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Notes and news — December 1984

In this issue:

GLIAS coach trip to Leicester — 27th October 1984

An unavoidable late arrival meant little time at the hefty brick Moira Ironworks blast furnace and the infilled adjacent Ashby Canal; only three managed to 'do' nearby lime kilns. We walked the Swannington Railway incline (looking for the lighthouse!) and saw nothing in the dark of Stephenson's Glenfield Tunnel. A towpath tour of Leicester's Frog Island — nice canal side mills — preceded Foxton Locks and the slowly-being-restored incline plane was 'done' in the cooling evening of a weather perfect day. Many thanks to Marilyn Palmer and other members of LIHS our guides. Compressed impressions by David Thomas

Activities captured in architecture

This is definitely the final list in the series, which started in GLIAS Newsletter April 1983. However, several members have suggested that they have the making of a booklet which I'd like to compile sometime, so please send details of any sites so far unmentioned to me at 36 Pearman St, SE1 7RB.

1. Dairies seem to have caught members' eyes

Dairy Supply Co

2. Places of education often have depictions. A few are:

3. 56 Kingsway WC2. Africa House with appropriate embellishments was, advises M. Bunstead, built for and initially occupied by a firm of African traders.

4. Endersleigh St/ E Gardens WC1. Thorne House. There are figures who seem to be doing things but what could not be figured out at night.

5. S side Russell Sq. Gardens WC1. I've omitted statues but the 5th Earl of Bedford (1765-1805) merits a mention. He was President of the Board of Trade and an agriculturalist — hence the sheep nibbling his feet.

6. Katharine St, Croydon. Former corn exchange has wheat sheaf over the door.

7. Katharine St/Park Lane, Croydon. Gas Offices 1939/1940 have two plaques of pots with mysterious green smoke being emitted.

8. 58 West Smithfield EC1. Misshapen hog's head on meat importer's.

9. 35 South St/17-21 S Audley St W1. Shop and workshop of Goodge & Co Designers in china and glass. Decorative tiles, small brick potter on corner and flower railings.

10. 368 North End Rd Fulham SW6. A flimsily dressed maiden with water jug, a frowning Neptune & smiling dolphin welcome patrons to the public baths.

11. Poplar Town Hall E14. Workers in activity chiselled around it.

12. Guildhall EC2. In inner reaches a corridor has wall design of workers (? the Guilds) along it.

13. High St Romford. Brewery gates with hops and tun design.

14. Grummant Rd/Peckham Rd SE15. 1916 addition to AUEW HQ has a cog, workers figures (one has lost his head) and motto.

15. 54-60 Whitfield St W1. Nondescript block (? c.1920) with symbols of goldbeaters for whom it was built.

16. 13-14 Archer St W1. What REALLY goes on at the Orchestral Association's premises is hinted at by the object above the door: a reclining nude with broken baton and a mouth organ says it all.

17. Trade signs such as barber's poles are relatively common, as is the torch of learning. A large version of the latter is silhouetted (but does not burn) on the Kingsway side of Bush House with motto 'to the friendship of the English speaking peoples'. Other symbols include 'justice' or Britannia on Building Society offices representing fairness/reliability. As an aside the tops of the traffic lights in the former Marylebone Borough have small torches as part of the design.

18. Cemeteries and church monuments deserve an article of their own. As a token (and perhaps to whet a volunteer's appetite) four sites are:

David Thomas

Coldstores around Smithfield

Near to Smithfield Market are five coldstores for meat, all disused. These notes result from preliminary research by the following members of the Recording Group: Bet and John Parker, Tim Smith and David Thomas.

London's facilities for the wholesale meat trade were substantially improved in the third quarter of the 19th century. A new 'live' meat market was opened at Copenhagen Fields, Islington in 1855. The Smithfield site was developed as the main dead meat market in the 1860s, with a railway depot beneath and opened by the Corporation of London in 1868. The Corporation also acquired the former Deptford Naval Dockyard for a foreign (ie imported) meat market in 1872 and provided slaughterhouse facilities there; in turn, some meat was forwarded to Smithfield. Smithfield Market was expanded in 1875, 1883, 1888 and 1898 (although not solely for meat).

