Sunday, 15 April 2018

Then three came along at once


After having not produced a Greenwich industrial history posting  for some months I thought I ought to do something.  Several newsletters have come in all at once - so – here we go

Industrial Archaeology News 184 Spring 2018. 

An article on England’s Major Civil Engineering Achievements mentions nothing in Greenwich. Under 'major tunnels' there is a short mention of the Brunel tunnel at Rotherhithe. I have written to say that they might have mentioned our much abused Blackwall Tunnel, built with much innovation 120 years ago and undertaking a heroic task on a daily basis. Would some of these other tunnels even begin to cope with what the Blackwall has to put up with??

There is an article by David Dawson about Crossness Engines, with reproduced notes and letters from the 1860 about firing on ranges in the Arsenal leading to  dangerous situation at the outfall.  He also mentions some confusion about the restored  grid-iron at the Arsenal where very large items were loaded onto barges.  He mentions another possible grid iron at Crossness used by the sludge barges and another at the Woolwich Ferry.
There is an article on gasholders - from a well known local source - and about the Greenwich holder in particular. We are very grateful for this publicity about the demolition of our local icon.
The newsletter also advertises a number of international events including a Congress in Santiago in September.  There are also insets on what appear to be two AIA conferences the summer  - one in Nottingham and at Wick.  Happy to send details to anybody interested

 
GLIAS  Newsletter

For those of you who Denis Smith, and maybe  went to his Goldsmith's class. GLIAS reminds us that on the 9th of June is a memorial service to Denis at Thaxted Parish Church in Essex  1430 and afterwards at the Swan Hotel. Its obviously a very very difficult place to get to and they would like notice of people who intend to go - email me for details.


Crossness Engines Records

Crossness has our Greenwich Mayor on its front page following his visit to the work. 
The issue also includes:
Some information on the asbestos issue
A plan for the bicentenary of Joseph Bazalgette's birth in 2019 and they are open to ideas

Work on the valve house which is now in use for their small engines collection following a major cleanup

News about the various railway projects and restoration of an known as Busy Basil and are looking for help with the project

An article about the use of the engine house in a number of feature films and television programmes

Docklands History Group.

Please note their annual conference on Shipbuilding on the Thames on 12th May. Booking details on their web site

Naval Dockyards Society

They have announced that the Navy Board projects at the National Archives has been extended for another year

GIHS
Greenwich Industrial History Society has not been idle. We have had a series of meetings with a committee made up of people from all over the Borough who have experience in particular issues - and we would welcome more expert volunteers.
We are attempting to put together a gazetteer of industrial remains in the Borough of Greenwich co-ordinated at the moment by Peter luck. We hope to publish this in some form and would welcome help and advice
He also hope to put together individual booklets of interest to visitors - on subjects like the communications industry, trams, and similar subjects
We are also looking at the following issues and would be happy to add to the list. Please get in touch:
White Hart Road and proposed adaption of the old Plumstead Destructor into a community resource.
Spray Street Quarter. This includes proposals for a wide area which includes much of interest, like the listed covered market roof

Creekside  - there is concern about joining up schemes into a Riverside walk.  There are also issues around the railway lifting bridge
Enderby Group. This continues and is discussing possible artwork for the site. It is still not known what  is likley to happen to the cruise liner terminal proposals or the site which is now for sale. Work continues on Enderby House. We are also keeping an eye on Riverside closures.

Trinity Buoy Wharf , Although north of the river course there is a ferry service which runs from there to the Dome, and the arts and sculpture trail which runs down the Lea Valley is now planned to cross the river to take in art works on the peninsula riverside. We are in touch with Richard Albanese who is now working at Trinity Buoy Wharf on some of these issues, which include historic ships.
East Greenwich Gas holder. There is yet another planning application on management of its demolition by Southern Gas Networks. There seems to be little anyone can do about this process of demolition which is being forced forward. We also note that there is the same process going on with the Bell Green holders, despite their being listed by Lewisham Council.
Charlton Riverside - there is a vast plan for the usual housing which will take in some of the old rope works site and we need to keep an eye on remains there and also on remains of the Glenton railway
Arsenal - we understand that Peabody's  housing programme is keeping an eye on heritage assets and they have an officer in charge of this.  An archive by Ray Fordham is being scanned, An eye needs to be kept on the canal remains but  we understand the nitrating  plant will be saved and work continues on the 'Gog and Magog' grid-iron
There is an interest in street furniture and we understand information has come up about a local firm called Ginman.
For all of this help and information from YOU would be wonderful.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Report on Pollution Conference held 1994


POLLUTION IN EAST AND SOUTH EAST LONDON 24 YEARS AGO

I thought that - given the current debate on pollution - that it might be of interest to look back and see where we were 24 years ago.  

This is a report of a Conference held by Docklands Forum.  The Forum covered most of east London (technically they covered the Docklands regeneration area set up in the 1970s by the GLC which covered parts of Greenwich and Lewisham as well as what became the Docklands development area)

So - attendees and speakers came from all over the area - and we included a big pack of comments and responses from community groups from all around (sorry - I no longer have a copy of that)

- a few key points about the early 1990s

-  site remediation was still not always undertaken then, and there were many very dodgy sites. The Thatcher Government had effectively stopped any research although local authorities were often trying to  draw up contaminated sites registers. (I remember looking at the LDDC's sites register in disbelief!!)

-  air quality was clearly a big issue. Some authorities - notably Greenwich and Southwark - were building extensive monitoring networks and encouraging research by their EHOs.   But remember there was no 'on line' then.

-  lead based air pollution was a big issue in parts of Tower Hamlets. By 1994 this was based around the Murdoch print works but in years before that all school children were blood tested around the Island Lead Works.

-  power stations and powered recycling plants were an issue with many planned. I remember a big conference about this in Dartford.  But my memory of dates is getting a bit hazy.

So - some you will remember this conference - and some of you were there. So please comment.

I think it is possible that a final page is missing.  This is entirely my fault as in 1994 I was responsible for putting the set of papers together!! (sorry!) 

So:-


POLLUTION, FROM LEGACY TO SUSTAINABILITY

CONFERENCE REVIEW


The pollution problems of East London will not be eradicated overnight. However, there is no doubt that this conference raised the profile of the stresses on East London's environment and the quality of life of its communities whilst providing a forum for discussion of the issues and prospective solutions.

The Conference held in mid-October on the 29th floor of Guy's Hospital Tower set an ambitious but realistic agenda with over fifty organisations directly participating through oral or written presentations. The involvement of statutory agencies, those in the business of government, community and environmental organisations acted as a timely reminder that the pollution issues of greatest concern have social, economic and environmental ramifications, the impact of which is common to us all.

