Home | Membership | News | Diary | Walks | Calvocoressi Fund | Books | Journals | Links | Database | e-papers | About us

Notes and news — December 1980

In this issue:

National Maritime Institute

Some GLIAS members who are also members of the Newcomen Society paid a visit to the ship model testing facilities of the Institute at Feltham and Teddington on Monday 12 May. As the National Maritime Institute may be of interest to other GLIAS members, here is an account of the visit. Despite its modern image some of the older plant at Teddington dates back to before the First World War, being a pioneer ship testing tank of fairly high IA interest. On arrival we were given coffee, after we were shown a short introductory film and were addressed by the General Manager, Mr. J.A.M. Paffett, who briefly outlined the history of testing ship design by means of models.

The National Maritime Institute (NMI) is on two sites, Teddington and Feltham. Originally the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) operated two towing tanks at Teddington. On more facilities being required, additional tanks, etc., were built at a new establishment at Feltham. In 1976 the ship model testing section of NPL together with some associated functions were separated off and became the NMI. This splitting off of sections to become independent bodies is a continuing feature of NPL. In addition to Teddington and Feltham the NMI also has a marine trials base at Hythe on Southampton Water.

At Feltham we visited the various tanks and water tunnels in fairly rapid succession. On the day of our visit they were unfortunately between experiments at most tanks. No. 3 tank at Feltham is very large, being 400 metres in length. Its aluminium roof has proved a good investment in that no painting is required. Apart from saving the cost, this has the advantage that water in the tank is not polluted by accidental paint drips. A wave maker is fitted at one end of the tank with wave absorbing beaches at each end and along the sides to dissipate the energy. Tanks 4a and 9 are used for manoeuvring tests with free radio-controlled models. No. 7 tank, out of doors, is used for shallow water experiments. Here large models may be operated by a crew. Of the two water tunnels, used for instance to study cavitation with propeller models, No. 2 is the larger. To avoid small air bubbles building up in the circulating water and obscuring the view, the water of this tunnel is circulated 55 metres below ground so that air brought out of solution in the working section is re-absorbed under pressure. In the Circulating Water Channel at Feltham water is made to flow past a stationary model enabling steady-state experiments to be made. We were shown the method of constructing wax ship models and model propellers, the latter require great skill to make and cost about £2,000. Unlike the wax hull models these are not discarded after use.

After being entertained to lunch at the NPL site, Teddington, we visited the wind tunnels there. A pair of these arranged side by side in the same building is used to investigate air flow over models using streams of smoke to make the flow visible. A model of Queen Elizabeth II and an oil rig were on test. The ship model was used to evaluate funnel designs, a shape being evolved that lifted the exhaust gases well clear of the after part of the ship where passengers would promenade, sunbathe, etc.. The oil rig model was used to investigate turbulence over a rig's helicopter landing platform, the aim being to produce a structure from which helicopter operation is not hazardous.

The carriage of No. 2 tank at Teddington is fitted with a blade, not unlike that of a bulldozer, which can be lowered into the water so that the motion of the carriage generates large waves; up to one metre in height. The operation of this 'Wave dozer' was demonstrated for us and proved one of the most exciting parts of the visit. A sloping beach at the end of the tank effectively absorbs the not inconsiderable energy of these large waves.

The most interesting tank from an IA point of view is No. 1 at Teddington which dates from 1910. This was presented to the NPL for the use of the Nation by a shipbuilder, A.F. Yarrow. A wall plaque announces that this is the William Froude National Tank. Apart from the drive being recently modernised the tank is still pretty much as built. The original motors remain in use but are now fed from a solid-state DC supply. We were shown the original Ward-Leonard motor generator and Dick Kerr switchgear which is still present.

The day finished with a visit to the museum at Teddington where apparatus used in the establishment of physical standards was on display, along with photographs of the site at various times illustrating the work of the NPL, etc. These latter included photographs of motor horn testing — reminiscent of Heath Robinson — and the opening of the William Froude Tank in 1911, From the photographic evidence the tank has changed little since that date apart from the modernisation previously mentioned.

