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Notes and news — October 1989

In this issue:


I regret that I have to tell members that the signature 'Bet and John Parker' will no longer appear at the foot of items in the Newsletter. My dear wife, Bet, died on 22nd August, after a year-long and latterly very painful, illness. I hope that, in due course, I shall again contribute something to the GLIAS proceedings. John Parker

It is with great regret that the British Piano Museum trustees announce the death on 11th September 1989 of Frank W Holland M.B.E (GLIAS Newsletter August 1989). Frank worked tirelessly from the beginning to establish the present comprehensive collection of automatic musical instruments at the Musical Museum. Editor

Requests for information and help

(1) PULLEN'S ESTATE/PULLENS BUILDINGS. Iliffe Street, Walworth, SE17
I have been asked for information or sources of information about 'this collection of artisan flats or workshops', about 100 years old which 'some people consider unique'. Replies to me at 49 Woodstock Avenue, NW11 9RG. Bill Firth

I have just heard from Barry H. Gibson, The Old Rectory, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB4 9BT about a project to recreate The Crown Perfumery Co. Ltd. and to set up The Fragrancy Experience Centre (Museum of Perfumery). Mr. Gibson is interested in purchasing all perfumery related material for the museum and in particular anything from the Crown Perfumery Company — old bottles, display/advertising material, catalogues, etc. Anyone who can help with artefacts or with information on their whereabouts should contact Mr. Gibson at the address above.

There is an interesting story behind this project which may be worth a longer entry in another Newsletter. Bill Firth

In 1978, this authority acquired the Kitoe & Brotherhood beam engine which had been used at Watney Mann's Albion Brewery, Whitechapel Road, Bethnal Green, London. This engine was installed in 1867 and additional power was provided in 1872 by the addition of a horizontal single cylinder engine by Robert Morton of Stockton-on-Tees. This drove onto the other end of the beam engine crankshaft, but unlike normal practice this was not a compounding arrangement. Both cylinders steamed at boiler pressure.

In 1934 the beam engine suffered a fractured bed plate and ceased operation, the-entire load being taken by the horizontal which continued to run for some years. However, the authority's plans to re-erect the engine as a feature of a new shopping complex and local museum have fallen through, apparently due to the engine being too heavy for its intended location. The authority have therefore decided to offer the engine to anyone who can provide a good home. Anyone interested in this interesting machine should, in the first instance, contact the County Archivist at Wiltshire County Council's Trowbridge Offices. (From Stationary Engine Restart Group's Newsletter). David Perrett

Crossness beam engines

Away out east at Crossness, at the largest concentration of beam-engine power in the world, unsung heroes are toiling away at the gigantic task of restoring Victoria, one of the big James Watt beam engines. Apart from the splendidly ornate cathedral-like building which houses the pumping engines there is plenty of space for small exhibits and storage (not just steam engines) and the Trust has the use of a large well-equipped workshop. Help is needed at all levels of the organisation. Contact Michael Dunmow, 8 Yorkland Avenue, Welling, Kent, DA16 2LF. Bob Carr

News from the Recording Group

The Recording Group has had a quiet time in the summer, but plans are going ahead to continue with the sites around York Way. Along with these plans, training sessions are being set up.

  • Crystal Palace Low Level Station (GLIAS Newsletter August 1989) — It has been confirmed that British Rail are currently marketing the site.

  • Crystal Palace experimental underground railway — South London papers are full of stories of a dig on this site by the Marquis de St. Empire. Recording group members will remember a dig by GLIAS on this site in 1975 when very little was found (GLIAS Newsletter October 1975).

  • Wrought-iron rails at Blackheath Station (GLIAS Newsletter August 1989) — We have had a letter from Neil Rhind of Blackheath Preservation Trust who confirms that the original track was laid in 1843 and that the lines are shown on the 1863 OS map. Peter Trigg has telephoned to confirm this and that the tracks were then under a carriage shed. Neither of them know if they are wrought iron or not.

  • Squirrels Heath/Eastern Counties Railway Works (GLIAS Newsletter August 1989) — Peter Trigg has also rung to say that at the works were 5ft gauge tracks which were concreted over about 18 years ago. We have also heard from Alan Webb who built the model of the works currently on show at the North Woolwich Museum. He is doubtful about the likelihood of GLIAS being able to arrange a visit to the works but we are hoping to get more details of this interesting site from him. More about this to come. Mary Mills

    Romford Brewery

    A recent advertising campaign explaining why no famous astronomer has ever come from Romford and with slogans like 'a little culture on a Friday night — as little as possible', may have given Romford rather a low image. However, a visit to this former country market town caught up in London gives an impression of spacious houses, water and green lawns. On 28th November GLIAS will be paying a visit to the Brewery (GLIAS Newsletter August 1989), which dates from 1799. Recently considerable modernisation has taken place. In the fermenting and cold storage areas substantial improvements were made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We shall be seeing state-of-the-art brewing.

