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Notes and news — February 1980

In this issue:

For once it's not IA looking for a home, but a home looking for IA!

GLIAS members who visited the Markfield Road Beam Engine a year ago, will recall how the engine house was becoming crowded with other relics. Fortunately, additional accommodation has recently been found on another site and this will be used as a store and workshop for items which have been collected for the next phase of the Lee Valley Industrial Museum.

Whilst no offers have been turned away in the past it is now possible to take a more active interest in acquiring items against the long-term prospect of establishing an Industrial Museum in the Lee Valley. Such recent acquisitions include two steam engines. One is a single-cylinder horizontal, built by Loughborough Technical College probably in the early 1900s. The other is a Reader single-cylinder high-speed engine, built about 1935, direct coupled to a two-cylinder Broom & Wade compressor.

The acquisition policy is to obtain a wide variety of items, representative of the industrial society with particular emphasis on London and South-East England. In this context it should be remembered that over one-third of the industry of the U.K. is in London and the south-east region. The actual age of any item is of no real significance. If it is obsolete it is worth considering for preservation, as an opportunity missed may never reoccur. There is also a need for preserving old drawings, instruction manuals, text books, trade directories, etc., relevant to plant and machinery.

If any GLIAS members hear of any interesting items or literature which are in danger of being scrapped, would they please contact either Alan Spackman or Allan Goode who will try and arrange a 'rescue'. Needless to say, volunteers are always welcome to help with the preservation work and further information on this can be obtained from either of the above. Allan Goode

Goodbye London Docks (1802-1979)

Those who attended last year's AGM will remember the photographic display, put up by students from the Poly of NE. London, showing the demolition of the stacks at the London Docks. The destruction of these historic warehouses, etc. (opened in 1802) was complete by the end of last year. The students, Louise Cargan, Janet Hart and Helen Kitsos have joined with Chris Ellmers of the Modern Department at the Museum of London in this exhibition. The two themes of the exhibition are the growth and operation of the docks, fascinatingly illustrated from the PLA photographs owned by the museum and then the minutely detailed study of their destruction. It is sad that the large wooden crane rescued by the Museum is not a central feature of the exhibition. Small in depth exhibitions on a particular theme are always welcome. The exhibition is on in the lower corridor (same as 'Cogs, etc.) at the Museum of London until 2 March, 1980. Dave Perrett

Wag at work?

One London street plan displays the caption "Brit. Air Power Sta." alongside Croydon Power Station, Waddon Marsh. Did someone note that B.E.A. is now part of British Airways? True Croydon do run two Concorde's worth of Olympus jet engines, but why does Trans World Airlines operate so many pumping stations in the London Area? Bob Carr

All is not saved that is re-used

The Jubilee Hall in Covent Garden, converted by the local community into a sports and recreation centre, is under attack by the "we want more offices and car parks lobby" in this case the GLC (us?) Anyone who feels prepared to battle for a central London sports centre or/and a fine piece of late Victorian market building should phone 836 4835 or 836 3355, or look in at No. 13 New Row, Covent Garden.

Kingston Workshop 1979

For the tenth time, Bryan Woodriffe managed to produce an entertaining and informative evening for the Kingston Poly Workshop. The trials and tribulations involved in the massive task of restoring St. Pancras Hotel were detailed by BR Architect Chris Read. Although its exterior will be restored there is still no decision on the use of the interior, the best guarantee of a well maintained exterior. David de Haan, Curator of the Elton Collection at Ironbridge, devoted most of his talk to a photo diary of the bi-centenary year in the Dale and then finally tempted us with some of the delights to be found in the Elton Collection. Lastly, more trials and tribulations were told by Peter Stevens, of moving steam locomotives, carriages and trams through London at dead of night to squeeze them into the new LT Museum in Covent Garden. Even nature conspired against him; the trees at Syon Park had grown sufficiently to block the exits there. Anyway it's all done now and the details of opening the new museum now take over his nightmares. Many thanks to Bryan and his speakers from all those able to attend.

