Notes and news — April 2003
In this issue:
First Recording Group Walk: Wandsworth
- First Recording Group Walk: Wandsworth
- GLIAS Lecture: Street Furniture
- GLIAS Lecture: Distilling in London
- Fishy Tale
- Horseferry Road toilets
- Kew Bridge Pumping Station gatehouse
- Museum In Docklands finally opens
- Mail Rail
- No more bonds?
- Clapham Common bandstand
- More closed and open shops
- Mystery Enfield locomotive
- Great Floods of 1953
- GLAS Quarterly Review
- Factory hooters
- Mystery site in Tottenham?
- Shieldhall on the Thames
- Getting rid of people
- Fred Tallant Hall
- National Monuments Record
- Science Museum Library
- Prince of Wales
On 22 February GLIAS members met at Wandsworth Town station to discover the industrial archaeology of Wandsworth. This new venture is part of the work on the GLIAS Database — the 'street walks' are an attempt to consolidate what we know and fill in the blanks of what we don't know about Greater London's IA. With the information we gather, we can build up a picture of the spread of IA in a particular area.
We had little idea of what sites might be out there, or how many people would attend. But we had an excellent turnout: around 18 people, excluding the leaders, Dan and Sue Hayton, and we lost only one or two before our end point, The Brewery Tap at the Ram Brewery.
The treasures of Wandsworth include a 1956 telephone exchange complete with original tiling and windows, and a spiral-guided gasholder. A local street name, Esparto Road points to the former existence of a papermaking industry, esparto grass being used in paper manufacture. There were also several streets of workers' cottages. Those of us who attended Sue's street furniture lecture found their eyes opened to old style blue and white enamel Hydrant signs and pre-1917 street signs and a 19th-century stink pipe. One group focused their attention on finding the remaining locations of the Surrey Iron Railway, including some of its sleepers built into the brewery wall.
We brought a laptop with the database but found it easiest to take notes. We divided up the tasks, one person looking up grid references, another taking notes, and another noting down the details of any plaques or signs. Dan took digital photographs for insertion into the database later.
There will be a follow-up walk in Wandsworth; we also plan to have a research session in the local library and museum, to gather supporting evidence. For our next borough, we will be bringing along our old Godfrey maps, and doing prior research.
Future walks will focus on those areas which are poorly represented in the database. Is there something in your area you think we should know about? Would you like to explore it? Please contact us.
As with all GLIAS walks, all members are welcome to come along. Fiona Morton
GLIAS Lecture: Street Furniture
During her excellent talk on Street Furniture (19 February) Sue Hayton showed a slide of a Boundary marker for the City of London, describing it as a 'griffin'. At the time I advised her that the City is guarded by dragons and not griffins, a statement which she rightly disagreed with. I say 'rightly' because I discovered that is how the markers are described both in the Statutory List (they are all listed structures) and in Pevsner.
I am a qualified City of London Guide Lecturer and for us 'guardians of the City history' it is written on tablets of stone that the boundary markers are dragons, derived from the heraldic supporters on the City coat of arms. Dragons, flanking the City shield, first appeared in 1319, prior to this the supporters were lions. Never have they been griffins. So, how does the confusion arise?
A dragon in heraldry represents valour and protection — hence their use at the City boundary (where they are usually, erroneously, thought to have been erected following the removal of the City gates, they are, in fact, a Victorian conceit). Also, a dragon is a creature in its own right, with head, body and wings in unity, as is well illustrated by the Coal Exchange dragon which Sue used in her slide. A griffin, on the other hand, is a composite, with the head and wings of an eagle and the body, legs and claws of a lion. To my knowledge there are no griffins in the City of London. However, I understand that there are a couple of wyverns, although not as boundary markers. A wyvern, by the way, is similar to a dragon but has two legs rather than four.
I inquired of the City planners why their dragons are referred to as griffins in the official literature when they patently are not. They said that they weren't aware of the mistake and that anyway they didn't write the description — the Listing Department of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport did. This is obviously a case of someone not doing their homework. As a consequence I have written to the Listings Department asking if they would correct their mistake. You see where attending a GLIAS lecture leads! Sandra Lea
GLIAS Lecture: Distilling in London
Brian Strong gave the last lecture in this winter's series, based on his Birkbeck MA dissertation on the development of the distilling industry in London to about 1830. He said that, while there were many books on the 'Gin Craze' and the social problems it raised, there was no proper economic study of the industry.
