Notes and news — August 2009
In this issue:
Bill Hines — Kodachrome
- Bill Hines — Kodachrome
- IA memories
- Three Mills Partnership launched
- Crossness Engines news
- New River memories
- Frogmore Mill
- Nash Mill
- News in brief
- Pulhamite artificial stone
- South Croydon signalbox demolition
- Going underground in Ipswich
- Lowne Electric Clock & Appliance Co.
- SIHG conservation award
- You too can do a GLIAS walk!
The late Bill Hines of Poole, Dorset, took photographs from Tower Bridge while on a visit here in the 1970s. Peter Stanier sorted his slide collection and his widow asked Peter to forward the London slides to an appropriate destination. One of the slides shows a view looking west from Tower Bridge, including Bankside power station making considerable smoke. They were only allowed to do this for about ten minutes, say while lighting up. It was an offence to continue longer. This image is therefore of some interest.
The slide in question is Kodachrome and approximately 30 x 30mm square format. The process date in red is June 73 and it is number six. It was probably taken in 1973 but might have been exposed the previous year.
Kodak is to discontinue the manufacture of Kodachrome. After 74 years it is the oldest brand of film still available. Even pre-war Kodachrome, if suitably stored, can still yield good images*. Initially it was very slow and was famous for its definition. Large-size prints can be made from it. A 24 x 36mm Kodachrome slide probably carries about as much information as a 30 megabite digital image. With the card mounts carrying the process date Kodachrome slides are a valuable source of historic images. Only one lab, in Parsons, Kansas, still processes Kodachrome and it has agreed to continue until next year.
Large numbers of Kodachrome slides are still in existence in private hands and there is the great problem of what to do with them. If unlabelled, as Bill's was, they can be of limited use. Please do not send slides to GLIAS or individual authors as there is no GLIAS archive to accept them. Bob Carr
* Unlike Kodachrome, however, other kinds of transparency film using the E6 and especially E4 process do not keep well. Most of this film stock from the 1970s and before is already of little use. It was always better to expose negative film.IA memories
I have only lived in the London area for 30 years, but have been interested in Industrial Archaeology for more years than I care to remember and also have memories which, although they occurred outside of the area, still have some bearing on IA, and of course various articles in the GLIAS Newsletter invoke these memories.
I remember coming up to London with my father while I was in my 20s (75 now) and going into one public convenience, seeing goldfish in the urinal cisterns (GLIAS Newsletter February 2008), age has dimmed the location whereabouts, but yes, I have seen them. I spent my youth living in Cardiff on a main road which was also a tram route until the end of the Second World War when trolleybuses took over. I can remember the overhead wiring being put up and then one Sunday morning as I slept in the front bedroom, hearing a 'whooshing' sound and seeing some sort of a large grey vehicle flash by. By the time I got to the bedroom window, the vehicle was no longer in sight, but it was obviously a trial run for the new mode of transport. I remember that they could be quite dangerous, being so quiet that several people were severely injured or even killed by stepping out in front of them without looking because they didn't hear them coming, not like a tram. Their braking was also so effective that standing passengers could be flung forward as a result of severe brake application and the drivers were recommended to take their foot off of the accelerator to provide a much slower braking force by regeneration.
The tram lines had been laid on wooden blocks and taking up of these provided the opportunity for lifting the tarred wooden blocks which covered much of the road. Of course, everyone in those days had open fire grates and the loose wooden blocks waiting to be taken away were an obvious choice of fuel. The problem was that the tarred surface also included small stone chips which would heat up, explode and shoot out of the fire as red hot particles, much to everyone's surprise and the discomfort of the family dog, sprawled in front of it. I cannot remember anyone suffering a major fire because of this phenomenon.
One of the things which has disappeared over the years that was prevalent then, was the workmen's canvas tent where, in most cases, 'us' young lads would be invited in on a cold day for a brew of tea and if you were lucky, the nightwatchman would also have a roaring stove going and on a freezing evening would like the pleasure of our company to while away the time.
