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Notes and news — February 2005

In this issue:

GLIAS Lecture: The History And Architecture Of Shopping

Brian Bloice gave the January GLIAS lecture, highlighting the dramatic change in shop architecture over the centuries. The Romans used a simple layout, with a large open window, as shown in an exhibition at the Museum of London. A few medieval shopping streets survive, eg at Staple Inn, and in Chester and York. Later, local centres of small shops developed in villages. In Victorian times, shops were built on garden frontages of 18th-century houses, eg in the Walworth Road. By the 20th century, purpose-built terraces developed, with storage or flats above. These were followed by department stores and chain stores.

Mr Bloice illustrated these developments with slides. The first chain stores were set up by the Cooperative Movement, starting in Rochdale in 1844. By 1899, there were over 1,500 societies and 1.6 million shoppers. The movement dies out in the 1960s, though some survive. He illustrated the house style of the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society, as in Balham — now converted to a mosque! Another chain was established by Montague Burton, who had five factories by 1917, as well as his chain of tailors' shops. Although many have now been closed and converted to other uses, the architectural style may still be identified from the elephants' heads at the top of the columns, just below a pediment. Other chains were Home & Colonial; Lipton's and Sainsbury's. The latter now belongs to the fifth generation of the same family (who still own 32% of the equity), developing from a single shop in Drury Lane in 1869 and introducing home delivery (by horse and cart or tricycle) in 1896 and the more modern developments of their first supermarket in 1951, trolleys in the 1950s, scanning in the 1970s and credit cards in the 1980s. More recently, Sainsbury's have moved back into the High Street with 'Sainsbury's Local'.

He then looked at the development of the Brixton shopping centre, which was built to serve the high class suburbs surrounding it — Brixton was never an independent village. Electric Avenue was the first to be lit by electricity in the 1860s and chain stores arrived in Brixton. Mr Bloice then traced the history of David Greig's, whose first shop was in Brixton in 1888 — by the 1960s, there were 160 shops; Boots, started be Jesse Boot in Nottingham in 1877; and Woolworth's. Finally, he illustrated the development of a number of the leading department stores, where in some cases, the staff lived in accommodation above the store: Bon Marché in Brixton in 1876 (closed 1975); Whiteleys (1863); Selfridges; Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. The latter started when Charles Harrod bought a single shop in Knightsbridge in 1849 and gradually acquired all the surrounding shops and properties in the block now covered by Harrods. However, the façade merely hides the separate structures of all the individual buildings, which makes works on the site extremely difficult! Brian Strong

Southwark's Pullens Buildings

Readers might be interested to know about Southwark's Pullens Buildings and the difficulties being experienced by one of the last surviving Victorian live/work communities in London.

The buildings can be seen from the train from south London via Tooting to Elephant and Castle or the City. They were built speculatively by a Mr Pullen at the turn of the century; as a place for blue collar workers to both live and work. Four-storey tenement flat blocks sandwich a working yard between them, where hansom cab drivers, candlemakers and the like had their workshops. The ground-floor flats originally had a door from their small area yard which led straight into a workshop, and it was said to me (though not confirmed) that the large rear (and rather un-Victorian) flat windows were designed thus so that women who made lace or sewed for a living had plenty of light.

The young Charlie Chaplin lived here for nine months as a child, and a steam engine was still in 7 Peacock Yard (the first unit on the right as you face the yard) until the late 1970s which was used to provide power to the workshops. No 7 still has a large wooden flywheel and drive shaft attached to the ceiling that would have carried the drive belts to run machinery. Supposedly these belts ran through into neighbouring units the whole length of the yard.

By the 1970s, the Council took over from the building owners, and let the buildings slide further into disrepair. By the end of the decade the Council had decided to pull down these fine buildings, along with their art and craft workshops — however, they reckoned without the determination of a band of squatters and residents who loved the buildings, fought pitched battles with the police over eviction orders, and eventually succeeded in preventing any further destruction — but not before some of the blocks and yards had gone. Some of the original residents from that time still live here. Today the flats are inhabited half by Council tenants and half by owners, and the yards hold workshop users, some of whom are also long time residents who live here because of the vibrant working community and the buildings' beauty.

