Home | Membership | News | Diary | Walks | Calvocoressi Fund | Books | Links | Database | e-papers | About us

Notes and news — December 2010

In this issue:

GLIAS Treasure Hunt 2010

This year's Treasure Hunt saw us all assembling at Mornington Crescent Underground Station, and yes, before you ask, we did have some clues — 29 in total. The Treasure Hunt is similar to the monthly summer walks, giving us an opportunity to discover new parts of London and to gain points ... and what do points mean?

Treasure Hunt, Mornington Crescent Treasure Hunt

We covered an area bordered by Mornington Crescent, St Pancras Gardens and Camden Town Station. There were intriguing clues, some with photographs ranging from an enigmatic cat, found on the Carreras Building, to London Underground art deco and a steam locomotive mosaic.

St Pancras Gardens and St Martin's Gardens, both former burial grounds, yielded several answers and gave us information about local people. The former partly covers what used to be the River Fleet, which is now underground, and has tombs to the family of Cecil Rhodes and that of Sir John Soane, which inspired the telephone kiosk. The latter mentions one Beilby Porteus, said to have been chaplain to Charles III — more probably this should be George III.

Near the junction of Parkway and Arlington Road there is some old stained glass from what was a camera shop, the old sign for Palmers pet shop and an estate agent's premises in an old London bus.

The weather was less than kind and we all got a bit damp, but GLIAS enthusiasm carried us through to the finishing point at 5.30pm. Two teams tied for first place and maps were distributed as prizes. Fiona and Chris had clearly worked very hard finding all the clues, preparing the question sheets and keeping an eye on us during the event. We all wish to thank them very much. We will look forward to next autumn's treasure hunt with great anticipation. Kate Quinton


I found the piece by Michael Bussell re the bicentenary event, or lack of it, for W G Armstrong (GLIAS Newsletter October 2010) of interest.

However, the celebrations of the anniversaries of notable people should not be analysed in too greater a depth, especially where one's own heroes are involved, as these celebrations tend to be commercially driven, for example the issuance of stamps, books and events.

In 2009 the centenary was marked of Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe's first flight in 1909 by the installation of a plaque on the arches of a railway viaduct over the River Lea at the Walthamstow Marshes. This triplane was the first indigenously designed, built and flown aircraft in the UK although he had completed towed flights in the Roe1 Biplane on 8 June 1908 at Brooklands near Weybridge. From this start he set up the first company to be registered as an aircraft manufacturer with branches in the Empire. Apart from a gathering of a few enthusiasts there was little coverage to mark this event.

Similarly, September this year saw the centenary of the first flight by Geoffrey de Havilland, which occurred on 10 September 1910 at Seven Barrows near Crux Easton. It was marked by a small gathering at the monument and a flypast by the Moth Club took place. de Havilland went on to design the ubiquitous DH 82 Tiger Moth, used as a pleasure and training aircraft, the DH 88 Comet that achieved first (Grosvenor House) and third (Black Magic) place in the England to Australia MacRobertson Air Race held in 1934, the DH 98 Mosquito fighter/bomber (still the most famous wooden aircraft in the world) and the DH 106 Comet jet Airliner, which despite is problems still became, in its modified form, the first jet airliner to cross the Atlantic. Again, apart from a gathering of a few enthusiasts there was little coverage to mark this event.

While Roe and de Havilland were erstwhile residents of London, they both have 'blue plaques' to record their residence in the capital, there was nothing to mark their achievements locally or nationally.

It should be noted also that the residence and office, at 106 Great Russell Street, of the Pugins, father and son, who led the Gothic Revival in British architecture, is only marked by a dusky and ancient leaden plaque which is easily missed if one does not know already that it is there! Apart from the activities of the Pugin Society there aren't any nationally celebrated events.

The suggestion that Armstrong may be denied some mark of recognition because of his involvement in armament manufacture is not valid as Sir Hiram Maxim, creator of the machine gun, which caused much devastation of infantry battalions, has a blue plaque at 57D Hatton Garden.

