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GREATER LONDON INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY

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Notes and news — February 2006

In this issue:

Reconstitution of the society

Members will have seen Denis Smith's letter explaining why the Committee proposed that the Society should become a company limited by guarantee, as well as a registered charity. This was discussed at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society on 18 January.

In introducing the proposal, Denis emphasised that it involved no change in the Society's objectives, but that it would protect those who give their time voluntarily to run the Society, whose personal assets would be at risk in the event of a successful claim against the Society, while the obligation of individual members would be no more than £1 in the unlikely event of the Society having to wind up.

The motion was carried nem.con. The Society has therefore agreed to the formation of the new company limited by guarantee and adopted its Memorandum and Articles of Association; to an application to register the new company as a charity; and, subject to that registration, to transfer the assets of the Society to the new company on 1 April 2006.

One implication of the change is that, for 2006 only, members will be required to apply to join as members of the company when they renew their annual subscriptions. The minutes of the EGM will be circulated in due course.

From the secretary's postbag

The English Heritage Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service Quarterly Review, August-October 2005 includes an article on Archaeology and the Olympics. It says: 'the redevelopment of the Olympic site is providing a unique opportunity to investigate the archaeology and industrial heritage of the Lea Valley ... GLAAS as part of English Heritage have been advising the four planning authorities ... about the potential implications of the scheme on the historic environment. Early advice has ensured that the consideration of archaeology and the historic environment has not been overlooked. MoLAS and PCA, two of London's largest archaeological organisations have pooled their resources to provide archaeological services to the LDA.

'There are two areas of archaeological potential on the site ... the prehistoric and later landscapes ... and secondly the more recent industrial landscape much of which survives above ground level extending along the historic waterways which flow through the site.

'Our advice has resulted in archaeological conditions being attached to planning consent which ensures that archaeological investigations are conducted before construction work begins. In addition, another condition of planning consent is that consideration is given to retaining important historic buildings or features, and where this is not practical, a record of historic buildings will be made before demolition or refurbishment.

'The MoLAS-PCA Method Statement for conducting the archaeological and heritage recording can be found on the Joint Planning Authorities website ... www.olympicsjpat.org.uk along with other documents and links to the Environmental Statement ... 'MoLAS-PCA have already undertaken several archaeological evaluations, the two largest being along Carpenters Lane, Site 25, where the Aquatic Centre is to be constructed ...'

The Review also announces changes in the way the Sites and Monuments Record operates, to improve the quality of records and make the data more intelligible to the layman; and reports the announcement of an inquiry into the heritage by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, which will look at the effectiveness of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, English Heritage and other organisations inside and outside government; funding and the adequacy of the budget; the balance between heritage and development needs in planning and whether there is an adequate supply of professionals. Unfortunately, the closing date for submissions from interested organisations was 19 January 2006 (sic!) — even if they meant 2007, the Review arrived too late for GLIAS to be able to respond over the Christmas period.

It also announces the arrangements for the London Archaeological Prize 2006, an award for publications that appeared in 2004 or 2005. The publication may be a book, journal article or the proceedings of a conference and related to the archaeology of Greater London. It must be in letterpress or digital form. At this stage, nominations need only name the publication and give a brief explanation of why it is believed worthy of a prize; copies will only be required for those short-listed. Nomination forms are available from Peter Pickering, Secretary Standing Conference on London Archaeology, 3 Westbury Road, London N12 7NY. The closing date for nominations is 20 May.

As usual, the Review includes brief reports of recent excavations, including the following which involve industrial archaeology:

The London Archaeologist Fieldwork and Publication Round-up 2004 also includes brief summaries of excavations relevant to industrial archaeology (some of which have been covered in earlier summaries of GLAAS reports):

Brian Strong

End of Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum

Bob Carr reported the loss of SB Jock (GLIAS Newsletter August 2005). Sadly the surviving sailing barge fleet continues to dwindle. Scone, converted to a restaurant, sank in the Millwall Dock in 2000, was raised, moved to Barking Creek before being taken to Benfleet Creek in 2004 where not much seems to have been done to her. The floating pub Tollesbury sank at her berth just under the light railway at the end of last year but has been raised and taken across to Pipers at Woolwich while the Oak, of Maldon built 1881, once a familiar sight in the Millwall Dock has nearly been dismantled at Dolphin Yard, Sittingbourne following the abandonment of a proposal to rebuild her.

