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Notes and news — December 1990

In this issue:

Recording Group report

  • Docklands and LDDC: A friendly relationship has been established with the new Conservation Officer and some site visits are being set up.
  • Bow Back Rivers Walk: This had been very successful and enjoyable. It is hoped to report later.
  • Camden Goods Yard: A member of the group had sent us a detailed account of the current state of the site and of the enquiry into it.
  • Burgess Park Bridge: A member has rung alerting us to a possible problem about an unused canal footbridge.
  • Parkland Walk: We have been contacted by a group interested in reinstating rail services on this line.
    Mary Mills

    South Metropolitan Cemetery, West Norwood

    South Metropolitan Cemetery, West Norwood, 2004. © Robert Mason A very interesting, if very wet, visit to the South Metropolitan Cemetery in September was very popular. I apologise to those members who were unable to join the party. Our thanks go to Jill Dudman and Bob Flanagan for arranging the tour of the most fascinating collection of graves.

    It was particularly pleasing to have the very unique privilege of going into the catacombs where, as well as some 1,000 coffins, was the complete hydraulic coffin lift of 1837/8 still intact and almost workable.*

    It is planned to make a full record of this lift and the catacombs in the New Year. Those interested in this task should contact me on 081-692 8512. David Perrett

    Norwood tram depot

    The Norwood Society would like to know more about the former tram depot in Norwood Road. It is at present used by a paper company but a conversion into three small warehouses is being applied for. What is its history and do any documents or photos survive? If you can help please contact: Jill Dudman, 119 Broxholm Road, West Norwood, SE27 0BJ. David Perrett

    Notes from Bob Carr

    Thames Water Utilities have made it clear that they have every intention of restoring the listed Crossness engine house and its beam engines to an appropriately high standard. It is to be hoped that the recent difficulties (GLIAS Newsletter October 1990) have been resolved.

    This is the new name for the area around the group of Grade One listed buildings at the North West corner of the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. At one time it was planned that the Museum of London's Museum in Docklands Project would be housed in the remaining warehouses here but there is little hope of this now (GLIAS Newsletter April 1990). Redevelopment is likely to be even more drastic than that meted out in transforming the skin floor at the London Docks into 'Tobacco Dock'. Proposals are to modify the Gwilt warehouses, with the provision of light tunnels, atria and high tech additions to the South. Having seen the plans, 'Piloti' remarks in his Nooks and Corners on page nine of Private Eye 737, 16th March 1990, that 'no Grade One listed church or house would be treated so ruthlessly'.

    Don Munday's letter (GLIAS Newsletter October 1990) prompts further remarks on Thames Water's plans for some redevelopment of the Reservoirs at Stoke Newington. The 'Barn Elms-type' solution now being sought envisages a partnership with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in which part of the available area would be redeveloped for housing, to provide funds for a nature reserve and visitor centre. The Save the Reservoirs Campaign believes that unrestricted redevelopment would take place on the Filter Beds with some redevelopment on the West Reservoir and leisure and recreation facilities and a nature reserve at the East Reservoir. However, it is understood that Thames Water have given an undertaking that the West Reservoir will not be drained in advance of planning permission being granted.

    Recently there has been a lull in activity, plans for a black arts centre here having come to little. Commercial developers are proposing a £10 million arts scheme involving a 12-storey hotel and 60 flats. Camden Council has reservations about the proposal, see the Hampstead and Highgate Express (Ham & High), 13th July 1990, pages 1 and 2. The Ham & High complained that security at the Roundhouse has been lax and the building is in a poor state of repair (see 17th August 1990, page 4). Thanks are due to June Gibson for information.

    The attention of GLIAS members is drawn to an excellent article by our President Mr Michael Robbins in Camden History Review number 8, pages 2 to 7. Mr Robbins has been working on the diaries of R. B. Dockray who was the designer of the Round House and lived a short distance away at 160 Haverstock Hill. The external appearance of Mr. Dockray's house has changed little in 90 years. Bob Carr

    Shoreditch walk — Monday October 1st

    Shoreditch was the centre of the London furniture trade in the 19th century and there were also a large number of printers in the area. Many of the buildings date from the middle to the end of the Victorian era and it is remarkable that so many have survived. It is therefore an area of great interest to industrial archaeologists as those of us who went on the walk soon found out.

    The start was inauspicious, Liverpool Street Station is large and at 6pm, crowded — where were we supposed to meet? I ought to have 'phoned Mary in advance. However, we did all meet up in the Broadgate Circle — eventually — and a bit late, unfortunately, since the evenings are drawing in at the beginning of October, we set off. (I have heard this described as getting late early.)

    The walk took place at the well-known fast Malcolm Tucker trot and covered a large number of buildings so that only an overall impression remains. I would recommend individual exploration using the Hackney Society's publication, South Shoreditch, Historic and Industrial Buildings*.

