Saturday, 20 December 2008

A rather late obituary

Sorry to pick up from Historic Gas Times that Sir Denis Rooke died in September. Sir Denis lived in Coleraine Road in Blackheath and was 'one of the outstanding personalities produced by the gas industry in the 20th century'. The list of his achievements in the industry was outstanding - and he was Chairman of British Gas 1976-1986. Of course - he went to school locally at Addey and Stanhope and started his career at East Greenwich Gas Works. Its very difficult to summarise 'one of Britains greatest industrial leaders of the twentieth century'
--- he was always sympathetic to local gas historians - and I had talked to him about the plight of our great gas holder back in the summer!

Crossness Record

Another dynamic edition of Crossness Record in the post - they don't seem to want to come and talk to GIHS either - I keep asking them!

This issue starts with an introduction from their new Chair - one Jonathan Rooks.
Otherwise - contents include - article progress of restoring engine Victoria - compounding the beam engines - news and bits and pieces about all the money they are being offered! and details of how to get in touch with them.
www.crossness.org.uk

Less about the medieval century tide mill

We have been trying - really trying - to get one of the archaeologists who worked on the tide mill on the Lovells site to come and talk to GIHS about what they had found. We were all really excited about it - but no chance! Apparently archaeologists don't want to talk to historians. HOWEVER we have just spotted that one of them is down to speak about it at the LAMAS conference in March. This is at the Museum of Docklands on 14th March. Tickets are £10 for non-members of LAMAS and details can be got from Jon Cotton, Early Department, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN jcotton@museumoflondon.org.uk . And if you send off a cheque and say you want to go they want you to send a stamped addressed envelope in. You need to do it NOW because they are limiting the number of tickets. This mill needs to be put into a historical context - not just a list of what they have dug up!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Tide Mill Mystery

I have been sent some information by George Mathieson taken from records of the Bryan Donkin Company. Donkins were a ground breaking engineering company based in The Blue at Bermondsey in the early 19th - they subsequently moved to Chesterfield where they flourished until quite recently.

George wrote to say that in 1809 Donkin "acted as a consultant to the executors of the Greenwich Tide Mill and persuaded them to bring in Mr. Hall as contractor. His approach to hydraulics was logical and showed considerable technical skill".
- "Mr. Hall' is probably John Hall of J.E.Hall the Dartford engineering company.

George later wrote " Donkin spent a lot of time in 1811 and 1812 working out how to drive in the piles to support the wharf, sinking a cylinder of brickwork, and supervising the building of a pier, brick walls and gates, and adjusting the flow of water".


The thing is - which mill is he referring to? We have two candidates - one is the tide mill at Deptford Bridge and other the Tide Mill which stood in East Greenwich at the end of what used to be Riverway but which is now a difficult-to-work-out bit of riverside.

So:

Deptford Bridge Mill - was an ancient mill washed away by a flood in 1824 and rebuilt when it was taken over by Robinsons. So whatever Donkin did would have to have been work on the old mill - which was probably pretty creaky by then and needing work - but would a mill on the Ravensbourne had a pier and a wharf?

The East Greenwich Mill - was built in 1802. So it was new in 1812 and why would it have needed work? It had been built by Lloyd and Ostell who were the leading millwrights of their day. The only evidence that it might not have been structurally wonderful is that in the early 1840s it was described as a 'heap of wood' and throughout its history it does seem to have not worked very well. However it would have had a wharf on the Thames - and it could have had a pier too, a 'causeway' is shown on old maps. However - the note about Hall being 'consultant to the executors' is interesting - the mill was subject to a Chancery case for many years, although it should have been cleared up by 1812.

Comment on this would be welcomed.

John Smith

I have had a message about the death of John Smith - but know no details. John moved out of Greenwich many years ago but had been in the early 1970s one of the founders of the Charlton Society. As a historian he wrote a three volume history of Charlton - books of enormous detail - for which he will be long remembered.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

GLIAS NEWSLETTER

GLIAS Newsletter in the post - nothing much about Greenwich but nevertheless all good stuff - [Sue, Brian, Fiona - whoever sent this out - my page 2 is missing - if you read this can I have another one?]
Future GLIAS events:lectures - all in the Morris Lecture Theatre, Robin Brook Centre, St.Bartholomew's Hospital, London, EC1 18.30 start.
21st Jan - The End of the Pier by Michael Bussell
18th Feb - Say Sarsons not Vinegar by Tim Smith (this is about the Sarson's Brewery which was by London Bridge Station - that whiff of vinegar as the train slowed down - highly recommended)
20th May - Robert Stephenson, Eminent Engineer by Michael Bailey

alsoSERIAC 2009 - The Industrial Archaeology of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. 25th April 2009 at the Guild Hall Winchester. www.hias.org.uk 01962855200

Greenwich Time takes an interest in industrial history!!!!!

The December 9th column of Greenwich Time includes, as ever, Tony Lord's article - but this time it actually has some industrial history interest!!!!!!!Tony is writing about the plaque on the house by Our Lady of Grace Church in Charlton Road - which tells us it was the home of William Henry Barlow. Of course Tony focusses the article about this distinguished engineer on the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879 which Barlow reported on. There is a great deal about waters lashed into a fury and stuff like that (has he ever read 'Hatters Castle?). He does say a bit more about Barlow and St.Pancras Station and so on - so good for you Tony! are we going to get any more of the same?

another town hall another plaque

Some of us were lucky enough to get an invite to see the Mayor unveil a plaque on what has been known for many years as West Greenwich House. It is, of course, yet another of the old Met. Borough of Greenwich's neglected and abandoned Town Halls. Thank you Cllr. Maureen O'Mara for making a fuss until the plaque was put up.The building was originally the Greenwich District Board of Works Offices and built in 1876. It was opened by Thomas Norfolk, the local brewer and Chair of the Board. It cost £1,500 for the land, £6,190 for the building and £1,500 for the fixtures and furniture. In 1900 the Board became the Metropolitan Borough and interdepartmental communication within the Town Hall was effected by speaking tubes and whistles. It was a much grander building then - with a Dome and a portico. In the late 1930s the Borough replaced it with the architecturally important building down the road (sold off in the 1970s after amalgamation with Woolwich!). In the Second World War it was used by the Local Defence Volunteers and bombed - hence the changes to the original. On 12th July 1944 a V1 hit the site next door which is why there is a garage there and not posh Georgian houses. In 1948 it was used as the Housing Department and the Food Office and in 1954 it became a community centre - which it remains. Inside several rooms are named after Greenwich Borough dignatories - Harold Gibbons (founder of Greenwich Labour Party and Mayor through much of the war), Ada Kennedy (another war time Mayor), Harry Icough (Mayor when the Town Hall moved down the road), William Mills (local Tory leader and motor bike enthusiast)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Industrial Heritage

The Autum (sic) 2008 edition of Industrial Heritage has just arrived. It contains a reprint of Richard Cheffins article on the LESC building in Greenwich High Road which originally appeared in Greenwich Industrial History Newsletter. We are also pleased to see another reivew of the Richard Hartree's book about the Penn family and works = so perhaps the message is getting through!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Industrial Archaeology Review and Penns

In the post another learned journal - Industrial Archaeology Review - and as ever very short on anything about London - although I did enjoy the article about industrial housing in Essex.
Greenwich does however get a mention in Bob Carr's review of Richard Hartree's book on 'John Penn and Son of Greenwich'.
PLEASE REMEMBER Richard is coming to speak to GIHS on 20th January (not 11th as much of the press has been saying).
Bob begins by pointing out the importance of Penns as a major builder or marine steam engines at a time when the Thames was Britain's great shipbuilding river. In the 1830s Penns built seven oscillating engines for Thames paddle steamers - achieving success where others had had difficulty - which became standard propulsion in this field for many years. Penn's engine in the Elbe steamer John Penn built 1864 was in use until 1966, and we have already in this blog noted the engine on the Diesbar, still in use and designated an ASME landmark this summer. The Penn engine used in Empress and used in Bournemouth until 1955 is now in a museum in Southampton. Penns were the preferred contractors for the supply of large steam engines to the Navy and played a central role in the transition from sail to steam. In 1854 John Penn's lignum vitae propeller shaft bearing was a crucial contribution to the development of screw propulsion. A replica of a Penn trunk engine of c.1860 has been built and fitted into, Thames built, Warrior in her berth at Portsmouth.
As shipbuilding was moved away from the Thames Penn's began gradually to decline and were sold to Thames Ironworks in 1899. There is now nothing to see on their Blackheath Hill site - not even a plaque or any sort of sign - but some elements of their boiler works at Payne's Wharf remains, although also without any sort of mark.
Bob also points to the family history elements of the book - and that Richard's ancestry also includes Blackheath based moralist author, Samuel Smiles. But most of all it is 'an educational book explaining in simple terms the development of marine propulsion in the 19th century'

Remember to come to the meeting on 20th to hear Richard - and there are details of how to get the book further down in the blog.

Blackheath Scientific Society

A couple of newsletters and articles from this Blackheath based organisation - and any organisation which has meetings attended by a 25 year old pet spider, can't be bad. This was a red legged tarantula who eats one cricket a month (she has to watch her weight) and the meeting was invited to give her a stroke.

Future meetings will include:
19th December AGM and members contributions
16th January - Glaucoma
20th February - Aviation terrorism

Meetings are at Mycenae House. 7.30ish

Gaslight - hopefully not the last!

