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Notes and news — June 1992

In this issue:

Glais colliery

A photograph on page 38 of the book Nicholas of Glais by Dr David W Howell (ISBN 0 9518323 0 1) depicts pithead buildings at Glais Colliery c1925 (GLIAS Newsletter February 1992).

Dimensions indicate a moderate size undertaking for the time, there were wooden headstocks over what must be the downcast shaft, a stone winding engine house with a tapering square-section brick chimney alongside, strengthened with iron bands.

To the left, at right angles to the winding engine house was a tall three-storey stone beam pumping engine house. The beam projected over a bob wall over the downcast shaft and the pump rods must have shared the shaft with the two cages. In the rectangular space of which the beam engine house and the winding engine house formed two sides were three boilers in the open, Cornish or Lancashires.

There is a good deal of pipework evident in the photograph and a safety valve is blowing off. Both engine houses have pitched slate roofs. The group of buildings was probably erected towards the end of the last century. Bob Carr

Demolition in Cheltenham

This September the annual AIA Conference was to have been held at the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Further Education. This institution will shortly be applying for University status and a fair amount of new facilities are required. This means that some of the necessary demolition work will most likely have started by the time of the AIA Conference.

At the Park the bar would be replaced by a portacabin and demolition work begun on the gymnasium, Derwent Hall and chapel. Apart from the number of conference places available now being limited, the ability to watch demolition at first hand while in residence was not considered an essential part of the annual industrial archaeology conference and so a move to Cirencester, a former woollen town, with accommodation at Cirencester Agricultural College is a very probable alternative. Bob Carr

Ferranti model

There is a substantial model of the 1889 Deptford power station in the Science Museum, South Kensington, which gives a good idea of Ferranti's original arrangements (GLIAS Newsletter April 1992). John Bagley kindly advises that its location is case 71B in gallery 4N, the mezzanine gallery at the North side of the front hall, over the bookshop.

A tale of two stations

The main train shed of Liverpool Street main line railway station in the City of London which opened in 1874 has recently been extended southwards in a grand and excellent manner. Approaching the station now one almost wonders if this is an Art Gallery — shades of Gare D'Orsay, Paris? The new train service to Stansted Airport operates from Liverpool Street.

East Croydon station building was substantial with a lantern roof booking hall of 1897 and there were facilities for the Post Office to the East of the railway. The LB&SCR booking facilities on a bridge over the railway tracks have gone to make way for a structure more in keeping with present surroundings. The new style is probably not unconnected with Croydon's recent bid for City status. We still await the coming of the trams.

Sailings from Tower Pier

The MV 'Balmoral', 638 tons, built 1949, is to operate cruises, arriving on Thursday June 4th at 18.00 from Ipswich, Clacton and Southend. On Tuesday September 29th she leaves at 15.30 for Tilbury and Southend. On Friday October 2nd she arrives at 19.15 from Great Yarmouth. The following Saturday morning she departs at 11.00 for Tilbury, Southend and Whitstable. There will also be cruises on October 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th. PS 'Waverley' will be operating in the Solent and South Coast area in September. Details and booking, tel. 0446 720656 or 041 221 8152. Credit cards accepted. Tickets may be collected on board from the Purser.

Greater London news

The dignified and impressive Brunel family tomb in Kensal Green cemetery has recently been cleaned for the inclusion of the ashes of the great-great-grand-daughter of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel.

At Rotherhithe where Sir Marc commenced construction of the famous Thames Tunnel in the mid-1820s the Brunel Engine House chimney is to be reconstructed to resemble its appearance in 1813, adding another thirty feet to the existing brick base. The top used to be wrought iron.

Bob Barnes and Nicholas de Salis of the Brunel Exhibition Project featured in one of the BBC Radio 4 programmes 'Science Now'. The programme, broadcast twice in mid-March has given useful publicity to the new exhibition in the engine house, which is open in the afternoon on the first Sunday of each month.