The Conference's proceedings are currently being incorporated into a publication. In due course a synopsis of the pollution issues identified, their impact and identified realistic solutions will be presented at a Ministerial meeting. What follows is a short review of the salient issues discussed.

1.0 The Common Agenda

The Conference had a common agenda, the issues of which are complex and interlinked. To progress that agenda the Forum sought to establish consensus amongst an ever increasing number of stakeholders on what issues should be included, what action should be taken, by whom, and over what timescale. The outcome of this Conference must pass the test of realism, especially in political terms, as most of the issues we are concerned with are 90% politics and only 10% science and technology. The residual scientific and technological uncertainties will take a long time to resolve, so we must progress in the face of that uncertainty.

To wait for the resolution of all scientific and technological problems would almost certainly be counter productive. We must adopt a precautionary approach to all pollution issues which we do not fully understand.

2.0 Industrial Legacy

Like most major western cities, prevailing winds have always determined where 'bad neighbour industries' would be located. Being 'downwind', East London became the depository for large industry including the largest gasworks site in the world.

Given that the quality of land is intimately bound up with its past it should be of no surprise that land contamination in East London is widespread. However, before health and environmental concerns over contaminated land began to be reflected in new legislation, East London experienced tremendous pressure for land development, as a consequence of both the Government's commitment to preserving the Green Belt and regenerating Docklands.  Landowners and large industries were only too keen to exploit their resources in the boom years and unsurprisingly, a significant number of these sites were acquired and redeveloped, many for housing.

It is crucial that a full assessment of the significance of land contamination is carried out on existing or proposed development sites suspected of being contaminated. 

Where land contamination is identified, and where levels exceed the 'upper trigger concentrations', remedial action is required and should be undertaken immediately. 

Costs of remedial measures such as landfill could be anything up to £1 million to remove one metre of soil depth over 1 acre. Notwithstanding some legal recourse to the 'polluter pays principle' (notably statutory agencies taking remedial steps where pollution has already occurred and subsequently recovering the cost from those responsible), this can not successfully be achieved where those responsible have long 'disappeared' and where the current owner wasn't aware and has no money. This leaves the dilemma of who should pay, the tax-payer or the customer? If neither the tax-payer nor the customer pays then the local community continues to suffer.

Quite clearly reclamation costs prohibit development of many contaminated inner city sites and this is where the financial assistance of English Partnerships can be considered. English Partnerships (the Urban Regeneration Agency) currently has an initial budget of £250 million for regenerating areas of need in England, through reclamation and development of land, including the treatment of contaminated land. It is interesting to note that the sum for England is approxamately equivalent to the sum for Wales but half that for Scotland.

East London (Inner Thames Gateway) requires a comprehensive land contamination reclamation strategy and accordingly requires an English Partnership package that can call upon sufficient funds. 

2.1 Integrated Pollution Control

Many of the worst pollutants, those which can do most harm if mishandled or those hardest to dispose of safely, are industrial materials and by-products. Industrial processes with the greatest pollution potential come under Integrated Pollution Control (lPC) which is regulated by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMlP).

IPC is a medium and a legal basis which takes a holistic approach to ensure that any substances from industry which are released to the environment are directed to the medium to which they will cause the minimum damage be it to air, water or land .

Crucial to IPC is the principle that companies should use the 'best available techniques not entailing excessive cost' (BA TNEEC). The Chemical Industry (who are the highest spenders on pollution control equipment) foresee the time when the proactive state of today will become the statutory norm and the 'NEEC' of 'BA TNEEC' will become irrelevant. IPC embodies the precautionary principle and requires operators to use the BATNEEC to achieve the 'best practicable environmental option' (BPEO). Through IPC, HMIP regulates industrial releases through 'authorisations', industrial licences which permit operations of certain processes and their environmental consequence for a fee.

IPC was seen to be impeccable in theory but rather challenging in practice in so far as the regime will not be totally up and running until 1996 and has only had eight successful prosecutions since 1991, with five pending.

Prevention is better than cure and HMIP should have a greater obligation to press for the best technology of the today to be used to ensure that the environment of tomorrow is protected to the best of our ability. 

The Government should formulate and establish, as soon as possible, the promised UK Environmental Protection Agency. Without this body we will never have a true system of Integrated Pollution Control. 

2.2 The Printing Industry

Docklands has the largest concentration of newspaper printworks in Europe. Whilst many different pollutants are produced in the printing processes polluting air, land or water, the three major priority printing pollutants are:

- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in wash-up products (e.g, white spirit);
- screen printing reclamation products; and
- flexographic inks.

In particular, there is great international concern over VOCs for four reasons:

- some of them are toxic or carcinogenic;
- some of them contribute to stratospheric Ozone depletion;
- most of them make an indirect contribution to global warming;
- most of them contribute, in varying degrees, to the formation of ground level Ozone.

The UK (along with all other EU countries) is committed to a 30% reduction in VOCs
emissions between 1988 and 1999 and the printing industry is a major player.

VOC alternatives in wash-up have been on the market for almost a decade. In fact vegetable oils (Vas) have now been used in numerous countries including the US, Japan, Denmark and Germany for some time now. The 'Daily Express' printers in Manchester use mainly VOs for wash-up purposes which minimise the direct health risks to workers as well as reducing the contribution to ground level Ozone, global warming and the destruction of the Ozone layer. There should be no excuse why East London continues to be exposed to vac emmssions from the printwork industry when there are acceptable pollution free alternatives on the market.

Newspaper printworks in Docklands should immediately begin replacing their wash-up Volatile Organic Compounds with Vegetable Oils along the lines of the Daily Express works in Manchester. 

All major companies and organisations in East London (e.g, hospitals, educational establishments etc.) should be assisted by relevant authorities (DoE, HMIP, etc) to develop 'Life Cycle Analyses' of their goods and services in order to consider the localised and wider implications of their use of specific materials such as VOCs. 

2.3 Industry and Community

Quite clearly, industry cannot exist in isolation and community cannot ignore the need for industry and the economic wealth it can bring. There is irrevocable inter-dependence.

Companies in East London should follow the example set by Pura Foods, and formulate environmental policies which reflect their responsibilities to the environment and to society at large. 

3.0 Water Pollution

Water, necessary for life itself, is also a natural resource of environmental, economic and social importance. It therefore needs to be protected and managed. The driving force for monitoring, understanding and controlling water quality is a concern for both the environment and human health.

The National Rivers Authority (NRA) has the direct responsibility for maintaining the quality of water in both rivers and underground aquifers. To achieve this the NRA controls all discharges to watercourses by means of discharge consents. Conditions are attached to consents which relate to the volume and type of discharge and the quality standard of that discharge.

In London, natural climatic circumstances also generate pollution incidents. Notably at times of high rainfall the capacity of London's Victorian sewerage system becomes inadequate and the Thames receives a large polluting load from storm overflows as well as the discharge from sewage works on the river.

