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Notes and news — April 2002

In this issue:

GLIAS February Lecture: The Patent Office Museum 1858-83

Introducing the February lecture, John Liffin (assistant curator, telecommunications, at the Science Museum) said he had originally entitled it 'London's First Industrial Museum?', but this had been changed by someone to 'The First Industrial Museum', without the question mark!

Prior to the formation of the Patent Office Museum, the Royal Society of Arts had arranged displays of new industrial devices between 1769 and the 1840s. These were disposed of, but a new series started in 1848. At the end of the 1851 Great Exhibition, Henry Cole persuaded exhibitors to donate surplus items and Prince Albert asked Bennett Woodcroft, an engineer and consultant involved mainly with textile machinery and ship propulsion, to organise a display of machinery for later exhibition. Woodcroft had compiled a list of patents and had become Inspector of Specifications at the Patent Office following the Patent Law Amendment Act 1852. He organised the printing of all previous patents, which were distributed free to public libraries.

The collection was installed in the new museum at South Kensington, which became known as the 'Brompton boilers'. Woodcroft wanted to retain Patent Office control of the collection and part of the building was assigned to it. In 1857, inventors were invited to submit exhibits on the basis that the museum would be open free to the public. Woodcroft was the first (unsalaried) superintendent; George Naismith was appointed the first curator. There followed a dispute between Woodcroft, insisting on free opening to the public, and Cole, who offered only three days a week. Woodcroft threatened to withdraw. Following intervention by Prince Albert, the Museum of Patents was separated physically from the rest of the museum in 1858. Naismith was later dismissed for fraud and replaced by Fothergill, who purchased Arkwright's machines; and then Francis Pettit-Smith 1861-74. In 1861, the collection acquired the two earliest Boulton & Watt beam engines with a separate condenser, the oldest to provide rotary power. In 1862, Puffing Billy, The Rocket and the engine from Comet were added, followed by Sanspareil (one of the locomotives in the 1829 Rainhill Trials). John Liffin described the lengthy saga of intrigue, bluff and counter-bluff and negotiation with the Treasury involved in the acquisition of Puffing Billy.

In 1864, the Museum of Patents was renamed 'The Patent Office Museum', recognising the collection was not limited to patented items. In 1867, the museum remained at South Kensington when the 'Brompton boilers' moved to Bethnal Green. In 1874, the (now Sir) Francis Pettit-Smith died and was replaced by Lt Col Stuart Wortley, accompanied by much criticism of his lack of an engineering background. Woodcroft retired in 1876. In 1909 the separate Patent Office Museum was wound up and the collection transferred to the Science Museum, which had been set up in 1893. Brian Strong

Deptford: a remarkable archive

During 1991-92 the remaining abandoned structures of the Deptford power plants, which together had formed London's biggest power station, were dynamited in a series of dramatic demolitions. What remained to be cleared were Deptford East's chimney stack, boiler house, its 'Alhambran Arches' and outlying administrative offices and buildings.

At the time I was making video recordings of the remaining buildings; and of the stages of their demolition. I also interviewed ex-shop-floor workers to record for posterity what life had been like at 'The Light'. More extraordinarily, I found myself retrieving archive material about the running of the power station from industrial skips. Because of difficulties placing it in the 'right' place, it has been in my cellar ever since.

Among all the jumble of technical information, plans, minutes, blueprints, manuals, beautifully designed stationery, etc, that I rescued from the skip, correspondence and records relating to the workforce give a tantalising glimpse of the people, conditions and the era they relate to. Together with the unedited video material there is certainly ample material for an exhibition.

A small article about my archive in the South London Press brought retired engineer and researcher Roy Bourne to my aid. Roy was a committee member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers with a special interest in Deptford Power Station. He looked at the archive collection and was very excited about it.

Among his comments on my archive Roy wrote: 'Mari Taylor had achieved a remarkable rescue of a selection from the whole of Deptford power station documentation which was on the point of being dumped and lost for ever. Any decision made about the documents needs to be an informed one and I believe that I am the only engineer to have looked at them. We will be harshly judged by our successors if we make the wrong decision.

