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Notes and news — December 2016

In this issue:

Whitewebbs Museum of Transport

On entering Whitewebbs Museum (GLIAS Newsletter December 1994) the visitor will at first see a good number of motorcycles. The first machine to be donated to the collection was Russian, a Mosvock 650cc machine made in 1972. There are of course also large numbers of British motorcycles, including some examples of the Matchless marque. The oldest machine is a Holden of 1898, probably the oldest motorcycle in the country. Overall however the collection concentrates on four-wheeled motor vehicles — the museum was set up by the Enfield and District Veteran Vehicle Trust (EDVVT).

Just under a mile to the east of Crews Hill railway station, the impression the museum gives is one of being well-dusted. The exhibits are in an excellent state and much polishing must go on here. At present they have an RT London Transport bus, RT 935, which stands outside in the yard behind the beam-engine house. Dating from 1898 the museum was originally a pumping station for the New River Company. Water was pumped from a well and added to the New River. It is possible to visit the well, look down the 14 feet diameter shaft and see the water 70 feet below — an impressive sight. The Enfield and District Veteran Vehicle Trust purchased the pumping station in 1986.

In the yard behind the main buildings there are purpose-built structures including a replica fire station, complete with fire engines and a longer building, displaying commercial vehicles. There is a railway coach containing two model railways, and a long low range with a room for stationary engines. This long range has a railway station roof with cast iron columns and decorative valance.

Since the site's pumping station days, floors have been inserted into the main buildings giving a fair amount of display space and steel spiral staircases connect the floors. As well as road transport there are now many smaller exhibits such as sewing machines, typewriters, children's pedal cars, measuring instruments etc, and at the top of the beam-engine house Second World War memorabilia.

Admission is currently £4 and the museum is open on the last Sunday of the month as well as on Tuesdays. There is a good friendly café. Bob Carr

London Fieldwork and Publication Round-up

The London Archaeologist has published its London Fieldwork and Publication Round-up 2015, which includes the following items of IA interest:

  • Abbey Road, Barking Evaluation trenching found a possible Saxon kiln.
  • Ripple Road Dagenham Evaluation trenching found concrete slab for Second World War 'prefab' building.
  • Cromer Road, New Barnet Aerial and resistivity surveys found foundations of Gas Decontamination Centre, 'one of a number of such facilities built around London in the late 1930s to counter the threat of gas attacks from the air. Typically they contained air-lock chambers, undressing and decontamination areas, a water tower and a furnace for the incineration of contaminated material'.
  • Clitterhouse Farm, Cricklewood. Moated site with history stretching back to the 14th century.
  • Camden Lock Found evidence of former lock keeper's cottage.
  • King's Cross Central Monitored clearance of former site of Potato Market. A railway turntable and square features associated with two others were recorded. Fluid-filled iron pipes with oval connections 'probably formed part of the hydraulic system to operate the turntables and other railway yard machinery'.
  • King's Cross Central Eastern Coal Drops recorded — built 1851-2 by Lewis Cubitt. Also recorded Western Coal Drops 1859-60.
  • West Smithfield Excavation and observation of possible very large quarry.
  • Crossrail Liverpool St recorded foundations of Broad Street Station 1865.
  • Sugar Quay EC3 Monitoring of ground preparatory work found eastern wall of 14th-century Custom House; a post and plank revetment, the lower part of which included reused clinker boat timbers; brick wall part of building associated with Wren's Custom House; and iron-shod timber piles.
  • Trinity Square, EC3 Excavations found walls remaining from East India Company warehouses.
  • Cane Hill Hospital Farm, Coulsdon Example of purpose-built Victorian piggery, embodying trend towards industrialisation and specialisation in farming practice, with additional therapeutic purpose.
  • Southall Gasholder station Recorded five gasholders prior to demolition.
  • Bury Lodge Depot Edmonton Found system of cattle horn core-lined drains, probably 18th-century — early 19th-century.
  • Scotch Derrick Crane, Columbia Wharf EN3 Recorded standing structure, erected 1941.
  • Enderby Wharf, SE10 Location of gunpowder magazine and later features.
  • Eltham C of E Primary School Recorded WW2 air-raid shelter constructed with precast concrete frames and panels.
  • Greenwich Market Found brick walls that may have been part of substructures related to Joseph Key's market built in 1830.
  • Royal Arsenal Riverside Found two probably clay pipe kilns and a bread oven.
  • Hewett Street, Shoreditch Recorded three late 19th-century brick-built industrial buildings.
  • Woodlands Wetlands, Hackney recorded standing structure of Gas House and Ivy Sluice Gate House, both built to assist in water management: 'The sluice mechanism is intact and a good example of gear technology.'
  • 398 Mare Street, Hackney Evaluation trenching found circular brick-lined well and building which was probably a smithy.
  • Principal Place EC2 Found remains of Worship Street Gas Works 1813-71. Also monitored demolition of railway viaduct.
  • 396-418 London Road, Isleworth Found walls, floors and a soakaway associated with Lanadron soap works, established 1862.
  • Isleworth House TW7 Found evidence of 18-19th-century Isleworth pottery factory.
  • Northern Line Extension, Nine Elms Station recorded two-storey industrial building probably constructed 1861-70 as stores for Nine Elms Locomotive works, extended between 1870 and 1895.
  • Keybridge House, SW8 Purpose-built international telex exchange 1970 recorded prior to demolition.
  • The Wharves, Evelyn Street, Deptford Recorded standing structure.
  • Convoys Wharf, Deptford Found evidence of smithy and associated buildings and six brick-lined sawpits.
  • Chobham farm, Newham recorded wall foundations probably associated with 19th-century Stratford Locomotive Works.
  • Royal Wharf, E16 Found layer of 20th-century cinder, probably evidence of 1917 Silvertown explosion.
  • Teddington Studios, TW11 Surveyed three main studios prior to demolition.
  • Camberwell Green, SE5 Entrance to WW2 air-raid shelter uncovered during landscaping works in the park. One person was killed when bomb hit the shelter in 1940.
  • 240, 252 Camberwell Road Recorded complex of light industrial buildings. Yard developed from late C19 to 1970s by Trollope and Colls Ltd.
  • 3 Decima Studios, SE1 Excavation found two 19th-century timber-lined tanks that contained quicklime, probably used for tanning leather.
  • 175-179 Long Lane, SE1 Found 19th-century wood-lined tanning pits.
  • Marshall House, 6 Pages Walk, Bermondsey Remains of 19th-century probable tanning buildings observed.
  • Surrey Quays Road Once formed part of Surrey Commercial Docks; excellent state of preservation of 1860s canal that originally linked Main Dock with Albion Road. Converted to dry dock end 19th-century. Structure is to be preserved as part of site development.
  • Valentine Place and Webber Street, SE1 Recorded joinery workshops of Gaskell and Chambers.
  • 237 Walworth Road, SE17 Dug to test for surviving remains of iron foundry and tannery, but only found iron slag.
  • Dockhead Fire Station, Bermondsey Surveyed prior to demolition. Built 1927-28 by George Topham Forrest, 'of architectural interest as one of the few surviving examples of an inter-Wars fire station'.
  • Heron Quays West found remains of dock wall and 19th-century brick soakaway probably part of dock drainage system.
  • Former Gasworks, Bow Common Lane Two gasholders recorded, built 1943 and 1945 — 'two examples of the typical mid-20th-century water-sealed gasholder'.
  • London Fruit and Wool exchange etc, E1 recorded building, to be retained in new development. Basement used as air raid shelter WW2.
  • Shadwell Fire Station recorded. Constructed 1937 'it typifies a London-wide upgrading of fire-fighting capability'.
  • 13-15 Folgate Street, E1 Discovered possible pottery kiln.
  • 15-17 Leman Street, E1 Excavation of large 17th-century brick field.
  • Leven Road Gasholder Station Recorded three gasholders, all of water-sealed type.
  • Dock Walls, Wood Wharf, E14 Recorded dock walls and other structures of dock constructed 1853-5 to connect Blackwall Basin with South Dock.
  • Jenny Hammond Primary School, E11 Found remains of underground communal air-raid shelter.
  • Springfield Ice House, SW17 Recorded prior to restoration.
    Brian James-Strong

    Woolwich museum closes

    Firepower — the Royal Artillery Experience at Woolwich Royal Arsenal closed in July 2016 after struggling for years to meet its target of 200,000 visitors a year.