The distilling process involves vapourising, condensing and recollecting a liquid, particularly to separate mixed liquids boiling at different temperatures. As with brewing, the process starts by grinding grain (or crushing malt), which is mixed with water in a mash tun, in which the water extracts the sugar content from the meal. The liquid wort is then drained off, rapidly cooled to prevent acidification and exposed to yeast in a fermentation tank, where reaction between the sugar and the yeast converts to the sugar to alcohol. The liquid is then passed to a still, which is heated from below. Alcohol vapourises at 180°F and is therefore separated from the water (which boils at 212°F). It passes through a cooled, narrowing worm tube, at the end of which the alcohol is collected. If necessary, it may then be re-distilled to produce alcohol of a greater strength.
Distilling of seawater was first recorded in the 2nd century BC. The Arabs distilled oils and perfumes. Distillation of alcohol from wine was discovered in Italy in the Middle Ages and grain was first used as a material in the late 14th or early 15th century. The Dutch developed the distillation of gin. Distilling of aqua vitae began in England in the 17th century, but was replaced by gin with the encouragement of William and Mary and also returning soldiers who brought the taste back from the Dutch Wars. It grew rapidly in the 18th century, leading to the 'Gin Craze' and the introduction of licensing and a massive excise duty to reduce consumption, which was quite successful after about 1851.
The industry developed in two parts: a small number of large distillers produced the primary alcohol, which they sold to a much larger number of smaller distillers, who rectified the alcohol into gin (a further distillation process, with the addition of flavouring ingredients, notably juniper). This distinction may have been based on the fact that the excise duty, and therefore excise control, applied only to the primary alcohol. The primary distillers were particularly based in east London, along the river Lea, and along the Thames. In the period 1802-20, London distillers were responsible for between 70% and 80% of the spirit charged with duty. Those in East London (Bromley, Bow and Whitechapel) alone produced between 25% and 40%.
Brian discussed the main reasons for the riverside locations of the main distilleries: the need to obtain raw materials, including grain, coal and large quantities of water; energy; transport; labour and closeness to their main market. He showed slides illustrating the layout, buildings and equipment of distilleries and discussed what was known from surviving records about the costs of operation and value of the businesses. He concluded by discussing some of the problems of the industry, including grain shortages and petitions from the sugar industry (who wanted distilling from grain permanently banned) and farmers, who claimed that feeding pigs on the waste products of the distillery was unfair competition!
If any lavatory attendant had ever confirmed that fish had been in the Holborn toilets (GLIAS Newsletter December 2002) it could only have been while telling a tall story or he believed what was in Geoffrey Fletcher's book. All the lavatory attendants I knew were fed up with arguing with people that the story was merely a fairy tale.
I must have visited the conveniences well over 30 times from 1963 up to the time they were filled in. Not a sign of fish or weed at any stage. I have however, argued with people who insist that they had seen fish during this period. However, dealing as I do with factual local history it has not been unusual for me, with firm evidence in my hand, to dispute some people's memories of events! At times I have actually gone with people who insisted that there were fish there to let them see with their own eyes that they were mistaken. On two occasions I have even taken women into it, when there were no men there, just so they could see its splendour. I wonder how many people saw the fish after visiting the splendid local pub Princess Louise with its wonderful Victorian interior and good beer! Malcolm Holmes
Horseferry Road toilets
Recently I walked along Horseferry Road, SW1. At Regency Place, the five-way junction of Horseferry Road and Regency, Rutherford and Maunsel Streets, there is what I can only describe as a pissoir. It seems to have been modernised but it is an interesting survivor. It is, of course, open 24 hours a day and is much patronised by taxi drivers.
Incidentally does Maunsel Street have anything to do with the CME of the SE&CR and then the Southern Railway (R E L Maunsell — different spelling)? Victoria Station is not so far away. Bill Firth
Kew Bridge Pumping Station gatehouse
The c1838 gatehouse at the Kew Bridge site is currently undergoing some urgently needed repair works. These are being carried out Kier London Special Projects on behalf of the building's owners, Thames Water plc, and mainly comprise re-slating the roof.
The adjacent Kew Bridge Steam Museum was consulted on the proposed works by the London Borough of Hounslow and the museum was delighted that the council, supported by English Heritage, made access to the building during the work by the museum for recording purposes.
At present the building is used for file storage by Thames Water, but the museum has approached the company with a view to the building ultimately being added to the museum's lease. This would mean that the museum trust would have care of all the remaining 19th-century buildings on the site, which has been acknowledged as the most important historic site of the water industry in Britain.
