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Notes and news — June 2008

In this issue:

Ram Brewery redevelopment proposals submitted

Following the closure of the Ram Brewery (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006) and its associated offices, two sites have been made available for development.

The first site includes the Ram Brewery site itself bounded by Wandsworth High Street to the south, Armoury Way to the north, Ram Street to the east and the River Wandle to the west, and the adjoining site to the north west currently known as Capital Studios and Duval works. The River Wandle separates Ram Brewery site from the Capital Studios/Duval Works site. The second site, Cockpen House, is approximately 200m to the south west, in Buckhold Road.

Some buildings relating to the Brewery, Capital Studios and Duval Works are set to be demolished but a number of historic buildings at the southern end of the site and the stables building to the north will be retained.

Wandsworth Council has received two applications for planning permission to redevelop the two sites — to provide a) 831 flats in buildings ranging from two to 42 storeys in height, plus a mixture of shops, bars, restaurants, offices and other commercial units, riverside walk, pedestrian routes, public spaces and basement car parking; b) 216 flats in buildings ranging from five to 16 storeys in height, plus a mixture of shops, community uses, offices, bars and restaurants and basement car parking.

Comments must be received by 2 June 2008.

New trains from Marylebone

A new train service started from Marylebone station on Monday 28 April 2008, operated by the Wrexham Shropshire and Marylebone company. The trains call at Tame Bridge Parkway, Cosford, Telford Central, Wellington, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Chirk, Ruabon and Wrexham. During the week five trains a day will run in each direction with a few less at weekends.

Almost all trains nowadays are multiple units but the Wrexham and Shropshire company are using traditional carriages pulled by locomotives. This may be a big selling point for the new service — the remarkable spaciousness and comfort. Travelling on one of these trains brings back forcibly what rail travel 20 years ago must have been like, and it is quite a shock. For people not in a great hurry, say going on holiday to the Welsh Borders or North Wales with luggage, this form of travel could be ideal. The new Company intends to grow bigger and these trains from Marylebone bringing back some luxury into travel could have a definite future.

Before the 1923 Railway Grouping, Marylebone and Wrexham were both served by the Great Central Railway. Wrexham still has a Central Station, the present one opened in 1998 at SJ 3312 5042 replacing the first station of 1887 at SJ 3331 5028, but the new service terminates at Wrexham General SJ 3301 5090, the former GWR station opened in 1846 and rebuilt 1912.

A fresh depot for the locomotives operating the new trains has been established at the southern end of Wrexham General station and has the code 84L. In the mid 1950s British Railways had a depot 84K at Chester in the Wolverhampton (Stafford Road) group and there was also a locomotive depot at Wrexham, 84J Croes Newydd at SJ 3272 5020. Croes Newydd locomotive shed was a northlight pattern roundhouse opened in 1912* and in 1947 it had an allocation of about 40 steam locomotives. This depot closed in March 1967. In Welsh Croes Newydd means something like New Cross. Is this correct?

At the start of services Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones AM unveiled a plaque at Wrexham station and made a speech. The ceremony and ministers speech was televised. The new through train service is the first since 1967 and will do much to improve communication with north-east Wales.

There is much of industrial archaeological interest in Wrexham, noted for coal mining and iron working, including the surface remains of Bersham Colliery at SJ 314 481 with coal mining equipment stored and displayed on site. The stone tip here at SJ 312 481 is also preserved. An enlightened attitude has seen to its retention. Bersham Colliery can be visited by appointment and there may be special open days. The train passes this colliery, now a very rare survival, on its way into Wrexham.

Tame Bridge Parkway is handy for Walsall with its art galleries, Leather Museum and the Arboretum (SP 019 990). Cosford station is close to the aerodrome, with an aviation museum and excellent facilities for the restoration of famous aeroplanes of the past. From Chirk station it is a short walk to the canal aqueduct and from here you can walk northwards along the towpath and over Thomas Telford's great Pontcysyllte aqueduct to the canal basin at Trevor to which coal from Ruabon was brought by tramway. Bob Carr

*An Historical Survey of Great Western Engine Sheds 1947, E T Lyons, C Eng, M I Struct E, Oxford 1972.

New Science Museum Library

Might I add to the debate regarding the location and accessibility of the Science Museum Library at Wroughton Aerodrome, following on from Bob Carr (GLIAS Newsletter February 2008) and John Knowles (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008)?

There are actually four buses per hour from Swindon bus station to Wroughton village during the daytime Monday to Saturday (though only five journeys in total on Sunday). The journey to the centre of the village takes less than 15 minutes. They are operated by Stagecoach Swindon, routes 49 and 54. Timetables available on the Stagecoach website. Swindon bus station is about 200 yards from the railway station, served by frequent trains from London — the 77 miles taking one hour or a little less. There are also National Express coaches to Swindon.

