Notes and news — June 2019
In this issue:
GLIAS 50th year celebratory meal
- GLIAS 50th year celebratory meal
- GLIAS @ 50 newsletter themes
- IA evening classes
- More on minor industrial relics and lost ephemera
- The Asset Strippers — sculpture commission at Tate Britain
- John Robinson 1942-2018
- London windmills
- Ludgate House
- Current fears — Greenwich Observatory
- Smithfield Market to move to Barking Power Station site
- Bazalgette @200
- Webb Patent Sewer Gas Destructor
- Conservation watch
As one of the events to celebrate our 50th anniversary, GLIAS is arranging a lunch on Saturday 12 October 2019 in King's Cross station. We have booked a private room in the Parcel Yard which is a Fuller's pub and dining rooms with a number of conserved features. The meal will cost approximately £35 to cover three courses, coffee and service.
Vegetarian and vegan options are available, although the exact menu won't be available until nearer the time. This is a great opportunity for us all to get together, though numbers are limited so please book soon.
To reserve places, please contact Tim Sidaway on 01923-269317 / email@example.com. A deposit of £10pp will be required
GLIAS @ 50 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 'IA evening classes'.
Future themes will be:
- August: Industrial reuse in London
- October: GLIAS Coach trips
- December: GLIAS Recording Group
- February 2020: GLIAS outreach / walks / conferences
Please send your memories, whether serious or light-hearted, to firstname.lastname@example.org
IA evening classes
I retired from fulltime work in 1994. I had been teaching mechanical engineering subjects in further education for some years. In that first summer I found out about the guided tours that were on offer and visited Crossness Pumping Station. I had read about Crossness and the work that was being done there.
My wife and I were so impressed with the work the volunteers were doing and what they hoped to achieve. I decided to volunteer and from then on I visited on Sundays and Tuesdays.
Talking to the other volunteers led me to find out about the Denis Smith evening classes in Industrial Archaeology which he ran at Morley College. I joined in September 1994. I found the course so interesting. The next year Birkbeck College were offering a three-year Certificate course followed by a one-year Diploma course. Again Denis Smith was the lecturer for the Certificate and Sue Hayton the Diploma. I enrolled!
The course was good. We visited many sites of interest and several pieces of coursework related to industrial history had to be submitted at each stage of the course. At the end of the course I gained the Diploma!
The next year I attended the course that Bob Carr ran at City University; again it was most interesting.
During the classes I began research into the engineering history of Crossness, mainly at the London Metropolitan Archive, a place we had visited with Denis during the Birkbeck course.
This continued after the courses had finished, it took many visits over the years. David Dawson
I recall Dr Denis Smith charging into an IA course class at Goldsmith's College in the 1970s, stating that he had found David Kirkaldy's testing machine. Some wag (possibly Danny Hayton) said we were unaware the machine was missing.
I spent many years assisting clearing up 99 Southwark Street and some time later, when LHP relinquished their hydraulic pipe system to a communication company I visited several of their sites, 'rescuing' various items, mostly hydraulic couplings. There was, however, a valve box (very heavy). I can't recall just how it was removed to KTM! It would have been stowed with other cast-iron items — coal hole covers, pumps, etc. The couplings were cleaned up for display. Peter Skilton
Every year the WEA branch in Cuffley organised an evening of introductory talks about their proposed programme of lectures for the coming year. In 1988 one of the speakers was Dr Denis Smith who spoke for about 15 minutes on Industrial Archaeology. I and several other were immediately smitten, and a sufficient number were interested for the class to go ahead. The lectures, under the auspices of Birkbeck College, commenced on Tuesday evenings in September 1988 at Cuffley School. Denis Smith was the lecturer and one of the first things he told us was that 'once you have studied IA, life will never be the same again'. How true that has been for many of us.
The Cuffley evening classes were very popular and continued for about seven years during which practically every aspect of IA was covered or touched on. As well as lectures every week, Denis organised visits to many sites of IA interest. The first of these was a trip on the uncovered Jenny Wren from Camden Lock to Limehouse Basin and back. It was on 18 March 1989, a very cold day, and a couple of us had to warm up by walking part of the way back, having a Guinness in a convenient pub just before the Islington tunnel, before jumping back on the boat. Denis usually managed to find places to visit which were not normally accessible to the public resulting in many memorable trips including Wilsons Snuff Mill in Sheffield and gaining access to the roof of the Albert Hall to have a close up look at Fairbairn's structure.
