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Notes and news — February 1988

In this issue:

Barrie Hearnden

We are sorry to have to announce that Barrie died on the 23rd October 1987, after a short illness. I first met Barrie when he joined, the Goldsmiths' College Industrial Archaeology group some five years ago. He quickly became an enthusiastic member of GLIAS and was a member of the Executive Committee until just before his death. For the past few years he was also a very active member of the Friends of the Kirkaldy Testing Museum in Southwark. The impressive sales counter at the Museum, which blends so well, with the Victorian interior of the Testing Room, was designed and built by Barrie. He had other plans for work at the Museum where his cheerful and skilful presence will be greatly missed. The Society sends its sympathy to his family. Denis Smith

A Memorial Service for Barrie Hearnden was held at St. John the Evangelist Church Blackheath at 12 noon on December 9th 1987. GLIAS and the Kirkaldy Testing Museum were represented by friends who joined Barrie's family and friends in the service. His daughter Georgine thanked all who attended. Peter J Skilton

Early automatic railway signalling

The unique signalling system on the Camden to Watford D.C. electric line is due for replacement in Spring 1960. The LMS installed the present automatic colour light signals in 1932-3 to overcome the problems of coping with increased traffic with the original manual signalling. Tim Smith

An earlier Ironbridge

The famous iron bridge at Coalbrookdale dating from 1779 may have a precursor in an iron bridge erected at the end of the 11th century across the River Sil at Ponferrada (translation obvious), Loon, Spain. Can any reader shed light on this matter? Does the bridge still exist and if so can anyone supply a photograph? In what sense is/was the Ponferrada bridge an iron bridge? Was iron used structurally? There are iron mines in the vicinity of Ponferrada and Spanish ironworking skills have long been famous but perhaps it was just a bridge for iron to be carried across? Bob Carr

The Crystal Palace in Oxford!

OXFORD (MIDLAND) STATION, now Tyreservices Ltd.

At the end of the GLIAS visit to Oxfordshire last October, the party made a brief visit to this former railway station very near to the present mainline station. Built 1851 as terminus for the Buckingham Railway by Fox Henderson & Co. who were at the time also building the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. Examination of this structure and comparison with the many drawings of the structural ironwork of Crystal Palace, is very productive. The cast iron beams and pillars are remarkably similar to those used in the Hyde Park Exhibition Building and were either cast, from the same patterns or were excess to requirements in London, and the Railway therefore got a cheap job. This small station therefore forms a direct link, possibly the only surviving link, with the Great Exhibition Building in Hyde Park and its modified structure on Sydenham.

Unfortunately closer examination of the structure revealed the all too common notice to redevelop the station area. In its present form it is not an inspiring structure but it was made to be easily dismantled so it would not be an impossible task to move these remaining structural members to a new home if demolition has to take place.

On my return I informed the Crystal Palace Foundation about the building since they are looking for anything connected with the Palace and I think this is about as close as you can get! We wait to see if they will respond. David Perrett

IA sites in Greater London

The following locations are redolent of heavy/old industry and are likely to yield IA interest:

  • Arthur Guinness, Son & Co. (Park Royal) TQ 195 828;
  • British Gypsum, Erith, TQ 507 789;
  • Coal Mechanisation (Tolworth) Ltd, TQ 198 656;
  • Day & Son, Brentford Town Goods Depot, TQ 166 778;
  • Eurocrane Ltd. Dagenham Dock TQ 489 817;
  • 600 Ferrous Fragmentisers Ltd. Scrubs Lane, TQ210 832;
  • Ford Motor Co. Ltd. Dagenham TQ 496 825;
  • G.L. Plant Ltd. Mitcham, TQ 231 673;
  • J. Murphy & Sons, Kentish Town, TQ 287 855;
  • M.E. Engineering Ltd, Neasden, TQ 215 852;
  • Plasser Railway Machinery, West Ealing, TQ 161 809;
  • Purfleet Deep Wharf & Storage Co, Ltd, Erith Wharf, TQ 517 779;
  • Resco (Railways) Ltd. Woolwich, TQ 458 795;
  • Rom Ltd. Steel Reinforcement Engineers, Battersea, TQ 293 765;
  • Tarmac Roadstone, Hayes, TQ 105 795;
  • Taylor Woodrow, Greenford, TQ 126 826;
  • Thames Metal, Angerstein Wharf, TQ 403 792;
  • TWA Hogsmill Valley Sewage Works, TQ 195 685;
  • Ward Ferrous Metals, Silvertown, TQ 417 801.

    Some of these sites are extensive and grid references are approximate but hopefully this information will direct GLIAS explorers to fruitful areas. Good hunting! Bob Carr

    News from Crossness

    'Crossness Beam Engines Record', the newsletter of the Crossness Beam Engines Preservation Group produced their fifth edition last October. There was news that the Trust had gained legal status and an up-date, on the progress made at the engine house. An article by Martin Wilson entitled 'The Tosher', 'News from the Octagon' by Michael Dunmow and requests for assistance in restoration and information on the site's history, made up most of the remainder of the Record.

