Home | Membership | News | Diary | Walks | Calvocoressi Fund | Books | Journals | Links | Database | e-papers | About us

Notes and news — April 2021

In this issue:

From the chair — next year and subscription renewals

This year has been a bit challenging! The Society has found new ways of communicating with and providing for the membership which took a while and we delayed asking for the subscriptions.

In 2021-22 we will be continuing with these and, as we 'know what we're doing' the renewal forms are included with this mailing which includes London's Industrial Archaeology 19.

The mailing has had to be prepared in advance and those who subscribe promptly may receive an extra reminder. This timing is in line with our plans for an online AGM in July which will enable notice to be given at the time of the next Newsletter.

We're hoping to get back to 'normal' in 2021-22, as far as restrictions allow, and are looking at a combination of live and online audiences for the AGM and next series of lectures.

GLIAS chairman, first thoughts and next year

Well, after 10 years we've a new 'Chair'.

What can I see as we look to the future?

The social aspect, pints/coffee before and after meetings, getting together to explore different parts of London has been knocked on the head by Covid-19 and how long the effect will last is anybody's guess.

However, the first remote AGM went well, although we were quite late in holding it and, fortunately, the Charity Commission and Companies' House made concessions to the situation in which we all find ourselves. We are grateful to our member Bill Barksfield for acting as 'returning officer' for the online votes during the meeting.

The lecture programme has been re-jigged to suit the online world which, in other contexts, has provided audiences which would more than fill the regular meeting rooms. We're looking forward to the same success over the next few months.

The Society has its usual concern about ongoing 'staffing' levels. We still have a number of posts for which we need 'volunteers'. The most pressing maybe that of Membership Secretary which, at present, I'm covering as it's my address on the membership forms. Any of the Officers or existing jobs within the Society could benefit from assistance and there are opportunities opening up in cyberspace. Do get in touch with if you would like to get involved.

We will be getting back to our usual timetable by sending out Membership Renewals to 2022 in April along with LIA 19, having delayed last year's renewals until we could maintain contact though the Newsletter. We are looking to hold another online AGM in July, in good time to file Charity and Company Returns before the panic sets in.

Take Care and Stay Safe in these strange times. Dan Hayton, Chairman

GLIAS AGM, 3 February 2021

1. The Fourteenth Annual General Meeting was held at 7.00pm on 3 February on Zoom because of Covid-19 restrictions. Our Chairman, Professor David Perrett, was in the chair. 74 members attended with proxy votes from 41 and apologies from 2 others.

2. In his report on the period April 2019 to April 2020, the Chairman regretted the disruption caused by the pandemic to GLIAS events. It had been an unfortunate end to GLIAS's 50th anniversary year, though an enjoyable anniversary lunch had been held in October 2019. He thanked the Board members and many others who had kept the society going during these difficult times.

3. Grants from the Calvocoressi Fund had been made to Ursula Jeffries for researching aspects of the London printing industry and to the House Mill at Three Mills for an interpretive publication. The fund remains open to requests for support to those undertaking research into London's IA.

4. As an educational charity GLIAS had arranged three free public lectures before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the remainder from March 2020 onwards. Two evening walks open to non-members had been well supported, as were the five members' walks on a Saturday. A reduced number of Newsletters and a Journal had been published; they are now commercially distributed. The database is being reformatted and reinvigorated; the website continues to attract visitors.

5. The Chairman advised of the urgent need for active support from more members in running the society. He asked for members to volunteer to help the Board which is currently easier as meetings are online.

6. The Treasurer, Daniel Hayton, reviewed the Treasurer's Report and Statement of Accounts which had already been circulated. He said that postage of the Newsletter and Journal were higher as they could not be handed out at cancelled lectures. However, production costs had been moderated by commercial and some electronic distribution. Calvocoressi grants had been paid to Ursula Jefferies and the House Mill. Membership was reduced by only 5 from the previous year. He confirmed that the society has sufficient reserves to satisfy Charity Commission rules though these reserves are falling slowly.

