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Notes and news — December 1986

In this issue:

Camden IA and transport survey

We are continuing research and have made four site visits. Our recording work at Holmes Road coal drops (supplement to August Newsletter) was just in time — by 12th November they were just a pile of rubble! I'd love to hear from more members living in or near Camden who can help in the survey, or anyone who could assist in tracing the sequence of use of garages by Birch Bros., bus and coach operators. David Thomas

Not the world's first computer programmer?

In the review of the book 'The Silicon Civilisation' (GLIAS Newsletter April 1981), it is stated that Augusta Ada Byron (1815-52), later Lady Lovelace, who was a close friend of Charles Babbage FRS, was a gifted mathematician and the world's first computer programmer. It may be necessary to revise this opinion since the publication of 'Ada, A Life and a Legacy' by Dorothy Stein, MIT, 1936. Despite expressing an interest in mathematics from an early age it seems that Ada had no real mathematical talent and her understanding of the work on Charles Babbage's analytical engine that she translated was tenuous. The computer language 'Ada' has been named after her. Bob Carr

'Big Bang' in the City

With the recent introduction of comprehensive computerisation the traditional style of working at the London Stock Exchange has come to an end. Job descriptions have been altered and the atmosphere of the floor must by now have irrevocably gone. Perhaps we should have paid a visit before the new system was implemented! GLIAS would be interested to hear of the experiences of anyone who works there. Bob Carr

Tiles & Architectural Ceramics Society

Anyone interested in finding out more about this 'National Society responsible for the study and protection of tiles and architectural ceramics' is invited to write to the Secretary, Hans van Lemmen, at Leeds Polytechnic, School of Humanities and Contemporary Studies, Calverley St, Leeds, LS1 3HE, Yorkshire. While their Summer 1986 Bulletin may not be typical, it had articles on the Sidney Street Estate, St. Pancras and new tiles at Underground stations. The Society organises visits and lectures. David Thomas

Stone sleepers in Paddington

On the east side of Paddington Station, a private road runs off South Wharf Road alongside the canal arm which terminates in Paddington Basin. At various places along this private road are stone blocks, about 2ft square and 1ft thick, mounted vertically as guard-stones to keep traffic off the walls. Several of these stones have indentations carved in one face showing that they were previously used as stone sleepers on a tramway or railway. The rails evidently ran diagonally across the sleepers; as used in the cuttings on the London & Birmingham railway when first built.

Does anyone know whether these blocks are relics of a local tramway, or were they imported via the canal from somewhere? And have they been erected as guard-stones recently? The ones nearest South Wharf Road look as if they were put up recently. John A Bagley

GLIAS visit to Sheffield

At the kind invitation of GLIAS member Derek Bayliss and the Sheffield Trades Historical Society (STHS) we had the great pleasure of a day visit to Sheffield on Saturday, June 14th 1936. Some members travelled down by car or train and ethers took the coach from Victoria. Unfortunately the coach arrived late but we were united at the first location which was Wilson's and Company (Sharrow) dating from 1737.

Set in a superficially ordinary residential part of Sheffield, the water-powered Sharrow Mills, behind a modern shopping centre, were a very great surprise. Grinding, mills, some of the machinery dating from the late eighteenth century powder tobacco leaves to make snuff. The huge weight of tobacco dust in the atmosphere that this grinding produces was overpowering and many of the party found it physically impossible to stay in the building's for more than a few minutes. The ancient tobacco-stained industrial scenes inside were well worth getting used to the atmosphere and we had a fascinating tour of the works, learning just a little of the many different varieties of snuff that Sharrow Mills produce. The older of the two mill buildings still contains water-powered, machinery, the drive coming from a breastshot water wheel powered by the River Porter. This machinery is still in regular use and was set in motion for us. With machinery of this date the power transmission to the 16 small mills, can well be imagined! Steam power was introduced at Sharrow in 1797, but water power has outlasted it. Though there are now some electrically powered mills, the water-powered ones can grind the snuff more finely.

Outside in the mill grounds all was rural tranquillity. An earth dam impounds a traditional mill pond and the owners' house is exquisite. We had the privilege of entering what was once the drawing room. The whole house still had the furnishings of an early 19th century home and the period furniture and many delightful relics relating to the snuff Making business at Sharrow produced a time capsule as striking as the interior of the mills themselves. What an incredible morning this was!