But today these last (I believe) London cobbled working yards with living spaces attached are under threat again, as the Council wishes to raise the rents of the by now dilapidated workshops with their worn and rickety wooden stairs from about £5 per sq foot to £12 — despite the fact that a developer who has applied to put up a large block of flats with work spaces opposite us, advised us that they felt the area would support a rent of no more that £10 per square foot for a new work space. This is being battled by the artists and small businesses, who could not afford greater commercial rents but whose presence is vital to London's existence as a vibrant and mixed use city, and who include jewellers, clothing designers, glass makers, photographers, woodworkers and a renowned lute-maker — but the outlook is not good and many have been forced out already. In their place we expect to see different kinds of businesses, symptomatic of the gentrification of London's old commercial spaces — not art or craft-oriented, who could afford more rent but who would contribute less to the community and not be in keeping with the spirit of the buildings' original purpose — as a place where what was then the working lower middle class could have small businesses and craft workshops. It will be very sad if Southwark succeeds in raising the rents above market rates for sub-standard but much-loved Victorian working spaces, and thereby puts an end to one of the last of these working communities in London. Keep your fingers crossed for the workshops!

The buildings are about to be granted Conservation status, thanks to the renewed efforts of the Pullens Tenants and Residents Association and by Paul Calvocoressi, Southwark design and heritage officer, who recently gave a talk to GLIAS members on another topic. More history, press and some historical photographs of the buildings can be seen on the Pullens Business Association website (www.pullensyards.co.uk). Sarah Timewell

Withdrawal Of Routemaster Buses

Tentative information on the withdrawal of Routemaster buses (GLIAS Newsletter December 2004) is as follows.

Route 36 is to lose its Routemasters in January 2005, with route 13 probably shortly after, while for the 19 route the end is to come in March. Routes 14 and 22 will cease to be Routemaster operated in July. Routes 38 and 159 will be converted sometime during 2005.

It is intended to keep only six Routemasters for use on a token tourist service in Central London. Bob Carr

Kirkaldy Testing Museum — William Kirkaldy

Who was William, what was he....? David Kirkaldy (sen) was well known in his day and has since become famous, at least in materials testing circles, for his classic testing machine. David (jun) was still alive when the Kirkaldy Testing Museum was set up and was known to Denis Smith and several of the present friends. But William? Well he seems somewhat hidden under the shadow of his father and, as far as is recorded, not known to anyone alive today.

Kirkaldy Testing Museum, 2005. © Robert Mason William was born in 1862, so would have been a growing lad when David (sen) set up business in the present works. He grew up into the business and in 1884 became a partner of what then became David Kirkaldy & Son. In 1891, while David (sen) was still alive, William published an account of his father's work, 'Illustrations of David Kirkaldy's System of Mechanical Testing', which describes testing methods but says little about the machine itself. William was elected an associate member (now member) of Institution of Civil Engineers in 1898 and was later raised to member (now fellow) as his father had been before him. In 1899 he was awarded a Telford Premium by the ICE for his paper 'Effects of Wear upon Steel Rails'. The award was to the value of £20, which he took in the form of a microscope that still exists in Kirkaldy Testing Museum.

William was also elected a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1899 and then the Iron and Steel Institute. He was a member (as his father had been) of the Worshipful Company of Turners (a company chartered in 1604 but known from 1190). The Turners made wooden cups, plates and bowls certificated for dry measures but when, in the 19th century the certification right was removed, they lost much status. William's induction 'medallion', dated 1898, also exists in the museum.

David (sen) was a leading advocate, indeed, one of the first, for standard methods of testing, but there was no organisation willing to take up that cry in his time. The forerunner of the British Standards Institute (initially the ICE Committee on Standard Sections soon called The Engineering Standards Committee) was set up under the auspices of the ICE in 1901, with IMechE, the Institute of Naval Architects and the Iron & Steel Institute as collaborators.

William served on some of the early committees in the period from 1901 until his death in 1914, although precise details have not yet been traced. Standards for rolled steel sections were first on the list, soon with four sub-sections, Bridges & Construction, Materials for Ship-building, Locomotives & Railway Rolling Stock, and Railway & Tramway Rails, with Portland Cement following in 1904. It seems likely from what follows that he served on the committee for 'rails' and that much of the cement-testing facilities at the Kirkaldy works stem from the time when the standards for cement were being set up.

His ICE premium paper details tests in tension and bending of rails broken in service (the initial batch provided by the original Great Northern Railway). The bending strength of a length of rail cut from above a sleeper was greatly reduced and many samples showed appreciable cracking. The tensile strength of pieces cut from the rail foot showed no deterioration from the original properties but those cut from close to the running surface of the head showed a marked increase in strength and reduction in ductility. These two changes were identified as caused by 'hammer blow' effects (of the steam engine wheels) and William concluded that they, in turn, caused the in-service failures. He also found that a somewhat harder less ductile steel resisted wear of this nature better than a softer, more ductile steel. Over a century later, on the 'new' Great Northern line, the somewhat similar events and effects were called 'rolling fatigue' that induced 'fatigue cracking' leading to failure. In the absence of non-destructive test methods, William advocated simple bend tests on pieces about 5ft (c1.5m), long as the best way of checking for incipient cracking while rather deploring use of impact bend tests for that purpose.

