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Notes and news — February 1984

In this issue:

Hendon Aerodrome

At the end of September 1983 the Barnet Borough Planning Department issued a topic study on Public Utilities and Protective Services as part of the preparation of the Borough Development Plan. As a result of representations to the Borough Planning Department it is a pleasure to report that the department is applying for the listing of the office building and control tower built by Claude Grahame-White in 1916. Those are adjacent to the contemporary hangar which is already listed (GLIAS Newsletter November 1969).

RAF Hendon © Robert Mason 18.4.2016 RAF Hendon © Robert Mason 18.4.2016

The offices are the main prestige building built during WW1 by Grahame-White and the control tower is believed to be the earliest example extant. On the first floor of the offices is the room used by Grahame-White and the CGW monogram over the fireplace still remains. It is to be hoped that the efforts to list this historic building are successful.

I am hoping to be able to arrange another visit to RAF Hendon this summer. It would help the planning if anyone interested in coming would let me know (49 Woodstock Avenue, London NW11 9RG phone 455 7164). Bill Firth

FOOTNOTE: for members who went on the (exciting, I understand!) December 15 visit to Dorset Rise DC Sub-stations (GLIAS Newsletter December 1983), it finally closed on February 17 1984.

Hampshire IA coach trip — October 15 1983

'Give 'em tea and pee (?) every three hours and they'll be happy, if you don't: mutiny', thus spoke a friend well versed in organizing day trips. And Dave obviously knows this for we did and we were, but there was far more to this efficiently organized day out where Dave had the help of three members of the Southampton University IA Society.

First port of call was Whitchurch, where a three-storey brick mill of 1815 is surrounded by channels of the River Test, one of which turns the undershot waterwheel evocatively, but uselessly as everything's now electric, although plans exist to rig it up to power some machines as part of a small museum. The mill and outbuildings are used for manufacturing silk materials long hanks of silk from China and Japan are twisted, wound onto bobbins and, on the lower floor of the mill, woven into fabric (which is sold in the shop). Some staff had been brought in especially for our visit and we were greeted by the urgent clacking of the frame and shuttle.

Then past Winchester: partly along the site of the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton railway; partly on the original by-pass *, itself soon to be superseded by a new alignment; through Twyford village (smithy, then large barn R) and Wickham (wide main — ex-market — street and still standing the bridge which carried the Meon Valley railway) to Southwick.

A pub lunch at the Golden Lion was followed by a tour of the snug and compact brewery in the back yard, which is currently being restored to full working order: the first brew since 1956 is due in 1984. Two floors, with boiler, steam pump, mash tun, two fermenting vessels and much evidence of, hopefully, eradicated woodworm. Back to Wickham for the four-storey Chesapeake Mill of 1820 (on site of earlier mills): its name reflects use of timbers from a captured American man o'war. Breast wheels removed, but water turbine provides power for some shafting to mixers and the sack hoist; however, grinding is now done by an electric flailer, 25HP and pretty noisy.

Finally, back to Twyford to explore the waterworks, itself worthy of a good half day. A section of the station (built 1898-1910) is partitioned off to take electric pumps. In the rest are, disused, a remaining triple expansion engine by Hawthorn Davey & Co, driving well pumps and ram pumps to a hilltop reservoir, watertube boilers and parts of petrol-gas equipment (to be reinstated) for lighting. I didn't see the 1935 diesels in a nearby shed, but concentrated on the batch of limekilns on the hill behind. The lime was converted to limewater which, when added to the well water caused precipitation of the carbonate of lime therein, which was then removed by filtering (i.e. the water was softened). Nowadays the water is not softened and the filter plant has been scrapped. Oh, about the weather: it rained steadily all day and didn't make a scrap of difference, except perhaps to inhibit outdoor photography.

* I note from Southampton UIA newsletter that the 45-year-old 'Spitfire Bridge' over the by-pass, so called because a WW2 Canadian pilot reputedly flew his Tomahawk under it clipping the end of a wing in the process, was demolished November 1983. Ed.

URBED's Re-use of Industrial Buildings Service (RIBS)

URBED's Re-use of Industrial Buildings Service (RIBS) helps voluntary groups.

