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Notes and news — October 1990

In this issue:

S.S. Shieldhall, Southampton

Following our successful visit to the Southampton area in June, it was decided to donate the excess from the visit to S.S. Shieldhall. In return their Chairman, Len White, has offered all GLIAS members the opportunity to stay in the cabins on board the ship. There are three two-berth and two single cabins, fitted with bunks, wardrobe, desk and chairs and provided with blankets and pillows. Sheets and pillowcases or sleeping bags are necessary. Gas, electricity and of course, hot water, are free. Since the ship is moored in the centre of the redeveloped docks there are ample eating places nearby. The charges are £10 per night, £5 under 16, or £60 per week and £30 for under 16s. Further details of this unique bargain from 0425 612628. David Perrett

Redevelopment at power station sites

Deptford East power station is shortly due for demolition and proposals for the area drawn up by architects Sheppard Robson and chartered surveyors Grimley JR Eve include 33,000m2 of class BI business space, 600 residential units, a 150-room hotel, a 2,250m2 retail store and perhaps berthing arrangements for passenger ships. In addition a leisure facility is proposed on land reclaimed from the Thames which might be a museum based on a maritime theme. Greenwich Reach Development, a collaboration between ARC Properties and Arena Industries would be a £175 million project on a site covering four hectares. Just to the south of Deptford East power station is the site of the world's first central power station for the London Electric Supply Corporation by Sebastian de Ferranti 1889. In the south wall of the present station, red painted arches from Ferranti's pioneer building can still be clearly seen.

At the site of Croydon B power station there are plans for a £300 million retail and leisure complex by the Carroll Group of Companies. Ideas are to retain the two 300ft high chimneys as a landmark and the boiler house would become a 600ft long shopping mall. In the adjacent turbine hall its single span roof could accommodate 200 speciality shops. The complete scheme would provide 673,000 square feet of floor space. Other notions include a 200-bedroom hotel and a bus and coach station. GLIAS paid a visit to Croydon B on 20th December 1979 (GLIAS Newsletter February 1980).

Acton Lane power station Harlesden is likely to suffer a fate similar to other London stations. It was one of the last CEGB stations to retain steam railway locomotives to handle incoming coal trains. The writer would be grateful to hear of plans for the site. At Battersea things seem to be still dragging on but outline approval for development on sites near the Power Station has been granted, see the Evening Standard, 30th July, page 34. Bob Carr

List of London power stations


Refurbishment work is progressing at the former margarine factory built c.1900 for Otto Monsted. The arches alongside the railway station are already occupied by small businesses. Unfortunately two buildings will have to be demolished, being structurally unsavable, but it is planned to replace them with replicas. A large building near South Road has fine palm decorations, excellent woodwork and doors and is being restored. To the West the splendid gas works water tower converted for housing is being refurbished as the original conversion was unsatisfactory. Thanks are due to Megan Phillips for information. 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

    Dr Brian Mullins

    It was with very great regret that we learnt of the death of GLIAS member Brian Mullins on 27th February. Since his retirement as Director of Research and Laboratory Services in the Health and Safety Executive, he had spent a busy time with studies in Chinese, as well as taking an interest in industrial archaeology and recently that of East London. Born in Charlton in 1920 he studied for his BSc at Woolwich Polytechnic Evening Institute and obtained his PhD in Fuel Technology following work on jet engines at RAF Farnborough and elsewhere. After this came a distinguished career as a Government Scientist. With his wife Margaret, to whom we extend heartfelt sympathy, he undertook a considerable programme of industrial archaeological visits and while living in Sheffield was an active member of the Sheffield Trades Historical Society. Those of us who had the good fortune to know him will remember his anecdotes of work on fragments of a V2 rocket, meetings with German scientists, Chinese translations and visits to China and of his early days in the Woolwich area. Bob Carr

    Kirkaldy Testing Museum, 99 Southwark Street, SE1

    We are having an Open Day on Sunday, 4th November, so please come along to see us with your wives, husbands and friends.

