Monday, 11 September 2017

More news again


We have heard that there is an application to issue a certificate of immunity against listing on our great Gasholder in East Greenwich.   There are, of course, some good reasons why listing isn't always a good idea, particularly for such a large structure which would need alteration if it is to have a viable future - in its present state it would cost a fortune to maintain and have no useful purpose. However, if it cannot be listed then it can just be pulled down one day and - hey ho!!!  We don't know who has put this application in but we would urge anyone interested to immediately contact, and put your views - whether you are for it or against. You need to do this NOW

In the meantime here is a jolly little map prepared by the Enderby Group which points out that the holder is a useful focus point for a lot of leisure facilities on the Peninsula and with a bit of imagination could be turned into an exciting landmark.

Thames Discovery Programme Newsletter

- this is the word from the REAL archaeologists who go round digging things up, (selectively). And they do it on the foreshore of the River.

Eliott Wragg reports on some of his summer work - in July in Deptford on the foreshore of the Royal Dockyard looking at a slipway which became visible in 2016 - and which they think is earlier. They also went to look at the pile of timber from 19th century warships at the end of Anchor and Hope Lane - go see this, it was what was left from a shipbreaking yard, huge great hunks of timber, just abandoned.
Elliot also reports that at Greenwich on the foreshore 'old features had washed away while new ones were revealed including a new windlass and rudder - all probably from 18th/early19th vessels.

There is also a report 'More erosion at Greenwich'.  This change has taken place since the sea wall was strengthened along by the Old Royal Naval College. There is a drop in levels by the King's Stairs and in front of the Bellot Memorial. More of the causeways have now been revealed and also a large chalk barge bed. They have found a base plate between the jetty and the steps . They hope to use photogrammetry (what's that??) and have some 3D models on show

Older Londoners Project - they are apparently running this with the University of the Third Age and have started a project with them called 'Sail to Steam' which will research the transition of wooden ship building on the Thames to iron   This will be shared with Riverpedia (what's that??)

FORESHORE FORUM - this is a weekend of intertidal archaeology - 28th-29th October 2017 at Norton Rose Fulbright, 3 More London Riverside, SE1 2AQ weekend ticket £50  details https//

Totally Thames Walks - the Greenwich dates for one of these is 22nd September 9.30 am £10.15 each  free if you are over 75
Remembering the Thames Tea Party  10th October 2-4 pm this is Silver Sunday and part of the older peoples thing. It is at Mortimer Wheeler House, N1 and you need to book  020 7410 2200 or email



We've all heard of cases where the word 'listing' is used about a building - 'we ought to get that listed' people say, and the next night it is mysteriously burnt down. Well, this is a petition against that sort of thing:



The Society are advertising a talk on Blackheath Arts Club building which is now, inevitably, flats. In the 1930s it was the home of the GPO Film Unit where, under John Grierson, a series of groundbreaking documentaries were made, including Night Mail and - I think - Fires were Started.  The visit includes a talk by Steven Foxton who is curator of non-fiction films at the National Film Insitute. The event is on October 12th at St.Mary's Halls, Cresswell Park. The snag is that it is £10 bookable through - but they say you also get some wine (personally would prefer a cheaper event and no wine!! - if you come to Greenwich Industrial History its free for members and £1 for visitors).  The building was also used for making aircraft parts in the Second World War. 



The Enderby Group is concerned with the manufacture of the manufacture in Greenwich of the underwater cables which fed, and still feed, telecommunications around the world. In the first 80 years of the telegraph almost all cable, world wide, was made in Greenwich - and the research facility in Blackwall Lane remains.  The most celebrated cable was that which crossed the Atlantic - and the first three attempts failed. The cable was made in Greenwich and loaded onto Brunel's Great Eastern and taken to Valentia in Ireland - the most westerly point in Europe.  The cable was then laid to Heart's Content in Newfoundland.  