On a school visit to Cardiff Central Fire Station, I remember being shown over the Control Room. This was in the days of street-located pedestal alarm boxes, not many people having telephones. In the centre of the room, was a glass cabinet mounted on a table and it contained an array of bright brass wire strips about 1/8th of an inch in diameter mounted on porcelain pedestals about 4 inches high. I asked what this was for and was told that if two or more pedestal alarms were made at the same time, this apparatus would form them into a queue. I didn't ask how it did it but I'm sure that there must have been some hidden relays to perform this task, but it looked very impressive.
For many years of my working life, I worked for the Ministry of Defence and the organisation's headquarters were located in Woolwich Arsenal. I was never employed in the Arsenal but went to many seminars and meetings there, so became familiar with its layout. On my first visit, I noticed what looked like an unfinished factory just outside the walls of the Arsenal. When I enquired as to what it was, I was told that it was an automatic car park which had been ceremoniously opened by Princess Margaret but had broken down the next day and never worked again. While I was living in Leeds, there was an automatic car park there and while it appeared to work, I was recommended not to walk on the pavement alongside it because a few incoming cars had been allocated an already occupied space which resulted in the parked car being forced out of the building onto the pavement below. I must admit that I have no proof of this ever happening.
A story told to me about the Arsenal was that a 25-pounder gun was being stripped for overhaul and this had to be done under strictly controlled conditions, because the barrel recuperator mechanism was under high spring pressure. One day, not too much care was taken resulting in the barrel and breech of the gun being propelled through a brick wall, the other side of which was a canteen. Luckily no one was sitting in the way of the barrel, but the workshop staff now had a convenient entrance to the canteen. Another story involving refreshments was that a manager was walking between some store buildings when he noticed a man carrying a tray full of tea-making equipment going into one of them, so the manager followed him and saw that he entered a small shed inside of the building. The manager himself then entered the shed and found that the tray carrier and another man had made themselves a lovely 'snug' to while away the hours. This makes me recall the film 'I'm All Right Jack' where the hapless Ian Carmichael uses a forklift truck to remove a palleted wooden case to reveal a card school in progress during working hours.
Which also brings to mind another story that I was told but cannot prove its veracity. Towards D-Day, there were many large wooden crates about the size of a Portacabin, dotted all over the place (it couldn't happen these days). They could contain a fighter or a small armoured vehicle or just spares. Some were stored in MOD Ordnance Depots, and when one of these was moved, it was found to have been turned, by some of the depot workers, into a complete workshop producing cigarette lighters made from .303 bullet cartridges.
Again, during the Second World War, many concrete air-raid shelters were built for the safety of the staff of the Arsenal, and legend has it that after the war was over, an Arsenal policeman was cycling around on duty when he saw a man disappear into one of the shelters. He followed the man into the shelter and found that the man had set up home in it. A similar story, which I know to be true, happened in the Royal Ordnance Factory, Leeds. A labourer had been thrown out of his home by his wife and he spent some nights sleeping in a large cupboard under a workshop bench. He didn't last there long though before he was spotted.
A humanist view on IA, but surely that's what it's all about in the end, to show how humanity coped with the 'technology' of the time. What memories will the youngsters of today be invoking when they will be reflecting on their youth — probably more about the electronic gadgets that proliferate now rather than buildings? Colin Long
Three Mills Partnership launched
A Three Mills Partnership was launched at the House Mill, Bromley-by-Bow on 23 June. Its purpose is to 'bring together the main stakeholders' on Three Mills Island; to 'promote a vision for the House Mill and its environs within the Olympic legacy and Thames Gateway as a vibrant attraction, a heritage destination and a centre for business, learning and the community'; and to 'secure funding and commission an options appraisal' for the restoration of the Mill's wheels and a sustainable business plan for the Mill.
The new Partnership is chaired by The Waterways Trust and the other members are British Waterways, English Heritage, the Heritage of London Trust, Leaside Regeneration, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the London Borough of Newham, the London Development Agency, the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the River Lea Tidal Mill Trust.
All these bodies except the LDA were represented and spoke enthusiastically about securing the future viability of the House Mill, the restoration of parts of its machinery to working order and the use of the wheels and turbines to generate energy. The Partnership was launched by Dan Cruickshank, the heritage and architecture broadcaster. The River Lea Tidal Mill Trust, which owns the House Mill and opens it to the public, hope this will be successful in securing funding.
