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Notes and news — December 1979

In this issue:

GLIAS goes to church

Sunday 14 October saw another coach load of GLIAS people on their way, this time to Gloucestershire to RV with a couple of GSIA member guides just before we reached the county border. The outward journey continued with our guide in the coach giving a running commentary and pointing out various interesting mill sites, etc., along the route — and including 'yer actual' Anne & Mark Phillips country pad.

First stop was the water-powered corn mill at Lower Kilcott where the owner first explained and then demonstrated the operation of the mill, energetically dashing up and down the steps/ladders combining the duties of "miller, man and boy". Here we were able to buy our "pottles" of freshly ground flour! Then on to Chalford Place and an excellent Ploughman's Lunch in what was once a wealthy clothier's house and where the Reverend Awdry appeared to enjoy a 'sales boom' in the line of "Industrial Archaeology in Gloucestershire". After looking at the upper floor and roof of the house and seeing a demonstration of the "Ancient Art of Corn Dolly Making" the party went walk about with the Rev. Awdry. This included "rough stuff" along a stretch of the Thames & Severn Canal taking in, on the way, the mouth of the Sapperton Tunnel (3,817 yards long) and a peculiar "Round House", a circular tower containing three rooms one above the other, the two upper rooms being connected by a narrow, curving stairway within the thickness of the wall. Emerging from the rough-stuff section of the canal onto a bridge flanking a level crossing and thence to St. Marys Mill House to which we could not gain access. The mill was variously powered by waterwheel, beam engine and later Tangye Compound (in use until 1955) and being preserved by the company, the company being one of only two in Britain still making walking sticks and umbrella stems.

Rejoining the coach we proceeded to Gloucester Docks, arriving there at 18.00 hours and congregating in the church/chapel to listen to an excellent sermon on the history of the docks and Sharpness canal, the Rev. Gentleman taking a back pew on this Sunday evening. After running free in the docks for 60 minutes or so we had a good run back to London, broken only by the customary stop for refreshment. Another well organised and enjoyable trip with all thanks to Dave Perrett and our guides from GSIA. Tim Smith

Thames cruise

This winter weather it is hard to remember that a little over three months ago it was summer. Then one could contemplate with pleasure the prospect of a four hour trip on the river in an open boat. In fact the working boat 'chartered' by GLIAS last August did have covered accommodation (and a toilet, luxury, indeed) but we were lucky enough to have a really fine day that was so calm our Sargent Brothers 'Captain' was able to take us everywhere we wished to go.

Among the interesting things noted were the remains of ship building or repairing slips, just south of the entrance to the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs (Yarrow's, who built torpedo-boats?) and at Deptford the boiler erecting shop of John Penn & Sons, marine engine and boiler manufacturers, who were bought up in 1899. Penn's built many engines for ships, including an installation of 1,250hp for the ironclad frigate "Warrior". We admired the elegant cable ship John W Mackay, still at Enderbys, Dolphins, sailing in a circle around her and noted the arrangement for loading submarine cable from Standard Telephones & Cables works on the river side. The John W Mackay was built at Newcastle in 1922 and has a double set of triple expansion steam engines.

Further up river we passed the remains of Nelson Dock with Nelson Dock House looking newly restored. In the Pool of London we nosed into St. Saviour's Dock and also entered Hay's Wharf inlet. Coming back we passed the remains of the Hull trawler "Kingston Emerald" being broken up near the Prospect of Whitby; this vessel had steam reciprocating engines and was built in 1954.