'There seem to be two issues to be resolved relating to the documents. One is the importance of Deptford power station post-Ferranti and the other is the historic value of the documents themselves. On the first issue we would all agree that anybody following Ferranti was bound to be somewhat overshadowed in the popular view, but from the informed technical view Deptford was fortunate in having outstanding engineers and their actual achievements provided some historic landmarks.

'Ferranti's immediate successor was D'Alton who had the job of making the plant run efficiently to supply the load then on offer. He installed smaller direct-coupled triple-expansion engine/alternator sets for the day-time load and got the whole of the condensing plant in use.

'The Deptford archive is a mixture of technical, social and economic material. Employee records and stores purchases would be of interest to the social and economic historian. There is a random selection of log books of readings which would have been taken on the turbine-room and boiler-house floors by hand (before the days of automatic data logging). By good fortune one of the years preserved is 1947 when the industry went through its greatest crisis in its whole history. This crisis has not been adequately covered by any historian. I have looked at all power-station documents I could find in any archives in the country and have never found any like these Deptford documents showing the actual performance of the plant.'

The scale and scope of my archive really requires examination by experts not only of technical but also social history and even design. It is a task I am not equipped to undertake alone. I am hoping to reach anyone who would be keen to help take my work forward. Mari Taylor
Mari Taylor can be contacted at

Engine rescue

Crossness Engines has recently carried out a rescue mission on a Stewart engine from David Evans of Crayford, Kent.

I doubt whether many of the staff of David Evans were aware of the existence of the small steam engine tucked away in one of their smaller print shops. When I made enquiries while on a conducted tour of the silk printing works some years ago, the official guide had to seek advice from an older member of staff before the engine was located and I was allowed to see it.

When members of the Crossness Engines Trust (CET) learnt of the intention of David Evans and Co to close their works at Crayford we were of course concerned for the fate of the engine.

Mike Dunmow, Executive Secretary of the Trust, wrote to 'Evans' enquiring as to the disposal of the engine and if there was no better home for it, might Crossness Engines recover it for conservation. An agreement was reached and an advance party from CET went along to the silk printing works at Bourne Road, Crayford to assess the work involved in recovery. The team, including Colin Bowden arrived on 15 November 2001 and photographed and measured the engine and its location within the works. Preliminary marking and engine stripping was then carried out, removing the steam and exhaust pipes and loosening various nuts in preparation for the next visit. An assessment was also made at this time as to the amount of lifting tackle and scaffolding required to safely dis-assemble the engine.

The next visit was on 23 November 2001, when the main cam con-rods and valve con-rods were 'pop marked' and removed from the engine. It was deemed prudent to bring these items back to 'Crossness' for safe keeping. Lack of heavy transport meant that the scaffolding and lifting tackle could not be taken to the works on this visit. On the 8 November 2001 the cylinders, valve-boxes and crosshead sliders were removed ready for collection.

With heavier transport we arrived at the now closed works on the 20 December 2001 and erected a scaffold frame and lifting tackle. It must be said that although the engine is quite small it was close to a wall and hemmed in by a rather large tentering machine. With the chain hoist securely slung and web slings attached the camshaft, flywheel and belt-wheel were lifted clear of the 'A' frame and 'tarzaned' to one end of the engine base. The engine's 'A' frame was then lifted clear of its retaining studs and loaded onto a suitable trolley and removed to the front of the building ready for collection at a later date. On this visit the smaller parts were removed to 'Crossness', leaving only the heaviest two pieces, the 'A' frame and flywheel, camshaft and belt wheel to be collected.

On 4 January 2002 the team arrived with a low truck with a 'HIAB' and the remaining two pieces of engine were loaded and taken back to Crossness Engines Museum. It is the intention of the Trust that the engine will eventually be cleaned, conserved and re-assembled and mounted on a mobile base to become a static display.

