Notes and news — August 2018
In this issue:
- Sue Hayton
- Electricity substation at junction with Sunnyside Passage
- Greenwich Town Hall
- New life for old dustcarts
- The Houses of Parliament
- Edison Swan building at risk?
- A new 'tin tabernacle'
- Epping Ongar Railway
- Can you help?
- Queen Victoria Jubilee plaques — the last word ... for now
- Students can attend AIA Conference free
- Potential electronic GLIAS Newsletter
- Rescheduled GLIAS visit to Morden College, Blackheath
- An important appeal from the GLIAS committee
- Conservation Watch
The board was saddened to learn of the death, on 24 June 2018, of Sue Hayton, a long-time member of the Society.
Sue joined GLIAS in the early 1970s shortly after meeting Denis Smith at his Industrial Archaeology class at Goldsmiths College, and for some forty years had been the Society's Membership Secretary as well as undertaking the editing and printing of the GLIAS Newsletter. In addition to her other work for the Society, such as helping to plan and organise occasional conferences, Sue also generously helped other members with their researches into Industrial Archaeology and genealogy. It was noted that as a consequence of Sue's enthusiasm for IA she recruited many new members for the Society not only from among the students at her IA classes but also from the participants in the tours both in the UK and overseas which she researched and led.
It was agreed that over the years Sue had made an enormous contribution to the Society and would be sorely missed. The board was unanimous in extending its sympathy to Daniel Hayton and his family.
Electricity substation at junction with Sunnyside Passage
Re: the request for information about the unusual structure in Sunnyside (GLIAS Newsletter June 2018). I have not seen one, neither have our group of retired electricity supply engineers. However, one of them enjoys a challenge and has found this link which has a lot of information:
It is a listed structure (List entry Number: 1358028) 'for its special architectural or historic interest'.
As always, where electrical equipment is concerned, it should not be interfered with! The local electricity distributor is UK Power Networks. David Reason
One would expect a transformer in a fairly rural area. It would permit a connection from a power station, a mile or two away, to be operated at, say 10 or 20 times the normal supply voltage and, crucially, one tenth or twentieth the load current — so that a much lighter copper cable could be used with lower losses and easier maintenance. This is still common practice in rural areas, the (AC) supply usually coming in on a pole route to a transformer mounted on the end pole.
In the late-19th, early-20th century electricity supply was mainly used for lighting. Like gas it was the preserve of local councils, usually Parish Vestries (at least in name). Some were able to build their own power stations and distribution networks, others subcontracted. Once installed they could be quite lucrative. Wayleaves could be a problem.
Power stations were steam-driven (by significant quantities of coal). Different areas could have direct current (DC) supplies or alternating current (AC) supplies, whose voltage could vary; AC supplies could be of different frequencies.
The power station would be small, by modern standards, often in a residential street, a three-storey building ornately detailed to blend in and the chimney likewise.
The high cost of transport meant that manufacturers of generating equipment could set up close to their market without much competition.
My comments are based on some work done by Alfred Roberts, the company architect of the Chelsea Electricity Supply Co Ltd. In 1903 the installed capacity at one of their power stations was 2.8 MW. They were producing a direct current (DC) supply, and had 'transformers' (for which Alfred Roberts had to design support structures) — these were rotative motor-generator sets to transform power generated at high voltage to one suitable for distribution. (The term transformer nowadays is restricted to alternating current (AC) usage and applies to an electromagnetic device with no moving parts). They also had batteries by Edison Accumulators Ltd.
It is possible that the Wimbledon Transformer houses a motor-generator set — the motor and generator being on a common vertical shaft — it is the right shape.
The picture of the manufacturer's nameplate shows that is on a hinged panel. This would give access for cable connections, and perhaps a (large) fuse; also, if applicable, for lubricating the motor-generator set. (The finial on the top could have been for the high voltage supply, the low voltage distribution taken out below and run under the pavement.)