Most GLIAS members will be familiar with the project to renovate Kirkaldy's Testing & Experimenting Works, but they may not be familiar with some of the other IA projects involving URBED (Urban & Economic Development). URBED was set up in 1976, following experience gained in starting the Brunel Exhibition Project and the conversion of Hope (Sufferance) Wharf into craft workshops. These projects helped to show what could be done to re-use redundant industrial buildings and have formed the basis for my recently completed PhD thesis on the Planning & Development of London's Docklands. The Brunel Exhibition Project incidentally, has just erected a pumping engine from the Lavender Dock outside the engine house. The committee would welcome the involvement of more GLIAS members in current activities which include completing the renovation of a pumping engine from Chatham Dockyard and the mounting of a major exhibition now that funds have been secured from the Docklands Development Corporation to extend staging inside the engine house.

URBED, which is a non-profit organisation, runs a free service to help voluntary organizations and community groups find new uses for industrial buildings. The RIBS service has recently assisted the Diorama Arts Trust prepare a scheme for what remains of Daguerre's Diorama in Regents Park, which has involved fighting a public inquiry against re-development proposals. URBED has also coordinated technical assistance to the Limehouse Development Group in their bid to save Limehouse Basin from being filled in. Re-use schemes have been prepared for the Church Institute in Three Colt, Street and Davey's old building in 88 West India Dock Road, which was formerly a chandlery. Other feasibility studies have included the Whiteleys Dormitories for the model farm at Hanworth and the Moy's factory in Camden, several buildings in the Smithfield area and the Royal Institute of the Blind factory in Brondesbury.

URBED have details of over 100 successful conversions, mainly in the London area, both on a computerised database and in back-up files, which any GLIAS member is welcome to consult. They can be fould (sic) on the second floor of Kirkaldy's which the Industrial Buildings Preservation Trust has turned into workspace for small firms, with URBED as project managers. URBED has produced a number of publications, including a Guide and Video film on Recycling Industrial Buildings. If any GLIAS member knows cases where technical or financial assistance is needed to help save a historic industrial building, contact me at 99 Southwark Street, SE1 or phone 928 9515. Nicholas Falk


Regarding Willesden Paper (GLIAS Newsletter December 1983) Judith Knight, Local History Librarian of the London Borough of Brent sent the following:

Willesden Paper refers to a technique of waterproofing paper, scrim and canvas by treating them with cupro-ammonium solutions, developed by the firm The Willesden Paper & Canvas Works. Patents had been taken out in 1868 and there had been some successes at the 1872 South Kensington Exhibition, but it was not until 1873 that EA Healey acquired a site for experimental, works at Willesden, just S of the canal, on the U side of Old Oak Lane, in what was then Acton. At first the company was known as the Patent Waterproof Paper & Canvas Co, but in c.1900 was renamed the Willesden Paper & Canvas Works Ltd. The products were already known as 'Willesden Paper' and 'Willesden Canvas' — an advert of 1896 shows a greenhouse with Willesden scrim for shading the glass and a lady resting in the shade of a Willesden Canvas tent. The firm also produced rot and vermin proof rope, cordage and netting.

The chemicals used in the treatment of the fibres resulted in a colour known as 'Willesden Green'! Interestingly, although khaki was generally adopted for use in the Boer War, the tents were still in Willesden Green! There is an informative article in the Journal of the Society of Arts by Prof W.D. Russell (16 May 1884, pp 641-8). The firm moved to Bromley-by-Bow in 1910, but retained its Willesden name.

Richard Graham had put a query in the Wembley History Society's Bulletin in 1979 as follows:

What was Willesden Canvas? In a story called 'The Case of Oscar Brodski' first published in 1910, R. Austin Freeman's famous detective, Dr. Thorndyke, has a 'portable laboratory' contained in a 'little square case covered with Willesden canvas'. (See Bryan Morgan (ed) Crime on the Lines (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1975, p62). Chambers' Twentieth Century Dictionary (revised edition with supplement, 1959) quotes in the supplement, 'Willesden paper... a more or less waterproof, heatproof and soundproof paper placed under slates in roofing', but does not give a derivation, or mention canvas.

He received this answer from Val Bott:

The local history library files at the Grange include some correspondence with the Willesden Paper & Canvas Works Ltd, in Bromley-by-Bow in 1960 as a result of a query from a reader in Willesden Reference Library. The firm had formerly been based in Willesden, hence the name of their product, but had not originated here in fact copies of the firm's history were lent to the Libraries and parts photocopied. What follows is a brief outline of the information contained in these.