So, do not despair as W G Armstrong is good company. He has a local society, which could expand its membership to have an international following, just as the Pugin Society has done, to keep his memory to the fore. Dan Little

With reference to the query in the October issue, I can confirm that Lord Armstrong died 'unimaginably wealthy'. He left around £1.4m (see 'Dictionary of National Biography'). Daron Gunson

London Archaeologist

The London Archaeologist have published their annual London Fieldwork and Publication Round-up 2009. It includes the following reports of industrial archaeology interest:

If anyone would like references of particular report, please email me at
Brian James-Strong

Tottenham Court Road and IA

The Museum of London's 'Friends News', Autumn 2010 page 3 reports in the Director's Letter that recently their archaeologists had discovered 'a mountain of marmalade jars from the old Crosse & Blackwell factory near Tottenham Court Road'.

I have never associated this area of London with industrial archaeology and food processing in particular. So what is the IA of the Tottenham Court Road area? Peter Butt

German train at St Pancras

At 12.40am on Tuesday 19 October a Deutsche Bahn Inter-City-Express train (ICE) carrying the name Schwäbisch Hall arrived in London at St Pancras International station.

Sir John Betjeman statue and ICE train at St Pancras station on Tuesday 19th October 2010. © Robert Carr

The platform used was on the west side of the train shed alongside the long champagne bar and the train stayed there about 24 hours. Although behind a glass screen the train could be inspected from the outside and attracted a good deal of public attention with many people taking photographs.

Just after four o'clock there were speeches by among others the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Minister of State for Transport; Dr Peter Ramsauer, German Federal Minister of Transport, Construction and Urban Development; Dr Rüdiger Grube, Chairman of the Deutsche Bahn (DB) Management Board, and Mr Paul Chapman, managing director of High Speed 1. Press photographers and reporters were out in some force and an accomplished string quartet was in attendance playing Viennese classics by Haydn and Mozart. In his speech Dr Rüdiger Grube who had travelled with the train through the Channel Tunnel said 'Europe is becoming a small place'.

Successful evacuation trials had been carried out in the Channel Tunnel on October 16-17 using a pair of 200m long ICE3 trainsets coupled together. This was in co-operation with Eurotunnel and under the supervision of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority. DB announced that 'further approval measures will be carried out in the coming months'. Schwäbisch Hall, the name of the trainset DB ICE-3 Unit 406085, is a town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg formerly noted for the production of salt by heating saline groundwater. Bob Carr

New livery for Tornado

Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, will make its public debut in Brunswick green at King's Cross on 26 February 2011 after two years in apple green livery. The Peppercorn class A1 will haul a King's Cross to Leeds (return) railtour. Tornado's first livery was works grey.

Tornado at St Denys station. © Peter Hall, 14 February 2009

60163 Tornado's London dates in 2011:


Lottery award for House Mill

Three Mills The River Lea Tidal Mill Trust has been given the 'green light' by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £2.65 million grant to restore the historic House Mill at Three Mills, Bromley-by Bow.

As a first stage, the Trust have been awarded a development grant of £248,000 to progress their plans, which include restoring the machinery of the House Mill; developing electricity generation from the wheels and by installing turbines; improved presentation of the Mill to visitors; and creating a self-sustaining and vibrant visitor centre around the history of Three Mills, which is on the edge of the Olympic Park and in the heart of the Thames Gateway.

The project is estimated to take 18 months to complete and the Trust hope it will be ready for the opening of the Olympics in 2012.

The HLF describe the House Mill as 'a very rare industrial treasure' and comment that the 'refurbished mill will create many volunteer opportunities and offer workshops teaching traditional skill such as metalwork, carpentry and hand milling'. Brian James-Strong

Lincoln Castle gone

Tragic news is the recent scrapping of the paddle steamer Lincoln Castle in Grimsby. Worse than the fact that the hull was cut up at Alexandra Dock during late September and early October this year is the additional shock that the fine diagonal triple-expansion steam engines by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co of Troon, Ayrshire, have also been destroyed. These engines, the most irreplaceable part of the ship, were in a reasonably well-maintained condition and could have been re-used. Built in 1940, PS Lincoln Castle was a preserved ship at the Fishing Heritage Centre, Alexandra Dock, Grimsby from 1989 to late 2006 when she was closed to the public for remedial maintenance work.

The Lincoln Castle Preservation Society was established in May 2010 to buy the ship and restore her, with a view to an eventual return to service. They failed in their attempt and the ship and engines are now no more.