The gatehouse was originally used as a porter's lodge and offices, although c1902 a laboratory was added for water testing. The building was listed in January 1999. Lesley Bossine
Museum in Docklands finally opens
The troubled Museum in Docklands project (GLIAS Newsletter October 2002) will finally open on 24 May.
The Museum in Docklands tells the story of London's docks and associated trades, the lives of those who lived and worked in the area and the role of the Thames in London's rise to commercial power. With the exception of the Port of London Archive, the majority of its collections are on loan from the Museum of London.
The possible closure of Mail Rail (GLIAS Newsletter February 2003) seems very sad. Only relatively recently, Post Office literature stated that the system could express mail from Paddington to Whitechapel in 15 minutes, surely faster than by road even in post-congestion charge London!
While I can't confirm from my material your assertion that Mail Rail had eight and then nine stations, readers may be interested to hear of the fate of two whose existence I certainly can vouch for until their closure within the last few years.
West Central District Sorting Office, a vast Modernist structure built in the early 1960s and situated between High Holborn and New Oxford Street just down from the British Museum closed in 1993. Two huge circular lift shafts carried post between the double-height sorting floors and its Mail Rail station deep in a sub-basement; when the British Museum acquired the building in 1995 for its abortive attempt to open a study centre, the lifts were removed — leaving the vertigo-inducing shafts intact — and the shaft capped just above the station, although emergency access to the tunnels has been preserved.
The City & International Sorting Office, on the huge King Edward Street site just north of St Paul's, closed more recently. Similar capping occurred as part of the construction of new headquarters for US bankers Merrill Lynch. Chris Rogers
No more bonds?
Traditional brickwork using English and Flemish bond seems to have almost died out. Nearly all bricklaying seen nowadays makes use of simple stretcher bond with the wall just the width of one brick thick. This is usually as part of a cavity wall with breezeblocks at the back. Even in the rebuilding of 19th-century houses this construction can now be seen. Apart from giving the new owners a cavity wall it is probably possible to salvage quite a few valuable London stock bricks for re-use elsewhere.
Do any GLIAS members associated with the building trade have further information on this recent trend? Is traditional bricklaying fast becoming the exclusive preserve of English Heritage supervised restoration?
Economically there has been a Brick Mountain created by over capacity since about 1994. However, a shortage of low value and certain niche bricks over the summer of 2002 has given manufacturers the opportunity to support and even raise brick prices for the first time in 12 years or so. Last summer was the first time that house builders could not ring up a brick maker in the morning and order bricks for delivery that afternoon or the next day.
In London the famous Smead Dean bricks with the letters SD in the frog can still be seen in packages waiting to be laid. These bricks used to be sold as almost the same as genuine London stock bricks and were made at Sittingbourne in Kent using real Vicwardian rubbish taken there years ago by Thames sailing barge. However, the appearance of Smead Dean bricks has changed. Does this mean that their makers have now run out of rubbish from old time domestic dustbins? This used to contain a high proportion of partially burnt coal from inefficient household grates. Bob Carr
Follow-up: The new station buildings at West Ham on the Jubilee line have been built in traditional red English bond brickwork, nicely detailed and executed, as has the sub-station between there and Canning Town. Ray Plassord
Clapham Common bandstand
The bandstand on Clapham Common, SW4, is believed to be the largest bandstand of its type in the UK. It has a curious history: erected in 1890, it was long believed to have been one of a pair originally built in 1861 for the Royal Horticultural Society's South Kensington Gardens, but is in fact a replica, designed by Thomas Blashill, architect to the London County Council.
The Royal Horticultural Society's Gardens were on a site now bounded by the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. The two 'bandhouses' as they were then called, were designed by Captain Francis Fowke. The gardens formed the central area of the site of the International Exhibition of 1862, and several illustrations of the exhibition building show the bandstands in the foreground. When the Gardens closed in the mid-1880s, the bandstands were dismantled and put up for sale.
At that time, there was much demand for band performances in public parks. On Clapham Common, the police gave band concerts on Wednesday afternoons; people came from all over South London, and the local shopkeepers arranged an informal early closing day. After a residents' petition, in May 1889 the London County Council approved a budget of £600 for a new bandstand for the Common. A month before, they had approved a like sum for Peckham Rye. About that time, they discovered that the South Kensington bandstands were up for sale, and bought them. One went to Peckham Rye, and the other went to Southwark Park, replacing a smaller bandstand which went to Plumstead.