The firm was started by Mr. Elkanah Healey in Warrington, in 1868 and was called The Waterproof Paper and Corrugated Fibre Co. — specimens of their products were exhibited at the Scientific Inventions Exhibition at South Kensington in 1872. The following year an experimental factory was established at Willesden, managed by the son of the founder, Mr. A.E. Healey. The company was a pioneer of waterproofing and used a cupro-ammonium process which imparts both waterproof and mildew-proof properties — the "Willesden" trademark was registered in 1880 though the company was known as "The Patent Waterproof and Canvas Co. Ltd." The quality of the firm's products was quickly appreciated by the War Office and during the Boer War the process was used for the treatment of the tentage and other equipment which was required to withstand severe climatic conditions. It is interesting to note that although the Boer War was the first occasion when Khaki was used as the standard colour for the British army, having previously only been used in India, the only colour which the company could produce was a green known as "Willesden Green".

After the accolade of large scale government contracts, the company's products were widely used by industry — suitcases, cricket bags, garden furniture, wall coverings, tents, lorry covers, shop awnings, etc., were soon available in the familiar green. The firm moved to Bromley-by-Bow in 1910, but kept the old "Willesden" trademark. (The firm is still listed in the London Telephone Directory).

Richard Graham adds a footnote that by 1982 the firm had disappeared from the London directory also The Dax Willesden Proofing Co. Ltd of Indigo Street Mills, Salford, Lanes, M6 6HQ, that appeared in Kellys Directory in 1974, had gone from the Manchester directories.


Douglas Braid (GLIAS Newsletter December 1983) has received some replies and compiled this list for fellow gunfounder enthusiasts:

Wm. Birch (Birch, Ronde & Co.) School House Yard, Clerkenwell Green
John Fouler & Co. King's Arms Ironworks, Strand Bridge, Lambeth
Henckel (James), Garratt Lane, Wandsworth (close to Surrey Iron Railway) supplied guns, 9, 18 & 24 pdrs as early as 1782, but had sold premises by 1820.
Wm. Hood Earl Street, Blackfriars. c.1817
James Hood c.1840. Query: was he a continuing relative and at this address? James Jones Cannon Foundry, New Gravel Lane, Wapping

Other names needing addresses and possible dates:
Wiggin & Graham
? Barradaile Co.
? Forrester (up to 1856)

Information on these specific firms or others who might have supplied cast iron guns, shot or gun carriages, in and around London, other than the Royal Gun Factory, Woolwich, would be appreciated. Sources of Trade Directories of iron founders between 1750 and 1850 would also check on those already identified. Douglas Braid

Joseph Lucas of Tooting Graveney (1846-1926): An enquiry

Joseph Lucas has been described as the founder of hydro-geology and for some years in the 1870s conducted systematic recording of springs and wells in and around London. Such of his published works as I have traced contains interesting and helpful data having a bearing, inter alia, on my research into underground quarrying in the counties round London, especially at Merstham in Surrey and Totternhoe in Bedfordshire. Lucas seems to have been a man of wide interests and evidently had his papers published in a variety of journals. If any member can add to the following list I would be most grateful:

J. Lucas: Horizontal wells. A new application of geological principles to effect the solution of the problem of supplying London with pure water. Edward Stanford, 1874, viii + 86 + (ii) pages + 5 folding plates.
J. Lucas: The Chalk water system Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 77 (1), 70 et seq. 1876
J. Lucas: Hydrogeology One of the developments of modern practical geology. Trans. Institute of Surveyors 9, 152-84, 1877.
J. Lucas: Watershed Lines Subterranean water-ridges. Jl. Society of Arts, 8 August 1879, 829-31, 1879
J. Lucas: On the quantitative elements in hydrogeology Trans. Sanitary Institute of Great Britain 1, 195-202, 1880
J. Lucas: Kalm's account of his visit to England on his way to America in 1748 translated by Joseph Lucas of Tooting Graveney, Macmillan, xvi + 480 pp, 1892

Obituaries: Nature, 22 May 1926, p.730; Q. Jl. Geological Society 83(2), p. 1x, 1927
Paul Sowan

Victorian parlour game

During the Christmas festivities our family sat down to play, in true Victorian style, "The Locomotive game of Rail Road Adventures". (Rail-Road Adventures. A new round game. Four guineas. Produced by Fine Art Developments (Supplies) Ltd, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 7UF). The game comes neatly packaged in stiff card folder and the 'board' is authentically reproduced in line and wash and backed with linen. There is a card of counters and a rule book which has a quaintness of term such as "a lady's reticule".

Whilst being informative and reasonably factual in locations and systems, we had our doubts on one point. Places such as 'South Western Terminus, Nine Elms'; 'Derby Terminus, this largest station in the Kingdom'; 'Bristol Terminus, a remarkably handsome building'; and 'London Terminus of Greenwich, Croydon, Brighton and South Eastern Lines' (Bricklayers Arms?) give the game an authentic flavour. For the technically minded there is the 'Gosport & Portsmouth floating bridge', the 'Blackwall rope railway' and mention of the 'Atmospheric Railway... no accidents can possibly occur'.