London requires its sewerage system to be upgraded to eliminate storm overflow problems (at current prices the cost is estimated at £0.5 billion). 

Despite the NRAs planning and pollution prevention work, the risk of pollution from both accidents and deliberate unconsented discharges is still phenomenally high and as a consequence water quality in many rivers has declined in recent years.

Although prosecutions are on the increase (over 400 in 1993/94), catching polluters and successfully prosecuting them is not always accomplished and when it is, fines are often too lenient.

The severity of pollution incidents must be reflected in fines. 

4.0 Air Quality

Air pollution is a non-specific term for a complex cocktail of chemicals produced directly by vehicles and industrial plants, 'primary pollutants', as well as those produced by the primary pollutants in combination with sunlight, 'secondary pollutants'.

The main air pollutants of concern in London include: Sulphur Dioxide; particulates; Carbon Monoxide; Nitrogen Oxides; VOCs; and photo-chemical smog (Ozone).

4.1 Air Quality Management

Local authorities have long recognised that they have an important part to play in improving air quality. With the demise of GLC support, research initiatives have became fragmented. However, an increasing number of authorities, with support from the ALA, LBA and SEIPH, are now striving to improve air quality in a more structured way by adopting a local air quality management system. The scheme is being implemented by the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) and contains three major components:

- monitoring;
- emission inventories;
- pollution dispersion modelling.

LAQN currently receives funding from the Regional Health Authorities. Its funding of £80,000 compares poorly with the £1.2 million available for Paris.

The London Air Quality Network is underfunded and requires greater commitment from Government. 

A sufficiently robust set of national air quality standards should be in place which should be enforceable at local levels. It should not be necessary for local authorities to set their own targets. 

5.0 Road Transport Toxic Emissions

Road transport is a substantial source of toxic emissions, some of which are major factors in local air pollution. In London, the contribution of road transport to total emissions is higher than the average for the UK as a whole, as this is largely due to the sheer concentration of road traffic.

The average Londoner breathes about 230 million litres of air during a life-time. It would be reckless to assume that such vast consumption of air could have no effect on our health!

There is definitive evidence that air pollution is associated with long term increases in mortality. Epidemiological studies have suggested, for example, that traffic pollution probably killed up to 160 Londoners in less than a week of foggy weather during December 1991 when cold static weather trapped air pollutants.

5.1 PM10 and particulates

Black smoke in London, which includes the smallest particles known as PM10 (those of less than 10 microns in diameter), can reach the deepest recesses of the lungs and is strongly associated with increased ill health and respiratory infections.

96% of black smoke is now derived from road traffic, with 80% of that being derived from diesel engines. For many years diesel was wrongly heralded as a 'green fuel' with the consequence that diesel engine vehicles have made a significant penetration into the UK market.

It is very difficult and expensive to eliminate or clean up PM10 particles from diesel exhausts. Any solution to eradicate the significant threats to London's air quality posed by PM10 will be dependent upon decreasing the attractiveness of cars, taxis, buses and lorries which run on diesel.

The Government should promote the use of alternative vehicle fuel. In London, taxis and buses are major PM10 polluters, but the technology enabling them to run on gas, for example as they do in Japan, which is infinitely safer for human health is available.

There should be discouragement of the use of diesel through legislation (it was totally wrongly heralded as a 'green fuel') and tighter VOC controls for petrol pumps and vehicles).

There should be financial incentives to persuade vehicle owners to have catalytic converters fitted where possible in order to remove primary pollutants. 

Diesel engines incompletely combust fuel, producing a combination of particulate matter and polynuclear aromatic carbons which are already acknowledged as carcinogenic. Measures to tackle diesel pollution lag well behind those already being introduced for petrol pollution. In London, for example, heavy goods vehicles produce the majority of airborne particulate matter, hence the pollution situation no doubt will be worsened by the recent announced demise of the London Lorry Ban.

The London Lorry ban should be reinstated. 

A wide variety of devices exist to trap PMIO. Diesel vehicles, especially lorries, should 
be fitted with them. 

5.2 Asthma in London

Asthma rates in East London are 80% above national rates, with Tower Hamlets having the single highest borough rates. Rates of asthma amongst children are particularly alarmingly with, for example 17% of all 8 year olds in Newham suffering from the illness. As only the most severe cases go to hospital current data only reflects the tip of the iceberg.

Data of respiratory problems, especially asthma, treated by GPs should be routinely available and monitored. 

More generally, asthma levels have significantly increased in the last fifteen years with the consequence that hospital admissions, consultations and prescriptions for anti-asthmatic drugs have more than doubled in that period. The estimated cost to the nation in 1994 has been calculated to be close to £1 billion.

Whilst some of this increase may be due to more accurate diagnoses of asthma there is now substantial evidence linking asthma with air pollution both at epidemiological and population
level. Air pollution also affects other vulnerable groups, such as those with chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the elderly, and the very young, including unborn children. The total number of Londoners in vulnerable groups at risk from air pollution exceeds one million.

There should be a recognised network promoting awareness and working to reduce environmental hazards. 

Guy's Hospital experienced a 1000% increase in admissions for bronchial and asthmatic complaints during the pollution episode of June 1994. This reinforces the fact that South East London can not afford to lose Guy's Accident and Emergency unit

The current Government plans to close Guy's Hospital should be scrapped and Guy's Hospital Campaign to establish an asthma centre should be given full Government support. 

5.3 Monitoring

Comprehensive air quality monitoring in London does not exist, as yet, exist. There are only three monitoring sites in London which meet EU standards

Little of the monitoring undertaken by local authorities, the Warren Springs Laboratory (recently liquidated by the DTI), and the DoE, little complies with EC directives because the range of sites they monitor are predominately 'urban background pollution' sites as opposed to 'canyon like streets' such as busy intersections.

The Government should ensure that existing monitoring sites should be upgraded wherever possible to conform to EU standards. 

That future monitoring equipment be located at sites that record the true values of  pollution (e.g. curbside locations). 

Failure to measure highest concentrations of pollutants at the roadside in London renders air quality data disjointed and incoherent which in turn reduces our understanding of how relatively short time exposure to high concentrations of 'pollution cocktails' provokes the deterioration in our health.

Air quality monitoring should be made a statutory requirement for local authorities. 

Clearly there is scope for further selective, properly targeted, DoE funded exercises in monitoring.

Further research is specifically required to assess the 'cocktail effect' on health.

The Government should assist in the setting up of a regional pollution monitoring network which will continuously monitor air pollutants and meterological conditions. This should require automatic data transfer from monitoring sites to council offices. 

Data is only worth collecting if London has a statutory authority/government mechanism in place to know what to do with them. Currently London has neither.

