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Notes and news — October 2001

In this issue:

2001 — A London Odyssey

This year's GLIAS walks weren't a Greek myth but new departures with Janet Digby's proposal for a walk round Croydon being realised with help from Paul Sowan and Paul's detailed note (GLIAS Newsletter August 2001) producing very complimentary comments.

The Saturday walks from May to September, with Wednesday evenings in June, July and August provided our usual good attendance and perhaps more rain than in other years. Thanks are due to Mary Mills, Bill Firth, Charles Norrie, Geoff Donald, Stephen Hine (who arranged for Fuller's Brewery Tap to stay open for us) and Chris Grabham, who swapped a 'Friends of Ironbridge Gorge Walk' in the Royal Docks with Sue Hayton's walk round Crystal Palace.

This year saw a couple of innovations with members compiling a walk to be taken by one of 'experienced' leaders and the production of a detailed report in the newsletter. I have already heard from others with offers of walks or help for 2002.

I hope all those who braved the rain and sunshine to come on the walks enjoyed being introduced to the areas of London covered. Danny Hayton
Contact Dan Hayton. Email:

Bartholemew Fair

Last year saw the revival of Bartholomew Fair on August Bank Holiday Sunday as a fund raiser for the Butcher's and Driver's Charitable Institution. GLIAS took part by taking visitors on walks round the Smithfield Central Markets area.

This year things were more formal with the City becoming involved and the Lord Mayor's Charity benefiting among others. GLIAS also 'upped the stakes' by taking a stall and Brian and Pat Sturt and Paul and Ruth Verrall held the fort and sold £123 worth of publications as well as collecting £33.00 in new memberships and more than £20 in donations.

Walks were again offered and over 120 visitors were led by Patricia John, Peter Anderson Sue and myself round two walks. Last year's walks from Grand Avenue down to Farringdon Street and round the Markets was supplemented by a walk through the Hospital into the medieval streets by St Bartholomew the Great, through to Charterhouse Square and back past the Fox and Anchor to Grand Avenue.

As well as the success of the GLIAS stall the event as a whole raised some £1,200 for the main charities and, in spite of the rainy afternoon, attracted some 8,000 visitors.

Thanks to those GLIAS members who helped out and those who came along and also to the staff of the BDCI and the Butcher's Company who helped organise the event. Danny Hayton

King's Cross — St Pancras

In writing reports about the current conservation situation in an area such as King's Cross (GLIAS Newsletter April 2001) accuracy is difficult to achieve and the accounts which appear in this newsletter are published to give readers some inkling of what is happening in the hope of generating interest.

The main purpose is to encourage industrial archaeologists to visit these areas and see for themselves what is going on before, as in the case of the unlisted industrial archaeology near King's Cross, nearly everything is swept away.

If it was thought that bringing a few trams to Croydon created an enormous inconvenience what will shortly happen at King's Cross will be traumatic indeed although during the major rebuilding works we are promised that normal services will be maintained as far as possible. However, it is difficult to see how the eventual outcome for the area can be anything but a repeat of what is currently going on in what was William Jessop's West India Export Dock on the Isle of Dogs.

Taking into account that compared with civil engineering paper is cheap; even if it is not spelled out explicitly it is a good rule for readers always to interpret statements in industrial archaeological planning-issue reports that something is going to happen in the light of ‘it is proposed that something will happen'. In fact sometimes the outcome can come as quite a surprise.

It may happen that a report takes six months from the time of writing to appear in this publication so always bear in mind that things may have changed since.

The work of demolishing the unlisted c1886 St Pancras gasholders to the north west of Battlebridge Road started on 6 June this year and demolition work on the concrete-shell roofed buildings immediately to the west of the former locomotive stabling point was already progressing quickly on 5 June. A mobile crane equipped with a ball and chain was used. Since then the earth has been cut back enlarging the area at rail track level to the north west of the King's Cross suburban platforms.

The listed ‘Siamese triplet' to the west of Camley Street is to be dismantled and some scaffolding has already appeared here with a view to this taking place while one of the unlisted c1886 gasholders to the north east of the ‘Triplet' has already been removed. At the time of writing it was rumoured that the actual ‘Triplet' dismantling would take place from mid September so by the time this appears in print the ‘Forest of Iron' could have gone altogether.

For readers unfamiliar with the subject ‘Low-Pressure Gas Storage' by Brian Sturt in London's Industrial Archaeology number 2 (1980, pp13-23) is an excellent introduction to gasholders. Bob Carr

King's Cross gazetteer

Croydon's designs on Kent's water

Railways and tunnels never built: Intended railways that were never built are relatively well known, and every so often documented in the derivative and secondary literature of railway history. On the Surrey/Kent borders, the South Eastern Railway's main line from London to Dover was at first to have followed approximately what later became the Oxted line route, and indeed some tunnelling appears to have been started (and thus still lies waiting to be refound) under Riddlesdown; so far as I am aware, there are no early tunmel remains under the Downs between Woldingham and Oxted though. No start of any kind was ever made, I think, on the proposed Southern Heights Light Railway which would, if built, have offered a switchback line from the existing railway south of Croydon over the North Downs to Orpington.