7. There was some discussion on how to increase the uptake of electronic Newsletters and the Board agreed to consider the suggestions further.

8. As he had taken over the chair of the Association for Industrial Archaeology, David Perrett resigned as Chairman and Daniel Hayton was elected in his place.

9. In accordance with the society's Memorandum and Articles of Association, Martin Adams, Colin Jenkins and Christopher Rule resigned as Directors but were duly re-elected. Tim Sidaway and Malcolm Tucker were re-elected as Company Secretary and Vice President respectively. Andrew Turner was elected as Treasurer as an interim but a full-time Treasurer is still sought.

10. A Special Resolution was passed to amend Article 5.1 of the Articles of Association to allow electronic communication to those members who elect to receive communications in this way.

11. A Special Resolution was passed to amend Article 6.2 of the Articles of Association to revise the quorum at general meetings from 40 members to 10% of members fully subscribed at the time that the meeting is called.

12. John Knowles thanked the Board for their efforts through such difficult times, and especially the outgoing Chairman, David Perrett. He also wished the new Chairman every success. There was general consent.

13. Cherry McAskill asked how it was assured that only known members were voting. The Treasurer confirmed that all attendees had been confirmed as members when they booked or as they entered the meeting.

14. The Secretary reminded members of the three online lectures arranged over the coming months. The first is on Wednesday 17 February and details will be in the imminent Newsletter.

15. Joan Waters asked that consideration be given to all lectures in the future being online and recorded for later consumption. The difficulties and dangers of lecturer consent and copyright breaches of illustrations were discussed; the Board will consider these matters for the future.
Tim Sidaway, GLIAS Secretary, 4 February 2021

Full minutes

13-amp plugs and the history of electricity supply

I should like to express my appreciation of John McGuinness's article '13-amp plugs and other developments' (GLIAS Newsletter February 2021).

Information on the history of domestic electricity supply fittings in Britain is surprisingly hard to come by. The only stand-alone book on the subject that I am aware of is John Mellanby, 'The History of Electric Wiring' (London, 1957) and I would be pleased to learn of anything more recent. Mellanby's book is a detailed and readable account but, perhaps inevitably given its date of publication, it has comparatively little to say about the 13-amp ring main system, making McGuinness's article doubly valuable. I look forward to seeing further contributions from him.

Given the fundamental importance of the electricity supply industry to modern life the relatively low number of published histories of individual undertakings is lamentable. In the past London local historians seemed generally uninterested. For example, the 250 pages of the otherwise good 'A History of Wembley', published under the editorship of Geoffrey Hewlett in 1979, deals with Wembley's electricity supply in one brief paragraph. Likewise 'A History of Hammersmith' (ed. Philip D Whitting for Hammersmith Local History Group in 1965) deals with Hammersmith's generating station, opened by Hammersmith Vestry in 1897 and (with later enlargements) in service until 1966, in less than one sentence. Conversely, in the same book Hammersmith's religious arrangements have three full chapters devoted to them. Perhaps other, more recent, local histories are redressing the balance. Even so, in October 2000 (GLIAS Newsletter 190, p12) GLIAS itself could review Nigel Friswell's comprehensive and authoritative history of the Northmet group of companies in a single dismissive sentence, 'There are surely some members who are interested in the generation and supply of electricity in North London.' (N C Friswell, 'Northmet, a History of the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company' [etc], published by the author in 2000, ISBN 0-9538592-0-7).

The most reliable account of the development of electricity generation in London currently available is that contained online in the late Mike Horne's 'Metadyne' website, which is being maintained following his sad death in 2020. Mike's blog post of 22 September 2016, 'Battersea and the Slow Death of a Giant', concerning the 'preservation' of the carcass of the Battersea Power Station building, is well worth a look too.

