Notes and news — February 2008
In this issue:
Industrial Archaeology in Australia
- Industrial Archaeology in Australia
- Thames Tunnel closed
- Second World War air raid shelters
- Yet more on a crane near Worship Street
- Brixton's character threatened
- Kennedy Sausage Shops — end of an era
- Save Our Frequency
- New Science Museum Library
- Euston Arch
- Tin chapels
- Telegraph poles
- Cabmen shelters
- News in brief
- Surrey Street Water Pumping Station, Croydon
- London Archaeological Prize 2008
In November I was one of a group from the UK who attended the Engineering Heritage Conference organised by the Australian Institution of Engineers. This was held at the University of Western Australia in Perth but in the two weeks before the conference we had opportunities to see various aspects of actual industrial preservation in Western Australia. Three trips were made from Perth travelling to the north, the east and the south.
The first trip was to the Pilbara region several hundred miles north of Perth to see the iron ore mining operations at Tom Price (pictured right), then the dedicated railway to carry the ore to the port of Dampier. This is a spectacular current industrial operation rather than industrial archaeology.
The iron ore mines themselves are enormous open pits where the ore is blasted out and transported up to the crushing and primary screening processing plant by huge dumper trucks which carry 200 tons of ore.
The trains are on a similar enormous scale, 2.4km long with a total weight of around 30,000 tons fully laden. We followed the railway for 300km in a minibus on a dirt road through uninhabited bush to reach Dampier. Here the ore is tipped from the railway wagons onto conveyor belts and stacked in piles before loading onto bulk carriers for transport to China and Japan.
After returning to Perth, the next trip out to Kalgoorlie and the Eastern Goldfields had a much more historical flavour. We travelled to Kalgoorlie by road following the 'Golden Pipeline' built at the beginning of the 20th century to transport water from Mundaring Wier just outside Perth to the goldfields. The use of the word weir is a little odd as it is actually a significant sized dam and reservoir. The pipeline is still in use and retains a large proportion of the original pipe sections although the inside has now been lined with concrete. Originally the pipeline had eight pumping stations containing pairs of Worthington-Simpson steam engines. The engines remain only in number 8 station at Dedari (pictured right) where they are in the care of the Australian National Trust. We were able to see these in the company of Steve Smith from the trust who would like to restore them to working order. He is working with a few volunteers to do some limited restoration work but the great problem is the tyranny of distance. The pumping station in question is hundreds of kilometres from Perth and a couple of hours' drive from Kalgoorlie, a problem both for volunteer labour to do the restoration and if they were restored to get sufficient visitors to make a museum viable.
In Kalgoorlie we saw modern gold mining but also learned about the history of the gold rush of the 1890s which brought thousands of prospectors from all over the world in search of a fortune. I must thank the Eastern Goldfields Historical Society members for turning out to show us their archives and give us tea and cakes. They must have the largest coverage by area of any local history society, some 300,000 sq km.
Around 200km north of Kalgoorlie lies Leonora, where the Sons of Gwalia gold mine, first pegged in 1896 by Welsh miners, was once managed by Herbert Hoover, US President 1928-1932. His house is preserved as a museum together with a collection of mining relics including a large winding engine of 1912. The original mining operation closed overnight in the 1960s and the people just left leaving a ghost town of shops and little shacks (pictured right) that remain to this day. More recently the goldmine has reopened but as an enormous open pit operation worked with modern machinery.
Again the tyranny of distance comes into play, it is a whole day excursion to reach Leonora from Kalgoorlie with just one small settlement in between and it is not on the way to anywhere — unless one is heading into the real outback.
We returned to Perth by train on the standard gauge railway, part of the transcontinental linking Perth and Sydney. Western Australia originally built its railways to the 3ft 6in gauge and this remains the gauge for the extant network which is now almost exclusively used for freight. The same gauge has been used for the more recently built Perth suburban network. The transcontinental railway was built to standard gauge which means there are sections of dual gauge track connecting this railway to the port at Freemantle.
