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Notes and news — August 2013

In this issue:

London Bridge station redevelopment — update, mid July 2013

In December 2011 LB Southwark granted permission for redevelopment at London Bridge Station (GLIAS Newsletter April 2012).

Since then work has concentrated on the area of the terminating platforms, which were covered by a trainshed erected in 1864-6; it was later raised by a few feet. The roof was in three parts — a central barrel roof and flat sections either side. The outer ends of the flat roof were supported on brick side walls. Although the rail track and platform configuration changed over the years, in the 1960s the trainshed covered eleven platforms. The southmost three, shorter than the others, closed some time ago, leaving eight in use (numbered 9 to 16) in use at the start of 2012.

By spring 2012 scaffold had been erected above the platforms, allowing removal of the roof while trains continued to run. The roof and scaffold have now been removed and the north supporting wall, between platforms 8 and 9, has been reduced to about 15ft.

Platforms 14, 15 and 16 were closed in May 2013 and boarding erected to separate platform 13 from the now closed adjacent 14. Most of the brick vaults south of platform 14 have now been removed down to ground level, and the wall alongside St Thomas Street that supported the roof has disappeared completely. Although the site is secured and difficult to see, it seems that the removed area of vaults was an addition, albeit pre-dating the train shed, as the part not removed, below platform 14, shows a 'clean' brick face. Beyond the eastern end of the site of the trainshed, the south wall of the viaduct remains. This is noted for use of multicolour brick around windows and doorways and some weathered stone carvings.

However, there has been an interesting development. Before demolition started Network Rail offered the whole of the 'listed' trainshed free to any interested party, but there were no takers. That allowed the possibility of saving only part. On 31 May this year there was a press release saying that 16 columns and spandrels and 14 elliptical beams had been saved and moved by road to Aberystwyth for erection as a railway museum. Although this still needs to receive planning permission, the local authority is reported as 'favourable'.

Meanwhile, the South Eastern Railway offices in Tooley Street are due to be demolished to allow a new station entrance. Tenants on the ground and first floors have gone and these are boarded up. The three upper floors, accessed either by footbridge above Platform 1 or via the main entrance in Tooley Street, remain in use as offices for the time being. David Thomas

Hope for Shaftesbury Hall

Shaftesbury Hall, 17 February 2008. © David Flett

The corrugated iron 'Shaftesbury Hall', located at the end of Herbert Road, London N11, next to Bowes Park station (GLIAS Newsletter October 2008), seems to have a brighter future than of late.

It is owned by the 'Samaritans' and I recently attended a public meeting held by them and local councillors to discuss its future.

A brief history is that it was believed to have been erected as a mission hall for railway workers (circa 1890s). Later it passed to a temperance organisation before being acquired by the Samaritans in the 1970s. As it became steadily more dilapidated the Samaritans were made an offer they couldn't refuse by a developer. The planning application was rejected following a public outcry, though 'listing' was refused due to an unattractive extension at the back. The poor condition forced the Samaritans to move out early last year.

At the meeting it was explained that they hoped to restore the hall as a new community facility, while adjoining it at the back would be a new purpose-built and sympathetically designed office for the Samaritans. In view of the poor physical state of the structure the restoration would be more like a rebuild using modern materials — though they were insistent that the appearance would be the same. The substantial and distinctive exposed wooden roof support beams would be re-used.

Much of the finance for this development is in place and plans have been fully drafted (the architect attended the meeting). In view of the fact that Samaritans are currently using rented accommodation they hope that work might start later this year. David Flett

New home for King's Cross footbridge

Kings Cross station, 2004. © Robert Mason

The Grade I listed bridge which linked the platforms within the train shed at King's Cross station was relocated in June to Ropley Station on the Mid Hants Railway's Heritage Watercress Line (GLIAS Newsletter December 2011).

Sir William McAlpine, Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust which provided a grant towards the cost of relocating the bridge, performed the opening ceremony.