    Our most recent acquisitions for the museum are a sample of material from the Poyntz Bridge and a broken section of cast-iron column from the Tanyard from the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum. Kirkaldy machines are for testing the strength of materials both under tension and compression so these acquisitions are not as odd as they appear at first glance.

    We have managed to find the attachments for the main machine to enable us to carry out bending tests. Parts of the machine can be in any part of the building and sometimes we do not know which part we want until we find it!

    The general maintenance of the building is continuing with plastering and painting. When the building was last renovated the fire retardant ceiling was poorly done and now needs further attention. In the basement we have fitted some important temporary lighting. The basement extends under the street pavement in a series of arcades and we suspect the street cleaners of sweeping their rubbish through our iron grill in the pavement and this is a continuing bone of contention with the local council. Our Sales Counter is being remodelled, because some of our space has been sold back to the building owners. We have also acquired a wooden bookcase — and that is courtesy of David Perrett. Haylights are installing pavement lights here which we hope will be working by the time of the November visit.

    Work continues on stripping and renovating the Tangye hydraulic pump and Hackney Borough Council have donated a stand-drill which, we are going to renovate later. During the past year we have started to compile an inventory of the major items in the Museum. This is an interesting job and there are thousands of items which need to be catalogued. One needs to take a note of something and its location and put a mark on it. If a couple of our readers could volunteer their time to help us with this we would be grateful. There are many other interesting jobs of various sorts that we need helpers for all the people who work here are volunteers. Peter Skilton

    A note from Derek Bayliss in Sheffield

    George Payne & Co. Ltd, tea-blenders at Tower Bridge are moving to North Elmsall between Barnsley and Doncaster onto a nine-acre green field site. Payne's, founded in 1896, decided to move because the present site is not economic. New equipment will be installed with some equipment from the Tower Bridge factory and the firm will expand its tea processing operations. Derek Bayliss


    Having worked in the advertising business for 46 years and been connected with Fleet Street for most of that time, I thought I would respond to Bob Carr's piece in the last issue (GLIAS Newsletter August 1990). He poses the controversial question: 'Has advertising changed today compared with several decades previously?', after quoting Dorothy L. Sayers' book 'Murder Must Advertise'. Her book was partly based on her experience as a copywriter with WS Crawford, a well-known, advertising agency of that time. Bill Crawford, a powerful Scot, masterminded several campaigns before the Second World War and soon after. Alas, like so many other great agencies bearing their founders' names, it is no longer here. Some names of clients Crawfords handled post-war included Canadian Club, Allinson Bread, Smith's Crisps, Dairy Crest butter etc.

    Readers of this article aged 50+ together with students of advertising history will remember the famous Guinness campaigns emanating from another fine agency around the corner from Crawfords, namely SH Benson. The 'Guinness is good for you' series depicting feats of great strength often with the aid of a toucan bird was, to my mind, the best example of creative work at that time. To compare advertising now with those days can be misleading as we tend to think more of television commercials rather than the printed word or outdoor publicity i.e. posters.

    I read recently that someone thought today's advertising in some instances was so appalling it is an art form.

    Bad advertising is not necessarily that which fails to get the message across; it includes that which offends and 'knocking copy' which blatantly criticises competitors. But advertisers and their clients have to be careful. These days most advertising is monitored by professional bodies. 'Campaign' (the advertising journal) recently quoted that the Advertising Standards Authority — a body set up by the advertising industry 27 years ago — polices the millions of press and poster advertisements published each year. (Television and cinema advertising are dealt with by different bodies). The ASA handles around 8,000 complaints annually and its Committee of Advertising Practice — of which I am a member — looks into another 1,500 inter-industry objections. Only cigarette ads — around 1,500 a year are screened in advance. The ASA relies on its code of advertising practice, complaints from the public and its own monitoring, to keep the industry in order. A long way from Bill Crawford's days!