The one point that struck a wrong note was "taking in COKE and water". Was coke used in the firing of boilers of railway engines when this game was first published in the 1840s? (by printer Edward Wallis of Skinner Street, London). Peter Skilton

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Mouth of Bow Creek/Blackwall Area (cont.)

478. LT POPLAR BUS GARAGE, Leven Road, E14. Large stock brick garage with five entrances facing S. Alongside Bow Creek former tram depot built c.1905 An imposing building.

479. ENTRANCE LOCK TO GAS WORKS DOCK (former Bromley-by-Bow Gasworks) Remains of entrance to North Thames Gas Board dock for its adjacent gasworks. Coal for gas making was imported via Bow Creek. There are no remains of the gasworks apart from the fine set of gas holders at TQ 385 825. See GLIAS member Brian Sturt's article on up-river colliers: Seventeen Bridges to Wandsworth in SEGAS Magazine, August 1982 pp28-31.

Coal-fired power station constructed 1949-52 during the period of 'Control of Turbo-Alternators' legislation. Generation is by means of four English Electric 30 MW sets with steam supplied by eight chain-grate boilers working at 43.1 bar and 460°C. The station is still active. Fine views of the surrounding industry may be obtained from the top of the station, including the adjacent Cohen's scrap yard. It transpires that at one time a public two-phase power supply existed in parts of West Ham with Scott-Connected transformers at this power station being used to convert the three-phase grid. This helps to explain the survival of the Westinghouse synchronous motors in the dry dock pumphouse at Royal Albert Dock (GLIAS Newsletter October 1982). The first power station built on this site by West Ham Corporation started generation in 1904. Extensions were made in 1912 with more plant being inserted 1921-30. No remains of this earlier work have been noted.

481. CANNING TOWN RAILWAY STATION TQ 393 816 on the former Great Eastern Railway line to Thames Wharf and North Woolwich. Little of the former station remains after c.1980 rebuilding. Originally called Barking Road, the first station was opened on a site to the S of the road c.1846. Between the railway and Bow Creek a new town called Canning Town sprang up and 200 houses had already been erected by about 1848 when they were described as providing 'the maximum of comfort with the minimum of expense'. Barking Road station was re-named Canning Town in July 1873 and moved to the present site to the N of Barking Road in 11.

482. Site of THAMES IRONWORKS, Bow Creek TQ 395 810
The site was occupied by C.J. Mare & Co. who opened shipbuilding and ironworks in 1846. The enterprise became the Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Co in 1857. HMS Warrior was launched from this yard in December 1860. Thames Ironworks remained active in the late 19th and early 20th century, specialising in liners and large warships. Quality work of this kind was at less disadvantage due to the Thames being distant from sources of coal and iron. The yard built a number of large warships for Japan, etc., in the early 20th century, but closed in 1912 after the launch of HMS Thunderer, 26,000 tons. In later days the firm diversified its work to include bridges, structural steelwork, steam engines and machinery and even commenced the manufacture of motor cars at a site in Greenwich. The Company also had premises to the W of Bow Creek (TQ 395 808) linked to the main yard by a ferry. The well-known postcard on sale at the Museum of London showing men arriving for work purports to illustrate this ferry.
Refs: Thames Ironworks Gazette, Water Lane Reference Library, Stratford, Guildhall Library and the excellently illustrated article in the Engineer, Dec 13 1894. Little now remains on the site. In the late 1960s some concrete engine beds were to be found, see The Industrial Archaeology of the Lower Lea Valley by Denis Smith. East London Papers 12.

Bob Carr

Activities (and products) captured in architecture. Part 5

Activities for which a link with their location is unknown or simply non-existent

1. General scenes embellish several department stores: e.g.

2. 123/7 Cannon St EC4. St Mary Adchurch House c.1900 has goods being handled, but Kelly's directories show this as always being occupied by a variety of firms.

3. 25 Victoria St SW1. Again an office block apparently always multi-occupied, with industrious brick cherubs.

4. Institute of Chartered Accountants, Moorgate Place EC2. 1883-93. Baroque style with a line of people dressed according to different trades along façade.

5. 51 Eastcheap EC3, United Dominion House. Too far away to see clearly, but metal panels between windows seem to have industrial landscapes.