The Kentish Yard is also home to EJ Goldsmiths' Papendrecht, built Celtic dating from 1903, and Everards' Cambria, built Greenhithe 1906. The yard and barges face an uncertain future with the closure of the Barge Museum due to the termination of the lease. Dolphin Brand cement was renowned in the London Markets and the yard serviced the fleet owned by Charles Burley. It survived while all the other Sittingbourne yards vanished so that it is now difficult to envisage that the surrounding area was a hive of industrial activity with extensive brick fields and cement kilns.

The collection of barge-building tools, brick moulds and other ephemera will go into store as no new home has as yet been found for the museum which presently includes the sail loft and forge which incorporated a saw pit while nearby are the barge blocks where Glenway was rebuilt. Of concern to GLIAS members will be the Pratt & Whitney bandsaw, once used at Green & Silley Wier (see the note by Bob Carr below) and the sailmaking tools used at Cory's barge yard. Nothing has been heard for some time from Les George who owns the Celtic and was, with his father, a sailmaker in the Royal docks.

Active barges may still be seen in St Katharine Dock, out on the Thames near the Design Museum and around the coast at Faversham and Maldon while their remains lie around the Thames, creeks and forgotten berths around the coast of East Anglia. One visitor at the official opening of the sail loft at Dolphin Yard on 12th June, 1971 was SB Convoy, built Rye 1900, and she too has been broken up outside The Ship public house at Wandsworth Bridge. David Wood

The Dolphin Yard sailing barge museum on Milton Creek was due to move off the present site on 6th January 2006 but this move is likely to be delayed.

Another home for the display of the collection will be needed, including the bandsaw by the Pratt and Witney Co, Hartford, Connecticut, USA, dated January 1881, which about 25 years ago was saved from the Fitters' Shop, Green & Silley Weir, Royal Albert Dock (see London's Industrial Archaeology number 7 pages 55-63 and the book Dockland [NELP/GLC 1986], pp224-225).

This bandsaw has elegant cast-iron starburst wheels and the electric motor which drove it, by the Crypto Electrical Co Ltd, Willesden, dated 1929, is still there, although no longer attached. Bob Carr

Kirkaldy Testing Museum notes — Pressure Gauges

Aficionados of steam engines will know the vital role of a pressure gauge in helping keep an engine safe. Of course, the gauge itself just indicates the pressure in the engine's boiler and a pressure relief valve plays the crucial role of actually releasing steam if the pressure reaches and just exceeds the value the boiler was designed to contain with safety.

But in order ensure that the correct relief pressure is set up, the pressure gauge itself must initially be tested and calibrated and then re-tested from time to time, in service. Tested? Well, of course The Kirkaldy Testing and Experimenting Works had a machine especially made for testing and calibrating pressure gauges. It is still in good operating condition.

The first known pressure gauge suitable for a steam boiler was patented by Sydney Smith in 1847. A needle rotated around a dial, with one revolution going from zero (ie room ) pressure to the full pressure for that particular gauge. Before that, there were simple tubes or manometers partly filled with water or mercury to measure quite small pressures, somewhat akin to the mercury column barometers of Victorian times. The most common engine pressure gauge in use today is the so-called 'Bourdon Tube' type, which was patented in 1849.

In the Smith gauge, the indicating needle is driven by a small plunger that is exposed to the steam pressure at its lower end (fitted with an 'india-rubber diaphragm' as a seal) and lifts a pendulum arm via a small lever at its upper end. Under full pressure, the pendulum is rotated only 90° from its downward, zero, position but a four-to-one gearing rotates the needle by 360°. Smith claims that by shaping the 'bob' of the pendulum, and by connecting with a second pendulum partway up its swing, the whole system gives a uniform spacing around the dial for equal increases of pressure.

In his patent, pressures up to 100lb per sq in are instanced, many boilers still then operating at appreciably lower pressures. It is of some interest to note that George Stephenson, the founder and first president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, wrote to that institution in October 1847, drawing attention to this 'most important invention ... intended to indicate the strength of steam in steam engine boilers'*. He recommends it for steam boats and colliery engine houses. Railway engines are not explicitly mentioned.

The better known Bourdon gauge works by allowing the pressure into a curved tube, itself of a slightly elliptical cross section. As the pressure increases, the tube tends to uncoil a little and can thus be made to operate a needle over a dial. In 1871, Ernest Spon* described seven types of gauge, including the Bourdon, but not the above Smith type. Another Smith type operating against a volute spring (a coil in which the centre can be displaced relative to the outer end, in a plane perpendicular to that of the coil) is described, patented in 1860. Other types, by Schaeffer and later Wallis, use thin metal diaphragms, a design brought in by Vidie in 1844, for the first aneroid barometer. Miller used a C-shaped strip, one end fixed to the body of the gauge and the other moved by a piston, while Silvester used a nest of three coil springs and Foster used a volute spring, all with small differences sufficient to allow their own patents.