    The other bit of Bob Carr's piece interested me and that was messenger boys keeping fit on the roof Lops. I started as a messenger in Chancery Lane with Saward Baker and some bright spark suggested keep fit sessions on the root of number 27. This was short-lived, however, as doodle bugs started to fall all around us adding to the already devastated area surrounding central London. As a messenger one had the opportunity of discovering some interesting back doubles and famous buildings that survived the Blitz although environmental and architectural appreciation escaped me in those times. I can't say I am happy with what is replacing old London and often think that the Prince of Wales does have a point.

    As one gets older, it is often only memories that are left but some are very happy. GLIAS members would have shared my delight when in the sixties I, together with a publishing group of people, were shown over the old Cheshire Cheese pub in Wine Office Court off Fleet Street. This included a visit to the cellars which showed the source of the old River Fleet. At least this building has retained its original character. It is reputed to be the oldest surviving pub in London. As a member of the Wig and Pen Club in the Strand I sometimes impress visitors to London with another example of original buildings together with newspaper memorabilia. Built on Roman remains in 1625 it is the only Strand building to have survived the Great Fire of London. The more I think about it the more I believe the W & P is one of the best places to be in to ponder the merits of advertising, Fleet Street buildings and how I will enjoy my membership of GLIAS considerably more in early retirement. Tom Joyce

    Changes in S.E.L.I.A.

    This Grade II listed building, built of mass concrete in 1883 to the design of W.J.E. Henley, has been converted into one and two bedroom apartments, called New Church Court. Interested in somewhere different? They are on the market now.

  • B) Subject to planning permission, twelve one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments are to be created by CTU architects in the now derelict water tower in Dressington Avenue, Ladywell, Lewisham. This is the tallest tower in London and was built between 1897 and 1900 for St. Olave's Union Workhouse. It was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 12th July 1900. David Perrett

    Letter to the editor

    From Mr. D. B. Munday, who writes:
    I attended the A.G.M. of the New River Action Group in March and the note by Bob Carr (GLIAS Newsletter August 1990) makes me feel that a brief note on the subject could be interesting.

    N.R.A.G. was formed in 1986 with the aim of preserving the New River and it seems that this has largely been achieved. Points of interest from the A.G.M. include

  • (a) Thames Water plan to close main buildings at New River Head within two years. A small area of the site will be retained as it contains a shaft to the new Ring Main. Listed buildings will remain intact. The Oak Room will be preserved but not necessarily in its same position.
  • (b) River flow from Chadwell to Turkey Brook will remain at 120-150 ML/Day. Much of flow will be diverted to Chingford Reservoir leaving 60 ML/Day to flow to Stoke Newington where it will be carried to the Lea Valley reservoirs via the Amhurst Main — which has a capacity of 60 ML/Day.
  • (c) To maintain current depth of NR with reduced flow, TW are installing a number of weirs.
  • (d) The NR south of Turkey Brook will be used in drought as the aqueduct for water extracted from boreholes. Conversely spare water may be pumped down the boreholes and recharge the aquifer.
  • (e) Hornsey Reservoirs — no developments.
  • (f) Stoke Newington Reservoirs — Eastern to be retained. Western one to be changed to remove it from the (expensive) provisions of the Reservoir Act 1975. The embankment to be broken up to prevent not more than 25,000 cu.m. of water to be retained. It would be no longer filled by the New River. The changes in this Reservoir will be made in line with those at Barn Elms which are under the guidance of the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust. D B Munday

    Crossness Engines Trust

    I would like to thank all our members who assisted Crossness Engines Trust by sending postcards of protest to Mr. Hoffman of Thames Water Utilities (GLIAS Newsletter August 1990). The wrangle continues. Peter Skilton

    The latest from beneath the City

    DLR's programme of tunnelling at Bank (GLIAS Newsletter February 1989) is due to be finished within the next months. The last part to be excavated is the step plate junction where the two tracks merge into a single line just beyond the new station. This involves enlarging the single tunnel at one end of the junction so that it becomes big enough to connect with the two tunnels coming from the other direction. To achieve this, a series of short sections have to be excavated, each one bigger than the one before, until the diameter is large enough to accommodate the two tunnels on the other side.