Our third trip was the official pre-conference tour to the area to the south of Perth. On the first day we visited Katanning to see the former Great Southern Herald printing works and 'Wakes Garage' museum and then travelled to Albany on the south coast for our first overnight stay. The next day we visited Whale World — a former whaling station now converted into a museum (www.whaleworld.org). One of the whale chase boats complete with harpoon has been mounted on the shore. The blubber boiling apparatus remains and the enormous chain saw used for handling the head of the sperm whale. The museum told the story of whaling as it was, without too much overlaying of emotion. Whaling happened and was part of the industrial history of the southern ocean and economically significant to the town of Albany.
The climate of this area of Western Australia is less extreme than the rest of the state with rain throughout the year and permanent rivers and lakes. A number of wineries have opened up of which we visited one, although this was a very modern operation using large stainless steel tanks so more a convenient lunch stop than of any historical interest.
Until the 1970s the hardwood timber industry from native forests was very significant in Australia but due to the loss of these forests the industry is now based around softwood timber production from pine and blue gum plantations.
To give an idea of what original hardwood forests are like we took a treetop walk in the so-called valley of the giants. Here an elevated walkway has been erected in the forest canopy to get to the trees close up.
Our next overnight stop was in Manjimup where we were able to admire a device known as a 'Whim' (pictured above). This word is used for a transport device for large logs with a pair of wooden carriage wheels over 10ft in diameter between which the log is suspended so it can be hauled out of the forest by a bullock or horse team.
The next day the timber theme was continued when we visited a former steam driven sawmill at Donnelly River (pictured right). At the time of its closure it represented the last generation of mills of this type with the log handling and saws driven by a reciprocating steam engine using a system of under floor belts and shafting. Unfortunately for a complicated set of reasons involving local heritage politics the mill has been allowed to gradually decay to the point at which the structure is now unsafe and will probably have to be demolished. We were able to get onto this site only as the conference organiser had made special arrangements and I suspect will be the last group of industrial archaeologists to see it.
After this we headed to Busselton and then to Bunbury where an old wooden jetty is being preserved. The engineer in charge explained the particular problems with restoring a structure in the area of a working and expanding port and town. After an overnight stop in Bunbury we headed back to Perth, seeing on the way the swathes of new housing being built to the south of Perth as a result of the booming Western Australian economy fuelled by the demand for minerals.
The heritage conference was attended by delegates from all over Australia and New Zealand as well as a UK contingent from the Newcomen Society and AIA. The papers covered a wide range of subjects from the timber industry to the development of wireless communication in Australia. Some of the items were specific to that part of the world such as preserving historic wooden bridges from being attacked by termites. By the nature of the colonial experience things will be regarded as candidates for preservation which in the UK would not be regarded as significant because they are of no great age or are relatively common. It also became clear from several of the presentations that industrial heritage preservation has only just been 'discovered' more generally in Australia with industries and public utilities appointing heritage officers. One of the papers was on the hydro-electric schemes of Tasmania and how buildings can be reused to house modern equipment. Very praiseworthy but there is the risk that such an approach could lead to the situation where there are fine buildings of various architectural styles from the 1920s to the 1970s, then nothing more recent for industrial archaeologists or the general tourist to admire in 50 or 100 years' time.
An enjoyable time was had by all, except for the fact that some Australian coach drivers cannot stop talking whether you want to be informed, entertained or just infuriated by their poor knowledge of things technical.
I would like to thank Paul Saulter of Heritage of Industry for his efficient organisation of the visits to The Pilbara and Kalgoorlie. Colin Jenkins
Thames Tunnel closed
The famous tunnel built by the Brunels 1825-43 from Rotherhithe to Wapping closed to rail traffic on Saturday 22 December 2007. Readers may remember the consternation at the time of the last major closure, towards the end of last century, when it was realised that the tunnel itself was unlisted and that substantial civil engineering works were to take place (GLIAS Newsletter February 1996). It is now listed grade II*.