Following the regrettable recent closures of the Christchurch Electricity Museum and the electricity gallery at the Science & Industry Museum in Manchester, there are few public museums in Britain where historic electric power equipment, including domestic fittings, can be seen. One of the best displays is at Amberley Museum in West Sussex and the accompanying illustrations, taken in 2018, hint at the richness.

Amberley Museum: plugs, sockets and switches Amberley Museum: wiring systems

Please do not let these images suffice; go and visit this fine exhibition in person once COVID restrictions are relaxed. Although the intrinsic interest of Britain's museums is unquestioned their finances are now more fragile than ever and they need all the support they can get. John Liffen

I have to say I enjoyed John McGuinness article about 13A plugs; it is a reminder that IA is not just a thing of the past, but we are all part of the process. In particular, I was amused by his statement 'until we visit continental countries and experience the far inferior and less safe plug and socket they use'. Thirty years ago, I would have heartily agreed, but now have the opposite view. Our system has run its time, and is long overdue for replacement. Any glance behind the average TV, Audio or computer installation will confirm what cumbersome monstrosities they are. National standards may well have their benefits, but they are a block to innovation and progress.

There was a time when the correct rating of the fuse was essential for the safety of the attached product. This is no longer the case; products have to be intrinsically safe. The fuse is essential only providing short-circuit protection to the wire. Similarly, products must not differentiate Live and Neutral, so there is no need for a non-reversible plug. The change from 240 volts to 230 means that we can no longer obtain 3kW from a 13A plug, and a change to 15A in line with continental standards would be desirable. The bare brass terminals of the standard plug oxidise to high resistance, causing plugs to overheat; readers will have noticed that many more recent plugs have plated contacts, but this is more to do with the change to thermoplastic moulding material, which would otherwise melt and drip off. Fuses are very imperfect devices, it may be public perception that a 13A fuse will blow at 13A but this is not the case — if my memory serves correctly the fuse must carry 1.6 times its rating (about 20A) for an hour, without blowing. Many readers will know that we are almost alone in our use of ring main domestic power distribution systems. There is no reason why this should not continue if the fuse were incorporated into the socket rather than the plug.

Please don't mention safety of UK plugs; I bet a thousand times more people have been injured as a result of tripping over a wire than through unsafe plugs. In many countries it is mandatory that plugs should pull out, rather than jam, as ours does. My favourite is the Italian 10/15A plug; both ratings fit the same socket, and they are at least five times more compact.

Having got that off my chest, I feel newly inspired to write to my MP on the subject. But don't expect any change soon. John Joyes

John McGuinness refers to the trade organisation invited to proceed with the preparation of suitable designs for the plug. BEAMA, the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers Association, went on to take part in working groups of Orgalime, the European organisation bringing together the countries of Western Europe to discuss, among other matters, electrical standards.

In the 1960s, in the run-up to the UK joining the Common Market, as it was then, BEAMA joined their continental colleagues in advising the European Commission on electrical trade matters, including the harmonisation of the standard for domestic cabling. Our status was as observers but we played a full part in the discussions.

As deputy head of BEAMA's Overseas Division, one of my duties was to attend meetings of the working groups (and some lavish lunches in memorable settings — every country was keen to show off its best cuisine!). At some stage, we were to discuss domestic cabling and I recall some interesting discussion around the colours of the live, neutral and earth wires. Given the difficulty of selecting a colour, which in one country indicated the live and in another one of the others, compromise was called for. A particular difficulty arose around the choice of colour for the earth. The ingenious solution lay in adopting the two colours we are familiar with today.

