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Notes and news — December 2006

In this issue:

The GLIAS year

In recent years, the GLIAS Lectures have been held in October, November and January to April, with the AGM held immediately before the April lecture. GLIAS Walks have then been held on the first Saturday of the month from June to September; and Recording Walks on Wednesdays in June, July and August. The Board (no longer the Committee!) has had to review this pattern because the new company structure makes it impossible to hold the AGM in April, as the accounting year does not end until 31 March and the accounts must be sent to members 21 clear days before the meeting.

The Board therefore proposes a new pattern of GLIAS meetings and events. The GLIAS Lectures will in future take place on the third Wednesday from January to May, with the AGM held immediately before the May lecture. The GLIAS Walks will continue to take place on the first Saturday from June to September. Recording Walks will then be held in October, November and December, but switched to Saturdays because they cannot be held in the evening in those months. There will thus be a GLIAS event in each month of the year. Full details of forthcoming events will, of course, be included in the Diary section. Brian James-Strong

Secretary's notes

I attended a meeting of the London Archaeological Forum on 20 September, when English Heritage announced that quarterly publication of the GLAAS Review, from which I have often copied items of interest to IA, is to be discontinued and will instead be published in the EH website on a rolling basis. I will give the details in a future Newsletter, when this takes place. There was also a report on the excavations on the site of the former Bow Porcelain Works, which had found the outbuildings, but not yet the production site. Examples had been found of products; of Chinese porcelain brought in for copying; and of moulds for appliqué decoration. Kiln furniture had also been found.

Most of the meeting was then devoted to a discussion of the future organisation of the Council for British Archaeology. The CBA has Groups covering different parts of the country, but has no Group for London, which has been covered by CBA Mid-Anglia north of the Thames and CBA South East south of the Thames. The CBA is now considering establishing a London Group. In general discussion, there was concern about how independent such a group would be; how it would be funded and whether it would lead to duplication with other bodies, such as MoLAS, LAMAS or SCOLA. The meeting endorsed the proposal to set up a working party to pursue the proposal and look further into these issues. This stage was expected to take about six months.

The spring 2006 issue of English Heritage's Research News contained an interesting article on 'Illicit Gold Refining in a London Slum', which reported on recent excavations by MoLAS of the former Wild Court Rookery.

The 'London Fieldwork and Publication Round-up 2005' circulated by the London Archaeologist mentions the following excavations and investigations involving IA:

The Bibliography of Publications in 2005 includes items from London's Industrial Archaeology and the Society's publication on The Steam Engine at Wrotham Park. Brian James-Strong

GLIAS treasure hunt 2006

On Saturday 23 September a number of us met at Farringdon Station in Cowcross Street for the annual treasure hunt. In groups of two or three we then spent the next three hours having an enjoyable time searching the area for clues, some relatively straightforward, others much more abstruse.

We covered the St John's Lane area, Smithfield Market, Charterhouse Square, Cloth Fair, Farringdon Road, Giltspur Street and Postman's Park. One of the questions could only be answered by visiting two of these.

We looked at buildings, inscriptions, tiles, plaques, statues, notices and bollards. As we went round, we bumped into other contestants peering at walls and gateways and trying to pretend that they had not seen a vital clue! We got mixed up with wedding parties and official walks.

Fiona and Chris were also to be found unexpectedly with their camera recording hapless GLIAS members trying to unravel the questions. We all had a very exciting afternoon, finishing at Postman's Park, where there were some very welcome seats for going over the answers and interpreting them.

It was a challenging contest and our thanks go to Fiona and Chris, who must have spent considerable time and effort in planning and executing the whole afternoon. Kate Quinton

Young's Ram Brewery at Wandsworth

Further to the note in the last Newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006) we were fortunate, through the good auspices of Martin Adams, professor of industrial microbiology at the University of Surrey and GLIAS member, to be able to visit the Ram Brewery in early August to visit the laboratories. However it was much more than a science tour. Martin, Olwen and I started by immediately being challenged with a scientific blind sampling of a number of beers — some brewed in Wandsworth and some test brews from Charles Wells in Bedford, where Young's will be brewed in the future.

