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Notes and news — June 2009

In this issue:

Greenwich Tide Mill

Museum of London Archaeology have found the remains of a 12th-century tide mill at Greenwich Wharf, prior to a new residential development.

First trial borings and trenches missed the site completely, but a subsequent excavation revealed the foundations of the tidal mill, 10 metres by 12 metres at the base, which would have had a water wheel more than 5 metres in diameter. Dendrochronology has dated the construction to 1194.

A large curved section of the waterwheel was found within the water trough. The wheel was undershot and of the clasp arm type. It is not known how long the mill was in operation, but it was long enough for boarded floors to be rebuilt at least once. At the end of its life, the mill (but not the foundations) was carefully demolished. The timbers have been recovered and are being freeze-dried at York; in due course they will be displayed at the Museum of London and possibly elsewhere.

Museum of London Archaeology regard the find as particularly important, as it illustrates the early introduction of carpentry technique from France, replacing the 'tree-wrighting' techniques used by the Saxons and Normans. The timbers were split by axes and there are no saw marks. The coffer dam was tongued and grooved.

The discovery has also thrown new light on river levels and the tidal range, which appears to have been greater than was previously thought. Further research on the remains should also facilitate the study of mill technology in this period. Brian James-Strong
For further information, see

New River tunnel anniversary

In 1859 the New River Company opened a tunnel from Myddleton Road to Station Road, Wood Green, as part of a scheme to straighten out the New River — avoiding some of the former contour-hugging loops on the river. So this year marks the 150th anniversary.

The tunnel is about half a mile long, is 16ft diameter and contains about 3.5 million bricks. The portal at Myddleton Road is quite ornate and is listed.

To celebrate the event the Bowes Park Community Association is holding a 'Tunnel Day' on Saturday 13 June. There will be the usual sort of things you might find at a fete (games, magician, music etc) — nothing particularly to do with IA, I'm afraid! However, it is nice that they are taking an interest. David Flett

Surrey Iron Railway

Paul Sowan mentioned the Surrey Iron Railway in its early days (GLIAS Newsletter April 2009). It might have survived in a very different guise.

The Railway magazine for November 1936 has an article about the early days of the London & South Western Railway. This mentions a Directors' report to a special general meeting in December 1844, where a resolution passed was: 'The purchase and re-sale of the Surrey Iron Railway, and arrangements with the London & Brighton Railway for forming a junction with that company at Wandsworth and giving it running powers to Waterloo.'

The article goes on to say that the LSWR intended to buy the SIR and then sell it immediately at the same price to the London and Brighton. The plan came to nothing because of disagreement over charges for the London and Brighton to run over the LSWR's tracks to the proposed Waterloo station (opened 1848). There was a 'long correspondence' on this, presumably through 1845.

Does anyone know if this was a serious proposal and whether money changed hands between the LSWR and SIR? And is it coincidence that the cessation of discussions between the LSWR and London & Brighton happened shortly before the SIR closed? David Thomas

LC&DR buildings demolished

The former erecting shops of the London Chatham and Dover Railway at Longhedge were demolished in March.

Built by Joseph Cubitt in the 1860s, locomotives were constructed there between 1869 and 1891.

They remained in use as railway workshops, certainly into the 1980s.

The best view of them was to be had from the train between Battersea Park and Wandsworth Road stations, on the south side of the viaduct. Hugh Roper

A bridge problem

In sorting the effects of the late Doris Courtney Helmke Hobbs [1919-1987] (my step-grandmother) I have discovered a number of bound volumes with manuscript entries.

One evidently contains the accounts for an unidentified shop for 1832-33; one is a Great Western Railway warehouse register with entries for 1921-1959 (evidently it continued in use through the Grouping of 1923 and nationalisation in 1947) with tipped-in papers relating to the Parcel Depot at Brixham Station, Devon; and one is a record of attendance by the choir at St George's Church, Bloomsbury, for the period 1915-1922. Brixham Station closed in 1963. But most interesting is un undated but perhaps early 19th-century notebook containing details of quantities of brickwork, stone, and rubble fill for an unidentified bridge. There are few clues to the author, bridge, or date, other than the words 'Hillman masonry &c' inside the front cover, and the fact that the bridge had a single central pier and two abutments, and stood over water.