The museum's calibration bench operates by resting a known dead-weight to the head of a very carefully lapped piston in a cylinder full of oil. No packing is fitted, so a very small leakage occurs at all times. The piston is itself rotated by hand to achieve a near friction-less operation. The oil pressure is thus known very accurately, according to the weight applied and the diameter of the piston, and is connected to the gauge under test. A series of weights allows several pressures to be applied to the gauge to calibrate it. In another review Budenberg, writing in 1987, says such devices came into use around 1890. Kirkaldy's bench carries no date or maker's name but might well date from a decade either side of the beginning of the 20th century. Ted Turner
Kirkaldy Testing Museum website: www.testingmuseum.org.uk

*(My thanks to the Institution's Library Service for drawing attention to this and Spon's paper.)

Previous related articles

Papers from W Badger Ltd

A recent newsletter included a couple of extracts from some of the four notebooks recovered from the then derelict Badgers Yard at the south east of Millwall Dock (GLIAS Newsletter August 2005).

These, together with some other papers, have now been deposited in the Tower Hamlets local history library at Bancroft Road. A folder of typed loose papers, 1979/80, listing ship repair work, has also been deposited. These show the company head office address as 48 East Smithfield, London E1 9AN and the main works as Millwall Dry Dock, Millwall, E14. The site of the dry dock remains, now 'in water'. David Thomas

The Former Paint Research Association site at Teddington

The Paint Research Association moved from its home of over 75 years at Teddington to a small business park a few miles away at Hampton in June 2005. The Teddington site, opened on 21 September 1927, remains boarded up awaiting redevelopment.

The Paint Research Association, originally known as the Research Association of British Paint, Colour and Varnish Manufacturers, was founded in 1926 in founder director Dr Louis Jordan's house at Surbiton before moving to a disused candle factory in Teddington.

In 1927 it was the 12th British industry to have a research establishment. Most of the major industries had an organisation serving their interests funded by member firms and the Government. Research and test houses can usually be dated by their geographical location in the Greater London area. The older heavy industries such as iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, and the Kirkaldy Testing Station were located in Inner London. With rising land values, the newer industries were attracted to outer London areas.

As funds permitted the premises grew by accretion. The first extension, 10 years after its inception, was opened by the then prime minister Ramsey Macdonald, followed by an 'open week'. During the Second World War camouflage paints were developed but no further expansion took place until 1947, when building restrictions applied, and an existing building was converted into the Technical Laboratory. A 'pre-fab' on loan from the Ministry of Works brought the total working area to 26,500 sq ft.

By the 1950s mergers were beginning to sweep through the paint industry and the fourth and final major expansion took place in 1960, designed as a tribute to the recently retired Dr Jordan, at a cost of £55,000. This provided an additional 10,000 sq ft of floor space. It was designed by Barber Associates and built by Thoroughgoods of Surbiton.

Mitcham was for many years a centre of the paint industry, all of which has long since gone. A host of paint firms included Parsons, Hadfields, Donald McPherson, Hamers, etc.

The original core building of the Paint Research Association is reminiscent of the Dronsfield Office building in King Street, Oldham, Lancashire (1906-07), a pioneering modern building by J Henry Sellers in partnership with Edgar Wood. It was a progressive building and had a flat reinforced concrete roof in common with the Paint Research building — a useful innovation for exposing painted panels. The architect of the Teddington building is unknown.

The move from natural to synthetic resin technology provided early work to study the problems of linseed oil refining and the blooming of varnishes. Pioneering work on the measurement of colour followed. Research projects tackled fundamental problems such as investigations into the mechanism by which coatings dry, degrade, adhere and provide inhibition. Yellowing was a major problem of white gloss paints.

The Paint Research Association built the first electron microscope which was relocated in the Science Museum, South Kensington. The use of high energy radiation featured in later studies using a cobalt 60 y-radiation source. A major development was the fibre optics colorimeter, together with more sophisticated methods of analysis.

The innovative years were the 1960s-1980s which saw the invention of conductive paints — ie paint-on electric heating, etc — which appeared on BBC TV's Tomorrow's World. There were also mirror paints and many less spectacular inventions. John Reeve
Web: www.pra.org.uk

Hamilton Road Electricity Works

Twickenham and Teddington Electric Supply Company built their works in Edwin Road, just off Twickenham Green to supply power to the Hamptons and Teddington in 1902. It had chimneys more than 100ft high and the coal for its boilers was delivered by the railway that runs along its north side.