The snag is that the grid reference of the library, as given by Bob Carr, indicates that you still have a 1½-mile walk when you get to Wroughton village! As regards the environmental footprint of various forms of transport I would comment that, being timetabled/registered commercial services, the trains and buses are still going to run — whether or not people use them to go to the library. Whereas if you go there by car that is an entirely additional use of fuel. It's a shame they have chosen to put something so important in such an out of the way place. David Flett

Stay of execution for tin tabernacle

Shaftesbury Hall, 17 February 2008. © David Flett

Planning permission to demolish the Shaftesbury Hall tin tabernacle (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008) in Herbert Road, N11, has been refused. So it is safe for the time being at least.

Meanwhile, the Bowes Park Community Association has written to English Heritage requesting that the tabernacle be listed.

The association stresses that there used to be many tin tabernacles throughout the UK, but few remain and are disappearing by the year. Some of the others are listed buildings.

Shaftesbury Hall is currently owned by the Samaritans. It is not open for community or public use. David Flett
Bowes Park Community Association website:

Flagging up corrugated iron

'Corrugated iron' (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008) — which the British Empire, through its colonies, spread around the world — was widely utilised in Australia for all kinds of structures both domestic and public, as the photograph below illustrates.

Corrugated iron

I can remember seeing vast numbers of these in the outback during the 40s and 50s, some of which were quite ingenious. One interesting tongue-in-cheek suggestion for the use of this material, on which Australia built a nation, was provided by the Melbourne Age cartoonist Michael Leunig, in response to the 1998 competition run by his paper for a new national flag.

Leunig cartoon

His suggestion was that the new flag should be a sheet of corrugated iron as the sound of it flapping on the roof had been with for generations, it would never go limp on a windless day, the 'Kalgoorlie Quilt' was made from it, an invader's morale would be crushed by having to demolish so many tin sheds, demonstrators could never be burn it and that most Australians had already fought (domestically) under it.

With so many positive points we wait with bated breath to see if Leunig's suggestion for the new flag is ever adopted. Dan Little

Just 2.65 miles west of the Greater London boundary, and just north of the National Trust Garden at Claremont, is West End Village, the west end of Esher. St George's church there is small, with corrugated iron external walls. It is in very good condition, and has a service most Sundays. John Knowles

Sir William Fairbairn

The article about Brian James-Strong's lecture on Sir William Fairbairn (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008) reminded me that the boilers at Crossness were insured with the Manchester Steam Users Association which was, as Brian said, set up by Sir William. They did not join, however, until October 1911, after Sir William's time.

Prior to this, in 1891, the LCC had decided to be their own insurers for 254 engines and 269 boilers and appointed 'Mr Clutterbuck, full-time assistant to Mr Atkinson, to carry out inspections of the above and recommend remedial work that needs attention'. The Collected Paper from which the above is taken also says that the 'First Annual boiler inspection was carried out at Abbey Mills, Crossness, Western, Deptford, Isle of Dogs, etc'.

In a minute of the LCC Main Drainage Committee dated 31 October 1911 insurance is raised again. This is when the decision was taken to use the services of outside insurers. 'The reasons for recommending the adoption of this course were (a) that the Council may be indemnified against any loss which may result from an explosion, and (b) that the Council may have the benefit of the advice of the skilled inspectors of the insurance company. The second reason, is in our view, decidedly the more important, as it is obviously desirable that, in cases where accidents might involve loss of life, and where accidents are prevented only by careful inspection, the inspections carried out by the Council's officers should be supplemented, as is universal practice among users of boilers, by those of the best available experts outside the Council's service, and it is this reason also which has influenced us in forming an opinion as to the medium through which the insurance should be affected.'

So after 20 years of do-it-yourself the LCC decided to take the above decision to bring in outside experts to supplement their own staff.

They obtained quotations from five companies. They wanted insurance for 50 large boilers and 22 smaller ones. One company asked for a premium of £79 4s, three wanted £84 3s, and the Manchester Steam Users Association £115 18s.

The Manchester offer was accepted. The Committee gave the following explanation for their decision: 'The Manchester Steam Users Association is a mutual association of boiler owners. It has no shareholders and pays no dividends. It pays compensation in cases of explosion, of course, in the same way as an ordinary insurance company, but, apart from this, its object is to provide the best possible advice not only on the safety of the boilers and their fittings, but as to the most economical manner in which to work them, and it also provides thorough and reliable inspection by highly skilled men.'

What happened to Messrs Clutterbuck and Atkinson is not recorded — perhaps they had retired, after all it was 20 years since they were appointed! What arrangements were made for insurance in Metropolitan Board of Works days has not yet been discovered as far as I know.

The Lancashire boilers have long gone from Crossness but recently a model of the boiler house as it would have appeared in c1912 has been completed and shows the 14 boilers that were there at that time complete with stoking gear, etc. David Dawson

Ilford trolley bus depot

More on the former tram/trolley bus depot in Ley Street, Ilford (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008).