This time the tunnel will be closed until June 2010 while upgrading of the East London underground railway line which runs through it takes place. When reopened the tunnel will carry the overground line from Crystal Palace and West Croydon through to Shoreditch and northwards along the reinstated Kingsland Viaduct to join the North London line at Dalston (GLIAS Newsletter October 2006). While the railway is out of action there will be replacement buses but not across the river. According to TfL this is because of restrictions in the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
Engineering works will be taking place at both ends of the Thames Tunnel and the shaft at Rotherhithe, built by the Brunels at the start of tunnelling and presently used for pumping, will become redundant. This circular brick shaft is to be leased to the Brunel Engine House Museum who will add it to their exhibition on the Brunels and the tunnel (see 'vertical museum' GLIAS Newsletter October 2002).
The tunnel, originally only for pedestrians, was converted for rail use when a line was built from the LBSCR at New Cross Gate to Wapping and opened in 1869. This line was later extended northwards and joined the Great Eastern Railway in 1876 allowing through running to Liverpool Street station, just completed. The famous Brighton 'Terrier' locomotives, designed by William Stroudley in 1872, worked this East London line and following the company's practice of naming passenger engines after places where they worked (more or less), they received appropriate names.
In recent years there seems to have been some doubt as to the origin of the nickname Terrier, generally believed to have originated because the locos burrowed underground through the Thames Tunnel, but no less an authority than C Hamilton Ellis is quite clear on the matter. The first batch of six Terriers built in 1872 received the names Wapping, Poplar, Fenchurch (pictured right), Deptford, Shadwell and Blackwall; clear indication of the area they were intended for. The second batch of Terriers for the South London line came out in 1874 with names Kempton, Tooting, Hatcham, Brixton, Clapham and Peckham.
Later on Terriers were also known as Rooters. A total of 50 were built 1872-81 and ten still survive. Stepney and Fenchurch can be seen on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. To work through the tunnels of the East London line Terriers were fitted with condensing equipment. Bob Carr
Second World War air raid shelters
Second World War air-raid shelters, like the one found at the Harris Lebus Furniture Factory, Tottenham (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) are not that rare — there are quite a few left in Barnet. We have one in our small cottage garden using up about half of the ground area. It has been adapted as a glorified 'shed' by putting steps up the side, piercing a window, and modifying part of the blast wall to form an arch.
This took two hefty men several days using an electric 'kanga', due to the ferro-concrete inner core-the walls are 45cm thick, and the roof is even thicker, consisting of a single flat cap of ferro-concrete. The dimensions of the shelter are approx 10ft x 12ft, ie a decent-sized room. The council demolished them free until about the 70s. They were truly bomb-proof, and those who have had them demolished have found it easier to retain the concrete foundation slab.
Ours is covered with ivy and other plants, gives us an extra layer of garden and forms a sun terrace in the summer (for us and the cats!) as well as useful, damp-proof and indestructible storage space. Norma King
1. The general structure; the angle it is taken from shows the wall and blast verandah, the window pierced into the wall, and the steps. The thickness of the ferro-concrete roof can also clearly be seen.
2. Taken from the blast verandah entrance along the same wall, but from the other direction.
3. The arching pierced through the blast verandah and an arch of similar dimensions where the original doorway was. The door is now doing duty as a back garden gate! The arch shot also allows the thickness of the original walls to be seen.
Yet more on a crane near Worship Street
Peter Lawrence (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) throws doubt on my suggestion that Arch 514 of the North London Railway viaduct from the former Broad Street station housed the sub-station for the electrification of the railway (GLIAS Newsletter October 2007).
Arch 514 was in Plough Yard, which I would have thought could be described as being 'in the vicinity of Great Eastern Street'. A London & North Western Railway plan of 1921, in the National Archives (RAIL410/1141) confirms evidence from the Goad Fire Insurance Plan, that Arch 514 did house a sub-station. The adjoining arch to the south, Arch 515, is shown to house batteries. The railway sub-stations are known to have included batteries. Although, on this plan, the sub-station is not specifically shown to have been for the electric trains, we can, I believe, infer that it was. The plan does not show anything else not directly owned by the railway company. Furthermore, a check on the railway viaduct further north, as depicted on the Goad Fire Insurance Plans (in the Metropolitan Archives), shows that no other arch contained a sub-station of any kind. Tim R Smith
Brixton's character threatened
Central Brixton in the vicinity of the underground station is threatened with redevelopment which is likely to radically change its character. Some of the evocative markets selling exotic vegetables may have to go and it is understood there is a protest campaign.