The King's Arms public house in Moreland Street EC1 no longer exists. This Banks and Taylor pub has apparently not survived the demolition noted at the rear in GLIAS Newsletter February 1992. Such buildings in London are not usually at risk and this architecturally presentable Vicwardian edifice seemed ripe for adaptive re-use even if licensed premises were no longer required on the site. Founded in 1981, Banks and Taylor of Shefford in Bedfordshire were one of the most successful of the new small brewers and four or five years ago by leasing public houses had built up a network of twelve pubs, seven of them in London — the largest of any new brewer. Their first London pub, the Lord Rodney's Head in Whitechapel Road, E1 was leased from London Transport. The Brewery had an output of about sixty barrels a week.

John Penn's three-storey yellow stock brick pattern-making shop, Ditch Alley, Blackheath Road, SE10, was on a site used until quite recently by F. Broomfield Ltd. the bakers. This is now for sale.

Much demolition his been taking place at the former LCC tramway assembly and maintenance depot, Felltrem Way, SE7, which opened in 1909. Airfix were a subsequent occupier.

London's electric power stations have been under threat for quite a while and at many sites not much may now be left. The chimney of Deptford East generating station was demolished on the morning of Saturday 11th April. There was a small crowd of spectators. Little now remains on the Deptford site.

Abbey Mills Pumping Station on the delta of the River Lea is unlikely to be knocked down, it is listed grade two star, but its use for pumping will probably not last much longer. Its c.935 electric pumps still in use, the 'Daleks', are very much threatened and worth recording. Bob Carr


SERIAC 92 was held at 'Bolderwood', the School of Medicine at Southampton University, on 21st March. The first day of spring dawned overcast in Southampton but within an hour or so the sun shone and bode well for a good day. Conference delegates had to run the gauntlet of several hundred children gathered for a day of technology. On reaching the conference area we were registered by Pam Moore and a S.U.I.A.G. member. There was coffee and time to view the displays by I.A. groups from all over the south east.

The programme started punctually and after a welcome and opening remarks we listened to Kenneth Major tell us about 'Wind Engines and Municipal Water Supply'. This was an informative talk, marred only by the poor quality of the speaker's slides. The second talk, 'Electricity comes to Godalming', by Kenneth Gravet, was not an easy subject, as it has been used many times before. Kenneth, however, added new material to what was essentially originally 'The Brilliant Ray'. The last talk of the morning was 'The London Hydraulic Power Company — A Lost Utility' by Tim Smith, a past secretary of GLIAS. Tim's subject was as vast as L.H.P's network of mains and he did well to cover it in the forty minutes allocated.

Lunch and time to talk with friends of long ago and look round the exhibitors' stands, then back to the lecture theatre for the afternoon series of talks.

'South Eastern Gas — A Historical Survey — 1814-1949' by Brian Sturt, recording secretary for the GLIAS Committee was the next talk. Brian read a paper packed with facts about gas production and distribution in the south east of England. His paper was backed up with a good collection of slides. Next on the agenda, 'The Brook Pumping Station' by Jim Preston, featured an historical view of the valley, the protracted establishment of the pumping station and its use as a museum. This was arguably the most humorous talk of the day although the last speaker was to gain more than one laugh by referring to Jim's talk.

There was a break for tea, time to stretch one's legs and have a last look round the stands before the final talk of the day. Back in the Lecture Theatre we heard Dr. Denis Smith tell us of 'The Emergence of the Municipal Engineer in the Victorian City'. As one might imagine, he could not pass up the opportunity of mentioning Sir Joseph William Bazalgette. This, however, was not a re-hash of Denis's previous talks. It was an illustrative and amusing view of Municipal Engineers in the 1800s and the demands and problems imposed on them. The afternoon session ended with Dr. Edwin Course giving an 'Introduction to Twyford Pumping Station'. He concluded with slides showing those who were to visit the station what they might expect.

With over thirty delegates and three out of seven speakers from GLIAS, our society was well represented. I think it fair to say that SER.I.A.C. 92 was a success and our thanks should be extended to Pam Moore and all the members of S.U.I.A.G. for making it so. Peter Skilton

Ice wells

I have been researching some of the North London sites of United Carlo Gatti Stevenson & Slaters Ltd. and I shall in due course be filling in forms for three sites which Sylvia Beamon has not got clear in her book, viz. 12-13 New Wharf Road, N1 (2 wells, c.1860), 455 Caledonian Rd, N7 (1 well, 1862) and 120 Queensbridge Rd, (earlier Great Cambridge Street), E2 (no details yet). There are also two sites in Camden which belonged to the Leftwich family, described in Sylvia Beamon's book, but unlike the Carlo Gatti sites in Islington they have been redeveloped and there is no surface evidence.

