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Notes and news — June 1985

In this issue:

Threatened buildings

Despite the detailed listing of buildings, some it may seem to us of fairly low value, there are anomalies and many industrial structures are under threat as they are unlisted in areas of redevelopment. South of the river at East Greenwich gasworks is a remarkable large storage shed with parabolic roof constructed in the 1950s for the accommodation of dry powder (too modern to list?) which may not survive much longer, and amazingly the architecturally fine Deptford sewage pumping station built in an Italianate style and dating from 1865, is unlisted.

Further south in Streatham, the buildings associated with the works of P.B. Cow (GLIAS Newsletter December 1984) are, with one exception, by the main road, all unlisted and this includes the Silk Mill dating from c.1826. If you know of a really worthwhile example which deserves listing but has escaped the attention of officialdom, perhaps because of an obscure location, please contact the Recording Group Secretary Youla Yates for information on how you can request spot listing. Bob Carr

The Arkwright exhibition

The Science Reference Library is staging an exhibition at the end of June to mark the bicentenary of the famous Arkwright trial in June 1785.

Richard Arkwright's invention of mechanical cotton spinning transformed a cottage craft into one of Britain's foremost factory industries and as a consequence contributed greatly to her industrial strength. But, with the fierce rivalry in the UK cotton trade, a number of Arkwright's competitors sought to contest one of the patents which Arkwright had been granted for his spinning machinery. Their efforts culminated in the Crown challenging this patent in the Court of King's Bench; Arkwright's defence failed on the grounds of an inadequate specification and his patent was annulled.

The circumstances of this celebrated trial and the long-term influence which the judgement had on the patent specification as an effective statement of information form the main subject of the Rex v. Arkwright Exhibition. The Comptroller-General of the Patent Office has kindly allowed the exhibition to be held in the Rotunda Room of the Patent Office (London WC2). It will be open for two weeks from 24th June until 5th July 1985. Bill Firth

More old O.S. maps

Alan Godfrey, the enterprising Newcastle publisher, continues to reprint fascinating large scale O.S. maps of London. The following have just appeared:

The price continues to be only 90p per map. These new maps and all the rest so far published (see previous newsletters) are available from the society. Please add 17p for post and packing and send to: D. Perrett, 33 St. Margaret's Road, Brockley, London SE4.

Harrods Depository, Barnes

Recording of features of the three long blocks has been started — the middle block of 1894 has been thoroughly noted, from one ground floor room where some twelve cast-iron columns were all slightly different, to the other half of the block here cast-iron sheets have been inserted to replace and increase the number of original floors. Description of specific areas is important, such as where early containers were lifted and stored, together with an extensive photographic record, an early 'container' in the grounds, the huge exterior furniture lift on the riverside block, the garden/greenhouse area, more specific internal and external architectural features and the wharf and narrow gauge railway leading to the front block, being amongst these. The fuller the survey the better, as the whole site is to be cleared. If you would like to join us on the next recording visit, planned for early July, please let me know — or come to the Recording Group meeting on Monday 24th June — experience not necessary, just lots of interest to help with the job! Youla Yates

Losing your bearings

Since my long-gestated, but hastily written piece on The Glacier Metal Company (February 1985) (GLIAS Newsletter February 1985), various items of addenda et corrigenda have, as usual, come to light:

1) Mention of a second No. 2 Factory, established by the takeover of Dualloys Limited of Boden Works, Chard, in 1960 was cut. Dualloys had moved from Croydon in 1947 after wartime damage to their factory. Part of the Glacier factory was originally a five-storey mill, originating in 1794. In 1971 Glacier moved to a new factory at Ilminster.

2) Lord Brown died after a long illness on 17th March (see obituaries in The Daily Telegraph (21st March) and The Times (27th March).

3) Editing failed to make clear that 'London Unit', occupying part of the old Crosby works at Alperton, specialised in bearing repairs. It was closed w.e.f. 21st December 1984 and repair work was centralised at the Manchester factory.

4) The Wembley Observer of 22nd March 1985 reported that Brent Council has granted outline planning permission for a do-it-yourself store and garden centre on the Glacier site east of the Ealing Road. This involved some headquarters departments moving to Argyle House at Northwood Hills during April.