When Denis became president of the Newcomen Society he was unable to continue with the evening classes in Cuffley so a number of us, wishing to continue our interest in IA decided to try and arrange talks and visits ourselves. Thus the Cuffley Industrial Heritage Society (CIHS) was formed in 1997. Denis agreed to be our president which he remained until his death last year.
Denis always encouraged us to carry out our own research and together with some members of the neighbouring Barnet WEA group, which Denis also led, we were able to gain access to Wrotham Park, the Byng Estate near Potters Bar. It was known that in the estate there was some interesting farm machinery and buildings, including an Easton and Amos Grasshopper engine, but no-one had been able to see it for many years. Eventually in 1995 the estate manager agreed to allow us into the site where we found well preserved farm buildings which had been built between 1885 and 1889. In the engine house was the Easton and Amos engine, largely complete, and the remains of overhead belt drives for other farm machinery. The site of the boiler was evident and the chimney remained intact. Over the next few years members of both groups made records of the site by way of photographs and drawings. Eventually we were able to gain access to the archives of Wrotham Park and examine the estate ledgers where we found, among other things, the invoice dated June 1856 from Easton and Amos to supply the machinery to the Estate. The result of this work is documented in the report 'The Steam Engine at Wrotham Park' issued by GLIAS in 2005.
CIHS continues to thrive; it meets monthly from September to May at Northaw Village Hall, Hertfordshire, and normally organises an annual Study Tour. Ian White
For further information go to www.cuffleyindustrialheritage.com
More on minor industrial relics and lost ephemera
The theme in the last newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter April 2019) was 'Minor Industrial Relics and Lost Ephemera'.
Michael Bussell's random thoughts included 'Milk floats. (Any still around?)'.
The answer is: yes, Parker Dairies | East and Central London Milk (www.parkerdairies.co.uk).
Last June we moved from Angel to Wanstead and the prevalence of a Parker's milk float also selling the old bottles of orange juice, sliced white bread and eggs felt like a 1950s time warp. The milkman we have even wears a cap and collects the money on Saturdays.
Wanstead might make an excellent walk for the upcoming GLIAS evening walk programme. Caroline Dale
There is a traditional subterranean toilet still in use at Hampstead Heath, right by the route 24 bus terminus. Martin Weyell
Tim Sidaway's snippet about the dangers of slam doors on trains reminds me of something that happened to me in about 1963.
It was in the days of long umbrellas. I used to like walking and swinging and tapping my umbrella as I crossed Waterloo Bridge to the station. I settled in a seat next to the door with my back to the direction of travel. We went through Vauxhall. More people crowded into my compartment. It was full by Clapham Junction.
I alighted at Putney to walk to the flat in Upper Richmond Road. As I exited the station, I began to swing my umbrella. It no longer reached the ground! The ferrule had been chopped off! I suspect it fell to the door slammed at Clapham Junction. Mike Quinton
The Asset Strippers — sculpture commission at Tate Britain
A review of a sculpture exhibition at Tate Britain may seem an odd choice of subject for this newsletter. However, 2019's commission in the Duveen sculpture galleries is by Mike Nelson and his installation 'The Asset Strippers' has transformed the heart of Tate Britain into a grand warehouse of industrial monuments to a lost era. The post-war landscape that framed Mike Nelson's childhood. The title refers directly to the source of the objects in the exhibition, online auctions of company liquidators and salvage yards. Mike Nelson is interested in the cultural and social contexts behind the objects he has carefully selected, as well as their material qualities. The objects on display encompass a wide range of industrial archaeology from lorry ramps that came from a farm sale in Cheshire to a Jacquard knitting machine from Broxburn, West Lothian.