    Work on this section of the tunnel was delayed while experts decided how to protect the historic Mansion House which lies directly above. This is one of Britain's most important buildings, but it does not have deep foundations like the newer structures in the area. The man responsible for the Mansion House is the City Engineer, Mr. Colin Snowden and it is his job to ensure its safety. After considerable research, he decided that the building should be made stable by the installation of tie bars, rather like the ones you see in old barns in the countryside. The difference in this case is that the work would be very sophisticated and uses the most modern techniques. Before the work could be started permission had to be obtained from the Dept. of the Environment, as the Mansion House is a listed building, which means that it is historically important to the nation. The go-ahead was given at the beginning of May and work started on the tie-bars immediately. Sufficient were in place by the end of June to allow tunnelling to recommence.

    A special machine was constructed to dig out the bores for the main running lines and the stations, but much of the work has had to be dug by hand. The techniques used are much the same as those used in the construction of the early Underground tunnels.

    The tunnels which will be used by the trains are five metres in diameter, which is big enough to allow two continuous walkways, or mini-platforms, to be constructed at one side. This will allow the safe evacuation of passengers in the event of an emergency. The tunnel follows the course of the road network wherever possible, passing close to the moat of the Tower of London, beneath Tower Hill, along Byward Street, Great Tower Street and Eastcheap, ending at the new station beneath King William Street. The platforms will be 42 metres below street level, making it one of the deepest stations in London. To achieve this depth in the distance of approximately one mile from the surface tracks near lower Gateway, an incline of six per cent (1:17) is required, which is one of the steepest used on any railway. If you have recently been to Bank station and walked through the connecting tunnels to the Northern Line and noticed the sections lined in silver metal, these are the areas where DLR is constructing interchanges to allow passengers to transfer between the new and the old systems.
    (The above extract is from the summer edition of the 'Docklands Light Railway News')

    Recording Group report

    DOCKLANDS. We hope to meet Andrew Dicks, the new Conservation Officer with LDDC. It is understood that listings in the LDDC area are being revised. In addition we have been told about a group in Beckton which was making representations to the LDDC about the GALLIONS HOTEL and other sites in that area. It appeared that the site is now fenced off and the public are not allowed near it along roads which were freely used by the public until recently. Two group members have been prevented from taking photographs of the Hotel. Other people having problems are urged to contact the Recording Group and/or to write directly to Brian Collins, Deputy Chief Executive, of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The SILVERTOWN FLYOVER is about to be demolished. The kerbstones are made of different sorts of granite marked with the names of relevant quarries. JUBILEE WHARF. We have been asked for information on the two Belfast Truss Roofs which might be demolished. WAPPING HYDRAULIC PUMPING STATION it is understood that THE NEXTPHASE — an exhibition of 'installation art' is currently at the station. The artists were invited to the building, asked to choose a site and to produce a work which reflected the use of the building and the interrelationships between that work and the art. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 12-5pm until 13th October. Admission is £3 plus a concessionary rate. In addition a performance of Deus ex Machina by Jim Whiting will take place on Thursday lunchtimes, Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings and some other days at 3pm.

    We hope to arrange a separate visit to the pumping station to look at the remains. Anyone interested is urged to contact Mary Mills (358 9482) for date and details.

    STRATFORD MARKET. Members have visited this site which is being extensively investigated by the Borough of Newham Local Studies Department.

    CAMDEN GOODS YARD PLANNING ENQUIRY. Members have been involved and will report.

    ELTHAM GOODS YARD Same members would like more information about buildings remaining on site and in the surrounding area — can anyone help?

    TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD LAMP STANDARDS. These are now back in place having been shot-blasted. On them is 'McFarlane & Co' and 'Johnson and Phillips'. Johnson and Phillips made cables in Charlton — is this the same company?

    HOLBORN VIADUCT. This is now partially exposed because of works there and members are urged to go and look at it.

    SECOND WORLD WAR DEFENCE IN KENT. We have been sent a copy of the most interesting article which appeared in By-Gone Kent (Vol. 10 No. 10) on Sound Detection of Aircraft Experiments.