The House Mill is open to the public from 11am to 4pm on the first Sunday in the month, and 1pm to 4pm on every other Sunday, until the end of October. The nearest underground station is Bromley-by-Bow, a short walk from Three Mill Lane. This can now also be combined with a walk on the Greenway to see the latest stage of construction of the Olympic Stadium and Aquatic Centre. Brian James-Strong
Crossness Engines news
The last chance to visit Crossness Engines until 2010 is 23 August. All guided tours are fully booked.
Our site will be closing down to allow rebuilding work to be carried out, and a total refurbishment of the 'Boiler House'. We are expecting work to commence after the end of September 2009, when the ground floor of the boiler house will be completely cleared of all interior walls.
A new ticket area, cafeteria, shop and lecture/education area will be constructed, along with a redesigned library, and new suite of toilets, all surrounding an open-plan display area.
Crossness Engines Trust (CET) has received long-awaited funding to build a new access road and it is hoped construction will commence before the end of this year.
The work in the boiler house is expected to take about one year and CET is hopeful that we will be ready to welcome visitors back to our venue in the autumn of 2010.
We are sorry to disappoint GLIAS members who were hoping to visit our attraction in the near future, but feel confident that they will be more than pleased with the results of the refurbishment. Peter Skilton
New River memories
The New River Tunnel Anniversary item (GLIAS Newsletter June 2009) prompted a couple of memories. As a child my mother fell into the abandoned part of the New River in Wood Green and her clothes were dried at nearby Cole's Pottery's kiln.
More relevant to the tunnel. In late 1939 there was a barrage balloon stationed on Wood Green Common. As was the practice of the day it was flown 'at readiness' from a pulley on the back of the winch lorry. An exceptionally windy night resulted in the balloon pulling the lorry across the Common through the railings and depositing it in the New River about 15 yards from the Station Road portal of the 'Myddleton Road' tunnel (I wonder why it was not spelt Myddelton as the man?). This was right beside the portal of the other tunnel which took the New River south west under the railway to the Hornsey Reservoir and filter beds, right adjacent to the attractive red brick boundary wall (TQ304902), a picture of which Haringey Council attributes to GLIAS.
As a result of the incident, very quickly all barrage balloon sites had a large pulley firmly anchored to the ground to turn the cable through 90° with the winch parked some distance away and firmly anchored. The anchorage for the pulley consisted of a bundle of railway sleepers tied with a wire rope and fanned out in a deep pit which was back-filled (on some sites later replaced with a large concrete block).
Incidentally, the wall, the site of the incident and the Station Road portal are all clearly shown on Google Street View. Bob Rust
Frogmore Mill, in Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead, which was the first to produce paper commercially by a mechanised process, continued to operate, until May this year, as the last steam-powered paper mill in Britain with a fourdrinier machine dating from the 1890s (GLIAS Newsletter August 2002).
As part of the Apsley Paper Trail it is now in financial crisis and the staff have been made redundant. The mill building is owned by Dacorum Borough Council who have refused to provide financial assistance to the Paper Trail. John Buekett
Demolition has commenced at the former John Dickinson mill which was more recently owned by SAPPI prior to closure three years ago (GLIAS Newsletter June 2006). This mill was purchased by John Dickinson in 1811 and he lived there, in the Mill House (Nash House), after his marriage in the same year. This house, which still exists, became the home of John Evans in 1856 and he lived there for 50 years. Both men were experts on paper making and became fellows of the Royal Society. In addition John Evans was an eminent antiquarian.
Also on the site is a modest flint dwelling known as Stephenson's Cottage. Leonard Stephenson was recruited by John Dickinson in the 1840s to set up an engineering department at Nash Mill which later moved to Apsley Mill where he continued working until retiring, aged 75, in 1886. Leonard Stephenson was born in Durham and was apprenticed to George Stephenson at his Shildon Works. Later he worked for Robert Stephenson and the birthplaces of his children give a clue to some of the projects. Elizabeth born Derby 1842, Sarah born Surrey 1844, Leonard born Suffolk 1847.
