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Notes and news — April 2019

In this issue:

The Historic England Heritage Angels Awards 2018

Hosted by historian Bettany Hughes, the presentation of the Historic England Angel Awards for 2018 took place on Tuesday 27 November at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Drury Lane WC2. A London entry which was shortlisted and a winner from London were as follows:

Sponsored by Selectaglaze, there was an award for the Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building or Place for projects over £5 million. Shortlisted for this award was The Temperate House at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the world's oldest surviving Victorian glasshouse and also the largest. Opened in 1862, it was designed by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner. In May 2018 after five years, it reopened following a £41 million project to restore this Grade I listed structure which saw 10,000 plants from 1,500 species brought into the glasshouse; 15,000 panes of glass were restored and 69,000 elements of brick, steel and other material cleaned and repaired, or replaced. Renovation has meant that its collection of threatened temperate plants from all over the world has been enriched by more rare species. These include for example the Encephalartos woodii from South Africa, a type of cycad. Extinct in the wild there are only male specimens of it left. The Temperate House now plays an even more important role in Kew's wider mission to highlight the importance of plants to all life, particularly amid the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and food security.

An innovation this year was that while the five category winners were decided by a panel of expert judges, all the shortlisted projects were eligible for the Historic England Followers' Favourite Award chosen solely by public vote. This award went to Wilton's Music Hall in East London; the world's last surviving grand music hall. In 1957 the building was in use as a rag warehouse and by 1964 it was due for demolition as part of a slum clearance scheme. A campaign led by the poet John Betjeman succeeded in getting Wilton's listed Grade II in 1971. The restoration of this building 'now honours its 19th century heyday'. Bob Carr

Buildings due for demolition

The iconic Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre and the Central St Martin's College of Art and Design occupied premises built from about 1962 just to the west of Red Lion Square. The LCC Architects Department were responsible for these stylish period buildings but they are now probably regarded as old-fashioned, they are getting derelict and may soon be demolished. The college and theatre here closed about 2011 with activity moving to the Granary building to the north of King's Cross railway station. Since then the theatre has had limited use, being used to record television shows with a live audience in 2017. This group of buildings is quite close to Holborn underground station. The site has been bought by Grange Hotels for demolition and hotel development. Bob Carr

A 45-minute stroll to Kirkaldy's (or to the Tate Modern)

Ongoing rebuilding and planning permissions have added urgency to writing this walk which neatly arrives at the door of Kirkaldy's Museum, usually open one Sunday a month. It can be continued to visit the Tate Modern.

① Start from the entrance to Blackfriars tube station at the north east end of Blackfriars Bridge. This was formally opened by Queen Victoria in 1869, replacing a previous bridge on the same alignment. 1907 widening for tram lines now provides space for cycles lanes. Head south, passing a water fountain, 1861, embellished with a water-pouring lady cast by The Coalbrookdale Company1.

Alongside the bridge are the metal-on-stone piers which carried a lattice girder railway bridge, 1864; girders removed 1985 (GLIAS Newsletter April 1985). It and the parallel railway bridge beyond (1885), were constructed for the London Chatham & Dover Railway. Although the geographical boundary of the City is in the centre of the Thames, for road bridges which the City partly or fully funded the administrative boundary is, as here, at the southern end.

Mercury telephone kiosks, Endell Street, Covent Garden. © Michael Bussell Mercury telephone kiosks, Endell Street, Covent Garden. © Michael Bussell

② The southern stone abutment of the 1864 railway bridge sports coats of arms, nicely renovated when the station was rebuilt and extended in 2007-12. The LC&D Railway's 1860 Act included its own line into and across London, to join the Metropolitan Railway at Farringdon, which in turn was planned to have connections with lines to the north and west. Blackfriars Bridge station, between the river and the new Southwark Street, opened here in 1864, catered for passengers (upper level) and goods (upper and lower levels). The downstream second railway bridge of 1885 coincided with opening of a new station (St Pauls, now Blackfriars) on the north bank, and this one closing to passengers. It remained for 'continental traffic' goods until 1964. At the foot of the present foot steps were once wagon turntables and ends of the goods depot sidings which ran below the railway viaduct and also initially served a small riverside wharf on the far side. In March 2019 construction site hoardings block the view between the road and railway viaduct. A small section of the station survives at the end, on the corner of Southwark Street. (Pic 1).

