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Notes and news — October 1986

In this issue:

Association for Industrial Archaeology conference — Loughborough

A fair number of GLIAS members are probably considering going on a diet having spent up to six days (9th-14th September) at the AIA Conference, plus additional programmes at the University of Loughborough. Forget the IA — the food, four, five and seven-course meals daily was unforgettable in both quantity and quality for such meetings and it is the only conference of any kind where I've seen a presentation made to the kitchen staff!

The Conference was organised by Leicestershire Industrial History Society (mainly Marilyn Palmer and Peter Neaverson) with help from the IA societies in neighbouring counties. We gate-crashed the pre-Conference party at an interesting tannery at Rounds on the Wednesday and followed onto the little known ex-military base at Weedon near the M1 where it was planned that if Napoleon invaded the Royal family would make their base. The extensive Georgian buildings are now awaiting development. Thursday saw the party in a 1904 lace-making factory in Long Eaton and then Arkwright's Masson Mill at Cromford. Friday's visits included the 'other' Bell foundry — 'Taylor's in Loughborough'.

The full conference was attended by about 150 members — a welcome increase over the previous two years, which were hold in more remote spots. The bar as always forced a focal point, with various displays in adjoining rooms including professional ones by the English and Welsh Royal Commission and society exhibits including our own on Bricklayers' Arms. The lectures were varied in both content and presentation but without doubt the Rolt Memorial Lecture given by Dr. Neil Cossons, now Director of the Science Museum, will be seen as an important statement. He called for a new approach to our Industrial Heritage. We can go on collecting and preserving for ever otherwise admission to Historic Britain will be charged at Heathrow, but we must protect those items of worldwide importance that relate to the Industrial Revolution, with all our efforts. There are few industrial monuments given state protection and the new generation of IA museums/sites unfortunately rely on admissions for too high a percentage (85%) of their costs. State monies should be available but the standards of conservation must be high. Similarly the academic standing of the subject and the quality of research must be raised. From his new position Neil would appear the only person able to start these procedures rolling. We await not only the full text of his lecture (to be published in IA Review) but also the first fruits of his actions.

As always there has got to be an AGM and it was good to hear that the GLIAS Newsletter reaches parts that others do not. Following my report on last year's AIA Conference the Association was approached by the Lyndhurst Trust of Hampstead with an offer of help. Negotiations have now been completed such that the Trust will part-fund a Field Work Officer for the AIA for three years. (Any GLIAS member interested in this job should contact the AIA Secretary.) With the election to the AIA Council I now find myself with fellow GLIAS member Bob Carr, on the Council of the AIA. So contacts etc. between GLIAS members and the AIA will be strengthened. David Perrett

News from Dockland

The former Billingsgate fishmarket in Lower Thames Street is being gutted. On the Royal Mint site most buildings 'without architectural merit' have been cleared and space in warehouses along The Highway around Breezer's Hill is being offered for use as offices — thankfully no demolition here. Until recently the traditional practice of raising goods by wall crane was still carried on in this group of warehouses. The Ragged School Museum has acquired a set of parapet railings from the London and Blackwall railway viaduct at Three Colt Street (GLIAS Newsletter August 1986). The Spratt's dog-biscuit factory alongside Limehouse Cut is now in use as artists' studios. There are said to be more artists in Tower Hamlets than in any comparable area in Western Europe.

In Silvertown St. Mark's church is rising phoenix-like, while in the Royal Docks to the north east are acres of rubble from recent demolition for Stolport. It is still intended to extend the Docklands Light Railway from the West India Docks across the River Lea to the Royal Docks and Beckton. A Tesco supermarket and a department store are due to be built at the Surrey Docks, Redriff Road will be realigned and development on a 23-acre site is intended to produce a shopping complex similar to Brent Cross. Bob Carr

IA in the countryside

The countryside does not reveal great buildings and ancient mechanisms. But there is much to be discovered by the discerning eye. Farm buildings of flint and some bricks served an agricultural industry. Many remain. Sand and gravel deposits were worked. One can discover the former workings, on Chislehurst Common, now places for public enjoyment. Walk along Tye Lane from central Farnborough. It's an old highway to the sand pits.

