Friday, 20 October 2017

Mixed bag of notes - includes Appleby, Charlton and more


Bygone Kent - the latest issue includes a great article about the East Greenwich gas holder.  GIHS sent them our current press release about the holder and this has been added to with a lot of research by Francesca Baker.  It is a very very good article and Bygone Kent should be thanked for the effort which has gone into it.


- and on the same subject, thanks to Greenwich Visitor's Nelson's Column for a mention of the holder and a link to to the man at Historic England and may/may not be dealing with any listings applications.


Charlton Station - now this is amazing. London Railway Record (October 2017) has a 12 page article on Charlton Station by Peter Kay.  Clearly there is a  lot of detail - and it is railway related material, remembering that LRR caters for spotters with an educated and historical bent.  There is a lot of stuff about the traumas of having to interact with the Greenwich Line as well as the line through Blackheath Tunnel which had different left/right hand running. This led to endless discussions with various railway inspectors, many of which are given in detail. Subsequently there was a collision and that is detailed to.  There is a lot about changes to the buildings over the years - and there is also a little story of a lady who 'bought' a ticket from the porter (er - her lodger) and it turned out to be an already used one he just happened to have.
Sadly the article - being very serious about railways and written by a man - doesn't pick up on recent changes, particularly the sterling work done by the Charlton gardeners on the down side!


Night Mail - great evening recently at the Blackheath Society on the subject of the GPO Film Unit which was based in what was Blackheath Arts Club in Bennett Park in the 1930s-40s.  The famous film  'Night Mail' was made there - what you see as apparently internal shots on the mail train were actually filmed in Blackheath, with actors, swaying slightly.   The GPO film unit and its successors at Shell and elsewhere in the work of public information films provided us with a great record of industry around the time of the Second World War - with messages about innovation, dignity in work, co-operation and stuff like that.  A lot about influence from Eisenstein - patriotism, ordinary people and stuff like that, but I won't go on about it.


Crossness Record - lots of stuff in the current record.  The front page tells us that John Austin has been replaced as Chair by Bexley councillor Professor Peter Catterall (I know John hasn't lived in Greenwich for years - but when I first moved here he was a local councillor - for Charlton Ward - and later Leader of the Council) .  This issue of the record is more colourful and brighter than previous issues and the team are to be congratulated. There is a lots of stuff about the volunteers and even a picture of some Morris Dancers. There is also a long historical article on sewage treatment with a focus on work done on chemical treatment by Sir Edward Frankland in the 1870s
anyway - see


Merryweathers - were of course the fire engine manufacturers based in Greenwich High Road  This week a couple of scraps have floated into our inbox. One is from someone who has found a lot of Merryweather related material in Grandad's loft. Neil Bennett - the expert on Merryweathers - is hopefully dealing with this. Apparently some of it concerns James Compton Merryweather.

Neil has also sent a curious interchange - beginning with an email he sent to the Head of Bloodstock Services at a horse racing establishment.  This was a horse called Fireworks who raced in 1894  owned by a James Compton Merryweather 'owner of a successful fire engine factory'.  Well!! you can always see a company is doing well if the owner is a race horse owner!
It appears that Fireworks ran eleven times on the Flat winning twice. He won at Epsom  when he was owned by Col. North and then in Leicester when he was owned by Mr. Merryweather


APPLEBYS.  You may remember that we posted up information about the Goulburn Water Works Museum in Australia and their request for information about Appleby's Greenwich factory and any information about the equipment they have and any information about how it might have been transported to Australia.   They explained:

"Four Appleby beam engines delivered to Australia which were made in 1883 and used for pumping water in the townships of Albury, Bathurst, Goulburn and Wagga Wagga all in New South Wales Australia?

Out of the four, Goulburn has the only complete and working beam engine left, which is housed at the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum in its original pumphouse with the two complete boilers originally used to power it. The pumphouse and engine have been listed on the Australian Heritage Register as have National significance and is also listed with the Australian National Trust.

The web address of the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum is "

We passed this letter on to John Steeds - who is an Appleby descendent. He sent a huge page full of information - and below is an edited version of some of what he said to them.