Pic 1: Sole remaining part of Blackfriars Bridge station. 2019 Pic 2: Paris Garden. Clay's Printing Works. 2018

③ Cross that street to the start of a cobbled inclined road. This doubles back on itself to reach railway level and provided road access across a span of the railway bridge to the station. The original bridge was constructed at the same time as Southwark Street itself, a 'new cut' route by the Metropolitan Board of Works through what had been just minor streets. The bridge was rebuilt after war bomb damage.

④ Turn to cross Blackfriars Road (new for the original Blackfriars Bridge) to what was once the Central Bank of London Ltd (c1875), which grew to have over 45 branches across London and its suburbs. It later became part of the Midland Bank2. Next door, taking Nos 3, 5 and 7 Stamford Street, is the Mad Hatter hotel. This was the frontage to the factory of Tress, makers of hats of all descriptions from pith helmets to tweed caps. The firm was already established at a site to the rear, behind 27 Blackfriars Road, by 1850 (founded 1843) 3; this section is from about 1873. Hat making ceased after the firm was taken over by Christies in 1953. Tress also had premises elsewhere, including Luton. At the time of writing a black silk Tress hat (used) was on sale for £405, a considerable reduction on the original asking price of £750. Original box included.

Next door the vacant site was formerly a Sainsbury's distribution depot, later just offices. The blocked-off side turning had been (re)named Rennie Street in memory of John Rennie living hereabouts in Stamford Street (different sources give different addresses, maybe reflecting house renumbering). The site of his Thames-side works is passed on the 'return walk'.

⑤ Take the next turning on the left, Paris Garden, to view the unusual range of the 1909 reinforced concrete framed Richard Clay & Sons' Printing Works, later named Cornwall Press Ltd. (Pic 2). This is of reinforced concrete using the Kahn system, one of several patent ones in use at the time4. Listed Grade 2, but still subject to alteration after planning permission was given by LB Southwark in January 2019 for a scheme covering a large site in this street and Hatfields, behind. The firm, founded in about 1820 in London, also had premises in Bungay, Suffolk, where its HQ remains. It publishes under the name of The Chaucer Press. The London works was previously 6-8 Bread Street Hill, EC4.

⑥ Return to Stamford Street to pass the large Dorset House, c1932, offices and printing works erected for Iliffe & Sons Ltd. Another printing firm that crossed the river, from Tudor Street, near Fleet Street. Kelly's Directory of 1940 lists nine titles, including 'The Automobile Engineer' and 'The Yachting World', plus a string of subsidiary companies. It had no less than 50 telephone lines. Hermes/Mercury, the winged-hat messenger, appears among the large faces adorning the façade. Continue west to check, on the other side of the road, numbers 58 & 60, c1905, the former works of Harrild & Sons, a firm of printers' engineers. The façade was given a substantial 'makeover' in conversion (pic 3 shows it disused in 1977).

Pic 3: Harrild & Sons, 58 & 60 Stamford St, disused, in 1977 Pic 4: Offices for hydraulic power companies, Hatfields. 2019

⑦ Go back a few yards, past the massive portico of a former chapel and turn right into Hatfields. The long yellow brick building is a further former printing works, built by Messrs Cubitt in 1905 for Hudson & Kearns Ltd, who in 1935 describes themselves as “fine art printers; proprietors of 'Queen' newspaper, manufacturing stationers”. They moved here from 83-87 Southwark Street. Adjoining, beyond, the neat but unremarkable red brick building was built c1906 as offices for the General Hydraulic Power Co, of which London and Liverpool Hydraulic Power Companies were subsidiaries. (Pic 4). The planning permission will see this building kept but altered, while the more recent next one will be replaced by a 29-storey tower. Ahead left, the brick and concrete building on the corner of Meymott Street, with a 1934 KGV date stone, combined the HOP (407) and WATerloo (928) telephone exchanges. (Pic 5). Extensions include a British Telecom tower of 1969.

⑧ Turn left towards the Rose & Crown in Colombo Street and go up the steps alongside, passing the preserved name from Christ Church Watch House. The wonky fountain, left, is near where the cross fell from the steeple of Christ Church when that was destroyed by fire. Its smaller brick replacement, consecrated 1959, includes stained glass windows depicting local trades, though they can only be appreciated either from inside in daylight or from outside at night when the church lights are on. Go around the church to Blackfriars Road. Depending on hoarding positioning and new building, it may be possible to see, left, the Tress factory behind the 'Mad Hatter' (In March 2019 the upper deck of a northbound bus did the trick).