As I type this, the very last fermentations will have started in the Ram. We were informed that it would start on Monday 18 September and when that had been conditioned and bottled the Brew house would close on 28 September. Distribution will continue from the site until mid next year when a new distribution depot will be complete nearby. We were told the site had just been acquired by a major property company for development.

We then toured the brewery with the chief scientist and covered all aspects of the process in detail. Little has changed in the brewery since my last visit there about 12 years ago. From an IA perspective the early coppers by Pontifex and Wood of Shoe Lane, dated 1869 and 1885, remain intact but unused in a small museum area. The two beam engines were still in excellent order and in fact had been running a few days earlier for a shareholders meeting. We were informed that these items will remain on site in their listed buildings and that it was planned to develop a museum. All other parts of the site will go including the stables which were still occupied by the superb dray horses and their drays. These were in fact being prepared for an outing to Weybridge show. The ram himself was also in his pen.

It was then back to the sample room were we were joined by the deputy head brewer for an extensive sampling of every Young's beer. The whole group of staff and the four of us then retired to the Brewery Tap for a few more samples.

By the way none of us could tell the difference between any of the beers we drank in the blind tasting — so Young's Special etc. will continue as we know it!

GLIAS will need to watch the changes on the site carefully but for that last visit we are very grateful to the welcome given to us. David, Olwen and Martin Perrett

Further to Michael Bussell's note (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006), I can report that I and other members of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society (CNHSS) joined one of the brewery's standard public tours on 20 July 2006. Having arrived early, we asked if it might be possible to see the original painting of the Wandsworth terminus of the Surrey Iron Railway (SIR). With little delay we were taken up to the board room to see this work by an unidentified artist, thought to date from the 1820s.

We were also especially interested in seeing the surviving SIR stone sleeper blocks. A few of these are publicly visible, built into the brewery's external wall alongside Ram Street, thoughtfully placed face-on and others side-way on, allowing those interested to note their overall dimensions. Many more form a low mortarless wall within the north western corner of the brewery site. CNHSS already owns four of the very similar stone sleepers from the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Iron Railway (CMGIR), these with two CMGIR plate rails being on long term loan and public display at the Amberley Working Museum, West Sussex. Twenty-three further such plates in the care of CNHSS, as noted elsewhere, are now on limited display at Reigate's Tunnel Road East silver sand mine, in the centre of that town. An approach has been made to Young's to see if some of the sleepers at Wandsworth might be acquired to allow the reconstruction of a length of track as laid.

The horses and ram still at Wandsworth were duly admired and will, we were told, be going to good homes, but not accompanying the company to Bedford. Likewise the two beam engines and the very old copper brewing vats which, it seems, might be conserved in situ. The site is no doubt attractive to developers, as the River Wandle runs along its west side. Members may like to know that the nearby Wandsworth Museum, in Garrett Lane, is well worth a visit, with local industries and transport featuring prominently in the displays and in the publications on sale. Paul Sowan

The following two books, published by the company, are available, until it closes, in the shop at the brewery tap.

P.S. It is sad to note that John Young, chairman of Young's, died aged 85 on 17 September, the day before the last brew was planned. At one GLIAS visit, in about 1978 to see the engines in steam, he personally entertained our group in the sample room at the end! (Obituary: The Times 19 September; The Guardian 21 September (p36)

Science Museum Library

At the Science Museum Library, South Kensington (GLIAS Newsletter April 2006), books have been rearranged and periodicals not in constant use are no longer on open shelf access while works are in progress. This situation is said to be temporary and we should have the periodicals back in about 18 months. However remember, if you do not make use of the services provided they are likely to be withdrawn owing to lack of use. Bob Carr

Family history for industrial archaeologists

It has recently been announced that the National Archives is to merge with the Office of Public Sector Information this year. That means that by the end of 2008, services from the Family Record Centre in Myddelton Street will be transferred to Kew. The reasons are that, with ever-present budget cuts, The National Archives can no longer duplicate its services. Also the move to internet facilities has meant that many more people research from home. The Family Record Centre has been open for nine years and since its peak year in 2002–2003, user numbers have fallen by about a third. Now 85% of visitors come from within 50 miles of the capital and those visiting from overseas have dropped dramatically.