Engine data: The engine was built by Stewart of Glasgow and is a diagonal duplex with the cylinders located one on each leg of an 'A' frame. The cam, flywheel and drive-wheel are mounted in hearings at the apex of the frame. The cylinders are five inch diameter with a 10 inch throw, the piston-rods work through guide-blocks mounted on each leg of the 'A' frame and up to the cranks on the main shaft. The overall size of the engine is 59 inches high by 32 inches wide, the 'A' frame is 40 inches high, 60 inches long and 16 inches wide. The flywheel is 36 inches diameter by four inches wide.

The supplier: T Mitchell & Sons, Bolton, Lancs. Serial No 9326

Project work team: Mike Dunmow, Alan Boakes, Harry Collinson, David Dawson, Laurie Dunmow, John Rid1ey, Peter J Skilton, David Wilkinson and Martin Wilson. Peter Skilton
Research continues about Stewarts of Glasgow and our engine in particular. If any GLIAS member feels they have something to contribute please contact either Mike Dunmow or Peter Skilton at Crossness Engines Trust, c/o Thames Water Sewage Treatment Works, Belvedere Road, Abbey Wood, London SE2 9AQ

Lowne instruments

Some members may have seen the announcement in the Newsletter of the closure of Lowne Instruments in Boone Street in Lee and the sale of its machinery (GLIAS Newsletter February 2002).

GLIAS member George Arthur, who has worked for the company for nearly 30 years, alerted the Recording Group to the closure of the works at the end of February 2002 after 147 years in business, in Finchley, Lewisham and finally in Lee. The Recording Group, with the permission of the owner, Bob Barnard, and with the help of George, was able to make a video, shot by Dan Hayton, of the works before it closed. The video record also showed many of the machines in operation as well as later shots of a nearly empty works. Dave Perrett, ably assisted with the tape measure by his son, Martin, was able to make a measured drawing using a computer design program and in addition Chris Grabham spent two full days photographing the works. I spent some time in the Local History Library in Lewisham trying to find out any information about the two Lowne sites in the Borough. I was also able to look through what remained of the company's records from the 19th and early 20th century, a random rag bag selection!

Robert Mann Lowne was the son of a doctor, Benjamin Thompson Lowne, who moved to London to train at Barts Medical College in 1842. He later moved to the Farringdon Dispensary in Bartletts Passage in Holborn, now New Fetter Lane. Robert was the second son, born in 1844. His elder brother, also Benjamin Thompson Lowne, became a noted surgeon and lecturer at the Middlesex Hospital, but little is known about Robert's early life. His first patent, taken out in 1865, was for a spirometer, showing his knowledge of things medical. From then on a great number of patents were taken out by Robert Mann Lowne and from 1872 he and his family lived in East End, Finchley where he became known as an inventor and scientific instrument maker. He and his wife, Emily, had four children, two of whom, Robert James Mann Lowne and Benjamin Thomson Lowne (yes, another one!), joined him in the business.

By 1894 the family moved to Lewisham where they occupied a large house, Ravenscroft, at 108 Bromley Road. All the work was carried out by the three family members which is quite surprising considering the volume of work undertaken by the company in the early years of the 20th century. The Lowne Electric Clock and Appliance Company was set up in 1904 as a limited company to exploit the patents for electric clocks taken out by the company. Contracts were undertaken to provide the Arsenal with an electric master clock system, with 46 slave clocks needing 6½ miles of cabling and run from Leclanché batteries, as well as the South Metropolitan Gas Works in the Old Kent Road. Both systems are sadly no longer in existence. A new workshop in the garden was built in 1905 to be able to fulfil these orders.

Sadly the company did not prosper and was, for a while taken over in the 1920s by the Magneta Company, whose head office was in Carteret Street. The Lownes continued to work at home for Magneta until 1926 when the company reverted to the Lowne family. New premises had to be found as Ravenscroft had been sold to the Magneta Company and the site had been redeveloped.