My prediction of both Alperton factories moving has been overtaken by events, as it is intended to rebuild the main factory on the west side of Ealing Road and it is not clear if the Ruskin quotation will survive. I can't guarantee to report its fate as I was one of the recent redundancies! Richard Graham


A fine day greeted those who ventured down to the University of Kent at Canterbury to the third meeting of SERIAC on 13th April. GLIAS is a constituent and founding member of the SE Regional IA Group and it was nice to see a large GLIAS presence among the near 200 delegates. The theme 'Natural Power' ranged from glasshouses to tidemills, with lectures of a somewhat variable standard. Particularly interesting was an insider's talk on the Early History of the Kent Coal Field by Mr. J.H. Plumtree, retired General Manager of that N.C.B. Area.

Mrs Meades also presented an excellent archaeological approach to studies on The Wealden Iron Industry. Unfortunately the large audience was not matched by an equal number of display and exhibit stands (which only meant that delegates spent more money on GLIAS publications!). Next year's meeting will be in Southampton, when it is hoped to link it with a following day's visit to some local sites. Then 1987 will bring SERIAC to London with a theme of '20th Century Industrial Archaeology'. David Perrett (GLIAS rep. to SERIAC)

Thames bridges — Westminster to Kew

The numerous bridges across the Thames have an interesting history; often the present bridge is the second or third structure on its site. The following brief notes are designed to illuminate a boat trip from Westminster Pier to Kew, but should also be useful for those travelling by car, or on foot or public transport. The railway bridges are perhaps the most interesting: Battersea, Barnes and Kew railway bridges are quite old and due for re-building. Cannon Street, Charing Cross (Hungerford) and Victoria (Grosvenor) have already been dealt with.

Westminster Bridge. Opened 1860, replacing Charles Labelye's bridge of 1750. Thomas Page engineer, Charles Barry architect. 827 feet long by 84 feet wide. Gothic-style iron castings for the spandrel walls and balustrades by Barry to harmonise with his new Palace of Westminster.

Lambeth Bridge. Opened 1932 to designs of Sir George Humphreys, the LCC engineer. 776 feet long, 60 feet wide. Central span 165 feet, flanked by spans of 149 and 125 feet. Piers and abutments cased with Cornish granite. Lattice work pylons for decoration. This bridge replaced a lattice-stiffened suspension bridge slightly downstream by Peter Barlow opened in 1862, which had suffered from corrosion.

Lambeth Bridge © Robert Mason 2016

Vauxhall Bridge. Opened 1906. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice engineer. Five spans, one of 130 feet, two of 144 feet, central span 149 feet, 809 feet long and 80 feet wide. The cutwaters are embellished with bronze figures symbolising local government, education, science, fine arts, pottery, engineering, agriculture and architecture, by Alfred Drury and F.W. Pomeroy. The first iron bridge (demolished in 1898) across the Thames (Regent Bridge) was opened here in 1816 with James Walker as consultant. The architect of the present steel rib structure was W.E. Riley.

Vauxhall Bridge © Robert Mason 2016

Victoria (Grosvenor) Railway Bridge. The first railway bridge to be built across the Thames in London, opened in 1860, carrying the LB & SCR to Victoria Station. Engineer Sir John Fowler. 930 feet long and 31 feet wide. Second bridge built downstream of the first jointly by the LC & DR and LB & SCR in 1865, Sir Charles Fox engineer, 100 feet wide, third bridge added 1907, overall width increased to 178 feet, engineers Freeman Fox & Partners. Complete replacement of entire structure 1963-7.

Victoria (Grosvenor) Railway Bridge © Robert Mason 2022

Chelsea Bridge. Opened 1937. By LCC engineers under the leadership of Sir Pierson Frank. Four square steel towers 55 feet high support carriageway formed in 164 feet sections which were floated out on lighters. This bridge replaced Thomas Page's suspension bridge of 1858, the demolition of which in 1935 caused howls of protest.

Chelsea Bridge © Robert Mason 2022

Albert Bridge. Opened 1873, engineer Rowland Mason Ordish. On rigid suspension principle with diagonal stays of wrought iron radiating from the towers. Towers 66 feet high formerly supported roadway, but load now taken by two concrete piers formed of precast sections. After this strengthening work in 1973 the bridge was reopened to light traffic only.

Albert Bridge © Robert Mason 2022

Battersea Bridge. By Sir Joseph Bazalgette, opened 1890, replacing the last timber bridge over the Thames built in 1771, which had suffered in numerous collisions. John Mowlem were the contractors. The spans are formed of seven cast-iron arched ribs with wrought iron cross members.