IA on the Beeb

A new educational series starting on BBC2 soon (evenings, but dates not announced), called 'The Past At Work' in eight programmes, featuring IA museums, looks worth leafing through the Radio Times for. The (inevitable!) book on the series is to be published in February by Andre Deutsch at ₤8.95 so the programme will probably be on in the first half of the year.

Harrods visit

Harrods © Robert Mason 2017

Again we have to thank our member Douglas Cross for another exciting look 'behind the scenes' at the famous Knightsbridge store, on 10 November. The roof is a surprising world, hardly imagined by those who merely shop at Harrods. We spent some time there enjoying the view and inspecting the several sets of lift motors with their associated control gear. These installations span many years of electrical development. In the basement is the main power station where the store generates its own electricity, using both diesel and steam-turbine driven alternators. Here both the vacuum pumps by Cole, Merchant & Morley were noted, hard at work amid clouds of steam. They date from the late 19th century and were installed second-hand in 1904. Harrods draws all its own water from wells in the chalk. We were shown the well heads and associated equipment in the basement.

A walk through a tunnel under the Brompton Road brings one to the Trevor Square establishment, where a diesel generating station is situated. Harrods' two power stations can generate up to three-quarters of the store's normal electrical load. The remaining Harrods electric vans are stabled at Trevor Square. The oldest van regularly takes part in rallies and other events. Bob Carr

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: South Norwood (cont)

William Ford Robinson Stanley (1829-1909)
Inventor and manufacturer of woodworking, mathematical and surveying instruments, see article by H.W. Dickinson in Vol. 12 (1949) of Proc. Croydon Nat. History & Scientific Society and Cecil J. Allen, "A Century of Scientific Instrument Making 1853-1953", W.F. Stanley & Co. Ltd 1953. Took out 78 patents alone or with others, including the modern T-square with tapered blade screwed on face of stock, a simplified stereoscope, the first straight-line dividing engine, a better theodolite; also an improved lemon squeezer and a penny-in-the-slot height measuring machine. Set up own business in central London 1853, with a T-square sign until he found too many people thought it meant a tea shop. Moved to South Norwood 1867 and the firm stayed there until 1926 when it went to Eltham after a merger.

100. STANLEY WORKS, Belgrave Road
The 1867 factory, now DSM Joinery. Three storey block and 16-bay, two-storey workshop. The door lintel inscribed; "Contractor to H.M. Government, Council of India, Admiralty, Science & Art Department, &c.".

101. 74-76 Albert Road
Very large three-storey semis. Built for Stanley, who moved to No. 74 in 1867 and called it 'Stanleybury'.

102. In 1878 he moved to 'Cumberlow', a large and elaborate detached house in 6 acres of grounds (shown as brickfields on maps of 1847 and 1868). Lodge at 102a. The house is now a regional assessment centre for girl offenders, Cumberlow Lodge and can only be glimpsed from the neighbouring roads.

Stanley realized £100,000 when his firm became a limited company in 1900. He used much of it as 'Architect and Donor' of these ugly but charming buildings, in a style best described as eclectic. The foundation stone of the large hall 31 May 1902; completed February 1903-5 smaller hall 1904; two smaller rooms and secretary's house 1909. To Croydon Corp. 1934. Once included an art gallery, now gone. Portraits of Mr. & Mrs. Stanley on the E wall. Busts of him and six eminent Victorians were stolen in 1966. The Trade School was based on the German Gewerbeschulen, to combine classroom and workshop teaching for boys 12-15, then a novel idea in Britain. Built 1906, opened 1907 and still an independent technical school. The W tower used to house Stanley's meteorological instruments — another of his interests. Also on the façade, note the statue "Labor omnia vincit" at the base of the other tower and the lady with torch and copper flowers in pots, on the roofline of the gable of the large hall.