As a result of negotiations, the neutral in the UK changed from black to blue, the live wire changed from red to brown and the earth from green to green and yellow. Paul Saulter

'An oasis in the railway lands' — follow-up

Sidney Ray (GLIAS Newsletter February 2021) noted five sets of coal drops which formerly characterised the King's Cross Railway Lands, two of them (of the 1850s) within the former Great Northern Railway's Goods Yard that now form the nucleus of the Coal Drops Yard complex, and he suggested that the other three were demolished in 1977. That date may be correct for Samuel Plimsoll's 1860s coal drops on the site of Camley Street Natural Park, but Michael Bussell has written to say that the drops at Camley Street (west side) and Pancras Road (east side) remained until 2001, when cleared away for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Those two were also built in the 1860s, by the Midland Railway. I would add that a sixth set of coal shoots of similar date once straddled the Midland Railway's St Pancras Basin on a wrought-iron viaduct, to discharge into canal barges. Addresses in the area are now confusingly divided between the old NW1 St Pancras postal district and the new N1C King's Cross Central.

At the Camley Street Natural Park site, Sid's Fig 3 shows remains of a heavily trussed wrought-iron bridge that carried rail wagons across the canal from the GNR's goods yard from the 1860s until the 1960s. His Fig 4 shows I believe a typical coal man's cart, with neat rails around the top of the sides, while Fig 6 shows a Regent's Canal cast-iron boundary marker with the characteristic Prince of Wales' Feathers motif, although possibly as he says reused as a mooring post. The magnificent wrought-iron entrance gates now at Camley Street came not from Purchese Street, where the Midland Railway's two-level Somers Town Coal Depot started construction in 1896, but from that company's similarly massive Somers Town Goods Depot immediately to the south, opened in 1887. That was partly where the British Library now stands and in turn is not to be confused with the Midland Railway's St Pancras Goods and Coal Depot, alias Agar Town Goods, which was constructed in the 1860s north of the canal.

The gates were one of four sets under Gothic-arched entrances on the street corners of Ossulston Street, Euston Road and Midland Road. Further ornamental wrought-iron grilles filled other openings in the boundary walls. Mr Patrick Carson has written in with a newspaper article of 1887, attributing this iron work to the works of Mr Potter of South Molton Street and West Hampstead, who was his wife's great great grandfather. I have a 1979 file note that the disposal of this ironwork was then in the hands of the British Library's architects, Colin St John Wilson and Partners. Malcolm Tucker

The Midland Railway Coal Depot, Somers Town

I lived in Somers Town for the decades of the 1950s and 1960s. The 'railway lands' dominated the east side with the Goods Depot and Coal Depot of the Midland Railway, with its terminus at the adjacent St Pancras station. These depots were inaccessible due to forbiddingly high walls and secure gates. The Coal Depot was of particular interest especially as I attended school some 50 metres from its western wall and coal dust wafted into the playground. Towards its demise I gained access to a viewpoint overlooking this Depot and I was able to document its changes of use.

The Depot opened about 1898 and covered some seven acres, being bordered by Pancras Road, Phoenix Road (now Brill Place), Purchese Street and Chenies Place. The high level array of sidings and coal dumps were accessed via the westernmost of five railway bridges across the junction of Pancras Road and the north end of Midland Road. The coal wagons were manoeuvred around the yard by means of turntables and hydraulic-powered capstans.

The Depot closed in 1968 and the secure space was used as parking for railway vans and trailers, then for cars awaiting delivery. In 1970 it was the Euston Air terminal for Britannia Airways with coaches departing regularly for Luton Airport.

But perhaps the most innovative use was in May 1969 when it became an official airfield as 'RAF St Pancras' and used for helicopters and Harrier jump jets. This was for participants in the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race in that year. Observing such a take-off, the Depot's heritage manifested itself as enormous rings of residual coal dust which engulfed nearby spectators and journalists.

Demolition of the Depot started about 1974 when hidden details of the massive construction could be seen. The side wall on Pancras Road was retained and contains small businesses as well as being a noise shield for the Coopers Lane Estate and Purchese Street Open Space (now being built over) occupying the site. Of the magnificent brick wall on the eastern side of Purchase Street only a small section remains as a reminder.