    The Romford Brewery became part of Allied Breweries Ltd. in 1961 when Ind Coope, Tetley Walker of Leeds & Warrington and Ansells of Birmingham merged. Friary Meux of Guildford were acquired in 1964 and Oranjeboom, with breweries at Rotterdam and Breda, in 1967. Allied, Breweries merged with Showerings, Vine Products and Whiteways Ltd. in 1968 and in 1978 J. Lyons & Co. was acquired and the group became Allied-Lyons. In 1987 Hiram Walker — Gooderham & Worts were taken over. Allied-Lyons has become a major international group with interests in brewing, food, wines and spirits, and leisure. Bob Carr

    Mansion House development

    It looks as if the demolition of the Mappin & Webb building, No 1 Poultry, really will go ahead. The current scheme will mean the loss of eight listed buildings. The rules are being changed, even more so than in the case of Covent Garden (GLIAS Newsletter February 1989).

    It is being argued that the replacement design, by prestigious architect James Stirling, is of such superior quality that the need to realise it overrides the usual consideration given to the retention of listed buildings. It seems only a crash in the market will halt this astonishing demolition. Bob Carr

    Some interesting dates

  • 14th November — BBC Colour television started in 1969.
  • 17th November — Suez Canal opened in 1869.
  • 8th December — Clifton suspension bridge opened 1864.
  • 24th December — First air raid on Britain 1914.
    Bob Carr

    GLIAS visit to Belgium

    Thanks to the careful planning of members Danny Hayton (UK) and Luc Cocquyt (Belgium) a GLIAS party of 27 visited Belgium during the August Bank Holiday weekend to study a selection of sites.

    The visit was centred on Ghent and the party was able to see several old industrial buildings in that city as well as inspect some of the relics surviving from trades which originally served the old railway area. Sites visited included, a mass-concrete railway viaduct and the tramway museum at Schepdaal and then La Fonderie in Brussels where works of art in bronze and other non-ferrous metals were produced from 1854 to 1977. While in Brussels the party also inspected an old cigarette factory (1874), the Tour et Taxis railway station and a modernistic housing development of 1929. A 17th-century working watermill at Velzeke-Ruddershove was a particular delight and the visit to the windmill at Mater provided members with the opportunity to turn the mill on its post.

    The Gevaert quarter of Qudenaarde with its cotton mill surrounded by workers' housing and the old railway station at Ronse (1837) were visited and then a malting in Lessines (1880) which ceased working in 1958 and since that date has remained untouched, complete with all its plant, as a silent monument to the past. The party was fortunate in being able to inspect the malting's hydro-electric plant (turbine by Schneider & Jacquet of Strasbourg — 1897 and the generator of 1902). At Soignies the group was able to see the impressive remains of the WIHQZ stone sawing mill. The company town at Bois-du-Luc (near La Louvière) which was started in 1838 to serve the local coal mine, now has been restored and provides a good example of how industrial housing can be preserved as a living community.

    The party also visited three of the four hydraulic boat lifts on the Canal du Centre as well as the new replacement lift at Strepy-Thieu (still under construction) and the inclined plane at Ronquières. The visit concluded with a tour of the 1913 machine hall of the electricity generating station at Langerbrugge where is preserved a complete generating station dating from 1929 as well as a collection of steam powered generating plant brought from elsewhere in Belgium. Chris Rule

    Letters to the editor

    From Mr. Murray S L. Bumstead, who writes:
    GLIAS members may remember a visit made by the Society some years ago to the Music Museum at Brentford, when the curator Mr. Holland entertained us with a variety of mechanical musical instruments.

    Jean and I recently visited the remote Scottish Hebridean island of Rhum. In Kinlock castle there, now used as an hotel, guests are called to dinner each evening by the playing of a magnificent orchestrion, tucked away under the massive oak staircase. Rather like a fairground barrel organ of old, it entertains with a variety of organ pipes, drums, cymbals and triangle. We were told that it was built in the 1890s for Queen Victoria at Balmoral; she sadly never lived to hear it in action. The owner had also a large collection of rolls to play various types of music.

    Does this qualify as industrial archaeology and would it be the most remote specimen in the British Isles?

    And from Mr. J. Murray Roberts:
    Further to the review of the IA Postage Stamps(GLIAS Newsletter August 1989).

    The tin mining industry in Cornwall has never ceased; South Crafty mine near Redruth has been open continuously for over 150 years. Several mines reopened in the 1970s but suffered in the recent price crash and have been laid up. However, Wheal Jane near Truro is still open and now that the price of Cornish tin is regaining its strength, Geevor near Land's End has been reopened a few weeks ago.

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  • © GLIAS, 1989