Sharrow Mills, probably a medieval mill sites have been, used by the Wilson family since 1737, when Thomas Wilson, a shearsmith, rented a water wheel and buildings from the Duke of Norfolk. Various trades were carried on at Sharrow by his son Joseph but by the 1740s the family business of snuff-making had definitely begun. The S.P. brand introduced in 1750 is still in production. Later the SS, Tom Buck, Queen's, Crumbs of Comfort and top quality Sharrow Gold Label varieties followed. Also produced are flavoured snuffs such as wallflower, rose, carnation, Tonquin, lavender, Jockey Club, Sharrow Morlaix, Strasbourg, pine forest, aniseed-with-eucalyptus, High Toast, French Carotte, Prince's, Kendal Brown, Country Mint, thyme and lemon Royal George, menthol and medicated snuffs. Visits are not normally permitted but an exception was made for us. We are grateful to Mr. Chaytor managing director, for his permission and, to Mr. Glover, who showed us round.

With the late arrival of the coach and the great attractions at Sharrow we were somewhat behind time and there were just a few minutes for some of us to pay a brief visit to a nearby shop at 475 Ecclesall Road (telephone 0742-685701), part of a converted beef factory, which is run by Don Alexander, a member of the Sheffield Trades Historical Society. It specialises in products from Sheffield such as cutlery and hand tools. The visit was altogether too brief and any GLIAS member who goes to Sheffield is strongly recommended to call at Don's shop.

We were whisked away to lunch at the Fat Cat public house in Alma Street, near the Industrial museum which serves several brands of real ale. From there we walked through the Shalesmoor area to the former British Iron and Steel Research Association laboratories in Hoyle Street, now empty, where Sheffield's only complete surviving cementation furnace is hidden in a yard In the cementation process iron bars were converted to steel by slow baking with charcoal in sealed chests, in a furnace similar in, shape to a pottery kiln. The Hoyle Street furnace was built about 1840 and was the last to remain in use, until 1951-2. The top was rebuilt to reduce glare as an airraid precaution in World War II. We are grateful to Mr. Lambe, of estate agents Eadon Lockwood & Riddle, for making our visit possible. STHS member Peter Machan led us on a walk to see the outside, of the Well Meadow steel works of Samuel Peace & Co, steel and file makers. This was founded in 1853 but incorporates some early 19thc, back-to-back houses and Peter told us about the dreadful living avid working conditions and short life expectancy, of the time.

The site also includes a later manager's house and two crucible stacks, the special chimneys for the furnaces where small amounts of high-quality tool steel were made in crucibles. We passed the works of Stephenson Blake in Upper Allen Street and Chris Rule (GLIAS) gave us an impromptu talk on the firm, Britain's last traditional typefounders. Peter's walk finished outside John Watts, Lambert Street, another, works which includes early 19th-century houses, this time grouped round courts. The firm's varied history includes inventing one of the earliest, if not the first, safety razor with a separate blade; and taking contracts to equip some of the great liners of the 1930s.

Jim MacPherson of STHS then showed us Cower Spring cementation furnace, a large fragment of which shows the furnace's internal structure. His research suggests it may date from the 1790s, rather than c.1820 as previously thought.

Finally we had a short walk through the Kelham Island Conservation Area, led by Graham Hague of Sheffield City Council Department of Land and Planning. It is South Yorkshire's only purely industrial conservation area and includes (besides the Industrial Museum) some outstanding 19th century works, such as the Classical (but sadly neglected) Globe Works of the 1820s; the very large Cornish Place works of the silversmiths James Dixon; and the triumphal gateway that the stove grate maker Henry Hoole built to his Green Lane Works in 1860 when he was made Mayor. It also includes a variety of working firms and a good deal of empty property.

Sheffield has also made it an Industrial Improvement Area and hope thus to be able to revitalise it while keeping its industrial and historical character. After this packed and thrilling day there was just time to make the coach back to London. Derek Bayliss and Bob Carr

Gone for a Burton!

First, the apology. I am sorry that the majority of members didn't know of this trip to Burton, until very near the date of the trip, due to postal problems in infield from where this Newsletter is mailed. Then my warning that first-comers only would get places. Well, everyone no doubt believed only their Newsletter was late and very few members applied. So for the first time ever a GLIAS coach trip ran less than half full instead of the usual situation where a few have to be disappointed.

So we made it with plenty of room to a rather rainy and cold Burton-on-Trent. The small party was able to wander at will around the four rusting beam engines at Clay Hills Sewage Works and inspect the superb small generating house with the horizontal steam engine of 1889. Is this the oldest, intact, in situ, electricity generating plant in Britain? We learned that there is an enthusiast group hoping to restore two of the beam engines.

Following lunch and a visit to the Bass Museum we then went on to the Heritage Brewery, formerly Everard's Tiger Brewery, where Michael Knights, the Director, showed us absolutely everything, and then it was into the sample room to taste the product. Having wished the museum project every success we left for home just before six.