Croydon's 1934-35 waterworks scheme: Similarly doomed schemes for other kinds of enterprise, of course, have also existed. Receipt of a portfolio of plans and sections donated to the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society's Library recently made me aware of a grandiose but ultimately failed water supply scheme in 1934-35 whereby the County Borough of Croydon (as it then was) would have acquired lands, sunk wells, driven subterranean headings, and erected pumping stations in the Kent parishes of Cuxton, Hartley, and Fawkham (in the then Rural Districts of Strood and Dartford), and piped the water across country to Croydon. This proposaI formed an important part of the Croydon Corporation Bill before Parliament in the 1934-35 Session. Not surprisingly, petitions against the Act, or especially this part of it (it contained other and less contentious matter) were lodged by the Rural District Councils of Dartford and Strood; the Higham and Hundred of Hoo Water Company; Gravesend and Rochester Corporations: the Mid-Kent and Gravesend and Milton and Chatham and District Water Companies; the Beckenham and Orpington Urban District Councils, Kent County Council, and one Herbert James Cologne. Croydon's pipeline would, incidentally, have crossed four important commons (Farnborough, Hayes, Keston and West Wickham, and passed very close to the Metropolitan Water Board's existing well in West Wickham in then Beckenham UDC). The proposal did not appear in the final Croydon Corporation Act (1935, 25 & 26 Geo. V, Ch. cix).

Croydon Corporation's then engineer, George Fearnley Carter, had presumably done his homework well and selected locations for wells and depths and directions for headings for optimum water yield. It would be interesting to establish if any such wells were eventually sunk by other water undertakings at these locations.

The pipeline, had it been built, was to have terminated at two points in Croydon — the already existing Addington Hills covered reservoir, and a junction with an existing water main near South End, Croydon. What may have been intended as an overflow pipe for any surplus water was to have terminated at a gravel pit in Longfield (Kent).

While the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society Library now has the Plans and Sections portfolio, the Croydon Public Libraries' Local Studies Library has the Croydon Corporation Bill, the Book of Reference relating to the waterworks scheme (detailing property owners who would have been affected along the route), and the Minutes of Evidence heard before a Select Committee on 18 days from 15 May to 28 June 1935; and, of course, the final resulting Act of Parliament.

Croydon's previous water supply successes and importance in water supply history: Croydon was among the very first towns to adopt the Public Health Act, 1848, and lost no time in establishing the Croydon Board of Health, and establishing a well and pumping station (at Surrey Street), reservoir (at Park Hill), water mains, and main drainage. In an important legal case (contested up to the House of Lords), Croydon established the right to pump water from an aquifer that might otherwise have run below an adjoining parish, it being declared that in the absence of discrete and known subterranean channels there could be no title in such underground water.

A little later in the 19th century Croydon was early in taking advantage of legislation allowing a local authority to purchase land and erect works outside its own area. Thus it was that Beddington, downstream from Croydon in the Wandle valley, having lost what might have become underground water it could have extracted itself had Croydon not already taken it, found itself hosting Croydon's first sewage farm. Before the establishment of the Beddington farm, Croydon had strained out solids from the sewage within its own borders, and then discharged the fluid parts (more or less chemically treated) into the river Wandle which, of course, then flowed into Beddington anyway.

Joseph Lucas's ‘horizontal wells': Croydon and the adjoining North Downs were important in the development of chalk aquifer water supply technology, also, in that a number of leading geologists and hydro-geologists lived or worked in the area. Baldwin Latham was the Board of Health's engineer for a number of years, and Joseph Lucas and William Whitaker both lived locally and interested themselves in (and published) well records and bourne flow gaugings. Lucas, who lived for a while at Tooting, published in 1874 an early scheme that could be seen as a fore-runner of Croydon's attempt to tap Kentish water. His book Horizontal Wells suggested very long galleries (several miles or more long) along the strike of the chalk strata within the North Downs of Kent and Surrey, which were simply to be linked up to tap water which would flow by gravity to supply London. That didn't happen either! Paul Sowan

Albany Works

London Borough of Tower Hamlets say that, following advice from English Heritage, the council ‘will not accept the total demolition of Albany Works'.

They add that it is locally listed within the Victoria Park Conservation Area, the character of which is defined by elements including the Hertford Union Canal, Three Colts Bridge (Grade II* and SAM), Victoria Park (Grade I park and garden).

The letter says: ‘The character of the Albany works is robust, utilitarian with heavy masonry walls of bonded brickwork. The council consider this building to be of significant architectural and historic interest and thus every attempt should be made to retain as much of the original fabric as possible.

‘The council may accept rebuilding some section of the upper floors (subject to submission of details), this will be determined through a formal Conservation Area Consent.'

Pearls return

London's String of Pearls is back next year to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. In a follow-up to the Pearls' Millennium Festival, more historic buildings along the banks of the Thames will be open to the public.

