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Notes and news — April 2024

In this issue:

From the chair

I would like to remind members that subscriptions are due for renewal from 1 April. A renewal form will be with you by email or post at the time of this newsletter. We do benefit from those members who can Gift Aid their subscriptions and we thank those who have taken this option and encourage others to consider doing so, which allows the Society to claim additional funding from HMRC. The Committee has examined our financial position and the subscriptions for 2024-25 will remain unchanged.

On another membership matter, thanks to Mike Wither for his management of the membership system and his conversion of our old membership records system (last software update 1997!) to a current Excel Spreadsheet set-up.

Mike has stood down from looking after membership and I have taken over on a temporary basis so please note the change of 'snail mail' address to 31, High Street, Farnborough Village, Orpington, BR6 7BQ.

The Lecture series continues with a change in the programme from that previously advertised. The March lecture was swapped to 'Sentinels of the Sea' by Mark Lewis with 'Brookwood and the Necropolis Railway from Waterloo' by John Clarke following on 17 April and David Perrett's lecture on 'Some IA Down Under' now moved to the AGM on 29 May.

The Society has its regular activities and the occasional events such as SERIAC. All these require organisation and co-ordination with opportunities for members to help. The Committee is keen to expand the Society's activities in research and publishing, to continue to provide our current activities and more to the membership and the public. If you can offer assistance in social media, membership contacts or any of the modern communication techniques, do get in touch with me by email,, or catch me for a chat at one of our events. Dan Hayton

Glenn Drewett — Obituary

Glenn died earlier this year, two weeks short of his 80th birthday. In the mid 1970s he was an active member of GLIAS, involved in photographic recording (including King's Cross Goods Yard with Malcolm Tucker) and arranging for the GLIAS evening lectures to be held in the City of London Polytechnic, where he worked. Although Glenn ceased to be a GLIAS member some years ago, he retained a strong interest in industrial and transport history, particularly the Waverley paddle steamer, and these were always part of our conversations when we continued to meet a couple of times a year. Malcolm Tucker and I attended his funeral in March. David Thomas

Don Weighton — Obituary

Don was a qualified quantity surveyor and for several years a GLIAS member, occasionally participating in recording visits. He had an instant understanding of structures. We remained close friends and also, later, neighbours. He died in 2021. David Thomas

London Transport overground lines

On the railway map of London [see] the overground lines have become quite a sprawl of orange and to make the routes clearer for passengers, each line will be coloured differently and be given a distinctive name.

The Goblin Line, Gospel Oak to Barking, will become known as the Suffragette Line. This is principally because the last surviving suffragette, Annie Huggett (1892-1996), lived in Barking. The Overground lines which radiate out from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt, Enfield and Chingford will be known as the Weaver Line, presumably because of the Spitalfields silk weavers and perhaps firms such as Mr Sindall's trimming manufactory (see London's Industrial Archaeology No 4, pp24-31).

The line which goes down south to Croydon, Crystal Palace and to Clapham Junction will now be known as the Windrush Line.

Richmond to Stratford and also Clapham Junction will become the Mildmay line.

The line from Euston to Watford which passes through Wembley will be known as the Lioness line, and so on.

There is general approval for having distinctive colours but there is some controversy over the choice of names. Some critics have pointed out that it might be more useful to choose names which give more idea of where the line goes to. Some children might think that the trains on the Suffragette line are particularly fast. Do readers have any opinions on this rebranding? Bob Carr

End of the road for petrol stations?

Are we going to see the rapid disappearance of petrol stations in the capital?

Several factors are at work – congestion and ULEZ charges are discouraging fuel engine vehicles from coming into the centre. And the reduced demand is leading to filling stations no longer being economically viable. The land on which they stand is more valuable for redevelopment.

A good example is Lyons Place on Edgware Road. The petrol station is now gone, replaced with 76 apartments and townhouses. But there is an eye-catching nod to its former use in the form of an electric charging point station at street level with three giant abstracted 1930s-style pumps.

Lyons Place, Edgware Road Lyons Place, Edgware Road

The site was previously occupied by the Hamilton Motors building, dating from the 1930s, which was a Vauxhall and Bedford main dealer. As well as the petrol station Hamilton Motors also operated a driving school on the site.

Very few filling stations, if any, are protected by listed building status. In fact I can only find three, dating back to the halcyon days of early motoring: Two of them – Duke of Bedford's Garage in Bloomsbury (below left) and Bluebird on the King's Road (below right) – have long since been repurposed as restaurants, while East Sheen Filling Station is still operating. Robert Mason

Duke of Bedford's Garage in Bloomsbury Bluebird, King's Road

New web resource for gas history

Historic England has been doing much work to record the fast-disappearing evidence of manufactured gas sites in England.

Their latest resource is an interactive map on their Historic Gas Industry webpages. Users can search for gas sites from the 19th and 20th centuries and view summary details about each site.

An interactive map shows the location of hundreds of sites including listed gasworks buildings and gasholders, non-designated surviving gasworks buildings and gasholders, possible surviving structures related to the industry, sites with only below ground evidence, and sites only known from map evidence.
View the interactive map at:

Thames Water – New River pipe track

Without using intermediate shafts Thames Water have recently lined a 36-inch diameter water main between the west end of Myddleton Avenue (at the back of the flats in Princess Crescent), and the north end of Finsbury Park Road. The winch arrangements were similar to last time except that the rotary winch had a larger diameter drum.

Concrete beds were cast on the road to support and restrain the winch (GLIAS Newsletter February 2024). The photograph taken on 3 February 2024 shows some of the mass concrete * after its removal. There appears to be little damage to the road surface which was beneath the concrete.