Terraced housing was built between the Green and the works which have remained an industrial area until recently when Hamilton Lofts Ltd applied to build 29 dwellings and six life/work units on the site which in 1983 was given Building of Townscape Merit Status. Local residents formed Talbot Road Action Committee (TRAC) to oppose the proposal and the Local Council have recently recommended the area for conservation area status. David Wood
More information appears on www.oncom.org.uk/journal/HamiltonRdCA.htm

News in brief — a review of 2005

In February 2005, at the Romford Brewery (GLIAS Newsletter 161, p4) only the stylish chimney remained and the dramatic concrete shells of the former bottling plant roof appear to have gone? Do readers remember the rather silly commercial on Television purporting to explain why no eminent astronomer has ever come from Romford?

Copenhagen Viaduct, north of King's Cross station (GLIAS Newsletter February 2004), had essentially gone by February 2005.

The site of Offord Road Works, the former Islington wallpaper factory (GLIAS Newsletter February 2003) had been cleared by March.

The 'locomotive watering facility' north of St Pancras station (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005) which was moved from the south to a new location south of the canal basin had been refurbished and its previously patched-up and tatty appearance rectified by March 2005.

The station at Wembley Stadium is being radically remodelled ready for the new large football stadium that is due to open this spring (GLIAS Newsletter February 2002). Substantial work had been done by May 2005 and the new station is due to open in May 2006.

At Kensal Green it was noted in mid-June that the finials were missing from the smaller gasholder.

Concrete lampposts are being replaced by tubular steel ones generally. The old concrete posts can be cut up on site like a tree using a loud, noisy, circular saw. Cut into convenient short lengths they may then be taken away easily. Is it practicable to recycle or reuse such pieces of reinforced concrete?

On the south side of the railway east of Greenwich station is an old painted sign at the back of a house which reads 'Justice's pure bread, cakes and pastries'. This advert is probably defunct and the sign may be listed in some sense. Does anyone have further information?

In Green Lanes, North London, between Palmers Green and Vicars Moor Lane N21, slag or burnt brick front garden walls are common. Was there a local brickworks supplying failed bricks and rubbish for this cheap construction? There was once a fashion for it.

At Abbey House, Baker Street (GLIAS Newsletter August 2005, the new building is due to be completed by March 2007. Bob Carr

The Union Cold Store, Smithfield Street (1898-99, Reeves and Styche) has recently been listed grade 2 as a valuable component in the London Central Markets complex.

Fuel cell buses

The Mercedes Citaro fuel cell bus (fcb) built by Daimler Chrysler is a first generation zero-emission vehicle — examples have been running in London for two years. If such buses are a success we will see a reduction in air pollution and noise in our cities. The first fcbs went into service in London in January 2004 on route 25 with two vehicles in service each day. They ran in addition to the normal service as their reliability had to be assessed — that is they were additional to the ordinary buses already running on the route. Route 25 was chosen as it is busy and lengthy, with a wide variety of traffic conditions.

As the fcb's reliability on route 25 proved satisfactory three have since been running in regular service (not additional) on route RV1, between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway along the South Bank, up to December 2005. Conventional Citaro buses were operated simultaneously on this route so performance could be compared directly.

In a fuel cell vehicle power is derived from the combination of hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell, electricity is produced and water vapour exhausted to the atmosphere. The hydrogen may come from natural gas or be produced by electrolysis.

As far as overall pollution is concerned the balance between the lower pollution created in a city against the pollution created in manufacturing hydrogen and the fuel cell is unclear. If natural hydrogen as a by-product of the North Sea oil and gas industry is used there might be an overall advantage but the supply of undersea hydrogen is unlikely to last indefinitely and the manufacture of hydrogen by electrolysis or otherwise sounds energy demanding. Anyway for London nimbys, replacing carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting vehicles with fcbs sounds a splendid idea.

For last year's three London fcbs hydrogen was liquefied and delivered in this state to a fuelling station where it was fed as a gas into pressurised cylinders which could be seen on top of the bus. There were nine cylinders on the roof, at the front, which stored the hydrogen gas at 350 bar (5,075 psi) giving a range of 120 miles. Two 125 kW (168 hp) Ballard fuel cells, with Platinum catalysts, were situated on the roof amidships. An electric motor low down at the rear of bus drove the back axle, net shaft power was 190 kW at 2,100 rpm and interior noise was claimed to be 60 dBA. The low noise level was definitely noticeable inside the bus. BOC provided the hydrogen technology and BP the fuelling facilities. Nine other European cities are/were taking part in these trials and as well as London similar buses are/were being tested in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, Luxembourg, Madrid, Perth (Australia), Porto, Reykjavik, Stockholm and Stuttgart.