The newsletter of the North West Gas Historical Society in the post - full of crises because there is no one to take over editorship of their excellent newsletter. It contains the second half of their article, by Tom Blyth, about Bryan Donkin and Company. Because they are looking at the firm from their 20th century base in Chesterfield (and because everyone ignores London industry and pretends British industry was totally in the Midlands and North!) the article is about Chesterfield but they were a BERMONDSEY based company and that Bryan Donkin himself, although a northerner, came to work in Kent - at first in Sevenoaks and then to do groundbreaking work with Halls of Dartford. The article does mention the younger Donkin's work on the exhauster with John Beale but fails to mention that this was developed by Beale on the GREENWICH PENINSULA. So - I will write off to them and say so.

Woolwich Antiquarians

Regular as could be - the Woolwich Antiquarian Newsletter (wish we could compete in getting it out on time!). They recently had a talk on West Norwood Cemetery - and I remember taking visitors down to the catacombs there, before drug dealers made closure a necessity - very spooky - both the corpses and the dealers! The Antiquarians note the number of Greenwich industrialists buried there - Joshua Field (of Maudslay Son and Field - who were on the Peninsula and the famous Henry Maudslay was Woolwich born), Joseph Maudslay (one of Henry's sons), Attwood Mathais (of Deptford's General Steam Navigation), William Simms (of Troughton and Simms instrument makers of Charlton), Robert Mallett (of Mallet's mortar) and many others. They probably didn't know about, or wouldn't have registerd Alexander Angus Croll - gas industry activist and industrial chemist, and there will be lots lots more.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thames Discovery Programme

I wondered if you would be kind enough to disseminate the following information to the members of the Greenwich Industrial History Society about our project and website, which contains details of our introductory events and training programme for 2009? We will be working on a foreshore site in Charlton in the New Year and this may be of interest to your members.The Thames is the longest open ­ air archaeological site in London, and much of the foreshore is freely accessible to the public. However, many of the exposed archaeological sites are often unrecognised and unprotected, and almost all are vulnerable to the twice ­ daily scouring of the tidal river, and thus require close monitoring. The Thames Discovery Programme aims to communicate an understanding and informed enjoyment of the historic Thames to the widest possible audience. Over the next three years, the archaeologists from the programme will survey 20 archaeological sites along the tidal Thames. This will be supported by the work of the Foreshore Recording and Observation Groups (FROG), who will monitor the surveyed sites for changes, as the daily tides scour away the remaining archaeological features. The FROG will be made up of volunteer members of the public, who will be trained in foreshore recording techniques, health and safety and digital recording by the TDP team.The Thames Discovery Programme is a massive opportunity for members of the public to get involved in one of the most exciting archaeology projects in London. Our outreach work will also involve school groups,student research projects, opportunities for work experience, travelling displays, exhibitions, lectures, site visits and an annual conference.We hope that, through this website, we can further public interest, not just within London, but nationally and globally.Our website is http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/, and contains all the information about volunteering with us. If anyone is interested in more details,please do not hesitate to get in contact with me. Lorna Richardson, Archaeology Outreach Officer Thames Discovery Programmel

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Dot

Richard Buchanan has written that our member Dot Lawrence had died - She was well into her 80s.
Dot was interested in many aspects of Greenwich history - and had been active in saving an archive of electrical engineers and cable makers, Johnson andPhillips.
At least she will be spared a twilight life, something an active person like herself would have hated.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Royal Artillery (very expensive) book

I was invited in the week to the launch at Firepower of a new book about the Royal Artillery - I didn't buy it (£37!) but I would very much welcome anyone who fancies reviewing it here.
It is called 'The Royal Artillery, Woolwich. A Celebration' and it is by Brigadier Ken Timbers - I guess it is available from Firepower info@firepower.org.uk

Monday, 17 November 2008

GIHS Meeting Venue Reminder

It has been brought to the Society's attention that the Blog pages don't actually have a reference to where the monthly meetings of the Society are held. We will investigate creating some kind of reference to the Meetings and venue on the Blog page by some other means, but meanwhile, this is lifted off one of our earlier printed format newsletters.

MEETING PLACE

Meetings are held at;

The Old Bakehouse, (at back of the) Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre, 11 Blackheath Village, London, SE23 9LA

Do not go to the Reminiscence Centre itself - The Old Bakehouse is at the back, in Bennett Park. Walk into Bennett Park and turn left into a yard. The Old Bakehouse is the building on your right. The entrance is straight ahead. Members and visitors are strongly advised not to park at the Old Bakehouse.

Here is a map of the area.
The arrow tip should be pointing more to the western end of Bennett Park.

Tom's site

Tom Stothard was a wonderful man who devoted himself to a lot of issues in the history of Docklands. I have a note from his grandaughter asking us to put a link through to a website which has been set up to showcase some of his work. http://tomstothard.website.orange.co.uk

Link corrected - November 2nd 2009

Naval Dockyards

In the post a copy of the Transactions of the Naval Dockyards Society. As ever it contains almost nothing about the two VERY VERY IMPORTANT dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford. What can I say? its all about Portsmouth again!!!
I know they should say we should all get writing - ??? So why don't we?

SLAS

In the post a newsletter from Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society. All good stuff! Their coming programme includes:
13th Jan Neil Hawkins on Excavations at Drapers Gardens
10th Feb. Stephen Humphrey on Industries of Southwark, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe
10th March Recent local Archaeological and Historical Work
allmeeting 7.30 106 The Cut, SE1

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Kent Ironworks


We have a request for information about Kent Ironworks. This seems to have been based at Dreadnought Wharf in Thames Street, Greenwich and also at a site about half way up Norway Street which was known as Victoria Foundry.

I've raked the following info out of my notes on the area - and everyone would be grateful to know more.


I think the Norway Street site was the original Greenwich gas works site. I wrote this site up in Bygone Kent - (The first Greenwich Gasworks and how it fell down. BGK 20 No.6. June 1999)


By 1841 the Norway Street site had been let to a I then got interested in the steam engine builder William Joyce, who, I assume also had Dreadnought Wharf. He seems to have died very young in 1856 and is buried in Nunhead Cemetery. He lived in Diamond Terrace. He seems to have built many steam engines and notes about them often turn up in histories of local works. I also have a note that he built steam flour mills for Symrna in 1850 but more importantly a ship called the City of Paris – presumably this was built at Dreadnought Wharf. He also may have built a steam yacht for the Pasha of Egypt. He was also probably involved in some of the early steam cars which were made locally.

After Joyce died the works was taken over by Cowan - and there is a photograph in the

the biography of the torpedo manufacturer Alfred Yarrow which and shows him as a very young man in a steam car built for him by Cowans which is clearly marked 'Kent Iron works'.


Always grateful for more info

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Crossness today

I went today to the press launch of the succeful Heritage Lottery bid at Crossness Engines Trust. Useless of me to say anything other than it went very well. I'm putting below their press release:

‘The Great Stink’ - over £1.5 million of Lottery money allocated for Crossness Pumping Station restoration. Featuring - Wesley Kerr, Chair of HLF Committee for London - Peter Bazalgette, President of Crossness Engines Trust and great-great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

In the 150th year since the “Great Stink” of 1858, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is delighted to announce over £1.5 million in funding to help restore the Grade 1 listed Crossness Pumping Station in Bexley - the solution and product of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s vision to save London from what 19th Century Prime Minister Disraeli called “a Stygian pool reeking with ineffable and unbearable horror”.

Wesley Kerr, Chair of the HLF Committee for London, said:

"The London Committee is thrilled that this unique part of our city's heritage, including some of the finest and largest steam engines in existence, housed in cathedral-sized buildings on an inspiring Thameside site, is to be fully restored and opened to all. The volunteers have done sterling work already. This vital part of London's past will become a cherished local community asset and an exhilarating destination for future generations."

A triumph of Victorian engineering, Crossness Pumping Station was opened in 1865 attended by the Prince of Wales and dignitaries of the time. Housing the four largest rotary beam engines in the world and currently in a dilapidated state, the Grade 1 listed Beam Engine House and Boiler House are both on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register.

The restoration, part of a project costing £2.7 million, is due to start in early 2009. As well as conserving the buildings there will be a new exhibition exploring the social history of the site which will take in public health, pollution and the environment, encouraging visitors to celebrate the engineering triumph on their doorstep. A new cafĂ©, car parking, education room and archive and an updated website will also be developed.

Peter Bazalgette, President of the Crossness Engines Trust and great-great-grandson of Sir Joseph adds:

“The Trust’s volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore one of the magnificent engines and to create an experience which visitor’s already enjoy. This project will allow us to improve on that experience, safeguard the fabric of the buildings and make possible new community ventures that will allow this monument to Victorian engineering to take on a new lease of life.”

Malcolm Woods, Historic Buildings and Areas Advisor for English Heritage, who have also provided grants and long term advice and support to the Trust, said:

‘“Crossness Pumping Station is a spectacular example of the boundless ambition, vision, and commitment of the Victorians in transforming the public health of the capital. English Heritage is delighted to be able to support the work of the Crossness Engines Trust and can today announce a grant of £150,000 towards the repair of these fantastic buildings. The grant will go towards restoring the fabric of the buildings that house the magnificent pumping engines and secure the long-term and active future of the buildings. The announcement today of this vital funding from both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund is a major step towards removing the buildings from our Heritage at Risk Register”.

The Pumping Station when restored will be run almost entirely by volunteers, who will lead a range of activities for schools and other visitors including workshops, talks, and guided tours, to help bring the past to life and celebrate this triumph of Victorian engineering. Beyond that there are plans to use the site for a range of community and leisure activities.