    Historic industrial buildings at risk

    English Heritage is compiling a list of historic buildings 'at risk from neglect in London'. GLIAS is not a conservative body — its interest is in recording old industrial buildings only but is always happy to give information and advice to anyone who asks. The following preliminary list has been drawn up. Members are urged to add to it buildings which they know be at risk.
    Please send details as soon as possible to Tim Smith, 30 Gaveston Drive, Berkhampstead, Herts.

    Four listed buildings at Hendon Aerodrome:

  • The Grahame-White Hangar;
  • The control tower and associated office block;
  • The Grahame-White Factory buildings;
  • VIP Hotel (Officers Mess).

    Plans were submitted to London Borough of Barnet September 1989 of the hangar to be moved to an adjacent site as is RAF Museum and for other listed buildings to be incorporation in a new development. None of these buildings is in a good weatherproof condition and they will continue to deteriorate unless something is done to maintain them; windows are open, and possibly hanging loose in the hotel.

    Crossness Pumping Station, Thamesmead. Long disused and the buildings are probably deteriorating.

    Deptford Sewage Pumping Station. Buildings are part disused and the site is poorly maintained.

    Abbey Mills Pumping Station, Newham. It is understood that the 1930s electric pumps in the station will be made redundant and a new pumping station built. The building is very expensive to maintain and will deteriorate quickly if left.

    West Ham Sewage Pumping Station, unused and locked building with beam engines and boilers understood to be intact inside.

    Stoke Newington Waterworks Pumping Station, Hackney. The building is maintained but has been disused for a long time. Future changes on site could signal neglect.

    Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield. A major historical site, now redundant. It is not possible is get access for a survey and it is possible that much of interest on the site may be lost through ignorance.

    Kempton Park Waterworks Pumping Station, Hounslow. The site is redundant and contains two major triple expansion engines. Changes could mean dereliction and damage.

    Battersea Power Station, Wandsworth. This is the well-known victim of a development bubble. It is currently gutted and roofless. It is understood, despite considerable local opposition, that plans have still set been made for the building.

    West India Docks Nos. 1 & 2 Warehouses, Tower Hamlets. Grade II buildings at risk of over development in conversion.

    King's Cross Goods Yard, Camden. A unique group survival and part listed in conservation area. Redundant and subject is development proposals with partial demolition, particularly of main goods shed and offices.

    Camden Goods Yard, Camden. Surviving peripheral buildings of a major terminus, mostly in a conservatism area. Lacking a co-ordinated policy with unsympathetic development proposals. Stable complex poorly maintained. Round House (Grade II) restored but empty. Interchange warehouse (Grade II) clumsily converted.

    East India Wharf, 99 and 103 Rotherhithe Street, SE16. One of the last underdeveloped warehouse sites remaining on the Thames, with very good timber interiors, requiring sensitive conversion. Was the property of the London Residuary Body, unmaintained and decaying for several years.

    Former Electricity Sub-station, 6-8 Garden Walk/32-38 Rivinqton Street, EC1. Built for the London County Council Tramways in 1906, a delicate piece of screen wall architecture. Proposals for development behind and above the facade were refused in 1938 and building now dilapidating.

    Royal Laboratory, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Shell of a buildings, c.1695 perhaps the oldest urban industrial building in UK, in poor state of repair.

    Former London Hydraulic Power Co Pumping Station, Wapping Wall, E1. Long empty. Proposals for adaptation to rehearsal studios have floundered.

    Smithfield Market, Main Building, City of London. Obsolescent after commercial and public health issues.

    Lots Road Power Station, Chelsea and Greenwich Power Station, Greenwich. Rare surviving Edwardian power station buildings, will become redundant when London Underground transfers to the National Grid.

    Park Royal walk

    A group of Recording Group members walked round the area of Park Royal. The background to the area is that early in the 20th century a site at Twyford was selected as the site for the permanent showground of the Royal Agricultural Society and it was given the name Park Royal but it was not a success and the scheme was abandoned in 1905. The OS revision of 1912 shows a largely undeveloped area between Harlesden and Acton, mostly farmland to the east and the unsuccessful showground to the west. In 1914 there were only 12 factories in the whole of Wembley-Acton-Willesden area (of which Park Royal is part); by the early 1930s there were at least 140.