Readers may have noticed one of these buses in the past two years trailing steam behind it. From the top of a double decker bus you could look down at the works on the roof of a fcb and on route 25 a fuel cell bus might be pulled out of service and could be seen in a side street with technicians poking at it.

This begins to be reminiscent of London in steam carriage days, although the vehicles of Walter Hancock in the 1830s are well beyond living memory. One wonders if the present fuel cell buses are but a passing fad or whether they will become the normal mode of surface transport in London in a few years — as it is claimed. Historians of technology often ask the question, what if Thomas Telford who was involved with stoneways had lived longer, George Stephenson had been a road carriage builder and Walter Hancock was a proponent of railway locomotives — we might never have had a system of main line steam railways and could have gone straight to mechanical traction on common roads?

Anyway in the next decade or so we shall see what is to become of the fuel cell bus and whether there will be fuel-cell powered motor cars. A fuel-cell bicycle was exhibited at Tate Britain by the contestant who won the 2005 Turner Prize (Simon Starling — the shedboatshed man). Starling rode this bicycle across the Tabernas desert in Spain in 2004. At the highest levels perhaps, fine art might be turning into one of the useful arts? Bob Carr

Fire hydrant covers

I believe the initials HLB (GLIAS Newsletter December 2005) stand for Hornsey Local Board or to give it its full title Local Board of Health. These were the predecessors of the UDCs. The South Hornsey Local Board covered the area of Stoke Newington, now part of the London Borough of Hackney. Roy Hidson

Pillar boxes

'Anonymous' Handyside pillar box, corner Thurloe Place/Square, SW7. © Robert Mason 2013

Darrell Spurgeon mentioned that the only 'anonymous' pillar box he knew of in south-east London was at the junction of Chislehurst Road and The Park, Sidcup (GLIAS Newsletter December 2005).

Before anyone rushes off in that direction with camera in hand I have to let you know that this box was removed about five years ago as part of highways refurbishment. However, there are scores of others in south-east London and they come in all permutations. There are both the smaller and larger diameters, with higher and lower posting apertures.

There is a fat one with low aperture in Humber Road, Greenwich, and a slim one with high aperture in Ellerdale Street, Lewisham. In fact this type of box is particularly prolific in that area, and the one in neighbouring Marsala Road has a bag box attached.

There can be little argument that the Penfolds are the most attractive posting boxes, and are obviously now quite rare. How exciting, therefore, to find two in one road! Devonshire Road, SE23, is well worth a look. Keith Wells

There are two main varieties of 'anonymous' pillar boxes, the large type classified by the Letter Box Study Group as PB10/1 and the smaller type classified PB11/1. Both are comparatively common but few fall into the very rare category by having decorative rings on their caps, ie roofs.

About a dozen of the large type (10/2) can be found in the London postal districts but the nearest smaller type (11/2) are two in Surrey.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of post boxes, some of most extreme rarity — down to single known examples — and they do form a fascinating subject for study. The Letter Box Study Group maintains up-to-date lists of all known post boxes and can supply details of their whereabouts by degree of rarity, by geographical area, down to individual postcodes. The lists can be provided also by reign.

Such information is only supplied to LBSG members — contact their Membership Secretary. There is a quarterly newsletter and meetings two or three times a year. PJ Lynch

Trolleybus traction standards

In Ferry Lane at Tottenham Hale are four trolleybus traction standards. These are unique, not only in still existing, but because they do not stand at the edge of the footpath. They are outside the parapets bridge structure, rising straight out of the ground thus being about 12ft taller than usual. There is a picture on the back cover of 'Railways of Tottenham' (ISBN 1899890262. Published 1999). Bob Rust

Wenham & Waters Limited — A forgotten Croydon engineering company?

Wenham & Waters Limited were, in their day, a well-known firm of sanitary, heating, electrical engineers, and iron and brass founders, &c (the &c. covered many aspects of work at the time of their demise as a company). They were situated at The Paragon Works, Vicarage Road, Waddon, Croydon, Surrey from 1881 until 1911 when the company went into voluntary liquidation.