All these wells ware of an 'industrial' scale, far larger than the domestic ones in once-rural Acton which Sheila Sermon has written about and they were dug deep into the London clay. Sylvia Beamon records one of Leftwich's wells, dug in 1825, as 82 feet deep and 34 feet diameter and a later one of theirs as 108 feet deep and 44 feet diameter, from 19th century reports. Carlo Gatti's were probably about 40 feet deep, according to contemporary reports, with diameters of 34 feet and 31 feet at New Wharf Road (measured) and 41 feet at Caledonian Road (from drainage plans). These northern groups of wells depended on ice brought into Regent's Canal Dock from Norway and taken by barge up the Regent's Canal, but their use declined with the installation of mechanical ice-making plants in the early 20th century.

New Wharf Road is now the site of the London Canal Museum (see below) and it is hoped that the two ice wells in its basement will be put on display in due course. Malcolm Tucker

A gun discovered

Some ten years ago, exploring the back streets of Tangier, I chanced upon a small public garden in which were displayed 30 bronze cannon, nearly all 18th century or earlier and all mounted on iron siege carriages.

Among them was one bearing on its back ring 'A. Schalch Fecit 1722'. Schalch was Master Founder at the Royal Brass Foundry, built 1720, at what became the Royal Arsenal in 1805 and the gun was therefore among the very first cast there.

In February of this year I was again in Tangier and asking around, was told to my disappointment, that the garden was no longer open and the guns had all been dispersed about the town and district. I tramped the area for a day by the end of which I had scored 15 out of 30, not, alas, including the Woolwich Gun.

On my last day I thought I would at least try and see the garden. This, or rather some buildings in it, were now under Ministerial use and my attempted casual entry was blocked by a very large Moroccan soldier with no English. I have no Arabic and very little French and I had perforce to retire. I returned later in the hope that the ministerial function would be stood down for the day and this proved to be so. I entered the garden and started wandering. There, as the centre piece of a new formal lay-out stood two cannons. Examination showed one to be Portuguese and the other English, none other than our very own!

The cannon must all have been salvaged from the sea, there having been many fights between the maritime nations in the area around Tangier and, twenty miles away, Gibraltar. French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, etc. were all present.

There is a slight historic link between England and Portugal. Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal brought the town of Tangier to Charles II of England when they married, as part of her dowry. As a final note, all the iron siege carriages mentioned are of English and almost certainly of Woolwich, origin, bearing marks of 12 pr, 15 pr, etc. Jack Vaughan

GLIAS in an official capacity

GLIAS has been officially represented at a number of functions relating to IA in the last few months.

Back in November we were at Crossness at the presentation of a lease to the Crossness Engines Trust by Thames Water which will enable the Trust to restart their work on the preservation and maintenance of the beam engine house and its engines. The ceremony was followed by a tour of the engine house and a buffet lunch.

In March we were invited to the Brunel Engine House for the opening of a new exhibition, generously funded by London Docklands Development Corporation and by Robert Horton, Chairman of the British Petroleum Company pic. (Peter Skilton's report below gives more details).

Three weeks later, on 9th March, the Council of Management of the Canal Museum Trust invited us to a reception to mark the public opening by HRH Princess Anne of the London Canal Museum at 12 New Wharf Road, London N1 The premises were occupied by Carlo Gatti, ice merchant, until the late 1920s and the underground caverns used for storing ice are being excavated as part of the museum. The reception included the showing of archive film of the Regent's Canal and a video, generously sponsored for the museum, of the canal as it is today. It is now open for the public, Tuesday - Sunday, 10.00 to 16.30; tel. 071-713 0836. Bill Firth

A summer walk

Last summer, Bill Firth took us on a series of walks down the Grand Union Canal. The first one, described here, started in Westbourne Park.