Pic 5: Telephone Exchange. 2018 Pic 6: 111-115 Southwark Street. 2019

⑨ Cross Blackfriars Road to Burrell Street (nameless in March 2019), which goes through a brick railway arch ahead. On the left behind the high brick wall are the cobbled roadway up to railway level and the site of a locomotive turntable. Continue through the arch and turn left then after a few paces right into Southwark Street, passing numbers 115, 113 and 111. (Pic 6). For some 20 years, until c1897, 111 and 113 were the bookbinding and litho printing works of Novello, Ewer & Co, music publishers. After that these functions moved to premises in the West End. Cross Bear Lane, passing in front of the Holiday Inn to the 'Facts not Opinions' doorway of 99, Kirkaldy's Testing and Experimenting Works, erected in 1874 around the unique testing machine, built in 1865 and initially at premises nearby. Visit to find out more!

To get back to Blackfriars station, or to continue to the Tate Modern, cross Southwark Street from Kirkaldy's and turn left then right, to go north along Hopton Street. On the left, in March 2019 the Lloyds Computer Centre, built on the site of some of the railway goods depot, was being demolished. Hopton's Almshouses on the right are followed by a converted warehouse. Go forward through the passageway at (or go round) the block of flats to reach the riverside just upstream of the Founders Arms; the name is of a previous pub nearby and now the only link with the past use of this area.

Slightly downstream at Falcon Wharf was London Hydraulic Power Company's first pumping station (1883), sending water at about 750 psi to work machinery. It became part of a network5. Beyond that was a river jetty for tanker barges to discharge fuel for oil-fired Bankside Power Station, now the Tate Modern. Slightly upstream is the site of Rennie's works; the name Rennies Wharf continued here into the 1960s6. Take the 'riverside walk' under the railway bridge, walking where there were once horse-shunted railway sidings and a small railway owned wharf. This leads to the steps up to Blackfriars Bridge, seen earlier. The return should take about 20 minutes. David Thomas

Alexandra Palace memories

I grew up under two miles from Alexandra Palace.

Just before the Second World War, I watched fireworks displays on its slopes with my mother. As a young man my Dad had a home-built Friese-Greene spinning disc TV when transmissions started from Ally Pally.

As a boy my Grandad helped 'Colonel' Samuel Franklin Cody (NOT Buffalo Bill) to fly his man-lifting kites from the park. During that time he sent his wife up on a kite as a demonstration, then forgot her when he did his spiel. Bringing her back to earth cold and very angry when he packed up.

During the First World War he had a kite factory to supply the army with man-lifting kites for artillery spotting (the observer had no parachute). Initially in the huge basement of the main building and later in the Tudor Hall later called Blandford Hall (pictured below left) which was a large independent building on the north-east slope of the park, sometimes called the banqueting suite later the ballroom. During the Second World War sewing machine tables were screwed to the beautiful parquet floor for, I believe, uniform production. It was destroyed by arson in 1970.

Blandford Hall Terminal of a gas main. ©

As well as Cody's kites there were lighter-than-air balloons flown from its slopes. On its southern slope is still the terminal of a gas main complete with mooring ring (above right) that was connected directly to Hornsey Gasworks (which stood just below the Palace) to supply the balloons. Even today people are surprised that coal gas was used in balloons, including some Barrage Balloons.

One of the most famous balloonists was parachute pioneer Dolly Shepherd; she went up in a balloon and parachuted back to earth. Her exploits are preserved on a mural inside the Palace. She became a FANY ambulance driver in France in the First World War.

The Ally Pally archives are held at Bruce Castle Museum. Bob Rust

Euston — Highspeed 2

Building the new railway to Birmingham is providing plenty of work for archaeologists at more than 60 separate sites. At the Euston end of the line exhumation on a large scale is being carried out at St James's burial ground on the west side of Cardington Street — as many as 45,000 skeletons may be excavated. This burial ground was used by the parish of St James's Piccadilly between 1790 and 1853. Among the people unearthed so far is Captain Flinders, the first man to circumnavigate Australia1.