To make room at Kew, low-usage records will be moved to a Cheshire depository, where rents will be significantly cheaper. These records will still be available but will have to ordered in advance. The Family Record office staff will be relocated to a dedicated family history area at Kew, where car parking, a larger cafeteria and shop will be available. On the down side, the journey to Kew will be more difficult that than to Islington. Sue Hayton
For up to date information on the closure date check the Kew webpage at

Electric Railways Museum, Piraeus

Visitors to Athens might like to take a short trip on the No 1 Metro to Piraeus, Athens' ferry port, where, in a corner of the very attractive 1882 terminal station, the Electric Railways Museum, has recently opened.

The museum started life at the offices of the Association of Pensioners of the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways, the purpose being to highlight the history of the line's progress and the part played by the company's employees. The pensioners have sought out exhibits from warehouses, scrap yards and from their colleagues. The result is a fascinating well designed museum on two levels, there being an end section of a 1904 driving trailer, many photographs, especially of the construction and early years, much signalling equipment, control systems, early station name plates etc. It is well worth a visit.

Currently all descriptions are in Greek, but when more money has been raised, English will follow. The staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable however.

The No 1 Metro runs from Piraeus, climbing all the way, through central Athens to the north-eastern suburb of Kifisia. It took over from Greece's first railway, opened in 1869 from Piraeus to Athens, Thission, and to Omonia in central Athens in 1895. Electrification took place in 1904 and the extension to Kifisia on a redundant Attiki track bed took place in 1957. Apart from a 3km cut and cover section in central Athens, the 26km line is open air. Michael Thomson

Hot bricks and the night storage effect

In winter, weather forecasts for London often mention the possibility of 'frost in the outer suburbs'. Inner London is warmer because during the day the sun heats the bricks of buildings and these give out this heat during the night. The night storage effect in central London can increase the temperature by as much as 10°C compared with the surrounding countryside.

Some years ago it was popular to heat a house by means of night storage heaters. Cheap electricity could be purchased overnight via a special white meter and the power was used to heat bricks. During the day the hot bricks slowly gave up their heat and warmed the house. Does anyone remember this arrangement, and are any such installations still in use?

Now we have pumped storage at places like Dinorwig, where construction finished in 1982, the overnight constant-output of nuclear power stations can be kept for the morning peak and there is less incentive to sell off electricity cheaply during the night. We also have an exchange of power with French nuclear power stations (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006), by cable under the English Channel. As there is a time difference of one hour between France and England this again helps spread peak loads.

The use of bricks to store heat is/was commonplace in industrial applications. The Siemens open-hearth furnace for steelmaking used a honeycomb of brickwork to absorb heat from gases emanating from the furnace. This heat was then used to pre-heat incoming fuel and air prior to combustion over the hearth. There were two regenerative preheaters, used alternately, with the flow of fuel and air being reversed.

In the Cowper stove, used to heat the blast for a blast furnace, brickwork is heated by burning cleaned blast-furnace gas. When a temperature of about 1,000°C is reached, cold blast is blown through the hot bricks to warm the blast before it goes to a tuyère. There are usually three or four Cowper stoves per blast furnace, used in succession. While one is supplying hot blast, the others are being heated. The Hoffman Kiln for brickmaking uses the heat from cooling bricks to warm incoming air prior to its being fed to bricks in the process of combustion. Are there any other domestic applications?

The night storage effect was well illustrated on a train journey northwards from London on 4 November 2006, leaving Euston at 7.15am. In central London the air was quite warm with no hint of frost. On reaching Willesden some frosty ground could be seen, there were white frosty fields at Harrow and at Watford there was considerable frost. By the time Berkhamsted was reached it looked like mid-winter and the countryside was in the grip of hard frost from then on. Roads as well as buildings contribute to the night storage effect producing an urban heat island in city centres. Bob Carr

Tate & Lyle cane sugar refinery, Silvertown

In the 1960s some of the raw cane sugar for Tate & Lyle was still unloaded in the West India Docks for onward transit by lighter but in 1967 a substantial deep-water jetty was built at Silvertown. Capacity here has since increased while refineries elsewhere have closed, making this now the largest cane-sugar refinery in the world. This is the biggest employer in the London Borough of Newham, after the council.

