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Notes and news — February 2019

In this issue:

Robert Vickers 1948-2018

Many of you know already that I have to announce the death of Robert Vickers in late November. His death in Harrogate Hospital came very suddenly and was due to complications with the pulmonary fibrosis he had been diagnosed with mid-year.

Robert first came to London for his first degree which was in History; he then undertook a Diploma in Librarianship at the University of Aberystwyth. He returned to London and joined the British Library, later becoming head of the copyright receipt office. He joined GLIAS c.1974 and by 1975 was secretary to the recording group. His particular interests were motor car production and carriage building. He recorded the Mulliner Park Ward body works in Willesden, which was a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce. Robert had a keen interest in Rolls-Royce cars which remained with him.

During this time, he met and later married another GLIAS member, Jill Baulch. He helped get the GLIAS Journal started and later edited GLIAS Journals 3-5, the last being published in 1995 shortly after he transferred with the library to its site at Boston Spa in Yorkshire. But he continued his GLIAS membership. In around 1975 Robert and I decided to compile for GLIAS a series of IA town trails. Summer evenings found us walking along the then 'unexplored' south bank of the Thames, taking notes on the various empty warehouses, etc, often going from quiet pub to quiet pub. The first of these town trails introducing visitors to unknown parts of London was published in 1976 and the series sold by the thousand. We were very amused when a member of his staff had to send Robert a summons for not submitting some GLIAS publications to the copyright office!

On transferring to Yorkshire in 1992, Robert immediately started to play an active role in the industrial history section of the then Yorkshire Archaeology Society and was its secretary for many years, becoming in April last year its chairman. He led the Industrial History section in developing a database of Yorkshire sites, initially using the GLIAS software. Recently with John Suter, he developed the very impressive Yorkshire Industrial History Online project (GLIAS Newsletter October 2018). John writes that Robert was the archetypical gentleman, a pleasure to work with at all times and highly knowledgeable on the subject of Industrial History. His presence and guidance will be greatly missed within YIHS. Ollie and myself plus many others in GLIAS, who knew Robert, will fully agree. David Perrett
My thanks to Jill Vickers for correcting a first draft of this note

Red House Cold Store, Smithfield

Red House Cold Store, Smithfield

Members will be aware that plans are progressing to move the Museum of London into the empty buildings at the west end of Smithfield Market (GLIAS Newsletter October 2016).

The museum is expected only to occupy the Poultry Market. The basement vaults there are one of the few vestiges of the original Horace Jones Poultry Market (1873-75) building basement that survived the 1959-63 rebuild.

In October GLIAS members Malcolm Tucker and myself were asked by Andrew Coles DipArch RIBA of Julian Harrap Architects to inspect some of the surviving equipment in the basement and the Red House. The first shipments of frozen meat from Australia and New Zealand in the 1880s had to be stored in the docks before sale. Later a small cold store was opened in St John Street.

The much bigger Red House is a purpose-built powered cold store, built in 1898-99 in the Neo-Renaissance style by Reeves & Styche. Relatively little equipment survives with the exception of some large tanks, probably for refrigeration liquors such as iced/salt water, and considerable amounts of cork insulation materials. There is one hydraulic jigger. The building has stood derelict and open to the weather for many years and the internal flooring, etc, is now very dangerous. It is planned to gut the building using robotic equipment. We would encourage a fuller report on this complex to be published in the future. David Perrett
See also Coldstores around Smithfield, GLIAS Newsletter December 1984

Steaming news

Crossness Engines is set to reopen in March in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The Beam Engine House had to close in 2017 after asbestos was discovered during restoration works. But £478,000 was raised by supporters to cover the total cost of the remedial work.

The first Family Open Day with Prince Consort in steam is set for Sunday 31 March.

While the Beam Engine House was closed volunteers focused on other projects including building a 700-metre railway (RANG) to bring visitors from the car park at the Thames Water entrance.

London Museum of Water & Steam, formerly Kew Bridge Steam Museum, has limited steaming of its large engines, which are in serious need of servicing to replace worn out components. You cannot run Victorian Cornish engines regularly without major problems developing. The smaller engines, most of which were transferred there, are still steamable. The newly opened electrical gallery is well worth a visit.