Lincoln Castle was similar but not identical to two sister ships [*] and operated the Hull-New Holland ferry service across the Humber. She was coal-fired up to her withdrawal from service in February 1978 and was the last coal-fired vessel of her kind in Britain. Bob Carr

Remaking the PS Medway Queen

Riveting techniques considerably safer and better than those associated with the 19th century are now available for conservation engineering. Rivets can be heated by electromagnetic induction and a recent application is to shipbuilding. In Bristol at David Abel's shipyard the hull of the 1924 paddle steamer Medway Queen (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006) is being entirely rebuilt; essentially the building of a new ship.

Instead of heating in a forge, rivets are being heated to red heat electrically in an up-to-date manner with a compact induction coil heater and then squeezed into shape by a hydraulic machine, in Abel's yard called an 'iron hand'. This is instead of hammering them into shape with a pneumatic hand gun and solves a number of health and safety problems such as excessive noise and injurious levels of vibration for the operator. It is also much quieter for the neighbourhood.

Most of the hull sections have already been constructed in a covered shed and have been assembled in Abel's dry dock which is close to the shed. Unlike the modern-day shipbuilding practice of fabricating a complete section and then lowering it whole into the dock, the method of building the Medway Queen's new hull has been more traditional with each piece being manufactured in the covered shed, lowered into the dock and then riveted in situ on the hull structure.

Simultaneously with the construction of the hull, work has also been carried out on the Medway Queen's original engines under a separate contract with 'Albion Drydock Ltd' directly. The engines have been inspected and suitable criteria developed so that a full restoration can be carried out to bring the heart of the Medway Queen back to life again. In the rebuilding of the engine rather more original parts are being used than for the hull. The cylinder block is in good condition despite having been submerged in salt water for a time and is being rebored. For fuller information see the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society Scottish Branch website, etc.

In addition to the work being done in Bristol, restoration work continues at Damhead Creek on the Medway where the Medway Queen Preservation Society's carpenters have ordered timber and started work on the reconstruction of the ship's bridge. The metal work for this structure is also being worked on by the Society's boiler makers. Although the Society has a £1.86 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund this will only provide for the rebuilding of the hull. The rebuilding of the engines also requires funding and an Engine Fund has been set up to raise the money needed. See for details and an online donation facility.

Riveting machines are not that new. In Britain at least most of the larger shipyards were using riveting machines for some of their work by 1905-10. However, some hand riveting still took place as the riveting machines were large could not easily access all parts of the ship. Awkward corners still had to be done by hand.

Electromagnetic induction heating uses an alternating current. The frequency of the alternating voltage applied to the work coil at Abel's is probably of the order of tens of kHz although much higher frequencies, up to radio frequencies, are now often used for small items. In Edwardian times the lack of present-day electronic control equipment would probably have limited the use of higher frequencies. It is believed the frequencies being used to heat rivets for the Medway Queen are in the range 5-150 kHz.

In Bristol there are currently two webcams showing images of Abel's dry dock and these images are well worth seeing. There has also been sound and over the next months we will be able to watch a riveted ship being completed and made ready for the water to be admitted to the dry dock. Bob Carr
Follow the rebirth of the Medway Queen online at

William Stanier in London

Judging from the dates of the British Museum Library accession stamps, copies of the Transactions of the Swindon Engineering Society at the British Library St Pancras have been in London ever since the collected papers were published and we are fortunate to have a set here. As well as William Stanier's first paper number 77 in the 1906-7 volume, this volume and the previous one 1905-6 contain a great deal else of a fascinating nature. Two evenings were spent at the Swindon Engineering Society in 1905 on a paper by H C King, number 64 pages 1-37, reporting a tremendous visit to the USA and Canada touring a great deal of the north-eastern part of the North American Continent by train on which the delegates were comfortably accommodated. An interesting remark made about New York was that in the street you almost never saw anyone on foot, they were in such a hurry people always took the tram, page 3. Another observation was that Americans had less personal freedom than was usual in Europe, page 2-3.

A visit was made to Altoona, the chief depot of the Pennsylvania Railway, and best American practice was admired with a view to emulation on the GWR. Steel works in Pennsylvania were visited with accounts of Bessemer converters etc and on the journey generally coal fields, coke ovens, and oil wells were noted. The visitors went as far as Niagara Falls and commented on a new electric railway which gave an exciting ride close to the thundering waters.

The authors of the paper covered 3,400 miles by rail visiting Cincinnati, St Louis, Chicago, Niagara, Port Huron, Montreal and Saratoga. What a splendid time they must have had. A view expressed was that in America everything was improved so often that by the time the paper was read the technology being described was already out of date and the machines had probably been scrapped.