Ancient highways are surely part of IA. In Bromley are Bogey Lane and Old Harrow Lane — old highways, not 'improved' for present traffic. In parts they are sunken. (One theory is that local people removed much of the surface to recover horse manure).

Enjoy a hedge. If it has many different species, it's probably old. It's probably older than docklands warehouses! (Ancient hedges have no statutory protection.) Philip Daniell

Bromley awakes

For years Bromley has had a drab and uninspired 'museum' at The Priory, Orpington. Change is likely. There is now a new voluntary organisation — Bromley Heritage. A new Conservator has been appointed to develop the museum, that has unused space. Bromley seems to have little of IA interest. If you have information or suggestions please contact Philip Daniell, 300 Baring Road, London SE12 0DS. Philip Daniell

London and Greenwich 150th celebrations, 23rd/24th August

After some difficulties in getting the structure of a stall and display boards together, everything was forgotten when the enthusiasts packed into Cannon Street station 45,000 people over the two days.

Our gradually perfected stall on Platform 5 (we had more space on the Sunday) was, fortunately, away from the hardly-moving mass of people on the forecourt and we had views of a variety of rolling stock. There were lots of enquiries about GLIAS and it proved an excellent outlet for sales — we took over £600 in all. It was an enjoyable, if hectic, weekend and very warming when GLIAS members turned up at the stall. Many thanks to everyone who helped in many ways towards the success of the celebrations. Youla Yates

August Bank Holiday saw some 45,000 people, including many GLIAS members, pack into Cannon Street Station to attend this event. Southern Region arranged for a steam locomotive to be present, together with various more modern stock and about 150 displays and stalls. The majority of the stalls were occupied by one of the largest ever gatherings of model railways, supported by dozens of railway enthusiast stands. Sadly, among all this the raison d'être of the event, the 150th anniversary of the opening of the L. & G.R. got rather lost. The major features by the Local History libraries of Southwark and Lewisham were out of the main thoroughfares. The GLIAS stall was way up Platform 4. Among all this it appeared that we were the only stand selling the book 'London's First Railway' and one dozen copies went in the first hour. The organization was somewhat chaotic although we had prepared at some considerable expense displays on Bricklayers' Arms Goods Depot and the London & Greenwich train trail. The requested display boards were there but no 'legs' or display table ever arrived. So our excellent boards were never properly displayed. However, the two days of excellent weather brought out the crowds and the event was a success, particularly for us. We've never sold so many IA publications before — in fact we sold out of most items on the morning of the first day!

The society's 'Thank You' should go to Youla Yates who represented GLIAS on the co-ordinating committee that arranged the entire event. She also organised our displays, along with David Thomas, Malcolm Tucker and Bob Carr. Also thanks to all those who helped man the stall and give GLIAS a face. David Perrett

Bacon smokers — Southwark

In the early part of August the smoke houses remaining to the rear of the Old Bacon Factory, Southwark (see London's IA No. 3), were gutted by fire. The characteristic structures with their vents have now been removed and the walls are at present being demolished. All this cannot be seen from the street but is clearly visible from the Elephant to Blackfriars Railway viaduct. David Perrett

Local studies notes

The following free sheets of notes are available to GLIAS members if they will send a large SAE to the Local Studies Library, London Borough of Newham, Water Lane, E15 4NJ.