Recently some pictures of monuments in Hearts Content have gone onto the Enderby Group Facebook page
There is also (or will be soon) an article about Valentia and World Heritage Status by Richard Buchanon with details not included below

We are also told that the cable station at Heart's Content is a museum, just across the road from
the cable landing.  There are photos at

The Group has learnt about a series of events around the Valentia/Hearts Content link.
On 27th July last year 3,071 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, identical marine bollards were unveiled simultaneously at Valentia and Hearts Content.  It turns out that this was part of a Festival in Valentia last year. This included a lecture on the Trans Atlantic Cable by Bill Burns  ( see his great web page and a launch of a book by Professor Donald de Cogan 'They talk along the deep: a global history of the Valentia Island telegraph cables" .  There was also the launch of a paper on a World Heritage Site on communications technology funded by Tralee and Kerry County Council. 

Since then we understand the Irish Government is pushing for World Heritage status for Valentia and for this to be linked to Heart's Content. A statement by the Chair of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation says the cable was 'the equivalent of putting a man on the moon'.

There are already moves in Heart's Content to make some sort of heritage link happen and declare the town 'as a twin heritage site'.

It turns out however that the 'Canso' building at Heart's Content was demolished a few days ago.  It was owned by a local group who were unable to raise the money for restoration.  See:

there are a vast number of other web sites on this, can supply if asked

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

More Greenwich History News and more this time than last


They have raised an  issue of concern on J.Muir & Co Bookbinders 64-68 Blackheath Road. - GIHS would be grateful for info on this

There are also numerous issue around Enderby House. The Conservation Group has made a submission and it is understood EGRA and the Enderby Group are working with them and each other.  Anyone who wants to find out more and maybe write in themselves are urged to do so - advice from EGRA  (, Enderby Group members ( - or GIHS via  this blog site - email contact over on the left. (

There are two applications  - 17/232/NM looked after by Planning Officer Y.Mederios and 17/2320/L looked after by Planning Officer T.Choudhury.  It appears they will be taken together.

Both are for internal and external amendments to Enderby House. A summary of comments are as follows:
- regret realignment of riverside path and increased height of flood defence walls which puts the setting of the listed house in jeopardy
- regret no secure gate arrangement in the flood defence wall
- question natural lighting at ground floor since the roof light has been removed to allow for outdoor seating on a first floor terrace
- urge that more emphasis is placed on tourist and community aspects in preference to retail used 'now proposed'.


Thanks for their newsletter.

They advertise their next meetings as:
14th October Crossness Nature Reserve by Karen Sutton
11th November  - A date with buildings by Jim Marrett and Wricklemarsh by Richard Buchanan
10th March - The effects of the Spanish Civil War on World War II Britain
All at  2pm Charlton House, Grand Salon

and also - other people's meetings -
6th Sept - Secret Chiselhurst. Orpington DAS Christ Church, Tudor Way, Petts Wood 8 pm
10th Sept  Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary. 11-3 pm
10th Sept  Friends of Shrewsbury Park Foraging Walk. 2.30 Garland Road Gate Falconwood
24th Sept..Falconwood Miniature Railway. Open
4th Oct -  Orpington High Street 1967 Orpington DAS Christ Church, Tudor Way, Petts Wood 8 pm
8th Oct - Falconwood Miniature Railway. Open
15th Oct- Crossness Engines. Steaming Day 10.30-4 pm
15th Oct - Woodlands Farm Apple Day
20th Oct -Crossness Engines. Static Display  10.30-4 pm
10th Dec. Falconwood Miniature Railway. Santa Special

This is followed by an article on a Parish Boundary Stone by Jim Marrett - and follows the sites, removal and retrieval of skips of these items by Jim and Jack Vaughan
There is also an article but a plaque to boxer Tom Cribb and a bit about his life  1781-1848
And an article on mulberry trees - with reference to a project to find them and where they are

- smaller items on - Driverless cars (running along the Greenwich riverside); the future of Shrewsbury House community centre; Rushgrove House in Woolwich and its history and use in the 'Turner' film; the East Greenwich gas holder; changes to the Equitable building in Woolwich,



The group around the Creek and the Ashburnham Triangle have raised an issue around the future of Creekside and the work on the Tideway Tunnel project and the 'reconstruction' of the Bazelgette Pumping Station.  They are looking for increased public access and a Creekside pathway which will involve industrial heritage.  They would like contact with people already involved in this or who would like to be involved. (Contact them via GIHS).  
We are also told by Cllr. Mehboob Khan that he is currently chairing a resident liaison group and is happy to hear ideas and so on.