Leonard Jnr and two sons, John and Thomas, born in Nash Mills, all became mechanical engineers and worked for John Dickinson. Leonard senior's nephew was also an engineer for John Dickinson at Croxley Mill and his son William, born Croxley 1867 eventually headed Dickinson's engineering department 1914-1928. One of Leonard senior's first major projects was to build stationary steam engines to assist the water power when frequent shortages of water occurred. These engines were based on locomotive practice rather than the then current beam engines and the first one 'The Star in the Dark' survived until 1885.
No family connection between this Stephenson dynasty and George and Robert Stephenson has been found.
Leonard continued living in his cottage, 1 Nash Mills, until his death in 1905. Despite the historic interest of Nash House and Stephenson's Cottage, English Heritage have refused to list them. Fortunately the developers have said they will retain these buildings and so far they have been spared demolition but the first planning application has been refused by Dacorum Borough Council. John Buekett
News in brief
The British Library has made available online 49 19th-century regional and national newspapers. There are two million fully searchable pages. See the British Library website.
Javelin trains built by Hitachi in Japan have been visiting the platforms to the northeast of the Barlow train shed at St Pancras. This part of the station is to accommodate the services to Kent (GLIAS Newsletter October 2006) and there are three platforms. The full service is due to start on 13 December 2009 but high speed preview services available to the general public started on 29 June. The new class 395 trains will run as six-car sets and have a maximum speed of 140 mph. That is on the 25kV AC overhead lines. On 750 volts DC, third rail, the maximum speed will be 100 mph. Compared with the standard service from Kent to other London termini, slightly higher fares will be payable for second class passengers. A recent test run with guests took 30 minutes for the journey from St Pancras to Ashford, an average speed of 114 mph. The return journey took 29 minutes. These timings are faster than the planned service as there was no stop at Ebbsfleet. Javelin trains have 338 seats and can carry up to 508 passengers. The full service starting in December will be provided by 29 trains. Currently Javelin trains take 17 minutes from St Pancras to Ebbsfleet.
Compared with the bright and airy train shed at St Pancras, King's Cross station is at the moment gloomy and undergoing building work. Both the west side and the east are affected, with a new platform under construction to the east of platform one along the length of the former carriage road. The carriage road — part of the original station opened in c.1854 — was still being used, essentially for its original purpose, this century. Taxis were reintroduced here as recently as 2002 (GLIAS Newsletter February 2002).
Owing to the building works the platform 9¾ photographic feature, popular with tourists who have read Harry Potter (or seen the film), has been moved to a new site off platform 8. Demolition work and making good continues at the northeast corner of the station. This is for the cutting back of the brick abutment of the bridge which used to carry Battlebridge Road over the throat of the station. This was a westwards continuation of Wharfdale Road — in use from 1873. The bridge was removed about 1921.
The new platforms on the north side of Stratford railway station are numbered 1 & 2 and are for Overground trains heading in the direction of Richmond (GLIAS Newsletter October 2008). The main platforms, mostly for National Express trains, have numbers which increase from south to north — platform 12 is next to platforms 1 & 2. There is a step-free link from this platform to platforms 1 & 2, which were known as 12a and 12b at the planning stage. The area to the north of the station is now a huge animated building site for the 2012 Olympic games. The Olympic Delivery Authority is running free guided bus tours round the new Olympic Park area on Saturday, Sunday and some weekday evenings. You can book places, up to three months in advance, by telephoning 0300 2012 001.
The new lock on the Prescott Channel (GLIAS Newsletter June 2008) is now officially called Three Mills Lock. It is almost complete and should be open for traffic by about the time this newsletter appears. The unexploded 1,000kg bomb discovered there last year proved difficult to deal with, needing four visits by the bomb disposal team. A controlled explosion was resorted to and in the blast some windows were broken, and car windscreens. The LT&S railway line to the south had to be closed for a time. Portions of the Euston 'arch', removed from the bed of the Prescott Channel (GLIAS Newsletter February 2008; August 2008), could be seen in the vicinity of the lock until recently but they have now been moved away. Are they still in London?