A large supermarket development is going ahead to the southwest, immediately behind the former Town Hall. This will be rather higher than the Town Hall itself. Bob Carr
Kennedy Sausage Shops — end of an era
Residents of south-east London will have noticed that the famous Kennedy Sausage Shops closed on 22 December 2007 and their wonderful mahogany and tile interiors are to be no more.
The business which had been going for 130 years used to employ in their heydays 400-odd workers at the large factory in Camberwell (opposite the splendid art school) but at the close just a few: nevertheless on the last few days all the stock that had been produced had been snapped up before 10am.
Let's hope someone sympathetic saves at least some of the interiors. Perhaps the Museum of London would be interested. Ben Rayner
Photographs taken in the last few weeks of operation can be seen at: www.flickr.com
Kennedy's had shops in:
11 and 61 High Street, Bromley High Street, West Wickham (above right) High Street, Penge High Street, Deptford (above left) Wandsworth Road, Camberwell Green South Norwood Church Street, Croydon
Save Our Frequency
The international maritime calling and distress frequency of 500 kilohertz was established together with the distress signal SOS in 1906 and played an important part in saving lives during infamous events such as the sinking of the liners Titanic and Lusitania (GLIAS Newsletter April 2005).
With the introduction of new technology this international frequency is falling out of use and there is a danger that in 2010 it will cease to be protected and become unusable. There is a campaign supported by the UK-based Radio Officers Association to reserve 500 kilocycles as the Radiotelegraphy Heritage Frequency for demonstration purposes using Morse code and vintage radio equipment, which is already becoming extremely scarce.
Fifty years ago there were more than a thousand coastal radio stations throughout the world but now most of these have lost their historically valuable wireless equipment and often the buildings themselves have gone. Radio telegraphy is a particularly bad case of 20th-century industrial heritage being sorely neglected. Bob Carr
New Science Museum Library
The new Science Museum Library at Wroughton Aerodrome, Wiltshire, was officially opened by Lord Waldegrave on Friday 7 December 2007. Many of the books and most of the archives from South Kensington in London have been moved there and a new reading room for the general public set up (SU 145 782). This has facilities for up to 30 readers at a time and there are eight kilometres of shelving for the storage of books in the building. A short distance away is a climate controlled storage building, constructed within a hangar, with a further 18km of shelving. Altogether 420,000 items are held in the collection.
Readers in London should still be able to consult most of the material formerly in the capital by reserving it in advance. A 24-hour shuttle service is being operated between Wroughton and South Kensington with reading facilities at Imperial College Library which now houses the Science Museum's London Collection (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007). As mentioned previously make use of this facility or it is likely to be curtailed.
The aerodrome at Wroughton covers 550 acres and 90 percent of the Science Museum's collection is kept here. Despite the recent £50 million People's Lottery disappointment it is still the museum's intention to develop exhibition facilities here, even if on a smaller scale. A drawback for most of us is that Wroughton is not accessible by public transport, making it awkward to travel there from a distance by train. The use of motor cars for long-distance travel, especially with a single occupant, is becoming unacceptable and for the low-carbon-emission future the establishment of an efficient link to Swindon railway station is of paramount importance.
We have I K Brunel's Great Western Railway from London to Bristol — English Heritage are already at Swindon railway works — the connection between these heritage assets and the Science Museum scarcely needs mention. Good transport from Swindon to the Wroughton Aerodrome site is the order of the day — unless the books be moved to Swindon railway works.