    Among many sites in Curtain Road we had a chance encounter with James Goff from the property consultants, Stirling Ackroyd. James is very interested in the history of the buildings in which he deals. We swapped notes, James may join GLIAS, but, much more interestingly, he offered us a visit to some of the interiors for which his firm holds the keys. This is being followed up — watch future Newsletters for an announcement. Bill Firth

    Ragged School Museum

    GLIAS members strolling along the footpath of the Regent's Canal on a hot afternoon might find the remains of canalside industry tiring. How delightful then to discover a canalside cafe opened by the Ragged School (on the canal bank just by Copperfield Way, go down the steps to the canal). Loseley ice cream is sold, together with the usual range of crisps and minerals, and fishermen's sundries.

    Connoisseurs of London-industrial-museum cafes should also investigate the cream cakes at Kew. It's a pity that the North Woolwich station museum hasn't got a café but recommended is the tea bar in the park run by the bowls players' wives. Do not go to the dire Eel and Pie shop.


    Muswell Hill Metro Group is dedicated to the restoration of the rail link from Alexandra Palace to Finsbury Park via Muswell Hill, Highgate, Crouch Hill and Stroud Green. Members interested in the restoration of this railway line and wanting further information, please contact, E.E. Nice, 8 Barnes Court, Clarence Road, London N22 4PJ.

    Bakehouse oven at 57 King Henry's Walk, N1

    The bakehouse is at 57 King Henry's Walk, north of Balls Pond Road in Dalston, Stoke Newington, although in fact inside the eastern boundary of the borough of Islington in what was mainly a middle class neighbourhood.

    The bakery began in 1863, or shortly before, as No. 6 St. Jude's Place, one of a terrace of seven shops; the neighbouring premises were a grocer, chemist, linen draper, greengrocer, stationer and oilman. The first owner was Adam Hexamer (but also named as Andrew Hexamer) a baker of German origin. There were bakers of this name from at least 1344 in various parts of London — Oxford Street, Camden Town — until the last ceased baking in Eaton Terrace in the 1920s.

    By 1872 all but one of the seven shops had changed hands and the baker's shop, which in 1867 had become 57 King Henry's Walk, was owned by Simon Moll who remained until 1907, to be succeeded by John Jacobi. Very large numbers of Germans came into the London baking trade before the First World War; many of them, like these three, became master bakers. For example, in Kelly's director/ at Stoke Newington, Stamford Hill and Clapton (which covers this area) for 1896/7, out of a total of 92 bakers' shops there are 25 with German names. There was much opposition from British baker and other citizens, giving way to violence in the 1914-1918 war.

    Jacobi's name disappears from the directories during the war years 1915-1919, re-appears in 1920 as John Valentine Jacobi (sic) (perhaps a son?) and in the following year the anglicised form — John Valentine James. The bakery remained in operation until about 1944. Then in 1951-1952 the premises were occupied by Shillam and James, builders and Gildawn Press, printers, but the directories are confusing since sometimes only one, sometimes both, appear with the printers only in the last decade.

    The name on the cast iron oven door is 'F. Webb, 151 St. Leonard's Road, Poplar'. The firm started with Frederick Webb, a bricklayer at small premises at 29 Grundy Street, Poplar. He presumably went into the more specialised craft of brick oven building, where the skill lies in getting the furnace, the flue and the shape of the arched roof just right to produce a good, even and long-lasting heat. The iron doors would presumably have been bought in.

    Webb moved to larger premises at 151 St. Leonard's Road in Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar, in 1882 where he was still called a bricklayer, but in the following year is described as F. Webb, ovenbuilder, until 1913. From 1914-1974 the firm was Webb & Sons so on this evidence the oven can be dated as sometime between 1882 and 1914, but on technical evidence could probably be more closely dated. One possibility is an installation around the time of the change of ownership in 1907.

    It is a two-decker oven, the lower door being almost flush with the present floor. Some of these ovens had a pit in front, although this made the upper oven more difficult to set with a batch of bread. The furnace is on the left, with the flue running along the right hand wall of the bakehouse still in place.

    Note: Webb's premises at St. Leonard's Road were larger than those in Grundy St. There was a yard and they seem actually to have taken in the adjacent building at 149 as well. It is also noted that John Webb & Sons, bricklayers, were at 168 Grundy St. until 1913. (First appearance has not been checked. These were, definitely different premises from no. 29 not a re-numbering.) Were they related? Was Webb & Sons a combination of the two firms in 1913/14? Perhaps grandfather, son (s) and grandsons, but this is only speculation. Rita Ensing

    Letter to the editor

    From Ian M. Frost, who writes regarding Video Reviews, 'Ploughing by Steam' (GLIAS Newsletter October 1990):
    Full marks for promoting this — I am sure it is every bit as good and interesting as you say. But, the 'it seems unlikely to be able to be filmed again' statement prompts this comment. In this part of the world proper steam ploughing (with a pair of engines designed and built specially for the job — with respect, they are not 'traction engines') is regularly included in the programme of Ploughing Matches and similar gatherings and is by no means rare.

    Only a month ago at a local match only a mile away from my house a steam ploughing team worked all day and attracted a good crowd of spectators. Unfortunately I could only view from a distance as I was fully occupied all day as part of the team of the steam threshing that also worked all day — real (long stalk) corn, grown specially, a traditional wooden threshing drum and a 1917 agricultural type steam traction engine burning real coal! Ian Frost (Gravesend, Kent)

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  • © GLIAS, 1990