The main running depot (the larger of the two buildings, on the corner of Perth Road and Ley Street) was built by Ilford UDC for the opening of the tramways, on 14 March 1903. The trams were electrically operated from the outset and the depot has never operated any horse trams. The smaller adjoining building to the north was built on the site of a permanent way yard in 1921. This was used as the maintenance area, with the single road building between the two used as the reception road.

The routes, trams and depot passed to the newly formed LPTB on 30 June 1933.

The trams were replaced by trolleybuses on 6 February 1938, when tram routes 91 and 93 became trolleybuses 691 and 693. New was route 692 which ran on Saturday afternoons and evenings between Chadwell Heath (on the 693) and Newbury Park Horns Tavern (on the 691) but this ran for only 43 days, ending on 3 December 1938.

Wartime losses and increased passenger demand led to LPTB borrowing 18 trolleybuses from Bournemouth Corporation and these were all allocated to Ilford depot. They entered service in December 1940 and stayed in Ilford until November 1941 and September 1942 when they were replaced by the SA class trolleys.

The trolleybuses were in turn replaced by diesel buses on 18 August 1959, but cuts in bus frequency meant that the replacement buses could be fitted into Barking and Seven Kings bus garages, Ilford depot being later closed and sold back to Ilford Council.

Far from the site not being used for many years, the two buildings are still in regular use, the main running shed houses the dustcart recyling and road-gritting fleets, while the 1921 addition is home to the social services/education department minibus fleets. M Weyell

London & Croydon Atmospheric Railway

The atmospheric/pneumatic Crystal Palace railway (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008) may not have existed in the Palace grounds, but the atmospheric London & Croydon Railway had a terminus in Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill. This was only a good stone's throw from the palace grounds and the atmospheric propulsion was only replaced by steam a year before the palace was built. Pictures of the pumping stations appear in Aubrey Wilson's 'London's Industrial Heritage' and Croydon Museum has a length of the pipe.

The Dartmouth Arms still exists and the Norwood engine house was moved to Park Hill House in Croydon and demolished in 1949.

Maybe the myth is merely a movement. John Day

Riveting stuff

The story of the 'riveter and his boy' being trapped in the double hull of the SS Great Eastern (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008) was related to me in Sydney, by a newly arrived British immigrant, while I was an apprentice airframe fitter in the late Sixties.

We, the apprentices, were impressed with construction of the vessel, as it was explained to us, but horrified at the tragedy of these two souls.

I suppose that if any good came from the repetition of this fictitious story it was that we became conscious that industrial accidents could happen.

It also seems that fiction travels much farther than truth! Dan Little

St Pancras boosts Eurostar numbers

Eurostar's relocation to St Pancras International station has boosted the number of passengers travelling through the Channel Tunnel.

Passenger numbers increased by 21.3% to 2.17m in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2007.

November's opening of the 186mph high-speed line to the tunnel (GLIAS Newsletter December 2007) cut 20 minutes off journeys from London to Paris and Brussels.

King's Cross gazetteer

News in brief

To the south-east of the Euston station site, by the bus stops, the public house formerly called the Head of Steam is now the Doric Arch. This may be a sign of renewed interest in rebuilding the Euston Arch nearby. The Head of Steam was noted as a real-ale pub. It was sold to Fuller, Smith & Turner plc of Chiswick in August 2005. There are still branches of the Head of Steam in the North.

P3, a hall in the Marylebone Road in which the strength of concrete was tested for the building of motorways and bridges etc is now an arts venue. This sound like a former materials lab of the Civil Engineering Department, Polytechnic of Central London, now Westminster University. It is probably at basement level. In April, P3 was used for performances of Stifter's Dinge by Heiner Goebbels. Does anyone know P3 from its Civil Engineering days?

In the lower Lea Valley the new Prescott Lock at TQ 385 828 should open this year, probably in August or September (GLIAS Newsletter April 2007). Does anyone know what is happening to the stone from the Euston Arch which is in the bed of the channel close by?

Near Brick Lane the new GE19 bridge was pushed across the (six-track) main line from Liverpool Street to Stratford during the Bank Holiday weekend 5-6 May 2008. This new bridge is the major link connecting the East London line to the Kingsland Viaduct and Dalston (GLIAS Newsletter April 2008). Bob Carr

Royal Parks Guild historic collection

I recently joined the Royal Parks Guild, having worked in the Royal Parks 1982-7. The Guild is setting up an historic collection on the Royal Parks and is also interested in undertaking historical research in relation to the parks. This would include research in industrial archaeology.

For example, the first use of street lighting in England took place in the Royal Parks, with oil lamps hung from trees. Gas lighting was an early introduction, which took place on Rotten Row in Hyde Park, and Central Royal Parks now have possibly the best collection of functioning gas lighting in London if not the UK.

There is also scope for research into early machinery in the parks, some of which is still in situ. If you would be interested in joining in this research, please get in touch with me at Brian James-Strong

New Greenwich blog

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© GLIAS, 2008