Tate & Lyle cane sugar refinery, Silvertown, Silvertown, 2022

Ships bringing raw cane sugar call at Thames Refinery Jetty in regular succession, generally bulk-carriers with engines aft of about 15,000 tons gross. This is the only place left in Greater London where real ocean-going cargo ships can still be seen. Engaged in world tramping operations these vessels present a fascinating variety for anyone with the least interest in merchant shipping. Many of the visitors to Silvertown only come here a few times in their whole existence — perhaps only once, and in their useful peripatetic lives will carry a wide variety of other bulk cargoes. Details of these exotic visitors can be found on the excellent PLA website ( — see In Port List, Departures List, Movement Forecast etc. Photographs, generally in far-flung locations, can usually be found on ship enthusiast websites and it is most instructive to see where they have been. Bob Carr

H Fereday & Sons

The former site of weighing machine makers H Fereday & Sons, just next to Highbury Magistrates' Court in Holloway Road (not far from Highbury Corner), has just been cleared. H Fereday & Sons have moved to new premises in Harlow after being at 45 Holloway Road since the Second World War.

They have a website — — which tells us this family-run firm was first established in 1862. One of their claims to fame is they made the weighing scales used by the cook Delia Smith in her last TV series. Anyone walking past the window display at 45 Holloway Road would have noticed similar scales shown alongside medical scales for weighing patients and babies. The site at 45 Holloway Road predated H Fereday & Sons' arrival but I don't know its history. Liane Bishop

Kilburn High Road station

Kilburn High Road station on the Watford DC line to Euston was rebuilt earlier in the year after a fire. Uncovered and still visible from the High Road, over the entrance is a partially exposed sign for the old Kilburn & Maida Vale station, left after rebuilding in 1923, when the present name was adopted.

The LNWR opened the station as Kilburn in 1852, with an entrance in Belsize Road, rebuilt 1879 with a second entrance on the High Road and Maida Vale added. The first station entrance still stands in Belsize Road, now a second-hand furniture shop, with impressive original beams, with what could have been the station master's house next door — also visible from the platforms.

Work has almost finished on a massive refurbishment of the High Road bridge over the railway and, on looking underneath I noticed that the DC arches are lined with white tiles or glazed bricks. Peter Finch

Pura Foods

Demolition is well under way at Pura Foods Ltd, Orchard Place, E14. Good views of the demolition can be had looking across Bow Creek from trains on the Docklands Light Railway.

The site is to be redeveloped for housing and retail use, with new bridges over the Creek being built.

Tailored fats were produced at Pura for many customers, the raw materials, edible oils, being delivered by small tankers which came up river to a jetty at Brunswick Wharf near the entrance to the former East India Docks. The oil was pumped to the factory through a pipeline. Bob Carr

Former Addiscombe branch line to be made a 'linear park'

The former Addiscombe station, opened as a terminus in 1864, was the sole station on a short branch from a junction at Woodside Station on the Elmers End to Selsdon and Sanderstead line, the former Woodside & South Croydon Railway. The WSCR was closed in 1983, as were the intermediate stations to Sanderstead, which remains open, being on the Oxted Line — Bingham Road, Coombe Road and Selsdon. The Addiscombe branch and terminus were closed in 1997, and the station demolished in 2001.

The former Addiscombe branch is now being developed as a 550m 'linear park, 'in two sections to the north and south of Dalmally Passage pedestrian underpass, where the railway bridge is to be demolished, and will link the Blackhorse Lane tram stop with East India way, near the old station site.

Croydon Tramlink now operates over the route of the former railway line between Elmers End and Coombe Road. The modern tram stop, 'Addiscombe', is close to the site of the former Bingham Road station, not the former Addiscombe terminus. Paul Sowan


Greater London News

At King's Langley, Hertfordshire, the façade of the Ovaltine Factory (GLIAS Newsletter October 2005) now looks much better, the colour scheme is red on white. Behind this façade the entire building appears to be new. It is clad in brickwork. The malted drink Ovaltine was made at King's Langley from 1913 until 2002. It now comes from Switzerland. The 387 feet long façade of the factory dates from 1929.