It is also possible that the high voltage supply was that generated in the power station, and that instead of having the 'transformer' within the power station they put it at the remote distribution point.
Richard Buchanan, 79 Ashridge Crescent, London, SE18 3EA
Greenwich Town Hall
The old LCC London boroughs were far more numerous than the corresponding present-day GLC boroughs of inner London and all the LCC boroughs had their own town halls which meant that from 1965, when the GLC was formed, many admirable town halls became redundant. Most of these were built a good many years ago in a traditional style but two exceptions are Hornsey town hall 1935 1, and Greenwich town hall 1939 2. Both these 1930s buildings were built in a style which at the time was considered Modernist. Their design was influenced by Dutch architecture and in particular the brick-based Hilversum Town Hall of 1928-30 by W M Dudok. Both the above London examples were finished in brick.
Sir Nikolaus Pevsner said of the 1939 Greenwich town hall that it was 'the only town hall of any London borough to represent the style of our time adequately'. It has a distinctive clock tower 200 feet high, quite a landmark. This town hall, now known as Meridian House, was listed Grade II in 1990. The interior was styled to resemble that of an ocean liner but was considerably altered in 1972-4. In recent years Meridian House has not been fully utilised. Until this year part of it was used by the Greenwich Dance Agency. Apart from some squatters it now stands empty.
There is now the chance of finding a new use for the building.
A suggestion that will interest GLIAS members is that part of it should be used as a museum — one for Greenwich. It is true that Greenwich already has museums such as the big National Maritime Museum but these deal with history on a large, even international scale. A museum for Greenwich would deal with just the Royal Borough of Greenwich and be able to reflect the fact that until quite recently the Borough was heavily industrialised. Such a museum would attract people interested in industrial history and archaeology. Bob Carr
1. Hornsey town hall was first listed in 1981 and is now grade II*.
2. Wembley town hall was in Middlesex. Completed in 1940, it was also inspired by Dudok's Hilversum town hall. This building was listed grade II in 1990.
New life for old dustcarts
Public utility vehicles such as fire engines, refuse collection vehicles and so on are to some extent bespoke in that they are built in relatively small numbers. This makes them rather expensive. Refuse lorries are polluting, they operate mostly in residential areas and their diesel engines run continuously for 14 hours a day. When a refuse collection vehicle (RCV) is nearing the end of its useful life a new initiative is to replace the worn-out diesel engine with an electric motor and fit batteries. The first example of this retrofitting has taken place in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. An old polluting vehicle has been transformed into a zero emission *, low noise eRCV which will now be tested in service alongside diesel powered vehicles. The battery-powered 26 tonne eRCV is designed to complete a 14 hour double-duty cycle without recharging. It is expected that the useful life of this vehicle will be increased twofold to a total of 14 years. In 2016 in Fife two bin lorries were fitted with a mixed hydrogen and diesel propulsion system. Bob Carr
* Depending on how the electricity is produced.
The Houses of Parliament
Does architecture have any influence on the attitudes and behaviour of the people who live or work in a building? In the 1940s and 50s there was a strong belief among architects that we could improve society by better architecture. Large social housing schemes, including high-rise flats, were meant to produce people who were better behaved.
As it turned out this belief that architecture had an effect on the people that lived in it turned out to be quite correct. However the outcome was the reverse of that intended. It produced isolation, alienation and antisocial behaviour. So the design of a building does in fact have quite a strong effect on those that inhabit it.
When the old Houses of Parliament burnt down in 1834, progressive people thought that now was the opportunity to build a quite different parliament building, one suitable for the modern age. However, Gothic Revivalism finally prevailed and we still have the present backward-looking antiquarian building.
Is our present confrontational political stalemate in any way the outcome of the seating arrangement in the House, with two opposing sides facing each other? What if we had had the seats arranged in a horseshoe fashion, as they are in the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments? Would this have facilitated the emergence of a moderate centrist party to balance the two extremes? It is a moot point. Readers might like to comment? Bob Carr
Edison Swan building at risk?