As everyone knows the first Atlantic cable ran from Valentia in Ireland to Heart's Content in Newfoundland - and last week we were sent pictures from Heart's Content. So?? What about Valentia??

We were sent an email just yesterday saying that there was 'considerable excitement because the Irish government announced it would definitely be putting Valentia forward to UNESCO in the next round of World Heritage site official nominations in 2020, based on the cable story. The Valentia cables - both the unsuccessful 1858 one, and the successful 1866 one - were of course manufactured in Greenwich. If UNESCO accept the Irish govt's nomination, this may help secure wider public acknowledgement of the vital role Telecon's cables played in linking the world via cable by the time Victoria died.

By a complete co-incidence last week we were sent  some pictures from Hearts Content

Bill Burns also adds "The cable station there is of course a museum, just across the road from the cable landing. It's very difficult, however, to protect cable at the shoreline against decay, damage and vandalism without removing it.
My photos of the site in 2001 are on this page:



We have a request for info as follows from someone researching the history of drinking fountains:

They want info on:

A fountain that was installed on 19-May-1913 in the “v” of Creek Road & Wellington Street. It was 12ft high and made of a combination of grey limestone & red Peterhead granite and contained the inscription:

BORN 12 MARCH 1843  DIED 11 MARCH 1912

A plain 6ft 6in cattle trough was installed next to the drinking fountain. It appears that both the drinking fountain and cattle trough were removed by Greenwich council in June-1992 and were probably broken up
Are there any local experts with knowledge of the Deptford Cattle market and/or the drinking fountain? Do any photos of the fountain exist?



15th September  Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens

5th October - Tales of things in the Olympic Park

Both at Mycenae House. 7.45



they have published their 2017-18 programme, Meetings are at James Wolfe school in Royal Hill  7.30. £3 for non members

27th September Fr Kevin Robinson on Our Lady Star of the Sea - which includes exciting maritime tales

25th October -  Veronica Thornton on Screaming Alice - that's the railway which went to Crystal Palace

22nd November - Richard Hill - the discovery of a Hawkesmoor drawing of St. Alfege's

24th January - Mark Stevenson - The Royal Arsenal

28th February - Andrew Byrne  London 1840: Greenwich

28th March - Anthony Cross on Charles Spurgeon's Magic Lantern Show

25th April - Horatio Blood on Bohemian Greenwich

23rd May - Will Palin on Daniel Asher Alexander



All sorts of goings on in the Foot Tunnel (at least at the Isle of Dogs end)

We understand there is a long term problem with a development site alongside the foot tunnel and that plans for it were originally likely to affect the tunnel. The site is an old wharf and there are ownership and other issues. Cyclists are not welcome in Island Gardens and clealry there are strong feelings.

What do Greenwich historians think about this???



They have sent info on a load of events- lots of these look really interesting but also look as if you have to book. There is no info on this given, so find your own way

7th - 24th September - Events at Erith Lighthouse. (this is a new restaurant and other things space)

8th  September Musical Gems on the Thames . This is a boat trip from Westminster Pier. 

14th London Infrastructure Summit 8am-6.30 pm.  QE Centre

16th- 17th September . Open House at Master Shipwright's House.  16th - 17th 10am-5pm (in Deptford, just turn up. super site)

21st September London First discussion on water scarcity and security  8-10.30 am at Buro Happold 

23rd September Foreshore Festival. This is at Putney on 23rd 10-4

27th-28th September Flood Expo. Exhibition and Conference at Excell

5th October. Thames Estuary Growth Day  8.30 am-5.30 pm

14th -15th October. London on Sea. Film making course for young people. Hermitage Moorings

10th October - Fly tipping Symposium. 10.15-4.30 pm Park Plaza

16th November Thames Estuary Partnership Annual Forum 



Sorry - thats all a bit of a list of people's meetings. Although I don't know what I'm sorry about because its what they send

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

News Items


THE LENOX PROJECT  - their newsletter reminds us of Open House Day on 16th/17th September when they, and others, will be at Deptford Master Shipwright's House - with info and stalls and hoping for your support (with cakes and 'merchandise').
They are also advertising for a Volunteer Finance Officer and an Administrator.