A 45-minute stroll from Vauxhall to the Oval gas holders and beyond

Conservation Watch in GLIAS Newsletter December 2018 gives proposals for the gas holders at Kennington Oval. This note describes a few things of interest on a walk between Vauxhall and Kennington tube stations, passing the holders en route. Don't leave it too long!

① Orientation. Stand at the north entrance to Vauxhall railway station and look directly ahead. 150 years ago, the Phoenix Gas Company's works alongside the Thames and Effra Creek dominated the view. They had purchased the site from the South London Waterworks in about 1845. The view is now completely blocked by high rise buildings. Slightly to the right was the 1826 Vauxhall (toll) bridge to or from relatively well-off Westminster. It was no coincidence that the railway station entrance faced that way.

② Bus station. Opened 2004, consolidating roadside stops. Ove Arup & partners; the odd extended slopes simply hold solar panels. After only five years there was talk of redevelopment and in December 2018 planning permission was eventually granted for two tower blocks on the site.

Go around the corner, down Bondway a few yards, to the first Rowton House, 1892, which squeezed in 484 beds for single working men, mostly in individual cubicles. Count the windows! 1. The next building, with the date 1887 in raised brick, was built for Dolan & Co., suppliers of military and police uniforms. The firm's name was carried on the buttons — now collectables.

③ Return to the compact station entrance. The station dates from 1848, when the railway line was extended on viaduct to Waterloo, although the entrance may date from an 1856 rebuild or later. An 1875 map shows a much larger structure here; it is conjectured that most was simply sacrificed when an extra track on viaduct was built when the formation was widened, leaving just the road frontage. Later addition(s) on the other side of the station gave the present eight lines and platforms.

④ Go through the pedestrian arch alongside the booking office to South Lambeth Road. Opposite was a United Dairies milk pasteurising and bottling plant, 1920s, supplies coming by milk train — initially churns, later tanker wagons, discharged into pipes at Vauxhall station 2. Cross diagonally left to the traffic island (next to the plain 'stench pipe'), and glance at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 1869. It recently celebrated 50 years as a gay venue. Princess Diana allegedly once visited with Kenny Everett and Freddie Mercury.

⑤ Turn right along Kennington Lane. Just before the 'Royal Oak', at 357, is access to a small yard with a slim three-floor industrial building of the 1920s, converted to architects' offices in 2014. Continue along Kennington Lane then right into Durham Street. On the other side, the line of partly rebuilt yellow brick buildings started off as the New London Brewery in the centre of a row of terraced houses, gradually taking over their roadside sites as it expanded. The oldest part is the entrance gatehouse and yard office, directly behind the gates (Fig 1). It became Marmite c.1930 to c.1980 and after several uses (and mis-uses) is Vox Studios 3.

Yard of former New London Brewery, Jan 2019 Kennington Oval gas holders in use, Jan 1975. From left, part of frames of 4 and 5; frameless 2, raised but obscured, behind; frame of 3, since demolished; full 1, 'flying' above the frame

⑥ Back on Kennington Lane, ahead left is St Peters Church (1864). It is open only for Sunday service at 11.00 and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 14.00. Well worth seeing. There's an original T C Lewis organ; there's an appeal for money to restore it. A one-time Heritage Centre has closed. Around the far side, some way down St Oswald's Place, is the former Lambeth School of Art, though its exterior is far from artistic. Doulton was involved and Tinworth, who became his star ceramic artist, studied here. Next door was a soup kitchen, run by the church.

⑦ Continue along Kennington Lane past obviously new build in Oval Way and right into Vauxhall Street. Ahead left is one of the two 1875 Phoenix Gas Co holders which sharing one frame column, embellished with the aforementioned bird and, at the base, the maker's name, which can be made out with difficulty through the thick fencing — Samuel Cutler & Sons, 1874, Millwall, London 4. This is holder No 4; No 5 is its Siamese twin. Holder No 1, the tallest, is of 1879 with an extension, including a 'flying' lift, added in 1890/1 5 (Fig 2). No 2 holder is not visible from this point and No 3 had been in the space alongside No 4. Going a bit further, it seems the only connection the Gasworks arts gallery has with the site is its present name. Almost opposite, in the courtyard of Brockwell House flats, half a dozen former ARP metal stretchers, once used widely as wall railings, surround a small play area 6 (Fig 3).