5.4 Recent East London Initiatives

Southwark's £250,000 European Life Project has secured a continuous curb side monitoring station and has pioneered the use of the 'Denver FEAT' system to identify passing vehicles causing gross pollution on the Old Kent Road. Through infra-red and computer technology Southwark has been able to identify approximately 25 'smog hogs' per hour, but require police cooperation to stop and inform.

Local authorities require the introduction of new powers to deal effectively with smoking vehicles on the road at a local level, without requiring the assistance of the police. 

Local authorities should have the power to issue fines (nationally set) and legally require the vehicle owner to have the vehicle checked at an MOT testing station. 

The London Boroughs of Greenwich and Tower Hamlets along with the South East Institute of Public Health are currently undertaking research to establish the influence of air pollution on the respiratory health of school children in the north and south Thames Region. Currently three schools in each Borough are involved, but the project can only last one year due to the insifficient funding.

The Government should closely monitor the progress of such research and ensure that additional funds are made available to enable it to continue. 

The Livesey, Southwark's children's museum has created and 'Air Aware' exhibition aimed at raising awareness amongst children. The exhibition takes an interactive look at air from an all encompassing viewpoint and embraces themes such as weather, wind energy, respiratory problems and air pollution.

User friendly exhibitions directed at children of school age are an important element in the education of the next generation. Such exhibitions should be funded by the Departments of Health, Education and Environment. 

The London Guildhall University has launched a new Environmental Centre for London to provide quality training and consultancy to business and industry in the areas of environmental management, environmental policy formulation and environmnetal enterprise.

5.5 Transport Energy

The London Energy Study (undertaken by LRC) has identified that in London 37% of all car journeys are under 2.2 miles, but use approximately 0.5% of the total energy used in the EC. Road transport consumes 26% of the total amount of energy used in London.

There should be positive encouragement of less environmentally damaging modes of transport which either make little demand on energy and do not pollute (walking and cycling) or make less demands on energy and pollute less (various forms of public transport). 

5.6 Pollution alerts and quality of information

When pollution is likely to reach dangerous levels, information should be passed on to local and national media in order that those vulnerable to pollution can receive clear advice about what they should do. The current freephone DOE air quality service (0800 ) does not provide an adequate user-friendly service.

Current DoE protocol of defining air quality as "very good", "good", "poor" or "very poor" is totally inadequate and does not reflect World Health Organisation graduation standards.

The DoE must re-evaluate their use of such crude definitions and favour more 'user- friendly' indexes with a greater number of gradations which are capable of clarifying pollution episodes to a greater extent. 

The main thrust of pollution alert advice should be directed at those causing the problem, not those suffering the consequences. 

There should be legal powers to control traffic during pollution episodes. 

The Departments of Health, Transport and the Environment should encourage the national media and local broadcasting systems (e.g, Cable TV) to carry regular reports on air quality . 

5.7 East London's Roads Jeopardy

Aside from vast tracts of contaminated land, East London suffers from 'motorway type' roads slicing through boroughs taking commuters daily to and from the City, leaving behind its noise and exhaust emissions.

The launch of the 'Thames Gateway' (formally the East Thames Corridor) initiative outlining the Government's commitment to economic regeneration coupled with environmental enhancement should be based on sustainable transport policies which favour developments such as the Woolwich Rail Crossing and relegate, for good, the unacceptable and unsustainable notion that East London requires further major road transport developments.

To guarantee a long-term improvement in East London's air quality it is vital that London develops and implements a rational coherent integrated public transport strategy. 

Encouraging more vehicles means more pollution, therefore all means available should be used to curb traffic growth in East London, if not decrease it.

There has to be a clear shift from the 'Roads Programme' towards the public transport programme. 

There should be clear legislative incentives to persuade motorists to avoid using their cars especially on pollution alert days. 

5.8 Heliport Threat

Helicopters are the noisiest form of transport known. Unlike fixed wing aircraft, helicopters are far more disruptive because of the long duration and type of sound they produce: a 'blade slap' sound which intensifies as the helicopter takes off and lands.

The current proposal for a floating 'aircraft carrier' on the Thames which could facilitate up to 22,000 helicopter movements p.a. should be vigorously opposed. Instead the River Thames should be promoted for river bus services. 

5.9 London's Public Transport
Much of London's public transport is old, in poor condition with declining standards. Through the spending of 50% more on trunk roads and motorways over the last eight years, the Government has continued to starve London's public transport of the money needed to improve services. Government expenditure on British Rail has been cut by 25% and spending on London Transport remains woefully inadequate.

This year: - investment in Network SouthEast will amount to an estimated £250 million, compared to
the £475 million needed;

Monday, 2 April 2018

The first Harbour Master's House


Harbour Master's House.

We all know the Harbour Master's House on Ballast Quay - it was part of a complicated network set up to try and regulate the huge numbers of coal ships from the north in the river in the 19th century.

It was a rebuild of an older Harbour Master's Office which was at 'Highbridge Place'.  I found a web site which says it became the Three Crowns Pub, which was alongside the Highbridge draw dock.

Does anyone know anything about this and if it is true??


Saturday, 31 March 2018

New book about Sir John Pender - The Cable King




HOW THE INTERNET WAS BORN ON THE 
GREENWICH PENINSULA


 Access to the World Wide Web is only possible due to a vast global network of subsea fibre optic cables carrying terabits of data under the oceans.  This unheralded technology did not grow up overnight, it was more than one hundred and sixty-five years in the making and the Greenwich Peninsula was the focal point of its development.One man did more than any other individual to develop a global communications network and that man was Scotsman Sir John Pender GCMG (1816-96).

John Pender made his first fortune in the calico printing industry in Manchester.His association with Greenwich began in 1857, when Glass, Elliot & Co acquired the Enderby Wharfsite from Messrs Enderby Brothers to armour half of the cable ordered by the Atlantic Telegraph Co.  At that time Pender was a   director and major shareholder in the Atlantic Telegraph Co but had little to do with the 1857 and 1858 attempts to lay a working cable across the Atlantic.

Oil painting of the SS Great Eastern  laying the 1865 cable
by Robert Dudley, presented to Telcon by the artist  and now
owned by ASN at Greenwich and on display in their  SS Great
Eastern conference room
After these failures it was Pender who, in 1864,put up a personal guarantee of £250k to persuade the directors of the Glass, Elliot and the Gutta Percha Co to merge their two companies to form the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co (Telcon).  Pender became its first Chairman and oversaw the successful laying of two cables across the Atlantic in 1866.  In 1868 he stood down as Chairman and was replaced by his close friend, Daniel Gooch, but retained his stock holding in the company.  Over the next 28 years he went on to build a global network of submarine telegraph cables that connected the United Kingdom to its colonies and beyond, through a series of operating companies, collectively known as The Eastern & Associated Telegraph Companies.  This company would later become Cable & Wireless.

