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Notes and news — December 1988

In this issue:

The Silk Stream

In reply to Bob Carr's question (GLIAS Newsletter October 1988), 'Another Silk Mill?' there is no evidence of any mills on the Silk Stream — silk or otherwise! Where the name 'Silk Stream' comes, from is another question and I am still trying to find an answer.
Bill Firth — who lives in the Borough of Barnet through which the Silk Stream flows

GLIAS at Heathrow

Several GLIAS members joined our friends in the Croydon Airport Society at their annual Heathrow meeting in the British Airways head office on 19th October — indeed we understand that it was one of, the society's biggest meetings yet at just over 100. The meeting was to hear CAS Vice-President John Stroud deliver an illustrated talk on the subject of his recent book 'Railway Air Services' (Ian Allan, £11.95). What was particularly nice was the way the meeting began with a welcome from British Airways' Director of Marketing, Jim Harris, who said that he was pleased that the society was continuing to hold an annual meeting at Heathrow and was doing so much to keep alive memories of the airline's history — how nice to have friends in the right quarters! As well as GLIAS members, guests included Jan Air Vice-Chairman Sir Ian Pedder.

In his talk John Stroud outlined the course of the railway involvement in air transport between 1933 and 1947 during which time the main line railway companies quickly became the major factor in the internal airline market. But for the intervention of the post-war Labour government, the railways would probably have been the largest shareholder in BEA. Slides of RAS aircraft were shown after the talk and were followed by a question-and-answer session.

Membership and other enquiries including the donation of material for the society's museum collection should be directed to Mike Marshall at 16 Warnham Court Road, Carshalton, SM5 3LZ.


The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, has the following wording on the Eastern end which is prominently visible if one proceeds North West along Great Eastern Street, EC2: 'The Old Blue Last, the first house where Porter was sold. Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. Entire'. As rightly pointed out (GLIAS Newsletter October 1988) this public house was rebuilt in 1876 and the claim is only to the first sale, not the brewing of Porter. By 1850-60 two thirds of all beer drunk in London was Porter. After 1918 Porter brewing in England only continued on a small scale and an Irish version of Porter was produced by Guinness. English-brewed Porter died out by 1930.

Mike Bone of Keynsham, Bristol, drew my attention to an interesting experiment recently noted in the Brewery History Society Journal, No. 53, June 1988, pages 3-8. J. C. Harrison, in an article 'Drinking Liquid History', considers the imponderable problem of whether beers made today from old recipes taste anything like the originals. He describes how on Christmas Eve 1977 he visited a friend's house and left what was hoped to be a replica 1850 London Porter. On Christmas morning the friend asked his son-in-law's grandmother, aged 86, if she would like a glass of Guinness. She was offered a sample of the, '1850 Porter' and on drinking it exclaimed, 'that's not Guinness, that's London Porter, where on earth did you get that?' The friend had no idea the old lady even knew what Porter was let alone be able to recognise it. It transpired that she had been in service just before the First World War and after and was given Porter as part of her daily allowance. As Mr. Harrison, a material scientist by profession, remarks, 'this is probably the closest we are likely to get to a first-hand unsolicited testimonial'. There is a passage in 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte published in 1847 where a domestic servant takes a pint of Porter with her lunch.

If GLIAS members are interested in reading more on this subject there is a History of Brewing by H.S. Corran, 1975 and a History of English Ale and Beer, by H. A. Monkton, published in 1966. There was a London and Country Brewer, published in London in 1735. The New Beer Guide by Brian Glover, David and Charles 1988, considers the many new small breweries or brew pubs which have flourished in the last ten years or so. Nearly 150 survive and some of these offer Porter (the big breweries produce none). Those interested in drinking Porter may like to know that the following Porters are likely to be available:

  • Larkins, Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, Kent (telephone 0892 870487) produce a Porter (original gravity 1055) which is available from several outlets;
  • mention has already been made (GLIAS Newsletter August 1988) of the Orange Brewery (named after the Prince of Orange) where Pimlico Porter (1046) is sold (the phone number is 730-5378);
  • in Norfolk at the Spread Eagle Brewery (tel. Erpingham (0263) 768152), Woodforde's brew Norfolk Porter, (1042) which is available from several Norfolk outlets;
  • also in East Anglia Mauldons of Sudbury (tel. 0787 311055) produce a Porter (1042) sold in their area;
  • the Fleece and Firkin, Bristol, sell a Coal Porter (1050);
  • Ringwood of Ringwood, Hants, produce a XXXX Porter (1049) sold in Hants and Dorset;
  • the Oxford Bakery and Brewhouse, Gloucester Street, Oxford, (tel. 0865 72765) brews Porter (1045);
  • in High Street, Bodicote, Oxfordshire; the Bodicote Brewery produces Old English Porter (1045) which can be obtained from a few places in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire;
  • Burton Bridge Brewery, Bridge Street, Burton-on-Trent, produces a Burton Porter (1045), draught and in bottle sold through several Midland pubs;
  • the Oak Brewery, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, brews a Porter (1050) sold in the North;
  • the Malton Brewery, North Yorkshire, produces Pickwick's Porter (1042) which can be obtained from several outlets (including the Malton Bacon Factory Sports Club!);
  • in South Yorkshire the Frog and Parrot, Division Street, Sheffield, sells an Old-Fashioned Porter (1057) and Rockside of Barnsley brew a Porter known as Hewer's Droop (1061) sold locally. Rockside supply the Fat Cat in Alma Street, Sheffield, visited by GLIAS in June, 1986 (GLIAS Newsletter December 1986).