We were given an unexpected bonus in being taken down river as far as Woolwich. On the way we noted a barge lift, for repairing, on the North bank opposite Greenwich Marshes. On the South bank at Woolwich the remains of Woolwich Power Station looked dismal indeed. A bright spot is the shipbuilding yard of Cubow Ltd, the River's only shipbuilder, they appeared to be constructing quite a large vessel in two (or more) parts. Much heavy plant is in evidence around the Thames Barrier. It is beginning to be possible to discern the outline of the finished work. We arrived back at our starting point at 7.00pm. Many thanks to Sargent Brothers for a very fine outing. We hope to have another trip in the spring of 1980. Bob Carr

Play safe

I am not suggesting that IA is a particularly hazardous pastime, but I do feel that a degree of care and caution should be exercised when visiting certain sites. If I may quote Bill Firth (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979) "we were equipped with miners helmets and lamps for an underground tour conducted by an ex-miner". When Georgina and I visited a lead reclamation plant, we were required to wear protective clothing in the form of hard hat, overalls and overshoes. Now it seems to me, that if other people show concern for our safety 'on site', albeit mandatory, then surely we should show a similar concern for ourselves.

The human skull can be very vulnerable, particularly in a derelict and poorly lit warehouse or similar site. At the other end of the body an upturned nail or spike can make a mess of an ill-protected foot, either accident could lay you off work for a while, or worse, put you in hospital. Fortunately our society's record of injury while on site is small, but be prepared, don't YOU become a victim.

There is no need to go to extreme lengths, a pair of stout soled shoes, a 'bump-cap' and, if you are likely to handle old and rusty pieces of machinery, a strong pair of gardening gloves will afford you quite a bit of protection. Hard hats are not all that expensive (depends what value you place on your head!) they start at around ₤2.50, so for a little less than a roll of colour film you may well save yourself a nasty cut or bump on the head. Don't think you are the odd one out wearing safety gear, an old safety officer's proverb states: It is better to feel self-conscious, than be unconscious. Remember: THINK 'SAFETY' WHILE ON SITE. Peter Skilton

Ship visit

After several unsuccessful attempts the promised ship visit finally took place on Wednesday evening 25 July. Captain F.D. Glover of Tate & Lyle Shipping Ltd, very kindly arranged for us to visit the motor bulk carrier "Sugar Carrier" at Thames Refinery Jetty, which had arrived with a cargo of sugar from Maputo. This ship of 17,775 tons gross was built in 1974 by Scott's Ship Building Company at Greenock; she has a sister ship 'Sugar Trader'.

On board we were struck by the spacious accommodation. A modern ship of this size has very generous facilities for officers and crew compared with the traditional dry cargo ship. The Navigating Officer showed us the bridge and radio room. Traditional sextant navigation is still practised. After the bridge visit we walked along the main deck to see the cargo being, unloaded by grabs, suspended from cranes on the jetty. Next we were handed over to an engineering officer for a tour of the engine room. The 6 cylinder diesel engine by Scott's seemed very tall. It develops 12,000bhp, giving the ship a speed of 14-15 knots. We inspected the engineer's control panel, the fuel oil cleaning plant, auxiliary electric generating plant, steering gear and propeller shaft, etc. Standardization is such that not a little was highly reminiscent of the power plant in Harrods basement.

To round off the tour the party adjourned to the officers' bar, overlooking the stern of the ship. Lager was consumed while we talked with our hosts and admired the sunset over the river. Our visit marked a historic event in that Tate & Lyle Ltd, were withdrawing from shipping. All the Sugar Line ships were up for sale and Sugar Carrier was the last ship of the line to visit the Thames Refinery Jetty. Several paragraphs on the sale of the Sugar Line Ships were published in Lloyds List of 16 October 1979.) Sugar Carrier had been engaged in world tramping and' in fact had hardly ever called at Silvertown. The visit ended with the bar being drunk dry; the steward who held the key to the beer store had gone ashore. Thank you Captain Glover for a most memorable visit and also thank you to our hosts on Sugar Carrier. Bob Carr