Pender never gave up his stock holding in Telcon and, whenever his operating companies needed a new cable, it was invariably Telcon that was awarded the supply contract.  From its formation, through Pender’s patronage, Telcon went on to dominate the submarine cable supply industry for the next 100 years.  After John Pender’s death, two further generations of Penders were directors of Telcon until it merged with BICC in 1959.

Sepia wash water colour by Robert Dudley.  Pender seated in
the cable hut at Porthcurno, watching the first message sent
over his cable system to India in 1870.
From 1876 John Pender leased the Palladian mansion of Foots Cray Place from the Vansittart family, as his summer residence.  He died there on 7 July 1896 and is buried in the family tomb in the graveyard of All Saints Church.  The family tomb is marked by a five metres high Celtic cross, which is the only memorial to his memory accessible to the public.

Despite his outstanding achievements, very few people have heard of him or understand the debt we owe to him for the legacy that he has left us.  Now there is a biography of this great man, written with the benefit of access to the Pender family archive.  It is available from Amazon as an e book https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D341689031&field-keywords=The+Cable+King

hard copy with either black & white or full colour illustrations:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Cable+King


Marble bust of Sir John Pender by Edward Onslow Ford 1897 commissioned by the Sir John Pender Memorial Committee. From 1902 it was on public display at University College London, outside the newly opened  Pender Laboratory.  It remained there for over 100 years but has now been returned to the Pender family





The cover notes have been written by Bill Burns, one of the world’s leading experts of the history of the submarine cable industry.  They are repeated below: ‘John Pender was a key figure in one of the 19th century’s most important technological enterprises: the interconnection of the British Empire through undersea telegraph cables, a network that Tom Standage has called the Victorian Internet. Pender exemplified the best that the 19th century could produce, he was a hard-working businessman with concern for the welfare of his staff, and who sought public office to speak for Manchester merchants and Lancashire cotton workers during the Cotton Famine. Always a forward thinker, he saw that telecommunications was destined to be the great development of the second half of the 19th century.

Miniature of John Pender in 1866
Pender suffered personal tragedy when his first wife died just thirteen months after their marriage, leaving him with an infant son. His second marriage ten years later to the determined and enterprising Emma Denison was a turning point both for his family and the Empire. The electric telegraph caught his interest, and his promotion and organization of the companies that laid the first Atlantic cable were a significant factor in their eventual success. In 1869 he established the first of many cable companies which before his death connected Great Britain to all parts of its Empire and beyond. Awarded many high honours from foreign governments, he was finally knighted by Queen Victoria in 1888.

John Pender kept his personal life private and this perhaps explains why there has not been a biography of him before now. The Pender family granted Stewart Ash unrestricted access to the family archives, and this book gives us a detailed account of John Pender’s ascent from his humble beginnings in Scotland. A truly remarkable man, he made his first fortune in the cotton trade, then dedicated his life to the development of the undersea cable industry and its rise to pre-eminence, becoming a Member of Parliament in successive governments in furtherance of his dreams.


The Sir John Pender Memorial in All Saints
Churchyard, Foots Cray, Kent
















Friday, 30 March 2018

Neil Cossons lecture, Chatham Dockyarf

Remains of a Revolution – Presented by Sir Neil Cossons OBE FSA (Wednesday 11th April 2018)

In the eighteenth century, Britain was widely recognised as the first industrial nation.  In the nineteenth as ‘workshop of the world’.  What we now call the Industrial Revolution defined this momentous episode in the nation’s history and the dramatic changes in society and the landscape that ensued, not only in Britain herself but across the globe.  And, of the great industrial endeavours that distinguished this revolution the Royal Dockyards were the world’s largest.  Chatham was one of these.

In this lecture, Sir Neil Cossons considers the legitimacy of these revolutionary assertions, explores the surviving evidence and addresses the conservation challenges it presents.  As a former Director of London’s Science Museum, and Chairman of English Heritage he draws on a wide palette of international examples to demonstrate how for some a future has been assured, for others their legacy will be little more than a footnote to history.

This lecture begins at 7:00pm and will be hosted at the Royal Dockyard Church.
The lecture is FREE to attend and places can be booked via our website:
Sir Neil Cossons is sure to be an excellent speaker, providing some unique insights into The Historic Dockyard as well as comparisons to other industrial heritage sites.  Places at this event are strictly limited so make sure you book early to ensure your place!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

PLEASE NOTE

The speaker from the PLA for next week's meeting is now unable to do the talk.

Hoping to get a replacement - watch this space

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

John Humpheries House

John Humpheries House and Leo Computer Centre

by Harry Pearman


John Humphries House in Stockwell Street was the first purpose-built computer centre in Greenwich and the site of a remarkable initiative by local government.

An early UK computer with an electronic stored memory was the EDSAC  machine developed at Cambridge University in 1949. I caught the attention of J. Lyons & Co., who were the managers of a highly successful teashop chain.   They were also innovators of management systems and found that the paperwork of stock control in all of their branches greatly inhibited efficiency. Lyons therefore set about building the first UK computer for business use. It was dubbed the LEO 1 machine; LEO standing for Lyons Electronic Office. It utilised mercury delay lines for memory storage, and ran the world's first regular office job for stock control in 1951. An offshoot company, LEO Computers Ltd., was formed in 1954 to market the technology and LE02 machines were installed in many British offices, including Ford Motor Company, British Oxygen Company and the Ministry of Pensions at Newcastle.

This success led to the invention of the LE03 machine. This machine used panels of magnetic washers to store programs and data. Memory size was limited, and programmers had to show great ingenuity in the direct manipulation of memory in order to contain data. Files were stored on magnetic tape reels and data was entered by completing batches of forms, which were punched onto paper tape. Programs were written in a wholly numeric language called Intercede, and the primitive operating system required a great deal of operator intervention. LEO'S principal benefit was the ability to print forms and tabulations at speeds of up to 1,000 lines a minute.

In 1960 these innovations caught the attention of a Greenwich Councillor named John Humphries.   He was instrumental in the creation of a Joint Committee formed from the then Metropolitan Boroughs of Greenwich, Woolwich, Deptford, Southwark, Bermondsey and Camberwell, and this in turn set about the creation of a computer centre, with the result that John Humphries house was built and officially opened. The development of systems was placed in the hands of the Metropolitan Boroughs Organisation & Methods Committee, another Joint Organisation serving the needs of 28 Metropolitan Boroughs and managed by John Dive. They created a computer division and it was based at John Humphries The first application was Rate Accounting and this was followed by Payroll, General Ledger Accounting, Job Costing, Stock Control, Creditor Payments, Miscellaneous Debtors, Transport, Housing Rents, Electoral Registration, Library Cataloguing and Land Use Registration. Subsequently The Forest and Bexley Hospitals and the Bloodstock Agency also used the services of the site.