104. CLOCK TOWER, Station Road
'Erected by the inhabitants of South Norwood to commemorate the Golden Wedding of Mr & Mrs W.F. Stanley of Cumberlow, South Norwood, February 22nd 1907'. Ornate cast iron design — maker not known, though as there is one like it, but older, in Victoria, Seychelles, it must have been someone's standard design.

105. WEBBER BROS LTD, Station Road
The sports goods firm uses an old school of 1887, with a façade of polychrome brick and decorative tiles.

Well-preserved stables behind. There was a fire station here in 1897, either in the stables or on the site of the shops next door.

Double-fronted shop; entry in middle leads to old dairy buildings behind (Welford's Surrey Dairies Ltd, in 1913).

108. G.P. RADCLIFFE & SON LTD, 67 Albert Road
Theatre transport — an example of the unusual specialist firms often found in older areas. Buildings modern, but a glimpse of a nicely restored caravan.

109. FOSTER BIGGS & SONS LTD, 50 Portland Road
Removals, established 1875. Stable and tack room from their horse days in the yard.

Some of the buildings probably date back to Coldrey's Steam Bakery who were at No. 3 between the Wars (Broomfields in the 1950s) and possibly to A. Creasey, coachbuilder, who was at No. 3 from at least 1887 to the First World War and who began making motor car bodies for various makes of chassis in 1906.

Small modernised two-storey workshop behind. N wall still inscribed 'Richards, Sign Writer, Carriage Painter, Etc.' (visible from Norwood Jct. station). Richards arrived here c. 1889, described himself in directories as 'Sign Writer and Wheelwright' until the First World War and as 'Sign-Writer' to the mid-1930s, but it is 'unoccupied' in 1937.

1887-1901 pattern, in Birchanger Road at junction with Carmichael Road.

113. Unidentified workshop next to 45 Carmichael Road — one for further research?

114. JAMES SMITH & SONS LTD, 74 Carmichael Road
Builder's office and yards came here from High Street in mid-1880s and put up a prestige façade in Public House Classical style, presumably to attract high-class business. Now Yale Press Ltd.

115. COUNCIL HIGHWAYS DEPOT end of Carmichael Road
Dates from 1890s and still has some buildings of that period.

Derek Bayliss


Gazetteer: amendment to Brent entry

The three diesel engines (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979) have recently been broken up. Bob Carr

An interesting letter from Bolton

Denis O'Connor of Bolton Industrial History Society sent us copies of four good photographs of the construction of Abbey Mills Pumping Station which have just turned up at Bolton Museum. Rothwell & Company of Bolton cast much of the iron work for the building and Denis is keen to get hold of some modern black & white shots of Abbey Mills (particularly one across the centre of the interior) for an exhibition in Bolton later this year. If anyone has such a shot, please phone me (460 1416). Brenda Innes

Croydon Power Station

On 20th December GLIAS visited Croydon 'B', which is one of the dozen or so smaller power stations still operating in the London area (GLIAS Newsletter October 1979). These stations supply 33kV for local use and also during peak load times, 132 kV to the National Grid. On the completion of the new oil-fired station at Grain many of these will close. However, the increase in the price of oil has extended the lease of life of the older coal-fired stations such as Croydon (completed 1953-4) despite their lower efficiency.

At Croydon, Australian coal is delivered by road from Kingsnorth. For cosmetic reasons, the coal is dropped into a pit below the building and carried to the top via internal bucket lifts instead of using external conveyors. The coal is pulverized in roller mills, three per boiler and blown in a hot air stream into eight Simon-Carves boilers. These deliver superheated steam at 600 psi and 450°C to four Metropolitan-Vickers turbo-generator units which each deliver 52,500 kW at 11,800 V. The steam is exhausted to condensers at a vacuum of 29 ins Hg. The condensate is recycled and the losses of 24-40,000 gallons per day are mainly made up by distillation. Water used to cool the condensers is itself cooled by spraying onto wooden slats which occupy the bottom third of each cooling tower. One novel feature at Croydon is the use of sewage effluent from the nearby outfall at Hackbridge to make good losses from evaporation. Smoke from the boilers passes through electrostatic precipitators to remove suspended ash which is sold for road construction. Automatic smoke detectors are installed for the two 300ft high chimneys.