The company moved to Boones Street off Lee High Road, where a former wheelwright's premises was to be their home until 2002. Robert Mann Lowne died in 1928 and his two sons with RJM Lowne's son, Frederick James Mann Lowne, continuing the business. With the advent of the National Grid, mains clocks were possible and so the Lownes made synchronous clocks both for the home and for industry. Daniel remembers a large Lowne clock near the Angel in the 1970s — does anyone else know of one?

After the difficulties of the 1930s, perhaps their most profitable years were in the 1940s when war work kept them occupied, despite the damage caused in 1942 by a nearby bomb. After the retirement of his father and uncle, 'Mr Fred' ran the works and developed new products, in particular, air meters, needed in particular in mines. In turn Fred's step son, Bob Barnard, took over until the decision was made to close.

Sadly Bob died at the beginning of February, only a few days after the sale of the machinery. We were much indebted to him and his family for allowing GLIAS so much access for recording. We were particularly delighted to have the chance of finding more records, including the Minute Books and some accounts, in the office and even in the garage! Lewisham Local History Museum has had a number of items donated to it including synchronous clocks, stools and work benches, as well as advertising material. We look forward to a Lowne exhibition from them in due course.

Many original photographs and glass negatives have been rescued along with advertisements from the early days and the original Minute Books. The family again has been generous in allowing me to look through them to compile both this article as well as a fuller record for the Recording Group.

Who knows where Lowne instruments are to be found. I know of several in the Science Museum, master and slave clocks as well as spirometers. Are there any others, particularly air meters, in other collections?. And finally does anyone have a Lowne electric clock at home, apparently they are collectable now?

PS. The works in Boone Street is to be demolished and a new housing development, 'Lowne Court' will replace it. Apparently no one objected to the demolition of the old building, perhaps because it really has outlived its usefulness! Sue Hayton

London wool warehouses

London had a number of warehouses specialising in a single product — including wool. The export of first wool and later woollen cloth was the foundation of England's wealth and the British economy. In the Middle Ages, until the reign of Edward III wool could be exported only through certain designated ports, the 'staple towns'. London was one of them. An edict of 1337 prohibited the export of raw wool and encouraged Flemish and other weavers to come to England. Seven years later the import of raw wool was permitted. Export of woollen cloth became of paramount importance to the English economy.

During the 19th century the rearing of sheep for their wool began in Australia. The sheep most suited to the conditions was the Spanish Merino breed. Merino wool from Australia was imported into London which acted as an entrepot. Wool was sold on the London market but none was used within London. A large proportion, about 40% in the 1920s, was re-exported to the Continent. The rest went to British manufacturers mainly in Yorkshire and Gloucestershire. While the imported wool was predominantly from Australia and New Zealand, wool from South Africa, South America and the Falkland Islands was also imported through London. In addition there was wool from China and the Middle East, cashmere, camel's hair, goat's hair and mohair, and sheepskins.

For several years, during the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, wool was the chief import of the Port of London. In 1913, for example, the value of imported wool was £21.5m, compared with that of tea, the second in importance, £13.5m. By 1954 wool had dropped to third place, at £54.8m, behind tea, £106.5m, and crude oil, £63.9m. The decrease was partly due to the two world wars but it had more to do with changing patterns of trade, and the changing size of Australian sheep farms. Far more wool was purchased direct from the farm.

Wool and Fruit Exchange in Spitalfields © Robert Mason 2019

From 1821 wool sales took place at Garraway's Coffee-house in the City. Later in the century, around 1870 (sources differ as to the date), the sales moved to the Wool Exchange in Coleman Street. In the 20th century they moved again to a new Wool and Fruit Exchange in Spitalfields (right). The auctions came under the control of the Associated London Selling Wool Brokers, involving nine firms. Sales were held six times a year, and lasted for two weeks. The brokers took samples, about 1lb of wool, from each lot, which comprised several bales. From these samples a catalogue was produced. Buyers would then take their catalogues and, on the morning of the sales, they toured the wool warehouses to inspect the lots, deciding which to bid for. The auction then began around three in the afternoon. After the sales the bales had to be taken away within 14 days.