Westbourne Park is named after the Westbourne stream which flows from West Hampstead to the Thames near Chelsea, crossing Sloane Square Station in an iron pipe. The area of Westbourne Park is a mid-Victorian development. Starting from Westbourne Park Station we can see an interesting juxtaposition of the 1801 canal, the 1838 railway and the modern, elevated motorway with the modern bus garage fitted in underneath. The Station was built by the Great Western and Hammersmith and City Railways in 1871, but the H & C has had a station here since 1886. We noted Carlton Bridge (from 1870) going over the canal.

South of the canal is the area of Kensal Town developed in the 1840s and very quickly became a slum. Large parts have been redeveloped.

Following the canal, we noted an 1814 boundary stone by a modern pottery. This marks the boundary of the parish of St. Luke's, Chelsea. This area was once part of the manor of Chelsea. In Kensal Road is the Cobden Working Men's Club of 1880, a very interesting and ornate building. Continuing along the Canal is the Wedlake Street Footbridge which was first opened in 1905 and replaced in 1990. It was nicknamed the "Ha'penny Bridge" because a halfpenny toll was charged. We can see the toll mentioned in the name of nearby Tollgate Close.

There is a view of Queen's Park Public Library of 1890 to the west from the bridge. On the north side of the canal is the site of Kensal Wharf. Backing onto the canal are six bays with vehicle access off 423 Harrow Road with a side access to the Wharf. 421 Harrow Road is the joinery works of Russell Brothers Ltd. a builders, display and exhibition contractors. They have recently left. Again in the pavement we can see the boundary stones of 1869 for St. Luke's Chelsea (SLC).

On the north of Harrow Road is the Queen's Park Estate. This was built between 1875 and 1881 by the Artisans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company. There are two thousand houses on First Avenue, with an Institute on the corner. The college on the corner of Third Avenue has been demolished. There are porch gables, some with original stones by J. Bastin Pottery, Lambeth. The architects were Austin and later Roland Plumbe (reference Artisans and Avenues by Erica McDonald and David Smith, City of Westminster libraries 1990).

A block on the south side of Harrow Road was also built by the company. Note the terracotta monogram on the side of the building.

In Kensal Road is also the Globe Wernicke Furniture Factory and the White Knight Laundry. In Middle Row is an old bus garage, now in multiple occupation.

On the corner of Ladbroke Grove is the Refuse Transfer Station by St. Mary Abbotts vestry which was the forerunner of Kensington Borough Council of 1896. Horse carts came in at the lower end of Kensal Road, up a ramp over a cut from the canal, refuse being dropped into barges for dumping at Hayes. Empty carts went out at the top end of the site into Ladbroke Grove. The pub opposite was the manager's house. Also note the boundary stone on the south-west corner.

On the other side of Ladbroke Grove are the Gas Works Offices of 1929, facing the gas works and backing onto Ladbroke Grove. Ladbroke Grove Canal Bridge has six makers plates from Bartles, Lancaster Road. On the other side of Ladbroke Grove is the site of Kensal Green Gas Works of 1872 with two access basins from the Canal now used by pleasure craft.

On the other side of the canal is Kensal Green Cemetery the first and largest public cemetery in London of 1833. More fashionable and less of I.A. interest than Norwood, it contains the graves of, for example, the two Brunels father and son, Charles Babbage, Decimus Burton, Thomas Hancock and many others.

Further down Ladbroke Grove is the site of the reinforced concrete, 'all gas' flats by Maxwell Fry, R. Atkinson, C.H. James and Grey Warnum of 1936. A nursery school is built on the site of an old gas holder. These flats were considered to be a pioneering workers development in the 1930s.

The Ladbroke Grove Railway Bridge has plaques dated 1913. Barlby Road which was previously Edinburgh Road, is the site of demolished carriage sheds and sidings and is being prepared for redevelopment. At the corner of Exmoor Street there is the colour printing works which more recently has had several different uses and the Pall Mall Deposit of 1911, which has names in blue and white tiles and PMD monograms on an iron window grille in an H-shaped block with another four-bay block at the rear.

The Clement, later (Sunbeam) Talbot Motor Car Factory of 1903 was the first purpose-built car factory in England with a main entrance hall used as a display area and a past and present museum, a mosaic pavement and tasteful marble decorations.