Industrial Archaeology News.
The Autumn 2017 edition includes an article on the Woolwich Stoneware Kiln:
"In 1974 a group of archaeologists excavated several pottery kilns near the Riverside in Woolwich. These dated from the seventeenth century and one of the kilns discovered proved to be a stoneware kiln of particular interest. It was thought likely that this might be the first kiln of its type in Britain. In 1978 a report of the 1974 excavation by Sylvia Ptyor and Kevin Brockley was published in Post-Mediaeval Archaeology. This report describes the results of the excavation of two adjacent kilns at Woolwich, one producing earthenware and one producing stoneware. The stoneware kiln had a single stoke hole and produced Bellarmine jugs with other stoneware vessels, and is the only stoneware kiln of this period yet discovered in Britain.
It was decided that as this kiln was rather special it should be retained. The site was required for redevelopment and so in 1975 a remarkable piece of engineering took place. The whole kiln was encased in a wooden box and truncated beneath. The box containing the kiln, some twenty feet
square, has resided at various places about the Woolwich Arsenal since 1975. However, the site
where it was this year was needed and, moreover, after more than 40 years the box containing the
kiln was rotten and the structure failing. This was a crisis situation.
The solution has been to call in Oxford Archaeology to carry out a very thorough investigation of the stoneware kiln using the latest digital techniques. Once this investigation was started the kiln itself was to be destroyed so on the 28 and 29 March appropriate visitors were invited to view the kiln before its destruction. On 30 March the kiln was sliced and sectioned with a detailed digital record being kept. On Friday 31 March the demolition men came in and by the end of the week everything was cleared away."

We have been handed a brief history of Express Lifts - and note that it says that in 1903 the Easton Lift Co. was installing the first lifts in the Greenwich and Woolwich tunnels under the Thames and their faceplate controllers were not to be replaced until 1933 to the then modern camshaft systems.   These lifts had 64 brake horsepower motors rack driven on 5ft pulleys carrying 60 and 40 persons
(something wrong with their dates there, but never mind)

We have a request for info aout T.W.Thompson engineering works at 25 Deptford Bridge moving to
Endyne Works, Blisset Streeetin 1914. They made engines and dynamoes.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

--- and --- about the gasholder consultation

- so - what happened when we heard about the consultation on the gas holder site?

It is now a couple of months since Greenwich Council announced a consultation on a site on the Greenwich Peninsula  which turned out to be the one which has our iconic gas holder on it.  You wouldn't have known that from the consultation document which assumed that the holder would be gone and that the site would be developed for housing.  This post is intending to describe some of the reactions - those reactions we are aware of - to this consultation

All over the country gas holders are being demolished following a decision by the owners to decommission them.  In many areas campaigns have sprung up to save and to find a way of reusing the frame of their local gas holder.  There are already a number of interesting projects around the world where holders are used for housing, and for leisure facilities.   In the last few days we have learnt that the prestigious Architects' Journal has launched a competition for proposals for reuse of gas holder bases but not the guide frames.

We also understand that developers have suddenly woken up to the potential of these sites and that one major company has set up a division to find interesting ways of using them.  It is ironic that this news comes from the one community which has petitioned for their holder to be pulled down, Oxted in Surrey.

So what reaction was there in Greenwich?  We must remember that our local holder - East Greenwich No 1 - is very special.  Built in the 1890s by the South Metropolitan Gas Company it was then the largest in the world and built to revolutionary engineering and design criteria.  Very plain it is a very early modern movement industrial building - built at a  time which such design was at the cutting edge of artistic thought.  It stands dramatically on the flat marshland near the river and is an iconic landmark for much of surrounding area.

