Notes and news — August 1978
In this issue:
- Tottenham Pudding — a recipe
- Brunel Project to go forward
- Mills to visit
- Twentieth Century I.A. — A Museum of Broadcasting
- Anyone Seen a Ruddy Great Bird With 10,000 Copper Feathers?
- "I Know, 'Cos I Was There"
- For The Record
- The Waterside Building of Clink Wharf, Clink Street, Southwark SE1
T.I.C.C.I.M, the Third International Conference on the Conservation of Industrial Monuments, was held in Sweden between 30 May and 5 June 1978. The large attendance (130 from 18 countries, including 17 from the U.K.) was about double that for the Second ICCIM in West Germany three years ago. This is probably due in part to growing international activity in the subject, but also reflects the magnificent publicity and organisation arranged by the Swedish Conference Secretariat, whose inspired choice of a tiny lakeside village as the Conference centre (Grangärde, about 200km from Stockholm) was rewarded by a scorchingly hot week, with temperatures in the low 80s. (An informal resolution to abandon the week's business for the lure of sunbathing was never put to a vote, to the relief of my conscience!)
The first session was held at Stockholm's Industrihuset, home of the Swedish Federation of Industries. Welcoming addresses and scene setting introductions to Sweden's industrial heritage included a greeting delivered by the Swedish Minister of Education and a provocative speech from Birger Wiklund of the Swedish Metal Workers Union. His argument that the efforts of the working man must not be ignored was echoed and debated many times during the Conference and quite rightly so, in my view. In the afternoon, I joined a party visiting the now-empty Munchen brewery, which stands on the waterside facing Stockholm's elegant City Hall, where a reception was held that evening. The brewery's future — demolition or re-use — has aroused a debate which has allegedly led to violence! A competition inviting plans for its future has been announced by the city, which now owns this fine group of brick buildings erected in the 1890s and 1900s. It will be an important test case for the renovation of a really large industrial complex, whose relevance we can see in the UK.
The next two days were occupied by a coach trip to the Conference centre. En route we saw a former rifle works at Eskilstuna, now a museum of technology (and described by one irreverent Englishman as a 'mechanical zoo') and were introduced to the Swedish 'bruk'. The word is untranslatable, but defines a rural community relying on both industry and agriculture for its existence. It was magnificently exemplified at Pershyttan, where a charcoal blast furnace operated until 1953. (Charcoal as a fuel remained very late in Sweden, where timber is abundant, but coal scarce.) The furnace is well preserved — complete with dirt! — and stands in the middle of a still-lively village, where can be seen iron-masters' and workers' houses, school and poor-house.
The working part of the Conference occupied three days. Each delegate was invited to attend two groups, one dealing with techniques of recording/conservation/re-use, the other on specific industrial themes. Small groups discussed their own experience, exchanged national information and drafted a short report for presentation. This format worked extremely well, as everyone could contribute. (Could we try this approach for a GLIAS-organised conference in London?) The two groups I attended, on adaptive re-use and working class housing, served to show that every country has the same problems and often the same sort of monuments! A superb presentation of the working class housing in Milan, for instance, could have applied to London with only the architectural detailing changed to local style.
This theme of "universality" of industrial experience was so widely sensed that it undoubtedly helped in the closing discussions on the formation of an International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage, which was emphatically supported by those present. A first committee was established with Professor John Harris of Birmingham University as UK representative. It hopes to become affiliated under UNESCO.
This report is already too long, but I cannot end without saying how exhilarating it was to be among others from many countries and to share a near-unanimous approach to the theme of industrial conservation. We can no longer — if ever we should have — see Britain as having "cornered the market" in I.A. For me, that is a stimulus and no deterrent! Michael Bussell
Tottenham Pudding — a recipe
Some time ago we asked if any member had information on Tottenham Pudding (GLIAS Newsletter August 1977). The following notes were taken by Malcolm Osmundson from Wembley Council Minutes:
"Due to shortage of animal feeding stuffs the wartime Ministry of Supply directed all councils to collect kitchen waste separately (from special dustbins usually referred to as "the pig bin") and in July 1942 special plant for heat treating the food against the transmission of disease was installed at Wembley at a cost of £69,598 to take kitchen waste also from Acton, Ealing, Harrow and Willesden. The plant worked to capacity 24 hours a day for six and sometimes seven days a week. Between July 1942 and March 1946 35,869 tons were processed giving 27,857 tons of foodstuff, providing an income of £94,382 and valuable feed for pigs and poultry".