The wool gathered at the farms was lightly compressed using fly-presses for transport to the nearest port. At the port, hydraulic dumping presses were used to further compress the bales for shipping. Once the wool arrived in London the straps securing the bales were released allowing the bales to expand to their natural size. The bales were taken to the wool warehouses in the docks or to one of many wool warehouses run by private wool-warehousemen. The two major firms were Browne & Eagle and Gooch & Cousens. Thomas Gooch & Sons and Charles Hughes Cousens & Co are listed separately in later directories. Other wool warehousemen included John Cooper, J Devitt & Co and Hyatt, Parker & Co. In the docks, there was a huge wool warehouse at the London Docks with well-lit showrooms on the top floor. An attempt to set up a wool warehouse at the Millwall Dock failed because it was too far away from the Wool Exchange. Most warehouses included a fine doorway to impress wool buyers.

Of the many wool warehouses which once existed in London, just a handful remain. These have, or are being, converted to other uses such as flats and offices. Between Breezer's Hill and Virginia Street, south of The Highway, E1 (TQ 344807) is the now inappropriately named 'Telford's Yard'. This five-storey warehouse of eight risks grouped around a central yard was built in the late 19th century for Gooch & Cousens. On the street sides of the warehouse there are loops and wallcranes. To the east of Breezer's Hill is another Gooch & Cousens warehouse of similar date, with two risks of five storeys and three, along Pennington Street, of six storeys and a yard on the east side. Both these warehouse groups are shown, on Goad Fire Insurance Plans, to have had steam boilers in basements under the yards, to provide steam to the crane winches. Together these warehouses could store 30,000 bales and the showrooms were large enough to display 5,000 bales. In 1935 there were electric lifts to the show floors.

In nearby Back Church Lane (TQ 342810) there are two large warehouses built in the late 1880s and early 1890s for Browne & Eagle. On opposite sides of the street, both are five-storey buildings and they were linked by a tunnel under the road and three bridges across the street. The warehouse on the west side of the road, known as 'A', was divided into five risks, the east warehouse, 'B', had nine risks. Both have loops served by large hydraulic wallcranes, supplied with power from the London Hydraulic Power Company's mains. That on the east side of the street has a fine doorway with the company's name in the pediment. Browne & Eagle also stored bales imported through Tilbury in the Commercial Road warehouse at the LT&SR goods depot, now demolished.

The only other surviving wool warehouse is on New Street in the City (TQ 338812). The six-storey building, built for John Cooper in 1864, has been converted to offices. The small yard had a basement for boilers, the chimney running up the corner of the building. The cranes were operated by steam winches. An impressive feature of Cooper's warehouse is the triumphal gateway surmounted by a statue of a Merino ram.

The history of the New Street warehouse is given in GLIAS 91, published in 1984. Tim Smith

Demolition in Hackney

The London Borough of Hackney holds the UK record for the greatest number of tower blocks demolished by explosives. This method of demolition is cheaper than carefully and painstakingly dismantling a building which is sometimes the process used elsewhere, although of course the explosive method is potentially more dangerous. In Hackney a team of demolition experts from the north of England, Controlled Demolition Group Ltd, has been used with considerable success. The current terminology for this dramatic method of felling a tower block is 'blowdown'.

At the King's Crescent Estate London N4, just to the west of Clissold Park and Green Lanes there were two large system-built tower blocks. One, Barkway Court to the west of the estate was demolished by explosives on 20 February 2000. This was quite spectacular, especially the enormous cloud of concrete dust created and the eerie twilit aftermath. It was uncomfortably redolent of a 1950s Civil Defence documentary film about nuclear decontamination etc, with the roads being sprayed with water and swept and strange-looking policemen holding back the crowds, their helmets and uniforms white with the dust. Being closest to the demolished tower block the police had suffered most from the airborne powder.