Also in Exmoor Street is St. Charles Hospital, 1881, originally the Marylebone Infirmary, by the architect Saxon Snell. Pevsner calls this 'a grim fortress-like pile'. Finally, Ladbroke Grove Station from the Hammersmith and City Railway opened as the Notting Hill Station on the 18th June 1864 and has had several renamings. It didn't become Ladbroke Grove until 1938. It has been rebuilt, at street level. The old entrance on the north side of the tracks has the upper stairs still in use with the entrance from the south side, largely original, at platform level. Mary Mills

Brunel Exhibition, Rotherhithe private view

On Wednesday 25th March, a private preview of a NEW exhibition and publication of a new book, 'Brunel's Tunnel and Where it Led' was held at the Brunel Engine House, Rotherhithe. Nick de Salis, Vice Chairman of Trustees, welcomed the guests and thanked all those who had assisted in bringing the exhibition to fruition.

The exhibition was opened by Robert Horton, Chairman of British Petroleum Co, who complimented B.E.R. on the work they are doing. He said: 'The Brunels are an inspiration to all who aspire to become engineers and I believe that those who learn about them through visiting this exhibition and reading this superb book will find that inspiration irresistible.' B.P. are sponsors of the new book written by Andrew Mathewson and Derek Laval and edited by Corinne Orde.

There was a slight hitch when Robert Horton formally opened the new exhibition; a large banner of Marc Brunel took its time to unfurl, other than that the preview was a big success. The new exhibition contains updated information and is very well laid out. I recommend a visit to the Brunel Exhibition, Rotherhithe, situated in the Brunel Engine House, Railway Avenue, London SE16. Peter Skilton

£150,000 grant for museum roof

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Brentford, will be losing its Steam Hall roof this summer. All is not lost, however, as thanks to joint funding by English Heritage and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the museum will be able to commission full restoration of the listed structure. The museum is set within a former Victorian Waterworks complex and the Steam Hall itself was a former boiler house. Many of the old materials date back to 1838, including the wrought-iron roof, trusses, cast iron pillars and support teams.

The museum will remain open to the public throughout the restoration period between July and August and to ensure both public safety and the safety of the exhibits there will be a false ceiling installed. The project will be managed by Julian Harrap, Architects, who were also responsible for the restoration of the museum's 196ft Standpipe Tower in 1990. Once the restoration is complete, the Museum hopes to raise money to re-light the Steam Hall so that the roof will become a feature and complement the engine collection.

The restoration of the Steam Hall roof forms Phase 3 of the building restoration programme drawn up between the museum and English Heritage.

Further information from TONY CUNDICK 081-568 4757.

The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town NW1

This building is for sale by tender. Bids were opened on 27th March 1992 and although there are no firm bids at the time of writing, there may be a last minute sale. The present owner is Camden Council. The selling agents are Messrs. Sallman, Herman, Healy, tel: 071-405 3581.

GLIAS members will doubtless recall that the Roundhouse was constructed in 1846 by engineer R. B. Dockray, under Robert Stephenson, for the storage and maintenance of steam engines, as part of the Camden Goods Yard.

Those interested can amuse themselves by finding out how much it sold for, if at all. Fortunately, the Conditions of Sale regarding development which would alter or overshadow the site or building are quite severe. It is difficult to imagine anyone but a playboy industrial archaeologist wanting it as there is some restoration to be effected on this Grade II listed Freehold building.

Its diameter is approx. 80 ft.; the internal floor area is approx. 15,750 sq. ft.; eaves height approx. 22 ft.; roof height at apex approx. 70 ft.; vaults area approx. 4,000 sq. ft. The massive brick structure, with grey slate shallow-domed roof (renewed in recent years) is supported on a network of brick vaults. There is a lantern light in the roof supported on 24 iron columns, each having curved cast iron brackets supporting the roof timbers.

The trains entered the Roundhouse through the west door onto a central turntable which then rotated to allow the trains to slot into the bays between the columns. It was not used for its intended purpose for long. In 1890 the property became a spirit, wine and sherry store for Gilbeys the wine merchants, who leased the major part of the Goods Yard. They used it until the early 1960s. Although the building has since been a theatre and an embryonic Black Arts Centre (not witchcraft!), nothing developed and the building has remained empty in later years. Camden Council took the property over when the GLC was wound up.