1. Princess Alice Disaster.
2. Population, West Ham.
3. Population, East Ham.
4. West Ham's M.P.s.
5. Launch of the Albion.
6. Mayors of West Ham.
7. Cyprus in Newham.
8. Population of Newham.
9. Policeman on the White Horse.
10. Local Government and Jurisdictions.
11. Opening of the Theatre Royal.
12. Notes on Green St and Plashet.
13. Notes on the Silvertown Explosion.
14. Plaistow Public Schools Prospectus 1855.
15. Dr John Fothergill of Upton.
16. West Ham Park.
17. Parliamentary Representation in East Ham.
18. Chronology of Labour History in East and West Ham.
19. Labour representation in East and West Ham.
20. West Ham Parish Workhouse 1725.
21. 'West Ham Parish — Earliest Local Government Record 1647.
22. Local Government and Politics in East Ham.
23. E Ham Town Hall Opening Ceremony 1903.
24. Mayors of East Ham.
25. The Road to Essex — taken from Daniel Defoe's tour through the Eastern Counties 172.4.
26. Londoners over the Border 1857.
27. Reminiscences of Shelley Holford (Stratford).
28. The Bank Holiday 1904.
29. Reminiscences of Mr. Patterson (East Ham).
30. Awful Calamity at the Forest Gate Schools.
31. Electric light comes to Forest Gate 1898.
32. Reminiscences of Mr Younger (Stratford Railway Works).
33. GLC London's Drainage System.
34. Free travel on the Thames — Woolwich Free Ferry.
36. Place Names of Newham.
37. Afternoon at the Pavilion Gardens North Woolwich.
38. Across the Water (Royal Albert Dock North Woolwich).
39. History of the Modern Town.
40. Methods employed to help the poor of West Item 1660-1724.
42. Reminiscences of Mr Rose (Canning Town & Docks]
49. Reminiscences of Mr Hammond (Custom House and Docks).
50. Calendar of Saints Days.
51. Women at Work 1914-1918 — Jam Making.
60. Out for the holidays 3rd June 1871.

Our thanks go to Mr Howard Bloch, the Local Studies Librarian at Water Lane for his kind offer in making these Studies Notes available to GLIAS members. When writing to the library please quote the number of the sheet you would like to receive.

The Carriage Hall, Floral Street, Covent Garden

This building is of interest to Industrial Archaeologists for two reasons — firstly it is the last remnant of the once very important carriage building industry in London which was centred on Long Acre, and secondly it is possibly the first building to have elevations consisting of an exposed iron frame, with lightweight infill panels, preceding by many years the well-known Sheerness Boatshed.

The site, between Long Acre and Floral Street, was at the centre of the carriage building industry which had been established since the mid-17th century, Richard Turrill, coachmaker, took the lease on 22 Long Acre in 1805, then, expanded into the rear property, the stabling of the Red Lion, a coaching inn on Floral Street, all part of the Christ's Hospital estate. In December 1832 the premises were destroyed by fire. On 18th January 1833 John Shaw, surveyor to the hospital, was authorised to contract with Samuel Grimsdell to rebuild the premises for ₤4,285 — in iron, which they considered preferable to timber (at ₤3,926). The ironfounder was J. Hervey and Co. of Herman's Buildings, Brick Lane, off Old Street by the City Road basin of the Grand Union canal. The firm was founded in 1832, so this was possibly their first major job, but they disappeared from London in 1842 and nothing else is known about them.

Carriage Hall, Floral Street, Covent Garden. 7.7.23 Carriage Hall, Floral Street, Covent Garden. 7.7.23

In 1836 Richard Turrill became the master of the Coachmakers Company and his firm thrived all through the century, having six different premises along Long Acre in 1900, when there were 26 other manufacturers there also. During this period among other alterations, the courtyard was glazed over and upper parts of the building were let off. During the early part of this century the carriage building industry disappeared to be replaced by the motor trade. By 1910 there were only seven coachmakers left, but 28 firms in the motor car industry. In 1915 Turrills were absorbed into Mulliners Motor Body Builders. By 1920 all carriage makers had disappeared from Long Acre, though barrow making continued until 1984 in Heal Street. The motor industry did not last and the Renault garage at the corner with St Martins Lane is the only reminder of over 300 years link with the transport industry in Long Acre. By 1940 the premises were empty and damaged by bombs, the upper floors on Long Acre being demolished. In the 1950s the building was used by fruit merchants, then exhibition stand contractors. Through the 1960s and 70s it was used by photographers, who blacked out the windows to the courtyard by an auctioneer who sealed off the bottom of the courtyard; and as a hot dog stand depot. During this period there were two serious fires which destroyed the top floor in Floral Street. In the mid-1980s the surrounding buildings were rebuilt, the courtyard was rediscovered and the whole building was restored to its original form and converted for use as shops and workshops. A new steel frame was inserted to support the badly damaged building and a basement was inserted underneath. The courtyard is now open to the public via new entrances from Floral Street and Long Acre. The architects for the project were Frederick Gibberd Coombes and Partners, the writer being responsible for the restoration.