A major change took place in 1965 when London Government was re-organised and the centre then serviced the data processing needs of the London Boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich and Southwark. As computing developed it became financially viable for each local authority to create its own computer installation. The need for a joint installation ceased and the use of John Humphries House was discontinued, LEO Computers Ltd merged with the computer interests of English Electric in 1963 to form English Electric LEO, and later, English Electric Leo Marconi (EELM). Subsequent mergers eventually found LEO incorporated into SCL in 1968. And the ICL machine range took over new production.

Friday, 9 February 2018

The Ghost in the Dome

You see this all goes back to at least 1998 and maybe further back.

I had done this M.Phil at the Poly in the early 1980s and it was about George Livesey who was the big man in the late 19th century gas  industry.  He had built East Greenwich Gas Works  and I rather thought - as the Millennium neared - well this was my big chance!

I was also researching the history of the peninsula and for a long time I had been going down there and climbing through hedges and finding things (I was younger then), chatting up security men and so on.  I got to know Kay Murch who was the last gas works employee on the site and by then she was site manager for the New Millennium Experience Company.  Kay was a local lady, who had started in the gas works as a typist, and she was all right.

So - its 1998 - one morning I open the Guardian and there is a big three page spread about the Dome, and Kay had taken a group of press men round the site. She had been asked about stories of a ghost - oh, yes, she had said - its George Livesey who built the gas works, Mary Mills knows all about it.'   There it was, in print.

So - next evening there I was on ITV - at what was then the Livesey Museum in the Old Kent Road. Telling the world about George.

And then I sort of forgot about it. But then once the Dome was opened in 2000 I got a call from their press officer - who I knew anyway. And down I went for an interview with Psychic News and Fortean Times.  'Tell us' they said 'did Mr. Livesey have any hobbies'.  'Oh yes, he liked to go to the seaside' .  'Oh' says the press officer 'there is a seaside zone in the Dome ... and its on the site of the old gas company office block'.  Ah ha.  

Next thing I was on the John Dunn show going down the river on Viceroy and telling them all about Livesey live on air - except when I mentioned Blur and Park Life in Riverway (they put music over that bit and told me off - the John Dunn show never had music recorded after 1970).   

Anyway it all pops up from time to time in ghost hunting journals. Personally I think Livesey was a committed Christian, rational and very very bright and would have had no truck with becoming a ghost.

BUT some years later I met some bloke who said to me that he was the ghost in the Dome.  He said that in the Second World War he was fire watching down in the gas company offices. He was tired so he wrapped himself up in a sheet and went to sleep on the comfy deep pile carpet in the director's offices. Then clank clank there is the cleaner in the morning, so he stood up, wrapped  in a sheet ............................ so you see that's how stories start.

Mary

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

News


Sorry - that  it has been so long since this blog appeared. It has  been a very very slow month for information coming in and newsletters only started arriving this week. There is a lot going on in the wider world of industrial Greenwich histiory - but not very much we can report on.

The gas holder.   As people will be aware from the local press, following the issue of an Immunity from Listing order by the Department of the Environment,  the Council was asked to agree plans to demolish it.  These were refused by the Council - we understand at officer level - and also we understand discussions are going on about its future. But we do not know any more than that.  
Enderby Group and Enderby House.   Things go apace on the Enderby site with the new housing filling up and an active bunch of new residents (see their Facebook page).  With Enderby House the Group has met the Greenwich Conservation Officer with reference to remediation work there.  We understand she, and someone from Historic England and been to inspect and are now passing on their thoughts to Barratts.  We await more information. As people will be aware part of the site has now been sold but we do not know who to. The sales office has now been demolished which means that work on the Riverside path will start in two phases and would take some time - meaning more closures and the future is still very unclear
The Group has also met with Barratts and the Council about a new sculpture to go on the riverside at Enderby Wharf.  We have been asked not to give details but we were very very impressed and like what is being put forward a lot.
Atlas and Derrick Gardens. The council is considering conservation area status for Atlas and Derrick Gardens in Anchor and Hope Lane. The consultation is now closed and and we await results Atlas and Derrick Gardens were built by Corys in the 19th century to house workers from their coal transhipment site in the River - called Atlas
Siemens. The Government has also issued an Immunity from Listing order on some of the old Siemens buildings in Bowater Road  Again we do not know the current position but there is a great deal of opposition to this both from the Council, the Siemens Engineering Society and a number of important historians who have worked on these Woolwich sites.
White Hart. We understand that the Council is intending to refurbish the old White Hart 'power station' depot building for community use. It has been in use by Crossrail for the past two or three years - so let's see what happens and what the plans are.
Hopefully more information about all of these will be available soon

