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Notes and news — August 1987

In this issue:

Dr Derek Holliday (1948-1987)

We are sorry to have to announce the sad news that Derek died on Friday, 26th June in the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher. Many will remember Derek as a member of long standing, who had served on the Committee, had been Events Co-ordinator and, together with his wife Lyn, had been Membership Secretary. More recently he had kindly undertaken, with Julia Elton, the task of editing the book on London's Industrial Archaeology for the Manchester University Press. To all these tasks he brought an incisive mind, tenacity, and a gentle sense of humour which we shall miss greatly.

Derek studied chemical engineering at Leeds University, was a practising Chartered Engineer and had worked in Saudi Arabia in recent years. Although he has a wide range of interests in industrial archaeology his particular field of expertise was in postal history.

We look forward to seeing the book published on which he had worked even whilst in hospital. GLIAS will be making a donation to the Princess Alice Hospice and we send our sympathy and best wishes to Lyn Holliday. Denis Smith

The Industrial Archaeology of Greater London — An appeal

From the obituary printed here you will be aware that Derek Holliday was principal editor of this work which members have been writing for Manchester University Press. Unfortunately due to the long period of Derek's illness the final part of the book, the Gazetteer of London Boroughs, is still only partially complete; some areas are lacking sites, others are unbalanced in content and yet others will have changed since Derek originally compiled his computer database.

We particularly need to update information on the following boroughs: Barking, Ealing, Hammersmith, Redbridge, Sutton, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Brent, Hackney, Harrow, Kingston and Newham.

Anyone who has knowledge of any of these areas is asked to get in touch and a copy of Derek's last version of the entries can then be made available for your comments and corrections. All help will of course be fully acknowledged in the final book. David Perrett

GLIAS visit to George Jackson's Rathbone Works

Robert Adam acquired a means of producing ornamental work for his room interiors from a Swiss pastor named Liardet and entrusted the process to George Jackson (1755-1840) who in 1817 set up in business at 49 Rathbone Place.

Reverse moulds were carved in boxwood and decorations pressed out from a special composition, this being much quicker and cheaper than direct carving. Jackson's son John later brought the Carton-Pierre process from France and in the mid-19th century the firm held the patent for Fibrous Plaster. Gelatine moulds were also introduced at about this time. In 1935 the firm moved to the present premises in Rainville Road, W6, formerly a marble works, the portico from Rathbone Place being re-erected at the new site. It was to this renowned centre of craftsmanship and excellence that we were privileged to pay a visit on the morning of 22nd October 1986.

On entering the large workshop one was struck by the enormous accumulation of patterns from 200 years of business. These unique patterns, 25-30,000 moulds in number, are stored in the roof as well as in a large cellar. There are few machines; the work is done by hand and very skilled. Huge runs would be required to make casting by machine economic. The hand-carved boxwood moulds, some of them up to two centuries old, are magnificent works in their own right. Vinyl moulds, used today, have the advantage that they can be stretched and the production of a fragment to infill exactly damaged period decorative' work is that much easier. Fibrous plaster has added hessian for strength. Business involves French and Adam fireplaces and we saw work in progress on cornices. Craftsmen spend much time in attention to detail and one sees much careful and repeated finishing work with fine paint brushes rather than any rush to produce quantity. There are apprentices here and to have received one's training at George Jackson's is a very highly prized qualification.

In addition to the work seen during the visit there is a drawing office design service and fine joinery and cabinet making is undertaken. Jackson's carry out fixing and interior decoration including painting, wall coverings, gilding and polishing and do carpets and curtains, upholstery and furniture. There is a works department dealing with plumbing and electrical installation so that a complete job may be carried out as a single contract. Work is done for universities, learned societies and so on which may require special design. The firm carries out modern, Arabian and Moresque as well as traditional work. On the way out we were able to inspect four royal appointment warrants hung near the door. Signed by the Lord Chamberlain they are dated 1820, 1825, c.1897 and c.1901. We should like to express our thanks to Mr M. A. Wright and George Jackson and Sons Ltd. for a most instructive and enjoyable morning. Bob Carr