Coachbuilding consists of a great many separate trades which are brought together to assemble the carriage. Some trades were in separate buildings in the area in the 19th century, supplying the main manufacturers in the area eg lacquer makers, braid and trim makers, carriage draughtsmen, harness makers. Generally the various parts were manufactured on upper levels of the building and the parts taken to lower levels for sub assembly, the final assembly being on the ground floor, cranes and large double doors in the courtyard being used for moving the parts. A plan of 1886 shows the smithy on the 1st floor, timber storage onto Floral Street (remains of both were found during restoration), tailors' workshops on upper levels, offices on the 1st floor onto Long Acre, the body factory on the ground floor of the main building, along with the paint shop and the show room fronting onto Long Acre. The Floral Street ground floor frontage consisted entirely of doors for carriages and a route led down into the courtyard then through to Long Acre (the position can be recognised by the cut away granite column bases in the courtyard). The courtyard was generally open on the ground floor except for the smithy. (The rebated rectangular columns had doors, the round columns were free standing.) The courtyard plan of the building was based quite closely on the former coaching inn. The original timber stairs were adjacent to the remaining brick arches of the timber store.

The building was surrounded by other buildings on 3½ sides with only a frontage directly onto Floral Street it used these buildings for some structural support. The rectangular courtyard in the centre of the building has the best preserved façades (that to Floral Street having lost the top floor in a fire, so is only two storeys).

The loadbearing façades consist of mainly rectangular rebated 6in x 9in cast iron columns at centres varying from 7ft6in to 12ft, cast iron beans spanning between the columns, continuous over 1, 2 or 5 bays. These beams are 13in high and 11in wide of a simple angle section, the flange being at the bottom. They are infilled with 4½" brickwork to cill height then full width timber sash windows up to the next beam. Floors are timber on joists spanning between twin 11in x 6in pine beans, which rest on the flange of the cast iron beams. The roof is Welsh slate on pine trusses which span onto the cast iron beams which are only 6in x 11in at this level, though the cast iron gutter was apparently intended to act structurally with this beam to give it extra height. The foundations consist of granite plinths resting on brick inverted arches. The composite structure was presumably used since the designer preferred timber for the 18ft spans. The joints consist of a tenon on the upper column passing through a hole in the flange of the beam and engaging a mortice in the top of the lower column. The twin timber beams are bolted either side of a c.i. stool which forms part of the upper column. Roof trusses and some beams simply rest on the flange of the beam with no restraint. A tenon on the bottom of the columns engages with a mortice in the granite plinths at ground level.

The building structure is a little odd and has only stood up this long because of lateral restraint from the surrounding buildings. It appears to be based on traditional timber framing, but with no triangulation of stiffness in the joints to give stability, except for the brick panels. Some of the columns are 5in out of vertical. The founder appears to have been developing his techniques during the project, some joints are more sophisticated, some beams have integral braces to prevent the angle opening out and other members have additional bracing pieces from otherwise identical pieces. There is no standardisation at all, every piece is slightly different and spans of beam vary considerably, despite being of the same section. The bean shape is structurally very illogical (being in effect upside down) and some of the columns are only half size to allow a door to swing the opposite way from others. The building was probably an early experiment in cast iron structures; it is not known whether Hervey did any other similar buildings. Jon Wallsgrove, August 1986

Jon adds: P.S. I would be interested to hear through this journal of any other work by Hervey and of any other earlier examples of buildings with iron-framed façades.

Letter to the editor

Roy Allen writes:
One of my ancestors, who lived on Tyneside, was described in 1007 as an iron-slitter; does anyone know how the job was performed?

If you have any ideas please write to Roy at: 6 Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, NW3.

The Docklands Light Railway — Part Three

This third extract from 'The Docklands Light Railway' has been reprinted with the kind permission of Mr R E Bayman, Operations Manager of the Docklands Light Railway.