The name, apparently, came from the first plant at Tottenham; the product was more like a cake than a pudding; the separate collection was discontinued soon after the war ended and such plant, including one at Croydon, scrapped. Can members throw further light on this or on other unusual wartime industries?
Brunel Project to go forward
After two years of apparent inactivity the Brunel Exhibition Project (GLIAS Newsletter February 1976) at Rotherhithe is to go ahead, thanks largely to the recent increased Government support for inner city projects. The Brunel Exhibition Project now has the financial resources — mainly from central government grants — to pay for the restoration of the engine house which was once used in draining Brunel's Thames Tunnel.
The Brunel Project was set up in 1973 with the aim of restoring the derelict engine house and setting up an exhibition in 1975 to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1825 start of excavations for the tunnel. This aim proved to be too optimistic. By the summer of 1976 the area between the Rotherhithe shaft (unused since 1869) and Rotherhithe Street had been cleared of rubbish, paved over and 'landscaped' with trees, but the engine house itself was in a very sorry state. The unsafe roof had had to be taken down, but the available funds were not sufficient to meet the exacting DoE specifications for a replacement. The effect of the weather on the roofless buildings vandalism and the refusal of the tenant of the adjacent site to allow access to the interior of the engine house, made it appear that it would be allowed to crumble away. Now that the local council plans to take over the now vacant site and more money is available this at least will not happen. Bob Barnes
In sending me this report on the Brunel Project Bob also mentions that apart from using the engine house for an exhibition of material commemorating the first under water tunnel, plans for its use once restored are rather vague. This is exactly the sort of problem GLIAS (and indeed all industrial archaeologists) should be applying its collective brain to. The building contains an empty space about 20ft x 30ft and could possibly contain a free-standing mezzanine floor (as has been used at the Fox-Talbot museum in a tithe barn in Lacock, Wiltshire) to increase overall floor space. It is not an easy building to protect from vandalism, nor is it all that accessible to tourists as a museum, so its possibilities in that direction are limited. Has anyone a really original idea for a use for a building, well worth keeping, but having re-use problems very similar to the Stockholm brewery described by Mike Bussell, if on a rather different scale? Brenda Innes
Mills to visit
Kingsbury Water Mill Museum, St. Michaels, at St. Albans, approximately ½ mile north west of the Abbey on the River Ver, is open all the year round from 10.00 to 17.00.
Polegate Windmill & Milling Museum, Sussex, four miles north of Eastbourne, west of the A22. Built in 1817 this tower mill was restored to working order in 1967 with all its internal machinery intact. The adjoining storeroom has been converted into a milling museum. Open every Sunday 14.30 to 17.30 from May to September inclusive. Enquiries to Mr. D. Jones, C. Eng.
Twentieth Century I.A. — A Museum of Broadcasting
An action group has been set up with the object of getting a broadcasting museum established at Alexandra Palace when the BBC moves out in a few years' time. Radio and television are not normally subjects for the industrial archaeologist, yet because of the rapid advance of electronics much original equipment has already been scrapped. Broadcasting is one of the most significant forces in the 20th century — as important as railways in the last — and moves to preserve examples of this developing technology should be taken before they are lost for ever.
Alexandra Palace was the site of the world's first high-definition TV service started in 1936 by the BBC. The original studios, where Baird's mechanical TV competed with the electronic system of EMI, are still in virtually their original state — and the transmitting mast remains a landmark of north London.
The BBC will pull out in a few years, when its Open University productions team moves to Milton Keynes. Then another monument of technological history faces the damp and the mice. The museum has the backing of the Royal Television Society, but still needs much work and support before its future is assured. If anyone is interested in helping they should contact me at home. Alan Burkitt
Anyone Seen a Ruddy Great Bird With 10,000 Copper Feathers?