6. Walbrook EC4, St Swithins House. 1950s chunk with fishing, mining, agriculture and industry depicted.

7. 56 Kingsway WC2, Imperial Buildings. Lady holds liner (why?). And has nearby Africa House, adorned appropriately with elephant and lion, any African connections?

56 Kingsway WC2, Imperial Buildings

8. Still on a foreign theme, 31-3 Lime St EC3. Asia House has lady and gent therefrom either side of the doorway. It housed shipping lines, did they specialise in Far East trade?

9. And more — 81-2 Gracechurch St EC3. Tropical fruit decoration suggest offices of an importer of same — but all Kelly's shows is a coal merchants'!

10. Swainson Rd, Acton W3. Placed so as to be visible from Acton Vale down Cowley Rd, tall glazed mother and two daughters on roofline, but why? (Assume 1930s)

11. Avenue Rd / Adelaide Rd NW3. 1930s flats are decorated by tools of the building trade.

12. 3 St James Sq. SW1. Buchanan House. Apparently built, or re-fronted, in 1930s, with five scenes of street activities, including preacher and knife grinder.


13. 1 Riding House St W1. Presently NSPCC, but they are recent occupants and in any case the metalwork figures outside are rather too old.

14. 44 Old Bond St W1. Glyn House 1906, built for Glyn hatters — so why the nudes, except to attract attention?

15. Holborn Circus, corner Charterhouse St EC4. 1960s office has carved figures.

16. London School of Economics, Clare Market WC2. Stylised Thames with plane and power station.

17. On the east section of North Circular Road. 1950s vintage tiled or painted family scene, including pram.

18. For completeness, we should mention again two sites already included in the Transport list:


1. War memorials often have weapons and combatants, but I'll select only the most unusual — Cambridge Ave NW6. The PDSA memorial clinic has a plaque to the animals which served in WW1 and includes some carrying war equipment.

2. Many other monuments / statues clearly show activities; others have an activity 'label' that bears no resemblance to its theme. In the latter category are those on Holborn Viaduct and the clock tower of Brixton Town Hall, the former includes a big hefty blacksmith directly outside Buckingham Palace and figures on the Albert Memorial; more subtle are the chap hugging a large cog on Whiteley's Department Store, Queensway, W2, and one sickling away at corn (or sugar beet?) above the door of Australia House, Strand.

3. 2 Temple Place WC2. Former home of Lord Astor. The steps to the door have lamp standards and that nearest the road has two cherubs prattling away to each other on 1895 vintage telephones.

4. St. Dunstan's Wharf, Narrow St E14. The story goes St. Dunstan, who was a blacksmith, was tempted by the devil and, in annoyance, grabbed his nose by the handiest weapon — pincers — a pair of which are shown above the doorway here.

5. Newington Causeway SE1. Atlas Works, until 1981 occupied by Crescens Robinson, paper merchants, has three caryatids holding globes on their hefty shoulders.

6. Uxbridge Rd, Hillingdon. Not an architectural feature, but too nice to omit, inside the plateglass foyer of EMI's Product Distribution Centre is a larger-than-life 'trade mark' dog and gramophone.

7. Corner Wigmore St / 17 Cavendish Sq. W1. The stucco includes a piano and other musical instruments. No doubt hinting at culture, rather than industry, within.

8. Firstly, a word about general trade signs — the most common are oil jars (oil & colourmen) and the three gold balls of a pawnbroker; less frequent are tobacco rolls and spectacles.

Additions to PART 1 TRANSPORT (GLIAS Newsletter April 1983)

1. 16/17 Old Bailey EC4. Britannic House. A lady clutches a small steam engine, now minus its chimney, above the door of offices built for Lavington Bros, carriers and agents for all main railway companies. 1870s?

2. 88 Leadenhall St EC3. Cunard House 1930s lifebelts in railings.

3. Bury St EC3. From the SE face of present National Employers Federation offices steams the base and superstructure of a liner. It's of Norwegian Larvikite marble, dates from 1914 and symbolises the Dutch shipping company for whom the office was built.

4. 19-21 Billiter St EC3. Adorned by a sailing ship, anchor, ethnic heads and cornucopia. London Shipping Exchange in 1880s, but the carved 1865 date seems a bit early.

5. 22 Eversholt St NW1. 1930s offices for IMS, near roof rail tracks pattern.

6. (new) Unity House, Euston Rd NW1. Brand new NUR HQ has a large stained glass mural depicting transport 1873-1982, complete with front of a high speed train.

7. 15 Cockspur St SW1 'transport' modes. P&O Building Ships' bow, anchor, ropes and other.

David Thomas

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© GLIAS, 1984