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Notes and news — June 1978

In this issue:


More than seventy members attended the AGM on April 29 at the Museum of London, an unusually large turnout for any society which must, at least in part, be due to our guest speaker Dr. R.A. Buchanan. We were not disappointed: in an interesting talk on 'The Progress of Industrial Archaeology', Dr. Buchanan reviewed the setting up of national bodies like the A.I.A. and the influence such institutions are beginning to have in industrial preservation. Now, Dr. Buchanan considered, was the time for industrial archaeologists to strengthen their subjects' intellectual links and begin to interpret their findings more carefully; he illustrated this with some interesting slides of West Country sites studied by his own society, the Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society.

In our ninth AGM that preceded the lecture, Treasurer Danny Hayton presented the accounts which showed that in 1977/8 we had a surplus of £518, plus a stock of publications to the value of £280, despite the purchase of some display stands (that were already proving their usefulness at the meeting). Membership and most costs had remained constant over the year, whilst sales of publications at events had increased from £105 to £200. Adrian Tayler gave further details of the sale of publications and explained that he was now also selling outside publications for the profit of the Society and as a service to members and that they seemed to be popular. Robert Vickers reviewed the work of the Recording Group which had included the RIMLI depot and piano factories in Camden. A resolution was put to the meeting that GLIAS should commence publication of a journal (GLIAS Newsletter February 1978) and, after Brenda Sowan (who has agreed to be Editor) had explained that although likely to use up our surplus funds — at about £500 for an issue of 750 copies — it could be of great advantage to the Society, was unanimously accepted. Denis Smith said that as the Society entered its tenth year it was becoming well known and highly thought of in London, with recent publicity in the Evening Standard and on L.B.C.; our Chairman also thanked all the members who had put in work for the Society in the past year. Dave Perrett outlined plans for the 10th anniversary exhibition to be held in the Museum of London from November to January 1979 which was being designed by Elizabeth Wood. Derek Bayliss described the DoE's refusal to list the Croydon airport building and asked that GLIAS should write in protest; it was unanimously agreed that this should be done.

The following are the officers and committee appointed for 1978/9:

Co-opted to Executive Committee:

Other GLIAS Representatives:

It's not all bad news from Croydon

Derek Bayliss writes that the DoE has listed Cooper's Steam Boot Factory (which yours truly first read as steam boat factory — well, wasn't Croydon on a canal!) at 4 South End, Croydon (grid reference TQ 324 648) after representations by the Croydon Society, supported by GLIAS. Cooper & Sons were Croydon's largest industrial employer from about 1870 until they moved to Nottingham in 1894. Their success was largely based on the sale of boots to agricultural labourers on the instalment plan, which they pioneered. The factory was built in the 1860s and 70s. Its elaborate brick façade is a well-known local landmark and an interesting example of the ambitious styles favoured by some manufacturers in the period. From 1894 until recent years it was used as a furniture depository. For some years now it has belonged to the owners of the adjoining garage and has been empty. A proposal to use it as an antiques supermarket and occasional suggestions that it might house the proposed Croydon Museum (which has still not materialised) have come to nothing. For the last three years it has been up for sale for a six-figure sum, without any takers. The owners recently put in a planning application to demolish it and build shops, offices and flats on the site. GLIAS and others had already proposed that it should be listed and this application prompted a successful attempt to have it 'spot-listed'.

For the record

Practical IA — both site and research work — is a major function of GLIAS. Members who are able to help, especially assisting with typing, are urged to contact David Thomas, Recording Group Secretary, at 4 Heyford Avenue, London SW8 USD (735 21J2 home). Newcomers are always welcome at the site or library, dates in the Diary. Meanwhile, below are two examples of members' work........

Rapid Wire, by John Liffen, George Steer & Sons, Ltd, of Willesden Green, closed on 25th March. This was the last but one London shop using Lamson's 'Rapid Wire' cash carrier system. By this a capsule containing cash and sale details could be despatched to a central cashier's desk, receipts and change being returned. These systems (there were several patents) were developed, in the 1880s and '90s, but changes in selling methods, particularly self-service, have caused its demise. London's last system is at W.H. Smith, outfitters, of Tooting Bec (3 wires), plus a section on display in the Museum of London. (The 10 wire installation of H. Sweet at Maryland, Stratford, closed in 1916.) Other examples continue at Kerrs, drapers, in Dartford and Anscombe's, Harpenden (7 wires).


Maunder's Bakery, 1 Market Bromley. Surveyed in 1977 by GLIAS members of the Goldsmiths' College IA Group. Drawing by K. Catford.

Drawing by K. Catford

These premises were in use for baking from 1775 until 1977 for the last 108 years by the firm W Maunder. The bakery was behind the shop, being joined to it by a passageway. Two coal-fired cast-iron fronted ovens of about 1850 were used; some sections of these have been secured by the Museum of London.

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© GLIAS, 1978