GLIAS does get some odd requests! It appears that someone wrote to the Science Museum to ask if they know the present whereabouts of a 6cwt model of a golden eagle with a 5ft wingspan, made of beaten copper and standing on a tin rock. It was made in 1862 by Mr. Thomas Phillips of Snow Hill, Holborn and last seen in 1928 when its owner Mr. H. Hildred of Holland Road, SW was offering it for sale at 700 guineas (against its estimated value of £3,500) in the hope that it would become a trophy for annual competition among airmen.
It's hardly IA, but there's a possibility that among the odd collection of information that our members possess someone might know what happened to this bird and we could make someone happy.
"I Know, 'Cos I Was There"
At last your newsletter editor has found time to get to, not one, but two, of the events she lists on the first page and both were as good as they looked.
The first was an excellently organised tour round Young's Brewery at Wandsworth where they combine the unlikely mixture of modern bottling plant and deafening piped music on one side of the site with beautiful quiet stables of marvellous black and white dray horses and the gentle burping of the wort in the original copper vessels in the older buildings. We were all glad when our tour ended — in the sampling room!
A large party of GLIAS members followed Chris Ellmers as he pied-pipered round Clerkenwell last Thursday. The area was fascinating in its variety and it was entirely satisfying to be able to ask Chris "What's this?" and "How old is that?" instead of just wondering. After two hours Chris said "There's a bus stop over there if anyone feels like dropping out", but nobody did. After another half hour he offered an underground station, but again, no takers. Almost the entire 'walk' finished up in a pub still captivated by Chris's 'piping', however, I don't think many of them drowned! Many thanks, Chris, for an interesting evening. Brenda Innes
For The Record
The practical aspects of industrial archaeology are many and varied. They include:
- researching histories of firms and sites in directories and rate books
- checking on the sequence of building at a location by looking at maps
- coming along to Recording Sessions to help by assisting in measuring, taking notes or taking photographs
- writing nice letters seeking information
- tape recording likely, usually bemused but very helpful employees
- typing it all up to put work done into readable format
GLIAS not only offers members the opportunity to participate — we positively beg it at every opportunity! Getting involved in doing the work is itself fascinating, especially as most sites pose considerably store questions than they answer. So, if you would like to help, or even just come along to gently nose around, don't be shy! Please come along on one of the Recording dates shown, or get in contact with the Recording Group Secretary. His job is to coordinate GLIAS site and research work and he can give advice on what needs to be done. Newcomers are, of course, always welcome on site visits — we have usually two leaders to give training and guidance if needed.
Meanwhile, Dockland is in the news. Depending on which newspaper one reads, the PLA is planning to close the Royal Docks, the West India & Millwall Docks, or both. Whatever the final outcome, one thing is certain — rationalisation will take place and that if GLIAS wants to make a comprehensive record of activity, not only the lighters and ships, but also the methods of work and all the ancillary aspects, then we had better act — now.
All members who have an interest in carrying out a survey of the remaining docks and riverside industries which rely on the docks for their livelihood are asked to join in a special squad, led by Bob and Pam Carr. We will be having a general look — but there is a lot of preparatory work to be done, not least to see just what has been done already in the form of drawings, photographs and plans. Please don't leave it too late. The work also involves continuing the consultation, started by Malcolm Tucker, with the Docklands Development Team, on retention and reuse of redundant buildings and fitting. Bob and Pam wait to hear from you.
Meanwhile, there are specialist periodicals, often accessible only during office hours, such as 'The Miller' which have a wealth of articles and information on firms and factories throughout London. Members with a few afternoons of more to spare who would like to help are asked to contact David Thomas
Camden Progress. Hugh Marks has agreed to take over leadership of the Camden IA Survey. He writes:
Our visit on Saturday, 24 June, was to the workshops of C.A. Dettmer & Sons, makers of piano strings and pressure bars. They are sole survivors of an industry that dominated Camden 80 years ago; several suppliers of piano parts remain, as do repairers, but they are alone as manufacturers. The string making process is simple wrapping a wire of copper around one of steel — but every piano design requires a different length and thickness of wire for a given note. Eight machines are in use in the tightly packed workshop; they were made locally and are 25-40 years old.