I and many others are concerned that the Edison Swan building at Ponders End, Enfield, is at risk from the proposed Beavertown Brewery, which is discussed in the following document: www.beavertownbrewery.co.uk/brave-new-world-beaverworld/
The masterplan shown indicates that the historic Edison and Swan building, where the first lightbulbs were constructed on a mass scale, will be demolished.
Perhaps the building could have enough industrial interest to be listed? Also maybe we should be trying to encourage Beavertown to do some archaeological works prior to the development for the wider Edison Swan site, to learn more about this, one of the Lea Valley's most important industrial sites? Apparently it was a jute weaving site prior to making light bulbs.
Below is some info about the building compiled by the Enfield Society.
This is the entry on the Local List:Philip Ridley. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
'The former Ediswan factory general office block of 1890, at Ponders End, occupies part of a site associated with Sir Joseph Swan (1828-1914), inventor of the incandescent electric lamp, Sir James Dewar (1842-1923), inventor of the vacuum flask, and Professor Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945), inventor of the diode radio valve in 1904, which marks the birth of the electronic technological revolution. Britain's first radio valve and television cathode ray tube factories were opened here, in 1916 and 1936 respectively.'
This is an extract from a history of Ediswan at: www.lamptech.co.uk
'By 1886 the company's previous factory at Benwell had reached the limits that could be provided both by that building, as well as the availability of skilled workers that could be drawn from the small town. In March of that year new premises at Ponders End in East Middlesex were identified, in an old Jute mill on Duck Lees Lane. The weaving of Jute was going out of fashion with the local workforce, and the death of that industry provided a conveniently sized industrial site for the rapidly growing Ediswan operations as well as being within ready reach of an almost unlimited pool of human labour, which could be drawn via the railway lines from nearby London. By the end of May 1886 the relocation of machinery, lamp stocks and a substantial portion of the skilled Benwell workforce had been completed.'
'The original lampmaking operations were established in the oldest and original part of the former Jute Mill, just to the right after passing through the main entrance gates. It was a building divided into many smaller individual rooms and these were naturally used to house the various lampmaking departments such as filament making, flaring, stem making, mounting, sealing, exhausting, capping, testing and packing.'
There is no mention of a new building being built by 1890 — I wonder whether the old jute mill was refurbished with a new façade by that date. Apparently not because if that is the 'factory' referred to in the following, www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2102814, it has been demolished.
The jute mill was short-lived and in 1886 the Ediswan Company (formed by Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan) took over the building and converted it into a factory manufacturing electric light bulbs. The factory continued production until 1969, and was demolished shortly afterwards.
According to Edith's Streets: London Local History
'The old offices, dated 1890, are the sole remnant of Edison and Swan's works, the exterior substantially modified to hide its Victorian origins.'
A new 'tin tabernacle'
Shaftesbury Hall, Herbert Road, Bowes Park, N11, has been mentioned before in the newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter August 2013). It was built as a small corrugated iron mission hall (or 'tin tabernacle') in the late 19th century. It hasn't been used as a place of worship for many years, latterly being owned by the Samaritans and with a more modern extension at the back. However, it has been out of use for some time.
Despite it failing to qualify for 'listing', the Samaritans commendably proposed to restore it as part of a new development. Unfortunately it was found to be in such a ruinous state that demolition and reconstruction was the only option. Thus behind hoardings a new 'tin tabernacle' is taking shape. It is steel framed and clad in something metallic I assume isn't actually corrugated iron. This includes the roof. This cladding is backed with some thick insulating material. The corrugations are of a broader gauge than formerly, but otherwise it seems a good copy of the old hall, including Gothic 'church' style windows.
I believe it is intended to be put to some sort of community use. What I believe are new residential units are replacing the former rear extension. David Flett
Epping Ongar Railway
The Epping to Ongar branch line has had a chequered history since London Underground ceased passenger services in 1994 (GLIAS Newsletter October 1995). But since the current owners took over in 2007 the 6½-mile heritage line has undergone a real transformation, reopening in 2012. It is well worth a visit.