Commercial refrigeration plant became available in the early 1880s and steps were taken to provide coldstores in and around Smithfield Market; in the latter category were six sites, given below in date sequence.

Sites of coldstores 1-6

1. 13-19 St John Street. A frozen-meat store was built in 1894/5 for the London and India Docks Joint Committee (later incorporated into the PLA); by now refrigerated sea transport had been developed. This store was demolished in the 1970s, having been disused for some years; the site awaits redevelopment.

2. 53 Charterhouse Street. In 1893 the Smithfield Market Electric Supply Co. Ltd built a generating station with the level of the adjacent railway lines as the ground floor. This two-storey, 35 ft tall, structure had its roof at street level and was constructed so that the space above could be built on. In 1898 the Corporation decided to buy-out the company to both control the electricity supply for the markets and to erect a four-storey coldstore above, known as the London Central Markets Cold Storage Co. Ltd. This distinctive building, with heart-shaped plaque, stands disused.

51 Charterhouse Street, EC4. © Robert Mason 2016

3. West Smithfield. Almost immediately after Site 2, the Corporation erected a further coldstore, at the south-west side of the main market in 1899; there are basements beneath street level.

4. 109-113 Charterhouse Street. Meanwhile, one of the several meat salesmen at the top end of Charterhouse Street, by the name of Palmer, decided to expand. He purchased the two properties either side of his (No. 111), erecting a coldstore in 1902; a portion retained a shop front for retail trade. The novel design at first looks like a chapel of Queen Anne vintage! It ceased to be used as a coldstore, by then trading as the Charterhouse Cold Storage Co., in the 1970s.


5. 49 Charterhouse Street. The Port of London Authority was established in 1908 and soon afterwards decided to build a new coldstore at Smithfield to complement that at St John Street. The site chosen required a raft to be constructed over the until then open cutting for the railway line towards Blackfriars Bridge and other sidings. The store was opened in 1915 and closed by 1970. We have been told that all equipment has been removed.

49 Charterhouse Street, EC4. © Robert Mason 2016

6. 77A Charterhouse Street. Modestly scaled premises were opened by the Metropolitan Cold Stores in 1922.


The main sources used are:
i. Kelly's Directories (Guildhall Library)
ii. The Builder, particularly 14.10.1899 p.356, concerning 53 Charterhouse Street (at RIBA)
iii. Wharves & Warehouses Committee
Plan of 53 Charterhouse Street, 1905 (MS 15627A item 4, Guildhall Manuscript Library)
iv. The Architect 20.12.1918, for 49 Charterhouse Street
v. 'The Design, Construction and Maintenance of Docks, Wharves and Piers', F M Du-Plat-Taylor, 1934, for 49 Charterhouse Street

These notes do not detail the stores' capacities or refrigeration equipment used. In some cases information is to hand but in others more research is needed: any members interested in helping, please contact David Thomas.


Spitalfields coal-drop viaduct

Traditionally, coal was brought to London by sea from Tyneside, hence Seacoal Lane in the City where coal was discharged from vessels brought up the River Fleet in the Middle Ages. From 1850 onwards, railways took more and more of the trade, bringing coal from inland coalfields, particularly those served by the Great Northern Railway and its rival the Midland Railway. Both companies built vast depots in London to deal exclusively with coal.

In 1866 the Great Eastern Railway (GBR) opened Whitechapel Coal Depot which, 15 years later, was linked to Brick Lane Goods Depot and was renamed Spitalfields Coal Depot. Six sidings on a spur viaduct built southwards from the old Eastern Counties Railway viaduct west of Bethnal Green were used to supply coal drops. Each arch was divided by a wall parallel to the railway tracks. In the crown of the arch, in each section, was a pair of rectangular holes framed with stout timbers and through which coal could be dropped. Presumably, there was some sort of hopper beneath but no evidence of this remains. Each half-arch was let to a coal merchant, larger merchants occupying more than one arch. In Arch 92 was the Totternhoe Lime, Stone and Cement Co. Ltd whose quarries and kilns were near Dunstable, Bedfordshire. The whole viaduct of some 50 segmental brick arches, about ¼ mile long and 70 ft broad, survives.