William Philipps Wenham, born in 1835, was originally apprenticed to his father William, a carpenter1. In the 1850s he worked for Hammond & Purrott (ironmongers — later to be Hammond & Hussey) for two years before starting up on his own account about 1856 as a gas-fitter and brass manufacturer, trading firstly from 44 Church Street and then from newly built premises at 81 Church Street in 1861, at the corner of Ely Davy's Road2. Local directories for Croydon and advertisements in the Croydon press chart his branching out into various disciplines. By 1861 he also traded as a bell hanger, a maker of gas pendants, brackets and chandeliers, and of 'The Horse Singeing Apparatus' as well as giving estimates for Builder's Work3. 1867 saw the inclusion of Plumber, Locksmith and Baths, Conservatories &c. being fixed and heated with hot water4, while in 1869 he was not only preparing plans and estimates for heating conservatories, churches and public buildings, but was also sending experienced workmen to all parts of the country with all works being executed under his own personal superintendence5, and in 1881 he was advertising his safety valve for preventing boiler explosions6.

Ward's Croydon Directory for 1882 carried an advertisement by W.P.W. that the offices were at 81 Church Street and the manufactory was at the Paragon Works. A Mr Alfred Waters joined with Wenham sometime in 1881/2 and the firm of Wenham & Waters commenced, first as a partnership and then as a limited company two years later with a capital of £20,0007.

In 1883 a showroom and office for receiving orders was opened at 68C, North End, Croydon and they now also specialised in Close and open fire kitcheners, grills, ranges, baths and lavatories, water closet apparatus, water waste preventive cisterns, ornamental wrought ironwork, gas fittings, electric and wire bells, telephone speaking tubes &c., as well as being heating apparatus manufacturers and horticultural builders8. At a gas exhibition held at the Public Halls, George Street, Croydon in 1889, their ranges showed much interest, with one capable of being heated by coal in winter and by gas in summer9. The Croydon showroom, now at 86 North End, was closed in 1891 when more extensive premises were opened at 47 Oxford Street, London, W.10, previously at 86 Oxford Street from about 1886/7, and the capital of the company was increased to £30,000 in 189211.

In December 1894 they were one of seven companies who responded to an invitation by Croydon's town clerk to submit a tender to run the proposed electric light in the town12. Although they were unsuccessful, they did win the contract to cast and fit up the arc lamp standards for the Compulsory Area in 1896 and also further orders when the electric lighting was extended. At that time (1896) the capital of the company was increased to £50,00013. They employed 300 men and boys in the manufacturing and fixing of the various goods, plus a staff of draughtsmen and clerks. Paragon Works comprised of an engine house with its 20hp horizontal engine to drive the machinery in the smiths' and brass finishers' shop; a radiator room; a smiths' shop with its forges, a steam hammer, drilling machine and planing machine; a sectional and bar iron shop where 100 tons of iron were stored; a fitting room with its guillotine machine and lathe, 26 feet in length that could 'turn' iron up to three feet; a brass foundry and a carpenters' shop. An electric motor drove all the machinery in the carpenters', pattern makers' and trimming shops; the steam boiler in the boiler house supplied the steam for all the engines, dynamos, and other machines, and drove the steam hammer, and in winter supplied the steam for heating all of the shops. All offices were illuminated by the electric light, generated from the existing machinery14.

Works carried out, especially at large country houses, included installation of the electric light, sanitary fittings, central heating, cooking apparatus, water mains, fire mains and pumping stations; while for their products to be sold in South Africa, they used an agent in Cape Town15. At Croydon, among their many contracts, they carried out the electric lighting installations at the parish church16, the new municipal buildings, courts and free library in Katharine Street17, and the Croydon Mental Hospital at Warlingham18. One of their main lines was in casement manufacture advertised under the name of 'The Croydon Casement' with their patent casement fittings. The 1910 edition of Laxton's Price Book cites a number of their products for pricing purposes, and an advertisement in that edition expanded their range of activities to include well sinking and boring, fire hydrants and fittings, electric bells and telephones and laundry engineering work19. Although the company's nameplates might still be seen on light standards, and electrical and heating installations in country houses, though in diminishing numbers, a sample of their work, in fact a work of art according to a national newspaper article in 1967, was installed at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London — a mahogany, porcelain, brass and ebony artefact, albeit 'unlisted' and not on view to the general public — the 'Millais' water closet that could only be accessed by male Royal Academicians and associates20. The water closet may have been the subject of subsequent repair or replacement works and was removed in 2003.