    Guest Days for 1988 are: Saturdays — 23rd April, 13th August, 15th October ... but only by prior arrangement. Groups need to give at least FOUR WEEKS notice and individuals TWO WEEKS. Admission STRICTLY BY TICKET ONLY. Peter J Skilton
    Applications to Robert L. Eastleigh, 245 Colyers Lane, Slade Green, Kent. DA8 3QD

    Kew Bridge pumping station: 150 years of service to public water supply

    In August 1838 water was first pumped into public supply from Kew Bridge pumping station. Not many steam preservation centres can celebrate 150 years by steaming an original engine. Kew Bridge Steam Museum can. It will work its 1838 Maudslay Cornish beam engine regularly throughout 1988.

    Special events being planned to mark the pumping station's 150th anniversary include exhibitions, a pageant, competitions and a re-enactment of the opening ceremony. It's going to be an exciting year!
    Details, when ready, may be had by sending a stamped addressed envelope to '150' Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, Middlesex

    Croydon Airport museum problems

    The Croydon Airport Museum saga is endless, so it would seem. Just to remind you of the background, the Croydon Airport Society was formed at the end of 1978 to keep alive memories of the airport that was in so many ways the cradle of international civil aviation after the Great War. One of the society's aspirations was the establishment of a museum in the 1928 terminal building. In 1980 the building was listed by the DoE but the owner, Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance, was not very pleased — GRE had inherited the building from one of its predecessors which had purchased it as an investment after the airport's closure in 1963. The change came in 1982 when GRE announced it was to co-operate with the society, by making space available in the building — Airport House — for a museum, at the same time restoring it to its original facade as far as possible. There was euphoria and everybody expected planning permission to be granted within weeks but it was not to be. Both the GLC and the London Borough of Croydon decided that they were not happy about certain aspects of the building's restoration and the effect, on Purley Way's traffic management. Everybody seemed happier in more recent although there were still a lot of planning details to be worked out.

    One of the 'details' was moving the Shell petrol to the other side of Purley Way. There was a sort of understanding about this. Unfortunately Croydon Council decided that this site was most suitable for a swimming pool and leisure centre. It was not thought that this would be, a great problem until it was, pointed, out that the petrol station, could not easily be moved to other open sites in Purley Way as these were all designated as 'Metropolitan Open Land'. So the $64 question is where to move the petrol station to. In the meantime, the condition of Airport House continues to be a matter of concern.

    The society has over 500 members but membership enquiries can still be made to the secretary, Mike Marshall, at 16 Warnham Court Rd, Carshalton, SM5 3LZ — and please enclose a SAE. We have not received details of the Croydon meeting in March but the annual Gatwick meeting will be on Wednesday, 20th April, when the society's chairman, Douglas Cluett, will talk about the 1920 Croydon Terminal which will of course house the museum. After the break, Vernon Murphy, Depu Managing Director of BAA Gatwick Airport Ltd. will talk about the new North Terminal at Gatwick which open in the spring. The meeting starts at 19:00 in the Sussex Room of the main terminal at Gatwick, which is three minutes from the railway station.

    News from the Local Studies Library, Stratford


    Docklands has seen great changes in recent years with many familiar buildings being demolished to make way for new developments such as the London City Airport. The library has been collecting material which reflects the variety of viewpoints about the redevelopment of docklands, including publications produced by Newham Council, London Docklands Development Corporation, Docklands Consultative Committee, Docklands Forum, Newham Churches Dockland Group, major development consortia and residents' associations. Information about the London City Airport includes public enquiry reports, brochures and timetables.

    A photographic survey has been taken around the London City Airport, Royal Victoria Dock and North Woolwich Road which shows buildings being demolished and new sites under construction.


    New titles of Local Studies Notes are now available, free of charge, as follows:

    No. 62. BALLOONS OVER NEWHAM (during the 19th century).

    If you would like to have a copy of any of the above, please send a large SAE to Mr. Howard Bloch, Local Studies Library, Stratford Reference Library, Water Lane, London E15 4NJ.


    At the E.G.M. on Wednesday 20th January 1988, Denis Smith took the chair when members of the Society discussed the proposed amendments to the Constitution as circulated in the last Newsletter.

    The amendments are to satisfy the requirements of the Charity Commissioners and to prepare the way for G.L.I.A.S. to become an unincorporated body with charitable status.

    The alterations were reviewed individually and, as no objections were raised, it was put to the meeting that they be considered as a whole. Robert Vickers proposed that the meeting accept the changes and this was seconded by Peter Skilton. The chairman put this to the meeting and, on a show of hands, the amendments to the Constitution were accepted unanimously.

    The amended Constitution will be submitted to the Charity Commissioners and a copy will be circulated with the next Newsletter.

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  • © GLIAS, 1988