In the Colne Valley remains of horses and reindeer are to be found from the early Mesolithic period2 and the site of the Battle of Edgecote3 in Northamptonshire will also be investigated. Exhumation on an industrial scale will be carried out at the Park Street burial ground in Birmingham, used by the church of St Martin in the Bull Ring for burials from 1807 to about 1873. There are even more human remains here than in London and coffins piled up to 20 deep have been predicted.

There are a number of 150-year-old London plane trees in the gardens at the front of Euston station. These are being cut down causing consternation and the Vicar of St Pancras, the Revd Anne Stevens, has been chained to one of the trees in protest. The area is being cleared for enabling work; it is to be a temporary car park. Bob Carr

Tesco centenary

This firm started out in 1919 when Jack Cohen began to sell war surplus groceries from a stall in Well Street, Hackney. Mr Cohen bought a quantity of tea from Thomas Edward Stockwell and he made new labels using the initials of the supplier's name T E S and the first two letters of his surname CO to make the word Tesco.

By November 1930 Mr Cohen had a permanent indoor market stall in Tooting and he opened his first shop in 1931, at Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex. By 1939, Cohen owned a hundred Tesco stores. The business was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1947 as Tesco Stores and the first self-service shop was opened in St Albans in 1956. Also in 1956 the first Tesco supermarket opened in Maldon. The supermarkets rapidly grew in size and in 1961 Tesco Leicester claimed to be the largest shop in Europe. From memory the opening ceremony was performed by a monkey, accompanied by the Dagenham Girl Pipers. Bob Carr

Gospel Oak to Barking

On Saturday, 23 February, the overhead wires were live and some electric multiple units were running on the Gospel Oak to Barking line (GLIAS Newsletter April 2018). Some diesel units have been in use owing to shortage of stock. Now, in the middle of March, diesel units have to be sent to the West Midlands after which it is proposed that the frequency of trains will be reduced from four to two per hour. Bob Carr

Battersea Power Station

A small room called 'Heritage and Learning Hub' has opened beneath the railway bridge next door to the Marketing Suite. A sign says it is open daily, but omits opening hours. Inside is a model of the power station, a few photos and a series of short films on a 'loop' which includes sketches of how it will all look when development is complete. Mind, I don't know where the clip of hand-firing a boiler comes from — the boilers were mechanically fired.

Battersea Power Station model

A 'plywood wall' containing a few displayed historic bits and pieces is still there, as is the foot and vehicle roadway across the site to Nine Elms Lane. However, much of this now has hoarding on both sides and a lot of the power station itself is now covered by white plastic sheeting attached to scaffold. David Thomas

Tottenham Mills Ferry Lane

On Monday 25 February, Ellen Green gave a lecture at Bruce Castle Museum on archaeological work which was carried out by Pre Construct Archaeology in 2018 at Hale Wharf, Tottenham (this site is being developed by CART). There was a water mill on the River Lea here, alongside the locks just to the north of Ferry Lane at TQ 347 894 (GLIAS Newsletter April 2018). Excavation uncovered remains from about 1600 to the late 19th century. Successive rebuilding took place and there were several mills on the site during this time, extensive recycling of materials such as brickwork was evident. The ground here is marshy and substantial foundations were required, the mill building itself would have been timber — two or three storeys high. At Bruce Castle Museum there is a good painting of the most recent of these mills1. From this later period an engine bed was uncovered. Mainly domestic artefacts were discussed and the lecture did not reveal much of an industrial nature.

Luxury items imported from the continent were found on site indicating that that the mill owner had considerable wealth. Valuable whole French burr2 millstones for grinding wheat into white flour, probably from the early 17th century, were incorporated into the foundations3. As well as grinding flour the Mill was also used as a paper mill for some time. Before the more recent industrial period the River Lea was used to provide power to drive mills and navigation down the Lea to London. Bob Carr

Sir Marc Brunel 250: Thames Tunnel talks

25 April 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of Sir Marc Brunel's birth and, to celebrate this historically significant occasion, The Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society is joining forces with The Brunel Museum to stage a Thames Tunnel mini-series of three related events:

On Wednesday 24 April (7.45pm) Robert Hulse, director of The Brunel Museum, talks on Brunel's Tunnel at Rotherhithe — the world's first tunnel beneath a navigable river.