I attended an excellent steam gala in June and thought I would provide some updates on various notes that have appeared in previous GLIAS Newsletters.
Re: the recent discussion of signal boxes in Greater London (GLIAS Newsletter June 2018), the Epping Ongar Railway operates two boxes — at North Weald and Ongar.
North Weald has an original Great Eastern signal box dating from 1888, complete with its Saxby & Farmer 1880 pattern 21-lever frame. It is possible to book a signal box experience day here (www.eorailway.co.uk/visit/experience-days/signal-box-experience/).
The original signal box at Ongar was demolished in the early 1980s after being redundant since 1969. However, a replacement GER signal box, originally the top half of Spellbrook (Hertfordshire), was found in storage at Mangapps Railway Museum and moved to the railway in 2010. The original lever frame from 1888 came to light and was installed in the replacement box.
Newsletters down the years have carried reports of 5ft gauge Finnish steam locomotives appearing at various sites in London, eg Southbury (GLIAS Newsletter June 2006), Ongar (GLIAS Newsletter February 2008), and Creekmouth (GLIAS Newsletter April 2015).
It seems these locomotives were part of Finland's Cold War strategic reserve. When deemed surplus to requirement 12 locomotives were bought by British businessman Nigel Sill in the late 1980s and were shipped to Felixstowe (GLIAS Newsletter June 2015). Four of these locos eventually found a home at Ongar, then under the ownership of Pilot Developments who won the original bid for the branch in 1998 (GLIAS Newsletter August 1998).
Pilot Developments planned to convert the railway to 5ft gauge but this never happened and they sold the line in 2007 to the present owners.
One loco (pictured above) still remains just outside Ongar station in very poor condition. There are plans to give it a cosmetic restoration as a static display in a proposed picnic area.
Back in 2002 the GLIAS Newsletter carried an article on preserved steam locomotives that were built in London (GLIAS Newsletter June 2002).
One of these — Metropolitan Railway E Class 0-4-4T No 1 (GLIAS Newsletter August 2012) — is currently on loan to the Epping Ongar Railway from Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
Built in 1898, it was the last locomotive constructed at Neasden Works. It took its number from 'A' class 4-4-0T No. 1, which was broken up after an accident at Baker Street. [www.brc-stockbook.co.uk/met1.htm]
Despite not being part of the London Underground network for nearly 25 years, distances measured on the system are still taken from a datum point at the end of the branch at Ongar. You can see a London Underground 0.0km distance marker mounted by the buffer stops as well as other similar signs along the trackside.
For further details on the Epping Ongar Railway visit their website: www.eorailway.co.uk
Can you help?
I am trying to find out information about Bard Bros jelly factory that was located on the Romford Road, Forest Gate, between 1916(?) and c.1995. Can any GLIAS members help, please?
Except for a liquidation notice in The Times, May 1996, the following is pretty much the extent to what I have found in the Newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter August 1981):
'BARD BROS LTD. 512a Romford Road, E7 1943. Table Jelly Manufacturers. Some of the buildings housed the stables of the North Metropolitan Tramways Co from c.1896-1908.'Dr Rupert Cole. Email: email@example.com
Queen Victoria Jubilee plaques — the last word ... for now
Searching the internet has produced quite a lot of information, showing others have already done much research. There are several things to mention:
The plaques were almost all produced by Stanley Bros, a firm which had several brickworks in Nuneaton. They produced pipes, chimney pots, frieze patterns and other building embellishments (including ceramic horse heads) as well as bricks. Their Jubilee plaques have been noted across the whole of England, with two in Wales and (perhaps) one in Scotland. Nothing seen mentions any in the 'Empire'. Kelly's London Directory shows the firm, or their agents, had London address from the 1880s to around 1920, but not consistently — they are not mentioned in 1918 edition, for example.
- There is not yet available a published national list of these plaques, although there are several good sources of information (see below).