Can any GLIAS member suggest an identification for Hillman or the bridge? It may well, of course, not be a London bridge! Paul W Sowan

Coade Stone

While walking around London recently I found the lion modelled by W F Woodington on the south bank at Westminster Bridge and sculptured from Mrs Eleanor Coade's (1733-1821) artificial stone.

Coade lion. © Dan Little

Apparently it was moved to its present site when the brewery it surmounted was demolished when the site was cleared for the Festival of Britain.

There are a number of examples of the use of Coade Stone throughout the country, but two are of interest situated not far from the lion.

At the Garden Museum, located in a disused church near Lambeth Palace, there in the garden is the tomb of Vice Admiral Bligh (of Bounty fame and ex-Governor of the Colony of NSW) which is made from Coade stone.

Tomb of Vice Admiral Bligh. © Dan Little

Within the building is a statue called 'the Charity Boy' which was modelled by either J Flaxman or J Bacon who worked for Mrs Coade at the manufactory which stood on the site of today's London Eye. It was purchased in 1875 and originally sited at Lawrence Charity School, it was subsequently relocated at Lambeth Parochial Boys' School and finally to Archbishop Temple's Boys' School.

Charity Boy. © Dan Little

I always believed that the formula of Coade Stone was unknown but it is listed in several sources as containing 10% Grog (fortified clay), 5-10% crushed flint, 5-10% fine quartz, 10% crushed soda lime glass and the bulk 60-70% Ball clay from Dorset and Devon (GLIAS Newsletter December 2002).

Apparently after Mrs Coade died the family were not as successful at running the business and it was finally bankrupted in 1833. Dan Little

Stench or sewer pipes

Robson Road SE27. © Robert Mason, 2004 Stench pipes — or sewer outlets — are excellent example of ornamental Victorian metal work, but many of them are suffering from neglect.

There are 49 known pipes in Lambeth, 16 of them being in Streatham. It has recently been possible to raise a small sum of money from Lambeth Council to conserve two of the Lambeth Pipes, one in Norwood High Street (near Hannen Road) and one in St Julian's Farm Road. The pipes make an attractive piece of street art and their conservation cost is small compared with the cost of commissioning new street art.

The pipe in St Julian's Farm road has a decorative base with the manufacturers name J Stone & Co, Engineers, Deptford, London SE on it in raised lettering. It has a decorative crown surmounting the top. The firm of J Stone & Co was based in Deptford. It was founded in 1831 by Joseph Stone as a small workshop to produce copper nails and rivets for shipbuilding.

From these small beginnings Stone & Co became an international business, famous for ships' propellers and watertight ships doors. By the end of the century they were making a variety of products including steel drainage and complete sewage systems for urban areas. The business moved to Crawley in 1966 and the Deptford factory closed in 1969. The registration number 333411 (also in raised lettering) on the pipe in St Julian's Farm Road suggests it was manufactured in 1899: or sometime after that date.
Brian Bloice, chairman, Streatham Society

Old cigarette machines at Uxbridge

Cigarette machines, Uxbridge station. © Derek Daniels, 2008 For any person passing through Uxbridge station, London. There are a couple of wonderful cigarette machines in the doorway of the Sweet Express. Shiny and bright in chrome, they are beginning to age.

Gone are the days when you could buy a packet of fags for two bob, and be dead at 60. But they are a good example of the machines, in need of saving.

Uxbridge station has just undergone a makeover but, as the machines probably belong to the shop and not LUL, the LUL museum has not saved them. If they are not saved soon, they will probable be scrapped when the Sweet Express (formally the tobacconist) is turned into a cafe. Derek Daniels

London brickfields

The Spring 2009 issue of the London Archaeologist includes an article on an excavation of former London brickfields at Latham's Yard, Leeside Wharf, Clapton.

The investigation found no direct evidence of brick firing on the site, but traces of ephemeral buildings and a canal serving the brickworks were identified. Some remaining brick earth was found, 'sealed by a concentration of brick-production waste consisting of over-fired brick fragments and dust.' The article comments that 'these characteristics is [sic] typically found toward the bases and sides of brick clamps where the heat is most intense'. One excavation trench 'was almost certainly located above the Lea canal... However, no edges to the watercourse were evident'.