The idea of copying the South Kensington bandstands for Clapham seems to have come in the first place from the contractors who were re-erecting the bandstand at Peckham. The LCC continued to search for a second-hand one, but in early 1890 went out to tender for a South Kensington replica. The tenders came in substantially over budget; so Blashill revised the specification and succeeded in getting a bid for £598 (!) from John Martin, of Warwick Place, Paddington.
Because costs had to be contained, the Clapham bandstand is not an exact replica of Fowke's South Kensington design. Standard catalogue castings were allowed for the ironwork, instead of manufacturing new patterns. This allowed the contractor to use ironwork from the Sun Foundry of George Smith and Co of Glasgow, at that time one of the most outstanding manufacturers of ornamental ironwork in the country. Other modifications generally reduced the quality and finish — gilding was omitted, and oak substituted for stone for the steps.
The Southwark Park and Peckham Rye bandstands were destroyed in or soon after the Second World War. Southwark Council has recently rebuilt the one in Southwark Park — they copied the detail from Clapham, so what they have is not a replica, but a replica of a replica! The Clapham bandstand is now in serious disrepair and on the English Heritage list of endangered buildings.
The Clapham Common bandstand will feature in the GLIAS walk in Clapham on Saturday 2 August. Peter Jefferson Smith
More closed and open shops
At number 363 Oxford Street W1 is the site of the original His Master's Voice (HMV) record store, officially opened in July 1921 by Sir Edward Elgar no less. In the 1960s the Beatles recorded here. It closed in April 2000 and is now a shoe shop. HMV have other premises in Oxford Street.
On the east side of Penton Street N1 at number 10 not far north of the Claremont Square Reservoir and north of the Pentonville Road (*) was the small green-painted general ironmongers shop of G J Chapman. In the morning one would often see the youngish proprietor clad in a brown warehouse coat outside the shop carefully arranging his ironmongery ware: stiff wooden-handled brooms, shiny galvanised buckets etc. This was a laborious business and it all had to be put back in the shop in the evening. Recently the premises were gutted and being redeveloped for housing. Chapman's had been in business for 20 years or more.
* Mr Henry Penton was MP for Winchester, and Pentonville began to be laid out on his estate on Islington Hill in 1773. It was one of London's earliest planned suburbs. Pentonville Road dating from 1756 was the last stretch of the New Road, built to link the City with West London. It took its present name here in 1857. The houses on the high ground to the north of Pentonville Road were at too great an elevation to be supplied with water from New River Head and a supply had to be pumped to the Upper Reservoir at Claremont Square. From here the supply was by gravity, probably only to the ground floor (or even basement) of houses to the north. Penton Street was built in 1773. Some streets were not completed until the 1840s. By 1851 Pentonville had 1,503 houses and 9,522 inhabitants. Later in the 19th century it went downhill socially.
In the Blackstock Road N4 at T Bird's 1930s style shop some elderly ladies would sometimes just drop in for a chat and not buy anything. This was not really discouraged — hardly a good thing to keep the business going. Now it is closed and turned into a drinks bar but the ladies might go to Beller's at number 193 Upper Street N1, on the west side of the road near the Town Hall. This blue-painted shop proclaims they are underwear and corsetry specialists. The shop front is fairly standard Vicwardian and unlikely to be listed.
Ironmongers now seem to be called hardware merchants. H J Bloom's shop at 51 Blackstock Road N4 on the east side of the road has been at this address for 40 years or more. It used to be easy to read the date of establishment on the shop front but this is getting hard to decipher. It presently looks like a 1940s date. Inside the shop still has a very characteristic aroma with the smell of paraffin and some wares are displayed outside in the traditional manner.
In the Stroud Green Road N4 opposite Thomas Swan's (GLIAS Newsletter June 2002) at number 104 on the east side of the road is King's the bakers with a stylish white c1960 shop front. It now serves as a cafe as well as a shop. Shop fronts of this kind are becoming uncommon.