- Only two plaques have been noted within Greater London (so far), though there are others in the Home Counties.
- Most were light brown, but colours varied — see below, the one on Dundonald Road School, Wimbledon, reported by Graham Kirkpatrick.
- Almost all plaques reported are to the same design and produced by the same firm.
Stanley Bros produced their Victoria Jubilee plaques for the Queen's 50th jubilee in 1887. They were a single piece, 2ft square. An accompanying small separate tablet gave the year. The Queen is in profile, showing the right side of her head. With several different clays from their pits, plaques were in colours from cream to dark brown. A glaze was optional.
1887 plaque, 50 years, at Great Wratting, Suffolk (left). 1897 plaque, 60 years, Dundonald Primary School, Wimbledon (right)
The moulds were re-used, with '50' altered to '60', for the Jubilee ten years later. The rears were also altered, but this did not affect the appearance. The year tablets have slight design differences, suggesting a new one was made. Plaques could be made in advance, but none could be installed until the actual Jubilee date, already half way through the year. The wording, all in capitals, is:
In the main, plaques were added to houses when being built. One source suggests that some plaques were installed a year or two after the Jubilee years. Adding a surround was optional, and there were variations. They need to sit in a shallow recess, so retro-fitting would be difficult. This might explain why the plaque with surrounding frame at 152 George Road, Berkhamsted, is proud of the house wall by a couple of inches. While no other firm appears to have emulated Stanley Bros in mass-producing something similar, the plaques reported by Robert Excell at Claydon and Verney Junction (GLIAS Newsletter June 2018), below, while of about the same size, are quite different.
- Around the central image: Victoria 50 (or 60) years Queen of Great Britain & Ireland.
- Across: Empress of India
- Around the border: Africa W Indies Canada Australia N Zealand Burmah Gibralr Malta Cyprus Egypt
They show the left of the Queen's face, mention only the countries of the British Isles, each on a short banner across a symbolic plant: Rose (England, in shadow in the photo); leek (or a daffodil maybe) (Wales); thistle (Scotland); shamrock (Ireland). Only five words surround the Queen: Victoria Dei Gra Brit Reg. The date, 1897, is included within the plaque and not on a separate tablet.
The British Brick Society in 1990 reported a design which is different to the 'standard' one on the pavilion at Dyrham Park, Herts, a National Trust property. 'Standard' they have mentioned in the Home Counties include (not seen) at: 76-78 Church Street, Leighton Buzzard; 2 High Street, Baldock and on the former Post Office, High Street, Midhurst: and (seen July 2018) at: 2-4 St James St, Watford; 152 George Road, Berkhamsted.
Please do advise 'sightings' to the Newsletter Editor, including the date or whether 50 or 60 years' Jubilee, to be mentioned in future Newsletters.
As new the plaques sold for 20/-. In the last three months the internet has shown two plaques for sale, one at £630 and the other at £800.
I have relied heavily on, and am grateful for, lists and other information from the following:
1. Website: www.reginaldstanley.com, produced by the East Midlands Oral History Society. This gives much about the firm and illustrates some of its products, including addresses where they can be seen.
2. The British Brick Society Newsletter, Information, numbers 51, 78, 81, 86, 114, which can be downloaded free from their website.
3. The Tile & Architectural Ceramic Society's gazetteer, Tiles, available via their website, as mentioned by Robert Fitzpatrick. This is arranged by alpha of location within counties and includes all items of interest to them — most of which are, of course, mostly tiles. Some sentries have additional information notes, but others are shown as 'not verified'.
4. A Flickr page: www.flickr.com/groups/jubileeplaques/, which has photographs. Only some have captions giving a location.
5. 'Statues — hither & thither' has a nice photo of a plaque in Llandrindod Wells. In turn that refers to a book (not seen), 'Souvenirs from the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria', 2013, R & S Wales.