- about the transport of the engines to Australia ---------------

"the date stamp on your Appleby drawings of the pumps is 7th July 1883.   I don’t know how the machinery was transported to Australia, but they may have come aboard the 'Anglo Indian'. My grandfather, PV Appleby, who had been working at the East Greenwich works, was appointed as a supernumerary engineer on the Anglo Indian for the voyage to Australia.  The Anglo Indian left the UK on 7th July 1883 (the same date as the date stamp on your drawings) and she arrived in Brisbane on 3rd October 1883.  I don’t have any details about the trip except for a press cutting which describes various ports of call and which states that when the Anglo Indian arrived at Townsville on 14th September, she commenced discharging cargo which consisted mostly of heavy machinery, boilers etc.  This, at least, suggests that they may have had the Appleby pumps on board! 

- about the pumps --
The only specific reference to the four beam pumps that I can find comes from the Application for Membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers of CJ Appleby’s son, Frank James Appleby.  This reference is repeated in his Institution of Civil Engineers Obituary. The application tells us that Frank James came out to New South Wales in 1884 to supervise the erection of the pumps.  He was also involved in the tendering and construction of various bridges and other items there, .  The  Civils Application makes reference to Sir john Fowler. indeed, several items in my possession include references to Sir John Fowler.   He was the Consulting Engineer to the Government of New South Wales

 - and the Greenwich works

Appleby Brothers took over the old Bessemer Steel Works in East Greenwich and converted them for their own use in 1878.   At the time when the Bessemer works were initially occupied by the Appleby’s, Appleby Brothers were a partnership. In 1886 Appleby Brothers became a share owned Limited company and the running and management of the Greenwich works changed.   Unfortunately the Limited company only survived for 3 years and in 1889, following a court action, the Limited company and their East Greenwich works were closed.   The old Appleby works then became the works of the Greenwich Inlaid Linoleum Company. After the closure of Appleby Brothers Limited, there was still a demand of Appleby products and CJ Appleby started a new Appleby Brothers partnership with 2 of his sons, including my grandfather, P V Appleby.
Unlike the other Appleby Works, for which I have plans and some photographs, I have much more limited information about the East Greenwich Works.  However there were at least 4 visitations to the works and descriptions of these were published in the press. They give a very good impression of the vast scope of both the products and international destinations with which Appleby Brothers involved. The first description is from the partnership period (ie. from the time of your pump) and the other three were from the Appleby Brothers Limited period.   Unfortunately these doesn’t refer to the pumps.  However they do refer to some of the bridges which were fabricated and sent out to New South Wales.

We also have a number of links listed below to British Transport Treasures sent by Stuart Rankin
Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists ...
Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists. With an appreciation by Sir Martin Conway MP. London Midland and Scottish Railway [ebook]

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Tonight's the night

Tonight (Tuesday 10th) GIHS is hosting a discussion evening on industrial heritage in Greenwich - all turn up - and lets hope the Bakehouse has enough seats for everyone - 7.30 Age Exchange Bakehouse (which is down an alleyway in Bennett Park at the back of the Age Exchange building in Blackheath Village)

In the meantime - here are some ideas from one area of the Borough - Creekside -

Unlocking Deptford Creek

An urgent call to all Creekside stakeholders* for the current Thames Tideway Tunnel Greenwich works to be used to deliver a  legacy of improved public access  and amenity.
Mick Delap, Ashburnham Triangle, West Greenwich,  April 2017

*see Section 4, below.  Plus Appendix 1 - Map; and Appendix 2 - the 19th Century Creek

 1. Introduction: unlocking the Creek.  Deptford Creek is an area of major historical and environmental interest, that is changing fast. In the nineteenth century, a variety of Creekside industrial enterprises made an extraordinary contribution to the emergence of London as a modern mega city. They showed the rest of London, and the world, what it would take to make large scale urbanization work  [see Appendix 2].  This former industrial powerhouse is now being transformed at breathtaking speed into a series of new high rise domestic communities.

Over the years,  successive plans, at London, and Lewisham and Royal Greenwich Borough level, have highlighted the opportunities for combining the wave of new housing with improved public access to the Creek's environmental and historical riches. But little has been done to give established West Greenwich neighbourhoods, like my own Ashburnham Triangle, and these thousands of Creekside newcomers the kind of public open space and cultural amenities they were promised.

Now the Thames Tideway Tunnel works along the Creek at Thames Water's Greenwich Pumping Station offer a golden opportunity, at little additional cost, to leave a significantly improved public legacy for the Creek's new inhabitants.