Streets paved with gold

Well not quite: but many materials have been used to pave the streets of London. As early as 1766 granite setts were being shipped to London from quarries in Aberdeenshire. Like roofing slates, these setts were given different names to identify the various sizes. There were "common sixes", "half sovereigns", "sovereigns", "common nines" and "imperials". The setts normally sent to London were "cubes" and were 10in x 6in by 9in depth. In 1842 London Bridge was laid with Aberdeen granite but by this time competition from Guernsey granite and particularly from Mountsorrel syenite was mounting. It was the Euston Pavement of 1843 which led to the widespread adoption of Mountsorrel setts wherever there was heavy traffic. These setts can be recognised by their reddish hue. They were generally 3in to 4in wide, sometimes with a square surface but usually of irregular length, typically 12 inches to 18 inches. The width was said to be chosen to conform to the size of a horses hoof and to assist his footing. The setts were laid in a 1 inch bedding to provide a resilient road which resisted settlement. They were formerly grouted with sand and cement but by the 1920s grouting with bitumen or pitch became standard practice. Mountsorrel is north of Leicester on the River Soar navigation and the stone could be brought to London by canal, some Boards of Works having their own canalside yards.

During the 1860s the macadam surfaces of several main road leading out of London were replaced with Mountsorrel setts as they were swallowed up in the suburban sprawl. City Road, Kingsland Road, Bethnal Green Road and Whitechapel Road all received this treatment in 1867-8.

Meanwhile other surfaces were being tried. In the 1840s attempts made to introduce wooden blocks to deaden the sound of horses hooves were unsuccessful because they were laid on poor foundations. But by 1872 matters had changed with the formation of the Improved Wood Pavement Co. Ltd, who, in 1924, were advertising "the most sanitary and most durable of all wood pavements. Non-slippery noiseless". Among the many streets paved with their creosoted deal paving, 3in to 8in deep, were Aldgate, Bayswater Road, Bishopsgate, Bond Street, Cannon Street, Cromwell Road, Earl's Court Road, Edgware Road, Farringdon Street, Haymarket, Kensington High Street, Marble Arch, New Cross Road, Strand and Whitehall. St. Paul's Churchyard, also in the list, still has its wooden blocks in situ. The blocks were usually 8-9 inches long by 4 to 5 inches deep and 3 inches wide and were laid on a concrete, foundation. Wood blocks tend to expand and contract and so an expansion space, about 1 to 1½ inches wide and filled with either puddled clay or a bituminous mixture, was provided next to the kerb. To avoid absorption of water the blacks were thoroughly impregnated with creosote and laid as soon as possible afterwards. They were said to last at least 10 years and worn blocks could be re-squared and used again.

But the writing was on the wall for all these blocks and setts. The spread of asphalt started in a small way with Threadneedle Street in 1869 and immediately prompted public discussion of the merits or otherwise of the various surfaces in use. The introduction of motor vehicles and the pneumatic tyre advanced the progress of the black top road surface with the demise of the tram bringing about the final downfall of the sett. Not that the sett makers didn't put up a fight. Aberdeen quarries started making "nidged setts', fine dressed stone 5 inches in breadth by 4 inches depth and from 6 to 10 inches in length. The exposed surface was "finely nidged, axed, punched or otherwise dressed showing little more than daylight when a straight edge is applied to the surface in any direction". They were used in Princes Street, Edinburgh in 1937, but did any find their way to London?

There are several streets in London where setts can still be found, the best example of a continuous length of street is probably along Wapping High Street. Elsewhere setts displaced from main thoroughfares were re-laid in side streets where many can still be found. Recent roadworks in Finsbury Circus revealed that the asphalt had been laid directly on top of wooden blocks. Sadly setts tend to be removed by roadworks and not replaced and there is unfortunately no way of 'listing' street paving. All we can do is record the streets where they do survive and hope!

Railways and hydraulic power

Railway companies were quick to realise the advantages of hydraulic power with the Great Western and Brunel (of course!) early in the field with installations at Paddington in the 1850s. The Great Northern and the Midland Railways both included hydraulic power stations in their London goods stations, equipping them with the latest labour saving devices for goods handling — cranes, capstans, lifts and hoists. Several other companies fallowed suit so that well before the advent of a public hydraulic power supply (1883) all were operating their own private systems, some of which were quite extensive. By 1904, for example, the Midland Railway were said to be using, in the London area, 12 steam engines to supply water under pressure to power some 300 capstans, 200 cranes, 42 hoists (probably wagon hoists and goods lifts), 6 coal-tips, 27 sack lifts and 25 traversers. At some places the pumping stations were separate buildings; elsewhere space under viaduct arches was used. The following list includes sites where there are remains of these hydraulic pumping stations and the equipment they powered and is substantially complete for North London.