Part way along, a roadway connects the two halves of the site. Nearer Whitechapel, the viaduct crosses the East London Railway (ELR) on the skew. At ground level, a pair of railway tracks, in situ in Hemming Street, linked the site with Brick Lane Goods Depot, where a hydraulic hoist transferred trucks to and from viaduct level and gave access to a number of sidings via wagon turntables. Two branches (only one is shown on the 1894 OS Plan) passed under the viaduct to sidings on the east side serving 'Essex Wharf' where James Brown (London) Ltd, brick makers and Frazzi Fireproof Construction Ltd traded. The offices can still be seen in Durward Street, decorated with terra cotta and with the name 'ESSEX WHARF' emblazoned in foot high terra cotta lettering.

On the west side of the viaduct, close to the road entrance in Selby Street, were three sidings of the ELR, in a brick-lined cutting and tunnelling under the coal-drops. The northern half of the cutting has been back-filled. In 1900 a second 'loop' viaduct was built to serve the 'Spitalfields Hoist', a hydraulic wagon hoist of 35 tons capacity built by the Hydraulic Engineering Co. of Chester. This could transfer two trucks at a time between the ELR and the GBR, a vertical distance of 43¼ ft. The hoist last worked in 1955 and was removed. The coal depot closed in November 1967.

(Thanks to Bet and John Parker and Malcolm Tucker for providing information. Dates are taken from H V Borley, 'Chronology of London Railways', RCHS 1982) Tim Smith

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Streatham

Previous lists on Lambeth appeared in GLIAS Newsletter August 1980, GLIAS Newsletter February 1982, GLIAS Newsletter April 1982 and GLIAS Newsletter April 1984. The final Lambeth list, Clapham, will appear shortly.

Streatham is largely residential and "real" IA is minimal. The list includes cinemas, etc. as points of interest in a sequence for visiting. Items 504 to 510 are in SW2, the rest in SW16.

504. 239 Brixton Hill
Now Stratstone Ltd, car repairers. Former LCC tram depot, 1923, later bus garage.

505. Pullman Court, Streatham Hill. 1935 reinforced concrete flats, architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. Financed by William Bernstein; mostly for 1 or 2 people with limited means but including swimming pool, club, roof gardens.

506. Daysbrook Road, west side. Little to see of 1832 (hilltop) reservoir.

507. 110 Streatham Hill, Streatham
Hill Theatre, opened 1929. Architect W G R Sprague. 2,600 seats — bingo since 1962.

508. 140 Streatham Hill Superbowl.
Ex-Gaumont Palace Cinema of 1932.

509. Amesbury, Barcombe Avenues and surroundings.
Leigham Court Estate, largely maisonettes. Developed 1890s by the Artisans, Labourers & General Dwellings Co. Now conservation area.

510. Streatham Hill Station
Rather woe-begone, largely original single-storey wooden structure of 1860s.

511. Along High Road:
a. 15 ABC, formerly Regal, Cinema.
b. 47 Odeon, formerly Astoria, Cinema.
c. 63 Free Library, 1890 (clock later) donated by local sugar daddy, Henry Tate.
d. 101/3 Burton's, now Job Centre with, typically, billiard saloon above. Six elephant faces on facade.

512. Rear St. Leonard's Church
Rather cracked-up Coade Stone tomb of Joseph Hay, 1805; railings around.

513. 8 Mitcham Lane
Turn-of-century fire station, now mosque.

514. Gleneldon Road
The LBSC Railway's tunnel portals around here are quite nice; the most early seen is the south end of Streatham Tunnel (preferably when little foliage).

515. Opposite 186 Valley Road. Well House of Streatham Spa c.1830, later addition behind; pump missing. Being conserved within redevelopment of surrounding former model dairy.

516. 386 Streatham High Road. 1932 Ice Rink. 1927 Baths next door.

