The Act for this (single track?) branch across Bow Creek was obtained in 1846. Although venerable in appearance the present bowstring bridge is unlikely to predate 1860. The terminus of the Eastern Counties & Thames Junction Railway's main line was on the E side of the mouth of Bow Creek at what became known as

469. THAMES WHARF (TQ 396 805) where there was a pier and coke ovens to convert seaborne coal into fuel for railway locomotives. The Eastern Counties Railway purchased the Eastern Counties & Thames Junction Railway and the line from Stratford was extended from a junction about 500 yards N of Thames Wharf the 2-| miles to N. Woolwich (the so-called 'North Woolwich Extension').

470. D.D. PRIOR (TRANSPORT) LTD DEPOT TQ 390 810 Wharf etc. for the fleet of sand carrying ships belonging to the firm of J.J. Prior Ltd. Some of these small motor vessels date from 1915 and may be seen on the Thames up-river. Most of the fleet have names ending in 'P' such as 'Sidney P'.

471. BOW CREEK EMBANKMENT WORKS TQ 395 810 and environs
The meanders of the River Lea by its mouth are contained by fairly elaborate embankment works constructed in the 1930s as part of a scheme to provide employment during the slump. The Rennie iron-bridge was presumably removed as part of these works. A large floodgate has been ejected at TQ 393 813 as part of the Thames Barrier scheme.

472. ORCHARD DRY DOCK remains TQ 394 807
This dry dock has been filled in, but the caisson remains and is a noticeable feature from the river with a painted advertisement for the Orchard Dry Dock Company and pre-all-figure telephone number. The dry dock is thought to date from the last quarter of the 19th century.

Bob Carr

Bob's gazetteer will be continued.

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© GLIAS, 1983