It will open for three days a week from Spring to Autumn and two days a week through the Winter. As well as exploring past achievements, it will encourage visitors to see how the past, present and future are connected, on a site where Thames Water continues the work of Bazalgette’s vision in the 21st Century.

Very significant support (both financial and otherwise) has also been forthcoming from the Department of Communities and Local Government, Thames Water, Tilfen Land, the London Borough of Bexley and the City Bridge Trust. All of this has allowed the Trust to proceed with the work that will convert the vision into reality.

Friday, 7 November 2008

John Penn and Sons of Greenwich by Richard Hartree

The Society would like to recommend the book ‘John Penn and Sons of Greenwich’. It was reviewed in the South East London ‘Mercury’ by Tony Lord and described as a ‘must have’ for local historians. Unfortunately there was no mention in the review of where it can be purchased in Greenwich. It is available at the Heritage Centre and the Tourist Information Centre and at Maritime Books.

Richard Hartree, himself, is the distributor and can supply copies himself, but these will incur a P&P charge of £1.50.  His contact details is or 01295 788215 or Stables Cottage, Sibford Ferris, Banbury OX15 5RE. John Penn and Sons will be the topic of Richard's talk to the GIHS on January 20th 2009.

Harveys at War

One of the 'Harco' Magazines is for September 1940 - and it is full of wartime arrangements. The first page and the first headline reads 'After the Siren'. This is all about spotters on the roof of the factory and what workers should do when they blow their whistles. They also say that the families of employees can use the works Dugouts at night - and can bring in their bedding. Another article points out that the canteen is much busier since families have fled London leaving men to feed themselves! There is a long list of employees who are now in the Forces - the Company was sending them each a monthly packet of 50 cigarettes. Articles follow - 'When the Raiders Come' - 'The Empire's Resources'- 'United States Aircraft to help in Britain's fight' - 'Compensation for air raid victims' - 'The Home Guard'. The issue however ends with five pages of sports news and this begins and ends with news of the Rifle Section -reporting there that 'normal activities had to be abandoned as the range was required for the Factory Defence Force ... it was rather unfortunate as we had just managed to win a match ... and had hoped to leave the bottom position in the League Table'.
Contemporary material like this gives us a very close view of ordinary people and their reactions in wartime. In late 1940 people are still feeling their way through the situation - doing what they can, really not sure. I remember reading the Greenwich Labour Party minute books for this period and seeing how by 1941 devastation and shock was hitting the civilian population - but then within 18 months, much quicker than I would have expected, people really were positive and planning a new and better post war world. I wonder if these factory magazines will echo that.
Most interesting is the 'News Reel of Nazi Europe' - which describes how workers, particularly trade unionists, were being executed all over Europe by the Nazi's (although I don't suppose that the Harvey's management would have encouraged strikes). They say "Hitler, who has always posed as the friend of the workers, has .. launched savage attacks upon the workers of every state into which his hordes have marches ........................inadequate rations, bad pay, brutal treatment and the ruthless stamping out of every spark of freedom'

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Will Crooks

A newsletter has come from Labour Heritage - an organisation for Labour Party history. There is an article in it by our local Paul Tyler, about 'Will Crooks and the Labour Representation Committee'. Basically he is writing to correct items in a previous newsletter about Crooks - but much of what he says is of interest in Greenwich. He talks about Crooks' adoption as a candiate by the Woolwich Labour Representative Association in 1902 and how Crooks' election to Parliament accelerated negotiations with Liberals. Paul points out however that Crooks' victory in Woolwich was the first example of a Labour candidate winning in a straight fight with Tories and he says 'the result marked the beginning of Labour's rise electorally and had a lasting political resonance on the pattern and style of future elections throughout the country'.

I keep asking Paul to come and speak to GIHS but he keeps refusing .................

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Cricket too

Following on from the previous post about Football fixtures in 1952 - its also instructive to look at what the cfricket teams were doing in 1951. Harveys had four teams -
Saturday First XI - played Northern Poly, Erith Tech, City of London College, Old Shootershillians, Blackheath Wanderers - and while none of these are industrial they also played J.&E.Hall of Dartford - and who were Beehive, and Armcross?
The Saturday Second XI were also playing educational establishments - but also the Southern Railway and Lyles Sports (must be the golden syrup division!), - and also Plumstead Radical which must mean the Plumstead based drinking club!
Sunday First XI list gives little indication of industrial fixtures, entirely made up of local town sides - Catford Wanderers and the like, but the Sunday Second XI played the Kentish Mercury, and Maybloom Sports (another Plumstead drinking club!), and - finally - Barrow Blackman (who were they?)

Sports fixtures

Like most works house magazines much of the ones produced by Harvey's are about the firm's sports club. Something absolutely fascinating is to look at the list of fixtures which the various sporting teams undertook - it is of course a list of other local firms at the time.
So - in 1952 who was Harvey's football club playing - and they seem to have had a number of teams operating out of their Hervey Road ground. Their 1st XI played in the Premier Division of the London Business Houses and 1952 fixtures were mostly not local - some are easy to identify - J.& Phillips (local of course), S.T.C. (also local), Tottenham Gas, May and Baker (in Barking), Lampson Paragon - but who were Gothic, Tamber, Sam Jones, B.D.V., and LT (LER)
Their second team played in the South London Alliance - and in 1952 they also played May and Baker, Slades Green (must be the railway depot), Stones (local of course), Woolwich Borough Council, R.A.C.S., Erith Council, Henleys (North Woolwich or Gravesend), Metro Gas (thats East Greenwich Gas Works), - but who were West Kent, Old Selts, Hendon Strollers, Old Heathians, Mobeka S.C.??
Finally their third team playing in the South East London Amateur League - they played Spicers, Molins (then in Deptford), Elliots (our local computer manufacturer!!), Peek Freans (in Spa Road), - but who were County Gate, Charles Page, Clifton Villa, Welling Meth, Dewrance, G.Park Res (did Greenwich Park staff have their own team??).

In 1951 Harvey's First team had played and one by one goal against Metrogas. The long write up of the match can be very instructive. Most of all that they had played at the Valley to a crowd of 2,000. What local company team today can match that!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

More about Harvey's

Perhaps I should start off by finding something from the magazines which explains about Harvey's and who they are. There is an article which explains a bit about their background and written for their Diamond Jubilee celebrations on July 7th 1934. 'Sixty years of industrial progress'. At that time the firm's founder, G.A.Harvey was still alive and still Chairman, although day to day control was in the hands of his son, Sydney. G.A.Harvey was to die in 1937. He had begun in 'the most inauspicious way possible' in an 'old forge in Lewisham' and turning it into a workshop where, with one boy, he worked in zinc - cisterns, guttering, for local builders. Within ten years he was supplying all round the country and began to move into the area for which the firm was best known - metal perforation. This began with making perforated zinc for meat safes and by 1894 he could expand with a second works at Iron Wharf in Greenwich which was set up for galvanizing and tank making. In 1913 he bought the site in Woolwich Road where the firm was to remain. This was near the river and also the railway - from which a branch line went into the works. In 1934 some of the work was described - fine wire cloth, thicker woven wire articles, all kinds of metal perforation, manufacture of dustbins and similar domestic equipment up to major pressure vessels, fractionating towers, reaction vessels and so on for industry. They also moved into metal office furniture and similar items - for which they became famous.
I am treating Harvey's here as a historical entity - but I believe that the firm still exists and that the office furniture department is alive and well and located in Margate. If anyone from Margate picks this article up I would be grateful to know more about Harvey's work today - and of course since 1934.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Harvey's cover

This is the magazine's cover in 1938


Lots about Harvey's -thank you Geoff

Thanks to Geoff Brighty who has given us a pile of Harvey's house magazines. All will be revealed from them in installments as I work my way through them.

Harvey's were a metal working business sited for most of their existence in the Woolwich Road -the new fire station is on part of their site and there are some bits of their wall left. Inevitably, like most such factory house magazines most of the news is about the sport's club plus endless pictures of dinners, dances and people being presented with their gold watch! So for a start I have put in a picture which mixes the social and the workplace -Christmas 1958 in the wire weaving department!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Thanks to Janet Macdonald-and the Deptford Victualling Yard

The October meeting of GIHS featured an amazing and very popular talk by Janet Macdonald on the diet provided to the 18th century Navy with particular reference to the Deptford Victualling Yard. Janet has promised us a version of this to put out - but also reminded us that of following article which we have never put out -sorry Janet, and please come back and talk to us again soon - so - anyway -here it is:

THE VICTUALLING WHARF WALL AT DEPTFORD: COLLAPSE AND REPLACEMENT IN THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY

In February 1809, the Victualling Board wrote to the Navy Board to inform them that they were having problems with the wall of the victualling wharf at Deptford. Water was seeping through the wall into the wine cellar, which was likely to cause the iron hoops of thecasks to rot. The inspector of repairs, SamuelHobbs, had reported that the wall had sunk and split, leaving chasms' through which the water entered at high tide and retreated at low tide, taking with it the soil behind the wall and causingthe pavement above to sink. This was likely to worsen if not attended to; he recommended excavating down to the base of the wall and refilling with clay or puddle (a mixture of clay and sand) and also adding piles to secure the land ties and relieve the pressure on them.
Remarking that the wharf had already been repaired several times under the direction of the Inspector General of Naval Works, he suggested the architect at the Navy Office, Mr Holt, should be asked to advise.'
Two days later, the Victualling Board wrote again to report that Henry Garrett, the agent victualler at Deptford, who had checked at high tide, reported that the water was now damaging the boundary wall between the victualling and dock yards, this being exacerbated by rat runs to the pea store and flesh cellars and between the seasoning house and the old cooperage, the water rising over the floor sufficiently to stop the coopers working. The Navy Board's response, which did not come until two weeks later, was to the effect that the problem was caused by broken drains from the settling of the ground, and that these would have to be replaced.
This presumably was done, as there is no more correspondence in the Victualling Board records until October 1811, when the Victualling Board reported to the Navy Board that the ground on the wharf between two of the cranes had 'fell in very much' and that the mudsills had been forced off the foundations, causing the wall to split. This in turn had caused cracks in the groined [sic] arches of the cellars and the party walls of the new storehouses.
A month later, they wrote again to the Navy Board to pass on the agent victualler's report that at low tide 'the ground at the back of the wall [had] sunk down with a great crash' which broke the land ties. The Inspector of Repairs urged immediate action and the Victualling Board asked for the Civil Architect and Engineer to give his opinion.
Initial attempts to solve the problem seemto have been restricted to trying to press the wall down into a more solid foundation, the Victualling Board asking the Navy Board to borrow 600 tons of iron ballast for this purpose, then returning this three months later. Another three months passed, then the Victualling Board asked for cinder ashes from the smitheries in the dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich to mix with ground lime and ballast for repair work, but none of this seems to have worked, as in March 1813 the Victualling Board asked for the Navy Board's surveyor of buildings to make an inspection and give his opinion on the necessary repairs.
Nothing seems to have been done, as in October the Victualling Board reported that the previous day's high tide had made one end of the wharf shift and settle, and requesting an inspection and recommendation that they would create temporary versions above the coffer dam.
However, in November 1817, the Victualling Board wrote once more to the Admiralty secretary, atating that the repairs needed to be extended. They said that Mr Rennie had reported That it appears, from an examination of that part of the Old Wharf Wall which lies between the landing stairs and Eastern end of the Victualling jard, and which, including the return, is Three hundred'feet [92.3 metres] in length and that the whole bottom is silt [which] having sunk away from the planking on which the Wall stands, its weight may therefore be said to be supported by the Piles only, That these piles are all driven perpendicularly, and are kept in that position by the great body of Mud, and Silt, which lies in front of them, so that if this mud was to be removed the piles would fall forward, unless the land ties by which theWall is sustained were sufficiently strong to prevent them;that these land ties are ... very much decayed, and consequently no great dependence can be had on them; that therefore, if this Wall is to be preserved, it must undergo a considerable repair, which with the Tender Piles in front [of] the decayed brickwork will cost at least £2,000 and when done, the great Mud bank in front of it will prevent the full advantage being taken of the deep water along the new Wall, as it will check the current of the Tide and occasion a settlement of mud infront of the new Wharf, the foundation of which lies Seven feet deeper than the Old Wall; that the expense of a Wall of 300 feet in length, with the materials of theCoffer dam now in use, will be about £16,000; whereas if this Wall were to stand over to a future period, it would cost about £25,000, ... that it would not be advisable to leave it in its present state... and that [Mr Rennie] cannot therefore help advising us that the new Wall be extended to the Eastern extremity of the Yards.'
This letter is endorsed as approving the work as detailed.
The final letter in the sequence, in May 1821, reports that the work had been completed 'in a manner which we conceive [is] highly creditableto the professional skill and ability of Mr Rennie ... assisted by the unremitting attention and indefatigability of Mr Hobbs, our inspector of Works...' and goes on to recommend what appears to be a bonus for Hobbs ('such remuneration for his services as [their lordships] may appear to meet').
No record of the finalcost of this work has been found. It should come as no surprise to those familiar with the workings of the Admiralty andits subordinate boards that this saga should have gone on for so long, but it is, if not surprising, intriguing that there is no record of the Navy Board having responded to most the VictuallingBoard's pleas for help in this matter. Perhaps, in due course, the Navy Board letters project will turn up the other side of this story.
Janet Macdonald

Gaslight and Brian Donkin

"Gaslight' has just turned up - the Newsletter of the North West Gas Historical Society. In it is an article about the (latterly) Chesterfield based firm of Brian Donkin & Company - and the article is partly to record the passing of the Chesterfield Works. However, as the article records this was originally a south London company with an important works based near The Blue in Bermondsey. It was there that Donkin secured many first - paper making machinery, canned food, to name just two. Some years ago I had an article published in the GLIAS Newsletter (154 Oct.1994) which drew attention to Donkin's family links with both the gas-industry magnates, the Hawes family.
The current article in 'Gaslight' draws attention to Donkin's relationship with the instrument maker Edward Troughton - after whom Troughton Road in Charlton is named. Troughton's site was, I understand, on the west side of the Woolwich Road junction with Victoria Way. They are not company who has ever featured in GIHS's newsletter or talks and we would be very interested to hear from anyone who could make a contribution on that.
There is still another episode to go on Donkin's in a future 'Gaslight' and hopefully it will record an even more important link with a Greenwich inventor and industry.
Gaslight is obtainable from Diane Smith, 13 Private Drive, Barnston, Wirral, CH61 1DF at £5 a year. And, incidentally, they are looking for a new editor!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Bessemer's saloon


Most people - including his biographers - don't seem to know anything about the works that this famous inventor had on the Greenwich Peninsula (please leave a message here if you want to know more!).
Working with another Peninsula based company, Maudslay Son and Field, Bessemer, who suffered a lot from sea sickness, developed a saloon to go in ships which wouldn't sway about. This was kept at his house in Denmark Hill but then ended up as a room in the Horticultural College at Hextable (down the road from Sidcup!). It is thought that after the college was demolished that some people took bits home - and I have a message from someone who is trying to find out if this is so, and if the bits are still around! He has also sent some pictures of young ladies in the saloon at Hextable which he found in an album in an Edinburgh Bookshop. If you know anything about any of this please leave a message.

Crossness Record

Another fascinating newsletter from our local industrial history museum - it contains news of an enormous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grants which enable all sorts of expansion. We look forward one day to one of them coming to a GIHS meeting and telling us about it! Other items in the newsletter include - an article about Boreholes at Crossness - a review of the performance of Hamlet in the engine house - picures of various bits of insect life found around the site - more news about restoring their amazing set of pumping engines - and so on Check them out at www.crossness.org.uk

They are advertising days when you can visit (but you must book 020 831 3711 by ringing ONLY on Tuesdays and Sundays 9.30-4 and no messages to be left) 4th, 16th November and 2nd and 14th December.

Association for Industrial Archaeology

I've just had two newsletters from the national Industrial Archaeology Assocation. I've been a member for many years and usually go to their annual conference and their newsletters are full of interesting items of news and articles. However I've searched and searched these two newsletter for anything about Greenwich - most of their members have difficulty believing there was any industry in London, let alone Greenwich! I suppose it is up to us to tell them! However check them out at www.industrial-archaeology.org.uk

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Meeting next Tuesday

Next Tuesday (21st October) Greenwich Industrial History meeting at the Old Bakehouse with Janet Macdonald on some aspects of the Royal Victualling Yard at Deptford. 7.30 just turn up.
We may also have a brief presentation about the University of Greenwich Big Band and their historical concerts (more about that later)
see you all there!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

amazing panorama of Woolwich

Trotting round all the libraries in the Borough - I was very taken with Slade (tucked around the back streets south of Plumstead Common). On the back wall is a huge photograph (and I mean HUGE!) of Woolwich taken from somewhere near the Town Hall. It shows the power station, the old ferry, the autostaker (which must date it!) and all sorts of long gone stuff in the Arsenal. How did it get there? what date is it? what can we see in it?

Friday, 10 October 2008

Woodlands Farm, Steve and the Clothworkers

Excitement - the latest newsletter from Woodlands Farm Trust has an article in it by our Treasurer, Steve Daly.
This is a history of the Clothworkers Company - Much of the area of woodland around the farm is called Clothworkers Wood - and as a City Livery Company they are much occupied with actual industry.
I am not going to quote all of Steve's article and people who want to read it - and that everyone - should of course join Woodlands Farm Trust, and get the newsletter themselves. Woodlands Farm is Greenwich's own real Farm (not a City Farm this is the real thing). www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org. or email woodlandsft@aol.com and say you want to join and get the newsletter to see Steve's article.
Future events at the farm include (they are on the Welling side of Shooters Hill)
19th October Apple Day 11-4
23rd November Christmas Fair 10.3o-3.30
11th April Lambing Day 11-4.30
7th June Summer Show 11-4.30

Blackheath Scientific Society

Another programme in the post - this is from Blackheath Scientific Society with a write of a very interesting evening they had on Thames Defences. If Blackheath Scientific Society had anything as advanced as a web site, or even an email, I might be persuaded to ask their speaker to do a slot for GIHS as well! Their next meeting is on 21st September and is about 'Collecting Brachypelma - the Red Legged Tarantulas from Mexico'. All their meetings are held at Mycenae House, Se3 at 7.45. In the future they have:
21st November - Prof James Emmerson on - VISTA -Visible & IR Surrey Telescope, Atacama
16th January - Humphrey Dawson on Aviation Terrorism
20th February - the International Glaucoma Association
20th March - Phil Williams on RAYNET Radio Amateur Emergency Network
17th April - Peter Evans on Confessions of a Science Presenter
15th May - Restoration of the Cutty Sark

Butler Tricycle

Note from John Day in response to back postings about Merryweather's. He notes mention of a Butler's Tricycle made by them and says Butler lived in Newbury and gave his occupation as an Engineer and Draughtsman - which John says makes him think he was working for a company local to that area. Butler was well known in automobile history for his advanced thinking - he invented the float feed, variable choke and spray carburettor and a time when others were using surface vaporisation (Butler's Patent Nos 15589/87, and 9203/89). In a patent court action it was held that Butler anticipated Maybach. However John says that Butlers was not the world's first car - he cites Knight of Farnham as the first British one.