The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1911 and a new company, Wenham & Fowler started up, not at the Paragon Works, but at 70A North End, Croydon. Subsequently, Paragon Works was used by various businesses, one being Trojan Ltd, a motor car manufacturer. At the time of writing, most of the site has been redeveloped for housing, but the main building is still in existence. Ron Brooker

References:

Joseph Tomlinson (1823-94) — and some London railways

Having been born in the age of steam, as we all did, I 'collected train numbers', so, I was intrigued to read about the early days of our railways in Joseph Tomlinson's 1890 presidential address to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers when doing some 'family history' style research. I do not recall reading about some of the following at the National Railway Museum!

Joseph Tomlinson was born in 1823 and christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, but his family had moved to Darlington by 1836, his father being the passenger superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway from 1837 to 1839 and the young Tomlinson had the run of the shops at Shildon, so for example he knew 'Locomotion', just 12 years after it was built.

From 1839 to 1842 he worked for the Manchester and Leeds Railway and in 1846, for the London and South Western Railway based at Nine Elms and had charge of the engines and working of the whole of their London district until 1852. During the Great Exhibition he often drove the Royal Train from Windsor to Waterloo and back. Subsequently, Tomlinson had appointments with the London and North Western, Scottish Central, Midland and the Taff Vale Railways. In 1872 he was invited to join the Metropolitan Railway as resident engineer and locomotive superintendent and gradually worked the line into a condition of prosperity. When the original Chapel Street Works at Edgware Road Station became inadequate he designed and laid out the new locomotive and carriage works at Neasden. In 1885 he resumed his practice as a consulting engineer. After the severe snowstorms in the winter of 1887 Tomlinson was called in to design and superintend the erection of new supports for carrying the overhead telephone wires in London. In 1894 he died at his home in West Hampstead and was buried in Nunhead Cemetery (London Borough of Southwark).

Joseph Tomlinson's presidential address to the I. Mech. E. in 1890 was his recollections of the developments that he had witnessed of the railways from the year 1837. To me, his address implied that the early engine drivers were 'free lance', for example they had to get their own coke and there were no timetables. He also told, about how they had to engage the brakes on the wagons when going down an incline for the engines did not have brakes. How horrific! At least in those days a driver had two 'firemen' to help. In the light of recent events it was chilling to read his comment: 'do not let others cause you to deviate from true principles, or allow them to persuade you to let mere money be the guide as to strength in your work. If Sir Thomas Bouch had not been influenced by such means, he would not have built the bridge he did, and his bridge would be across the Tay today.' With 2006 being the bicentenary of Brunel's birth it was also interesting to note Tomlinson's comment: 'Brunel's bridge across the Thames at Maidenhead has always been admired by me as the most graceful I ever saw'.

'Dr William Anderson, vice-president (of the I Mech E), in seconding the vote of thanks to the president for his valuable address, said he had been much amused by the description of the way in which railways had been worked in those early days, because there was a railway which worked in the same way at this moment (i.e. in 1890); that is to say, the drivers had to get off the engines, in order to set the points, and sometimes in order to apply the brakes. The railway had an aggregate length of 19 miles, and it had 37 locomotives, which ran at a pretty good speed. The railway was not far from London; it was at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, and was an example of how traffic could go without rules or timetables. The locomotives were curiosities in their way: nearly every form of light locomotive that had ever been devised for the 18 inch gauge and for the 4ft 8½in gauge had a representative at the Royal Arsenal. Still, they did their work very well; and it was a curious thing at the present day to find that the traffic could be conducted under such circumstances. It had at least been decided however to appoint a traffic manager and draw up a timetable and work the line according to some sort of rules; and therefore the present state of things would not continue much longer.' Peter J Butt

References:

Fish at Kew Bridge Steam Museum

In the October issue there were two interesting items on goldfish and the Kew Bridge Steam Museum (GLIAS Newsletter October 2005).

I believe that it was in the sump of the Bull engine at Kew Bridge that I saw, on at least two occasions, a very large goldfish. On my most recent visit, earlier this year, the sump had been drained and there was no goldfish.

Does anybody know the history of this most unusual occupant of the museum and can we be assured that the goldfish is also being preserved? Barry Emmott

Yes we do have three goldfish in the sump of the Boulton & Watt engine. They have been there for about a year and were introduced by one of our volunteers after the death of a larger and much loved, river fish.

This river fish was found in the sump over 20 years ago and we have never been quite sure how he got there. Although the Boulton & Watt engines originally pumped water directly from the river Thames, they ceased to do so in the 1850s, following the passing of the Metropolis Water Act, which required all water companies to move their intakes to non-tidal reaches of the river. Therefore, our fish in theory, could not have swum into the sump via the river. However, the original culvert to the Thames still exists and so our fish could have been swept into the culvert while still small and somehow ended up in the sump.