The bridge was built at the Britannia Ironworks in the centre of Derby by the firm of Andrew Handyside of Derby and London in 1892 and installed a year later. The bridge had to be dismantled in December 2008 to allow for the redevelopment of the King's Cross Departure Concourse. At the time English Heritage stipulated to Network Rail that it had to find a suitable alternative use for the bridge.

There are good views of the bridge in its original setting in for example the King's Cross section of 'King's Cross to Potters Bar' by C and J Connor, Middleton Press. The bridge became famous as the place where Harry Potter was given his first ticket for the Hogwarts Express by Hagrid in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'. It also featured in the films 'The Thirty-Nine Steps' and 'Elizabethan Express'.

The website features the bridge and Handyside's other known constructions — follow the Andrew Handyside World Map link. Peter J Butt

The Thames Ironworks Lifeboat Foundation

A group of West Ham United fans are currently devising a plan to restore a fully functional Thames Ironworks lifeboat to offer educational heritage tours of the waterways around the Olympic Stadium once the club moves there.

Spokesperson Gavin Redknap said: 'The move to the Olympic Stadium will reconnect West Ham with the waterways on which it was born as Thames Ironworks FC.

'The plan would be to place a restored Thames Ironworks boat on these waterways, offering tours of the immediate area that focus on this heritage, which is something that is at risk of being lost as the area slowly gentrifies. With permission, the boat would have a mooring close to the stadium itself, helping to reconnect the club to its past, two miles downstream at Leamouth.'

The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd was incorporated in 1857, taking over the operations of CJ Mare and Co, and was based on both sides of the river Lea at Leamouth (Canning Town) (GLIAS Newsletter February 1984).

Redknap added: 'Not much is left of the thousands of ships produced by the ironworks. Perhaps 30 boats exist in the world, the most important of which is HMS Warrior, permanently moored at Portsmouth. A handful of the lifeboats have been restored, with one or two seaworthy examples still around.'

The group has been in contact with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Canals and Rivers Trust, who manage the river.
Further details from Gavin Redknap, 16 Ickburgh Road, London E5 8AD. Email:

Paternoster lifts

With reference to the item on paternoster lifts (GLIAS Newsletter June 2013), another paternoster lift surviving in London should still be found at Northwick Park Hospital. Hopefully it is still there. In 2012 the hospital trust was considering closing it because of the difficulties in sourcing spare parts for maintenance and repair for this now obsolete type of elevator. But it was said to be well-used and popular with staff.

The paternoster lift, or cyclic elevator, is a lift design dating from 1884 by the firm of J & E Hall, of Dartford. The name 'paternoster' derives from the loop design, which reminded people of rosary beads.

The paternoster lift is said to have been at Northwick Park Hospital since about 1970. It is a continuously moving elevator which eliminates waiting and requires some co-ordination to use safely. But it can carry more people than a conventional elevator, despite being slow, and staff found it rather convenient.

There is a bigger paternoster lift in the Arts Tower at Sheffield University. But it seems that they are increasingly rare type of lift. Philip Seely

The Civil and Mechanical Engineer Records, 1820-1930

Genealogy website has made available online membership documents from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineers from 1820-1930.

Among the 100,000 documents are some of Britain's most celebrated inventors from Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel to nuclear engineer Christopher Hinton.

Miriam Silverman, of, said: 'Included within this collection are some of the brightest brains Britain has ever produced, who were responsible for some of the country's most iconic landmarks and feats of innovative design.

'Not only do these records provide a unique insight into engineering during the 19th and 20th centuries, but they will provide a valuable resource for anybody trying to trace an ancestor within the collection.'

The database contains records created as people sought membership in the ICE and IMechE. Documents include certificates of admission, proposals to admit new members, certificates conferring a status change (i.e., from associate member to member), training certificates, correspondence relating to applicants or members, and similar documents.

Indexed records and their associated images found after 1930 have been excluded to conform with privacy restrictions.