Bank extension

On 27 November 1985 Nicholas Ridley, Secretary of State for Transport, announced a proposal from the private sector to pay for an extension of the DLR to the City.

A Consortium planning to develop Canary Wharf (Canary Quay DLR) on the Isle of Dogs, comprising companies associated with and backed by Credit Suisse/First Boston, Morgan Stanley International and First Boston International believe that an extension of the DLR to the Bank is essential to the satisfactory realisation of their plans. The Canary Wharf scheme involves 10m ft2 of office space and three ultra-high towers for financial sector companies employing up to 40,000 people.

An understanding has been reached that this Consortium will contribute ₤30m towards the construction of the extension and unless others come forward, they will secure under writing of funding for an agreed privatisation scheme. The Secretary of State has said that there will be an opportunity for other people interested in owning and operating the extending railway to put forward alternatives to the Consortium's proposals.

Work is now proceeding on a detailed design and costs study for the Bank extension (>>>).

The proposed extension of about 1.6km begins hear Leman Street, E1, east of Tower Gateway terminus, runs in tunnel beneath Tower Hill, Bywood Street, Eastcheap and King William St to a terminus at Bank. The 1.2km twin tunnel element of the extension is planned to run almost wholly under streets.

The Docklands Light Railway contract

A single package contract to design, build and equip the Docklands Light Railway has been awarded to a consortium of GEC and John Mowlem, who operate under the name of the GEC Mowlem Railway Group; with construction headquarters in Poplar. There is a new and unusual form of contract which places the majority of risk with the Contractor rather than the Employer. The Contractor is thus responsible for a far wider range of duties than is normally the case; a complete railway is to be provided to meet the Performance Specification set by the Clients. The contract award was announced in August 1984; full scale construction began at the end of 1984. The railway must be complete for handover by late April 1987. The contract value is ₤58.4m.

Choice of system

A system using conventional standard gauge steel wheel on steel rail has been chosen for the railway although a number of other systems were considered. As most of the route follows disused railway alignments which would provide a base for track foundations, systems such as monorails which would not take advantage of this feature were rejected on economic grounds.

Systems using guided buses were examined but found unsuitable due to the limited capacity, high maintenance requirement and the indicated comparatively short life of the vehicles, potential difficulties with providing electric traction supply and a lack of space at terminals for turning the vehicles. Rubber-tyred trains were also examined. These require a more complex guidance system than ordinary trains and the extra capital and operating costs involved could not be justified within the cash limited sum available.


A project team to run the railway is already in place at Poplar in temporary accommodation close to the future Operations and Maintenance centre. It is expected that during 1986 a small team of supervisors will be recruited. Train staff will follow in early 1987. The railway will probably employ around 80 people when it opens.

Railway identity

A distinct visual identity for this local London railway has been designed by the Contractor, as part of the design-and-construct contract, for approval by the joint clients. Principal DLR house colour is a medium bright blue applied to the steelwork of structures and station materials. Refurbished bridges near Three Colt Street, Limehouse and Butcher Row, Stepney are already painted blue. On the trains the blue is complemented by a bright red horizontal sash and red door panels with the red taken up over the roof above each doorway. White lining is applied between the red and blue.

Operating philosophy and public image

Free of the task of driving the (automatic) train, it is intended that the on-train staff member will be able to develop a closer, more friendly relationship with DLR passengers. Staff will be recruited and trained ab initio to work to specific new job descriptions. It is likely that a more flexible approach to job roles will be developed on the DLR, as appropriate to a small-scale all-new transport operation. (To be continued). R.E. Bayman

Shoreditch Refuse Destructor and Generating Station

In spite of its daunting title the supplement, which is distributed with this Newsletter, gives a good, readable account of the history of an interesting site, tied to what was noted on a recording visit earlier this year. A fuller report, including a bibliography, will be available early in 1987; further details will appear in the newsletter (>>>). This report is a team effort, including contributions from members new to recording, but there's still far more to do than we can cope with — all help appreciated. If you'd like to help finish off work on past sites, or be included in new ones, please contact Youla Yates. David Thomas.

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© GLIAS, 1986