Stretcher railings, Brockwell House. Jan 2019 Kennington Oval gas holders 4 (right) & 5, from Tesco car park. 2014

⑧ Returning along Vauxhall Street, the nearest end of a brick building named 'The Foundry' shows that the old toilets were not removed when a new frontage was grafted on, facing Oval Way. When visited on 'Open House' in 2015, a guide suggested the name was chosen as sounding dynamic, rather than with historic significance. There have been several firms in these buildings over the years and more research is needed to see whether there ever was a foundry.

⑨ Turn right and continue along Kennington Lane. An article in the South London Press, 24/9/1996, about the Tesco 'superstore' was headed 'Death Knell for Shops'. True. It in turn is now scheduled for demolition with proposed replacement by a new store at ground level of a development. Currently open until late Mon — Sat and 16.00 Sundays. Customer toilets are conveniently to the left just inside the door, outside of the check-out. The car park area gives a good view of all four holders, including the spiral-lift No 2, 1950, which does not need a frame (Fig 4).

⑩ Go round by road, or take a short cut from the car park, to Montford Place. The three-floor brick industrial building has 'Established 1820' carved above the doorway, once the centre of a larger building (Fig 5). This was occupied by Hayward's Pickles from about 1906 (Kelly's Directory), relocating from a nearby site. The building looks to date from then, but the 1820 date does not make sense, as the firm did not exist at that time. It might refer to a previous occupant. Beefeater Gin, a brand name of Burroughs, moved here in 1957 and since then has made substantial alterations, with both additions and demolition. They advertise distillery tours for £15, bookable on-line, but it is unclear how much of the process itself is seen, as distinct from described. Can any member give a report?

Montford Close, 1974. Since part demolished and altered Former NAAFI HQ, now flats, Jan 2019

⑪ Return to Kennington Lane and head towards the grand building ahead right (Fig 6). Built 1836 as a residential school for Licensed Victuallers' children (swimming pool in 1890 extension). In 1921 it became the HQ of the NAAFI, which had a depot nearby. By the late 1960s that depot had been mostly converted to offices, including their main computer suite. NAAFI, which in 1970 had 19,000 employees in 19 countries 7, decided to consolidate that site and others into a new office block, Edinburgh House, opened in about 1974, a short way forward, on the left, at Kennington Cross. Times change. An announcement in 2013 said that the NAAFI organisation would be disbanded.

⑫ Cross the road to the triangular traffic island and stand on the glass 'pavement lights'. These allow daylight into former gents toilets, 1898. After closure there was a scheme for this to be an arts centre, but in January 2019 it appeared completely disused. In 2018 a planning application was made to open it as a wine bar. The fittings, including a glass-sided cistern and vent pipe, are by B Finch & Co Ltd, whose factory was in Belvedere Road, South Bank. Any male determined to see/experience their facilities in use can visit ones in ... Hull 8. Nearby is a granite horse trough.

Looking north-west, across Kennington Road, is a retained part of the curved entrance section of the Regal Cinema, opened 1937 and subsequently Granada before closing as a bingo hall in 1997.

⑬ Now looking north-east, on 357 Kennington Lane [??], next to the ornate Durning Library is a faded painted sign advertising Writer's, a firm which occupied this and rear buildings. They made bicycles and later motorcycles before becoming simply dealers. Ariel was a bicycle name, retained 9.

Continue along Kennington Lane and turn into White Hart Street, and ahead via the footpath to Kennings Way. The wall alongside the former LCC housing estate on the right has more metal stretcher railings 6. Relatively new housing on the left covers part of the site of the NAAFI's depot. Just before reaching Kennington Park Road, is part of the City & Guilds School of Art, successor to the Lambeth School of Art. The distinctive dome above Kennington tube station is on the left, across the road. The exterior of the surface buildings remains largely as built when it opened in 1890 for the City & South London Railway. The dome covered the lift mechanism. David Thomas

Facelift for Victorian 'sturgeon' lampposts

The historic lamp columns that line the Victoria Embankment are set to be refurbished in the run-up to its 150th anniversary next year.

The cast-iron lampposts were installed along the river wall upon the completion of the Embankment and became known as 'sturgeons' because of their fish design. The Grade II lamps, designed by George John Vulliamy, were originally gas-lit, before being converted to electric early in the 20th century.