At least one intermediate shaft was subsequently sunk. This was to connect the newly lined main to existing pipework.

Three 36-inch diameter water mains run along the Pipe Track, formerly the course of the New River. Thames Water have inherited from the New River Company the right to excavate at any point along this track. The thought occurs that this stretch of pipes is a convenient place to perfect the lining technique. If anything were to go wrong, a shaft could fairly easily be sunk to put things right. Bob Carr

3 February 2024, Bob Carr

Slaphead vans

Is a slaphead (GLIAS Newsletter February 2024) connected to the main van body? There are slaphead vans where the interior of the slaphead serves the same function as the front of an old-style Bedford removal van. There are small removal vans in which the removal men keep their blankets ropes and accessories in the slaphead in the same way that they used the front of a box-fronted Bedford van.

Some slapheads are not connected to the main van interior and simply serve as a streamlined fairing. It is not clear if any use is made of the inside of the slaphead. There are a few larger lorries where the slaphead over the cab provides sleeping accommodation for the driver. Bob Carr

Farnborough Aerodrome

Since 1991, Farnborough airfield has been redeveloped for business aviation and does not accommodate regular commercial flights for the general public.

Recent air traffic noticed flying over London to Farnborough has consisted of small twin-engined turboprops; these are fairly quiet and do not cause much noise nuisance for people living near the aerodrome. However, a great deal of the traffic is business jets and it is now proposed to increase the maximum number of annual flights from 50,000 to 70,000. There is concern that in the future larger aircraft will be allowed, more like the types now permitted to use City Airport in Newham. When City Airport first opened only the very quietest air traffic was permitted, now there is a regular service to JFK airport, New York.

In Farnborough there are local people who are not at all pleased about additional flights. More noise and pollution will be generated but it is being pointed out that developing Farnborough for more private business jets will create large numbers of local jobs. There have been protests and environmentalists are calling for a total ban on private jets as being 30 times more polluting than passenger airliners.

It is not environmentally friendly to have more private flights, business executives are encouraged to use business class provided by the regular airlines. Are any of our members in West London able to tell us more of what is going on in Farnborough?

Although Farnborough might be handy for the M4 corridor business jets can already use Biggin Hill, City Airport, Stansted, and Luton as well as Heathrow. To the north west of Farnborough, Blackbushe is only seven miles away and handles private business jets which can also land at Northolt. It might be argued that with the present 50,000 annual flights at Farnborough there is sufficient capacity already. Bob Carr

Database spotlight 2

The GLIAS online database is fully searchable – you can search by key words, grid references and place names which makes it easy to find places to visit, either in a specific area or of a particular interest.

A good example to illustrate this is coal duty posts. These were set up on routes into London where taxes on coal were due to the Corporation of London (see GLIAS Newsletters 325, 248). This duty was imposed after the Great Fire of London, to help pay for rebuilding of the infrastructure.

A search of the database for 'coal duty' produces a map showing how they form a ring around the capital.

Database map of coal duty posts Epping Forest

Most posts are cast iron, painted white with a City of London shield. Often there is lettering, such as '24 VICT', as in the example pictured above in Epping Forest, referring to the Act for which it was originally made. You might also find details of the iron founder, such as Henry Grissell at the Regent's Canal Ironworks, Eagle Wharf Road, Hoxton.

Perhaps you have coal duty posts near where you live? As with all Database entries, we would welcome pictures to illustrate them. So feel free to add them to the database at Details on how to access the database can be obtained by emailing

We would also welcome:

More ghost signs

A city cannot function easily without signs giving directions, locations and information. Of interest here are those relating to industry in all its forms.

The usual idea of a ghost sign is one that has been painted and is now much weathered or only part revealed beneath multiple layers of old paint. Age can have a pronounced effect.

Some signs are very ephemeral, lasting only one or a few days as in the case of menus and sandwich boards. Others can have a very long life, outlasting the advertised business or building.

Such signs are typically made from more durable materials such as tile mosaics, brass or perhaps incised into stone or concrete. Even so, demolition or renovation work can end their life. Sidney Ray
All photographs taken by the author in London over the last 50 years. See also GLIAS Newsletter October 2021

Commissioners of Sewers, Holborn & Finsbury Divisions, College Place, NW1. Sidney Ray Sidney Ray

Kropp razor. Sidney Ray Stanmer Street. Sidney Ray

Charles Rickards Ltd Motor Body Works, London Street W2. Sidney Ray Old Spooner and Bushman Veterinary Surgeons stone plaque on a wall, Islington. Sidney Ray

Sidney Ray Sidney Ray

343a Caledonian Road. London N1 1DW. Sidney Ray Michael's. Sidney Ray

Goddards at Greenwich. Sidney Ray Diorama sign, 9/10 Park St East, Regent's Park, London. Sidney Ray

Lidstone & Co Butchers, 37 Thurloe Place SW7. Sidney Ray Sidney Ray

Ben Hur cinema, Stepney. Sidney Ray S. Cohen's shop, White Conduit Street. Sidney Ray

Sidney Ray J Jacobs & Sons. Sidney Ray

Sidney Ray Sidney Ray

South Bank University. Sidney Ray Sidney Ray

Late Bland (M&R Meats), 399 St John Street, Islington, EC1. Sidney Ray Chas Benabo, Mile End Road? Sidney Ray

Holloway Road. Sidney Ray Russell Square. Sidney Ray

Geo. Plenderleith's shoeing forge. Sidney Ray Sidney Ray

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© GLIAS, 2024