There have been several ideas put forward for our local holder in recent years. As long ago as the 1990s a local architects practice published a booklet called 'Eyesore' which was partially influenced by the light show which was then being played onto it from a local pub.  In 2013 ideas were put forward by two architects from BDP and was the result of a project by the Royal Institution of British Architects from whom it received a commendation.   Later, in 2015, Cuan Hawker exhibited a prizewinning photograph of the holder at the Royal Academy summer exhibition

But, locally, once the consultation began, one of the first things which happened was that someone set up an online petition to register people's views on retention or demolition of the holder.  A facebook page and a twitter account were also set up. We understand a massive 76% of respondents wanted the holder frame saved and reused in some way.

This was followed by tweets, facebook comments and linked in comments - from locals, and from people in the gas history, and gas enthusiast world - and copied on to all sorts of facebook sites and blogs, locally, London wide, nationally and internationally.

And also - this includes only stuff which was copied to us, there was doubtless much more - 

What the press - locally - said - 

Greenwich Visitor put the story on their front page with a picture splashed across with 'Save it'  and headed 'Symbol of Greenwich's proud past faces demolition' . Inside that issue was another story about reuse of holders around the world, with pictures and the strap line 'Beauties in the eye of the gas holder. They have followed this up with a front page note in their current issue.

The Mercury also front paged it with the heading 'Save Exceptional Gas Holder' and a detailed story.

Westcombe News included a short front page item, commenting that it was unfortunate that that consultation had been timed for the summer months

Greenwich Society Newsletter - included an item on the holder as a late news flash.

(and thank you to all of them)

There were submissions from national and London wide bodies - for example the national Association for Industrial Archaeology.  The London based Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society also made a submission.  Their expert described in detail the background to the construction of the holder and also said  'it is inexcusable that it is virtually unmentioned in the draft planning brief.... and yet it has considerable potential in place making in the new development...  the plans are remarkably lacking in vision'.  The submission also describes ways in which the frame could be used in a safe and practical way.

There was reaction from gas holder enthusiasts abroad.  Someone in Munich wrote " British engineers did pioneer work on designing and developing the gas holder and........  it was to the merits of George Livesey to invent the so called shell principle that enforce the structure of the guide framing and facilitated very tall gas holders with a large storage capacity....  with East Greenwich Livesey crowned this sublime structure with a very eyeable pattern that added a third cross. Thus the tall guide framing has a very elegant appearance". She also published a photograph of the Greenwich Visitor article.

this shows the holder in the snow
A local archaeologist wrote to say that one of the listing criteria should be that this is the last survivor of a significant local industry and reminded us of links to experiments on Shooters Hill.

An East Greenwich resident wrote " it would make such a great public space and is one of the only civic scale monuments to the industrial history of  East Greenwich.  It appears to rotate and spiral out as one drives past it on the bus'.

A correspondent from North London wrote to say how he was appalled at the 'lifeless and boring indicative development scenarios' described in the consultation documents and he also described in detail work done on the gas holders at Kings Cross

Several people have put forward ideas for reuse.  One suggested "use of the lower third as a sports arena, middle third as industrial museum and the top third as housing with huge numbers of tall trees surrounding". 

Another respondent made a detailed submission to the consultation including drawings for its use for "what could be achieved" given the vast amount of space inside it and asks if it could be used as an extension to the entertainment area at the Dome - citing several sites around the world where old holder space has been adapted in this way. He also cited its dramatic site and suggested this should be maximised as a landmark and icon for the whole area.

Finally - this blog has featured histories of the holder - scroll down the entries to find them, and also additional fantastic ideas for reuse (see the one by Jo, for instance). We are also aware that submissions have been made by important local groups - The Greenwich Society, the East Greenwich Residents Association and the borough wide Greenwich Conservation Group.  As well as lots of residents.

Listing - why isn't the holder listed??

There have been several attempts to get listed status for this holder going back many years.  We are aware of an application for spot listing as long ago as the 1990s. This, along with many other attempts, was refused.  We understand that Historic England commented earlier this year that they had little intention of listing all holders but said that this holder " remains a monumental industrial landmark in this part of London a clear marker on the skyline".