Westminster council is spending £1.2 million to reveal the original ornate detail which has been obscured by coats of paint over the years. The columns are being removed to be grit-blasted back to the bare metal, before being repaired and repainted.

Meridian Water railway station

Work is now in progress to build this new station in Edmonton at TQ 351 921. Designed by a team including ARUP, Atkins and architects KCA it will have three platforms and a footbridge accessed by lifts and stairs. As well as new retail space there will be provision for a fourth platform to accommodate the proposed Crossrail 2. Partly beneath the Meridian Way A406 flyover, Meridian Water station is near Conduit Lane and close to industrial businesses and a former gas works. Due to open later this year, this new railway station will replace Angel Road station, quite close by at TQ 352 923 and is expected to serve up to 4 million passengers. Bob Carr

Northumberland Park pumping station

Northumberland Park pumping station, August 2017 © Bob Carr

Travelling south by train from Angel Road the next station we come to is Northumberland Park, in Tottenham. Roughly 200 yards to the southeast of here at TQ 350 908 is a relatively little-known late Victorian pumping station built to provide pure drinking water for Tottenham. As well as Northumberland Park, it can also be known as Long Water or Marsh Lane and in times past just The Park pumping station. It is now in a very serious situation and in fact may no longer exist by the time you read this.

The whole area round the pumping station building is now being used to park Go Ahead buses — see photograph. The building is only listed locally.

The work of constructing this pumping station started about 1886. The building is quite lofty, almost three storeys high, and in some ways rather atypical. It might be compared with the now demolished Waddon pumping station, Croydon TQ 313 639, built in 1910 (GLIAS Newsletter June 1983).

The pumping engines at Northumberland Park were two 75 hp compound horizontal surface condensing engines by Ward Bros of Sowerby Bridge. Working at 13 strokes per minute the total pumping capacity was 648,000 gallons over 24 hours. Bob Carr

Milk trains to South London

Until rail tank wagons were introduced in the 1930s, milk trains were made up of vans carrying churns. There was a residual churn business until milk carrying ceased.

The Southern Railway Magazine for September 1930 records the number of churns 'dealt with' at what are described as 'milk receiving deports' in the 12 months to June as:

At Vauxhall a United Dairies bottling and pasteurising plant was erected (pictured below left, in 1978) close to the station and in the era of tank wagons those were placed at Platform 1, being connected via hoses to holding tanks, whence the milk was piped to the dairy. A railway enthusiast website says holding tanks at the station had also been used for milk poured from churns, but this has not been verified. The Clapham Junction total is astounding — an average of over 3,200 churns every day. Can anyone add info about where the milk went (flowed?), and how?

In the 1960s there was also a facility for unloading milk tank wagons at Morden, but those were from the Great Western Railway system. Did milk also previously arrive here in churns? David Thomas

United Dairies, Vauxhall, 1978 © David Thomas Dairy Supply Company premises at 30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street, 1978 © David Thomas

Meanwhile, the former Dairy Supply Company premises at 30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street (above right) have been listed Grade II.

Originally constructed in 1888 for the manufacture of milk churns, 30 Coptic Street was sold to Pizza Express in 1965 while 35 Little Russell Street has until recently been used for housing the Cartoon Museum.

The Dairy Supply Company made 17-gallon galvanised iron containers, designed for transporting milk by rail. The company was heavily associated with George Barham, who invented the containers and went on to become chair of the British Dairy Farmers Association.

The original signage, made of Portland stone, is still intact (GLIAS Newsletter December 1984), featuring ornate brick decoration which advertised the Dairy Supply Company Limited.

Also recently listed are the cattle trough and drinking fountain, Spaniards Road, Hampstead (Grade II); the Assembly Rooms, Charlton (Grade II); while the pedestrian subway, vestibule, terrace and stairs beneath Crystal Palace Parade have been upgraded to Grade II*.

Lewisham Library

Lewisham Library, August 2011 © Bob Carr

This library in Lewisham High Street is a good example of the clean-styled architecture of its period, probably late 1950s when, disgusted by Victorian vulgarity, design aspired to Georgian simplicity.