2.  The current situation:  no trespassing.  At present (and for the foreseeable future, unless post Tideway Tunnel reconstruction plans can be improved), the Creek's environmental, cultural and amenity assets and potential are locked away. Apart from the brief views of the Creek from the Halfpenny Hatch bridge on the east-west pedestrian and cycle pathway, there is no public access.

The nearby Creekside Discovery Centre, on the Creek's west (Lewisham) bank is a valiant pioneer in drawing attention to the Creek's unique environment,  but lacks resources and support. The situation on the east (Greenwich) bank is even more discouraging.  Royal Greenwich Planning has proposed using Section 106 agreements to provide access to the Creek on two developments upstream from the Halfpenny Hatch bridge.  The Galliard development of the Skillion/Merryweather site required the developer to provide public access to the Creek. A pathway has been built, but, in defiance of Section 106 requirements, it remains locked.  The new Booker development, further upstream, will also have Section 106 requirements for public access to the Creek.  But even if these are honoured, neither the Galliard nor the Booker Creekside paths offer any significant improvement in public amenity.  They go nowhere, and are not long enough to attract walkers or cyclists.

3. A new Creekside pathway.  What would transform meaningful public access to a significant stretch of the Creek, and at a blow unlock its historical, heritage and environmental riches, would be if the isolated Creekside pathway plans for the Galliard and Booker sites were linked to a new section of Creekside  pathway running south from the Halfpenny Hatch Bridge on the east (Greenwich)  bank of the Creek, along the edge of the Thames Water Pumping Station site.  With careful attention to ensuring the security of the working Pumping Station site, this new north - south pathway could finally open up the Creek and give the newly emerging Creekside community the kind of public amenity it has long been promised.  It could also be linked to Brookmill Park, making the Halfpenny Hatch bridge the northern starting point of the Ravensbourne Trail.

And what makes all this feasible is the Thames Tideway Tunnel work along this stretch of the Creek,  as the Greenwich element of the project is built over the next two years.  This exact section of Creekside is being taken apart as we speak by the Tideway works.  After which, the site will be restored.  The planning agreements already reached  between Tideway and Royal Greenwich do not call for any planning gain.  If they go ahead as planned, the Creek will be returned to its present shut off state.  There will be no improvements to public access, no unlocking of the Creek's historical and environmental treasures, no significant legacy for the Creekside community.

 The alternative is to use this golden opportunity to amend the post-construction plans to open up the key section of a new north-south pathway.  And to use the pathway to provide the public with properly interpreted access to the history and environment of the Creek (perhaps finally finding a use for at least part of the Grade 1 listed Coal Sheds, the hidden gems on the Thames Water site).  Given the vast scale of the Tideway project, the additional costs would be minimal.  Planning agreements have been reached, and the opportunity to enforce Section 106 requirements has passed.  But if all the interested parties could, on a voluntary basis, agree an alternative legacy plan  - not as a planning requirement, but as a significant public good - then the Tideway Tunnel could still leave the Creek, and the wider Greenwich and Lewisham communities,  with an impressive legacy.

 4.  Moving forward - but how?.  Funding will need to be found.  But for once the real challenge is finding a way to bring the very disparate group of potential stakeholders together.  Central to realising the dream of a new north-south Creekside pathway are Tideway and Thames Tunnel East, as contractors, and Thames Water, as owners and operators of the Greenwich Pumping Station site. For Thames Water, safeguarding  security will be a key issue. Royal Greenwich are the planning authority for the east bank of the Creek, as Lewisham are for much of the west bank.  There is potential for the proposed opening up of the Creek to link productively with existing Greenwich and Lewisham Green Space and tourism initiatives (especially the Historic Greenwich World Heritage Site, and the Ravensbourne Trail).  The Creekside Discovery Centre and Creekside Educational Trust already play a key role in developing public awareness of Creekside environment, history and amenities. They have approached some existing and new developers of Creekside sites. The current owners of the Skillion /  Merryweather,  and the Booker sites are obviously important here.   

Looking further afield, Greenwich University have ongoing programmes which build on the past, present and future of their immediate neighbourhood.  Local amenity groups such as the Greenwich Society, the Greenwich Industrial History Society and the Ashburnham Triangle Association have also regularly engaged with the Creek's past, present and future. There will be potentially interested development agencies. And individual elected representatives have roles to play, from Greenwich and Lewisham MP's to local councillors.  In particular, Greenwich Councillor Mehboob Khan is already involved as chair of the Community Liaison Working Group for Tideway East's Greenwich and Deptford projects.  One local body with a proven record of unlocking heritage sites is the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. 