  • St. Pancras Station (TQ 299 833)
    The pumping station was situated under the arches of the approach viaduct adjacent to the gasworks just north of the station. Did the water tower, which survives, double as an accumulator tower? One 40hp engine was used to provide power for the wagon hoist which moved wagons to and from the collars under the station.

  • St. Pancras Goods (TQ 296 838)
    The pumping station alongside the Regent's Canal supplied power to the St. Pancras Goods Station and to the Ale and Porter warehouse on the opposite side of the canal. The capstans here were converted to electricity and the pumping station was partly demolished, but half of the building was converted into a canteen. Present plans are for its use in a community project. The hydraulic accumulator tower survives.

  • Somers Town Goods (TQ 298 830)
    Much of the goods depot has been demolished, but the section just south of Phoenix Road, which includes the pumping station and accumulators, is still, at the time of writing, intact and partly occupied. The steam engines and boilers were removed at some period in the depot's history, to be replaced by electricity and the engine house now contains the remains of electrical switch-gear next to the engine beds. The two accumulators are in situ in the red brick tower, built in the style of the rest of the depot to blend in with St. Pancras station next door.

  • Royal Mint Street Goods (TQ 339 808)
    The engines and boilers were under the arches of the line into Fenchurch Street. Equipment included the usual capstans and cranes and a wagon hoist. The hydraulic accumulator tower remains as a prominent landmark bearing the inscription "London Midland and Scottish Railway, City Goods Station and Bonded Stores". It is a typical Midland Railway red brick tower with hipped roof.

  • Poplar Docks (TQ 384 806)
    The buildings of this pumping station survive and can be seen from Preston Road. Typical Midland Railway red brick building and accumulator tower. (GLIAS Newsletter June 1979)

  • Commercial Road Goods (TQ 341 810)
    The engine house and accumulator house and accumulator tower in Hooper Street are listed, Grade II. Built by the LTSR, circa 1886/7, on the site of a Lutheran Chapel, it had four boilers on the ground floor and two steam engines (150hp each) on the first floor. Brickwork and the main flue of the boilers remain, together with the engine blocks. The chimney has been demolished but the adjacent accumulator tower survives with its two accumulators in situ. Other interesting survivals on the site include two hydraulic wagon hoists and at least one Armstrong turnover capstan. The main part of the depot has been demolished.


  • King's Cross Goods (TQ 301 835)
    The pumping station and accumulator tower are to the west of the Granary building in the centre of this complex site. There used to be four engines, two of 75hp, one of 120hp and one of 40hp.

    Brotherhood capstans were used by the GNR and one or two survive together with a number of fairleads.


  • Poplar Dock (TQ 381 805)
    This pumping station was described in GLIAS Newsletter 62 (GLIAS Newsletter June 1979). The engine and boiler house and accumulator tower survive, but the chimney was demolished before the war.


  • Camden Goods (TQ 384 839)
    On the west side of the main line into Euston, immediately north of the Regent's Canal is a brick tower which was probably the accumulator tower of the pumping station that used to be on this site. It housed three 70hp engines and four boilers, but the tower is all that remains.

    Hydraulic accumulator tower at Camden © Robert Mason 2016

  • Haydon Square (TQ 337 810)
    The site of this depot is now a car park, but on one wall there is a notice reminding us of its former use. It reads "None but properly appointed company's servants are allowed to work the hydraulic cranes capstans and machinery at this station. Other persons must not interfere with them in any way. By order." (similar notices adorned Somers Town until its demise).


  • Bishopsgate Goods (TQ 336 822)
    The pumping station was underneath the viaduct near Wheler Street; all that remains is a red brick base of the chimney on top of the viaduct. One hydraulic wagon hoist remains in situ, with a corrugated iron shelter over the well. There is a second well on the site, without its hoist. A few fairleads.