    The £15 million attraction opened in May 2001 (GLIAS Newsletter August 2001) and will vacate the Woolwich site by the end of 2016.

    A new purpose-built heritage centre close to the Royal Regiment's home at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain is currently in the early stages of planning and is due to be built by 2020.

    For the duration of the transition period the majority of the collection will be in store at a site owned by the Science Museum Group in Wiltshire. The collection will still be managed by a professional team employed by Royal Artillery Museums Limited but will not be open to the public while in storage.

    Some of the collection will remain in the borough to go on display in the Greenwich Heritage Centre, based in Artillery Square, in the old Royal Arsenal complex.

    The Ladies Bridge

    The recognition of the contribution of women in constructing the present Waterloo Bridge (GLIAS Newsletter October 2016) is welcome, if overdue — better late than never (but better never late). I was pleased to find that their efforts, and the research of Dr Christine Wall in establishing the facts, are credited in the current Historic England online entry for the Grade II*-listed bridge — see

    Peter Butt credits Sir Giles Gilbert Scott as the bridge's designer, writing that 'on his own admission he was no engineer'. Indeed not — he is variously described in sources as the 'consulting' or 'collaborating' architect. The consulting engineers responsible for its structural design were Rendel, Palmer & Tritton, working in association with the London County Council's chief engineer Sir Pierson Frank. And, whereas John Rennie's Waterloo Bridge that this replaced was a series of true arches, and despite its own arched appearance, the structure of the present Waterloo Bridge is in reality a series of continuous reinforced concrete beams of varying depth. Michael Bussell

    Narrow gauge railway for Crossness?

    Crossness Engines Trust has submitted a planning application for the 'installation of a narrow gauge railway and modification to an existing industrial building for use as depot facilities for the railway'.

    The light railway will be a single track of 18-inch gauge track, with passing loops and two small timber stations at each end. The main purpose of the railway is to replace the 550m walk from car park to historic sewage treatment works.

    There has been the possibility of a light railway since 2011, when the Royal Gunpowder Mills loaned an Avonside 0-4-0T steam locomotive to the Crossness team under an agreement to restore it. In addition, a diesel locomotive, and some original rolling stock from the Woolwich site has been preserved.

    The planning application confirms that the proposals 'will not generate any foul sewage'.

    J Reid Piano Factory

    What is reputed to be the last piano factory in London now has an application to convert it to flats.

    J Reid Piano Factory

    Located in St Ann's Road, N17, the Georgian-built (1830) building always been a factory, and turned to pianos in 1929. It is locally listed. Bob Rust

    Requests for information

    I am trying to find information — photos, records and drawings preferably — of steam wagons known as the 'St Pancras Steam Wagon'. From what I can gather they were built by Belle Isle Works of London for the St Pancras Ironworks (or maybe both companies were involved in their manufacture). I've been in touch with archives, tried Google and got a small amount of information from 'Commercial Motor'. A book exists called 'The Development of the English Steam Wagon' by R H Clark, if you had access to a copy of this you could have a look at one out of interest to get an idea of what I'm referring to.

    I'd love to hear back from someone who might be a little in the know on any of this or be put in touch with a serious enthusiast who might be able to help me?
    Craig Campbell of New Zealand. Email:

    We at St Austell Brewery are currently restoring some old bits and pieces from our original steam brewery and are looking for some help tracking down information about the manufacturer of some of our old equipment. A G Tourell & Co was an engineering/copper-working company with offices down here in St Austell (I believe Par/St Blazey) as well as up in Isleworth.

    Copper lid

    Pictured is one of the copper lids from our old boiling copper for reference and I was wondering if any of your subscribers might have any knowledge regarding the company as we don't seem to be able to find too much down here. We know Mr Tourell lived down here but we would be interested in finding out the extent of the business in Middlesex.

    If any GLIAS members are down our way, they would be very welcome to pop in and see some of our heritage!
    Chris Knight, Curator & PR Manager. Tel: 011726 627154. Email:

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