Clink Wharf (see below)
The Waterside Building of Clink Wharf, Clink Street, Southwark SE1
The following report has been done by members who had done no previous recording work. We hope that other members will send in further reports.
This is a short record of a warehouse on the Thames, compiled after a training session of the Recording Group. Many of the details of the history were found in the Minutes of the London Wharves and Warehouses Committee, in Guildhall Library. These Minutes, written for the use of Insurance companies, inevitably provide a narrow and biased account of activities. Nevertheless, they give a useful glimpse of what was happening in the building, notes and photographs are placed in Southwark's Reference Library.
Description of the Waterside Building
The building was a late Victorian warehouse, built of brick, with a slate and skylight roof and timber floors, the beams of which were supported on wall brackets and unprotected cruciform columns of cast iron. There were four floors above a split level ground floor and a semi-basement. The building, of irregular shape, had a street frontage of about 53 feet, a depth of about 73 feet and an insurance capacity of 161,000 cubic feet. There were three vertical rows of goods doors, each served by a 10cwt hydraulic crane, one on the centre of the river frontage, one near the centre of the land side and one on the west side, where there was a small inlet, for a lighter. A fourth crane was fitted at third floor level on the riverside and this was powered by an electric winch. At the west end of the land side was the main entrance, 9 feet wide and about 11 feet high, totally closed by a pair of solid timber doors, with a wicket in the west leaf. A small goods and passenger lift served all floors, which, with the exception of the ground floor, all had a headroom of about 3 feet. The building had been connected to the one across the street by two bridges, that at second floor level, of concrete and steel, being enclosed and partly glazed, while that at the top floor, of timber, was open.
The main features of the individual floors, as seen, were as follows:
Semi-basement: In the west riverside corner was a small breeze-block room containing an electric winch and its switchgear. It had a 20 horsepower motor by British-Thomson-Houston of Rugby and was mounted on a substantial concrete plinth. The haulage cable went through a hole in the roof. There were a number of parallel strips of steel, of unknown purpose, set in the concrete floor and the various power supplies, including high pressure water, came in from the street, and were metered, here.
Ground floor: There was a street-level bay, about 35 feet deep, behind the entrance doors. The rest of the floor was about 3 feet above the street and had a headroom of about 12 feet. There was a small office against the landslide wall and a messroom under one of the flights of stairs. A cage beside each pair of goods doors enclosed the crane jigger and rose through all floors to the top of the building.
First floor: One flight of stairs ended here, coming through a totally unprotected hole in the floor. A run for barrows, made of boards placed lengthwise, placed on the floor proper, connected the riverside and landside goods doors. A small cloakroom, partitioned off, stood against the landside wall.
Second floor: The electric crane jib was at this level, to the west of the riverside doors. A boarded barrow way ran from the riverside doors to a ramp leading to the bridge, at the south end of the landside wall. In fact, both ramp and bridge had been demolished. There were two sack-filling points hanging and fed, from the floor above. There was also the feed hopper and cast iron return bend of a grain elevator, the bend being marked "CORCORAN, LONDON". The feed from the rice finisher was marked by a hole in the ceiling, but the sack filling chute from it had gone.
Third floor: The boarded ways ran between the front and back doors, with a branch to the lift, but 'jinked' to avoid the large hopper feeding an elevator to the grain cleaner on the next floor above. In the north-west corner was a complex of elevators and chutes from the floor above, some of which went on to the second floor, below. There was also a rot at able wooden drum, used for putting a final finish on cleaned and polished rice, some 26 inches in diameter and 99 inches long, fed from a hopper on the floor above and emptying to the floor below. A small piece of grain processing equipment, whose purpose was not identified and which was not in a working position, was standing by the big hopper.
