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Notes and news — June 2007

In this issue:

Hybrid technology buses

Riding inside a hybrid technology bus (GLIAS Newsletter April 2007) the sound is reminiscent of a traditional trolley bus but you also hear an internal combustion engine running at constant speed. Vibration is quite low and there are no gear changes. After the bus has stopped for a short time the diesel engine slows down and quietly ticks over. Outside the bus it is noticeably noisy at the back where the diesel engine is running. The acceleration of the vehicle is like that of a trolley bus but you do not feel the huge surge of power some trolley buses used to exhibit.

On route 360 it is easy to compare results with a similar conventional bus as the two types are running together for the purpose of evaluation. The conventional bus is noisier and one notices the sharper acceleration between gear changes. The engine is also noisy when ticking over. Bus drivers delight in acceleration and may feel a little disappointed with the hybrid technology version, but in dense London traffic it might be argued that sharp acceleration is inessential and the resulting saving in energy if acceleration is curtailed reduces the fuel bill and is all to the good of the environment. Some might say that the hybrid technology bus is a little underpowered at times.

Although the acceleration of the hybrid technology bus is not as momentarily sharp as that of a conventional bus, overall there may not be that much difference as the driver of a conventional bus has to interrupt his acceleration to make gear changes. The continuous smooth acceleration of the hybrid technology bus probably achieves a similar result and with greater passenger comfort. Readers may like to comment. Bob Carr

Greater London news in brief

A four-storey warehouse building at 30-30A Commercial Road E1, undergoing renovation, collapsed on Tuesday 13th February 2007 January with little warning. Eleven people passing-by were injured. Although rare, mishaps of this kind do happen and can cause considerable disruption to the local area, in addition to injuries. The near collapse of a chimney stack on a terraced house in the Blackstock Road caused traffic to be diverted for some days, including the buses (GLIAS Newsletter August 2001). The warehouse building in the Commercial Road was occupied by Citytex, a garment company. It was next door to the Bank of Baroda. Buses 15 and 155 were diverted after this collapse.

The Palace Pavilion, a club on the west side of Lower Clapton Road E5 — number 229, has closed following a history of trouble, including extreme violence. A short way south of the Lea Bridge Roundabout (GLIAS Newsletter April 2007), the pavilion is a distinctive building. It has the appearance of a Victorian public house with a more recent extension to the south with the look of a cinema about it — and it was in fact just this from 1910 until 1979. It will be interesting to see how the pavilion can be reused. It might perhaps reopen as a cinema. There is local support for this.

Streatham Icerink is threatened with closure and probable demolition. About ten such ice rinks were built in the 1930s, most of them in London, but now only two remain. Streatham was a glamorous venue but has become run-down of late. Aged compressors for the refrigeration are still there at work, they function satisfactorily but need to have spare parts made for them as parts can no longer be bought from stock.

Chiltern Railways continue to expand (GLIAS Newsletter February 2007). The line to Aylesbury is to be extended northwards for two-and-a-quarter miles to a new station, Aylesbury Vale Parkway. This is next to the Berryfields development and park and ride bus facilities will be provided from here. The new station will be served by regular trains and there are to be 400 car parking spaces. The extension, due to open early in 2009, will be achieved by upgrading an existing freight line. At Princes Risborough the junction with the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway is being upgraded and now looks in excellent condition. Will a through service from Marylebone to Chinnor be starting soon?

Bus drivers can be very fond of buses, and collect classic examples. Recently noted at Cannock bus depot in good condition was a London Routemaster in blue Arriva livery with Oxford Circus as the destination.

Two SNCF bo-bo diesel electric locomotives are in England stabled on the CTRL at Ebbsfleet with a special test vehicle. They are here to test the new line from 'Continental Junction' almost to St Pancras (GLIAS Newsletter April 2007) and caused great excitement among local railway enthusiasts. Bob Carr


Readers may recall the long-running debate on this issue. As a side-line, they may be interested in a US company which is offering see-through cisterns for holding goldfish in domestic toilet cisterns! More details can be found on Daron Gunson

Building Limes Forum

The Building Limes Forum is an association, based in the UK but with many overseas members and several affiliated groups. Each year it holds an autumn conference either in England or other European venues. This year's conference is to be held at the old Royal Naval College Greenwich with the theme of London Limes. The aim is to focus the attention of professionals in the construction industry, as well as the general public, on the importance of lime in the building of London as well as the material's modern relevance for repair, maintenance and new buildings in the capital.