The second tower block on the King's Crescent Estate, Sandridge Court of 19 storeys to the east of the estate, was demolished in a similar fashion on Sunday 24 February 2002 at 12pm. People were evacuated from the immediate vicinity and Green Lanes and Grennaway Close closed from 8am to 1pm. A crowd assembled in Clissold Park to watch the event.

The two tower blocks on the King's Crescent Estate were built in the early 1970s using the French 'Camus System'. Pre-cast concrete component slabs were made at a factory in Enfield and transported to the site for erection, the parts being cemented in place. This method of 'system building' has since fallen out of favour. Although delightful to live in at first with fine views from the upper storeys the two King's Crescent tower blocks had become something of a problem in recent years. We should note that in this case the life of these buildings has been about 30 years.

The technique of explosive demolition had remarkably improved in the two years since the Barkway demolition in 2000. That had been in an area where Victorian houses were quite close and their owners were very concerned. Windows had been taped over in the manner of air raid precautions circa 1940 and this heightened the unusual atmosphere of the event. By contrast the demolition of Sandridge Court two years later was relatively uneventful. Windows had not even been protected against blast damage. The weather was poor and only a fairly small crowd had gathered to watch. With just a 'crack' the building was gone. It is claimed the demolition took six seconds. Techniques to minimise airborne concrete dust are now excellent; there was no twilit aftermath and the area covered by white dust was quite localised. Things seemed to go very much to plan and this kind of demolition is probably becoming routine. It appeared no windows were cracked.

The events of 20 February 2000 inspired a musical composition, 'The Demolition of the Hackney Tower Blocks', for large orchestra. It is doubtful if the Sandridge Court demolition — something of a damp squib by comparison — had a similar effect. Bob Carr

Croydon Gasworks locomotive to become 'mainline'

The former Croydon Gasworks Sentinel shunting locomotive 'Joyce' originally built in 1927 is to be rebuilt so as to replicate one of two similar Sentinel locomotives the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway used to operate in the Radstock area. This kind of thing, perhaps inspired by Jurassic Park, is becoming popular in railway enthusiast preservation circles to 'revive' classes of locomotives which have been extinct for 40 years or more. The Somerset and Dorset Sentinels were built in 1929 and taken into LMS stock in 1930. Bob Carr

New London archaeological archive and research centre

In February, the Museum of London opened the new London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC). The centre brings together in one building the museum's:

LAARC is accommodated in Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London, N1 7ED, between the City Road and the New North Road, north east of Old Street. It is not open to the general public, but tours can be arranged and students may attend by appointment. Tel: 020 7566 9317 (LAARC) or 020 7814 5754 (Social and Working History Collections)

The Silwood Estate

Travelling by train eastwards from London Bridge the small four-storey maisonette blocks of the Silwood Estate, London SE16, looked noteworthy. With what might have been chimneys on their roofs they almost resembled the terraced streets that had been there previously. Original Victorian public houses had been kept and even though there were larger blocks of flats to the north at least looking north westwards from the train the view of this housing estate conjured up feelings for the optimistic slum clearance and re-housing schemes of the mid 1950s. In fact the local area seemed to have an almost Utopian feel which has long given visual pleasure to the observant railway traveller. Even to the untutored eye here was something special in that in the overall scale of things these were earlyish modern buildings which at the time of their inception had been better than what went before.

The LCC Silwood Estate was built from about 1955 onwards. In mid February 2002 it was being demolished and probably by the time you read this little of the estate will remain. In the eyes of some no doubt the demolition of a 'notorious eyesore' will be as welcome as was the demolition of the local terraced houses (or slums) in the 1950s. Such is the effect of the passage of nearly 50 years.

The estate was built too late to appear in the first edition of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's Buildings of England. Had the relevant volume been published later it is a fair bet that Sir Nikolaus would have been a good deal more enthusiastic about Silwood than those who wrote their views in the edition of 1983. The book seems unduly rude about the area south of the Rotherhithe New Road, on page 612 describing it as 'a sad confused jumble of flats and industry'. Comments of this kind can all too easily be picked up by the development lobby as a good excuse to knock it all down and put up something more economically viable. Being not far from Surrey Quays the new development which will take place here might be seen as an extension of Dockland to the south. In terms of transport the new housing will be conveniently close to South Bermondsey station.