London's rich heritage

Unlike much of the country Greater London, at least zones 1-3, is still extremely rich in buildings and indeed whole street scenes which survive little altered from the Vicwardian period. Quite a good example of this abundant wealth is the Blackstock Road in Islington. A photograph at the Islington local history centre shows a view of the Blackstock Road that has not changed that much in a hundred years. Taken roughly a century ago from about TQ 318 861, to the south of Hurlock Street, the camera points northwards towards Finsbury Park. There are now some new buildings on the left hand side of the road but the right hand buildings appear entirely unaltered. It is the road traffic that has really changed. Apart from a man on the left hand side, probably with a handcart, there is just a single-decker bus heading south in the old view and no parked cars but the lower part of the large Edwardian building on the far right was then a motor garage. There is BP sign which might be for petrol. Distributed as a postcard entitled Old Fashioned Values, this image is being used by a local estate agent for publicity. Bob Carr

Crossrail updates

Members interested in monitoring the progress of the Crossrail construction project in the build-up to its opening can elect to receive email updates from the project's website.

Crossrail will provide a high-frequency commuter/suburban rail service that will link parts of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, via central London, to Essex and South East London.

The main civil engineering construction works for Crossrail are planned to be completed in 2017. Fit-out of stations and testing will continue afterwards. It is expected that Crossrail services will commence on the central section by late 2018 followed by a phased introduction of services along the rest of the Crossrail route over several months.

News in brief

North of St Pancras station the first column of gasholder number 8 (GLIAS Newsletter February 2002) was re-erected on its new site, about 10 June this year. There are 18 columns 83ft high to be put up. Only the guide frame of this holder survives, listed grade II. The columns were taken by road to Shepley Engineers Ltd, Barnsley, Yorkshire where shot blasting and restoration has taken place.

On Saturday morning 13 April the A1 pacific Tornado passed through Finsbury Park station at 8.25 with a train from King's Cross to York (GLIAS Newsletter February 2012). The engine hooted loudly and was travelling fast. The characteristic rapid beat of a three-cylinder locomotive, six beats per revolution of the driving wheels, made the speed seem even faster.

For about two years, civil engineering work has been in progress at the railway bridges that cross over the Stroud Green Road immediately north of this station. The work has been labour intensive, often involving quite old-fashioned manual work and up to 20 people at a time. Unlike much present-day bridge replacement things have been reminiscent of railway engineering in the 1890s. This work, even now, is not fully completed.

The engineering is being carried out to enable platform lengthening work. Platforms are being extended northwards over the Stroud Green Road to accommodate longer twelve-coach trains. Extra platform capacity is also being provided to cope with increased passenger numbers. At Finsbury Park all the platforms are island platforms and the pair of platforms on the east side of the station, long out of use, are being brought back into use. This is to avoid the extra passengers having to queue to exit platforms at rush hours. A new building in yellow brick to match the Great Northern period buildings on the other six platforms has been built on what are now platforms 1 and 2. Platform renumbering makes the six platforms to the west numbers 3 to 8. Step-free access to platforms 1 and 2 will be provided by a passenger lift. A roof to cover part of these reinstated platforms may also be built.

In Green Lanes at TQ 323 688 the dramatic castellated pumping station was listed grade II* in 1972. It is now The Castle Climbing Centre (GLIAS Newsletter August 2008 and April 1996). About 60 years ago local children were told that Robin Hood's bones were kept at the top of the tower. Has anyone else heard this tale?

An Old Tram Shed Café and Bar has been opened at the former Lea Bridge horse-tram depot in Upper Clapton Road (GLIAS Newsletter August 2010). This is in the building immediately to the south of the shed which displays Jaguar motor cars. It is at the southwest corner of the tram-depot site.