Several of the items originated in London and home counties and will be of particular interest to GLIAS members. In the South gallery the woodworking lathe at the entrance came from Javelin Plastics, Camberley; the Blue Ward turret metal lathe came from London; tool chests and benches came from a number of auctions in the south of England. In the Octagon the textile machines came from a company in Canning Town which went into receivership in November 2018 and hospital doors from NHS hospital in Bolsover Street, London. In the North Duveens gallery Sandstone staddle stones bases came from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. They would have been used to elevate grain stores and help keep the mice away. Telegraph poles came from a salvage yard in Kent. And finally, an evocative display of graffitied steel sheeting used to cover up the windows of a housing estate in South London, prior to redevelopment. I am grateful to the Tate information office for these details, as this information is not on display in the galleries.
I stumbled across the exhibition on my way to another gallery and was amazed and intrigued by the whole experience. Mike Nelson puts it much better than I could: 'It presents us with a vision of artefacts cannibalised from the last days of the industrial era in place of the treasures of empire that would normally adorn such halls.' (Mike Nelson, born Loughborough, 1967). Cherry McAskill
John Robinson 1942-2018
On Monday 8 April a special event, 'Remembering John Robinson' was held on board HQS Wellington, the headquarters of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. John Robinson, who many of us will remember with respect and affection, had strong maritime connections. GLIAS members will probably be most familiar with John from when he worked at the Science Museum, South Kensington, where among other things he administered the PRISM fund.
Henry Cleary was master of ceremonies at this event. GLIAS members may remember Henry from the time when his VIC 56 was on the Thames in East London, before the VIC was moved down river to Chatham.
John Robinson's younger brother Terry was one of the speakers. He told us that the family originally lived in the far west of Cornwall. In those days child mortality was not uncommon, John never knew his older sister who died while he was still a baby and John himself was seriously ill in childhood, requiring that he be isolated for a lengthy period. We also had contributions from Andy King (Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums) and Hannah Cunliffe (National Historic Ships UK).
The principal speaker was Sir Neil Cossons. Neil and John's career were very much intertwined. They first met when Neil worked at the museum in Bristol. At that time John worked in the City of Bristol finance department and used to visit Neil to see the wonderful collection of 19th-century maritime photographs on glass plate negatives which were still being catalogued. John Robinson found the work that Neil was doing more congenial than his own in the finance department and after a few years was able to transfer to the museum when Neil left.
Later on they were together at Ironbridge. Neil's account ended with a description of how in 1983 John together with others threw him in the canal there when Neil was wearing fancy dress — a Napoleonic-period admiral's uniform.
John Robinson was a naval officer, also keen on sailing and making quite dangerous voyages in small craft. In later years he was very much involved with European Maritime Heritage — the European association for traditional ships in operation. This organisation has a very good Facebook page with some splendid archive footage. Bob Carr
This note lists surviving wind mills, wind pumps and some other remains within London. More on histories, except for the last two items, can be found on the internet.
WIMBLEDON. Windmill Road, Wimbledon Common, SW19 5NR www.wimbledonwindmill.org.uk.
A cute little wooden smock mill, with four patent sails and fantail, sitting on a much wider two-floor brick base. The whole has been converted back from living accommodation. It is a museum with a selection of machinery, displays and historic info, but clearly not a working mill. An interesting half hour's browse, free. Open Sat 14-17.00; Sun & BH Mon 11-17.00, summer only. In 2019 this is 30 March to 27 October. Frequent bus 93 (Putney-East Cheam) from Putney or Wimbledon stations; stop is Parkside Hospital.
SHIRLEY. Post Mill Close, off Upper Shirley Road, CR0 5DY www.shirleywindmill.org.uk.
In spite of the road name, this is a brick tower mill with wooden cap, four sails and fantail. Intact, but not working. Owned by LB Croydon, it is open for about nine days each year, with volunteer 'Friends' guides giving thorough tours every 15 minutes or so, taking up to an hour. Free, though a donation is suggested. Times are 12-17.00, and the remaining 2019 dates are: 2/6, 7/7, 4/8, 1/9, 22/9, 6/10. Bus 466 frequent service from East Croydon station — Caterham; stop is Shirley Windmill.
BRIXTON. Windmill Gardens, end of Blenheim Gardens, SW2 5EU.