The Hackney gun siege at 214 Graham Road E8, which started on Boxing Day last year and lasted until 10 January 2003, was the longest ever in Britain. As a result local shops were very badly affected. Shopkeepers were unable to access their premises, business was ruined and perishable stock lost. Insurance companies were refusing to cover this. The Mayor of Hackney has appealed for people to make use of these shops now they are open again. Otherwise they will be lost. Bob Carr
When I went to visit Grouts' shop (GLIAS Newsletter June 2002) on its last day I was told that the Gipe overhead cash conveyor was going to the East Anglia Museum of Transport. Andrew Buxton
I was interested to read your article on More Closed and Open Shops. T Bird's shop in Blackstock Road was founded in the 1880s but one of the reasons for its closure was a large increase in rent. The date of H J Bloom's shop is 1945. The business is still conducted by Mr Bloom who is now in his late eighties. Roy Hidson
Mystery Enfield locomotive
The large railway locomotive reported at the south-east corner of Southbury station turns out to be rather more exciting that suggested (GLIAS Newsletter October 2000). It is a Finnish main line, 5ft gauge, HR1 class Pacific, number 1016. Built in 1955 by Tampella AB it looks quite pre-war so might be based on a much earlier design. The number 1016 is displayed on the cabside. It has an eight-wheeled tender on two bogies and smoke deflectors at the front. This is the kind of thing one might expect to see in a national railway museum. It appears to be associated with the Enfield Timber Company and Long & Somerville. Bob Carr
Great floods of 1953
This February was the 50th anniversary of the great 'East Coast' floods, and brought enquiries to Crossness Engines about the engine 'brought back' to steaming condition to assist with lowering the flood waters in the Belvedere and Erith areas.
My research in the library of Crossness Engines uncovered accounts of the final 'steaming days' of the original rotative beam engines. We at 'Crossness' had been informed that 'the last engine to run was Victoria and she was brought into steam especially to help with pumping flood water in February 1953'. I located a book containing the amount of 'sewage lifted' and the 'number of hours run' by engines at the Southern Outfall, Crossness. To my surprise, I found that all four beam engines worked at intermittent times from 1950 until midway through 1956. Records show that two engines would be run for a week or a fortnight and then the other two engines would be brought into service.
So the myth that the 'last engine to run was in 1953' has been exploded and I am sorry to report that at this time I am unable to say just which engine was the last to steam. The records define the engines by number only and attribute no names to our magnificent pieces of Victorian engineering. Further research will be conducted — watch this space. Peter J Skilton
GLAS Quarterly Review
The latest edition of the Quarterly Review of the Greater London Advisory Service is of interest to GLIAS members. Increasingly the professional archaeology world is taking seriously and noting down the remains of the industrial structures they find, whereas once they would destroy them on their way down to the Romans and Saxons. Here is a summary of some of the contents of the Review that may be of interest:
- Channel Tunnel Rail Link — St Pancras Terminus and Kings Cross Lands — 'many items recorded relate to the industrial heritage of the area'
- Bennett's Mill, Merton — 'the excavation has revealed the entire range of workshops including the water wheel headrace and tailrace. Four brick furnaces used for the production of dyes — a dye mixing paddle and a copper strip from a print block were also found'.
- Time Team at Merton Abbey Mill. '.. a floor of crushed chalk retained the impression of tracks for the dye trolley... a guide roller from a calico printing machine was recovered'
- Bravington's and Albion Yard, Railway Block — further scars left by machine housing were recorded.
- West Street, Erith — six wooden lighters ... used as structural elements in a river wall... timber and concrete remains of a late 19th century wharf also recorded'
- Brancroft Way, Enfield — Remains of cooling towers of Brimsdown power station.
- Charrington's Wharf, Blackwall Way — found parts of a dry dock and launch likely to be early 17th century. One likely to be remnants of the east dock established in 1618.
- South Wall, Former Export Dock, West India Docks — survey of part of the dock wall built about 1800. Thus revealed timber piles driven vertically to stabilise a timber grillage, sloping from north down to south at an angle of about 30 degrees. Many timbers refused. This supported the sold brick superstructure of the wall, which was slightly concave in section.
- Sedgewick Centre, 17-19 Whitechapel High Street — found a series of quarry pits filled with bell-making waste.
For more information is available on archaeological surveys of numerous sites: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Were factory hooters (GLIAS Newsletter October 2000) really banned in the Second World War? If so what was the reason? Perhaps it was thought they might be confused with air raid sirens? The chime whistles of LNER A4 Pacific locomotives were removed for this (unlikely) reason. Childhood memories recall factory hooters vividly so perhaps the rules were different in different parts of the country.
Church bells were not rung after Dunkerque. They were to be rung only if the expected German invasion started. Bells remained silent until 15 November 1942 when they were rung to celebrate the victory at El Alamein. Do any of our older members have memories? Bob Carr
Mystery site in Tottenham?