We are most grateful to the National Maritime Institute for its hospitality to our party and would especially like to thank Mr Paffett, the General Manager, who accompanied us the whole day and was a most attentive and entertaining host. Bob Carr

IA in Denmark

Derek Bayliss spent a holiday in Denmark last summer and has supplied the following notes on things seen:

The following were visited — with one exception — during a short holiday. There is much else to see (the Gunpowder mills at Frederiksvaerk NW of Copenhagen were specially recommended to use), but time did not permit.

Legoland, at Billund between Grindsted and Uejle, Jutland. Summer only. Mainly for the children, but the virtuoso models are worth seeing; wind and watermills well represented. Each year there is a special indoor exhibition; 1980s, on Energy, included a remarkable working model (not in Lego) of a cross-section of a coal mine.

Railway Museum, Odense. Locomotives (the oldest by Robert Stephenson & Co, but the rest all from Germany — a sad comment), rolling stock, signalling, model railway, etc. (A small museum in Copenhagen has documents, photos and small relics). On far side of railway station, reached by station subway. May-Sept 10.00-16.00, Oct-Apr Suns only 10.00-15.00

Falck Museum, Odense. Falck, founded 1906, is an auxiliary fire fighting, rescue and ambulance organisation, funded by subscription. Old fire engines, ambulances, relics and photos. The 8kr. admission charge, not revealed until you get in, is a bit high. Klostervej 28, W of the station. May-Sept daily except Mons, 10.00-16.00 (Suns 13.00-17.00) Oct-Apr Weds & Sats 10.00-16.00.

Kastrup-Holmegaards Glassworks, Odense. A chance to see glassblowing, with a variety of products. Founded 1874. 20 Lille Glasvej, W of town centre. Conducted tours Mon-Fri at 10.30 and 13.15. Also note industrial housing outside the gate.

Funen Village, on the S outskirts of Odense. Folk museum with reconstructed buildings from many parts of Fyn. Windmill, watermill, smithy, horse engines, cottage industries, 1860 brickworks with one square wood-fired kiln. Apr-Oct open daily, varying hours (always at least 10,00-15.30) 5 Nov-Mar Suns only 10.00-15.30.

Egeskov, between Odense and Svendberg, Fyn. Beautiful moated manor house. In two of the barns, collections of horse-drawn vehicles, cars, aeroplanes, etc. (including a Bristol bus).

Kaleko mill, 2km from Fåborg, Fyn. The oldest watermill on Fyn, preserved and open mid Apr - mid Sept Sats & Suns 14.30-17.30 (1 June-mid Aug daily 10.00-12.00, 14.00-17.30). Not visited, but looks highly picturesque.

Town Museum, Kerteminde, NE of Odense. A jumbled old museum! on the 2nd floor, in cramped conditions, some 15 craft workshops have been re-created, including unusual ones such as a sail-maker's.

Danish Technical Museum, Helsingør, 45km N of Copenhagen. Many aspects of science & technology in a small space. The largest exhibit is an 1857 beam engine for Copenhagen Waterworks, which 'works' if you put 1kr. in a slot; it is inscribed William Simpson & Co, London, but the label says it was built by Cochrane & Co. Three steam locos, a steamroller and an agricultural engine, all British made; some very early Danish planes; plenty of exhibits to try out yourself, including a vintage pinball machine. At Nordre Strandvej 23, over 1km from main station infrequent bus, or light railway to Marienlyst halt. Road transport annexe at Ole Romersvej, about 1km both from station and from main museum. Open 10.00-17.00 daily; annexe 10.00-16.00 Mon-Fri, 10.00-17.00 Sat-Sun. Entry 7kr for either building or 9kr for both. Derek Bayliss

...And IA in Belgium

Derek's guide to Danish IA reminded your Ed. of the GLIAS trip to Belgium and the fact that she had promised to put some note of it in the newsletter for the benefit of members who did not go and also missed the action replay at the Royal Pavilion Hotel. Despite the battle to get there and back through the only channel port not closed over the Bank Holiday by the French fishermen's blockage, it was a weekend I would not have missed for anything, superbly organised by that well-known team Dave, Danny and Denis and our beyond-praise hosts in Belgium the VVIA. We were accommodated in typical University rooms, but with the special feature that these overlooked a derelict mill and workers housing and had a fine view across Ghent. At breakfast we met Angus Buchanan and some other IA notables — over there on a textile history conference — it's a small world. Our friends had organised 2½ really well-filled days, but travelling around in the little Mercedes coach was not gruelling.