    On the other side of Western Avenue on a site roughly bounded by triangle of railways is the site of the London aviation Ground (c.1910-20) and in Alliance Road on the south side of Western Avenue, there were two bays of the factory of the Alliance Aeroplane Company (1918) but their continued existence has not been checked recently.

    The walk began at Park Royal Station. The District Railway line from a branch off the Ealing Broadway Line was opened to South Harrow in 1903 and ultimately to Uxbridge. There was a station in Twyford Abbey Road called Park Royal and Twyford Abbey which was closed in 1931 in connection with the transfer of the line to the Piccadilly Line and the present station was opened on Western Avenue. The present building with its circular ticket hall and tower date from 1935-6 and although inspired by Charles Holden, were designed by Day, Welch and Lander. Before leaving we looked at the surrounding flats built in the same style as the station and at the art deco pub on Western Avenue.

    We crossed Western Avenue by an underpass; one of the arterial roads proposed in 1912 from London to Oxford. Work began in Wood Lane in 1921 and reached Denham in 1943. An important factor in the modern development of Park Royal is road access. The site is bounded not only by Western Avenue but also by the North Circular, The railway is also important. On the south side the site is served by the GWR line to High Wycombe and the Midlands (now also the Central line of LRT) and it is close to the North and South west Junction Railway (here is now part of the North London Link) for round London traffic. Apart from some brickworks the most notable development in 1912 was a line of factories adjoining a railway siding (GWR) which later became the Park Royal goods depot on Cumberland Avenue.

    Development of the Park Royal site came in the First World War. It was decided to deal with all the small arms ammunition from the midlands and North London in some central position, not too far from the Arsenal and the range, but, at the same time, more or less on the direct route from the Midlands to France. Such a locality was round at Park Royal. The first developments seems to have been on the south east of the Area but during WWI much of Park Royal was covered with war factories.

    The walk continued along the series of footpaths which skirt the Guinness Brewery. After the War the government disposed of the factories and Park Royal became an industrial estate. The best known site is the Guinness brewery, the earliest parts of which date from 1930. The main part of the Brewery was built in brick by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1933 (GLIAS Newsletter February 1990) and is a landmark throughout the area. The works is interlaced with its own railway which is still working. A recent book has given details on this.

    We eventually reached the Grand Union Canal. In Twyford Abbey Road we had passed the derelict Waterlows Printing Works. This is where The Listener and Radio Times were prepared.

    We also saw the oldest 'industrial' building in the area, the lengthman's cottage on the canal in Abbey Road.

    Also in the road is The Plumes Hotel, built to serve the showground and in 1910 used by Claude Grahame-White as his base for his attempt on the Daily Mail £10,000 prize for the first London-Manchester flight.

    We walked along the canal crossing the aqueduct built in the 1930s to carry the canal across the North Circular. We understand that this is soon to be demolished.

    Leaving the canal we walked through the small industrial estate at the back of Woodside Avenue. This is a fascinating area full of small workshops and businesses housed in what appear to be purpose built premises from the 1920/30s. This is the sort of area in desperate need of research.

    The walk finished at Alperton Station. Until recently this housed the escalator built for the Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain. Sadly this has gone, although the plaque remains.

    This account was written by Bill Firth; edited and amended by Mary Mills and Bob Carr. They acknowledge the help of:
    The London Encyclopedia, Ed. Weinreib, B. & Hibbert H. / The Industries of Greater London, Smith, D.H. / History of the Ministry of Munitions (Martin, J.E. and his quotations in 'Greater London, An Industrial Geography') / London's Underground Stations, Menear L / The Buildings of England. Middex. Pevsner / The Story of Acton Aerodrome Nearer, A. / Brewery Railways. Ian Peaty / GLIAS Newsletters Nos. 63 & 84

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  • © GLIAS, 1990