5. Conclusion. The current Tideway Thames Tunnel works on the Thames Water Pumping Station site over the next two years represent a golden opportunity for dramatically improving Creekside amenities. Given the complex web of stakeholders, what is lacking is an obvious individual or body to take overall responsibility for seizing  this opportunity.  Creative Process's 2009 Creekside Charrette is one model.  I hope this paper will re-start a process that ends by finally  unlocking the Creek to the public.

Mick Delap,
Ashburnham Triangle, Greenwich, April 2017

Saturday, 7 October 2017

and more news today

NEXT MEETING - 10th Tuesday

Our next meeting is a discussion meeting on Industrial Heritage in Greenwich - we hope you will come along and put your views forward.
We have asked Danny Hayton to come along to Chair it - he is a prominent figure in industrial history and industrial archaeology in London. We hope to have short introductions from - Ian Bull (Royal Arsenal), Andrew Bullevant (GIHS,Woolwich Antiquarians and Shooters Hill Local History Group), Peter Luck (Chair Enderby Group), Mari Tay (Deptford Power, Deptford Working Histories), Elizabeth Pearcey (Archaeologist London Museum of Water and Steam)

and -in that context - we have been sent a copy of a posting about Greenwich in The Pipeline  -

This three page article by Andy Brockman analyses the Council's draft plans for the East Greenwich gasholder site and put it into a context of industrial heritage, visitor and development issues, and the consultation by Historic England.  Read it.


Pumps in Australia -made in Greenwich

Appleby pumps - Goulburn Waterworks Museum, Australia.   In the last post we mentioned a request for information from the Museum and that we were getting an answer together. We have now been copied into a long and detailed reply which has been put together for them. It is too long and detailed to be listed here as a news item and I hope that, with the author's consent, it can be a separate item.  The Museum is at


We have also been sent a link to This is a posting about the oldest Thames Tug Brittania and her imminent demise having been sold for scrap.  Brittania is the re-named T.BHeathorn and she was originally built for the South Metropolitan Gas Co. - and was probably based at East Greenwich gas works, and would in all certainly have worked from the jetties there. She was named for Thomas Bridges Heathorn, on of the company directors - and himself the son of Joseph Lidwell Heathorn one of the founders off the Company.



The October 2017 GLIAS newsletter contains notices of the following events which may be of interest in Greenwich.

15th October - Crossness. Prince Consort in steam.
15th November. GLIAS Pub Evening. Kings Arms, Newcomen Street, SE1. from 6.30. general chat and cheer plus some presentations. Anyone who wants to do a presentation contact
29th November. Crossness Open Day. No Steam.

The Newsletter contains an article about the Woolwich stoneware kiln by Bob Carr - who came down to see its last few days in March
Docklands History Group - the speaker at their September meeting was Elizabeth Wiggans, the archivist at Morden College.  Elizabeth has been very helpful to many Greenwich historians and the Morden College archive is one of the most unknown but amazing assets in Greenwich and Blackheath.  The College has owned large chunks of Greenwich since the late 17th century and, much of the older housing we see in both West and East Greenwich was built by them. In the case of its holdings on the Peninsula they ran what can only be described as an industrial development programme there on the west bank in the late 19th century. Elizabeth's talk was about the history of the College from the 17th century and the work done today to house the elderly and to manage their extensive estates.


The Last Gasometer in Poplar
We have been directed to The Gentle Author 

This is an article about the demolition over the last week or so of one of the gas holders on the Poplar Levan Road site - this is on your right immediately as you come out of the Blackwall Tunnel on the other side.   It was built by the Commercial Gas Company - (which was effectively controlled by our own South Met.Co. but don't tell the people north of the river that I said that!). 
Basically - the demolition crews are getting nearer and nearer.


Slightly sad endnote  - it is with some regret that we have noticed that the original GIHS web site has now been removed from the Goldsmith's server and is no longer with us.  This was set up in 1998 and included all our original newsletters - but we lost control of it many years ago when our member there retired and were unable to correct basic things on it, like out of date email addresses and so on.  We have a backup of the entire site and are wondering what to do with it - there are several options. Wait and see!!

PS - hope you all saw the article about the Woolwich Stoneware Kiln in Greenwich Weekender!