The event takes place from 13-16 September, covering the London Open House Weekend. On the 13th there will be a day of presentations and demonstrations for the construction industry professionals. Throughout, the Lime Fair, in a marquee on the College greens, will be open to the public. The Building Limes Forum members will be holding their conference on the Friday to Sunday with an annual dinner in the College Painted Hall on the Saturday.

Christopher Wren decried the building lime produced by William Steer from chalk quarried around Greenwich South Street, Blackheath, preferring to specify material from the chalk downs at Dorking. As a project for the event we would like to find out why this was by obtaining a small amount of chalk from around the old workings. The material will be sent for analysis to the University of Bristol, world leaders in the study of building limes. We are also keen to find out more about William Steer and his lime works.

Can any members assist? Michael Farey
Please contact Michael direct at or phone 01963 220270

Message from the GLIAS president

Having received the First Annual General Meeting Agenda I felt very honoured to see Item 4 on the list of items for discussion at the meeting proposing my appointment as President of the new Company. With this proposition I felt I must make every effort to be present and share in the proceedings. Then I realised the date was 16th May which was the evening before I was flying out to Vancouver, Canada, for a fortnight. Therefore I must reluctantly offer my apologies for non-attendance. I am very sorry about this.

In conclusion may I add my congratulations to the officers and committee, together with the support it receives from the members, for the successful organisation of the Society and the valuable contribution it makes to the study of Industrial Archaeology and history of Greater London. I find it hard to realise that it is almost 40 years since I first became involved with the Society and I hope that the next 40 years will continue to generate the same interest, enthusiasm and success in recording the development of London. John Boyes

Dr Lewkowitsch — oils, fats and waxes

Julius Lewkowitsch, the son of a merchant, was born in Ostrovo Silesia in 1857 and studied chemistry at the University of Breslau, obtaining his PhD there in 1879. Settling on an academic career, first at Breslau and then under Professor Hans Landolt at the agricultural high school in Berlin, he later moved to Heidelberg where he became assistant to Professor Victor von Meyer.

Despite a promising career in pure chemistry, in his late twenties he changed direction towards chemical technology and worked on coal tar distillation, soon after emigrating to England where he worked in the soap industry, becoming chemist and technical manager at Joseph Watson & Sons, Leeds. Quite what prompted his move to England is unclear but at that time young German chemists would have seen the United Kingdom as a land of opportunity. He set up on his own as a consulting chemist in Manchester in 1895 and later moved to London.

He had already embarked on the work for which he is famous, the study of animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes, and the development of the chemical technology of the associated industry was largely the result of his meticulous investigations. The first one-volume edition of his major treatise Chemical Technology and Analysis of Oils, Fats and Waxes appeared in 1895 and over the years this grew in size to monumental proportions. The fifth edition of 1913 ran to three volumes and the final sixth edition of 1922 was prepared by an assistant. This major work was published in English, German and French and still has some currency even today.

Dr Lewkowitsch had linguistic talents which were of service to his professional colleagues. He was active at the International Congress of Applied Chemistry which held meetings in Berlin, Rome, New York and London and in the UK was a member of Council of the Chemical Society and the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), becoming vice president of the latter. About the turn of the century he had become a naturalised British citizen.

He lectured on his subject at the Royal Society of Arts and the published versions of these lectures are of considerable worth, and exhibit the mastery he acquired in the English language. During the early academic part of his career Lewkowitsch did much experimental work and published papers on stereochemistry, at that time in an embryonic state. Stereochemistry is concerned with the relative position of atoms in a molecule in three dimensions and is highly relevant to the study of naturally occurring organic molecules and particularly the chemistry of the double bond in fats, etc. Julius was a prominent collaborator in raising the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry to an eminent status.

Lewkowitsch was physically robust and a keen mountaineer, having considerable familiarity with the French and Swiss Alps which he visited frequently. Unfortunately while on holiday in Chamonix he fell ill with a serious lung infection and after a brief illness he died there on 16th September 1913, at the age of 56. The Times obituary of September 22nd, page 25, hailed him as the leading authority on the chemistry and chemical technology of oils, fats and waxes. Apart from his great textbook he had published more than 120 papers on oils, fats and waxes and left behind extensive hand-written notes in English and German concerning the development of his technological ideas. Bob Carr

(Continued at GLIAS Newsletter August 2007)

Fred Bishop

Members will be saddened to hear of the death of Fred who passed away on 8 May. His daughter, Liane, writes: 'I would like to pass on my thanks to GLIAS, who over the years, provided Dad with much enjoyment and interest. Much to his frustration his recent illness prevented him from attending your spring lectures. He made many friends and acquaintances through GLIAS and I wonder if you could let them know of his death through your newsletter.'

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© GLIAS, 2007