The two railway bridges giving access to this Depot and the Goods Depot to the South were also dismantled and the view today down Midland Road shows the modernised St Pancras Station and Hotel, with the Crick Institute and British Library on the site of the former Goods Depot.

A recommended guide to this area is the informative 'Streets of St Pancras' second edition, published 2020 by the Camden History Society and historical maps from the website The dates of the photos are approximate in some cases. Sidney Ray

1960 Midland Coal Depot in use looking South 1964 Pancras Rd and Midland Rd looking South

1965 Purchese Street looking North 1968 Flatbed and trailer park

1968 Turntables and capstans details 1969 RAF St Pancras Harrier jump jet

1970 Car storage and coach terminal 1974 Dismantling of St Pancras Road bridge

1974 Demolition looking South 1974 Demolition details

1974 Demolition Iron work 1974 Demolition and gasholders

1980 British Library site with Coal Depot at left 2021 Midland Road looking South

2021 Purchese Street looking North

All photos by the author 1960-2021

Enderby Wharf

An inn sign has been erected close to Enderby House making clear that Young & Co intend to open the building as a public house as soon as the law permits. The photograph was taken recently and is reproduced, with permission, from the Murky Depths. Bob Carr

Enderby House

Knight Pianos: tracking down their former factory in Debden

The Knight Piano Co was a family business from the time Alfred Knight set it up in 1935 until it closed. Originally at Brettenham Road, Edmonton, it moved in stages between 1950 and 1958 to new premises on a 1.35 acre site in Langston Road, gradually adding to the original main building. This is an industrial road, ending at what the map show as a 'Printing Works'. A quite nice industrial building. I'd normally take a photograph. But there is hefty fencing and much CCTV before reaching an entrance with the name De La Rue. Ah. Bank notes and passports.

But back to Knight. The Loughton & District Historical Society Newsletter 203, 2014, (on internet) has a short article, mentioning 90 employees. This is written as if then current, but must have been composed much earlier, as the firm went into liquidation in 2003, having stopped production here about a decade before. An accompanying 1966 photograph shows Alfred Knight outside the main single-storey brick façade, but I walked past without identifying it. Fortunately, a small building at a rear entrance is named Knight House and a helpful employee confirmed it had been part of the piano factory. Returning to the front, that is named North House, after the surname of Knight's married daughter and son in law. That branch of the family continued the business, with production other firms producing 'Knight-North' pianos, carrying the Knight name, until 2003.

Comparing the 1966 photograph with the present main building shows it is the original. An extra floor had been added and fenestration altered. Nothing would distinguish it from hundreds of similar buildings. Don't seek it out unless really keen! Much information is from 'More Piano Makers' by Alastair Laurence. David Thomas

Knight piano factory, Debden, 2020


In the previous newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter February 2021) the unidentified building in the upper photograph is Deptford West power station in course of demolition — by the date of the photograph little is left. What you can see is the darker brickwork stump of the northern chimney stack, the chimney itself has already been demolished. Lower down the wall facing us is the outside wall at the north end of the boiler house, you can see girders sticking out to the side where they have been cut off.

You can make out quite clearly what had happened by comparing the photograph in the GLIAS Newsletter with a photograph of the Greenwich riverside taken in 1973 by Dr Neil Clifton. This shows Deptford West power station complete taken from a similar viewpoint. See Wikipedia

Deptford West power station was built in1938, the designer was Leonard Pearce who was also responsible for most of Battersea power station. The Deptford West chimneys were demolished in 1975 by hand using jackhammers (pneumatic drills *). They could not use explosives because there were flats close by. As originally built Deptford West had a row of twelve chimneys but later two trunkings were put across the roof and there was a single chimney at each end.

So the 1930s building just to the right of Deptford East power station is not up the Creek at Deptford Bridge at all but is on the riverside. Bob Carr is correct in that Deptford Broadway was gloomy because there were tall buildings on either side.