Lewisham Local History Society

The usual dynamic list of meetings and speakers for Lewisham Local History Society has just turned up - meetings of interest to us:
30th January - Prof. Vivian Nutton on Roy Porter, a great historian
27th February - Dr.Andrew Flinn on Herbert Morrison and the South Lewisham Labour Party
27th March Ray Thatcher - Joseph Hardcastle and Hatcham House
24th April Dr.Roger Bowdler - The Pursuit of Special Interests, designation in London
22nd May Charlie Mackeith & Madeleine Adams - Restoring Boone's Chapel
26th June Gordon Dennington - Zeppelins and Gothas over London
17th July Steve Grindlay - Sex and Scandal in Sydenham
25th September - Richard Hartree - The Penns of Lewisham
30th October - Len Reilly - The Promised Land. The Lure of South London
27th November - Brian Bloice - London's Postal History
11th December - Sir Ian Mills - Six centuries of Christian Art at St.Margaret's Lee

Monday, 6 October 2008

Info on Bonney wanted

We have a request for information about George Bonney who was a boat builder in 1860 perhaps in Woolwich. Can anyone give us any information.

letter from John Day

Our member, John Day, has written to say that he has just finished cataloguing 80-100,000 drawings for Firepower (these are from the Royal Artillery archive). It has taken him the last 15 years to do this!!
Can we encourage him to tell us more?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Cubow

A request from Malta from the Government Inspector of Ships for information on Cubow shipyard - active on the earliest part of the Woolwich Dockyard site, now the site for tower blocks of flats. In Malta is a fishing boat called 'Golden Dawn' built by Cubow in 1975. Malta Maritime Authority would like to know more and will pay for research. They would also like to contact Downtown Marine who were later on the site.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Boat builder Harding

We have been asked for information about the boat builder Richard Henry Harding who was at work at Wood Wharf in the 1800s. It is known that Harding married into the Corbett family who had previously owned the yard, and took it over in due course

Early iron working

More about Gilbert’s Pit and Maryon Park. A correspondent tells us that when walking the site recently he saw what is though to be a piece of primary iron slag protruding from the chalk face about 1 m below the top. This indicates a major iron works on the site which is possibly pre-Roman

Changes at Gilbert's Pit

We have been sent a pre-copy of the Archaeological desktop study on Maryon Park in Charlton – and clearly this is with special reference to Gilbert’s pit. As ever with these things it’s all about archaeology not industrial archaeology – nevertheless past industry could hardly fail to get a mention here. Very early on the authors note ‘throughout history these sand and gravel deposits have been exploited. Some mineral deposits may have been quarried as early as the Roman period and after the establishment of Woolwich Dockyard in 1512 sand was used for ships ballast .. in the 18th century major digging began to obliterate the site … demand for moulding sand, glass sand ….. The lowermost layers of the Thanet sands, black-foot or strong loam, were excavated for brass casting moulds while above them beds of larger grained and less cohesive mild loam were used for iron castings. They note limekilns in Blackheath Hill and Charlton Church Lane. (Much of this quotes Paul Sowan and attributed him, wrongly, to GIHS rather than is actual base in Croydon.
The study moves on to sites of prehistoric occupation and notes signs of flint workings – maybe our earliest industry! Later evidence is found of iron and copper slag and baked clay as well as loom weights from Roman times.
The authors note a sand quarry in the area mentioned by Hasted in 1797 and sand pits and quarries shown on maps of the early 19th century. In the 1830s two lime burners are listed in 1839 at New Charlton. This document has been produced in conjunction with works planned here by the Council and we look forward to more detail on this.

Mind out for the boundaries

GIHS regularly receives copies of The Local Historian published by the Journal of the British Association for Local History. As ever there is little about London and its industries, however an article in the August 2008 edition on parish boundary markers has caught my eye. The article mentions parish outings which used to take place to ‘beat the bounds’ and some of the antics mentioned reminded me of an article in an old Greenwich Antiquarians Transactions (Vol. IX No 4 1982) where there is a description of beating the Greenwich boundaries in 1844 - which includes, for the industrial bits of Greenwich, a description of the civic procession Vicar, churchwardens, local school kids etc etc – who started off down Church Street to Garden Stairs, thence through Brewhouse Lane, the Gallery, Wood Wharf (having a waterman passing up the centre of the river at the same time). Through Mr. Tuckwell’s premises, through Mr. Martyr’s yard, passing over planks to the river wall at the back of the Gasworks, thence on to the edge of the wharfing, over barges and planks into Mr. Burford’s premises. Thence through Mr.Walton’s to the centre of Creek Bridge where three cheers are given for the Queen and the parish of Greenwich. …….. then on across planks and boats to Deptford Bridge where the Hundredth psalm was sung. At the Waterworks a man swam the river to the marker post in Shepherd’s garden. Having continued through the Silk Mill.. . and so on. They stopped for lunch at The Sun in the Sands on Blackheath and after that entered the Countess of Buckingham’s brew house passing out of her laundry window into a large oak tree where the parish treasurer had the honour to be bumped against a stone – and so on right round the parish until they got back to the River at Lombard’s Wall at Charlton, where they continued by boat. The whole thing took eight hours.
Does anyone know of any parish markers in the Borough? Is this something we should be looking out for?

Mills on the River Wandle

We’ve been sent a copy of another new guide to mill sites on the river Wandle - the major milling river which runs from the outskirts of Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth. This is a quick 22 page outline of mill sites and mill uses. The first pages detail mill remains extant and in use, there is a description of how a water mill works and this is followed – helpfully and originally – by descriptions of mills of the past listed under the product they processed – corn, dyestuffs, calico printers, etc. The Wandle is a fascinating river and this is a helpful and interesting guide to its working past. Greenwich residents would find this a helpful guide to the river in a day out and they should also visit the excellent Wandle Industrial Museum. The booklet is by David Saxby and costs £2.95. It is available from the Wandle Industrial Museum, the Wheelhouse at Merton Abbey Mills or Sutton Heritage Centre, Honeywood Walk, Carshalton, SM5 3NX or from David Saxby, MOLAS, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, N1 7ED. It was commissioned and published by the Wandle Valley Festival

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Pioneers







- and now - this wonderful picture from Barbara. Not sure its industrial history - but!! Barbara who are this daring young couple on their amazing machine! and is that Pelton Road.
(any help on enlarging this picture without distortion from a techie somewhere would be welcome)






Thursday, 11 September 2008

Where are these


More of Barbara's pictures - where are they of? what's the date?


Siemens vehicle


Barabara from Charlton has sent the following picture. Any comments please??


Working Lives of the Thames Gateway

This project, based in east London and part of the Eastside project, has agreed to fill in the vacant slot for a meeting of the GIHS on 10th February. They are an oral history project covering the Thames Gateway and are recording interviews with workers in a wide range of industries. In Greenwich they have already built up an archive on Siemens, British Ropes and AMC Motorcycles working with our Heritage Centre
They are establishing the East London People's Archive preserved and archived for public benefit.

The project also has a special study day on 20th September to promote the project and discuss priorities. Info www.hidden-histories.org.uk michael@ech.org.uk

Monday, 8 September 2008

Trouble with Butane

The Historic Gas Times comes out four times a year and always features something about the great (and recently much maligned EAST GREENWICH GASWORKS. The current issue features an article by Tony Coles on his work in the 1960s as an Engineering Assistant there. The article describes pressure storage of butane on site and about preparation for its delivery by rail from Grain refinery and includes some 'amusing' episodes which required emergency action!. Enquiries about Historic Gas Times to Bob Winn, 91 Caroline Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 8QX

Greenwich Historical Society

The GHS has asked us to publicise their next meeting on 24th September - the history of Greenwich Yacht Club. (Blackheath High School, Vanburgh Park, 7.30)
At the same time they point out that 24th September is the anniversary of the launch of Prince at Woolwich in 1610. The ship, of 1,400 tons, was built by Phineas Pett and given by James I to Henry Prince of Wales (who of course had close connections with Charlton House).
They also note the launch at Woolwich on Victory in 1631, Royal James in 1663, and Sovereign of the Seas in 1637.
The other anniversary they note for 24th September is when Bob Hope unveiled the plaque for the opening of the Eltham Little Theatre - now the Bob Hope Theatre - in 1982.