  • Waterloo (TQ 311 798)
    Carriage hoist for Waterloo and City line together with a capstan survive (GLIAS Newsletter October 1979). Tim Smith

    Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology

    An addition to an addition! Derek Bayliss has answered the question he asked (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979): the fire station in Ladbroke Road carries the date 1870 and must therefore be of the horse-powered era.

    Corrections to:

    54. SILVERTOWN WAY Canning Town to North Woolwich Road, E16
    Rendel Palmer & Tritton were the consulting engineers; the viaduct was built by Dorman, Long & Company. Ref. "Engineering Volume 138" of 21/9/34, p.302. Michael J O'Connor

    69. TROLLEYBUS FEED POINT c.1938 (>>>)

    70. LAMP POSTS made by Land & Co. Engineers Gas & Hot Water, 43 Broadway, Stratford. Ref. 1880 Kellys. Bet Parker

    Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Newham Part 2

    77. EAST HAM TOWN HALL 1901-3 Barking Road, E6 (>>>)
    Architects; Cheers and Smith Twickenham. Red brick, with terra cotta dressings made by Doulton who also made all the interior tiles. Clock in tower made by John Smith & Co. of Derby. Locks, door fittings & brasswork supplied by Carter & Aynsley Ltd. of 54 Bishopsgate Street Without. Shand Mason & Co. of 75 Upper Ground Street, Blackfriars Road, SE supplied the fire fighting apparatus. John Jeffreys of 11 Old Queen, Street, Westminster was responsible for the heating apparatus (three boilers, no mention of type). WT Fryer & Co. Ltd. of Sloane Square installed the lighting, telephones, etc. All the above information was taken from the official handout to the local newspapers on the opening day. The railings and presumably the very nice gates were said to have been supplied by Congdon & Powell, but all the Kellys consulted for that date say that they were Slate Merchants of Maida Hill .N. Many of the original fittings are still there and the exterior appears unchanged.

    In the forecourt of the Town Hall is a large electricity supply box bearing the East Ham coat of arms.

    The Public Health and Education Offices, Public Offices and Technical College of 1903-4, together with the Library opened 1908, are all in the same block as the Town Hall.

    78. SWIMMING BATHS 1911 High Street South, E6.
    Slipper baths were added the following year.

    79. FIRE STATION 1913 Nelson Street/High Street South, E6.
    Motor pump and escape purchased when the station opened and services were modernised. Now used as Social Services Department. Behind the Fire Station are Firemen's houses, now the Probation and After Care Service Offices.

    80. TRAM DEPOT c.1901 Nelson Street, E6.
    Buildings practically unchanged. Rails still in situ, overhead protection for wires still there just inside the entrance. The tramway system owned by the Borough was completed in 1901 and linked up with the West Ham system at a later date. The building is now used by the Borough Engineers Department, but may be vacated soon and demolished.

    81. CORPORATION ELECTRICITY WORKS 1900-1 Nelson Street, E6.
    Had generating stations, car sheds, etc. and by 1908 all East Ham thoroughfares were illuminated by electricity. Buildings now used partly by Borough Engineers Department, partly L.E.B.

    82. LONDON CO-OP STORE 1927 High Street North, E6.
    Has façade of buff-coloured matt finish tiles with insets of deep blue glazed tiles between the top floor windows, a clock tower, stone urns with swags of flowers and, to be seen from the skylight and other ornamental top floor, a (large) leaded glass domed traces of the original interior.

    83. EAST HAM L.T. STATION c.1859 High Street North
    Originally, the London Tilbury & Southend Railway. District line was extended to East Ham in 1902, electrified 1905. On the platforms are LT&SR brackets supporting the roof and more motifs are on seat ends. The railings in the booking hall were made by Bayliss Jones & Bayliss of Cannon Street, London and Victoria Works, Wolverhampton.

    Street Furniture

    84. ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BOX Wakefield Street, E6 (outside British Home Stores)
    Decorations include the Borough coat of arms.