The library is unlikely to have been the work of a big-name architect and is probably not even listed locally. It is now being proposed to refurbish or rebuild the building* and it is to be hoped that due respect will be paid to the original design. Many buildings in this style were erected in our towns and cities 60 years ago but not being especially outstanding they have gradually been disappearing from our streets and it is important to keep some representative examples. Bob Carr

This building may not have been built as a library but converted in the early 1980s? Can anyone supply more information?

Eros House, Catford

Built 1960-63 and listed grade II, Eros House, an office block now converted into flats, was designed by Rodney Gordon and Owen Luder. The name comes from the old Eros Theatre in Brownhill Road which it replaced. Owen Luder (1928- ) has asked for the commemorative plaques on this award-winning building to be removed in protest at its current 'disgraceful' condition. Externally the staircase-tower, which has a strong presence, is the only surviving feature — the Gordon & Luder façade of Eros House has been radically altered. Bob Carr

The Princes Risborough connection

Platform 4, Princes Risborough, January 2019 © Bob Carr

At Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire passengers from London Marylebone can now just change trains across a platform onto a steam-hauled train on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (CPRR). An entirely volunteer workforce has been reinstating platform 4 at Risboro' and the work was completed in August 2018. This handy connection was officially opened on Wednesday 15 August 2018.

A Chiltern Railways Turbo train carrying VIP guests from London ran through to Chinnor via Princes Risborough. The chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy said: 'The connection of the CPRR with the National Railway Network will generate environmentally friendly rail-based tourism on the closest preserved railway to London. Network Rail congratulates the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway for this extension — it will be a privilege to ride on the first public train.'

For people interested in birds, red kites are abundant in and around Chinnor. Bob Carr

AIA research grant

The Association for Industrial Archaeology has launched a new research grant scheme to:

The total fund available in any single year is £1,500 and multiple grants may be given up to this maximum in a single year. The AIA may consider part-funding a wider grant application or project as long as the AIA grant is a significant part of the larger application / project.
To download full details and an application form visit:

Dismantling of London Bridge

My late father-in-law Ron Huitson (GLIAS Newsletter June 1989) worked all his life at Adelaide House on the north side of London Bridge. He filmed the dismantling of London Bridge before its despatch to Lake Havasu City in California. He died in 1986. I am trying to track that film down. Ron's son Peter (my brother-in-law) has kept some of my father-in-law's films but thinks that the family may have donated the film of London Bridge to the GLIAS back in the late 1980s. Do any members have that film and, if so, could we obtain a copy?
David Seymour. Email:

Alexandra Park and Palace Conservation Area Advisory Committee

WANTED: architects, planners, conservationists, historians — with an interest in the heritage and conservation of Alexandra Park and Palace!

Alexandra Palace, March 2016. © Colin Marr

Wanted because the Alexandra Park and Palace Conservation Area Advisory Committee (APPCAAC) is looking to recruit new members with appropriate skills. The role of the committee is to advise the council's planning department on planning applications that have an impact on the Park and Palace. Membership is voluntary and not limited to those who live close to APP.

In terms of industrial archaeology, Alexandra Palace is important mostly because of the original BBC Television Studios there and site of the world's first regular TV broadcast service, which commenced there in 1936. GLIAS members may recall the somewhat controversial plans in 2014 for restoration of the eastern end of the Palace (GLIAS Newsletter June 2017). That £27 million scheme (mostly funded by the HLF) was for restoration of the Victorian Theatre, the East Court and the Studios. However, due to cost overruns and budgeting errors, the Studios part of the plan was abandoned early on and they remain in semi derelict condition. It is to be expected that there will be a further plan for the Studios and it would be good to have a strengthened industrial archaeological presence on the APPCAAC at that time.
If you feel this invitation is something for you, or if you wish to nominate someone else, please contact me, Colin Marr (committee chairman) and I can let you know more about what is involved. Thanks, Colin


GLIAS celebrates its 50th year this year, starting with the next Newsletter in April and the AGM in May. Full details of the programme of celebratory events and activities will be given in the next Newsletter. During the year we shall be including an additional feature in the Newsletter with members' reminiscences and thoughts on a particular theme. The theme for the April Newsletter will be minor industrial relics and ephemera that have disappeared over the last 50 years, either substantially or completely. An example would be London Hydraulic Power Company valve boxes (GLIAS Newsletter August 2002). We would welcome short pieces from regular contributors but we would also like to encourage thoughts from members who don't often contribute. GLIAS Committee

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