Then on Wednesday 29 May (7.30pm) it's fast-forward to the latest tunnel under The Thames, placed in its historical context, as Tideway Project director Mike Sawyer speaks on London's Super Sewers: From Bazalgette to Tideway.

Both these events take place at The Brunel Museum in the heart of Rotherhithe Village and non-members are welcome for a suggested donation of only £3. (Doors open 15 minutes before start.)

Finally, on Wednesday 26 June, expert Ian Blore leads a guided tour of London's Forgotten Foot Tunnel at Woolwich, with a possible trip on the new ferry too.
All details on

Bazalgette 200

The great civil engineer and GLIAS hero Sir Joseph Bazalgette was born on 28 March 1819 at Hill Lodge, Clay Hill, Enfield. Bob Carr

xxxxxxxxxxx. © Robert Mason

P S Waverley

On Monday 1 October 2018 passengers on the Waverley setting out from Gravesend and Southend had an unexpected bonus. Arriving at Clacton there was a problem with the pier and Waverley was unable to berth there. She therefore sailed northwards as far as Harwich where a pilot was required. He came out in a pilot boat, climbed aboard and took the paddle steamer into Harwich Harbour. Here unloading at Felixstowe an enormous container ship, OOCL United Kingdom, was seen at close quarters. Waverley's captain said that she was the largest container ship in the world and could carry more than 21,000 containers. From Harwich passengers then had an extended coach journey back to their starting point. Bob Carr

Victorian ram pump?


We manage a site in Tunbridge Wells, Sherwood Park, that was the Victorian home of William Siemens, the pioneering electrical engineer. Part of the remaining archaeology on the site is a large cast-iron tank, and an initial survey suggested it may have been part of a ram pump. There is also a suggestion that it might be from a later failed attempt to set up a spa resort in the 1930s.

Our local museum and library is currently undergoing a lottery-funded regeneration, so research is tricky at the moment. Do you know of anyone who might be interested in taking a look or who might have an insight into its history? We are looking to improve access and generate interpretation for the site, and happy to pay expenses.
Nick Robinson. Email:

GLIAS @ 50

Following an initial investigatory meeting in December 1968, GLIAS was founded in spring 1969. We therefore celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, and the GLIAS Committee is planning a series of special events as laid out below.

This is a provisional programme, but we really need help from members to make all these things happen. We should be very pleased to hear from you volunteering to help with general organisation, or even better, if you would offer to take over a particular event or events. I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks in advance. Tim Sidaway. Email:

Provisional programme of events

March 2019: Journal No 16 published
April: Redesigned Newsletter launched
May: AGM: Formal start of the Anniversary Year
June: Evening walk open to the public
July: Evening walk open to the public
July: GLIAS lunch
September: Canal trip
October: Celebratory dinner
November: Study day open to the public
December: Publication of a monograph, '50 Years of IA in London'
Jan - Mar 2020: Photo competition — IA in London
April: SERIAC — hosted by GLIAS, including photographic exhibition
May: AGM including photographic exhibition

Newsletter themes

Each of the six Newsletters during our Anniversary Year will have a section dedicated to a particular theme. This month's theme is 'Minor Industrial Relics and Ephemera' that have disappeared over the last 50 years.

Future themes will be:

I shall welcome short pieces on these themes from regular contributors, but I am particularly keen to hear from members who are irregular or new contributors. So please send me your memories on IA evening classes in the capital, whether serious or light-hearted. I should also be pleased to print more items next month about Minor Industrial Relics and Lost Ephemera.
Robert Mason. Email:

Minor industrial relics and lost ephemera

What features that were common in our streets during the past 50 years are now increasingly rare or have gone altogether?

Many of the ephemera gone from the transport system are no real loss because they were absolutely unsafe. Take slam doors, for instance, which were finally phased out across the rail system in 2005. It now seems remarkably dangerous to be able to lean out of a moving train to open the door with the outside handle before jumping onto the platform while the train is still pulling in at speed, but we all did it, hopefully on the platform side. And HSE figures back this up: deaths of people falling from moving trains dropped from a high of 26 in 1987 to one in 2003/2004. But at the time, slam doors were accepted as nothing exceptional, as evidenced by the ridicule given to a visitor who dared to ask how to use them at!topic/uk.railway/aqBq5i_xVGI.