Seeing that some of the trackbed of the old Midland & South Western Junction Railway is still relatively clear one wonders if in the long term a really inspiring rapid link to the railway station might be established — something a good deal better than an occasional local bus. However the M&SWJ line ran rather too far to the north east of the Aerodrome to be of much use. If the local authority establishes trams in Swindon a route out to the museum would be a solution but what is needed is a high-tech and fast means of transport if young people are to be inspired by the collection at Wroughton. Bob Carr
Regarding the query on fate of the Euston Station Arch (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) guides (of which I am one) on Inland Waterways Association and River Thames Society walks around the Bow Back Rivers have always pointed to an area where stones from the demolished structure were dumped.
This is near the junction of the Prescott Channel (close to the site of the new lock) and Abbey Creek, itself a branch of Bow Creek, the tidal part of the River Lea.
I understand this first came to light in a TV programme when presenter Dan Cruickshank revealed that a British Waterways engineer had pointed to the site and, after investigation, believed around 60% of the stones were there under water, the remainder apparently to be found in various gardens of people connected with the demolition!
I'm afraid I know nothing of the archives. Peter Finch
I have been told more than once that the remains of the Euston Arch were used to fill in a hole in the bed of the Channelsea River on the Bow Back Rivers, between the Northern Outfall Sewer and Prescott Channel. Near Abbey Mills Pumping Station. Ron Bingham
There is a book on the subject of Tin Chapels (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) with good pictures and comments on each: Tin Tabernacles (Corrugated Iron Mission Halls , Churches and Chapels of Great Britain) by Ian Smith. ISBN 0-9547126-0-9.
There was still a fine array of telegraph poles and wires visible at Wymondham (GLIAS Newsletter October 2007, GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) when I took a picture of the signal box on 27 October 2007 (see right). They go no further east than this box.
I also took a picture of Thetford signal box (between Brandon and Wymondham) and there were only two poles, with no wire, here. Going back further, I took a similar picture there in August 2005. There were no wires then either. So go to Wymondham if you want to be sure — I can't speak for Brandon! David Flett
The railway line between Norwich and Ely/Cambridge passes through a number of places of interest, two of which have been mentioned in recent newsletters.
If you get off at Thetford you will be able to visit (subject to opening times) a small museum devoted to Dad's Army, which contains some interesting artefacts relating to the Home Guard (much of the series was filmed in the Thetford area).
Also, the mailvan which was involved in the Great Train Robbery of August 1963 was taken to the Ashwellthorpe siding at Wymondham Station to be destroyed by a firm of scrap merchants. Naturally, there is now no evidence of this to be seen at the location!
Wymondham Station also has a delightful cafe which is a reproduction from the days of 'Brief Encounter'. Daron Gunson
The Cabman Shelter in Hitchin (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) appears to have led a very chequered existence. It was first constructed and used by cabmen at the Hitchin railway station. It was demolished and disappeared for a number of years until finally turned up as a shed in somebody's garden.
The Town Council acquired it and reconstructed in the town's market square. Two plaques on the side provide a potted history of the building.
I am led to believe that it is now a listed building, however, I haven't been able to substantiate this. Dan Little
News in brief
A big development is taking place on the site of the closed Dalston Junction railway station and land just to the east. The area is bounded on the north by Dalston Lane. This is most likely connected with the reinstatement of the railway line from Shoreditch in the south (GLIAS Newsletter October 2006) which will connect with the North London line, now part of the Overground.
The former Reeves Colour Works building at the north end of Ashwin Street (GLIAS Newsletter August 2007) is in current use. Its immediate demolition seems unlikely.
Steam locomotives constructed to run on the Russian 5ft gauge are being collected on the Epping Ongar Railway. Although of the wrong size to run on the existing disused branch line a demonstration track is being built which will allow at least a short run. The regular passenger service will be operated by a diesel mechanical unit, now repainted in the railway's livery. From January to March a thorough upgrading of the line is taking place. This is a small railway to be watched. It is reported that the broad gauge Finnish pacific loco at Southbury (GLIAS Newsletter August 2007) is no longer there.
At Hackney Wick the extensive area damaged by fire to the north of Carpenter's Road is being rebuilt. Blackened buildings can still be seen just to the east of the River Lee Navigation. A train ride from Hackney Wick to Stratford affords good views.