On Sunday 12 July a well-organised commemoration took place at TQ 3513 8734 on Walthamstow Marshes to mark the centenary of the historic first flights by A V Roe in his British triplane. A superb working replica of the triplane was exhibited in a marquee and Eric Verdon-Roe, grandson of A V Roe, made a really excellent speech in the morning and delivered an illuminating lecture in the afternoon. Other contributors were David Rowlands, Past President of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Dr Jim Lewis. Dr Lewis launched three new books on the Lea Valley at the event (details here). The replica triplane is powered by a period 6hp JAP engine and can taxi. It is hoped to fly it in the near future. A V Roe, who has born in Patricroft, Manchester, with his brother Humphrey set up A V Roe and Co in 1909. It was one of the major British aircraft manufacturers of the 20th century, responsible for the Avro 504, Anson, Lancaster, Tudor, Vulcan and so on. Bob Carr
Pulhamite artificial stone
I recently went on a tour organised by the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, basically to see the monument of that great engineering family, the Brunels.
We were shown monuments of many famous people. One of these was the tomb of William Mulready RA (1786-1863) (pictured right), an artist who introduced prepaid postage sheets and envelopes prior to the introduction of the Penny Black stamp. His tomb was constructed from an artificial stone. I thought that this was probably 'Coade Stone' (GLIAS Newsletter June 2009) — however, it turned out to be 'Pulhamite'.
Pulhamite was created, and patented, by James Pulham (1820-1899) of the company James Pulham & Sons. Originally this firm was based in London. In 1842 they moved their factory to Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. He finally moved a couple of miles to Broxbourne (Herts) from where he produced many monuments, still extant in many parts of the UK, from 'his own Pulhamite' cement. Dan Little
South Croydon signalbox demolition
One or two clarifications can usefully be made about South Croydon Junction signal box (GLIAS Newsletter December 2008).
The signal box did not date 'from the 1930s', but from 1955. It was built as part of the British Railways Southern Region scheme to resignal the lines from Bricklayers Arms Junction and Battersea Park to East Croydon and Coulsdon North, replacing the existing mechanical signalling. The new colour-light signals were introduced in four stages between October 1950 and May 1955. The new South Croydon signal box was brought into use on Sunday 8 May 1955.
The resignalling was not carried out as part of electrification of the Brighton main line. The line from East Croydon to Coulsdon North was first electrified on the LBSCR overhead AC system from 1 April 1925. It was converted to third rail exclusively on Sunday 22 September 1929. Electrification of the main line from Coulsdon North to Brighton was completed at the end of 1932, the new services starting on 1 January 1933. This section did include new colour-light signalling, but the London area lines were not converted at this time.
The accident at South Croydon which took place in fog on 24 October 1947 occurred while the manual signalling was still in use. It is probable that it would have been averted if colour-light signalling had already been installed.
The resignalling scheme was briefly described in G T Moody, Southern Electric (London, 1957 and later editions). More detailed information appeared in articles in The Railway Magazine for December 1950, December 1952, May 1954 and July 1955. The 1955 article includes a description and photographs of the new South Croydon signal box. John Liffen
Going underground in Ipswich
On the subject of Ipswich (GLIAS Newsletter June 2009), people may care to take a look at this website: www.ipswich-underground.co.uk.
This purports to tell the story of the Ipswich underground railway. Those who don't know Ipswich could very easily be taken in. It really is a pretty convincing history of this short lived and unsuccessful system, complete with pictures of surviving structures.
Of course there never was any such thing and the whole website is a classic spoof — but it fooled the local train operating company who in all seriousness mentioned it in their on-train magazine! The moral of this story is be very sceptical about anything you read on the internet. David Flett
Lowne Electric Clock & Appliance Co.
I happened to read the report of the final closure of the Lowne company (GLIAS Newsletter October 2004) and also sadly the death of Bob Barnard who I used to contact regularly in my days with the old Negretti & Zambra Company.
I joined Negretti & Zambra in 1956 and became Publicity Manager in 1975 until 1999 and became interested in Negretti & Zambra history. On browsing various antique sites I often see vane anemometers attributed to Negretti & Zambra. The fact is that they were all made by Lowne but marked as Negretti & Zambra, however the base was always stamped 'Lowne Patent'.
