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Notes from Bob Carr — April 1993

Battersea Power Station being sold

The 31-acre Battersea Power station site which includes Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's famous art deco power station is in the process of being bought by the Hwangs, a Hong Kong property owning family. The subsequent future of the power station is at present uncertain. Mr George and Mr Victor Hwang, the brothers negotiating on behalf of their family, are to buy the development's bank debt, almost certainly at a large discount. This debt is probably more than 100 million (see the Financial Times, 25 February 1993, page 9). Bob Carr

The Musical Museum

You may have noticed that at Brentford there has been scaffolding on the tower of St George's church that houses the remarkable collection of mechanical musical instruments founded by the late Frank Holland. Remedial work has been necessary to secure the stone cladding of the tower which was separating from the brick core. Fortunately the John and Ruth Howard Charitable Trust was able to donate 5,000 to assist with the expense.

The musical collection has been at St George's since 1963. On Sunday 28 March 1993 a 30th Anniversary Celebration was due to be held at the Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford. Apart from numerous musical performances the day was to include the showing of a 1925 film on the Wurlitzer Factory. Bob Carr
For details and booking contact the Musical Museum, 368 Brentford High Street, Middlesex TW8 0BD. Tel: 020 8560 8108. Web:

Wandle delights

The river Wandle is justly famous as London's industrial river from its numerous water mills. Around 1800 there were as many as 90 sites using waterpower with up to 200 water wheels. In Morden Hall Park you can still see a water wheel at the former snuff mills (TQ 261 686) in a fine setting. These mills worked until 1922. The East Mill is an 18th-century brick-and-weatherboard building, its breastshot iron wheel now minus paddles. The wheel on the corresponding West Mill, built c1830, was removed in 1968.

Downstream from Morden Hall Park at the former Liberty's silk printing works (TQ 265 698) is a cast iron 12ft diameter undershot waterwheel dated c1840 which powered rinsing spools. It is 15 feet wide, would have produced about 15 horse power and last worked in 1952. Silk printing finally finished here in 1981, ending a local tradition of textile printing which had lasted 250 years.

Just upstream from Morden Hall Park, Ravensbury Mill (TQ 265 682) off Morden Road is credited as the last working water mill on the river Wandle; the wheels here drove woodworking machinery until the 1960s. The Rutter family had used this mill for snuff making from 1805 until 1926. Two breast shot waterwheels are inside the building. Nearby is a side road named Rutter Gardens.

Snuff mills were characterised by their choking atmosphere. For an account of a GLIAS visit to a working water-powered snuff mill in Sheffield see GLIAS Newsletter December 1986. Bob Carr

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© GLIAS, 1993