However as a result of the consultation we have heard of several people who have asked for the listing to be reconsidered - for example some members of the Enderby Group have sent in a long and detailed submission covering the history and architectural potential.  They are not alone.

And -
only one person has written to say that they think  the holder  is ugly and shall be pulled down - and they will not be alone in this view.

and also - ps - something else on the consultation site which Greenwich Council didn't mention was the old school building now used by the Horniman Museum - or some of the rumoured plans for adjacent sites.

thanks for pix to R.J.M.Carr & Rob Powell

Saturday, 5 August 2017



On 10th October Greenwich Industrial History Society wants to host a discussion on the current state of Greenwich's Industrial Heritage - and what we should be trying to achieve.  If you have ideas and would like to join in - please come along (Age Exchange Bakehouse 7.30).  BUT - perhaps more importantly - if you feel strongly please volunteer to do a couple of minutes presentation on your views. Please get in touch so we can arrange the programme.

AND NOW - what is being said and where:

The July/August issue is full of stuff about our local industrial history (even if  some of them were written by me, Mary)  there is:
** report on the Greenwich Revealed proposed works in Greenwich Park.  Not strictly industrial of course - but involve the history of works on a massive scale to create what was fundamentally a leisure complex.  **more on this below**  If you have more info on these works let us know.
**an article on the discovery of an 18th Hawksmoor drawing of St. Alfege church - again not industrial but part of a whole lot of works currently being done on the history of the church.  We would like to know more about these finds - please get in touch.
** an article by Pieter Van Der Merwe on Erebus and Terror, the Franklin Expedition's ships.  Of great interest is that the engines in Franklin's ships were recycled from Greenwich Railway locomotives.  *** more about this below***
** an article which draws attention to the 120th birthday of the Blackwall Tunnel and talks about the history of the publicly funded free river crossings in the late 19th and early 20th.
** attention is drawn to Enderby House in an article on local 'buildings at risk' and talks about the current restoration.
** a 'newsflash' about consultation on the gasholder site.

the newsletter also advertises:
** The Society's Annual Lecture on 26th November with two speakers on the Armarda Portrait of Elizabeth. Tickets £10 from
** meetings of the Decorative and Fine Arts Society.


Labour Heritage Newsletter.
The current edition has a long article by Stan Newens on the history of the Co-operative Party - and Greenwich has a large and active branch.  Stan points out that when, in 1927, the Labour Party tried to get Co-operative Parties to affiliate to it, only the Woolwich based Royal Arsenal Society did so. What he doesn't say is that Woolwich and the Royal Arsenal Co-op then went its own way with its Political Purposes Committee and the Greenwich Branch of the Co-op Party only dates from the demise of RACS, relatively recently.   
This needs pointing out to Labour Heritage - which also doesn't mention the Woolwich based co-ops which pre-date the Rochdale Pioneers, or Woolwich Labour Party which pre-dates the national Party by many years.
None the less this is an important article on the Co-op Party, everywhere other than Woolwich!
(Its good to be different)


The Temple of the Storms
If you walk down the Greenwich Peninsula on the west side and look across the river - and its this view which justify this item - you will see a strange Egyptianesqe building on the other side.  This is actually a storm water pumping station and it has just been listed. It was built under the London Docklands Development Corporation which generally didn't support public buildings and certainly not eccentric ones! It was designed by John Outram and is seen as the first post modern building to be listed.  Go and see it - it is totally extraordinary with many clever and esoteric features.  Really - go and look!!


Old Flames
Great to hear from a local group of ex-gasworkers. They say they are putting together a history of British Gas.  Happy to pass any info or contacts on.


The current newsletter has a long article by Malcolm Tucker about the listing of gas holders. Not too much about our great holder in Greenwich - its all, sadly, by Old  Kent Road and Vauxhall. Malcolm does say however "George Livesey and his brother Frank continued to develop gasholder design. A larger and more spectacular  version, East Greenwich No1 was constructed in 1884-8 and still stands prominently on the riverside . Like all gasholders it is now disused.  ................. the Livesey's ultimate development .. was the 'flying lift' ... in 1890-92 they built East Greenwich No.2. to an unprecedented capacity of 12 million cubic feet using six telescopic lifts of which two were flying.  That holder no longer survives.  (note - GIHS thinks the tank of no. 2 survives - can anyone confirm that??)