Closer to home another paper number 66 in the 1905-6 volume by H Arkell read on 12 December 1905, pages 61-85, discussed the design and layout of engine sheds, with examples of Eastleigh, Slade Green, Carmarthen etc illustrated by plans or elevations. The practice of other railway companies was compared and contrasted.

On page 77 is a good-sized plan of the Midland Railway loco depot in London at Kentish Town and it is instructive to compare the description of this establishment with the then recently completed GWR depot at Old Oak Common for which there are fine pull-out plans and elevations [1]. The Old Oak Common depot is also described in the text.

A paper by J G Griffin, number 69 in the 1905-6 volume pages 129-152, describes the electric tramway system in Swindon: its power station receiving considerable emphasis.

There is also a good paper by J H Baker, Composite Roof Principals and Roofing, paper 74 pages 145-168 in the 1906-7 volume, with drawings (see pages 161-162) illustrating joints for the meeting of several roof-truss bars which we noted in surviving Churchward buildings at the Old Oak Common depot during the visit on 24 June 2010 (GLIAS Newsletter August 2010).

After the papers were read the ensuing discussions were reported in some detail and the name William Stanier can be found here, for instance on page 39 of the 1906-7 volume concerning the washing out of boilers with a mention of the Westbourne Park depot and also a discussion of engine cleaning. On page 68 there is a discussion of the graphic illustration of statistics and also axle boxes and lubrication. Stanier's paper number 77 on running sheds was read on 26 February 1906.

William Stanier when in London could well have been quite a man about town. In 1931 when negotiations were started to encourage Stanier to move from Swindon [2] to the LMS they commenced with lunch at the Athenaeum in October followed by a meal at The Travellers. At the age of 55 Stanier does not seem to have required very much persuasion: he took over at Euston as the CME of the LMS on 1 January 1932.

In later years Stanier lived with his wife and daughter at Rickmansworth in a house called Newburn in Chorleywood Road which had quite large grounds which he enjoyed, although he had no interest in gardening. Within the family William Stanier was known as Uncle Will or Bill. Sadly his wife Ella Elizabeth who was usually known as Nellie died in 1957 but William was well looked after by his dutiful daughter Joan. Late in life he was still very active even into his mid eighties and it was only in September 1965 at the ripe age of 89 that he died.

In the 1930s there was fierce competition between the LMS and LNER in running fast trains from London to Scotland but it should be mentioned that William Stanier and Nigel Gresley were friends as well as rivals. Gresley lived at Salisbury Hall, in Hertfordshire (TL 195 028). There was a moat here and Gresley took an interest in breeding wild birds and ducks which may account for the bird names given to some of his streamlined A4 Pacific locomotives [3]. The hall is still there today and is now the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre: a visit can be strongly recommended. The famous Mosquito was developed here from September 1939. Bob Carr

Converted water towers

Peter Finch asks about converted water towers (GLIAS Newsletter October 2010).

The water tower of the Brook Hospital, Shooters Hill Road, was converted to a dwelling when the hospital was sold off for redevelopment. Principal hospital buildings, of which this was one, were retained and converted for housing, but all the ward blocks have been replaced with blocks of flats.

It was built as an isolation hospital, but with the coming of antibiotics it became general, and spaces between the original wards were infilled — leading to an increased water requirement. The red-brick water tower was adapted by increasing the size of the tank to the outside dimensions of the tower, the now visible steelwork painted to match the bricks.

The conversion to domestic use saw the steel replaced by glass. Below this the tiny original windows have been retained. The dwelling was put up for sale at £1.2m just as the recent crunch came. Richard Buchanan

Pump House Steam & Transport Museum, Walthamstow

Markfield Road (GLIAS Newsletter April 2010) is not the only preservation site where there has been a recent substantial improvement.

In the engine house at the Pump House Steam & Transport Museum [1], Walthamstow (GLIAS Newsletter August 2008), located at TQ 362 882 near the north end of South Access Road E17, there is a newly acquired steam engine in working order and a workshop with machines driven by flat belts from overhead line shafting. The basement in this part of the building has been rediscovered and excavated and the whole place is worth another visit even if you are already quite familiar with this site.

The newly installed steam engine of about 5-8 horsepower is painted grey and was made at Loughborough College. It appears to be a horse-power engine built for teaching purposes. Students could measure brake horsepower from a pulley attached to the crankshaft and there were also facilities for indicator diagrams to be taken.