On Saturday morning we saw Antwerp Docks from the inside under the expert guidance of the safety officer, in the afternoon gasped at the size of the holes left by the brickmaking industry at Boom. (Well, even if the bricks were handmade and most of the clay dug out without heavy equipment, they have been at it since before bricks were made in Britain, say from about 1100!)

After looking at one of the brickworks still in production we saw something else the Belgians had before we did: a windmill. This one is the 'pet' of a judge. Disaster loomed. He was expecting us the next weekend (bad telephone line). Kindly, he nipped indoors and donned his milling overalls and we had the additional interest of seeing the sails unfurled. It was sunny and a stiff breeze was blowing, up in the creaking mill it felt like being in a sailing ship without the seasickness. We had a free evening, but everybody started into town together in search of the perfect meal. A few peeled off when they saw their ideal restaurant, but most finished up on the main square in one which must have been pretty near perfect as everybody approved. (There was a McDonald's just across the square to remind us of home).

On Sunday we looked at railway stations large and small, a tram museum (we don't have a Royal Tram, Belgium does) and a sleeping beauty paper mill which had operated for about a century, then stopped with the board it was producing still between the rollers. We finished the afternoon by looking at some industrial slums in Ghent; infill of the gardens of 18th-century houses with terraces of workers houses built in the later 19th century. Although we had reservations about photographing people's homes (they were still occupied, mainly by Turkish families) it was like being on a time machine, for these were exactly the sort of slums that British industrial towns had until the 20s. This is the factor that makes Belgian IA so fascinating; apart from brickmaking and windmills all the industry we saw commenced at least half a century later than ours and consequently the older forms can still be seen, often still working. We were constantly wrong in our estimation of dates: Gothic railway stations were built after the turn of the century, dock warehouses in 1900, not 1850 and hand-made bricks in non-standard sizes were still being manufactured.

Notes and queries

Union Wharf (GLIAS Newsletter June 1980). Bet Parker has found three locations with this name, one on the Regent's Canal and two on the Thames at Wapping and Greenwich. Are there more? Unfortunately Bruce Osborne still has no idea of why a 60lb weight, marked 'Union Wharf', was at Mistham and still wishes for elucidation.

Delivery of Burton beer (Newsletter 70). Bet Parker (again) has discovered a useful book on industries of Burton, which together with two further publications is beginning to help create a hazy picture. But a volunteer is still needed to search for information in railway and canal records at the Public Record Office, Kew, which is open during normal office hours. If you can help, please contact David Thomas.

I have a query about the Metropolitan Water Board system in his area from Nicholas Croome of 6 Launceston Gardens, Perivale, Greenford, UB6 7ET: if anyone is expert on or interested in this subject perhaps they would get in touch with Nicholas. He is also keen to hear of remnants of the London Trolleybus and tram systems.

Visit to the Kennet & Avon Canal in October

Do you remember the GLIAS trip to Abbeydale when the fog was thick as we drove up the M1 and then when we reached Sheffield the sun was shining? Well the sun shone on GLIAS yet again when we travelled west to Crofton. Many more people would have liked to come, I know, I had to answer the phone calls and turn them down. Even so, several people came on the coach knowing that there would be no room on the canal boat and gallantly trudged along the muddy tow-path to Wootton Rivers.

Pic by David Thomas

We arrived at Crofton at 11.30 just as the Boulton & Watt engine was about to be steamed. We were guided round the engine house by a familiar figure from Kew, Peter Stokes (who will be giving the lecture listed under Events in January). After a good look round, warmed by the boilers and hot drinks from the kiosk, the amble to the boat began (and guess who was the last to arrive?). As the boat travelled along we bravely had the awnings on one side rolled up whilst we consumed hot soup. This walking made easy progress of the sodden towpath and outpaced the boat by several lengths.