A call of nature (due to the beer!) called for a stop at Leicester Forest East Services. Then five miles down the M1 the coach filled with smoke and we pulled off onto the hard shoulder with a burnt out engine! So we spent two hours sitting in the dark by the M1 until, we were ferried down to Watford Gap to await another coach to return us to London. Well, I think most of us got home by 1am!

Sorry all round — we'll try better next summer. Dave Perrett

Recording industrial sites

The Institute of Industrial Archaeology, in conjunction with the AIA, organised a meeting at Ironbridge on the 7th November, which followed up, to some extent, the CBA's meeting in London, five years ago (see 'The Crisis in Recording Industrial Monuments', GLIAS Newsletter December 1981). The public resources devoted to IA recording may have slightly improved in the intervening period, so that the atmosphere was more positive, and a good number of useful points were made by the invited speakers and the chairman Michael Robbins.

Industrial archaeology can and should have an intellectual base, but the archaeological record is the very foundation of the subject and it must be accurate. Stephen Hughes (RCAHM, Wales) pointed out that there is little use in a detailed physical survey if it lacks description and interpretation and limited time may be better spent on investigation and analysis than in the preparation of exact but superficial measured drawings. In the past, some people have tended to concentrate on narrow, well-trodden aspects, such as the technicalities of prime movers and several speakers stressed the need to take a much wider view of the contexts, in which sites, artefacts end processes were created and operated (addressing such questions as what was being done on a site, when and how successfully, whether, leading or lagging, technologically how related to neighbouring sites and why).

Resources are limited however and the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in England, in its detailed survey of Yorkshire textile mills, led by Colum Giles, is being deliberately selective of which themes it pursues at each site. It is recording 120 sites out of 1,400 extant, choosing subjectively a representative range of sizes, periods, constructional types etc. and aiming to keep repetition to a minimum. In contrast, the Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey, under John Hume, attempts a record in sketch form of all surviving examples in its thematic surveys. The incidence of various features in the surviving population of sites can then be deduced, so providing a yardstick for further studies and an informed view of the priorities for statutory listing, scheduling and preservation.

Obtaining such an informed view was cited by other speakers as one of the important products of recording work. Another particular benefit of recording is to provide a check on documentary evidence. Many unsuspected aspects and occurrences have been found from fieldwork which have upset deductions eand quantifications made by other specialists from documentary sources. This also applies in reverse and documentary information should always be sought and taken into account in I.A.

Disseminating the results of recording work is essential, particularly informing planning authorities and depositing unpublished records in the National Monuments Record (English, Welsh or Scottish) where others can have access to them. This is an area for improvement in ...bur1... own practices in GLIAS. The valuable role of amateurs, in societies and adult education classes, was presented by Marilyn Palmer of the AIA. Others stressed the need for professional standards in amateur work so perhaps training courses should be more widely promoted and other resource bottlenecks tackled. Sadly, though symptomatically, amateurs numbered only ten per cent of those attending and their particular difficulties were not discussed at length.

This was quite a stimulating conference and much less theoretical in tone than this potted account suggests. Malcolm Tucker

Postscript: I found that most facilities of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum have been closed this winter, until 7th March 1987. Fortunately (owing in large part to the unique character of this museum), the area is one where one can still appreciate industrial archaeology in the landscape, outside the formal museum confines. There must be a lesson in this for the way we should preserve the past.

Industriale Archaeologie en Belgie — Industrial Archaeology in Belgium

When I was in Belgium recently I picked up a leaflet in Flemish, French and English, giving details of an exhibition 'IA IN BELGIUM' open 8 November 1986 to 18 January 1987 at Sint-Pietersabdij, Gent. There are also eight weekly lectures on Wednesdays, except Christmas week, in Flemish or French, while the exhibition is on. This is probably not a time of year when members will be going to Belgium but if anyone is, it may be worth making a detour to Gent (Ghent). I can supply more details. Bill Firth

News from Crossness

The Crossness Beam Engines Preservation Group has produced its first newsletter entitled 'Crossness Beam Engines Record'. The cover has a picture of the Southern Outfall Works, 1865, courtesy of the I.L.N. and inside a map for those who do not know the location of the works.