The Loughborough College engine came from Markfield Road's collection of machinery and was probably collected by Alan Spackman FIGE (GLIAS Newsletter February 2004) and his team. Where they got it from is not presently known. This horse-power engine could have been acquired directly from Loughborough say c.1980 when the use of a steam engine of this kind for teaching was deemed to be passé. It should be stressed that almost everything at South Access Road is now in working order with the newly installed engine being driven by compressed air from a road compressor trailer outside just to the northwest of the pumphouse. The flat belts needed for power transmission to the machine tools are expensive but splitting old fire hose provides a suitable alternative.

A 1930s aerial photograph on display at the Pump House Steam & Transport Museum shows the large rubbish destructor with a brick chimney which was built just to the southwest of the present site [2]. The local dustcarts used to deliver rubbish here and it was burnt to raise steam: the engines in the Pump House were powered by this steam. Some readers may remember the refuse destructor as the buildings probably lasted until the 1960s or 70s. Just to the southeast of the destructor was a railway line which connected the site to the Great Eastern Railway Temple Mills line. When the photograph was taken there was a good deal of activity with a number of LMS open wagons to be seen. It was thought that after solid matter had been recovered from the sewage at Low Hall it was sent by rail to a firm in Stratford for the manufacture of fertiliser.;

Nuremberg City Safari

23-26 September 2010

We travelled to Nuremberg by a variety of routes and gathered on the first evening to meet Sue and Mike Constable. On the first day we visited the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, which were originally where local people relaxed at the weekends. Here remain some of Albert Speer's massive concrete buildings; parts of the stadium, the Golden Hall and a transformer station. Some of the area is now used for motor sports and pop concerts. Close to this are some allotment gardens, each with a small summer house, neat hedges and lawns.

Famous manufacturers had premises in Nuremberg. MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg - Nürnberg AG) had a large site, where railway vehicles, steam engines and bridges were made. Siemens started out repairing sewing machines, then scientific instruments, moving on to dynamos, electric street lighting and heavy bombers. Both companies still have factories here today.

Sue Constable, on the left of the group, standing by the remains of a lock on Ludwig's Canal near Nuremberg. The canal was built between 1837 and 1847 and crossed the watershed between the rivers Main and Danube. © Mike Quinton, 2010

We walked along part of the Ludwig-Danube-Main Canal (pictured above), which was completed by 1847. Successful at first, it fell victim to railway competition, bomb damage and finally motorway construction. Near to this is the Main-Donau Canal, finished in 1992 and capable of taking Euro-standard IV barges, although we only saw two hotel boats. More industry followed with Faber-Castell's factory; an impressive range of buildings, still in use, and then the Bosch factory, which now makes hydraulic systems.

Nuremberg has an impressive railway station and is very busy. We had an excellent view of the trains and tracks from the hotel. The staff were fascinated by this group of people who actually wanted rooms overlooking the railway lines. As far as possible we followed the route of the first German steam hauled railway between Fürth and Nuremberg. The English rail gauge was used and George and Robert Stephenson supplied the locomotive Adler and its driver. In the afternoon we visited the National Railway Museum, which among many other artefacts, had a special exhibition with replicas of Adler, Rocket and Sans Pareil. Much of the museum had material from the Nazi era, including a clip from 'The Great Dictator' showing Mussolini (Charlie Chaplin) mismeeting Hitler at the railway station.

On the last morning we visited the Old Town which has many old buildings, including houses, warehouses and workshops used by a wide variety of craftsmen. Work was carried out on the ground floor, with storage and living space above. A typical house is one which belonged to the artist Albrecht Dürer; he moved there with his family and workshop in 1509. There also remain numerous towers, city walls, a castle and some gates.

Nuremberg is a most interesting city and we were given a marvellous insight into it by Sue, ably assisted by Mike. We would all like to express our thanks to them both for a fascinating visit. Kate Quinton

Toscolano Paper Mills

In booking a last-minute holiday to Lake Garda in September, I did not expect to find any IA. We went to Maderno, on the west and less visited side of the lake. Out walking we found direction signs to the 'Papermills Valley', located in a steep cleft in the side of the mountain, through which flowed the Toscolano river, a natural for water power. The earliest record is from 1381, when a deed regulating the sharing of water between Toscolano and Maderno referred to paper-hammers driven by water wheels. In the 15th century, there were buildings used for paper-making in all the main places in the valley. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, the valley became one of the main paper-making centres for the Venetian state.