The slam doors often gave on to compartments with no interconnection, another safety hazard. I recall frequently feeling uneasy on the late trains out of Charing Cross in the 1980s but I believe that there had been public safety concerns with such stock since at least the 1860s. I haven't found when they were finally phased out — no doubt someone can advise.

Then there was smoking. The top deck of the bus frequently hosted a yellow fug, but given I was often en route to or from a pub with a similar atmosphere it was hardly an inconvenience. (It would probably be an unpleasant experience to revisit the 1960s pre-smoking ban, pre-deodorant and in the age of Bri-Nylon.) But smoking on the Tube was an accident waiting to happen — the 1987 King's Cross Fire in fact, which I recall involved a number of GLIAS members. Smoking had actually been banned on the Tube three years previously, but was poorly policed. The Fennell Report that followed the incident reinforced the smoking ban but also condemned wooden escalators and introduced better underground communications. I frequently flew from Heathrow via BEA's West London Air Terminal in the Cromwell Road and the Vickers Viscounts all had ashtrays. It was only in 2000 that smoking was banned on all international flights, although for a while it continued to be legal for pilots to smoke due to concerns over nicotine withdrawal!

Bus and train tickets certainly had more interest and variety than Oyster cards. I recall Bell punch and Setright tickets, though not necessarily in London. The former used pre-printed cards, validated with a punched hole, while the latter printed all the information on a blank paper roll. I'm surprised how long individual ticket machines seem to have been in service — the London Transport Museum has a Bell ticket punch that was in use from 1893 until 1958. And I find that Setright machines are available on eBay for as little as £50; original blank ticket rolls can also be had, as can the rolls from bus destination boards.

The A-Z has now largely been superseded by GPS, though I still have my copy in the car only because I've never taken it out. They are still for sale and I suspect that GLIAS members are among their last users. The story of the A-Z, founded in 1936 by Phyllis Pearsall and still Britain's largest publisher of maps, is told in a musical called 'The A-Z of Mrs P'. Tim Sidaway

Parking meters that accept coins are becoming exceedingly scarce.

Do you remember the striking blue Mercury telephone kiosks? An art-deco futuristic design they were quite common in central London but had quite a short existence, 1986-1995.

Mercury telephone kiosks, Endell Street, Covent Garden. © Michael Bussell Mercury telephone kiosks, Endell Street, Covent Garden. © Michael Bussell

Now there are recycling bins and more and more cycle lanes. Petrol stations are closing and charging points for electric cars are making an appearance, see photograph (right). Bob Carr

Charging point for electric cars. © 7 Jan 2017 Bob Carr

I offer a very few random thoughts, some with a very 'elastic' relevance to IA:

- Parking meters (introduced as I recall around 1960) — are any left in these days of ticket machines and payment by mobile phone? (In 1967 I could park on a five-hour meter in Portland Place for half a crown [i.e. 6d or 2½p an hour]; currently I suspect it costs around £4-5 an hour while cars are still being permitted in central London.)
- Police telephone call boxes, still in the public eye thanks to Dr Who.
- City of London sand/grit holders in attractive cast-iron designs. [Painted pale blue as I recall.]
- 'Subterranean' 19th century public toilets (preferably with glass cisterns, if no goldfish!) entered by a flight of steps down from the street.
- Slot machines selling bars of chocolate, etc.
- Milk floats. (Any still around?)
- Direct Potato Supply lorries.
- Bakers' vans.
Michael Bussell

In Carting Lane (Grid Ref TQ3051380652) by the Savoy Hotel stands a Webb Patent Sewer Gas Extractor and Destructor, patented in 1894 by Joseph Webb, a Birmingham engineer (GLIAS Newsletter April 2018).


Grade 2 listed since 1987, the listing erroneously describes it as an ornamental lamp standard fuelled by sewer gas. In fact the lamp was always fuelled by the town gas supply and sewer gas, largely a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, which had accumulated in the sewer was drawn up through a copper tube in the column and burnt in the mantle — the intense heat also destroying any unpleasant odours at the same time.