An industrial archaeological site, which should be well known to GLIAS members, is the large and very derelict collection of buildings around a yard behind Tottenham Town Hall, near the terminus of the 73 bus. Roughly a hundred years old it might have been a council depot or part of a Lager Brewery and Ice Factory. There are roofs or canopies which might have kept the rain off rubbish sorting or stacks of beer barrels. A chimney can be seen to the north east of the yard. This is the kind of place GLIAS used to investigate in the 1970s, rather rare nowadays. It is quite hidden and can only be glimpsed from trains between Seven Sisters and Bruce Grove looking east. What was it? It's a remarkable survival.
Approaching from the south the southern part of the site at the north end of Portland Road N15 appears to have been redeveloped for housing. From the north nothing can be seen from Clyde Road. The grid reference is approximately TQ 335 893. It is really ruinous, through neglect and no doubt the attention of small boys who seem to get in anywhere. Bob Carr
Follow-up: My brother said with regard to Bob Carr's Mystery Site in Tottenham 205 (he knows the area well) that Bob has two uses confused.
What seems to fit his description, as being behind the Town Hall/Swimming Baths complex, was the 'dust destructor'. The heat generated was used to heat the swimming baths, the entrance was from Portland Road. Exactly the same system existed at Western Road, Wood Green, where the last vestiges of the old set up can still be seen. While Tottenham used side loading dustcarts, Wood Green used a system which was state of the art for the late 1930s. The refuse was collected in enclosed rear loading articulated trailers. These had manually cranked moving floors to shift the rubbish forward. They were pulled from door to door by horses which were contracted from Mr Nicholls, and when loaded were swapped with an empty at a pre-arranged point on the round. Being taken to the "dust destructor" by a Scammell Scarab three wheeled 'mechanical horse'. The trailers and the Scarab were painted pale green and bore the borough coat of arms.
I digress; back to the site. In an area bounded by Town Hall Approach, Phillip Lane and Clyde Road was a brewery, this was Doodlebugged. Post war the site carried pre-fabs and now houses a Leisure Centre so that nothing original remains and the whole site is and was visible from the road. Bob Rust
Shieldhall on the Thames
I am one of the volunteers involved with the operation of Shieldhall and was fortunate to be on the trip to Tilbury. Most nights I am on board to keep an eye on the old girl. This time of year it's too dark and cold to venture far from the messroom woodburner (no firelighters tonight so I had to swipe some fuel oil on a rag but don't tell the chief) so I often spend some time on the net looking at interesting subjects and came upon your Notes and News a while ago.
I did wonder if our visit would be spotted so it was a pleasure to read Bob Carr's article (GLIAS Newsletter December 2002). It would have been nice to have stayed longer and been able to exhibit the ship, though our passenger certificate would not have been valid (wrong area, and only valid till the end of October.) Hence we were a Freighter in ballast and crewed accordingly. In fact it was all done at very short notice and many regulars having thought November was going to be a quiet month after a busy season had gone/kept away to catch up with domestic arrangements, take the other half somewhere with no steam engines etc. Some of these were surprised we had been to 'foreign parts' for a weekend.
One of our younger members has made the sea his career and has recently qualified on the first rungs of the bridge-officers' ladder. He was surprised to see his first ship sharing the Thames estuary with his mineral materials resource recovery vessel (most people call them dredgers.) As Bob says, Sunday was a fine day but when we left Southampton it was more like the bad winter weather he referred to. Her builders designed Shieldhall well. Another small pleasure was that a River Pilot had heard we were coming and having served on the Edward Cruse came down to look at her sister ship as he put it. As it happened after tying up at the landing stage the film people arrived about an hour later and wanted the ship turned around to please the cameraman. That pilot took the job like a shot and brought a couple of family friends to show what it used to be like, manoeuvring a relatively low powered vessel with no bow thrusters etc. An excellent job he made too, bringing the ship alongside the stage like a train alongside a platform.
Will we ever return? Who knows? Unlike Waverley we have only a small passenger capacity, a bit higher than in Glasgow days, it's now 150, but that barely covers the running costs. We certainly could not afford to get her there just for trips. However if some event was on such as a festival of the sea then it could happen one day. Keep an eye on the website (www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk). We do not intend to visit the Thames just yet but there is the possibility we may come to a Port further east than Portsmouth in 2003. Still in the planning stage at the moment and we always seek MCA approval before we confirm any out of area operation. G Harman, watchkeeper, SS Shieldhall
Getting rid of people
Further to Bob Carr's conjecture on whether getting rid of (expensive) people is a major incentive for industrial or technological change (GLIAS Newsletter February 2003).