The fish was never positively identified in terms of species, although the general view was that he was a carp or perch. He grew to about 11 inches in length and was very popular with visitors. He always seemed to survive the disturbance caused when the Boulton & Watt engine was pumping, but given that the sump is about 18 feet deep he had plenty of room to hide. Sadly, two years ago, during the very hot summer, it became clear that he was not well and he died. He was buried in the museum's garden.

After several visitors asked 'what's happened to the fish?', one of our volunteers could bear it no longer. After consulting carefully to ensure that we weren't being cruel, the new goldfish arrived and are thriving.

Incidentally, the sump is also home to Chinese Mitten crabs, which have infested most of the underfloor areas of the older beam engine houses here. Lesley Bossine, director, Kew Bridge Steam Museum

News from Kew Bridge Steam Museum

As previously indicated (GLIAS Newsletter October 2005), from 2006 Kew Bridge Steam Museum will no longer operate their Cornish engines every weekend. A combination of circumstances has forced us to take this decision, the final straw being a 66% increase in our projected gas bill for 2006. The magnificent giant beam engines consume some 36% of the gas burnt in our 1927 Lancashire boiler and if we had continued to run them every weekend, we would have faced a gas bill in the region of £30,000. Without significant external financial support, this is a cost the museum simply could not bear.

Our new Cornish Experience Weekends will take place on 11 weekends and will be tailored to steam and industrial heritage enthusiasts. On these special days, we will aim to run all our Cornish engines, offer tours of the Victorian workshops and open the standpipe tower. Special short talks on the history of the site and engines are also planned. Many of these weekends will coincide with steamings of the Kempton Park triple expansion engine, which is about 20 minutes drive from Kew Bridge, and it is hoped to offer a joint ticket for both sites on these weekends.

Steaming dates: February 18&19, March 18&19, April 15,16&17, May 27,28&29, June 24&25, July 22&23, August 26,27&28, September 23&24, October 21&22, November 25&26 and December 30&31.

Royal Albert & Victoria Docks Cut

The London Development Agency recently took out a full-page advert in the Evening Standard, listing land to be subject to compulsory purchase in relation to the Olympic sites. A reference to the 'canal known as the Royal Albert & Victoria Docks Cut' was intriguing — a 'lost' waterway?

I followed this up by looking at the plans and descriptions available at the LDA, Devon House, St Katharine's Way (near the Dock) and the entry referred to 71,061 square metres just downstream from Bow Creek, including the 'canal known as the Royal Albert & Victoria Docks Cut'.

This land is near to the new DLR extension and it will be used to rehouse companies forced to move from Olympic sites. There clearly is no such canal and I assume this refers to the former entrance to the Royal Victoria Dock, used by barges from the 1930s until closure. Access is possible along a road between the Tetley/Carlsberg warehouse and EMR recycling plant and the outer lock gate is clearly visible. Interestingly, the line of the 'cut' has not been built over, except for a car park, but is blocked at the far end by a new workshops/studio block, so reinstatement is unlikely! Peter Finch

Street furniture and accuracy in recording

Imprecise recording is to be deplored, see for example Malcolm Tucker's comments (GLIAS Newsletter October 2005); so it should be pointed out that since the original field notes relating to new-style combined Belisha beacons were made in April and June 2005, the café on the corner, number 10 Blackstock Road N4, has been repainted and is now named in the French style, Café Paradise, in keeping with the current North African character of this part of the Blackstock Road. More combined Belisha beacons of the same kind (GLIAS Newsletter October 2005) have been erected in the vicinity, eg a pair outside 23 Rock Street N4, and presumably this type will become commonplace elsewhere.

Having now seen one of the new-style beacons before sunrise the white bands are not just plastic wrapped round a steel tube — the tube is illuminated from the inside. In the dark the white portions are seen as illuminated columns and this new type of beacon is considerably more conspicuous than the old pre-war Belisha type.

Malcolm Tucker's comments on archaeological fieldwork are entirely pertinent — for the period since c1800 precision engineering enters the scene and needs special consideration. If suitable fieldworkers are not available for the recording of sites where precision engineering may be encountered, sections of ironwork should be retained that can subsequently be measured accurately off site. Moreover most sections of this kind can be scanned at fairly high resolution and profiles made available on the internet, for study by suitable persons worldwide. Bob Carr

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© GLIAS, 2006