With the arrival of printing, the paper produced in Toscolano became the best available for the Venetian industry. This was temporarily affected by a crisis in the Venetian printing industry in the first 30 years of the 17th century, but the Toscolano works were able to open markets in the Orient. Then a plague in 1630 caused the almost total collapse of the industry, which then consisted of some 60 paper-mills, and the decimation of the population of the valley. Recovery began towards the end of the century and by 1720 some 38 mills had been re-activated. Decline resumed at the end of the 18th century, when the papermakers were reluctant to introduce new machinery. The few that survived introduced larger works elsewhere. The last mill in the valley closed in 1962, though there is still one near the lake shore operated by hydro-electricity, introduced to the valley early in the 20th century.

The remains of the industry are now part of an Eco-Museum. The story of the industry is well told by panels, all the way up the valley. These include descriptions of the geology, ecology, flora and fauna. Most of the mills survive as ruins (though all the houses and other buildings have gone) and panels explain their composition and use and what archaeology has found. One of the main buildings has been re-used as an excellent museum, which explains both the history of the industry and its operation, with surviving machinery. It was well worth an afternoon's visit. Brian James-Strong


Joel Kosminsky (GLIAS Newsletter August 2010) says the 488 bus terminates at 'the obscure Twelvetrees Crescent', Bromley-by-Bow.

A look at Jim Lewis's 'From Eton Manor to the Olympics' (reviewed in the same issue) reveals that the street is likely to have been named after Harper Twelvetrees, 19th-century entrepreneur, industrialist and philanthropist.

Harper developed a cheap range of laundry products at the Imperial Chemical Works in Three Mills Lane, together with so many other items that in one year 101,843,464 labels were used for their identification!

Joel also mentions the London Gas Museum, still mentioned on buses (and on the map outside Bromley-by-Bow station), which regrettably closed in the mid 1990s, with the National Gas Museum Trust, based in Leicester, taking over much of the collection. Peter Finch

H Forman & Sons, Fish Island E3 (GLIAS Newsletter August 2010), relocated here from the Olympic Stadium site, was featured in the BBC's 'Celebrity MasterChef' on 12 August, with the smokehouse mentioned. Peter Finch

The former Railway Institute, Goodhall Street NW10 (GLIAS Newsletter August 2010), is in the LB of Ealing, rather than Willesden (LB of Brent), but then the nearby Willesden Junction station is mainly in the LB of Hammersmith & Fulham! Peter Finch

Bob Carr asks about the clockmaker B A Watson, Thornaby (GLIAS Newsletter August 2006). I am from Thornaby (near Middlesbrough in the north-east). I have never heard of this clockmaker, but I recently saw a clock by this maker in The Roebuck pub on Pond Street, opposite the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. Francis Hutchinson

Bob Carr mentions the Ferry Lane trolley bus wire supports (GLIAS Newsletter October 2010).

On a totally different subject — on the railway line between Greenwich and Maze Hill, where the track goes into tunnels, there is a centre rail. Does Bob or anyone else know what this is/was used for? Graham Ross

You may have realised from past comments that the interaction between industrial architecture and mankind often interests me. After 30+ years with TGWU the worker is as important as the works.

The mention of Enderby Wharf (GLIAS Newsletter October 2010) provoked memories of Banning Street, reminiscent of a scene from The Bill or a crime film set in the East End. Piper's, Providence, Badcock's, Lovell's and Granite. Sitting in a queue to deliver a very small consignment to go on a coaster or be lightered to the main docks. An activity these days called 'groupage' and done in a container or a trailer. Imagine the current accountants' reaction to waiting half a day to deliver a 10kg case which would be handled perhaps six times before it ever got on the high sea. Often the only distraction in those days was watching the cable coming out of the works over the conveyor/bridge to go into the cable tank of the ship lying alongside.

I had a look at L Rodi's café (GLIAS Newsletter October 2010). It looks unchanged since I used to go in there; through the window it seems it still has booths. As soon as I looked at the picture I could smell the 'café smell' so common in the 50s/60s, tea brewing and hot cheese cakes which were put on the top of the hot water boiler to heat up. Coupled with the smell of bacon or meat cooking, depending on the time of day. In those days we just parked in Blackhorse Lane, I don't think the bus stop was there then and traffic wardens had not even been conceived.