Severndroog

Help Save Severndroog Castle. Flyer from the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust - check out www.severndroog.org.uk for details about this Greenwich folly and what is currently going on with the campaign to restore and reopen it.
The trust is applying for money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is looking for local supporters to tell the Fund how much they value the Castle and the Trust.
If you want to see the Castle it will be open on 20-21st September as part of the London Open House weekend between 10.00 and 3.00. Check out openhouse.org.uk.
It is also on the Green Chain Walk and will feature in some of the celebrations around the Walking Festival in mid-September.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Royal Hill

Query from a resident:

Does anyone in your society know the original purpose of the building nowoccupied by the Greenwich Natural Health Centre at the back of 70 RoyalHill? It is a most curious structure hidden away behind Royal Hill andabutting the allotments on what used to be the other railway line coming into Greenwich.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

East London History Society

East London History Society newsletter in the post - and in it a whole lot of stuff about how Tower Hamlets intend to shut down Bancroft Road Library and the Borough's local history collection. I had heard this already but didn't really believe it - how could any Borough - even Tower Hamlets - sell of their local history. As the editor of ELHS says 'it beggars belief' - but, yes, apparently they are flogging it off to Queen Mary College, which is based nearby the present site.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Open House

News in the post of the next London Open House weekend 20-21st September. Lots of things in 'royal' Greenwich, but precious little industrial - lets see - Greenwich Yacht Club (well, maybe) ...Slice of Reality (well, almost nearly).... Thames Barrier (yesish) ... Woolwich Town Hall (well people do work there)
So what can we recommend in neighbouring boroughs -
In Tower Hamlets - Limehouse Accumulator Tower (*** ) ..... Museum in Docklands (**** ), Trinity Buoy Wharf (****)
In Southwark - Brad Street Railway Arches (?) ..... Brunel Museum (****) ..... Kirkaldy Testing Works (****) .... Lavender Pond Pumphouse (****) .... Sands Film Studio (***) ..... Hop Exchange (**) ....
In Newham ... House Mill (*******) ......
In Lewisham ..... Art inn Perpetuity Trust (**), Manor House Ice House (*),
In Bexley - Crossness Engines (*****),
In Bromley - Biggin Hill Airfield (**), Keston windmill (**)

Oh dear - what is wrong with us in Greenwich - is there nothing in the Arsenal, for instance, worth showing to the world?

Sub Brit

In the post - I wonderful new edition of Subterranea - www.subbrit.org.uk. As ever there is nothing in it about Greenwich - but most of what is in this edition is by one of our (ex?) members, the indefatigable Nick Catford. Most of what he is writing about here - but not all - concerns the London Underground and defunct railways generally. People will remember his recent work on the Blackheath Hill railway tunnel. I have asked Nick time and again to come and speak to us about his work - but he always says 'no' - so - everyone - all together 'Nick PLEASE PLEASE ........................'

off to Wiltshire

Just got back from annual conference of the Association for Industrial Archaeology in Wiltshire. This is held in a different part of the country every year and 2008 has been just outside Chippenham at the Lackham Agricultural Centre. Naturally there was, as ever, scant attention to industrial remains in London, let alone Greenwich. The focus of the special study day was military remains and the keynote lecture about cold war remains - not even the Arsenal got a look in there. However we learnt a lot about engineering in places like Chippenham (Westinghouse for instance) and about the canals, railways and military sites which abound in the area - and also that farming students live on pie and chips.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Bowater family in Woolwich

In volume 3 issue 6 of this newsletter (November 2000) Russell Martin wrote about the Bowater family and its landholdings in Woolwich, referring to a map of the Warspite Industrial Estate in his possession, and an 1895 survey of the estate with 38 more maps. The Survey of London, currently working towards a volume on Woolwich, is piecing together a history of the Bowater Estate, and would very much like to make contact with Mr Martin, or anyone else who might know his whereabouts. Please write to Peter Guillery at peter.guillery@english-heritage.org.uk or Survey of London, English Heritage, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London EC1N 2ST, or telephone (020) 7973 3634

Friday, 22 August 2008

Clive Chambers

Dr. Mary Mills has asked me to post on behalf of the Society that it is very sorry to have to report that Clive Chambers, who Members were recently informed was due to talk to the Society on 10th February 2009 about ‘Gun Boats of the Crimea’ very sadly passed away this week.

We would like to offer our condolences to his partner and to the rest of Clive's family at this sad time.

It is hoped that a replacement speaker can be found for the February meeting.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Local meetings for various local local history societies

A whole raft of autumn programmes in the post - some which might be interesting to those with an interest in Greenwich and/or Industrial history are:

From Greenwich Historical Association:
WEDNESDAY 24th SEPTEMBER 2008 - The Centenary of Greenwich Yacht Club - GRAHAM BAKER
WEDNESDAY 22nd OCTOBER 2008 - Discover Greenwich - DUNCAN WILSON OBE Chief Executive Officer of The Greenwich Foundation
WEDNESDAY 26th NOVEMBER 2008 - All the Fun of the Fair - HORATIO BLOOD looks back at the Greenwich Fair
- at Blackheath High School, Vanburgh Park, SE3 7.30

Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society
10th February - Industries of Southwark, Bermondsey and Rotherhythe -Stephen Humphrey
14th April - Excavations at a Greenwich Tide mill - Simon Davis/Andy Daykin
Housing Co-op Hall, The Cuty, SE1. 7.30

Greenwich Heritage Centre
27th September - Earning a living in the Arsenal - Chris Foord (you need to ring them and book a place)

Woolwich Antiquarians
11 October - Vincent memorial Lecture - Sue Bullevant
7th March - Woolwich Town Hall - Jim Marrett
Charlton house. 2 pm.

Merryweather clock - was it at the Royal Observatory

Neil Bennet writes:

My recent Merryweather & Sons interest is in the Electric Clock claimed to have been built by, or associated with the company, before 1901. another blog (NAWCC_Message_Board@nawcc-mb.com) suggested this could be one of a network of 'master' and 'slave' electric clocks made by Charles Shepherd of 53 Leadenhall Street for the Royal Greenwich Observatory and elsewhere, or could even be the Gate Clock fixed outside the gate of the nearby Royal Observatory in 1852, in which case it is a very important clock indeed. In today's world a company manufacturing an electric clock does not exactly raise an eyebrow, but it was changing the world then!
I have written to the Royal Observatory but I'd be grateful to anyone who can confirm a link between Merryweather and Shepherd, the Greenwich Observatory or the then Astronomer Royal, George Airy, or indeed what the Merryweather electric clock really was.
I'm making progress finding out about such obscure Merryweather products as the Dulier smoke absorption system and John Gordon's electric tram system, but 'Tanks for camel transport' still draws a blank!
Anyone interested in the firm's history can find some excellent information on a Greenwich-made steam fire engine exported to Australia, and on the company, at www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/index.php
....Industrial history is the new rock 'n' roll...(?)
Neil.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

GLIAS Newsletter

GLIAS Newsletter for August 2008 seems very light on Greenwich issues this month. They do however carry the following review of Richard Hartree's new book on John Penn:

"This book, written by a descendant of John Penn I, tells the story of this famous marine engineering firm and of three generations of the Penn family through the 1800s. The Epilogue tells of the family’s service in The Royal Household in the 1900s. When John Penn II died in 1878 the Kentish Mercury and Greenwich Gazette wrote of him as ‘Greenwich’s greatest son’.
In 1799 his father, John Penn I, had started an agricultural engineering business on the site at the junction of Blackheath and Lewisham Roads which in twenty years grew to be one of the major engineering works in the London area. Although he lived in Lewisham he stood as a reformist candidate for Greenwich in the December 1832 parliamentary election.
John II apprenticed in the firm and became a partner in the early 1830s. His design of oscillating engine for paddle steamers and his patented trunk engine for naval screw propelled ships coupled with the quality and reliability of the firm’s products led it to become the major engine supplier to the Royal Navy in the transition from sail to steam. His patented design of a wood propeller shaft stern bearing was vital to the worldwide use of steam-powered ships. The firm was a major local employer with, at its peak, 1800 employed at its Greenwich and Deptford works. In addition to achieving success for the firm John II also became a leading figure in the engineering profession.
He was succeeded by his two elder sons. John Penn III became MP for Lewisham in 1891 and served until his death in 1903.
In Greenwich today we can see John Penn Street which ran down one side of the works site and the Penn Almshouses in South Street which were built in 1884 in memory of John Penn II. In Deptford we can see the arched riverfront of the boiler works and a cast iron bollard set into the wall at the corner of Watergate Street and Borthwick Street . In Blackheath we can see John Penn II’s grand house ‘The Cedars’, now converted into flats, and in the Lewisham the Riverdale Mill which was on John Penn I’s property.
The book is available at the Greenwich Heritage Centre, The Greenwich Tourist Information Centre, Maritime Books at 66 Royal Hill, and from the author on 01295 788215 or richard@hartree.org.uk

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Naval dockyards walk round Deptford

In the post today - Dockyards - the newsletter of the Naval Dockyards Society - in it is an account of the Society's walk round Deptford - or rather, a lot of nice things being said about Chris and Will at the Master Shipwright's House. The walk took place after the Society's Annual Meeting in April and included a visit to St.Nicholas' Church to see the Gibbons carvings. It then describes their visit to the Shipwright's House and the - er - 'superb repast' and 'relaxed conversation' - and the accompanying picture which is captioned 'members discuss whether or not the strangely shaped light and the plastic chairs are original features from 1708.". (well, at least they seem to have had a good time. More seriously elsewhere in the newsletter is a photograph of GIHS member Malcolm Tucker trying in his hand at ropemaking in the coderie royale at La Rochelle.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Jack