Taking as its theme royalty and royal associations over the centuries, its aim is to increase understanding, recognition and enjoyment of our social and institutional heritage. Institutions will devise a programme of activities that may include privileged access to places or things not normally accessible to the public, special tours, performances, exhibitions, publications, lectures, or debates — anything which they believe builds a bridge between what they represent as an institution and a popular audience.
There will be a small charge for the festival programme. To make sure you receive your order form as soon as the programme is available, contact London String of Pearls, 1 Hobhouse Court, Suffolk Street, London, SW1Y 4HH. Email: Website:

Croydon Airport award

The airport's visitor centre — which only opened in October 2000 (GLIAS Newsletter August 2001) — has won first prize in the London Tourism Awards. Other award winners included such world famous venues as the Science Museum, Tate Modern and Hampton Court Palace.

The centre took top spot in the Innovation category by impressing the judges with its use of technology and historic artefacts to evoke the atmosphere of the airport's heyday.

Congratulations must be offered to the volunteers of the Croydon Airport Society who have spent a great deal of time over many years working with Croydon Council and the site owners, Westmead, to set up the museum.

Some 2,000 people have already visited the centre which is open on the first Sunday of each month and by appointment to groups during the week. Bill Firth

Port Cities

The National Maritime Museum has been awarded £1.64 million by the New Opportunities Fund to create a brand new internet-based learning resource based on its collections. Under the banner Port Cities, the museum will co-ordinate the production of a range of new linked websites which will raise the profile of the vast UK maritime collection.

The National Maritime Museum is the lead partner in a consortium of maritime organisations and archives in six UK cities — Southampton, Bristol, Hartlepool, Liverpool, Portsmouth and London. Each organisation will produce a new website giving access to its collections to the public.

The contribution from the National Maritime Museum will focus on communities and dockyard sites along the River Thames from Woolwich to Rotherhithe. The museum will draw on its collection of images (prints, oil paintings, historic photographs and manuscripts), film, text and interviews with people living or working along the length of the Thames.

The Port Cities project will mean that by December 2002, many more objects from the museum's holding of some two million items will be digitally available to people instantly.

World City Gallery at the Museum of London

Over 3,000 objects, many previously unseen, will be at the centre of the Museum of London's new World City Gallery, opening on 7 December.

Tracing the changes that took place in London life between 1789 and 1914, the gallery will be the first devoted exclusively to the capital's history from the French Revolution to the First World War. The capital's economy thrived on a system of free enterprise with few regulations. The private docks were built and the railways arrived ringing the city with mainline stations. London grew dramatically in size; some saw it as a monster consuming the surrounding villages and sucking people in from the countryside. The population rose from under one million in 1800 to over seven million by 1914. So many people massed together created severe problems of congestion, pollution and disease, on a scale never seen before. The Thames became a giant sewer. Cholera swept through the city.

This gallery reveals how Londoners overcame these urban horrors. With new sewers, underground and commuter railways, the capital evolved into a modern city not that different from the London we know today. Working clothing, early machinery, personal letters and spoken testimony are just some of the items that will evoke the daily experiences of Londoners.
Museum of London. Tel: 020 7600 3699. Website:

New Pevsner website is the latest venture from the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Inspired by the famous architectural guides founded by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner in 1951, the new site will provide an authoritative and lively introduction to the buildings of England.

The site forms part of a wider project to broaden understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of buildings of all types and periods. It will provide an introduction to the basic understanding of architectural styles and forms, the ways in which buildings are constructed, the materials from which they are made and the types of buildings to be found in any street, village, town and city.

As the site expands, a series of pages devoted to the architecture of England's cities will develop containing studies of building types, materials, local architects and related reading.

Users will also be able to make use of interactive material, a fully illustrated glossary of architectural terms and styles, a searchable index of architects and their works, and a regularly updated bibliography of further reading. This resource will cover everything from general reference to monographs on architects and craftsmen.

Nazi TV

In Germany there was state television during the period 1935-44. Television in the Third Reich started before broadcasts from Alexandra Palace began (GLIAS Newsletter June 2001) and continued afterwards. How does this affect the BBC's claim to be first? A careful choice of words may be necessary. Bob Carr

The Thames Strategy

The Thames Strategy — Kew to Chelsea aims to create a 100-year framework to ensure that the river and its environs play a full role in the economic, social and environmental life of London.

Elkes Malted Milk biscuits

As mentioned previously (GLIAS Newsletter August 2001) each of these biscuits carries the slogan MALTED MILK and a picture which shows a cow grazing and one lying down. Unfortunately the grass in the picture is somewhat overscale and looks a little like carrots or tent pegs owing to the difficulty of reproducing fine blades of grass in biscuit in three dimensions. Bob Carr

Tower Bridge opening times

Tower Bridge. © Robert Mason The former Bridgemaster's House still stands on the west side of the southern approach road to Tower Bridge opposite the bridge's hydraulic accumulator tower and chimney. The red-brick building is now used for Tower Bridge offices and displayed here for public consultation is a list of future bridge opening times and the vessel which will be involved.

In the late September/early October period nearly all the bridge openings will be for PS Waverley but other vessels are mentioned from time to time.

The workshops for Tower Bridge were behind the Bridgemaster's House to the west but are now demolished. GLIAS carried out survey work here in the late 1970s and published a report. Bob Carr

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© GLIAS, 2001