Looking at that reminded me that on the south-east corner of the junction TQ358 893 opposite the Tube station where the flats now stand was the Rael-Brook shirt factory. Toplin®, a mixture of Terylene and poplin; the original non iron. Each shirt came with 'two easily replaceable collars, one line of stitching'. I still have two of the collars.

One final thing, is there a member who knows the Stoke Newington address of Kemble Pianos [Carysfort Road — editor]. The firm, now part of Yamaha has just closed its Milton Keynes factory. I can picture the factory and many of the staff including 'Bobby' Kemble (until recently still the MD) whose Dad was alive when I collected from there. I can even picture the 'regulator', a small bald man in a warehouse coat (I think he was called Stan) who pricked the face of the hammers with a tool with several pins in a handle to adjust the sound of the 'strike'. Also the creaky old lift. But due to some quirk of memory I can't remember how I got there, the only one I can't remember out of twelve builders or restorers I regularly visited in the late 50s. Including the old restorers at Camden Town who kept a big pile of sixpences, one of which you got when you collected the delivery note (it bought three cups of tea).

News in Brief mentions the 'poles' in Ferry Lane (GLIAS Newsletter October 2010). My brother is (among other things) a trolleybus 'nut' and has researched these, they are probably the last remaining 'traction standards' in London. These are unique in being exceptionally long, springing from the platform level of the station and then projecting the normal length above the bridge parapet, he has seen the bottom. I believe there are four (two each side of the road). On Streetview it is possible to see they are behind the parapet. He has been trying to get someone to photograph them for the local Bruce Castle Museum where he is a volunteer, in case they finally get scrapped. Bob Rust

GLIAS database — help needed

Members will have followed the progress of the Database over the past 10 years. Now we have a fully searchable database with information, pictures, links to IA sites and GLIAS newsletter articles and it's time for you to help.

Chris Grabham has completed all the technical work and a small committee has guided its progress. Originally we scanned the text of the 'GLIAS book' which was not even saved as computer copy. Then we checked and added to this information using the more obvious reference books. A couple of local history societies came to our help to feed extra information about specific areas while a couple of individuals did the same.

We launched the Database to some acclaim, an award from the AIA for Recording (GLIAS Newsletter December 2002). Our Database can be used by any local society in any area and uses all the official AIA terms. Last year we held a pub evening to launch the latest version and copies have now been distributed.

There is very little Recording Work being done in London apart from that undertaken by professional companies as part of general archaeological surveys of development areas. Much local knowledge and experience is being lost. We need help to check and extend our database. We cannot expect that the same regular volunteers will do the work. Many hands will make light work.

So how can you help? Firstly acquire a copy of the Database — it's free to all members and easy to install on your computer. Copies are available if you mail Then check out your local area and if there are errors or omissions then follow instructions in the online handbook to send these back. If you have knowledge of a particular subject such as laundries or transport or street furniture, then let us have some information we may have missed. If a building has been demolished we need to know and we still need to know what went on there. If you have led a walk or written to the GLIAS newsletter, then think about sending in the information to the database.

GLIAS members, we need your help, any effort from you will be welcomed. We need information but we also need people to 'look after' areas so if you want to check out your local area then please come forward now.

Any offers of help should be made to and will be much appreciated. Sue Hayton

Docklands History Group

GLIAS members may like to be reminded of the Docklands History Group, which meets once a month at the (cumbrously re-titled) Museum of London Docklands, in the old No 1 Warehouse of the West India Docks.

The group has been going since 1979, to encourage greater understanding of all aspects of the Port of London and the maritime, industrial and social history of the River Thames. Its very active president is Chris Ellmers, who did so much over many years to get the Museum in Docklands going, and the chairman is now Edward Sergeant, who saw to it that many industrial archaeological features were suitably preserved and displayed when he was the conservation officer of the London Docklands Development Corporation in the 1980s.

In recent years the group has heard talks on aspects of such diverse topics as shipbuilding, labour unrest, Ice-Age geology, riverside land tenure and movable bridges. The 2011 programme kicks off in February — see The DHG welcomes visitors to its meetings at a small charge and is looking for new members.
Malcolm Tucker (DHG Honorary Treasurer. Tel: 020 7272 7160)

Next issue >>>

© GLIAS, 2010