But in 1910, together with Blount and Sankey, he wrote a paper to the IMechE on drop weight impact tension testing and repeated (plastic) bend tests as a guide to eliminating steels that were acceptable by normal tension tests but did not behave well in service. The drop-weight impact machine was installed through all floors of the Works at 99, Southwark Street, in a position about at the northeast corner of the present Conference Room. The test methods investigated did not help define which steels were or were not likely to be unsatisfactory in service and were not followed up. The heavy anvils onto which the test weights dropped, are still in the museum.

William died in 1914 when his son, David (jun) was only four years old. William's widow, Annie, ran the works as proprietor with the assistance of Dr Gilbert Gulliver, as manager. David (jun) came to the works in 1934 and retired in 1965. The works continued under the same name but with different ownership, until 1974. Ted Turner
Kirkaldy Testing Museum website: www.testingmuseum.org.uk

Previous related articles

London Landmark Gone

The illuminated animated sign advertising Lucozade on the elevated section of the Great West Road has been removed and may go to Gunnersbury Museum.

It was a prominent landmark, showing a bottle being poured, best seen when driving westwards into London at dusk and heralded arrival in the capital. The building it was attached to is derelict and displays graffiti. It is/was situated on the north side of the road roughly half way along the elevated part of the M4 motorway in Brentford; see Activities Captured in Architecture by David Thomas (GLIAS Newsletter April 1984).

Lucozade was originally associated with invalids but some years ago it became a trendy drink for young adults. It was introduced in 1927 as Glucozade but the name was changed to Lucozade two years later. The makers, Beechams Ltd, established laboratories in the Great West Road in 1944 and the Lucozade factory was moved there in 1951. Beechams' main offices moved to the Great West Road in 1955, taking over premises which had served BOAC as headquarters since 1947. Bob Carr

Steam Vessels In Victoria Dock

During the recent London Boat Show at the Excel Centre on the north side of Royal Victoria Dock there were no fewer than three small steam vessels in steam and open to the public. The steam tugs Portwey and Challenge were joined by VIC 56 and were berthed just west of the elevated footbridge across the dock. Portwey and Challenge made occasional excursions around the dock while VIC56 demonstrated her steam winch and derrick.

The large oil-fired boilers of Challenge were most impressive and she has a hefty triple-expansion engine compared with the relatively modest pair of engines that power Portwey. Bob Carr

Power Station Site?

Driving northwards up the Lea Valley along Watermead Way, on the right hand side at TQ 352 913, just to the east of Sedge Road N17, are remains which were probably part of an electric power station.

A large yellow-brick block could be accommodation for transformers. The elevation of this building facing south is attractive. What look like air holes are arranged in rectangles, imitating windows. The impression is reminiscent of early cotton mills in Manchester.

Who was the architect? The block is probably late 1950s. This is one of the many things omitted from the AIA 2004 Gazetteer owing to lack of space. Bob Carr

Fred Watkins, Coleford

The mention of Fred Watkins by Dave Hill (GLIAS Newsletter December 2004) reminds me of how useful the firm could be.

They not only sold but hired out a wide range of boilers of different outputs. When doing some process development work on a site near Peterborough that did not have any steam supply we first hired a pair of small vertical boilers. These came on a wheeled base complete with water and fuel tanks.

When the work moved to a site in North Kent we decided we needed more steam and hired a Cochrane's 'Wee Chieftain' economic boiler. My water treatment colleague, who was used to treating water for 100 bar (1,500psi) boilers, was horrified at the thought of our feeding it with raw, hard North Kent water and insisted that we dosed the water with some evil looking brown liquid.

When I asked Fred Watkins what usually happened they said: 'Oh, people don't normally care and we just boil them out with acid when they come back in.' Patrick Graham

Dockland Apprentice shortlisted

David Carpenter's reminiscences of apprentice life in a London Shipyard, Dockland Apprentice, have been shortlisted for a Longman-History Today book award. Details will appear in the March issue of History Today but there should also be a mention in the January issue.

