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Notes and news — August 1991

In this issue:

Request via America

The other evening I received a 'phone call from Eastbourne, the caller had been given my number by the Computer Museum in Boston, Mass. Such is the problem in having you address in the back of a society's newsletter, in this case The Computer Conservation Society's 'Resurrection'.

The 'phone call as followed by a note requesting help with a project to conserve, maintain and program a Monroe 1830 programmable calculator. As a sometime user of the device my correspondent is anxious to find out anything he can about the origin and workings or it. Anyone knowing anything about the product or its distributors Litton Business Systems Inc. should get in touch with me and I'll pass it on. Danny Hayton

Tom Smith

Sadly, the announcement has to be made of the untimely death of GLIAS committee member Tom Smith, who died of a heart attack at the start of an industrial archaeology lecture at the Old Station Museum, North Woolwich, on Monday 3rd June 1991. Tom will be well known to all Newsletter readers as 'the man who sold the GLIAS books'. He became associated with GLIAS in about 1974 when Tim Smith was recording the Commercial Road goods depot. Tom joined the Committee in 1979 and was a regular attender at meetings. It might not be appreciated that he could write well; see for example, 'All done by mirrors...' (GLIAS Newsletter August 1981) which is about a magic lantern show on board a narrow boat.

Tom came from Widnes, joining the Royal Artillery aged sixteen in the late 1930s and served with distinction, being awarded the Burma Star, Good Conduct and Long Service Medals. In later years he worked for British Telecom as a clerical officer. Since joining GLIAS in the 1970s he lived in Woolwich in a flat which had a view of the river — hence the development of an interest in maritime matters. Tom's special interests included lighthouses, man-powered flight, cycling and photography. As well as GLIAS he was a member of the Newcomen Society, the Association for Industrial Archaeology and local history societies in the Woolwich area. Those who knew him will recall his reminiscences of watching airliners in South Lancashire in the 1930s, his work in a timber yard and manning anti-aircraft guns during World War II. Sympathy is extended to his brother, sister-in-law and other relatives. Bob Carr

Tom Smith's funeral on 12th June was well attended by members of GLIAS.

Tom's cremation took place at Eltham Crematorium, South London, at 4.30pm on 12th June. It was attended by his only relatives, his brother and sister-in-law who live in Widnes, Cheshire. Also attending were friends from the I.A. class Tom attended, friends from his local history group, Army associates, his 'local' and about eight members from GLIAS. It was a quiet service in the Chapel of Remembrance and there were several floral tributes.

Those of you who knew Tom may have known him as 'the late Tom Smith', for he was invariably late when going on 'trips'. Most of you, however, will have known Tom from his sale of publications at GLIAS events and those of other associations.

Tom will be sadly missed. Peter Skilton

GLIAS Recording Group report

We have had a letter from Mr. Burnett of Bexleyheath about the origin of the name 'Camden Town' mentioned in our last report. He writes as follows:

We are also very grateful to another member who has sent us several interesting cuttings — including a picture of Denmark Hill Station — now a pub, articles on the history of the North London Link, and York Road tube station as well as more up to date projects like the Channel Tunnel and the East London River Crossing.

We have had letters about recent planning applications — the lifts in the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which are being replaced and the continuing saga of the Telford bridge in St. Katherine Dock. Also the Allied Brewery building in St. John's Street, Islington — does any member know if there is anything of interest inside this?

Several members have visited the Battersea Water Works site and this is being written up and further investigated. Should any member know the whereabouts of any pictures of this site I would like to hear from them. Two ice wells have been discovered at the Carlo Gatti ice works at 12-17 New Wharf Road, Islington. We hope to be able to give more information on these. It is understood that Thames Water may be going to leave the Surrey Street site in Croydon which includes the Atmospheric Railway building — any information? Mary Mills

New canal museum

A new Museum of London Canals at King's Cross, Battle Bridge Basin, will be opened, it is hoped, in the spring of 1992. Work is pressing ahead and the new museum would like to hear from persons with suitable artefacts they could offer for display in the museum. Further information can be obtained from Mrs D. Hutchinson, 59 Gloucester Avenue, London NW1 TEA, or tel: 071-607 5142. Malcolm Tucker

Crossness Engines Trust

Talks have been taking place between Thames Water Utilities (owners of site) and the Crossness Engines Trust and the basic terms of a lease have been agreed (GLIAS Newsletter June 1991). Final details are to be concluded by the end of August, when a joint announcement will be made. John Ridley

Notes from Bob Carr

After cruising along the South Coast, Waverley comes to London this year on Wednesday 25th September, finally departing after a cruise from Tower Pier on Monday 7th October. From Tower Pier this autumn trips are planned to Tilbury, Southend and Whitstable. On Friday 27th September there will be an evening cruise from Tower Pier at 19.30 through the Thames Barrier, returning at 23.00. On Sunday 6th October there will be a Grand Parade of Steam on the River Medway with the Waverley departing Tower Pier at 11.00 returning at 21.15. The traditional Scots high tea in the saloon with breaded fish is not to be missed. For those going further afield Waverley will be operating on the Clyde in August and be in the Solent area in the first half of September. Another passenger vessel not to be missed is the small steamer Sir Walter Scott which plies on Loch Katrine in summer.