The demolition of a power station

Demolition of industrial sites is going on apace all over London. One just down the road from me is Blackwall Point Power Station — coming down quickly now. The chimney went last month and the rest is following. Perhaps the past of sites should be in retrospect from the present. GLIAS members who visited the power station in December 1980 six months after it stopped work almost certainly did not look down onto the surrounding site with very much knowledge as to how its past had shaped it. The power station now being demolished was built in 1951 to replace one built in 1900 by the Blackheath and Greenwich District Electric Light Company (later the South Metropolitan Electric Light Company), bomb damaged in the Second World War. This power station had been the site of an explosion in January 1907 and the neighbouring gas works' house magazine published a series of dramatic photographs, of the damage done!

I don't know what was there between 1881 and the building of the power station, but up until the early 1880s it was part of the Hills East Greenwich Chemical Works. (Most of that became part of the chemical works included in the South Metropolitan Gas Company's East Greenwich Gas Works.)

Frank Hills was a manufacturing chemist with a works on the banks of Deptford Creek. He was involved in many things — he eventually acquired Thames Ironworks and he made a lot of money from a gas purification process. He bought the East Greenwich site at the end of Riverway in the 1840s. He also owned the pub 'The Pilot' and Ceylon Place Cottages and a very large house which stood on the river bank where the Yacht Club is now. This house seems to have been some sort of place of entertainment.

Although the Greenwich rate books talk about the works as a steam flour mill's entries and directories under 'Hills' describe it as an 'alum mauve' works — (I would be grateful for any information on this process). Again it was notable for an explosion there which killed several people. An Ordnance Survey of the river bank done in 1879 clearly shows a 'grinding mill' marked on the power station site, together with a wide waterway from the river up to the mill.

Although Hills may have operated both a chemical works and a flour mill adjacent to each other there is no doubt that before his time a corn mill stood there. This had been built as a tide mill in 1803. A description of it was given by Olinthus Gregory in his 'Treatise on Mechanics'. Gregory had obviously visited it and gives the site foreman's views on the structure — built by an engineer called John Lloyd. The mill was a large one with a wheel weighing 20 tons. It had a diameter of 11 feet, 32 float boards and a 40 foot waterway from the river. Behind it where ponds (and I suggest that the extent of these ponds can roughly be taken as the limits of the power station site today), the larger one of which covered four acres.

The mill however is famous for an incident of importance in the history of the steam engine. On 8th September 1803 a high pressure boiler installed by Trevithick for use in pumping out the foundations of the mill exploded. Four men were killed and Boulton used the opportunity to denigrate work done by Trevithick; safety in boiler design had to be re-thought.

I would very much like to know who built that tide mill and why. Around the same time Ceylon Place and 'The Pilot' were built. On 'The Pilot' is a plaque which says 'New East Greenwich 1801'. What did they intend for the area? What sort of industrial site and what sort of community did they envisage? This short piece — which started off to be about the demolition of a power station — raises a lot of questions. I would be grateful for information on any point. I am interested in how the past of this site has shaped its present. By the way — before 1800 it was reed beds owned by a farmer called Russell. Mary Mills

Bus garages

London Buses have announced plans to close a further four garages in 1987. The list of closures since June 1983, when there were 64 'fleet' garages, is:

6/83 — Riverside (Hammersmith and Mortlake)
1/84 — Kingston (retained as a bus station)
11/85 — Walworth, Poplar and Battersea; the latter is now used by London Coaches, a wholly-owned subsidiary.
2/86 — Edmonton
5/86 — Loughton
6/86 — Bexleyheath
8/86 — Southall
10/86 — Elmers End
5/87 — Hendon. Also Norbiton will transfer to a wholly-owned subsidiary.
7/87 — Wandsworth
8/87 — Clapton
11/87 — Seven Kings

Excluded is Clapham, 'temporarily' reprieved and finally closed earlier this year.