    85. GAS LAMP/HYDRANT Harrow Road, E6
    An old East Ham Corporation lamp has a hydrant built into the base. Makers Oakes & Co. 21 Wharf Road, City Road N1. There are a great many of these Oakes lamps (now electric) in East and West Ham, but so far this is the only one with a hydrant inset we have found.

    86. PILLAR BOX Clements Road, E6
    Edward VII pillar box by Handyside of Derby and London.

    87. PILLAR BOX/STAMP MACHINE Surges Road, E6
    GR (V) pillar box with built-in stamp machine. Small notices in black on white enamel states "This machine issues two ½d stamps for one penny" and "Await delivery of stamp before inserting a further coin". Makers Derby Castings Ltd, Derby & London. Type 'D' pillar box 1932, only 50 used in London.

    88. PILLAR BOX Kempton Road, E6
    GR (V) pillar box by Carron Foundry, Stirlingshire.

    89. LAMP POST Kempton Road, E6
    Cast in one piece by Taylor Bros. (Sandiacre) Ltd, Midland Foundry, Sandiacre. Only one of this pattern seen in East & West Ham.

    90. WATER HYDRANT Lathom Road, E6
    East London Waterworks hydrant made by James Simpson & Co. Ltd, 101 Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, SW. The East London Waterworks was established in 1808 and incorporated in the MWB when it was formed in 1904. Another ELWW hydrant cover in Surges Road.

    All over East Ham are E.H.D.C. fire hydrant covers made by D. Blakeborough & Sons, Brighouse.

    There are many ornamental sewer vent pipes in both East and West Ham marked with the names of three makers: Wm. E Farrer of Birmingham, Norton Brothers of Ilford or A.C. Woodrow & Co. London

    Bet & John Parker

    Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: South Norwood

    NB This is only the beginning of the entry for South Norwood: it will be completed and a location map provided in the February issue (GLIAS Newsletter February 1980).

    The area within about half a mile of Norwood Junction Station is a typical late Victorian suburb and has no 'big' IA, but still plenty of interest. Among the areas more interesting remains are those of the Croydon Canal (Act 1801, opened 1809) from New Cross to Croydon: closed in 1836 much of its course was used for the London & Croydon Railway.

    93. SOUTH NORWOOD LAKE is one of two reservoirs (the other, at Sydenham, has gone), built so the canal could use locks instead of inclined planes as first proposed. Croydon Parks Dept., sell a leaflet on its history (5p). It was later in the grounds of a private sports club and was bought by Croydon as a park in 1931/6. A motor boat gave trips on it until 1955 and the davits can still be seen. About a quarter of the reservoir, at the south end, has been reclaimed at some stage.


    Possibly The Ship and certainly The Jolly Sailor commemorate the canal. The present buildings are later. One side of the sign of The Jolly Sailor shows a narrow boat.

    North of Portland Road the canal made a wide curve to the easts, this stretch was still in water and used for fishing c.1870. The first part of Albert Road, Eldon Park and Lincoln Road were laid out with the back fences of the houses on the west side following the line of the canal.

    ('X' marks the approximate site of a canal engine house, thought to have pumped water from a well for the top level. No remains.)

    The London & Croydon Railway, opened in 1836. An experiment in atmospheric traction 1845-7, see Charles Hadfield, 'Atmospheric Railways', David & Charles 1967 (the map is wrong). There was an engine house for the atmospheric line at Norwood, now gone.

    Until 1859 the station was at Portland Road (see below): called Jolly Sailor to 1846 and then Norwood. Present booking hall probably 1859. Fine goods shed rather later. Station once had overall roof, now gone.

    Collapse of an earlier cast-iron bridge here in May 1891 caused an accident which led to replacement of many cast-iron bridges on British railways by steel ones: see Rolt, 'Red for Danger', p. 105. Present steel bridges Lanarkshire Steel Co. on girders, simple decoration on columns.

    Commemorating an early railway signal and already shown on an 1868 map.

    Derek Bayliss

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  • © GLIAS, 1979