The article links the findings with documentary evidence that 'the digging of brickfields in the London area generally proceeded outwards from the City in advance of the development of housing in the post-medieval centuries', reaching Upper Clapton by 1762. By 1768, rents of the land in Hackney had been trebled. Clapton became a centre for brick-making in the 1840s.

There are also documentary records of the canal, which canalysed an existing watercourse 'probably to serve as barge access to the brickworks.... By at least 1862 it was known as Lea Dock [which] was progressively shortened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so that by 1939 it was only a short inlet from the River Lea.' 'When the brickworks became exhausted, they were levelled up and used as industrial premises ... by the timber merchants James Latham present on site in 1912'.
Brian Strong

More on 1001 Cleaner

I don't know if they still make 1001 carpet cleaner BUT I did find some lurking at the back of my kitchen cupboard! I've no idea how long I've had it but it is in a plastic bottle. The ingredients aren't given but it was manufactured by PC Products Ltd, Kersal Vale, Manchester, M7 0GL. According to the label it 'cleans 1001 other things too'! Janet Digby

Bob Carr asks (GLIAS Newsletter April 2009) whether readers 'remember' 1001 Cleaner. Had he looked at the internet, or on the shelves of his local supermarket, he would have discovered that it is still on the market. It comes in several varieties but nowadays the containers are made of plastic rather than glass.

1001 is currently produced by the WD40 group, well known to car mechanics and home handymen for its eponymous 'rust busting' product, in Milton Keynes. However this must be a fairly recent development as an older specimen in my possession — probably dating from about 10 years ago — states that it was made by PC Products (1001) Ltd of Kersal Vale, Manchester M7 0GL. The contents are not specified, but may of course have changed considerably since the days of the fluted glass bottle. Graham Bird

It's still available, certainly on line. I remember the buy line from an ad campaign from my youth '1001 cleans a big, big carpet for less than half-a-crown'. Marius Bigus

I still have half a bottle in my cupboard — there is nothing like it. Mine is in a yellow plastic bottle, shaped with a built-in handle.

You say the name suggests an American origin, but many years ago when a couple of American friends regularly visited, they would take a bottle back with them as it was not available in the USA (and they lived in Brooklyn, worked Manhattan and were canny shoppers).

In fact there is an address on my bottle: PC Products (1001) Ltd. Kersal Vale, Manchester M7 0GL. Phone 035-58-1001.

As to the contents there are no details, only that it is phosphate-free and 'contains among other ingredients less than 30% anionic surfactant'. Rita Ensing

1001 carpet cleaner does not seem to be the same as the 1940s universal cleaner. The present carpet cleaner can be used undiluted. The original 1001 was pretty potent and was used diluted — just a few teaspoons to a pint of warm water. It was demonstrated in Lewis's department stores. Not the John Lewis of London but the chain of stores originating from Liverpool where the first shop opened in 1856. With a North West connection this ties in with the Kersal Vale, Manchester, address as there was, and still is, a considerable chemical industry between Liverpool and Manchester. Bob Carr

Ipswich Dock

Ipswich Dock looking north, 20 June 1970. The gasworks and piston-type gasholder can be quite clearly seen. © Robert Carr, 1970 The two rather derelict concrete granary buildings mentioned in the last newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter April 2009) are not actually alongside the Dock itself but further west close to Bridge Street at about TM 1639 4400. They are on the north side of the New Cut opposite Stoke Quay, at a part sometimes known as St Peter's Dock.

Prior to about 2005 there was a 200 feet high concrete grain silo just to the west of the Old Custom House, now The Waterfront Conference Centre. This probably explains why the 23-storey block of flats was permitted. It is comparable in height. Externally the new block is now more of less complete. It can be seen from a considerable distance.

The group of buildings to the west of the Customs House was known as Cranfield's Mill and was built from the 1840s onwards. As is usual in dock construction the line of the present quay is a little further south than the old shoreline in order to get deeper water for larger ships. Allied Mills Ltd closed their Cranfield Brothers' Mill in December 1999. It was the intention to retain about 40 percent of these buildings in the redevelopment. A coaster used to call at Albion Wharf on a regular basis to take grain to Germany for the manufacture of Beck's beer.