At Finsbury Park the former cinema on the north side of Seven Sisters Road, adjacent to the big gates at the southern end of the park — roughly opposite the main post office, is being redeveloped. It looks as if the interior is being/has been gutted. Does anyone have further information — the décor could be quite historic? The building is just in the London Borough of Haringey. It is part of a complex that in Edwardian times included a roller-skating rink.

The Wallpaper Factory Flats are now being built on the site of the former Cole and Sons factory at 142-144 Offord Road N1 (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006). As well as flats the complex will include live/work units and office space. The developers are Londonewcastle and a decorative motif based on an art nouveau wallpaper design is to be a feature.

The former site of Tallant Hall in Drummond Street NW1 (GLIAS Newsletter April 2005) is now occupied by newly built flats. Typical 19th-century houses opposite are about to be demolished. London continues to lose typical buildings, not remarkable enough to be listed. We are losing a great deal overall and it is sad that only when something becomes almost unique is listing likely to take place. We do not retain the commonplace and there is a tendency for museums to be full of freaks. The collections of railway preservation societies are a good example of this.

The London Arena on the Isle of Dogs has been demolished and the 1934 cold store building by Sir Edwin Cooper at Borthwick Wharf in Deptford (GLIAS Newsletter October 2002) is coming down, despite local opposition. In Woolwich there has been considerable demolition connected with the extension of the DLR to Woolwich Arsenal station. This includes the destruction of seven locally listed buildings. There was a choice of routes but despite local opposition the cheapest was chosen. A curved route which was slightly more expensive was the option favoured by conservationists — this would have saved many of the historic buildings. The Edward VIII telephone exchange is still there but more demolition in Woolwich is to come.

Previous construction of the DLR through Greenwich to Cutty Sark station was likewise associated with considerable demolition and new building, ie north of Creek Road. Local people were here concerned about the loss of the historic character of this tourist area of international importance, the downgrading of which seems not to make even short-term economic sense. Seeing what happened in Greenwich one should not be surprised at the current outcome in central Woolwich, not a place to which foreign visitors presently flock to in droves. Even tourist areas such as the King's Road, Chelsea, have suffered badly in terms of inappropriate redevelopment. We should be thankful for the excellent Regent Quarter at King's Cross, just inside the London Borough of Islington. Central Brentford as we knew it has almost disappeared following massive redevelopment. Bob Carr


Routemaster buses at Victoria station. © Robert Mason Further to Bob Carr's notes (GLIAS Newsletter October 2006), all the Routemasters are owned by TFL and leased to the operating companies. The buses are some of the ones bought back from all over Britain when Mayor Ken Livingstone was still in favour of Routemasters and completely overhauled at huge cost — but by the time the overhauls were completed the policy had changed and they were down for rapid withdrawal.

The route 9 RM journeys are operated by First London from their Westbourne Park garage (the main 9 route is operated by London United). The route 15 RM journeys are operated by East London (no longer prefixed Stagecoach) — as is the rest of the route. RMs operate from Waterden Road garage (Stratford). The two operations are both five-year contracts. A cynical person might have doubts about their future though. The route 15 RMs just fail to make Piccadilly Circus and the 9 RM terminus at Albert Hall is just short of Kensington High Street (and eastbound the buses do not pick up until a stop some distance from the Albert Hall and halfway to Knightsbridge).

Clearly a terminus at South Kensington for the museums and running via Harrods would be better. And even the most casual observer would conclude that one through route from the Albert Hall (or preferably South Ken) to the Tower would actually be a more useful service, particularly for tourists. It would also be more economical since an overlap between Trafalgar Square and Aldwych (plus two terminal workings) would be avoided.

Incredibly the reason this wasn't done is that it would provide a facility that couldn't be done on a wheelchair accessible low floor bus (everything in London is now low floor). Yes, barmy though this sounds it's true... Anyway, as Bob says, give them your support — all passes and travelcards accepted, normal fare applies!

On Sunday 17 September extra journeys were operated on both routes using special guest vehicles including RM1 (commenced service 1956) and the unique rear-engined Routemaster FRM1 of 1966 — both from the London Transport Museum. Don't tell the thought police, but the buses ran through from Tower to Albert Hall, changing numbers en route! David Flett

Wood block paving and cobblestones

Two more sections of wood block roadways (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006) have been seen on GLIAS walks that I have led.