For completeness, it should be noted that two new minibus bases have been opened for the Orpington Roundabout and Westlink/Stanwell services and that from August 1937 Red Arrow buses will be 'stabled' overnight at Waterloo. David Thomas

Demolition and building in Docklands

By the, tine you read this, major changes will have taken place at the Royal Docks. The warehouses built c.1940 along the north quay of Royal Victoria Dock are coming down as are many buildings on the North Quay of Royal Albert including the PLA cold sorting shed at the Western end, completed in 1920. The cold-sorting floor, 1,100 by 110 feet at first floor level, was supported by massive reinforced concrete columns. These take some demolition as they are almost solid, with thick steel reinforcing bars banded together. Many blows with a huge ball suspended from the jib of a crane are required just to spall away the outer skin of concrete. Cutting with a flame torch is required later. In contrast the brick curtain walling can be dealt with by the earth moving bucket of a small JCB type vehicle. On the north quay of Royal Victoria, also, reinforcing bars appear to be giving the demolishers a tough time. D, E and F warehouses, M shed and one of the large tobacco warehouses are to go. The building of Stolport in relatively lightweight style seems to be almost complete.

The floating bridge across Millwall Dock which recently carried, the Dockland Clipper bus has been replaced by a footbridge while a more permanent crossing at quay level is constructed. This is on the line of Tiller Road and Glengall Grove and the 1 remains of the old Millwall Dock piers are being surrounded by steel sheet piling and presumably will shortly disappear from view. Trains on the Docklands Light Railway have been running regularly as staff practise for real passengers from 1st August. There is an impressive terminus at the Southern end of the Isle of Dogs opposite Greenwich. Bob Carr

Mildmay Park station, Islington

Closed on 1st October 1934, the remains of the station building sported along the top evidence of its former use by the North London Railway. Sadly in recent rebuilding work the old letterings let into cement panels, has been removed and it is now even harder to visualise the site as a bustling urban station. Did anyone take a photograph? Bob Carr

Letters to the editor

From GLIAS member Charles Norrie, whose friend William Murphy is writing a book on early submarines.
Mr. Murphy writes: 'I am researching the life and work of the submarine pioneer the Rev. G.W. Garrett (1852-1902). In 1886 Garrett built two submarines (Abdul Hamid and Abdul Hledjid) for the Turkish Navy... The boats were built at the Chertsey yard of the Des Vignes Company, then sent to Constantinople in sections for re-assembly. This is the first known example of modular construction for naval purposes and the two boats were the first submarines ever to be commissioned into a Navy (a similar boat was offered to the Greek navy the year before, but rejected). I would be grateful for any information on the Des Vignes Company of the period, especially anything to do with submarines. One of Garrett's earlier submarines, the 'Resurgam' of 1879 is to be raised from Colwyn Bay in August. I am publishing a book on Garrett to tie in with the raising and preparing a series of papers on various aspects of Garrett's career, particularly the details of the Chertsey construction.

Any information on the Chertsey construction, or indeed any information about Garrett, can be communicated either to Charles Norrie at 37 Falkland Road, NWS 2PU, or directly to Mr Murphy at 66 Heathside Road, Withington, Manchester M20.

From Phil Philo, who writes:
I was interested to read Bob Carr's note on the demolition of yet more buildings along the Great West Road (GLIAS Newsletter April 1987).

The factory site he refers to bounded by the Great West Road and Gunnersbury Avenue was originally: built for the Hudson Essex Motor Car Company and this Museum has a collection of photographs showing motor car assembly at the works in the 1930s. I should be pleased to hear from anyone who has information on this American firm's activities in Britain and specific details about this particular site.

The Henly's garage building (1936) was not, in fact, listed though the Museum and staff at HBMC did try to educate the authorities as to the significance of this particular building. The tower is to be retained as part of the new development.

Sadly, the controversial demolition of the Firestone factory in 1980 has done nothing to provoke the better protection of other structures along the Great West Road, The unique character of this road and its 1920/30s industrial development has been destroyed by piecemeal redevelopment. Also under the ball and chain recently have been the 1930s office facade of Sperry Gyroscope and even as I write, the Art Deco facade of the Isleworth Winery opposite the Gillette factory. Again, the only record of this building with its imitation wine press and barrel facade will be a selection of photographs in the local museum.