Battersea Bridge © Robert Mason 2022

Battersea Railway Bridge (West London Extension Railway). The West London Extension Railway linked the railway systems North and South of the Thames. Engineers Benjamin Baker and T.H. Bertram. The bridge was constructed to-carry both L & NW standard gauge track and the broad gauge of the GWR. The viaduct consists of six brick arches on the Middlesex side and six on the Surrey side with five 144 feet river spans of wrought iron arches on a slight skew; the river piers are of brick faced with Bramley stone. Contractors Brassey & Ogilvie. Opened 1863. At present in a bad state of repair, 15 mph speed limit. (>>>)

Wandsworth Bridge. Opened 1940, replacing the Rowland Mason Ordish bridge of 1873. Design by Sir Pierson Franks. 300 feet main span consisting of a 120 feet main section suspended between two 90 foot steel plate girder cantilever arms balanced by the shore spans. Granite pylons at each corner.

Putney Bridge. (London & S Western Railway). 1887-9 by W.H. Thomas & W. Jacomb. There is a land span of 100 feet on the Middlesex side and two 100 feet land spans on the Surrey side. The lattice girder river spans are five in number, 153 feet in length. Abutments of brick with Portland stone facings. River piers consist of pairs of cast iron cylinders.

Putney Bridge filled with concrete. There is a pedestrian footbridge on the downstream side with an ornamental cast-iron parapet.

Putney (Fulham) Bridge. By Sir Joseph Bazalgette. Opened 1886. 700 feet long by 43 feet wide. Mass concrete foundations, five segmental arches, one each of 112 feet and 129 feet on either side of a 144 foot central span, widened on the downstream side-in 1933. This replaces a timber bridge of 1729 by John Phillips, the King's carpenter, designed by Sir Jacob Ackwell. There was an aquaduct here for the Chelsea Waterworks Company, 1853-82.

Hammersmith Bridge. The present bridge was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and opened in 1887. Built by Dixon, Appleby & Thorne. Towers and cross beams clad in ornamental iron castings to give the appearance of arches. The deck stiffening girders were replaced 1973-6. The present suspension bridge replaces another by William Tierney Clark, opened in 1827.

Hammersmith Bridge © Robert Mason 2020

Barnes Railway Bridge (London & S Western Railway). Original bridge 1849 to the designs of Joseph Lock and J.E. Errington. Further work by Edward Andrews to take heavier trains opened from 1895. Pedestrian footbridge on the downstream side. On the upstream side is the early bridge with the rails removed; one of the most interesting bridges on the river and the oldest below Richmond.

Chiswick Bridge. Designed by Alfred Dryland and Considere Construction Ltd. with Sir Herbert Baker as consulting architect. Built by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd. of Darlington. Two shore arches of 125 feet and a centre span of 150 feet. 607 feet overall. Piers and abutments faced with Portland stone. Opened 1933. For the Great Chertsey Road.

Kew Railway Bridge (London & S Western Railway). Opened 1869, by W.R. Galbraith. Contractors Brassey & Ogilvie. Five 115 feet lattice girder river spans with brick abutments and piers consisting of cast-iron cylinders filled with concrete and brickwork.

Kew Bridge. Opened 1903 to the designs of Sir John Wolfe Barry (of Tower Bridge fame) and Cuthbert Bereton. 55 feet wide and 1182. Three elliptical arches in grey granite consisting of a central span of 133 feet, flanked by two of 116 feet. This replaces a seven-arch bridge of 1759 by John Barnard and James Paine's stone arched bridge of 1789.

Kew Bridge. © Robert Mason

These notes are necessarily brief; for further information see:

Bob Carr

GLIAS Annual General Meeting minutes

The 17th Annual General Meeting of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society was held at 2.30pm on Saturday 27th April 1985 at the Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square, London, W1.

1. Apologies for absence were received from Diana Willment and Julia Elton.

2. Approval of the Minutes of the 16th AGM, circulated in GLIAS Newsletter June 1984, was proposed by Robert Vickers and seconded by Bill Firth. The meeting concurred.

3. Graham Ross was once again appointed Auditor, proposed by the Chairman and seconded by Tom Smith.

4. The accounts were presented by the Hon. Treasurer, Danny Hayton. The increase in income over the previous year had been due to an increase in subscription rates, an increase in membership and a generous donation from a member who had sponsored the winter lecture series. Asked about the number of members in the Society, the Treasurer replied that at the end of the last financial year about 400 Newsletters were distributed, including some to family members and some issued free to certain organizations. It was agreed that in future a statement of the final membership figures for the year would be given at the AGM.