There is a length of about six metres in the entrance roadway to Denmark House on the north side of Cowcross Street near Farringdon Station. Then this year we found that the whole of the old booking hall floor and entrance road on the west side of Marylebone Station is composed of rather dirty but intact wood blocks.

More challenging to me is where in London is there a cobblestone road? Cobblestones are rough beach stones, not the common setts, which are formed granite blocks and can be seen in a vast number of places. See the picture in the last GLIAS journal for cobblestones in Rye. Many places outside London have whole cobbled streets e.g. York, Durham, Exeter etc. However, in London I only know of the carriageway into the registry office in Peckham Road opposite Southwark Town Hall. There is also a cobbled courtyard in Staples Inn, Chancery Lane but this must never have been more than a footpath.

Please let me know of any other examples via the Newsletter. David Perrett

Fire hydrants

I have not come across lamp posts being marked to denote fire hydrants before. However the glass in the lantern of gas lamps was widely used for anything from advertisements to warning signs. One remainder of this is the retention of the 'blue lamp' outside some police stations, though whether these are original or modern replacements I am uncertain.

The lamps with red glass etched 'fire' I believe were used, especially before widespread use of the telephone, in conjunction with alarm systems providing a direct link to the local fire station. The 'red' in the lantern could be seen from quite a distance especially at night. A similar system is still used in Boston, Massachusetts, today. Brian Sturt

Vitrified bricks

Following details concerning vitrified bricks (GLIAS Newsletter October 2006), their use appears to be widespread. I first discovered them in the front walls of properties in Broom Hill Road in Orpington years before I even knew what Industrial Archaeology was. I assume these are wasters from the brick kiln, however not being versed even in the basic rudiments of brickology I leave the precise classification and origin to an expert in the field.

However the suggestion which has occurred on several occasions that the bricks came from the gas industry is unlikely. If the bricks are, as I assume, standard bricks, and used by the gas industry, they would have been used only for construction purposes and consequently not subjected to heat. It is very unlikely they would have been used in a retort house, for example, which utilised refractory material capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 1,000°C for extensive periods. Brian Sturt

Bessemer Paddle Steamer

Jill Harvey mentions that she has searched for the whereabouts of the Paddle Steamer Bessemer's rolling saloon (GLIAS Newsletter August 2004) which supposedly was designed to remain stable (level) in rough seas.

I have information that after the paddle steamer was scrapped the rolling saloon in question was actually installed at Hextable Agricultural College in Kent (UK) and parts may still be extant. This information was from an Illustrated London News page on display in the PS Tattershall Castle before she got 'remodelled' recently.

Swanley College (based on the same site as Hextable College) may have some info. Chris Brady
There is an extensive website on this at

Sentinel Steamers

Sentinel. © Keith BakerFurther to the article on Wood Green Potteries, Don Hayes asks whether there are any Sentinel Steam wagons in preservation (GLIAS Newsletter October 2006). I saw a wagon at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway's vintage rally last August (right).

I believe that the wagon had some history since it was manufactured in this country as left-hand drive and was originally exported to the USA. Now back in this country it retains the steering wheel on the wrong side.

It was in splendid full working order at the rally, although it must have been interesting to operate when it was working for its living, since it sprayed copious amounts of hot steam/water over bystanders when started up! Keith Baker

In answer to Don Hayes, there are many preserved Sentinel steamers. Probably the last ones used commercially were by the Gas Light and Coke Company in London, although there were some tractors used in the Liverpool Docks. Watchers of Salvage Squad on TV will have seen one being restored. Put Sentinel steam waggon (note the company spelt it with two 'g's) into Google to find out more. Bob Rust

Dave Taylor writes to describe a tourist attraction in Whitby, a Sentinel steam bus. He was told that the bus body, built a couple of years ago, can be removed in a couple of hours to convert the vehicle back to a steam lorry. He visited Whitby in August and confirms that the 20-minute trip around the town was well worth £3.50.

Derek Needham

Members will be saddened to hear of the death in November of Derek Needham who for some time helped with the distribution of the Newsletter. His presence at lectures and walks will be missed. Sue Hayton

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© GLIAS, 2006