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We are sorry to hear of the death of Greenwich historian, Beryl Platts. Beryl was not an industrial historian but she always had something interesting to say in her work on central Greenwich and the Crooms Hill area of which she had a vast store of knowledge. Condolences to her family - and her daughter Elizabeth, a distinguished archaeologist and member of the Enderby Group
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Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter
The Antiquarians current newsletter gives details of a talk by iim Marrett on buildings in Woolwich with some interesting personal details. He described how he had a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee mug with a picture of the Arsenal main gate on it and the date '1977'.   The society hopes to have installed plaque to the memory of the people who worked in the Arsenal in 1917 including Lilian Barker who was superintendent for the women workers including those in danger buildings.  He said that a monument in Plumstead cemetery commemorates 16 people killed in the Arsenal in a guncotton and Lydditte explosion in 1903.  
He also talked about the Bull Pub on Shooters Hill saying that the arms of William and Mary which were once in its tap room are now in the Courage headquarters.  He also said that the Parish boundary stone of  1812 is in his back garden
Woolwich walk  - Wonderful Woolwich
We have been told about a  series of walks arranged by the London Metropolitan Archive which includes Wonderful Woolwich on 14th March.  Tickets available through Eventbrite but we have no further details
Enderby wharf advertising for homes – we spotted the following information given on the Barratt website advertising homes on the wharf:
"The development was named after Samuel Enderby, a maritime entrepreneur and explorer who founded a shipping company in the 18th century.
His residence, Enderby House, a listed building, now forms part of the new development"
We asked the Enderby Group's Stewart Ash what he thought about this. And he says:
The development may have been named after Samuel Enderby (senior or junior) they don’t say, but that is not where the site or the house got their names from, and neither Samuel ever lived there.  Both were dead before the site was acquired!  The site gets its name from the Enderby Hemp & Rope Works, established by Messrs Enderby Brothers (Charles George & Henry) in 1830, the year after Samuel Jnr died.  Charles, George and Henry were Samuel Jnr’s sons.   Charles Enderby, member of the Royal Society for the Arts and founder member of the Geographical Society had the house built in 1845-46 and lived there from April 1846 to August 1849.
So - please Barrett’s talk to us and we will help you get the information right next time you put advertisements out.  Happy to help!
Historic England 
We have a note from Mark Stevenson at Historic England to say that archaeological work on Phase 9 Woolwich Riverside will start soon, He has sent us a document about the site and we’re happy to forward that to anybody if they get in touch
Mark also sent us details of archaeological work for the Valley House scheme area, But no more details than that work will start soon.
GLIAS Newsletter February 2018
They advertise
20th February talk on "Iron men - 19th century engineer Henry Maudslay and his circle."  People will be aware that the start of Maudslays career in Woolwich and that there is a stained glass window of him in Woolwich Town hall - so everybody should go to this 
21st March. James Brindley in London and his plans for the Thames
18 April. London’s Underground Edwardian tile patterns and some their context
16th May. AGM  Talk about the Post Office Museum and Railway
These talks are all at 75 Cowcross Street EC1M 6EL at 6.30
GLIAS also advertise
11th April.  John Pender. The Cable King. this is a talk for elite Newcomen Society by the Enderby Group's Stewart Ash. It is at 5.45 pm at the Dana Studio, Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queen’s Gate,  SW7 5HD.  details www.newcomen.com 
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A memorial service for Dr. Denis Smith will be held on the 9th June at Thaxted  Parish Church at 14.30
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We are sorry to learn from Lewisham Local History Society of the recent death of Gordon Dennington. Gordon  edited their  Newsletter for 15 years and also came to talk to us in Greenwich on a couple of occasions. He will be missed.
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Bromley Borough Local History Society
We understand that on the 6th of March they have a talk the Lubbock family. This distinguished family had a role in Greenwich as successive family members chaired Morden College. the talk is 7. 45 at Trinity United Reformed Church. Freelands Road, Bromley 
Ordnance Jetty
We note that local wildlife enthusiasts as well as the 853 blog are concerned about plans by the 02 Hotel Intercontinental and their plans to convert the  disused Ordnance Jetty into a restaurant for  river buses and hotel vistitors. Details on 853 blog.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Copperas in Greenwich and Deptford Part 4, The Final Years

Part 4

COPPERAS IN DEPTFORD AND GREENWICH – THE FINAL YEARS


Elizabeth Pearson was the daughter of Charles Pearson, who owned copperas works up and down the Thames and Medway estuaries.  In the early nineteenth century, she kept a diary.  The first part of the diary runs from 1796 to 1804 when Elizabeth was in her early twenties, but, following a gap of sixteen years she took it up again in 1820.  Elizabeth's time was divided between three homes – the family haberdashery business in the City of London, the 'Castle' at Tankerton near the copperas works, and 'Ravensbourne House' in Greenwich.  Since this narrative is about the copperas industry in Greenwich and Deptford then what Elizabeth had to say about her life in Greenwich is very relevant.  At the same time the copperas industry itself was beginning to change and the 1820s was a period in which Charles Pearson himself, and his son, began to try new outlets and ideas.

By 1820 travel between Greenwich and the Kent coast had suddenly become interesting and easy.  No more of the 'nine hours in a post chaise' which the family had endured previously.  One of Elizabeth's earliest diary entries in the 1820s is with the news that 'brother has come from Ramsgate.. in the Favourite Steam yacht' and a month or so later Elizabeth herself 'returned home by the London Engineer Steam Yacht .. had a delightful voyage.. brother returned home by the Majestic Steam Yacht'. 

Steam boat services on the river had revolutionised life for many travellers, but the Pearsons with their regular journeys between Tankerton and Greenwich must have been particularly grateful.  The time keeping and speed with which these vessels accomplished a hitherto uncertain voyage was revolutionary - a traveller of 1825 noted in the Maidstone Journal that 'Captain Rule of the Eclipse Steam Packet … told many of his passengers within two minutes of the time he should arrive at his destination..'

'Favourite' was originally owned in 1817 Gravesend Steam Packet Company to operate between London, Gravesend and Sheerness.  She had been built in Blackfriars by Lafort and Sons, was 160 tons with engines by Boulton and Watt. In 1820 she was taken over by the Margate Steam Packet Company in 1820 and run until 1828. 

'London Engineer' was, if anything, more famous.  She was built by Daniel Brent of Rotherhithe and said to 'mark the first major departure from the basic design'.  She was 120 ft long with a wooden hull and a draught of 5ft.  Her engines were by Maudslay Son and Field and she had paddle wheels built to a special and novel arrangement.  Elizabeth would have sat in her comfortable saloon with its upholstered settees rather than the aft cabin with wooden benches. 

I know nothing about  'Majestic' but the family also travelled by 'Eclipse' steam packet, one of the earliest such boats run by the Margate Steam Packet Co. from 1816. 

Steam was changing the lives of everybody – and the steam packets were not only for well off people like the Pearsons.  Perhaps the last word on the atmosphere around them is best described by Robert Surtees on the occasion Mr. Jorrocks left Margate in a hoy without his trousers. Passengers at Margate jostle for the rival charms of 'Royal Adelaide, fast and splendid' and 'splendid and superb Magnet'…  everyone furiously betting on which will reach the Tower first  'for the Monday steamboat race is as great an event as the Derby'.  Once out at sea 'both firemen … boil up a tremendous gallop'….until 'Royal Adelaide manages to shoot ahead for a few minutes amid the cheers and exclamations of her crew' but 'the stiller waters of the Thames favours the Magnet and she shoots ahead….'    Was this really the atmosphere for a polite middle aged lady like Elizabeth Pearson?


In Greenwich Elizabeth had developed a local friendship with the Millington family, visiting frequently and involving herself in a number of tragedies which befell them.  The Millingtons lived in a vast and opulent Jacobean house which stood on the Greenwich riverside on the roughly the present site of the Greenwich Power Station.  This house had been built by a Gregory Clement in the seventeenth century and later bought by Ambrose Crowley.  Crowley had a large ironworks at Winlaton on the Tyne and in 1703 set up a warehouse on the Greenwich riverside – where, since the area became known as Anchor Iron Wharf, it is assumed anchors were on the main branches of his trade along with 'hatchets, iron chains, chaffing dishes, hammers, hoes', and so on and including a line in shackles for the slave trade.

By the mid-eighteenth century, the Crowley family were no longer active in the business and in 1782 an Isiah Millington, had become a partner.  Millington and his family lived at Crowley House in Greenwich and became friends of the Pearsons.  Mrs. Walsh, a descendent of the Pearsons and owner of the diary, has said in her paper on the family that Charles Pearson may originally have become interested in copperas through a relationship with Isiah Millington at City Company dinners at the George and Vulture in Fleet Street.  Be that as it may the Millington family and their industrial interests in Greenwich might be the subject of a future article, since it is their relationships with the Pearson's which is of interest here.