If you have any information on any of the buildings mentioned by Phil, please write to him at the Gunnersbury Park Museum, Gunnersbury Park, London W3 8LQ.

The Docklands Light Railway

Following the series on the Docklands Light Railway (GLIAS Newsletter June 1986), HM The Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh will open the DLR in the afternoon of 30th July 1987 and public service will commence the next day.

The service will run from 5.30am until half past midnight at intervals of between three and ten minutes. Multi-value change-giving ticket machines designed by Thorn EMI are being installed and are meant to be vandal-proof. Travelling without a valid ticket will incur a fixed penalty fare of about ₤5.

The Docklands Light Railway fare system is exactly the same as that of the London Underground. Nearly all the DLR stations are in Zone 2 of the Underground Zonal system. The only exceptions are that Tower Gateway is in Zone 1 and Stratford is in Zone 3a. All tickets, permits and Travelcards that are valid in the appropriate zone on the Underground, are valid on DLR and vice versa. Editor

Coronet Street

Malcolm Tucker has prepared some excellent drawings of the CO2 fire protection system, shown below, it was supplied from the Lux Works of Walter Kidde Co. Ltd, Belvue Rd., Northolt. Chubb took over the firm in the early 1980s. Can any member help us date the equipment? Please advise David Thomas.



A: 16 gas cylinders in 2 rows of 8 at 10in by 10in centres. 7¼in diameter and 74in tall, standing on the floor and restrained by iron clamps to wooden frame. Painted red and bearing transferred label 'LUX'
B: Cable-operated valves with cast-iron weights. Twin wire ropes ⅛th diameter connected to (E)
C: Manifolds: 2no. 1in overall diameter iron pipes with isolation valves to ½in o/d copper branches
D: 2in overall diameter iron main, painted red
E: Twin cables to open valves on cylinders. Linkage to falling weights (G) now missing. Guided through iron brackets
F: Cables in guide conduits form fusible links in EHT rooms
G: Weights suspended from cables (F)
H: Vavels operated by brass cams worked by ¼in wire ropes. (Connection to weights (G) conjectured). See Detail.
J: Cast-iron pipes delivering to EHT rooms, 2in and 1in overall diameter. Clamped to wall at (L)
K: Angle-iron frame with enamelled plates 'EHT ROOM/GROUND FLOOR', 'EHT ROOM/1st FLOOR' and three blanks




Camden Survey. 109 Bartholomew Road, Kentish Town NW5

Sometimes we find out all we can about a building, visit it and end up with more questions than answers. This is especially so if it has long ceased to be used for its original purpose and if even that is a matter for conjecture. 109 Bartholomew Road falls into this unsatisfactory category. We are publishing what we DO know in the hope that other members can help complete the picture.

109 is in a predominantly residential area, we know it was erected in about 1880, on a 'green fields' site and used by Henry Brooks Peel & Co, makers of collapsible metallic tubes (for artists' colours and perfumes; presumably tooth paste did not come in tubes in those days), of pianoforte action and of a number of office desk items.

The firm already had premises in Lyme Street, Camden and during the 1870s two further addresses appear in directories. Soon after 109 was built the firm seems to have split into piano action makers (Henry Brooks, at Lyme St) and tuba makers, Brooks Peel & Co in Bartholomew Road.

A Goad plan of 1900 shows the main building to possess two small steam engines, with the three floors used for stores (top), finishing (centre) and, vaguely, machinery (ground). A site visit merely proved that no signs of former usage remain; the interior has simple wooden floors and circular cast iron columns.


The plan also shows a large yard with stored timber and a single storey range adjacent to the chimney, including a boiler, 'melting house' and forge. This still stands (illustration opp.).


The questions are: why collapsible tubes, why here, who for, why decline (manufacture stopped in about 1915), why lots of timber, what did the relatively small melt house do and how does the firm fit into the trade and economy of London and Kentish Town?

All comments and suggestions gratefully received by David Thomas at 36 Pearman Street, London SE1 7HB.

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© GLIAS, 1987