Croydon also possess two oil-fired gas-turbine generating sets. Installed in 1964, they are among the earliest in the country. Each unit uses four Bristol-Siddeley Olympus jet engines to provide a high pressure gas blast which drives gas turbines attached to a Parsons 70 kW, 11 kW alternator.

During normal use, the steam plant is in operation only between 7am and 10.30pm, Monday to Friday. One steam turbine set is used for local supply while the other three are used as required to supply the National Grid. Ancillary oil-burners are used to ignite the boilers and a half to one hour is required to reach full load. As the gas-turbine units consume approximately one rail-tanker of fuel per hour they are much more expensive to run and on average are in use for one hour per day only. Since they can reach full load within five minutes of start-up they are switched on to meet sudden temporary demands on the National Grid supply such as occur during TV commercial breaks. About 270 staff are employed. A night shift is still maintained in case of emergency demands by the CEGB.

GLIAS would like to thank all concerned at Croydon; in particular Mr. George for his lucid exposition of generating policy and our two guides for their expert assistance. Pam Carr

IA on film

During last summer the massive triple expansion engines at Kempton Park Pumping Station were featured in the shooting of a new film about the sinking of the Titanic. The engine hall was made to look like the engine room of the ship and the triples were the engines. George Watkins says that the best set of marine engines ever built are at the bottom of the Atlantic and should be salvaged!

From Croydon

Two last items of news about Croydon from Derek Bayliss who is now in Sheffield:

Cooper's Steam Boot Factory, South End, Croydon The GLC has given listed building consent for demolition. At the last report this was still awaiting the Secretary of State's agreement. GLIAS and the Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society are doing an outline recording exercise in early January. Latest research suggests the building is of the 1870s rather than the 1860s as previously thought.

Croydon Disinfecting Station The 1912 building, visited by GLIAS in Summer 1977, is to be replaced by a new Disinfecting Station on a different site, to permit the GLC to enlarge the adjoining refuse transfer depot on the old Croydon dust destructor site.

It seems that Derek's cake and coffee have done the trick! Bruce Osborne has agreed to have a go at being Croydon correspondent and as he lives in a converted water tower he should be just the job! If you have any Croydon news get in touch with him.

Attention all railway nuts

Lion © Robert Mason 2015

Those members of GLIAS who are going to the 150th Anniversary "Rocket 150" at Rainhill on 24/25/26 May of this year might be interested in the following notes compiled by Charles Taylor-Nobbs about one of the exhibits from the Liverpool Museum which is expected to be running.

Currently 'Lion' is being re-tubed at the Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows in order to comply with BR regulations that steam locomotives must be re-tubed every ten years if they are to be steamed and run on their rails. 'Lion' was last seen steaming publicly in the film 'Titfield Thunderbolt' in which she was the star. The previous year, 1951, 'Lion' appeared briefly in the film about Florence Nightingale 'The Lady With the Lamp'. Before going to Liverpool Museum she stood for many years, prior to World War II over the buffer stops between platforms 3 and 4 at Liverpool's Lime Street Station.

This locomotive is a popular subject with model engineers and, although most modellers have named their creations 'Lion' one wonders if they ought to name them after some other animal or, more accurately, 'Thunderbolt'.

Charles, together with his son Keith, would welcome any definitive information on further reference sources and particularly the date of the introduction of the Hexagon headed bolt.

Early drawings, circa 1840, definitely indicate that the hexagon nut was in fairly general use but the common bolt was a domed head with a squared portion of the shank under it. Still sold today as a carriage bolt. John Parker

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© GLIAS, 1980