Fourth (top) floor: This had a stout, partly glazed, queenpost roof, with few stanchions, as there was no load-bearing floor above. Two pieces of mill machinery were in place, which had been used for processing imported rice. One, near the street frontage, was a "Eureka No. 3 Separator", used to clean whole grain from all rubbish by a process of winnowing and screening. Powered by a 4hp motor, it had been made by E.R. & F. Turner Ltd, of Ipswich. The dusty air from this was fed through ducting in the roof to a pair of cyclones, each of which exhausted into four large dust collecting bags. The other machine was a polisher and aspirator, feeding, via a large hopper, the finishing drum on the floor below. This complex was used to prepare a highly polished white rice ready for packing for the market. It was associated with the elevators, etc., already mentioned, on the floors below. The various parts of the machine were driven by 7½hp motor by Hopkinson Induction Motors Ltd, of Acton, London, via a counter-shaft end pulleys, all without guards. The exhaust air was treated only by a single cyclone before being blown through a hole in the roof. A relatively small piece of machinery had gone, its place marked only by two unused pulleys on the countershaft and the hole in the floor which marked the top of the chute into which it had discharged.
In a small room in the south-west corner was what appeared to be a Sampling or examination bench — a level table, covered In rubber and. divided into five sections, each about 41 inches deep and 28 inches wide, by wooden boards 3 inches high. A metal chute ran forwards and down from a 3 inch diameter hole at the centre back to a point where a bucket or small sack could be placed conveniently to catch a sample, or discarded material. In the south-east corner, a ramp sloped up to the top floor bridge to the landside building, though the bridge itself had been demolished. The chains from the jiggers passed through pulleyed holes in the wall to serve their respective crane jibs. Trap doors gave access to flat sections of the roof, so built because of the irregular shape of the structure.
A Brief History of the Waterside Building of Clink Wharf
The building, the western half of an outwardly symmetrical structure, was built c.1899 (the adjoining separate eastern half, New British Wharf, has not been surveyed). Its first owners, L. Noel & Sons Ltd., provision merchants, used it for the storage and distribution of tinned and other imported preserved foods. They also owned the building on the other side of the street, the space between being only 11 feet at one point. This, the "land-side" building, was much the more dominant in most references to Clink Wharf and it was at that time being fitted out as a jam factory. The presence of the cross-street bridges and the above-mentioned close spacing of the two buildings resulted in the owners having to pay an augmented insurance rate for most of the period of their occupation. The second floor, joined by the bridge, was used as an extension of the factory opposite, being for long used for labelling and packing the filled jam jars. There was also a time when part of it was used as a shop for the maintenance engineers and it may have been for this that the relevant section of the floor was strengthened with additional joists. Noel later made soups, meat and fish pastes and powdered cheese, in their factory and raw materials, as well as finished products, were imported from lighters alongside. A list of materials included, typically, olive oil, vinegar, ginger, fruit pulp, glucose, honey, egg yolk in barrels and trusses of straw for packing. Other minor activities Included relacquering cans and soldering labels on Sardine tins. Although this combination of activities did not appeal to the Insurers, Noel's never had a fire in the 36 years or so that they owned the wharf. They sometimes provided, space at rent for others, but there was no evidence that this was ever a major part of the business.
Noel's gave up occupation of the building in the middle 1930s. By 1937, "Clink Wharf Ltd." was in being as a wholly owned subsidiary of C.T. Bowring, insured for the public storage of Class 2 & 3 goods. The new owners installed some rice cleaning and polishing machinery, which they got second hand from Fisher's Wharf (Rotherhithe). This was used as required for the next few years, but the polisher was dismantled by 1952, when 80% of the storage was rice for the Ministry of Food. Two years later, it was all out of use and, in fact, the machines never worked again. The electrical installation was overhauled in 1956, when the building was fully employed, mainly for foodstuff storage. Ten years later, however, it was no longer insured for public storage and it seems probable that it was never used again. In October 1977 a planning application was made for the empty Clink and British Wharves to be made into a pub, restaurant, flats and offices.
Waterfront of Clink Street, Clink Wharf is on the far right.
Polisher and aspirator on top floor; an electric motor drives shafting.
Final polishing and cleaning drum, third floor; several elevators and feed shafts are visible.
Pair of cyclones and dust collecting bags on top floor.
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© GLIAS, 1978