Jack Vaughan - first Chair of Greenwich Industrial History Society - died on Monday 14th July 2008 at the age of 91. His had three sons and two daughters by Florence his first wife; she died in 1973. He married again but was again left bereft when Jean died.
This obituary is about his life in the world of Greenwich's local history - but he had many many other interests. At this funeral we heard about his record in the army in the Second World War, how he fought at El Alamein and met Field Marshall Montgomery. We also heard about his lifetimes enthusiasm for Charlton Football Club.
At a first meeting he could seem rather gruff, but one soon found how kind a man he was – there was no one who did not like Jack, even if they did not fully share his views.
He had been an apprentice at the Arsenal (writing about his experiences in Woolwich Antiquarian Proceedings Vol XLII) then worked there until he retired - again we heard at his funeral how he was respected for his engineering ability and knowledge and how he later went on to teach his skills at Woolwich Polytechnic School.
From this arose a love of clocks and his ability to repair them. The future of the clock on Building 10 at the Arsenal particularly worried him – Berkeley Homes say they will restore it. He always championed the Arsenal, giving talks on its history. He was also well versed in the Woolwich Dockyard, and a connoisseur of local pubs…
Many societies benefitted from his energy: on Shooters Hill where he lived for 54 years, he was Chairman of the Shooters Hill Society; he wrote articles for the Shooters Hill Local History Group, published in its series of ‘Aspects’. He was the inaugural chairman of the Greenwich Industrial History Society eventually becoming Honorary President. He was also involved in the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, history group. But his longest association was with the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society; for many years on its council, latterly as a Vice President; he was chairman of the Conservation Sub-Committee.
Jack was a fierce defender of Woolwich’s heritage in his dealings with the Borough’s Planners, particularly in respect of his beloved Arsenal. He was a frequent attendee at Planning Committees and made sure they heard his views. However, they listened to him with more respect than he would ever acknowledge and changes were often made. One locally famous exploit was his saving the tomb of the world famous engineer, Henry Maudslay, when the Council cleared St Mary’s Churchyard – all but one of its cast iron plates were retrieved, and taken to the Maritime Museum store in the Brass Foundry - they are now in the care of the Greenwich Heritage Centre. Jack was well known and respected by the London-wide community of industrial archaeologists, particularly in the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society. In 2001 a special seminar on Maudslay was held at Kew Bridge Engines Trust - special mention was made of Jack’s role in rescuing the plaque and a small ceremony was held.
Recently he became frail and although he went into a well run nursing home, he was only his old self with visitors who shared his interests. Six weeks before he died he had a fall, requiring two operations.
His funeral was at Eltham Crematorium, Falconwood at on Wednesday 23rd July at 2.45pm. This was followed by a do at the Red Lion Pub on Shooters Hill - one of his favourite locals.
Donations in his memory may be made to one of two charities: Cancer Research or The Alzheimer's Society. A cheque made out to the one of your choice should be sent to:
W Uden & Sons Ltd, Funeral Directors, 64 High Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA14 6DS
Jack was a one off - to quote a friend - 'well Jack - Jack's Jack, isn't he!'.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

last year we gave some information, sent by a correspondent in South Africa, about Greenwich made lighthouses in the Cape. He now writes with further information:

"The British first occupied the Cape Peninsula in 1795, and from 1814 to 1957 Simon’s Town was the Headquarters for the Royal Navy. The legacy from this period is a very significant infrastructure, that has unique heritage characteristics originating mainly from Victorian England – and many connections with London in particular. I have already been in correspondence concerning two local lighthouses (Cape Point and Roman Rock) that are constructed of cast iron, supplied from the Victoria Foundry in Greenwich. There is a wealth of artefacts that originated from Woolwich – a 9 inch rifled muzzle loading gun manufactured in 1865 at the Royal Gun Factory, still sitting complete on its slide and carriage as produced from the Royal Carriage Department, and a very recent discovery of four 500 lb sea mines of circa 1888 from the Royal Laboratory (two of these were opened up with some trepidation – fortunately they were only filled with sand), all of which are intended for conservation and public display.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Arsenal at the Heritage Centre

Apologies to the Greenwich Heritage Centre staff - hope you read this! Along with everyone else I went to the launch of the new exhibition they have put on about the social activities associated with the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. We all know about the Arsenal football team, of course, but with such a vast organisation and staff there was much, much more. There were many many sports clubs - you think of a sport, they had it! As well as all the flower arranging, dancing and amateur dramatics. Go down and see it at once! It is on until the end of August and the Centre is open 9-5 from Tuesday to Saturday. Well worth a look!

Shipbuilding on the Thames

A note in the post about the next THAMES MARITIME SYMPOSIUM. A few years ago a group of historians began to think that more should be done to promote the study of Thames Shipbuilding - once world class! There have now been three conferences and the papers given at each one have been published. The next one will be on 28th February next year and include papers from such luminaries as Professor Andrew Lambert, Chris Ellmers, and Damien Goodburn and will be chaired by Professors Andrew Lambert and Sarah Palmer. Details and booking from sailing.navy@btinternet.com

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Tide Mill

I had been asked by the archaeologists not to publicise this – but everyone else has - so, why not!!! What has happened is that down on the Lovell’s Wharf development site in Banning Street, is that the Museum of London archaeology team have found what they think is a 13th Tide Mill. Tide Mill’s are basically water mills which work by the power of the tides, rather than by a river or stream, and they tend to be associated with busy industrial sites rather than with a bit of local corn milling. Once it is dated it may turn out to be the oldest so far discovered on the Thames. In the early mediaeval period much of Greenwich – and big chunks of Kent associated with it – were owned by St.Peter’s Abbey in Ghent. Large religious organisations at that period were very much into exploiting the resources of the lands they owned. It could be that this mill was owned by them – and if so it implies an industrial community in the Ballast Quay area in a period when not very much is known about Greenwich. But this is still a lot of ifs, and buts, and maybes - and we need to find out what it is that they have really found before we all get too excited.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Jack

We are sorry to announce that Jack Vaughan, our first Chair and life President has died at the age of 91.
We hope to publish a proper obituary in a day or so - and in the meantime if anyone wanted to add anything here, please do.

Early Steam Ships and the City Canal

Our talk in July was from Roger Owen - on the subject of the City Canal on the Isle of Dogs. Here's what he had to say:

A canal across the Isle of Dogs from Blackwall to Limehouse was built by the Corporation of London as an intended bypass of the peninsula for ships proceeding to the upper reaches of the Thames, which became known as the City Canal. It was a development sanctioned by the West India Docks Act of 1799 and funded by a loan from the Consolidated Fund. Canals were not a new idea, a network around London having been proposed in 1799 and one from Blackwall to Wapping was part of the original proposal for the rival London Docks. Construction, under the supervision of the canal-builder, William Jessop, started in January 1800, and it was completed and opened to ships, barges and lighters in December 1805. Whilst it was toll-free for the first three years of its operation, the City Canal was not a commercial success, as with the concurrent building of the London, West India, East India and later the Commercial Docks it was not to be used to a significant extent for transit purposes. Along with the privately owned docks the canal was used for laying up ships that were in seasonable employment, such as South Sea whalers, ships up for sale and those under repair or fitting-out. Enclosed waters such as the docks and canals had advantages for laying up ships, as there was virtually no tidal movement so that moorings did not need to be continuously tended and consequently the manning on board could be reduced to a minimum.

Steamships first started to use the City Canal for laying-up, repairs and fitting-out from the end of 1814 with the arrival of “Margery”, a ship built on the Clyde that was to operate the first passenger service on the Thames from Wapping to Gravesend for a few months before she was sold and crossed the Channel to undertake similar duties on the Seine. The firm of Boulton, Watt & Co., having their factory at Soho in the Smethwick area of Birmingham, had a sheer hulk, “Pallas”, which was a former American merchant ship that had been seized and condemned as a prize during the War of 1812. This was converted and moored at the Blackwall end of the canal in 1826 for use as a heavy-lift facility for removing and installing boilers and as a workshop. Ships built at shipyards on the Thames and elsewhere, such as Harwich in the east and Holyhead in the west, came to the City Canal to have their machinery installed. BWC had even considered having a factory at Pitcher’s Canal Dockyard for manufacturing boilers, but decided against it with the intention of the Admiralty to develop what became the Woolwich Steam Factory for the maintenance of the expanding Steam Navy.

After several attempts the canal was finally sold to the West India Dock Company in August 1829, when it was renamed the West India South Dock and transit passages came to an end. An adjoining Timber Pond was built in the 1840s and this and the former canal were reconstructed in the 1860s – 70s into the South Dock as it is in its present form, except that the former Limehouse end entrance was subsequently closed. With the ending of their monopolies the dock companies sought other areas of business, the East India Dock Company building the Brunswick Steam Wharf in 1834. The latter company also opened up their docks to steamships and allowed the use of the landmark Masting House for removing and installing boilers. This activity at the East India Docks came to an end in the 1860s with the demolishing of the Masting House and with the depression in Thames shipbuilding following the collapse of the Overend Gurney bank in 1866. By then most steamships were using the Victoria Docks, which were to be used by the last of the Thameside shipbuilders, Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Company, for fitting-out ships, until they ceased business in 1912.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Memories of Anchor Iron Wharf

We have had a note from someone who worked at Anchor Iron Wharf - thats where the posh flats are down by Ballast Quay, it used to be a scrap yard - Robinson's Scrap Metal.
This is from David who says he used to drive the Grafton Crane on the rails there, beside the river and overlooked by Robinson's office. He describes a 'man in white' bringing down cast iron valves from the power station. He was white because he was covered in asbestos dust and was leaving a cloud of it wherever he went. Under the hydraulic press room, under tons of scrap, an old man was living 'he had an angelic face you would never forget'. David remembers clearing thousands of cartridges - he thought they might be live so he left them, and covered them up with empty scrap bins.
That all sounds pretty dreadful!