More about gasholders to come in a separate blog

GLIAS draws attention in an article by Bob Carr about the Ashburnham Triangle activists who have drawn attention to the first motor vehicle in Britain which was built in Greenwich.  This was Edward Butlers velocycle built by Merryweathers. 
GIHS will has asked Mick Delap to come and talk to about this and other issues in the Spring.

GLIAS advertises: 

Walk round the Arsenal site by Ian Bull 2nd September, book via
Walk - Did Hiram Maxim do anything for Crayford. 7th October book via
Talk - an Archivists Eye View of Morden College. Elizabeth Wiggans speaking to the Docklands History Group  5.30 Museum of London Docklands



This draws attention to a project for research on the Royal Parks in the Great War. They also have a 'war garden' and some heritage veg in what is now called the Queen's Orchard (aka the Dwarf Orchard)

They are also organising a trip to the Heritage Centre to see a panorama of a trip to Greenwich in 1836. This is for members of their history group which meets for reminiscence and research in the Wildlife Centre with tea and cakes (which is more than you get from GIHS!).  Best thing if you are interested is to join the group - details on the website

The newsletter also gives more details of Greenwich Park Revealed. Work will include restoration of the trees  particularly the historic avenues; reinstatement work on the 'Giant Steps' escarpment; a learning centre for schools programme, a training  base and an events centre; better signage, digital media and paper-based material; a ha ha along the deer enclosure to replace fencing; improvements to the Boating Lake and the Pavilion cafe 

A long email from Elizabeth Blanchet describes current activity. As people may remember a prototype museum was set up on the historic Excalibar Estate in Catford - and was burnt down, maybe deliberately.  Elizabeth describes the work down with the Association Memoire de Soye in France and the close work undertaken with the association. However some prefabs are to be exhibited at the Museum of Rural Life in Surrey and it is hoped to house the archive there.
Locally they will hold a 'celebration' event at St.John's Community Centre  on the Isle of Dogs on 2nd December  1-5 



Historic England tells us that work is to start on:
Building 11 Royal Arsenal 
10 Orangery Lane. Eltham
(thank you Mark)



We have been shown a blog page 'The Franklin Expedition and London Bridge Station' by Patrick Sweeney.  This is of course from the perspective of London Bridge Station.  It also refers to another blog by Peter Carney (no link to this ??). This apparently argues that the engines actually came from the London and Croydon Railway - which also ran to London Bridge. He also has some interesting things to say about how and why the engines were run, the plumbing arrangements on the ship and - lead poisoning.  The engines were expected to aid the passage through ice and also provide hot water for a number of applications.
We have also been referred to learned papers in Newcomen Society archives - I.J. Vol.81 No.2. 2011  by William Battersby and Peter Carney.  We also understand that it is hoped the sites can be dived for more information on these engines.

We also think there was a link to Enderby exploration in the Antarctic - again, let us know.



We are interested to know more about Dreadnought School in Blackwall Lane which, like the gasholder, is on a site recently consulted on by the Council. It is a London School Board School from around 1893 - and sadly not of a quality which suggests a design by one of their star (and very listable) architects.  It has been used as a store by the Forest Hill based Horniman Museum since 1969 and we understand they own the freehold. It has never been owned by Greenwich Council.  Please get in touch if you can tell us anything


A recent holiday in Broadstairs alerted us to the entry point for many undersea cables - hopefully those made in Greenwich. We were particularly interests in a little building on the cliff edge at the end of Dumpton Gap Drive corner of Western Esplanade.  We understand it has been recently sold - but - again - any info?? gratefully received.

the building at Dumpton Gap 

Sign to the rear of the building
(thanks Dick)



Rob Powell has put up a posting on his blog with some fascinating cuttings about the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
He points out that the 4th of August was the annivesary of the opening of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel in 1902.  He had found cuttings from the Coventry Free Press 'it must be seen by the eye of imagination through the lens of knowledge' and much more.