Tower mill with wooden cap, largely restored, with machinery to show how it would have worked. Owned by LB Lambeth and open on several weekend afternoons 14-17.00. Remaining 2019 dates are: 8&9/6, 13&14/7, 10&11/8; 14&15/9; 21&22/9; 12&13/10. Access to the ground floor on a casual basis, or for a full tour by pre-booking only. Three persons per tour, six tours per day; bookings open between five & four weeks in advance on website.
A substantial smock mill still undergoing substantial renovation. The website, which has detailed photographic coverage of the work being undertaken, says it is likely to re-open in 2020. An adjoining visitor centre has open days.
KESTON. Off Heathfield Road, Keston, BR2 6BF.
Post mill. The circular brick ground floor encases hefty timber supports, one dated 1716. Sails posts remain, but no sails. It has two sets of stones and all main machinery, so enough to appreciate how it worked. Privately owned and on private land, the mill is open only infrequently, such as on Mills Day (May) and an Open House Day (September), when there are volunteer guides. Not photographable from the road.
ARKLEY, also known as Barnet Gate.
A tower mill, with sails intact, surrounded by trees within grounds of Windmill House, Windmill Lane (private road; not visible from here), Barnet Road. The writer is unaware of this ever being open to the public. It can be glimpsed in trees through gates alongside Windmill Cottage, Brickfield Lane, which is a public footpath. In May foliage blocked photography, but a winter attempt should be possible. Frequent bus 107, Barnet to Edgware; stop: Brickfield Lane.
Wind pump. Near junction Windmill Road & Spencer Park Road, SW18. A slender eight-sided wooden structure with a crude replacement 'cap'. Presumably re-clad several times, was to lift drainage water from the railway cutting behind.
PLUMSTEAD. Windmill tower only. 1 Old Mill Road, SE18 1QG.
Brick, in good condition, with a flat roof, owned by the adjoining Windmill PH. No machinery or access.
NEW RIVER HEAD. Amwell Road, EC1.
Round base of former horse, then wind, pump, roofed as a store, adjacent to brick former beam engine house.
MITCHAM COMMON. In car park of Steak House, 1 Windmill Road, CR4 1HT.
Wooden post mill base, with some new wood, standing within a brick wall. Straightforward access is a 10-minute walk from Beddington Lane tram stop. You need to be keen to see this one!
MILL STONES. Near 145 Windmill Road, Selhurst/Croydon.
A pair of stones, upper in pavement, lower in wall, alongside Windmill Estate. Please tell the Editor if you know the history of these, of the location(s) of other similar examples.
CREWS HILL. Enfield (Wyevale) Garden Centre, Cattlegate Road, EN2 9DX.
Buy your own! Has a large 'garden ornament windmill'. Smaller ones for sale. This is passed if walking from the station to Whitewebbs Museum of Transport (Newsletters 155, Dec 1994 & 287, Dec 2016).
Suddenly Ludgate House is no longer there. This building will be better known to readers as the former home of the Daily Express. Built in 1988 and 10 storeys high it was situated at the south end of Blackfriars Bridge. Express Newspapers moved out of the building in 2004 and it has been boarded up recently. Ludgate House was quite attractive; faintly echoing the Streamline Moderne style of the well-known Daily Express building in Fleet Street. Passing by one could imagine that inside the building the next instalment of Rupert Bear was being written *.
On the site of Ludgate House there is to be a tall tower, similar in height to the building opposite — One Blackfriars which is 558 feet high. This new tower to replace Ludgate House is part of a huge redevelopment now taking place between Blackfriars Bridge and Tate Modern. Bob Carr
* Rupert Bear has been published in the Daily Express since November 1920, and he still appears there daily.
Current fears — Greenwich Observatory
April's GLIAS lecture by Graham Dolan described the concerns of Greenwich Observatory over vibrations from machinery in the proposed and actual built nearby London County Council Tramways' Power Station in 1902-6.
Two decades later, electric rail traction was again considered a problem. Below is from the Southern Railway Board Meeting Minutes for 3 May 1923 1.