Mrs. Walsh also suggested that the iron necessary for copperas manufacture might have come from the Millington Iron Works – and this is perfectly possible since any scrap iron would have been suitable.  I do not think that the Millingtons had an ironworks in Greenwich adjacent to the copperas works on Creekside. The indications are that they continued with the warehousing business at Anchor Iron Wharf while also branching out into other business activities in the area. 

Elizabeth Pearson often recorded visits to the Millington family – sometimes with her sister Amelia, and with other friends, like the Mr. & Mrs. Morris she mentions in November 1820.  In May 1821 she noted the sudden, and apparently scandalous death, of John Millington 'in lodgings at Sydenham … he returned from America … leaving his wife, his child is dead … his death can be considered a benefit to his family'.  What scandal is hidden there I do not know – since I have been unable to unearth anything about John Millington, except that he is not the scientist of the same name, who also went to America in this period.

In November of the same year Elizabeth recorded the death of old Mrs. Millington at Crowley house 'in her 89th year and confined to her room two years and five months'.  Mrs. Millington had been a close friend of Elizabeth's own mother and she remembered her dearly as she saw ' our dear mother's kind old friend in her coffin'.  Mrs. Millington's son, Crowley Millington, had been away at the time of his mother's death but on his return Crowley House once more became a lively riverside home – and Elizabeth records how her sister Amelia went there regularly for music lessons.

Since her mother's death Elizabeth had acquired more domestic responsibilities.  She records a visit to Woolwich in search of a servant, and again to discuss arrangements for her new employee.  Still her evenings and many days were spent in domestic work 'cutting out new shirts' but with some opportunities for more intellectual pastimes 'writing extracts from Bishop Hershey's sermons on the Sabbath'.

When she was in her early twenties Elizabeth had recorded the birth and subsequent noisy behaviour of young Tom Tilson – a child of one of her fathers' associates.  Tom was now grown and setting out on what was to become a successful legal career.  In 1820 Elizabeth went to see him 'sworn in' and later visited the Tilson family's new house at Brixton Hill.

Much of Elizabeth's life in Greenwich, and indeed in Tankerton, had little to do with the copperas works, which provided the income for her standard of living.  In September 1820 she records a visit to the Tankerton works and again in 1821 'we all walked to the Deptford Works' but most of she records some of father and brothers' business activities and they slowly reveal a move away from the manufacture of copperas alone and towards other industries.

In 1822 she recorded that 'an accident at the gas works' had kept her brother in town.  This accident appears to be unrecorded and unknown but it is in indication of the interest in the gas industry which Charles Pearson Jnr was beginning to take.  There are a number of records about this interest from the gas industry itself – but it is not always easy to distinguish between 'Charles Pearson' father or son in what is recorded, and there is also some confusion with another and different Charles Pearson who was the City of London solicitor and who also had an interest in the early gas industry. 

Charles Pearson is recorded as one of the earliest movers of the South London Gas Company, based in Bankside in the early 1820s, he was fact elected as their first auditor.  Thomas Tilson was also a member of their first board. The company had been started by a Mr. Munro and Elizabeth Pearson records that 'brother dines at Mr.Munro's in Nelson Square' in 1822.  As I have recorded in other articles about the Greenwich Gas Industry the South London Gas Company soon became the Phoenix Gas Company and began to build a works in Greenwich on the banks of the Ravensbourne – somewhat to the north of the copperas works. 

Soon the Greenwich vestry was also embroiled in a legal battle between rival companies.  In the records are thanks given to 'Mr.Pearson for his conduct in defence of Mr.Hammond' and 'Mr.Pearson' appears to represent the Greenwich vestry in negotiations with the gas company.  This might be a totally different Mr. Pearson – it seems unlikely that Charles Pearson Jnr or Snr would negotiate for the vestry in this way – however it might be noted that a still younger Charles Pearson was to embark on a legal career and eventually became a solicitor in Gravesend.  This was Charles Hill Pearson who, at fifteen in 1824 would have been too young to be the person referred to.  Once the Greenwich Works was built then the gas mains were taken through the copperas works site. 

By the early 1830s, the copperas industry was beginning to falter, overtaken by new ways of making both sulphuric acid and dyes.  Pearson was to try and diversify into a wider field in the chemical industry.  In 1833 he approached the central London based Gas Light and Coke Company with an offer on 'sal ammoniac and Prussian Blue' and later asked the prices of the gas industry waste 'ammoniacal liquor' from the north London based Imperial Gas Company.  He was sufficiently price conscious to complain about the price and the quality and was told sharply to 'try at the other works'. 

As late as 1835 it was revealed that the staircase of his Greenwich house had been treated with Mr.Kyan's very poisonous sublimate solution as an attempt to demonstrate a new method of wood preservation.  He was also clearly involved with some newcomers to Deptford –Messrs. Beneke who had come from Germany to try new ways of chemical manufacture.  Pearson was to help pay their bills with some of the London Gas Companies during 1833.

'Old' Charles Pearson died in 1828 leaving £27,000 to his children – his final days seem to have been spent in Greenwich in a new house in Maze Hill.  We know no more of what happened to Elizabeth but she would have become a wealthy woman under her fathers' will.  Young Charles set about spending the money he had been left – among other things he invested in the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway and the 'Pearson Arms' can still be found on the Whitstable seafront.  He was to die in 1870 at his daughters' home in Bloomsbury.

The Greenwich works seems to have stopped production in the 1830s but it is quite clear that chemical works continued to flourish on Deptford Creek through a number of successors – like Beneke – with whom Charles Pearson had been involved.  At around the same time a vitriol works is recorded elsewhere in Greenwich, on the Peninsula, now owned by Lewis Price and Co. it could once have been Moore's copperas works almost adjacent to a number of enterprises belonging to the Millingtons. 

By the 1840s the Greenwich works on Deptford Creek was in the hands of the 'Union Joint Stock Banking Company of Coventry' – they sound very like liquidators to me!


Sources
I would like to thank Mrs. Walsh, who originally introduced me to Elizabeth Pearson's Diary, and also Geoffrey Pike who has been kind enough to send me some photocopied extracts. Other material from archive material in the LMA and some published works including 'Royal River Highway' by Frank Dix and, of course, R.S.Surtees 'Jorrock's Jaunts and Jollities'.   I do not know the current whereabouts of any of the diary except for extracts I have in notes - enquiries at Whitstable Museum have got nowhere, and I have lost touch with Mrs. Walsh

And thanks to the inimitable Julian Watson who saw me all through these articles in 17 years ago!! and was the first person to like and share the first posting of these four articles earlier this evening.

All of them have been re-edited but the main substance appeared in Bygone Kent Vol 22.