    Sadly in Scotland, Strathalbyn's Beardmore Porter (1043) has ceased to be available following the liquidation of the firm in late 1987 but it is hoped their beers may be reintroduced. Some of us sampled Beardmore Porter during the 1985 AIA Conference in Glasgow (GLIAS Newsletter October 1985). Members contemplating a National Porter Tour over Christmas are advised that supplies from small breweries are spasmodic. Before attempting a long journey one should purchase Brian Glover's book and telephone the brewery etc. to check on availability and current outlets.

    It seems the alcoholic strength of French Porter 39 varies (GLIAS Newsletter June 1988). Some bought in Paris this August claims to contain 7.1 per cent alcohol, more than the London Porter of the late 19th century which was about 6.4 per cent. (Ordinary beer is about 3.5 per cent alcohol). Bob Carr

    Time Traveller

    Three of our members were recently privileged to join a small group of the Croydon Airport Society on a visit to the Thomas Cook archive in London. Apart from the interest in seeing original 19th-century correspondence between members of the Cook family and a variety of people and organisations such as the Midland Railway, our members were most impressed at the energies of the archivist of Thomas Cook, Edmund Swinglehurst, who has already written several books and currently edits his company's Time Traveller newsletter.

    Members with an interest in the history of travel can obtain the newsletter by simply writing to Edmund at 45 Berkeley Street, London W1A 1EB (do not enclose any money because subscription is still free but could of course change later — so get in quick!) The current issue contains articles about the Blue Train, Thomas Cook Travel. Book Awards, the development of European tourism by rail in the later quarter of the last century, Wallace Arnold Tours in the inter-war years and the 1936 Beehive passenger terminal at Gatwick (English Heritage and the DoE still refuse to consider listing this extraordinary building.) GLIAS member John King denies authorship of the Beehive, article but admits to being a member of the Thomas Cook Time Traveller Advisory Panel!

    Farringdon Goods Depot demolition

    The impressive stack of warehouse building just to the North West of Farringdon Railway station, three storeys high along the East side of Farringdon Road, EC1, has been derelict for some time. Lettering on a door still proclaimed 'LNER GOODS DEPOT' complete with a circumflex accent over the ô of depot. Recently the structure was surrounded by a screen of wire mesh and in early November demolition was well under way.

    At the beginning of the 1870s, unlike many of the main line railway companies who employed Pickford's and others, the Great Northern Railway was its own street carrier in London. City goods were being carted to and from King's Cross and the Great Northern maintained a total of 900 carts and 1,500 draught horses at considerable expense. Rivals had central City depots, the London North Western Railway used Broad Street and the Great Western, Smithfield. The 'widened lines' of the Metropolitan Railway offered a route for the Great Northern from King's Cross to the City and at Farringdon the Metropolitan Company had a piece of land of about four acres next to its station there. The Great Northern company leased this land in 1873 for the construction of a new goods terminus. Bob Carr

    The Whitewebbs Museum of Transport

    The Enfield and District Veteran Vehicle Society have acquired the Whitewebbs Pumping Station for their motor transport museum and are seeking membership and support for its development. Persons interested should contact the Enfield and District Veteran Vehicle Trust, Gable Cottage, Forty Hill, Enfield EM2 9EJ. Tel: 366-0480

    Rebuilding in the City

    Those in the audience at City and East London College, Bunhill Row, EC1, for John Porter's GLIAS Lecture on the inland waterways of the near Continent can hardly have missed the tremendous amount of redevelopment in progress nearby. There was plenty of noise in the early evening and on the way home when traffic in the streets was lighter, parts of large steel structures were, being, trundled about. The row of buildings immediately to the North of Moorgate L.T. Station has gone, including the cafe I usually visit before a GLIAS lecture. Bob Carr

    Photographic copyright

    At present the copyright on a photograph lasts 50 years from the death of the photographer. This may change and it is being proposed that photographic copyright should only persist for 50 years after the taking of the photograph. This would mean copyright could expire while a photographer was still living. GLIAS members who are recording vanishing London might be affected. It is not proposed to change copyright law for the written word. Bob Carr

    New River, Stoke Newington

    The current proposal for the redevelopment of the New River Reservoir area (GLIAS Newsletter April 1988) is for housing on the site of the Filter Beds and West Reservoir. For each site this would be four storeys high close to the existing houses around the edge, rising to eight storeys in the centre. Bob Carr

    Newham Local Studies Library

    Recent acquisitions at Newham Local Studies Library, which GLIAS members might like to see, include:

    Air Raids — First World War
    Few people realise that Newham was bombed by German airships and aeroplanes during the First World War. John Hook has spent several years researching the raids and produced a detailed account — 'The Air Raids in London during the 1914-18 War' which draws on primary sources and includes information about the effects of each of the local raids.

    A history of the Hersom and Plummer families of Stratford is told through an album of postcards which was recently donated to the library. Using the messages on the backs of the 250 cards written from all over the country which were collected by his mother, Mr. Hersom has combined them together with reminiscences and research, to produce a fascinating record of social life between 1903 and 1918.

    Additions include photographs taken during recent months: Freemasons Road, Custom House — tower blocks, Connaught Road and North Woolwich Road — re-development, Carpenters Road and Union Street, Stratford.

    City of Ships, Port of London Authority, 1939.
    Waters of Time, Port of London Authority, 1951.
    Both give a fascinating picture of activity in and around the Royal Docks.

    Local Studies — New Titles
    No. 65 A Walk Through the Victoria and Albert Docks, 1914.
    No. 66 Girl Labour in West Ham, 1914.
    No. 67 Amongst the Hops and Hop-Pickers, 1908.

    For information about any of the above please contact the Local Studies Library, Stratford Reference Library, Water Lane, London E15 4NJ, or tel: 534-4545. Ex. 25662. HOWARD BLOCH

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  • © GLIAS, 1988