The Roundhouse is but a stone's throw from Chalk Farm underground station.

(With thanks to the particulars of sale prepared by the estate agents).

The New End Hospital, Hampstead

This site, empty for some years, was threatened with demolition. A long battle was fought by the local community so that a less controversial scheme of redevelopment was adopted for this centre village site, meaning that practically all the buildings of historical and architectural merit were retained. Apart from the main hospital buildings, on the one-and-a-half acre site, there is a boilerhouse chimney, the 1884 (listed) Rotunda and former workhouse. The site is now in the hands of the receivers as the developers are in financial difficulties. Meanwhile, the historic buildings deteriorate still further.

The Receivers are Messrs. Knight Frank & Ridley of Hanover Square and the buildings' entrance can be seen in New End, Hampstead, a few minutes walk from Hampstead Tube. June Gibson

Letters to the editor

From John Ridley, Chairman of the Crossness Engines Trust:
You may recall the problems that The Crossness Engines Trust had with Thames Water Utilities Plc. some two years ago when the Trust was locked out of the Beam Engine House. We are pleased to report that discussions with TWU have proved fruitful and the Trust now has a two-year agreement under which it is required to complete an agreed programme of work. On satisfactory completion of that work within the two-year time scale, TWU are committed to grant the Trust a 60-year lease.

Access to the Beam Engine House was obtained in November last year and much of the time since has been spent in clearing up to enable the work to start and in making arrangements to meet the safety standards demanded by TWU. Inevitably restoration progress has been slow so far but is now beginning to accelerate and we are confident that we can complete the programme of work within the two-year period. As we identify and schedule jobs to be done we shall be looking for volunteers to join the growing work teams.

Much of the success of the discussions with TWU was due to the pressure put on them by GLIAS members writing in to protest against TWU actions. The Crossness Engines Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the support they gave and to express the hope that, in the not too-distant-future, we shall be able to welcome them on a visit to this Engine House. (see above)

And from June Gibson, who writes regarding the Bedford Theatre, Camden Town, NW1:
I have suggested to English Heritage that a blue plaque be erected on the site of the demolished Bedford Theatre, Camden Town, NW1. If the application fails this year, the suggestion will not be considered for another TEN YEARS!

This small music hall was allowed to become derelict in the 1960s with the usual result. The modern building which occupies the front part of the site houses a branch of the Abbey National Building Society at street level, with the BHS office above. The rear of the site (where auditorium and stage were) is presently a car park. Part of one of the walls of the theatre still stands and it seems right that any commemorative plaque should be attached to it. The wall faces Mary Terrace, a pedestrian alleyway off the High Street. I think my proposal is being considered and any interested readers who would like to write in support of my suggestion should write to English Heritage, London Region, Chesham House, 30 Warwick St, London W1 5RD for the attention of Mr. Victor Belcher.

And from Dr. Harper Smith, who writes:
I have written at private request a monograph of John Winter (1785-1843), solicitor to the Bank of England. He lived in Heathfield Lodge, Acton, from 1803-43 and had the Lodge 'improved' by Sir John Soane. The monograph will not be published for sale but anyone interested can obtain information from me at 48 Perryn Road, W3 7NA.

Recording Group report

The Recording Group has had a busy two months and the shortness of the report below doesn't reflect the amount that is done. The 'revolving' meeting place is proving very successful and we are seeing more (and different) people come all the time. Please get in touch — if you know of an interesting site — or just turn up to the meeting and get to know people.

Bulls Bridge. It is understood that the Royal Commission for Historical Monuments is to photograph this soon. The local Council has declared a conservation area along the tow path and the area surrounding the cottages but not in the depot itself.

Some members have visited Camden Round House and are keeping an eye on developments there (see above).

Sarson's Vinegar Works. The Recording Group has undertaken a survey of this works near London Bridge and this will be reported further in the future. Anyone with expertise on vinegar manufacture please contact Tim Smith. Mary Mills

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© GLIAS, 1992