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Notes and news — June 1984

In this issue:

GLIAS 16th Annual General Meeting

Some 60 members and guests including our President Michael Robbins attended the AGM at the Architectural Association on Saturday 27th April. Apologies for absence were received from Julia Elton, Tim Smith, Robert & Jill Vickers, Oliver Dames, Derek Needham and Brian Sturt. Because of the absence of the auditor from the country it was decided that the unaudited accounts be accepted provided the full audited account was circulated with the next newsletter. The Treasurer explained the reasons behind the need to increase the subscriptions for 1984/5. Graham Ross was appointed auditor for the coming year.

The Chairman in his report stated that membership was in excess of 400 subscriptions representing over 500 people. The Society reputation was growing and our views were increasingly being requested: in the last year on GLC abolition (particularly of the Historic Buildings Division), Limehouse Basin redevelopment, Kempton Park and Crossness pumping stations. At Kirkaldy's GLIAS had financially contributed to the establishment of the Company. The Society had been represented at the AIA conference in Lincoln and regional conferences at Chatham and Brighton. The problems of our lecture series and AGM venue were outlined. Both were due to costs, the Museum of London requiring over £100 for our 2½-hour AGM which we could neither afford nor thought justified in view of our past help to the Museum. Brenda Innes, Robin Brooks and Derek Needham were thanked for their respective contributions to production of the newsletter. The Society during 1984 had published a Miscellany edited by Tim Smith to a high standard. Issue No. 3 of London's IA was available to those at the AGM and the Editor was to be congratulated on its appearance, size, style and content; the hard work by Robert Vickers was fully appreciated by all present.

Youla Yates summarised the Recording Group's work over the year and detailed their newsletter supplements. There were no nominations for new members of the Executive Committee and they were all re-elected without a vote. Under AOB Maureen Morrison raised the question of publicity, suggesting that we contact schools, had a poster and formed a junior section. It was felt that teachers only want finished fodder, but the Committee agreed to discuss the matter.

Following a coffee break Anthony Burton gave the annual guest lecture. Entitled KING COTTON: The Industry on Three Continents, the subject of his new TV series in the autumn, it was most interesting, amusing and informative and gave us insights into an area of IA outside most of our usual fields.


A bookseller's catalogue seen recently included Robert Owen Allsop's The Turkish Bath (Spon, 1980) and described it as including, among other things, an illustration of the Great Northern Railway's Turkish bath for horses (the mind boggles). Was this, as I guess, in London? Do readers know any more about it?

Jack Branston's History of Stockbridqe (the steel town north of Sheffield) includes a chapter on the Greenmoor quarries north of the town, home of the 'Penistone Flags' used as paving in the last century. Some was shipped to London via Worsbrough canal basin, Goole and Hull and there is said to have been a Green Moor Wharf on the Thames. Can anyone confirm this and say where it was? Derek Bayliss

Greenwich Hospital Mines

Paul Sowan's query (GLIAS Newsletter April 1984) received a record number of replies and the ones which were directed to me were so interesting that I would have liked to have published them in full. Space not permitting I offer a 'distillation':

The mines owned by Greenwich Hospital were on Alston Moor in Cumberland and had belonged to dames, Earl of Derwentwater, but since he supported the wrong side in the 1715 Rebellion the manor was forfeited to the crown, eventually being granted to the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich. Of the 32 mines then on the Moor only one was worked by the Hospital Commissioners, the others being leased out. By the 1760s the London (Quaker) Lead Company had 119 mines of which 103 were leased-from Greenwich Hospital. In 1764 John Smeaton became involved with the Alston Moor mines, his most important work there being the Nent Force Level; driven to drain the mining field and open up now areas it was also made navigable so that ore could be brought out by boat. Whilst in the area Smeaton saw the first water-pressure engine to be used in a British mine. This was in the nearby Colecleugh Mine of Sir Walter Blackett and had been invented by William Westgarth. Smeaton's report on the engine was published by the Society of Arts in 1787 (see S of A Trans Vol 5 1787). Similar engines were erected in the Greenwich Hospital Mines. During the early 19th century John Taylor, the famous mining engineer and entrepreneur, was engaged by the Commissioners to report on the state of the mines. At the same time McAdam was asked to report on the roads in the area. The resulting report appeared in 1823, Taylor recommending the appointment of an inspector, he got the job. At the same time H.L. Pattinson, whose later work on silver refining earned him world-wide renown, was appointed Assay Master. Tim Smith

John Parker adds that: The roads were built to aid the transport of men and materials about the estates and much money was spent on developing them e.g. some £35,000 between 1824 and 1825. J.L. McAdam having been the advising surveyor in 1823. Later on the newly built railways were used. (incidentally, John & Bet have moved to 60 Brandenberg Road, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 BEN, tel 0263 693001).

Brian Mills mentions that: In 1805 Admiral Sir John Colpoys, Treasurer (later Governor) of the Royal Hospital and two others, travelled north to inspect the Hospital's estates in Cumberland, Northumberland and Durham. A Report of their 'Proceedings' was published in 1810 and can be seen in the London Guildhall Library. This is a lengthy document with a plan and many details about the Alston Lead Mines and appendices which include a report by William Sheffield on other lead mines at Thornthwaite and elsewhere in Cumberland.