Woolwich Antiquarians

I've been very remiss in not reporting about the Woolwich Antiquarians and their newsletter (which comes through my door with impressive frequency!!). They have been running as a serial the memories of Tom Mogg, who worked for General Steam Navigation based at Deptford (that's generally known for the Royal Daffodil, but actually much more besides!). This month's episode is about the unit of the Home Guard made up of workers from the yard.
The newsletter is also describing the work being done around the centenary of the Open Air School at Shrewsbury Park - not sure this is industrial, but this sort of Open Air establishment for 'delicate children' was established in heavy industrial areas like Woolwich to get sick kidas out in fresh clean air.
Sorry - it is very remiss of the Antiquarians but they don't seem to have given me a web address to refer you on to ...................................

Amazing scenes at Crossness

The latest edition of the Crossness Engines Record is full of all sorts of amazing things - suddenly the old sewage works and its steam engines are being used as a backdrop for drama - Hamlet no less! They have also seen choral and orchestral concerts - what's next? As usual the Record gives lots of information about the work on the engines and all sorts of other things (mostly about sewage!). Check them out on www.crossness.co.uk. Note their next open day - Sunday 27th July 10.30 - 4.30. Adults £5 Children free. Free Minibus from Abbey Wood Station.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Ceremony for the Penn Engine on the Diesbar


The ceremony designating the John Penn engine on the Diesbar as a Historic Engineering Landmark took place on 2nd July aboard the steamer. A photo of the plaque is attached. We have also been sent a copy of the booklet which was produced for the occasion - this gives lots of historical information.

The paddle steamer is one of a fleet which works on the River Elbe in Saxony and has done so since the mid-19th. The Penn engine is in the steamer Diesbar built in 1884, and the only coal fired Dresden steamer. The Penn engine however dates from 1841 and was originally installed in the wooden paddle steamer Bohemia. A new crankshaft was fitted to the engine in 1853 by Krupp of Essen and the engine was then transferred to the Statd Meissen and then in the Diesbar in 1884.

The engine was built at the world famous Penn works on Blackheath Hill. John Penn had been making steam engines for marine purposes since 1825 and by the 1840s, under John Penn Jnr., was the leading manufacturer supplying engines for Admiralty and Royal Mail contracts. One notable advance was the development of the oscillating engine of the type which is on the Diesbar. By 1878 the company had supplied 735 ships with engines and the firm continued until 1899 when it merged with Thames Ironworks, which eventually closed in 1914.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

More about Blackheath Hill

Nick Catford has written more about the railway tunnel under Blackheath Hill in this month's London Railway Record - perhaps what is most interesting about it is the use of the tunnel after the railway had closed. He thinks that in the 1930s the tunnel was used to store breeze blocks and in the Second World War was leased to the Council as an air raid shelter. After the war it was used by the Heliot Machine Tool Company and later in the 1950s by R.Taylor & Co. Machine Tools and then latterly by Maganal Plastics (Alan and Margaret Storey). He records that they made road signs for local authorities and that they were the first to standardise road signs and produce a proper catalogue. Alan Storey pioneered the use of the reflective clip which was made under Blackheath Hill - another example of innovation by a Greenwich based industry.
London Railway Record is published by Connor & Butler, PO Box 9561 Colchester, Essex.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Bradyll

Residents of Bradyll Street in East Greenwich may be interested in the following item from the Yorkshire Post:

"Railway museum rescues historic engine"
ONE of the earliest industrial locomotives in the world has been acquired by the National Railway Museum in York. Bradyll, which dates back to the 1840s, is believed to be the oldest surviving locomotive with six-driving wheels. It has survived in the North East largely by chance.The museum's vehicle collections manager, Jim Rees, said: "the locomotive is of more than mere local or regional importance."The lack of restoration or later rebuilding means that Bradyll remains an incredibly valid piece of railway archaeology, from a period which remains understudied and undervalued by railway historians." no other working machines of this kind have stood the test of time. The locomotive has since been placed in the National Railway Museum's sister attraction at Shildon in County Durham, although the public has only limited access to it.Bradyll's historical importance has now been deemed so great that it has been placed in the national collection, which is overseen by the NRM in York.

Street names in East Greenwich relate, of course, to the Durham coal field - and this is just one survivor.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Council Resolution

Last night Greenwich Council resolved the following:

That this Council notes:
1. The Borough of Greenwich has a uniquely rich heritage, having played a role at the centre of British and world history for at least a thousand years.
2. Our claim to national and international significance has been reinforced over the centuries by our proud Royal, maritime, military and industrial links.
3. We have an outstanding Royal heritage as the birthplace of King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary I; the site of two Royal Palaces, a Royal Park and the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, and many other such sites.
4. Next year, 2009, marks the 500th anniversary of King Henry VIII’s accession to the throne, and 2012 marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Dockyard.
This Council believes that:
1. Celebrating our shared heritage can do much to enhance civic pride and to bind together the many people from diverse backgrounds who call this Borough their home.
2. Learning about the great history on our doorstep is a huge benefit of which the Borough’s schoolchildren should be able to take full advantage.
3. The coming years present unique opportunities to showcase our heritage and enhance the prestige of the Borough, which we should fully grasp.
This Council resolves:
1. To embrace and celebrate our heritage as an integral part of our shared vision for the Borough and its future.
2. To devise specific plans to highlight our status as a significant Royal borough, using the opportunities presented by the 500th Anniversaries of the accession of King Henry VIII, and of the founding of the Woolwich Royal Dockyard.
3. To seek further ways in which our maritime, industrial and local heritage can also be championed alongside such plans.
4. To ensure that our hosting of the Olympics in 2012 is used as an opportunity to strengthen and promote our heritage offer, and does not harm it.
5. To re-affirm our support for the restoration of the Cutty Sark, the iconic flagship of our Borough.
6. To support the ‘Discovery Greenwich’ project currently being undertaken by the Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, which will help bring the history of the World Heritage Site to a wider audience.

Monday, 23 June 2008

100 years of the Yacht Club


On Sunday Greenwich Yacht Club held a celebration to mark their hundredth anniversary. The club was founded in 1908 originally at the Yacht Tavern in Crane Street. Residents might remember when they were in a series of huts along the riverside - the area is now the pathway downriver of the Dome near the ecology centre but then it was between the Power Station Jetty and Horn Lane. They eventually found a home in the old canteen of the Redpath Brown steel works and there they stayed until 1999 when their buildings were the last to be cleared before the Dome opened.
Sunday's event was a lot of fun with all sorts of coming and goings and endless plaques and so on being dedicated by the Mayor and the Director of the Maritime Museum.
Details about the history of the Club can be found in Paul Woodhead's book 'The Yacht Club. Greenwich 1908-2000' - written and published for the club and available from them.
Drawing by Peter Kent

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Last Wharves of Greenwich


Local riverside scenes are currently being shown at the Paul McPherson Gallery at 77 Lassell Street, in Greenwich. These are the wonderful pictures of Terry Scales which show five decades of the riverside - the recent past which is rapidly becoming unrecognisable. Terry had made presentations of his work at Greenwich Industrial History Society meetings on a couple of occasions and we hope to see him again soon. In the meantime he will be signing his book 'Homage to the working Thames' at the gallery on 28th and 5th July 11.30-2.30 pm.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Out of the Dark

Surprise, surprise - a great exhibition down at Firepower (on the Arsenal site). This is the Royal Artillery Museum and the exhibition is to celebrate 230 years of the collection - although most of the time it was on other sites. It is made up of a whole bunch of miscellaneous objects, some of an amazing eccentricity - lets see - the keys to Pondicherry - an inkwell made from a Royal Horse Artillery hoof - a man trap from Deal Castle. There are of course some weapons - a nasty looking steel quoit used like a frisbee, for instance, and a tylwar 'taken from Fenian insurgents'. There's also a soldiers' home teaset, a cadet's blazer, and a housewife - and much more. Go and see it - http://www.firepower.org.uk/ 02088557755..

Monday, 16 June 2008

An American honour for Greenwich

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) plans to designate a John Penn oscillating steam engine (vintage 1841) as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The designation will take place at a ceremony in Dresden, Germany this July. The engine is currently installed and operational in the paddle steamer Diesbar. Further information about ASME’s Landmark program is available at http://www.asme.org/Communities/History/Landmarks/Landmarks_Program_2.cfm. Since the program began in 1971, they have designated some 250 landmarks worldwide - While the majority of these are in the US, there are five in the UK.
This means of course that while most of Greenwich ignores its engineering past that at least it is on the map as far as the Americans are concerned.

Thames shipbuilding symposium

Note received this morning advertising the fourth Symposia on Thames Shipbuildin. This is to be held in February 2009 in the Museum in Docklands, by West India Quay. it will be chaired by Professors Andrew Lambert of King's and Sarah Palmer of the GMI, and will comprise ten papers on assorted maritime aspects of the Thames, both naval and mercantile.
More information when we get it - but this is a most important, and neglected, subject. The Thames was once the centre of British shipbuilding - but who knows that now outside of a very small band of local industrial and economic historians!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Hamlet takes to sewage and the marshes

The Crossness Pumping station at Thamesmead are to stage a production of Hamlet in among the sewage pumps. There is to be a performance of the play on 29 June at 1:30 pm by Factory Theatre - who are doing the play in number of similar settings around the country. They say that the used are those brought along by the audience and the audience gets to sit anywhere they like, and which actor plays what is different in every performance. Details of this are on the
Crossness website (www.crossness.org.uk ) and details of the production at http://web.mac.com/factorytheatre/The_Factory/The_Hamlet_Project.html
Perhaps I'll go.