In Upper Clapton the de Havilland building in Theydon Road at TQ 351 869 is a fine structure designed by Sir Owen Williams about 1938. Said to be a factory for the production of aircraft components, these were probably of wood. The site is close to the River Lee Navigation in an area where skilled wood workers would have been available. De Havilland's continued to use wood in aircraft construction in their twin-boom jet fighters built up to the 1960s.

This factory on the west side of Theydon Road, or more likely an extension for offices, may originally have been built for Hunt Partners Ltd who made cartons, packages and cardboard boxes but is has the look of a Shadow Factory. Might there perhaps have been a hidden agenda? For example the extensive subterranean air raid shelters for the Harris Lebus furniture factory at Tottenham Hale (GLIAS Newsletter October 2008) were completed in August 1939. Does anyone have more information about the building in Theydon Road? What hard evidence is there that it was actually used by de Havilland? Hunt Partners were manufacturing printed cartons for the food industry and were here in 1959. Bob Carr

Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham now holds the three remaining sections of the concrete arches for the subterranean air raid shelters for the Harris Lebus furniture factory. © Bob Rust Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham now holds the three remaining sections of the concrete arches for the subterranean air raid shelters for the Harris Lebus furniture factory. © Bob Rust Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham now holds the three remaining sections of the concrete arches for the subterranean air raid shelters for the Harris Lebus furniture factory. © Bob Rust

New look for Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum

Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum in Hampshire is currently undergoing a major upgrading, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In time for the new season next year, it will have a whole new look, with professional interpretation, enhanced facilities, and much improved access, especially for those with disabilities.

GLIAS members wishing to 'make a day of it' in Hampshire might consider visiting other Industrial Archaeological sites such as Bursledon Windmill, Twyford Water Pumping Station, Botley Manor Farm (as featured in the TV series 'Wartime Farm'), Eling Tide Mill, and Whitchurch Silk Mill.

Obituary: John Boyes FSA, ARHist. Soc. (8 November 1914 – 6 May 2013)

It is with great regret that we record the death on 6 May of our President, John Boyes. John's funeral service, which took place on 29 May, was attended by a number of GLIAS members and was held at North Chingford Methodist Church where John had been a member of the congregation for many years and where he was also a lay preacher.

John was born in Guildford, Surrey, but passed his formative years in Coventry where he was educated at Bablake School and later attended Coventry Technical College. John's first job was with the Coventry Public Health Department but the start of Second World War saw him enter service with the Royal Army Medical Corps. After a short time John left the RAMC and was appointed a health inspector in Manchester following which, in July 1942, he was appointed one of HM Inspectors of Factories, his first posting being in the Manchester area, where he remained until 1950. John's next posting was to the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area where he remained until the early 1960s. The next, and final, posting was to the Essex/London area where John worked until his retirement from the Factory Inspectorate in 1979.

John had an abiding interest in waterways, railways, windmills, indeed in the whole spectrum of technology and its history, and participated in the work of many societies and other organisations associated with the recording and preservation of Britain's industrial past. This interest was rewarded in 1978 when he was chosen to be the recipient of the first Rolt Fellowship at Bath University (GLIAS Newsletter February 1979). John was an enthusiastic supporter of GLIAS from its early days and during his long association with the Society gave us two lectures, the first, on 'Canal Lifts and Inclines', was delivered in 1983 and the second, on 'The Industrial Heritage of the National Trust', in 1991.

We were delighted when John agreed to be President of GLIAS following the retirement of Michael Robbins and he continued to be a strong supporter of GLIAS until his death. Increasing difficulty with mobility in recent years did not stop John participating in GLIAS events and in 2008 he gave a welcoming address to the SERIAC conference run by GLIAS in East London (GLIAS Newsletter October 2008), and later in the same year delivered an entertaining speech at the GLIAS 40th Anniversary Dinner (GLIAS Newsletter December 2008).

It was a privilege to have John Boyes as our President and we shall miss him greatly. John's wife, Marjorie, predeceased him but he is survived by his three sons, Richard, Geoffrey and Mark.

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© GLIAS, 2013