Mr Barnard often helped me with dates of manufacture since he had the records of them going way back well into the 19th century. Dave Day
Anyone interested in Lowne Anemometers will find several on the following web page (all those attributed to Negretti will undoubtedly be of Lowne manufacture): www.scientificcollectables.com/page_anemometers.htm
SIHG conservation award
The Surrey Industrial History Group has been making this annual award for over 20 years and last year published a booklet listing the winners. This year, however, they contacted GLIAS and asked our permission to cross the border and make the award to the Kempton Park Engines as they felt they were moving in on our patch.
The event was held on 11 July and was combined, as in past years with the Group's AGM. The formal business (interesting to see how other organisations operate) was followed by a presentation on the Kempton Park Engines past and present and the opportunity to look round in a relatively small group.
It is quite sobering to realise that the gleaming, working monster engines that GLIAS members visited, photographed and videoed all those years ago have been through dereliction and rust and back to the stage where one of the pair of triple expansion engines is working again, although with some problems of overheating bearings. The standby turbines, which in the past were flooded, have been conserved but are not scheduled for restoration and a replacement for the mercury arc rectifier which was lost from the site has been brought in from the Royal Opera House and is being restored.
It was a good 'excuse' for me to revisit a most impressive site and see the results of a major restoration project. Somewhere I have a slide of my elder daughter in a push chair, pressed into use 'for scale' next to the bearings of the restored engine when it was still in use.
I would urge members to take the opportunity to go to one of the events at Kempton Park Engines and marvel at the engines and the work of the team of volunteers keeping the project going.
Our chairman Denis Smith once remarked that 'size is its own justification' and the Kempton Park Engines are a fine example. Daniel Hayton
For further information see www.kemptonsteam.org
The Kempton Great Engines Trust has won the Surrey Industrial History Group's 2009 Conservation Award for its work in restoring the engines and engine-house at the former Kempton Park Water Works and returning the No 6 triple-expansion engine to working order (see article above).
The Kempton Great Engines Trust was formed in 1995 to create a museum in the Triple Expansion engine house and return one of the triple-expansion engines to working order. Thames Water granted a 99-year lease and built a new boiler to provide steam for the restored engine, which was first run in 2002. Subsequent breakdowns, due mainly to bearing and lubrication problems, led to the need for much further refurbishment, but at present No 6 engine Sir William Prescott is in steam one weekend a month from April to November, excluding July. This engine is thought to be the largest in the world in working order.
The engines, turbines and other equipment may be viewed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except in December.
For further information see www.kemptonsteam.org
The Volunteer Team from the Markfield Beam Engine & Museum (www.mbeam.org) in South Tottenham won the Best Team Contribution category in the London Volunteers in Museums Awards.
The awards, which recognise the contribution volunteers make to museums, took place for the first time in June of this year on HMS Belfast.
You too can do a GLIAS walk!
We have enjoyed many GLIAS walks and must have been a bit too enthusiastic, as without quite knowing how it happened, we found we had agreed to do one ourselves.
The first hurdle was choosing an area, so we opted for Wealdstone as we knew there were industrial buildings and Mike had worked there at Kodak, now a shadow of its former self. We were also intrigued by a Connor and Butler book — 'The Stanmore Village Branch'. Accordingly we climbed on to a train and went to Harrow & Wealdstone station.
We explored the remains of the line to Stanmore as far as Belmont and realised there was not enough for GLIAS folk. It was a very hot day, so we repaired to a handy coffee shop to decide what to do. Somewhat restored, we walked back to Wealdstone to see if there were any remains of Whitefriars — apart from a road name, there is nothing left. We went home!
We started out again on another day and this time started with the High Street. Glimmerings of a possible route were beginning to emerge and we found buildings and objects of interest. Research was fascinating and much time was spent on the internet.
We planned the route and then realised that the pub was in the wrong place, so we turned the whole thing on its head, starting where we had intended to finish.
On the morning of the walk it poured with rain, but by lunchtime it had stopped — fortunately, as there was little shelter on the way round. About 30 people came and several of them had fascinating information to impart, which was very much appreciated by us. Thank you, everyone.
Would I do another one? Yes, but where? I know! There are hundreds of places in and around London that we haven't walked yet. Kate and Mike Quinton
If you want to volunteer, then contact the walks organiser at firstname.lastname@example.org
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© GLIAS, 2009