To the east of the Waterfront Conference Centre past Neptune Quay is Coprolite Street. This name arises from an early artificial fertiliser manufactory established here. To the south at TM 1702 4349 is Eagle Wharf where timber ships with their characteristic deck cargoes still call to unload. This is about the only real shipping activity which still takes place within the Dock which is rapidly being converted into a yacht marina. Judging by the size of some of these craft there is considerable wealth about.

A gasworks (see picture) was situated to the north-east of the present entrance lock. This had conventional water sealed gasholders and a tall Germanic piston-type gasholder which was added in the 1920s. It has been claimed that this was the earliest in the UK, but this seems unlikely. Does anyone have further information?

Ipswich had an aerodrome but this is now closed. The last aircraft left in January 1998. It was a grass airfield about two miles to the southeast of the Dock and was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales in June 1930. The terminal building designed by Robert Henning and Anthony Chitty in 1938 was listed grade II. This seems to have been incorporated into a new housing development which now takes up part of the aerodrome site. Bob Carr

News in brief

Nineteenth-century watermains can be replaced by means of trenchless technology which avoids having all the road up (GLIAS Newsletter April 2009). Directional drilling is being used to link pits 100-150 paces apart and lengths of plastic pipe are then inserted underground between the pits. A Vermeer D36X50 Navigator which runs on caterpillar tracks has been noted in use for this work.

This is for the installation of a completely new main. Plastic pipes can also be inserted inside old cast iron pipes. Access pits are first excavated at intervals along the length of a Victorian main. In each pit a length of the old iron pipe is then broken off enabling the inside to be cleaned by pushing a probe through. Following this a new plastic pipe is then pulled through, fed from a large reel. The new plastic pipes are guaranteed for 100 years. In London the above kind of watermain replacement started in the Bethnal Green area a few years ago.

In Hackney the Brownswood Library, TQ 3202 8654, will probably be demolished. It is proposed to build a five-storey block of flats on the site (GLIAS Newsletter October 2007).

Early in February a juvenile Great Northern Diver was noted on the West Reservoir at Stoke Newington. Another similar bird, perhaps the same one, was at Walthamstow Reservoirs towards the end of January. London's reservoirs are great places for birds. At Stoke Newington reservoirs 115 different species have been recorded.

On the south side of Amhurst Road little now remains of E Gibbons furniture store (GLIAS Newsletter February 2005). There is just a small fragment at the southeast end propped up by scaffolding.

The 'Swiss Light' has been absent from the top of the chimney at Bankside power station for some time. Will it be put back? Bob Carr


The new Pacific locomotive 60163 Tornado (GLIAS Newsletter February 2009) made its first run from London King's Cross on Saturday 18 April, leaving at 9.18am. This was with a Pullman Car train providing a load of about 550 tons and bound for York. It was reported that public access at King's Cross was severely restricted owing to the large crowds expected but at Finsbury Park station there was even a kindly public address announcement. A Scottish sounding voice informed railway enthusiasts that news from the signal box was that the special train would be on the slow line and run through platform five. At about 9.25 it passed north running fairly slowly with a very soft exhaust. Plenty of white steam from the double chimney aided the efforts of photographers. Apparently the new locomotive can work well at very short cut-off and uses steam in a most economical manner.

The return train from York was due to arrive at King's Cross at 9.08pm. It was almost dark before nine and compared with the morning there were far fewer people waiting on Finsbury Park station. Shortly before 9.00pm the public address announced that the 'steam special' was seven minutes late at Potters Bar. At about seven minutes past nine the announcer said the special was seven minutes late at Hornsey. About a minute later the train sped through on platform two, the fast line. The locomotive was almost silent emitting just a few wisps of steam. Again the exhaust was very clean. The effect was quite like that of an electric train travelling at speed. Faintly reminiscent of the hydrogen-powered buses which have been running in London (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006) this was not like the usual steam locomotive experience of 50 years ago.

The eleven brightly illuminated Pullman cars were travelling too quickly for one to make out much of the passengers inside. The full load was made up of 13 coaches; there was a support carriage next to the engine and an extra utility coach at the rear. The return fare to York on the Pullman special was £449 which included meals — champagne breakfast and five-course dinner. Compared with the ordinary peak-period second-class anytime return to York which costs £223, and £334 first class, this does not sound unreasonable and for people with disposable income such an outing is an attractive proposition. Bob Carr

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© GLIAS, 2009