For information and booking write to Waverley Excursions Ltd. Anderston Quay, Glasgow, or tel: 041-221 8512 or 0446 720656 (Access and Visa credit cards accepted). If booking time is short for the Waverley, pre-paid tickets can be collected on board from the purser.

We had a first class tour of the brewing process at Chiswick on 25th March with a knowledgeable guide and there is much of industrial archaeological interest. A second visit is planned for Wednesday 11th December 1991 at 1.00 pm. There are still two places available, so if you would like to take part please send a cheque for £3.75 (note price increase) payable to R. Carr, plus first class SAE, to: R. Carr, 127 Queen's Drive, London N4 2BB. The price is still very reasonable as it includes a good deal of excellent sample beer plus food.

Write soon if you want a place. Keen people may go a second time! If you are unlucky and do not get a place for December 11th it is intended to organise further visits in 1992 and places will be reserved in order of application. Visits are on Mondays and Wednesdays at 1.00pm. Should no suitable future dates be offered cheques will be returned. Bob Carr

Letters to the editor

From Peter J. Skilton:
I would like to express my thanks on behalf of the Kirkaldy Testing Museum to members of GLIAS who assisted and made it possible for Kirkaldy Testing Museum to obtain line-shafting and other material. My particular thanks to Dave Perrett in bringing its whereabouts to our attention and to him and others, for their muscle power. Once more it shows the close co-operation between GLIAS and Kirkaldy Testing Museum.

From Mr. Murray S L. Bumstead ARICS, who writes:
In response to Mary Mills' enquiry as to the name of Camden Town in the June newsletter, the Camden London Borough official guide of about 1965 states that ... 'in the heart of the new Borough of Camden is Camden Town, so called after the Earl of Camden, whose family (the Pratts) were the owners of the Camden estate in the 18th and 19th centuries. The estate' (not designated) 'was urbanised rather later than St. Pancras, and was laid out in a more formal manner with straight and parallel roads. Camden Road constructed 1828, was lined with the better class of family house and Camden Square, Camden Park Road and the adjacent thoroughfares formed a choice residential area mostly dating from the mid-19th century...."

No doubt research in the Camden Libraries would provide any further information which may be required.

From Jack Vaughan, who has written:
A newly joined member, I was interested to read the piece on Joseph Bramah (GLIAS Newsletter February 1991), in which the invention of the slide rest is attributed to him. To ascribe any significant invention to one man is technically provocative. It is so with the compound slide rest. 1794 is the date around which the claims of Bramah, Henry Maudslay and Joseph Clements revolve. The first two, in a technical sense, fed off each other and Clements was a pupil of both. Moreover, a form of the device was in use in France in the early 1770s.

Further, picture No. 47 of a series of Watercolours of 1770 showing operations in the Royal Brass Foundry, Woolwich, shows a version of compound axis turning on the outside of a gun barrel. Maudslay started work in this area in 1783 and Bramah's first contact with the Arsenal, of which the Brass Foundry was the core, came in 1805. If, as seems probable, the germ of the idea came from this it must be down to Maudslay. Another point which should be made is Maudslay's invention of the hydraulic cup leather, without which the Hydraulic press for which Bramah is justly famous, would not have come to full fruition.

May I finally recall that Bramah's name has a place in the language, if not in the dictionaries. To refer to anything, be it a machine or a well turned ankle, etc. implied that the item was of supreme excellence.

Genealogical searches for engineers

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has asked us to publicise their records of interest to biographers and genealogists.

The first set of records are the proposal forms which give date and place of birth, schooling and early career of the applicant. The second group are the IMechE Proceedings which list dates of election to membership, publications and memoirs of members, comprising brief resumes of their lives and careers.

The Information and Library Service will provide biographical details from the Institution's archives at an initial cost of £5. Bill Firth
Details from: The Librarian, Information and Library Service, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1 Birdcage Walk, London SW1H 9JJ. Tel: 071-222 7899

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© GLIAS, 1991