517. Factory Square off 496 Streatham High Rd.
Silk mill of 1827 surrounded by many additions of India Rubber Firm (from 1838), later P B Cow (1857), with specialization in waterproof materials. On corner, the Beehive Coffee House and working men's lodgings, 1878 (recently 'listed'). The works, now Cow Industrial Polymers, has Factory Square included within its boundaries and a locked gate prevents seeing much at weekends. The firm has proposed, as a joint venture with Sainsbury's, to redevelop the site as a supermarket. (Information supplied by Brian Bloice of SLAS (Streatham Society).) (>>>)


518. 5 Greyhound Lane
Two half oil jars on frontage, sign of oil and colour man.

519. Streatham Common Station. Solid, unexciting, pile, virtually as rebuilt by LBSC Railway c.1903.

520. Streatham Junction signal box 1930s, in midst of junctions, for when electric signalling extended. Itself redundant since 1980.

521. Conyers Road (footpath from previous site), Streatham Common Pumping Station 1888, for Southwark & Vauxhall Water Co. (Photo 2). Unusual Moorish-style domes. Well, 1,270 ft., not pumped since 1957; now only used for occasional 'shunting' of water with electric pumps.


Claudius Ash & Sons Ltd — Mineral teeth manufacturers

Anglers Lane, Kentish Town, London NW5.

In Anglers Lane is a fairly nondescript three-floor factory. It was built in the late 1860s with some later additions between the ground floor and surrounding site wall. This was once the centre of a large concern.

Claudius Ash started working as a goldsmith in 1820; his first mention in directories was in 1834 at 9 Broad Street, Golden Square, W1. He had moved into "mineral" teeth by 1840. The Anglers Lane address first appeared in 1865 and the firm grew by leaps and bounds. Broad Street remained as offices and showrooms. Two nominally independent family "branches" were combined with a share capital of £1m in 1905. By 1914 there were addresses in 24 major cities, including Moscow, Cairo, Toronto and New York.


In turn, this company joined with a competitor, de Trey & Co, in 1924 to become the Amalgamated Dental Co. Ltd. De Trey had a factory at Walton-on-Thames and this still produces dental equipment, including chairs. The present (international) owners are the Dental Manufacturing Go, Ltd. Anglers Lane ceased to be part of the organisation in the 1960s and various buildings behind the remaining unit — the chimney, kiln (for ceramic teeth?) and fitting shop have been demolished.

These notes are based on preliminary research by Malcolm Osmundson, Hugh Marks and David Thomas

Rapid Wire

The query (GLIAS Newsletter August 1984) asking if there were any Rapid Wire systems left in the UK has produced only a "maybe" at an unidentified Gateshead site. Duncan Mellor has written mentioning extant systems in Ballantyne's stores in Christchurch and Timaru, New Zealand. Felicity Collins confirms one in Ball's stores, Richmond, Melbourne and describes her own use of one in a Melbourne bookshop in the 1960s:

"As a member of the office staff I was enlisted on the rota of staff who did lunch-time and Saturday reliefs in the cash desk. It was situated in the middle of the shop and there were about eight counters that used the system. The first time I sat up there I was petrified — especially when three or four of the cylinders arrived at once. But after a week or two I quite enjoyed it and it was a marvellous way of paying out anyone who had been unpleasant to you — if two cylinders arrived at once you always did the pleasanter salesman's/woman's one first — what power!

Apart from the problems of the cylinders arriving together and customers having to wait patiently while you worked your way around them, trying to give the right change as quickly as possible and fending off people who seemed to think you were up there as a source of information, the main problem was the mechanics of the system itself.

Failure to pull the handle hard enough and the cylinder would run out of steam before it reached the counter and be stranded dangling from the wire above the heads of the customers, to be rescued by the more athletic of the assistants jumping up and giving it a push. Failure to connect the cylinder correctly was even worse, resulting in the change and receipt being deposited over unsuspecting customers and doing some damage if travelling at speed when the cylinder flew off."

Several members have also mentioned pneumatic tubes. These are still "current" technology in, for example, hotels.

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© GLIAS, 1984