Silwood contained such an innocent group of buildings near the railway and its destruction should be a reminder to members that housing developments of this date are fast disappearing. Few prefabs are left outside museums and modernist local authority housing built before the early 1960s is very much under threat. While not suggesting that listing would be appropriate a little recording work by industrial archaeologists is entirely relevant. Bob Carr

Greater London News

With redevelopment at Paddington Basin under way, much of the industrial archaeology of the King's Cross — St Pancras region almost gone and the remaining fragments of traditional Thameside fast disappearing, it might be asked just what is left (apart from gasholders) for London's industrial archaeologists to take an interest in? It is not surprising that now so many take an interest in the provinces rather than what remains within the former GLC boundary.

Readers may note a number of items in this newsletter about things after the Second World War and it is to the past 50 years we may need to turn more attention. A large proportion of post 1950s buildings in the City of London have already served their useful life and been replaced by something up to date. These mostly postmodern buildings are likely to have a shorter lifetime than the sixties buildings they replaced. The treadmill we are on seems to be rotating more quickly. Bob Carr

Type Museum

The Type Museum has launched a £675,000 appeal for funds to help convert a former 'horse and dog infirmary' (c1895) close to The Oval into a working museum.

The Type Museum Trust was formed in 1992 to save key elements of the nation's typographical heritage. At present collections are in temporary storage with limited access.
100 Hackford Road, London SW9 0QU. Tel: 020 7735 0055. Fax: 020 7735 0039. Web:

Millennium Bridge opens at last

The Millennium Bridge reopened at the end of February after a successful test with 2,000 people on it proved that it had stopped swaying. Arup, which designed the bridge along with architect Lord Foster and the sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, spent £5million correcting the notorious wobble — or synchronous lateral excitation, as it is known in the trade. Ninety one dampers and shock absorbers have been placed beneath the 320m deck of the footbridge.

Fox's Sports Biscuits

Fox's Biscuits of Batley, West Yorkshire, established in 1853, manufacture shortcake biscuits which depict a variety of sporting activities. The biscuits are rectangular with rounded corners and there are raised human figures in the form of 'matchstick men' engaged in activities such as cycling, rugby and association football, cricket, tennis and swimming, etc.

The design style and healthy fresh-air activities suggest the 1930s so these biscuits may have been around for some time. Does anyone remember them from childhood? Active human beings, not just cows eating grass can be seen on biscuits (GLIAS Newsletter October 2001). Bob Carr

Gift Aid

The Government's initiative to 'Get Britain Giving' has enabled GLIAS to take advantage of the simplification of the old covenant system into Gift Aid.

A simple declaration now enables the society to reclaim the income tax paid by members on subscriptions and donations. The scheme started on 6 April 2000 and, after extensive (it took the Inland Revenue some time to reply) consolation on GLIAS's eligibility as a charity and in relation to our publishing activities, we made our first claim up to 5 April 2001. This produced a figure of £881.80 which interest, due to delays in payment, raised to just over £900.

To maximise our 'take' from the Inland Revenue (don't we all like that idea!) we need as many members as possible to opt for Gift Aid. The renewal form this year shows if we have already received a Gift Aid Declaration from each member and on the other side is a form for those who have not yet 'Gift Aided' GLIAS to complete.

A scheme has been available to 'givers' for many years (one of my first jobs in the computer industry 30 odd years ago) run by CAF to enable people to 'gross up' contributions. GLIAS cannot claim any additional tax against payments by CAF vouchers as the tax has already been added back to the individual's account with CAF. Any member wishing to use CAF vouchers should gross-up the value of the subscription and/or donation by the current basic rate of income tax. Danny Hayton

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© GLIAS, 2002