'Electrification of South Eastern & Chatham Suburban Section — Greenwich Observatory. The Chairman informed the Board of the correspondence and interview he had had with Colonel Wilfrid Ashley, MP, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, respecting the proposal to remove the Magnetic Instruments from the Observatory at Greenwich, and read a letter from him dated the 30th April in which he stated that the Admiralty were prepared to accept the sum of £10,000, being the estimated cost of removing the instruments, and a commuted payment of £24,000 in lieu of an annual payment of £1,200, being the estimated cost of the additional expense to which the Admiralty will be put in consequence of the removal.' This was approved, subject to a suitable agreement.But was this actually necessary — and where were the instruments relocated? David Thomas
The minutes of 16 December 1926 show that the 'cost of removal' was actually £13,145-5-0d, so a total of over £37,000 was paid, the item ending 'receipt obtained'.
1. National Archives. RAIL 645/13. Southern Railway Board Minutes Jan 1923 to Dec 1932.
Brewing is set to continue at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick after Fuller's completed the sale of its drinks business to Asahi.
The west London brewery, where beer including London Pride has been brewed since 1654, was sold to Japan's biggest brewer in April 2019 in a £250m deal.
Fuller's will now focus on its hotels and pubs business, which generates most of its profits.
Smithfield Market to move to Barking Power Station site
On 18 December 2018 the City of London Corporation announced its acquisition of the former Barking Reach Power Station which occupies a 42-acre site. Billingsgate (fish), Smithfield (meat and poultry) and New Spitalfields (fruit, vegetables and flowers) will all be located onto a single site.
There have been four power stations on the site in this area of Dagenham, to the west of Dagenham Breach (pond) and Ford motor works. The first station was constructed in 1897 and operated until 1927. Station B ran from 1939 to 1976 and Station C ran from 1954 to 1981. The last was constructed between 1992 and 1995 and was the first major generating station to be built in London for some years. It was one of the largest independent generating plants in the UK, being capable of generating 1,000 MW of electricity, which is about 2% of the peak electricity demand in England and Wales. Demolition occurred last year with the chimneys being blown up.
On 26 April the City of London Corporation announced plans to relocate Smithfield Market, along with Billingsgate and New Spitalfields markets to the Barking site. GLIAS members will be aware that the Museum of London already plans to move into part of the present Smithfield site (GLIAS Newsletter October 2016). The market has been on its present site since c1150. The present dead meat market opened in 1868 and was designed by the city architect Sir Horace Jones, who also designed Billingsgate and Leadenhall Markets. Its cast-iron structure is very well known and what will occupy this Grade 2 listed structure is not yet clear.
A public consultation into the move will be launched this summer.
NB. There will be a GLIAS evening walk round Smithfield on 19 June — see events listing for details. David Perrett
A number of events have taken place so far this year to commemorate the 200 birthday of Sir Joseph William Bazalgette (1812-1891), chief engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works.
The MBW is best known for building London's Victorian sewers including the Embankments. On 8 February the U3A South East region along with the London Metropolitan Archives held a Bazalgette study day that was attended by some 170 delegates. I gave the opening lecture, which I entitled From Bogs to Bazalgette. The LMA is organising further afternoon meetings on Bazalgette — see their website for details (www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/Pages/default.aspx).
On 28 March, Bazalgette's actual birthday, a party was held at Crossness Pumping Station when the rotative beam engine Prince Consort was steamed for the first time after a period of inactivity. A number of members of the Bazalgette family were there and the cakes were sliced by Sir Peter Bazalgette, JW's great-great-grandson. David Perrett
Webb Patent Sewer Gas Destructor
As far as I can see from the records available on the web, particularly www.xenophon.org.uk/historywebblampco.html, the only surviving Webb Patent Sewer Gas Destructor in London is in Carting Lane, close to the Savoy Hotel (GLIAS Newsletter April 2018). Others are listed but I came across the one illustrated which seems to be omitted from any records that I have found so far. This unit is in Harewood Road, South Croydon.
The address of Webb & Co at 11 Poultry, EC1 suggests that the destructor was built after 1901 which would fit with the development of housing around Emmanuel Church which was built in the late 19th century at the instigation of the Watney sisters. The 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows Harewood Road being laid out and the first houses, before the building of the church, with the surrounding land still farmland.
The column is intact but in need of restoration. The lantern has gone. How many more of these devices remain in areas not listed in www.xenophon.org.uk?
Might be of interest to someone! Vaughan Pomeroy
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© GLIAS, 2019