In the lower photograph you can identify a number of landmarks in the distance, readers may like to pick out the cupola on top of Deptford pumping station — it is on the far left immediately to the left of the church steeple. George Arthur

Demolition of Deptford West power station, 19 July 1977, George Arthur

This photograph, taken by George Arthur on 19 July 1977 from Borthwick Street, shows the demolition of Deptford West power station. On the left you can see the brickwork stump which supported the northern chimney. On the right you can see the remains of trunking which connected the boilers to the chimneys at each end of the power station. The chimney behind is at Deptford East power station.

Reading gasholder

Re: the demolition of the Reading gasholder (GLIAS Newsletter February 2021). Sadly Reading Council has now approved the demolition. However, I haven't seen any specific date for starting the work. Our BIAG website has a news item with a little more detail on the update and a link to our longer article on the gas industry in the Berkshire.

2018-06-05 Feb 2020

I started my career in the gas industry working on the gas research sites in Fulham, one of which has the grade II listed Imperial Road gasholder — said to be the oldest surviving gasholder in the world. Sadly, our Reading holder doesn't have such provenance of the Fulham one or others in your area, but what we do have is a very active local community who have spent lockdown creating a legacy of art and memories. The planning consent also requires that a photographic record is made of the Reading holder which is to be lodged with the county archaeologists; this is more than I originally expected when I spoke with the developers.
Jo Alexander-Jones, BIAG Publicity Officer and Web-Mistress. Web:

There are times when the interests of nature conservation and industrial heritage coincide. Peregrine Falcons have been noticed on the Reading gasholder guide frame and its demolition has now been delayed in case the Falcons are nesting there. Bob Carr

Downs Court & Gibbons furniture store

Downs Court at the east end of Amhurst Road E8 is a very stylish block of flats in dramatic streamline moderne style built in the late 1930s. It is pretty obvious that it was originally a really first-class building but it has seen better days. The original curved windows and glazing bars have been replaced and there are obtrusive mobile phone aerials on the roof.

See Buildings of Insignificance.

So Downs Court, where are the Downs? The name probably derives from the fact that these flats are fairly close to Hackney Downs railway station which has a service to London Liverpool Street.

In Amhurst Road near Hackney Central station is the site of Gibbons furniture store (GLIAS Newsletter April 2014). Nearly all this building has been demolished but a small fragment survives at the east end and is presently a Turkish Restaurant. Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations are quite close together; Hackney Central is on the former North London line. Bob Carr

Woodbury Down Estate

In recent months there has been a campaign to save a 150-year-old London plane tree in Woodberry Grove at the north end of Lordship Road N16. The tree was outside the Happy Man public house which had already been demolished. It was noticed on 6 January that despite the protesters the tree had gone.

See Wikipedia.

Since then large-scale demolition and clearance has been taking place immediately to the east of this location. Post-war style red-brick flats are being demolished but what is surprising is the demolition of the notable 'Vienna-style' flats which were built earlier — see photograph (below). These flats have aroused a fair amount of interest but it is understood that they were unlisted, probably because the remarkable original fittings had been removed in refurbishment which took place a few years ago.

Woodberry Down Vienna flats E block

It used to be the thought that these flats were designed by an LCC architect who was an Austrian refugee from Hitler. It is not known if there is any truth in this notion — the official view is that the architecture was by the LCC. The Head of Department, probably J H Forshaw, took the credit — and criticism. The whole idea of an émigré architect could well be mythological.

Officially the architecture was inspired by the urban architecture of Central Europe built in the 1930s. On completion the 'Vienna' flats were criticised for their magnificence — especially the interior fittings which were in high fashion. Because of their height they had electric lifts. They were 'too good for ordinary people' — money was being squandered — and similar comments. Perhaps the LCC believed in 'nothing is too good for the workers'. At that time were we attempting to match the perceived achievements of the Soviet Union? This was Herbert Morrison's London County Council, in the late 1930s many aspects of London, for instance its public transport *, were the envy of the world. London was still 'the Capital of an Empire on which the sun never set'.