6. And a host of individual postings found on the internet, some duplicating other sources, not forgetting the plaque on the Pitcher & Piano in the Lace Market, Nottingham, reported by Mark Andrew Pardoe (GLIAS Newsletter, Feb 2017)
Students can attend AIA Conference free
The AIA is offering students a free place at the Friday Seminar and Conference Weekend events at the AIA Annual Conference (31 August - 5 September) thanks to the legacy left by Patrick Nott.
Full details: https://industrial-archaeology.org/conferences/annual-conference/
Potential electronic GLIAS Newsletter
Hopefully you enjoyed the last Newsletter revamped with colour illustrations. Unfortunately the cost of colour for every edition is rather high so the GLIAS Management Committee is considering the possibility of sending the colour illustrated Newsletter electronically rather than as a printed version in the post. Although we are committed to sending a monochrome printed version to those without computers, the great benefits to members who choose to receive the Newsletter electronically would be:
Although a decision has yet to be made on this matter, a number of members have already indicated that they would be happy with this and it would be a great help to the Committee if we had some idea as to how many members would be willing to receive the Newsletter electronically. Please will those members who would prefer to receive the Newsletter electronically let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org to help the Committee in coming to a decision. GLIAS Management Committee
- colour illustrations
- members would receive the Newsletter at the same time as it is normally sent to the printer, which could be up to a week earlier than receiving the printed version
- in addition, of course, the Society would save a considerable sum in postal and printing costs
Rescheduled GLIAS visit to Morden College, Blackheath
Due to the sudden illness of the College Archivist the visit in June had to be cancelled so here is a rescheduled date — Tuesday 25 September.
The College was established by Sir John Morden a member of both the Levant and East India Companies. He founded his College to provide accommodation and support for 40 single Turkey merchants, who had fallen on hard times. The College was built between 1695 and 1700 in the style of Wren: 40 apartments and Chapel frame a quadrangle and are set in extensive grounds. The original buildings survive plus much later accommodation since the College now cares for 350 beneficiaries. The College owns large parts of Blackheath and Greenwich including much of the industrial Greenwich Peninsular. The College, hardly visible from the Heath, does not have public openings such as Open House. Since I have given residents IA talks this is a special event for GLIAS.
Meet Blackheath Station at 1.15pm and then walk to the College taking in some local IA. We will be greeted with a talk by the Archivist on the College's History and a tour of the buildings and grounds. After tea we will visit the Muniments room to see industrially related archives along with the 1751 fire pump.
To book a place(s) send email to email@example.com before 21 September
An important appeal from the GLIAS committee
Next year GLIAS will be 50 and the Committee are looking at ways in which we can celebrate GLIAS's achievements over the last 50 years and we are also looking at how the Society can continue into the next decade. I know that the Board members are all heavily committed to the Society but we have recently lost an active member and others are wishing for a change as well as plus you may be aware that Sue Hayton, our long-standing membership secretary died recently. We have identified the following areas where we urgently need members who could help.
We do not envisage that those who offer their services need to attend Committee meetings unless they wish to.
- Publicity and marketing and, but this may be a long ask, we need someone skilled in social media
- Website development and maintenance — this person will assist the Newsletter Editor in developing our website which works very well but is looking tried.
- We receive many planning applications each month and it would be good to have someone to co-ordinate them and pass them on to suitable local members for comment.
- We need someone or possibly more than one person to handle sales of GLIAS books as well as represent the society at local events.
- A new IA database for London is about to be launched and volunteers are needed to both input data from areas/subject within their knowledge ideal a member who could co-ordinate this activity.
- Members frequently give us their slide collections dating back to the 1960s but for modern usage they need to be digitised so we would like one or more members who can volunteer for this archiving role. If needed, so that they can work from home, suitable equipment can be provided.
Please remember we are a Society not a business so the continued existence of GLIAS depends on your Committee being helped.
Myself or any Committee member will be happy to tell you more about these roles and we would also be happy to hear from you with ideas about how we can improve GLIAS.
I can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and look forward to hearing from you.
David Perrett, GLIAS Chair
© GLIAS, 2018