Richard Buchanon has kindly sent us a history of conservation areas - and do you know what!!  I quote:

" Now - London’s first conservation areas.  There were two, both designated on 17th January 1968 and both by the London Borough of Greenwich. ......these two covered the old Greenwich town centre and Blackheath; the area which was mainly in Crown ownership was added later."
(sorry no link for this - perhaps Richard can help with that) 


Thursday, 20 July 2017

News and stuff

Dreadnought School - the council has been consulting about the gasholder site - but also on that site is Dreadnought School which is currently in use by the Horniman Museum as a store.  The school was built by the London School Board and was probably opened in 1893.  Other information seems to be very elusive. Around London these Board Schools are being listed and are becoming very famous - the earlier ones were designed by Edward Robson and then, later, by T.J.Bailey.  We don't now who designed Dreadnought but probably neither of these two leading architects. Does anyone have any information. The schools seems to have later been called Riverway School - and we also don't know what information Horniman has and what their response to the consultation is.  We understand Horniman sometimes offer tours of the building - starting from their site in Forest Hill.


2018 will be European Cultural Year and EFAITH are planning on industrial development having a major role in this. they have already held two conferences on this and hope to:
--- have an industrial heritage theme for each month
--- feature young people and industrial heritage
----motivate and train volunteers
----help to save endangered industrial sites

EFAITH - is European Industrial and Technical Heritage volunteers and voluntary associations.
check this out at:
or email your ideas to


Tidal Thames - their newsletter features the day when two cruise liners passed each other in Blackwall Reach a month or so ago. These were Silver Wind and Silver Cloud and they passed to sounds of horns and cheering passengers.  And showed there is much more room in the river than some people think.  (I was brought up in 1950s Gravesend when we thought nothing of three or four big P&O liners all moored in the river and at Tilbury landing - people should have seen the river when we had lots of real boats up and down all the time).


Tidal Thames also celebrates the arrival of Mercury Clipper - built on the Isle of Wight - and no doubt soon to be seen on Greenwich Reach.


- and Tidal Thames is pushing For Fish's Sake which is about litter in the Thames and around the Thames. Details are available along with a video,


Note from Historic England that archaeological investigation is about to start at Greenwich Pumping Station Thames Tideway site


Naval Dockyard Society - this is a call for papers on Dockyards - the End of the First World War and interwar retrenchment.  This is for a conference to be held on 24th March 2018  at the Maritime Museum. Details from Dr Ann Coats and Richard Holme


George Burtt - have been sent a lot of info about George Burtt who was born in Greenwich in 1871. He went on to become a great railway photographer.  Any info??


We have had an email about a project which is recording oral histories of boatyards along the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock to the Barrier, They have already interviewed men from Thamescraft Dry Dock Services, Cory's and the Yacht Club.  Is there anyone else out there who would be interested.  Please get in touch with GIHS.


GIHS hopes to have a meeting on October 10th where we can discuss industrial heritage in Greenwich. We are putting together a programme of people who can put their views forward and get the ball rolling. If you have something you would like to say and can say it in five minutes please get in touch asap


The gasholder and its site.  We have so much stuff this is going to have to be a separate postings. Great response, thanks everyone!!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Pipers reference

Thanks Mary Jane for this photo a paper from Pipers barge builders - their site was on the Peninsula between Lovells (now Riverside Gardens) and Enderbys - in fact mostly the site recently vacated by Deverills boat repair business.  Pipers were famous for their spirtsail barges - and particularly those who won many races

Here is a photo of the letter signed by James R. Piper that was sent to my Grandad in 1913. My Grandad went on to be in charge of the rigging on the Cutty Sark when it was put in dry dock in Greenwich. His son became a sailmaker and was involved with the TV series called the Ondenin Line. Also his Grandson became a sailmaker as well. We are very proud of them all. I have lots of papers to do with the work he was involved with. I hope this paper is of interest to you. .