The 'Vienna' flats had cantilevered balconies and deep eaves, they were originally painted cream and light blue — the finish was 'Tyrolean Roughcast'. In the early 1950s the Woodbury Down Estate became a showpiece, the Estate of the Future which was frequently visited by dignitaries and people with a professional interest in housing — see photograph (below) — view looking northwest across the East Reservoir in March 2020.

Woodbury Down Estate; view looking northwest across the East Reservoir

The John Scott health centre on Green Lanes opened in 1952, a model for the new National Health Service, and Woodbury Down School which opened in 1955 was the first purpose-built comprehensive school in the country. The final part of the estate, Rowley Gardens — see photograph (below), was not completed until the 1970s. Bob Carr

Rowley Gardens, Dec 2017

More on concrete barges

(Continued from GLIAS Newsletter February 2021)

When the great Tidal Surge of 1953 reached London it overwhelmed the lock gates at the Royal Docks and swept westwards. Mercifully in London only one person died. According to Wikipedia this was William Hayward, a nightwatchman at 'William Ritchie & Son' who died from gas poisoning from a damaged pipe. Is this William Ritchie & Sons at Stratford who manufactured postcards? Stratford is quite a long way from the Thames.

Following this tidal surge concrete barges were collected from various places, presumably on the Thames, and towed to Erith Reach to help seal a breach at Rainham marshes where they can still be seen.

Numerous barges were made from reinforced concrete during the Second World War when steel was in short supply. They were used for the storage and distribution of fuel and ammunition, a main purpose being to assist the Allied landings in Normandy. There were several types, some of them which were enclosed were known as beetles and these were to support the flexible bridge spans that connected the main quay of a Mulberry Harbour to the land. Some of the barges were built on docksides in London. It has been claimed that the London Mammoth floating crane built in 1926 which had a lifting capacity of 150 tons was sometimes used to lift barges bodily into the water. Is this a tall story?

The abandoned barges at Rainham are 'tank lighters'. Bob Carr

I was interested to read that concrete barges had been used to strengthen the flood defences at Rainham following the floods of 31 January/1 February 1953.

The same floods had an even greater impact in the Netherlands where it is estimated that over 1,800 people died. In a parallel activity, some of the breaches in the sea wall were reinforced using giant Phoenix Caissons. 212 of these caissons were originally built as breakwaters for the World War II Mulberry Harbours. Some of these were never used 'in anger' during the war and hence still available for this unintended purpose. Each caisson measured 60m long by 20m wide and 20m high.

Four of the caissons in Ouwerkerk have now been turned into a fascinating museum that tells the story of the disastrous floods. The museum, known as Watersnoodmuseum (Flood Museum) is well worth a visit and original WWII inscriptions (depth markings, etc) can still be seen inside alongside the moving displays. Part of the route through the museum is underground (or at least undersand...). Martin Dixon (Subterranea Britannica)

One of the Phoenix Caissons, photographer Martin Dixon


If you go to Bayswater now you will find that Whiteleys department store building has been gutted, only a shell remains. A new redevelopment is taking place there, Foster and Partners have produced a design intended to create the 'Harrods of Bayswater'. This is one of the largest redevelopment projects currently on the UK market with the main contract valued at ₤250 million. Finance from Hong Kong will be providing a total of ₤850 million.


The loss of department stores nationally is a matter for concern. While we may still have a few prestige examples remaining in central London if you live somewhere like Wolverhampton or Grimsby the prospect is bleak. Some readers may remember how a Department Store was once an escape from a relatively humdrum existence. Even if you could not afford to buy much it could provide an experience of luxury, you could at least indulge in window shopping and perhaps have tea in the café.