The Spinning Jenny and what has been transformed into the combine harvester would appear to be examples that support this theory. But, they create their own Industrial Archaeology?
Presumably the first, fixed positioned, steam engines also follow the conjecture. However, when the steam engine was able to move under the inspiration of the Stephensons could it be argued that a completely new industry was created as distinct from just improving the stagecoach and putting those associated with horses out of work. It was the advent of the first spreadsheet software (Visicalc) that turned what had been a 'techies' hobby contraption into the desktop computer industry that we know today.
How does the development of the printing press fit within this IA conjecture? Undoubtedly all scribes were made redundant but the economic implication of the written word becoming so cheap was that it became worth the population being taught to read and in doing so created the education industry. Can the development of the lightbulb be similarly considered for the working day is no longer restricted by the length of daylight. So, what criteria are required of a technological change to create another industry with its own IA?
Should the conjecture be that, when an industry is 'mature', technological change will result in redundancies. Now that there are no more 'jobs for life', the conjecture raises vital questions for today's employees: when does one know when an industry has become mature, how soon after that does one start to re-train and for what?
Second thoughts on Bob's conjecture. Does it fall down during war time? The need for the first computers to he built at Bletchley Park during the Second World War was 'time'. Electronic time as distinct from human time. Those messages just had to be broken if we were to survive let alone win the war. Interestingly, one of the BP sections did not 'computerise'. So no doubt it also depends on the people involved. But then BP was a monopoly and there was no competition and security was maintained by only knowing what you needed to know. Peter J Butt
A few things published in the last Newsletter may need clarification. 'Getting rid of people' is only from the viewpoint of an employer. The people are of course not really got rid of, only from the payroll. People 'got rid of' become unemployed. There was a euphemism common in the mid 1970s that they were 'being retrained'. (Society as a whole has to look after them by paying dole etc but that is not a direct concern of the individual employer — he is passing the buck).
What appeared in the last Newsletter is very probably 'old hat', investigated at great length by economic historians years ago. However industrial archaeological periodicals don't seem to mention this (do they?) and industrial archaeologists are not overheard talking about it. A parameter which might be studied (quoted) when discussing change in various industries (case studies) is the proportion of the workforce 'got rid of' by change.
Although archaeologically speaking people and artefacts are intimately associated (or connected), the point being made is that in the course of technological advancement, management (owners of a business) try to dissociate them. They want the machinery/buildings, business etc but do not want to sustain a large and expensive work force. 'Getting rid of people' appears to be an incentive which powers technological advancement.
In the 1950s at a period of full employment the Luddites were represented as quaint and misguided. In the mid 1970s we began to see things rather differently. Reduction in labour was then beginning to happen in the office and management, not just on the shop floor.
We are now in a situation where engineering firms only employ lawyers (to write the contracts). The people who do the actual engineering are all on short-term specific contracts. People (apart from lawyers) have been totally 'got rid of'. Even bankers have been got rid of in large numbers. Most bank buildings in town centres are used for restaurants and wine bars.
The above is not really industrial archaeology, more about economics and employment — off the top of the head. It's a general view of business history perhaps and Senior Common Room chat at that rather than proper academic argument. It may also represent a biased view of work harboured by those made redundant.
The note in the last Newsletter was just in case an interesting correspondence develops — it sometimes does. There are some possible counter examples and awkward cases to discuss if there are replies. Bob Carr
Fred Tallant Hall
I was interested to read your comments regarding the closure of the Fred Tallant Hall, in Drummond Street, Euston, home of the London CHA Club Limited (GLIAS Newsletter February 2003). I would like to add, however, that the club was founded in 1901 by a group of holiday makers who wished to preserve the comradeship and co-operation characteristic of a CHA holiday throughout the year. Although connected to the Countrywide Holidays Association, it has never been administered or financed by them.
The association was founded in 1891 by the Rev Thomas Arthur Leonard, a Congregational minister, who was born in Stoke Newington in 1864. A group from his Young Men's Guild took a holiday at Ambleside in 1891 and at Carnarvon in 1892. By 1893 Leonard became honorary secretary of a scheme for summer rambling holidays with social evenings of music and lectures. In the late 1890s it became a small company known as The Co-operative Holidays Association. The name changed to The Country-wide Holidays Association in 1964.