Some extant IA is reported by Derek Grant: The Commission did retain direct mining interests, however, from 1768 until 1833 it ran its own lead smelting mill at Langley, near Haydon Bridge, Northumberland of which the chimney, mile or so long flue, reservoir and railway track bed still remain.

Richard Graham & Roy Allen wrote about Lockers: Edward Hawke Locker (1777-1849) was a son of Captain William Locker, one of Nelson's early commanders and Lieutenant Governor of Greenwich Hospital 1793-1800. EH. Locker was Secretary of Greenwich Hospital 1819-24 and Civil Commissioner of the hospital 1824-44. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and author of works on naval commanders and of a travel book on Spain, profusely illustrated by engravings from his own sketches. At least four generations of the Locker family, including the two above and Frederick Locker-Lampson the poet, have entries in the DNB. Roy mentions that a copy of Locker's report is in the British Library. See also Raistrick & Jennings A History of Lead Mining in the Pennines 1965, R. Burt John Taylor 1977 & R. Hunt A Historical Sketch of British Mining 1887 (reprinted 1978).

Bedfont Gunpowder Mills excavation — 29 May 1984

About 15 members of GLIAS and the West London Archaeology Field Group carried out a one-day trial excavation of the former incorporating mill (GLIAS Newsletter April 1984). The internal layout of the mill was revealed, this included a large brick and stone base for edge runners with an associated brick floor. Further field work in the autumn. Contact Phil Philo at Gunnersbury Park Museum. 992 1612.

Crosse & Blackwell Ltd, Factory Road, London E16

Newham Newspapers last October carried the headline 'Factory to axe 500 jobs' over a report that the food giants Crosse & Blackwell were to quit their Silvertown factory over a 2-3 year period. The firm have been unable to make the factory viable despite a £5 million investment programme during the past five years.

The origins of the firm of Crosse & Blackwell go back to a colonial produce business established in London in 1706. It was not until much later that the business, run for more than a century first of all under the name of Jackson and then under that of West & Wyatt, eventually started manufacturing food products. The firm specialised in quality pickles, sauces and condiments. In 1830, two friends, Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell, who had entered the firm 11 years before as 15-year-old apprentices, bought it for the sum of £600 and gave it their name. By 1839 the company had expanded and moved its offices and shop to Soho Square, leaving the factory at King Street (now Shaftesbury Avenue).

The company continued to expand and over the next 14 years the capital increased from £600 to £25,000. A vinegar brewery was opened in Caledonian Road (where the company installed one of the largest vats in the world holding 115,000 gallons) and started pickle packing operations at 20-21 Soho Square. The latter premises were described by Henry Mayhew in his book 'The Shops & Companies of London etc.' (1865) in a detailed report entitled 'Girls in Pickle'. The previous year Crosse & Blackwell had also taken over a small firm, Gamble & Company, whose founders had set out in 1811 to produce preserved fruit, vegetables and meat for the victualling of long distance vessels.

In 1892 Crosse & Blackwell became a limited company with a capital of nearly £500,000. Then, after WW1, joined forces with two other old-established firms: E Lazenby & Son Ltd and James Keiller & Son Ltd. The first of these had been manufacturing on a commercial scale since 1776 and the firm remained a family business until it was taken over by Crosse & Blackwell in 1919. Their premises at Bermondsey continued to be used for the preparation of pickles, sauces and salad creams. In 1924 James Keiller & Son (originator of the famous Dundee marmalade) came under the wing of Crosse & Blackwell, but continued to trade under their own name. Keiller's factory had been opened in 1878 at Tay Wharf Silvertown, the site being selected no doubt for its proximity to the river, its rail links and adjacent sugar refinery opened in 1876 by Henry Tate. The factory was destroyed by fire in 1889 and rebuilt in 1890 (hence the date on the cornerstone above the East Gate).

Keiller's continued to produce all types of preserves, chocolates and confectionery (including many spices and herbs) until WW2. During the first daylight raid on London (September 7 1940) the factory was almost completely destroyed by bombing. The preserve boiling house was least damaged and as a result of the destruction the chocolate and confectionery trade was transferred to Dundee whilst preserves manufacture restarted after a period of months. In 1956 preserve manufacture too transferred to Dundee and Crosse & Blackwell moved its pickle and sauce production from Bermondsey. The production of tomato ketchup and salad cream followed in 1957/8.

In 1960 the Nestlé Company acquired the share capital of Crosse & Blackwell. Nestlé's started in 1867, owned a strong of other well known companies such as Fussell's, Maggi, Findu, Chambourcy, Locatelli and Libby. Crosse & Blackwell had established 11 factories in the UK and overseas (America, South Africa, Australia) including a fish canning plant at Peterhead in Scotland. It is to the latter that pickle manufacture will be transferred, with sauce manufacture being moved to Milnthorpe, Cumbria.

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© GLIAS, 1984