Thought to be the last in London (unless a GLIAS member knows otherwise) there were others, including one at the mortuary of the London Hospital in Whitechapel. Many remain to be seen elsewhere in the country, particularly in Sheffield where 84 were installed between 1914 and 1935 — a reflection of the hilly topography of Sheffield rather than the local diet. Martin Adams

You never know who you'll meet

Shortly after moving to London, in July 1968 I was photographing the electric multiple unit trains at Broad Street station. A driver came over to me and said something like 'you shouldn't be photographing those. There's warehouses full of hydraulic cranes and lifts just up there, which are far more interesting.' I just thought him a bit eccentric, but, lo!, there he was some months later (1 December 1968) on a different sort of platform, at the meeting which inaugurated GLIAS. The train driver I met at Broad Street station in 1968 was Paul Carter, GLIAS's first Secretary. David Thomas

Trains at Broad Street station, 24 July 1968. © Dave Thomas

Conservation watch

Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Tower Hamlets planning application PA/19/00008/A1

GLIAS, along with other interested parties, has objected to plans to turn the highly historic bell foundry into a boutique hotel that includes a small ground floor foundry area which is probably no more than a small demonstration area operating as part of a visitor attraction.

Our conclusion is that the proposals can only envisage a sham or at best a token foundry operation at the site using modern equipment and interpretation. This is certainly not appropriate conservation of such an important heritage asset and it is questionable whether it would be sustainable in the long term. While it would be preferable to destruction or no operational use, the importance and potential of the site demand more. We believe that a larger, more autonomous operation is justified and desirable, using the original foundry and equipment.

In March, at their annual conference held in London by ASCHB, the conservation officers' association, heard a talk comparing the Whitechapel Bell Foundry with the Middleport Pottery in Burslem, North Staffordshire. The speaker, Stephen Clarke, was a regeneration specialist and a trustee of the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust (an offshoot of the Prince's Trust), which since 2011 has been instrumental in saving the historic pottery and putting it back on its feet. See The proprietors have found a new and successful business model for china manufacture, blending the latest technology with traditional processes to gain an edge while maintaining craft skills and traditions of quality. They have found that nouveaux riches overseas customers, particularly in China, revere quality products in reaction to cheap, mass-marketed goods and have great respect for the cultural traditions of the west as well as their own. It happens that bells are also of great significance to the Chinese, so that bronze castings have become architectural fashion symbols there. So UKHBPT is behind a scheme, supported by a number of heritage groups, to revive bell founding at Whitechapel, with the help of the recently redundant skilled labour force. See Without knowledge of what they had done at Middleport, I was previously unaware of their business case for Whitechapel.

But how to wrest that site from its current philistine owners must be a far greater challenge, which was not discussed. Such a plan will become impossible if the present planning application is approved. More info at:
Malcolm Tucker, Tim Sidaway and Robert Mason

Bishopsgate Goods Yard

Proposals to redevelop the old goods yard, which was destroyed by fire in 1964, have been rumbling on for years.

The developers intend to submit a planning application to the GLA in late spring, following a second public consultation on the updated proposals.

The main piece of heritage featured is the Grade-II-listed Braithwaite Viaduct, retained with a park on top. But the CGI visualisations show a lack of appreciation for the 19th-century brickwork, and that is compounded by the anachronistic plonking of a US-style steel water tower on top.

GLIAS might object.

Fulham Gasworks Grade II* listed Gasholder No 2.

GLIAS has objected to the proposed written scheme of investigation for the investigation of Gasholder No. 2.

This application proposes recording of this Grade II* gasholder to Level 2 only and proposes the recording only of its exterior. That is an inappropriately low level for a structure of this grade, and it disregards the uniqueness in survival and very considerable technical interest of this particular structure. The greater part of the structure is within the wrought-iron bell and currently inaccessible. The work will not be complete until this has accessed for detailed recording in due course and to the highest level of recording, Level 4. The work currently proposed should be to that same standard and the WSI needs to be reconfigured to that end.

The interior of the bell was reported upon in an article in the magazine 'Engineering' in 1949, when it was found in exceptionally good condition.

After 1949, the bell's interior will have remained intact and pristine, as described in the article, within the normally oxygen-free conditions of a working gasholder until the holder was decommissioned in 1970. The gas was then removed and the bell left in its lowered position, immersed in water within the brick tank, and the thin metal sheeting of the bell is likely to have deteriorated since then through corrosion, although made of comparatively rust-resistant wrought iron. However, the sheeting is mounted on an internal frame made of wrought-iron bars of considerably thicker material, which is likely to have deteriorated considerably less and be recoverable.

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© GLIAS, 2019