It was from these beginnings, that the London CHA Club was founded in 1901. They first met at Gatti's Restaurant in the Strand, then at Furnival Hall, Furnival Street, when the charge on Tuesday evenings was 3d. In 1910 they opened a Club House at 28 Red Lion Square, where they remained until 1926. On 13 April, 1926 the club moved to Drummond Street, when they leased the Tolmers Square Institute Buildings ('Tolmers Hall'). Two years later some club members purchased the freehold of the building for club members. In 1935 Tolmers Hall was renamed Fred Tallant Hall in memory of Fred Tallant, Honorary Secretary of the Club from its foundation in 1901 to 1934. CHA clubs were founded countrywide, but the London club is the only one with its own building. The others were mainly rambling clubs without their own premises.
Tolmers Hall was almost 50 years old when the CHA club purchased the building, the Foundation Stone having been laid on 31 October 1877. It was intended that the building would accommodate the Sunday School of the nearby Tolmers Square Congregational Church, which on most Sundays taught some 750 children. It would also include a 'British Workman' or Coffee Palace, Reading Room, Library and Lecture Hall. The land had formerly accommodated three houses and a reservoir. In its early days the cafe attracted as many as 500 customers before 9am, a good cup of coffee or coca being sold for a halfpenny.
In 1879 the Institute was opened with a Dedicatory Service, followed by tea attended by many members and friends of Tolmers Square Church, and in the evening nearly 1,000 people attended a meeting in the lecture hall. The total cost of the purchase of the site and the erection of the building was £11,000.
The CHA Club activities over the years have included Ballroom, Old Time and Scottish Dancing, Badminton, Table Tennis, Drama, Lectures, Film Shows and Rambling. They have also let their rooms to more than 20 organisations, with varied interests, eg Transport, Cinema Organs, Drama, Esperanto, etc. It is sad that the club has to close, which has been occasioned by a decreasing and ageing membership. The Fred Tallant Hall, which has been a hive of activity and a much loved venue, is to be sold by the CHA Club. Joan Hardinges
- 'The London C.H.A. Club — The First Sixty Years' — by CHA Club Members
- 'A Hundred Years of Holidays 1893-1993' by Robert Speake, Countrywide Holidays
- Camden & Kentish Towns Gazette 3rd November 1877, Camden Archives, Holborn Library
- Ibid 22nd November 1879
National Monuments Record
English Heritage are putting pressure on the National Monuments Record in London (situated for many years at 55 Blandford Street) to move to Swindon.
The London Search Room is a goldmine where visitors can browse through hundreds of boxes of photographs kept in alphabetical order of London boroughs. Users not only include architects, picture researchers and local historians but anyone wanting to know about the development of Greater London whether it be shops, industrial buildings or even specialist fixtures such as telephone. boxes and other street fixtures.
Researching photographic records of Odeon cinemas within Greater London dating from the 1930s I found a wealth of material including interior and exterior photographs plus views of the staff and behind the scene shots of the projection rooms and machinery.
Also of interest was the Rokeby collection of London railway and underground stations taken by Reverend H D E Rokeby from the 1930s to the 1960s.
The important thing is that no appointment needs to be made; one can just bowl in and the staff are most friendly and eager to help and while you are there they wouldn't mind a bit if you gave your name to say how beneficial your visit was which might — just might — influence English Heritage to keep the wealth of material in London so we can easily access the building's contents. Geoff Donald
Should you need specialist help they will try to source their archives before you arrive. Tel: 020 7208 8200. Web: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Science Museum Library
There is a rumour circulating that the Science Museum Library might be relocated to Wroughton. I have spoken to someone at the Science Museum who confirmed that this was an option being considered.
I would urge anyone who uses the library to write as soon as possible to Lord Waldegrave, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Museum of Science & Industry, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 7DD and register their protest/concern at this proposal. Personally I think it is madness and if it goes ahead the library, which is of national importance, will become less well used and ultimately fall into decline. Lesley Bossine
Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Architecture and the Urban Environment (GLIAS Newsletter February 2003) is now located at 19-22 Charlotte Road, London EC2. The premises are a former 19th-century Victorian warehouse with interiors by Robert Kime and furniture by Leon Krier. The architects are Matthew Lloyd Practice.
The premises were open to the public during London Open House days 21-22 September 2002. John Reeve
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© GLIAS, 2003