Extensive building works and piles of earth dominate the area to the northwest of Stratford railway station. Some demolition may have taken place at the little-used platforms on the northwest side of Stratford station — roundabout platform 12. Recently this quiet area has been used by trains which start here and proceed northeast turning northwest via Temple Mills, under Lea Bridge Road, past Markfield Road pumping station to stop at Seven Sisters station, and then continue northwards to Bruce Grove, etc. Some of these trains go as far as Stansted Airport. Eurostar trains are not yet stopping at Stratford — they currently take 16 minutes to get from Ebbsfleet to St Pancras. Bob Carr
The fascinating snippet in the last newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) just confirms the fallibility of human memory and that one should always rely only on documentary evidence; didn't several people claim their recollection of the Mason film was that it 'proved' the goldfish story?
The story also has another feature of folklore — it is mutating, now the public toilets have gone. Benedict le Vay in the Bradt Guide to Eccentric London, 2002, page 183 with cartoon, claims that the goldfish in the urinal tank were underground in Holborn (GLIAS Newsletter October 2005), BUT in the basement gents in the high Victorian 'Princess Louise' Pub — needless to say the cistern in question is 50-year-old ceramic. Just wait for following books to repeat this and it to become established.
GLIAS Newsletter 79, April 1982 page 8 has a gazetteer entry 413 and photograph of 'Kennington Cross' Underground Gents, with 'one fish-tank cistern'. This has recently been Listed Grade II, so presumably is still to be seen. As it is fixed to the wall it is trapezoidal with only three glass panes — the rest of the fittings are by Finch & Co. Roger J Morgan
Surrey Street water pumping station, Croydon
Just off Surrey Street market in central Croydon is the former water pumping station of the Croydon Board of Works (GLIAS Newsletter August 2001). In the past it was only visible via a narrow lane from Surrey Street.
A particular importance of the building is that it was originally the pumping station of the London & Croydon Railway's atmospheric venture of 1845-47. When the atmospheric mode of traction was abandoned, the Board of Works purchased the disused pumping station at Norwood/Croydon for £250 and moved it to Surrey Street. The red-brick gothic pumphouse there is dated 1851. There is a castellated extension of 1866 and a further extension of 1912.
The buildings around the waterworks have recently been demolished and good views of the pumping station are now possible (below left on 25 January 2008). And even better the pumphouse (below right) is the sales centre for the proposed housing development on the site and of course can be visited even if you don't want to buy a flat! David & Olwen Perrett
London Archaeological Prize 2008
After the success of the 2006 London Archaeological Prize, SCOLA and London Archaeologist have again agreed to sponsor an award for publications that appeared in 2006 and 2007. The award, of £250 plus a certificate, will be presented at a ceremony in the autumn of 2008. If there are sufficient entries there will also be a second prize of £100 plus certificate. The publication must be in letterpress or digital form; broadcasts and the like will not be eligible. It must be related to the archaeology of Greater London. Any type of publication will be eligible — it may be a book, a journal article or the proceedings of a conference. It may be a professional, commercial or amateur publication. There is no restriction on the target audience — scholars, the general public, or children. The judges will be looking for quality and excellence; they will want to know how well the publication succeeds in its aims.
Entries will be assessed by a panel of judges appointed by the executive committee of the Standing Conference on London Archaeology in conjunction with the Publications Committee of London Archaeologist.
We are hoping people will nominate publications they have read or are otherwise aware of, not simply ones with which they or their organisation are connected (though of course such nominations are welcomed).
The nominator(s) should name the publication and give a brief explanation why they believe it is worthy of the prize. It would be helpful, but not essential, to use the standard nomination form. There is no need to provide copies of the publication at this stage. The judges will select a short list from those nominated, and will then ask the publisher for copies of the publication; these copies will be returnable on request.
Closing date for receipt of nominations is 19 May 2008.
Nomination forms are available from Peter Pickering, and should be returned to Peter Pickering, Secretary, Standing Conference on London Archaeology, 3 Westbury Road, London N12 7NY. Tel: 020 8445 2807. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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