After a lightning visit to Devizes Flight, which were in an unkempt state, we headed on our way. A closed bridge made us rather late for Claverton, but thankfully everyone had not gone home. The enormous waterwheels powering the two beam pumps are unique and very impressive. The volunteers had gallantly pumped out the flood water that very morning, a regular occurrence we were told. The cold, clear weather just began to break up as we ascended the lane back to the coach. A splendid trip, Perrett did it again. Encore, please. Olwen Davies

But is it IA?

I would like to take issue with David Thomas on a couple of items in his gazetteer in the August newsletter, item 153, "Although not strictly IA, for completeness, perhaps we should mention the Old Vic." "Not strictly IA"? Is there not an entertainment industry? And last February did we not have a lecture entitled "The Archaeology of Entertainment"? Then item 172 — Temperance Hall — "temperance"? I.A..? — the mind boggles!

Certainly IA, but, alas, no longer with us is the Museum of British Beer which flourished briefly near Tower Bridge. Tarant Hobbs is very keen to find new support and premises for the Museum and if any member could offer him help of any kind I will put them in touch. Bill Firth

Bob Carr writes wondering if bomb damage is a suitable subject for the IA enthusiast. I certainly find it of interest as a vital part of London's history, but can find an even stronger case for recording in our gazetteer items like shelter and water reserve signs, many of which are still painted on walls all over Greater London, also odd items like the metal stretchers which have been re-used to make fences in one or two places such as topping the wall of the men's hostel in Deptford.

On the subject of the Gazetteer ...

I regret to have to announce that I have only two corrections and one new item for this newsletter. Please can I have so much for the February issue that I don't know which to put in! Write it over Christmas, it'll make a change from eating.

137. Lambeth North Tube Station
Red glazed brickwork now buried beneath paint scheme.

165. Bacon Curer, 59 Great Suffolk Street. Closed. (>>>) David Thomas

193. Chelsea Bridge 285778
1934-7 by Rendel, Palmer & Tritton, 352 foot span suspension-bridge of the self-anchored type — the tension of the end cables is balanced by a thrust through the stiffening girders. One of the first structures to use high-yield steel, in the stiffening girders. On site of a suspension bridge of 1858 by Thomas Page. Malcolm Tucker

Recording Group

33 Bermondsey Wall, SE1 This medium-sized riverside warehouse, once a mill, was empty and becoming derelict when GLIAS used it as a recording training site in 1979. However, it is now being used by a car valeting firm, who have considerably tidied the lower floors and carried out some repairs to the structure. Good!

W.A. Crips & Son, 67 George Row, SE1. Close to the above, this fascinating workshop has, after several years of declining business, finally closed and the site and equipment sold. Mr Crips, the last owner, thoughtfully let GLIAS know that he was closing and we were in turn able to alert Alan Spackman who managed to negotiate purchase of several interesting machines and a good supply of (imperial thread) spare nuts, bolts, etc., for the proposed Lea Valley IA Museum. Some legers and invoices have also been rescued and a selection will be deposited in Southwark's Local History Library.

Whilst GLIAS was able at least to do something, we were unable to interest anyone in acquiring the premises intact as a commercial concerns even at a low asking price. Copies of GLIAS report 'W.A. Crips & Sons Bermondsey's Last Chainsmiths' are still available from Tom Smith, 74 Lord Warwick Street, Woolwich, London SE18 5QD. The supplement enclosed with this Newsletter is the result of recording work followed up by some research. Whilst this was a training site and was advertised in the Newsletter, there are many more, often far less complex, which urgently need to be tackled. We need — and that word is an understatement — immediate help from members who are willing to learn (experience is helpful, but not essential) to help on sites and the associated library research. If you would like to assist, please come to the January Recording Group meeting. David Thomas

Next issue >>>

© GLIAS, 1980