Copies of the book are still available from Dave (Tel: 01273 583154).Bob Carr

Printing Ink Works

Regarding the request for details of surviving printing ink establishments (GLIAS Newsletter December 2004), I submit the following:

1. Slater & Palmer Ltd, 16 Marshgate Lane, Stratford.

There survives one of two original very similar three-storey buildings of this company (later taken over by Usher-Walker Ltd). It is unclear to me as to the original purpose of the building (offices?, production?) but it appears now to be occupied by a modern-day 'ethnic' church. There might well be other original facilities at the back. The building dates back to at least 1893.

2. Dane & Co, Sugar House Lane, Stratford

This company was (still is?) involved in the manufacture of printing inks. They have several premises in the area but I am not sure as to which is/was associated with printing inks. Chris Seagrave

Tidal Mills Of Western Europe

A conference on Tidal Mills of Western Europe was held in Seixal, Portugal from 13-15 January, as part of the European Union Culture 2000 Project.

The project was set up by the Municipality of Seixal, Association Estuarial of Nantes and the Ecoparque de Transmiera project in Amuera on the north coast of Spain, who all contributed towards the costs. Presentations were made by David Plunkett, on the Second Reconstruction of Eling Tide Mill; Frans Brouwers on Rupelmonde Tide Mill, Belgium; the latest information on the archaeological excavation of the 6th-century Tide Mill at Nendrum, on Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland by Tom McErlean; and William Hill and Brian Strong on the House Mill, London, E3, particularly in its context as part of the distilling industry. Presentations were also made on tide mills in Portugal and Spain, which all used horizontal wheels.

Visits were made to tide mills on the south side of the Tagus estuary: Corrois (which was restored in the 1980s, but is now closed again); Zebro (archaeological remains only, part of a naval biscuit factory); Barreiro; Moita and Montijo; and Mouriscas mill on the Sado estuary. All were of similar design: a long low building in a marshy area, with an incoming tide gate; and 5 to 12 wheel chambers with horizontal wheels. Each central shaft operated one pair of millstones located on the floor immediately above. A simple piece of wood touching the top of the millstone served instead of a damsel.

The conference was followed by a meeting of the partners of the project, which now include the UK and Belgian representatives, as well as two more tide mills in Spain, to discuss the completion of the required EU programme. This will involve the publication of a set of photographs and leaflets of the mills, with a joint launch on 18 May; a multi-media programme to be presented on 24 September; and an exhibition and education guide to be launched on 15 October. The exhibition should be available to be displayed at a number of locations in the UK in late 2005 and in 2006. Brian Strong

Coal Replenishment Areas

My great-great-grandfather was the engineer Walter Hancock (of steam carriage fame). Last June my family and I visited London and decided to follow his City Road route from Stratford to Regents Park.

We kept to no more than 20kph and stopped at the coal replenishment areas along the route that he described in his narrative. One stop was near Windsor Place on the City Road. The Paddington Steam Carriage Company had an office at 7 Windsor Place.

It suddenly occurred to me that these coal replenishment stop areas were the forerunners of our petrol service stations today. Walter Hancock would lease the locations specifically for this purpose.

Perhaps London should also lay claim to the first 'Vehicle Service Centre' as well as the first 'Mechanical Bus Service' city in the world. David Eustace

Locomotive Coaling Plants And Train Sheds

Locomotive coaling plants survive at Carnforth and Immingham (GLIAS Newsletter December 2004). There may be more? Carnforth depot still has its ash plant. Bob Carr

I wonder if the image which Bob Carr refers to in his piece about coaling towers is the poster drawn for the LNER by Frank Newbould in 1932.

This depicts an electronically powered tower and is shown, with notes on its operation, in Railway Posters 1923-1947, published by the National Railway Museum. Michael Dunmow

In his note on Locomotive Coaling Plants Bob Carr gives a plausible account of the origin of train sheds. While terminus train sheds could protect carriages at the completion of journeys some of the notable early train sheds (ie covered tracks in stations) were at through stations such as Newcastle (1850) and York (1877). This suggests that protection of passengers and goods may have been the paramount consideration, after all the main cause of deterioration of the external varnish on coaches would have been the grit, smoke and steam from the locomotives.

In contrast with the early carriages, modern carriages have durable exteriors but deteriorate rapidly internally if left without internal heating.

Railway historians may find the name for flat bottom rail of interest. The European Standard which has replaced the British Standard for main line rail sections has eschewed the term flat bottom rail in favour of Vignole (sic) rail. Apparently this is the more common terminology in mainland Europe although the Wanadoo search engine finds 60 references to Vignole rail and 55,168 references to flat bottom rail.

Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875) was an early railway surveyor and engineer. He was born in Ireland and helped in the second (successful) survey for the Liverpool to Manchester railway after George Stephenson's first survey was rejected by Parliament. He is credited with the development of the flat bottom rail which was popular with contractors, as it did not need an expensive chair for support on the sleepers, and was widely used in France. However, use of flat bottom rail on main line railways was rare in the UK until the 1950s and on London Underground until the 1990s. John Buekett

Bus station demolished

Bristol Marlborough Street bus station has been demolished. Archaeologists are now working there for three months unearthing remains of St James' Priory at the southwest corner of the site. The Priory was in use from the early 12th century to 1540 when it was taken over by the Crown. It then became a manor house, and later a sugarhouse for refining sugar brought to Bristol from the Colonies was built here in 1711. The engineering work is currently being carried out by Mowlems.

Does anyone know when the bus station was built? It was probably 1960s? Local opinion seems quite glad that is has gone. Apparently before it was built the area was rich in 'lovely old buildings' and the buses used stops in the local streets 'which was much better'. Bob Carr

Follow-up: In Bristol Transport compiled by David Cheesley, published by the Chalford Publishing Co Ltd (1998, ISBN 0752410830) it says on a photograph caption on p88: 'Bristol LD6G L8541 (431 FHW) is leaving the back of Bristol Bus Station on 13 July 1972 on route 327 between Bristol and Frampton Cotterell. Bristol Bus Station was opened in 1958 on a large site, which included the former Tramway Depot in Whitson Street. The Bus Station also included a Depot with full maintenance facilities. It was built with two platforms linked by a subway but later rebuilt with just one platform.' John Cullin

Most of E Gibbons demolished

The western part of the c1880 terrace of large Victorian houses on the south side of Amhurst Road E8 near Hackney Central station which used to house E Gibbons furniture store (GLIAS Newsletter June 2002) has recently been demolished.

Hackney Central station building can now be clearly seen when driving east down Amhurst Road. The space cleared will probably be redeveloped for housing purposes — a prime site next to the station. The 'smart-café conversion' at the east end of the row is closed and appears to have gone out of business but it looks as if a few of the houses at the east end of the terrace are being retained. Bob Carr

The Science Museum Library

Bound copies of the GLIAS newsletter from number one up to number 206, June 2003, can currently be consulted at the Science Museum Library, South Kensington. This is a really excellent library — make use of it while you can. It is likely that the library will soon be transferred to Imperial College in forthcoming rationalisation. The books should still be available to the general public but archives are likely to be moved elsewhere. Bob Carr

Peter the Great

When Peter the Great became Czar of Russia it was not only shipbuilding that concerned him (GLIAS Newsletter October 2004). He set up ironworking communities in the east of Russia which seeing their location were remarkably advanced for their time and were at least rivals of the ironworks we had here in the 18th century. About 10 ironworking communities were established in the Urals circa 1698-1720, water powered, many are still there and are now becoming industrial archaeological tourist attractions. Bob Carr

Obituary: Peter Neaverson

The industrial archaeologist Peter Neaverson died on 22 December while on holiday in Yorkshire; he was 75.

From 1984 he edited Industrial Archaeology Review jointly with Professor Marilyn Palmer — up until 2001 when this onerous task was taken over by Dr David Gwyn. Peter was a long serving and active member of council of the Association for Industrial Archaeology and died in office.

He was educated at Alderman Newton's Grammar School, Leicester and obtained a first-class honours degree in physics at Nottingham University in 1950. After working in engineering and electronics in Newcastle and Luton he returned to Leicester to work in the family business. He became interested in industrial archaeology and was editor of the bulletin of the Leicester Industrial History Society from 1983 to 2003. He also published his own articles, some of which may be seen in the Science Museum Library, South Kensington. In the Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society he published a paper on the history of electricity generation in Leicestershire which is of particular note. He was a member of the Railway and Canal Historical Society and the Newcomen Society.

Jointly with Marilyn Palmer he wrote a series of books; Industrial Landscapes of the East Midlands 1992, Industry in the Landscape 1994, Managing the Industrial Heritage 1995, Industrial Archaeology: Principles and Practice 1998. Their most recent book The Social Archaeology of the Textile Industry in South-west England was completed shortly before Christmas. Most of the above titles are still in print.

Peter continued his work on the abstracts for Industrial Archaeology Review after 2001 and remained in charge of the book reviews. He was also responsible for the AIA Publications Award. His death will leave a considerable gap, difficult to fill. Bob Carr

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© GLIAS, 2005