There is a foreword by the group's Chairman, John Ridley, a rundown on the establishment of the group and its intentions, an article on James Watt Beam Engines reprinted from a paper presented by Ray Davies, a former works manager and a page called 'News from the Octagon'. There is also an article on 'Alterations and Additions 1870-1939', reprinted with acknowledgement to the former G.L.C. Historic Buildings Dept. and a small piece on 'How to Join In'. Peter J Skilton
Members interested in joining C.B.E. Preservation Group should contact: Robert L Eastleigh, 245 Colyers Lane, Slade Green, Kent, DA8 3QD

London Underground stations with red tile exteriors

Chalk Farm tube station © Robert Mason

In response to an enquiry from Mr. D. G. Corbie, a member of GLIAS, London Underground made a special survey of Underground stations with red tile exteriors and sent Mr. Corbie the following list:

Piccadilly Line: Holloway Road, Caledonian Road, Russell Square, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, South Kensington and Gloucester Road.
Bakerloo Line: Kilburn Park, Maida Vale, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Elephant & Castle. At Edgware Road and Lambeth North the tiling has been overpainted.
Northern Line: Hampstead; Belsize Park, Chalk Farm (pictured), Tufnell Park, Kentish Town, Camden Town, Mornington Crescent and Goodge Street.

Other properties noted with red tiling include the closed York Way station between King's Cross and Caledonian Road and an electrical sub-station at Euston on the corner of Drummond Street, to the west of the main line station. David Perrett (>>>)

The Docklands Light Railway — Part Four

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

The trains

The trains will be electrically powered articulated units of the welded steel construction. Two-axled motored bogies will be located at each end of the unit with a central, non-motored two-axled bogie under the articulated joint. Current will be collected from an outer low-level power rail as on many British Rail lines, but contact will be made with allow the top and sides on the rail instead of the top unlike on BR. This feature will allow the top and sides of the rail to be covered for added safety and will greatly reduce problems caused by the build up of ice and snow. The power rail is considerably smaller and lighter than the type used on conventional top-contact line rail system. Power will be supplied at 750 volts DC.

Trains will have 'Gate Turn Off' Thyristor ('Chopper') type traction control equipment, this being a modern electronic alternative to older systems which made extensive use of mechanical switching. Both rheostatic and disc friction braking equipment will be fitted. Rheostatic braking uses the braking effect of electro-magnetic forces within the traction motors. The braking system will automatically compensate for the passenger load and a load-compensating air suspension system will be fitted.

Trains will be driven by an automatic system and therefore will not have driving cabs. Driving controls at the end of each car will provided to allow manual operation to and from the sidings or in the event of a system failure. Trains will run with headlights in use all the time, supplemented by a reflective horizontal strip. Passengers will open the power-operated doors by pressing a button, helping to keep out the cold in winter by ensuring that door are not opened unnecessarily. Each train will carry a member of staff who will close the doors and signal to the control system that the train is ready to leave. The staff person will be free to move around with the train, checking tickets, giving travel advice and assisting any passenger needing, such as the disabled, and parents with children and shopping or visitors to Docklands.

On each train, interior and exterior displays will indicate the destination and a passenger address system will fitted. Each unit will have sufficient capacity to carry approximately 210 passengers. The design will include space for luggage and wheelchairs located towards the centre of the car near the articulation joint. The maximum service speed of the trains will be 80km/h (50mph). Each unit will be provided with automatic couplers so that two or more units can be coupled and run as one longer train when necessary. Eleven trains will be built initially in order to meet a peak service requirement of nine trains plus two spare sets, so that routine maintenance can be carried out without affecting the service. Extra units will be needed for any future extensions (>>>).

The dimensions of a Docklands train are listed below along with the corresponding figures for a carriage of the type used by British Rail on the Fenchurch Street line:

Vehicle Docklands Unit BR Single Vehicle (used in 4, 8 or 12 car trains)
Length 28.00m (91ft 10in) 19.9m (63ft 11in)
Width 2.65m (8ft 8in) 2.74m (9ft 0in)
Roof height above rail level 3.25m (10ft 8in) 3.90m (12ft 10in)

Each Docklands unit will weigh approximately 36.5 tonnes (36 tons) unladen, compared to 156 tonnes (154 tons) for a four-car Fenchurch Street line train — the shortest train formation possible on that line. The Docklands trains need to be powerful in-order to achieve a rapid rate of acceleration and to climb the steep gradients on the system. The power-to-weight ratio will therefore be 10.1 kilowatts per tonne (13¾ hp per ton) — almost three times the 3.67 kilowatts par ton (5hp per ton) of the trains used on the BR Fenchurch Street line. As there is to be no rail connection between the DLR and British Rail lines and therefore no inter-working the trains do not have to be designed to withstand normal railway end-on impact forces, making them lighter in construction and so reducing their cost and energy consumption. (To be continued). R.E. Bayman

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© GLIAS, 1986