Derek Needham proposed acceptance of the accounts which was seconded by John Parker and carried, nem. con.

5. In his Chairman's Report, Denis Smith spoke of the increased membership, the varied events of the Society, its representation on other bodies such as AIA, SERIAC, Newcomen Society papers committee, the Crossness Working Party, the Kirkaldy Museum Trust, and the Docklands History Survey. He singled out two events of note. Firstly there was the departure of Brenda Innes to the "IA desert" of Dorset which led to the appointment of Charlie Thurston as Newsletter Editor and Tim Smith as Hon. Secretary. Secondly the reinstatement of the winter lecture series, the loss of which had resulted in vociferous complaint from the membership. The success of the recent series was due in no small part to the efforts of David Perrett. The Chairman also thanked Eric Pearce and his company, Jonathan Wren for the generous donation towards the cost of the series and John Porter of the City and East London Polytechnic for all his help. The Chairman also expressed thanks to committee members for all their work in the previous year, Robin and Pat Brooks and Derek Needham for the essential part they play in Newsletter production and distribution, Robert Vickers for his work on publications, Sue Hayton the membership secretary and Olwen Perrett for providing tea for the AGM.

6. The Recording Group Secretary, Youla Yates, reported that there had been visits to Suters, the Atlas Chemical Works at Hackney and Bedfont Gunpowder Mills and a visit had been arranged to Harrods Depository at Barnes. It was hoped to visit the Cow Gum Works at Streatham which incorporated a Silk Factory of c.1826, a Coffee House of 1877 and a Parish School of 18-51. Research continued on the Camberwell Stables of Carter Patterson and Bricklayers Arms Goods Depot. Reports on Suters, Cold Stores around Smithfield and the Spitalfields Coal Drop Viaduct had been published in the Newsletter.

7. Elections. The Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer were re-elected unopposed. The new committee, elected from ten candidates, is Bob Carr, Bill Firth, David Perrett, Peter Skilton, Brian Sturt, David Thomas, Diana Willment and Youla Yates.

8. Any Other Business. John Parker proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman. David Perrett outlined plans for coach trips later in the year. Maureen Morrison asked if a poster had yet be prepared. The Chairman replied that the committee had actively considered the problem but with no satisfactory solution. The Publicity Officer, Bill Firth, pointed out that the winter lectures had been advertised in the Times, Time Out and City Limits, with the result that many non-GLIAS people had attended. Margaret Heraty suggested that the Committee should consider co-opting those candidates not elected onto it by the AGM.

The formal business was followed by a lecture by Derrick Beckett entitled 'Historic Routes Out of London'. Tim Smith

The first three gasworks in London established by the Gas, Light & Coke Co.

(The first intended gasworks was commenced at Cannon Row, Westminster, in 1812. The site was really too small to permit the necessary future developments, the initial plant and apparatus installed here was quite inadequate and unreliable and no gas was ever distributed from this works. The site was sold in 1815 and the National Liberal Club building was later erected upon it.)

Peter Street Gasworks, Westminster. Also known as the Westminster or the Horseferry Road Works, this was the first permanent gasworks ever to be erected and operated to provide a public gas supply. Built at Providence Court and later enlarged by the acquisition of the adjacent Laundry Yard, on a three-acre plot which is now bounded by Horseferry Road, Monck Street, Great Peter Street and Marsham Street, construction commenced in 1813. Gas production began later in the same year, supplying consumers and street lighting in Westminster district and also gas lights on Westminster Bridge. There were at one time over 20 gasholders on this small site, the outlines of two of them being visible to this day.

Curtain Road Gasworks, Shoreditch. The second permanent gasworks to be set up in the country. This was a relatively small works on a site to the North of where Liverpool Street railway station now stands. Construction commenced in 1813 and the works continued in operation until 1817 when a dependable supply from Beckton Gasworks became available. The first gasholder there was of cast iron. It collapsed during construction and cast iron was never again used for gasholder shells.

Brick Lane Gasworks, Clerkenwell. This third gasworks was constructed on a site bounded by Goswell Road, Pear Tree Street and Brick Lane (now Central Street), purchased from the Golden Lane Brewery. It was designed and constructed by Samuel Clegg in 1814 and incorporated all the newest and improved apparatus and techniques. A contemporary print described it as 'The Great Light Establishment at Brick Lane'.

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© GLIAS, 1985