In Bayswater the redevelopment of Whiteleys will not recreate the department store of old, there will be 20 shops, and cafés and restaurants, but there will also be 139 luxury apartments, a hotel with 110 rooms and a spa. Bob Carr

Lea Bridge & Seething Wells

The article on Lea Bridge Waterworks (GLIAS Newsletter April 2020) mentioned the threat of building on designated Metropolitan Open Land which had attracted the attention of the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Within Greater London, Metropolitan Open Land has a status similar to that of the Green Belt beyond. The eastern part of the Waterworks site, the former Essex filter beds, is currently a nature reserve — see photograph below.

The eastern part of the Waterworks site, the former Essex filter beds, is currently a nature reserve

In the far west of London a comparable case has arisen at Seething Wells by the Thames where conversion of the filter beds into a Marina is proposed.

There is an issue of preventing the loss of designated Metropolitan Open Land here — see

Bob Carr

East London Waterworks Park

The East London Waterworks Park project has launched a crowdfunding campaign to create awareness of its plan to redevelop an 'unloved depot' on Lea Bridge Road.

East London Waterworks Park Ltd is a registered company limited by guarantee with all profits are re-invested to promote the non-profit objectives of the company. The objectives of the company are:

(a) to promote the protection of the environment by purchasing land and returning it to nature, and
(b) to create a habitat that will increase biodiversity, and
(c) to create a place for people to connect with nature.


For those interested in keeping up with the project, you can also sign up to their blog at:

Hornless in Hornsey

These photos were taken 33 years apart, in 1987 and 2020, of a bovine head left of the frontage of a former butcher's shop at 16, Wightmans Rd, Hornsey, N4. A similar head is on the right. The only noticeable difference is that the coloured tiles below have now been painted over. In both, doleful (bulls) eyes stare below sockets where horns had been. Maybe the cement wasn't sound enough.

1987 2020

The 'Harringay Online' website has an excellent black & white photograph, dated c.1910, of the complete open shop front, with carcasses and the posed then butcher, John Owen Hunt. And the heads have horns. However, the sign above shows the name Woollven. This is the end of a short terrace of four former shops with two floors of living accommodation above, dated 1887 to 1889, each named. The others are Kent, Sussex and Essex, so naming this, say, Surrey, would fit. But is Aberdeen, perhaps suggesting the beef source.

'Harringay Online' says the shop was a butcher's in 1934 with stabling and an adjacent cold store. The Hornsey Directory for 1938 shows No. 18 as a dairy. A coincidental juxtapositioning? David Thomas

Jobs Dairy

I too remember the cows on the grass in front of Jobs Dairy bottling plant at Hanworth (GLIAS Newsletter February 2021). Also the replacement cows on the roof of the later dairy building, as shown in the following link:

However, the main point I wish to make is that Jobs Dairy was not on the A3. It was beside the A316, about 500 yards along the road from the Kempton Park Pumping Station. Trevor Franklin

Information requested

I am currently working on a book about the early aircraft industry on the Edgware Road, in North West London, and I am trying to track down good images of certain factory buildings, and I wondered if any GLIAS members might be able to assist?

I am specifically looking for images of the following: Airco, Kingsbury. Handley Page, Cricklewood. British Caudron, Cricklewood. Nieuport, Cricklewood. General Aircraft, Kilburn. de Havilland, Kingsbury. Grahame-White Aviation, Hendon.

It would be great to get period images, but if anyone has images of the factories at any point, I would be grateful.
Mark Amies. Email:

I am building a fictitious model railway with influences from The North London Railway. I have on my railway some of the industries from the East End of London although much concentrated together than in reality. I am modelling in 'O' Gauge and a new coal wagon is about to come on to the market depicting the company of 'Gregory' of Kentish Town. Do you know if Gregory were one of the coal merchants using these coal drops?
John Palmer. Email:

Stop press 18 March 2021

It is reported that the large gasholder at Kensal Green, the Colonel 1891, is being demolished.

Malcolm Tucker notes that of George Trewby's holders this leaves just Bethnal Green No.5. Bob Carr

Next issue >>>

© GLIAS, 2021