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Notes and news — April 1981

In this issue:

Pinner Hill Farm

This site (NGR TQ 110 907) was brought to the attention of GLIAS by Mrs. Pat Clarke of Pinner Local History Society and was visited by a few GLIAS members on 21 July and on subsequent occasions.

Historical background: In 1807 in his Cyclopedia, Rees wrote of chalk that 'In its natural state it is useful, as a manure, upon the same principle as limestone but it is more easily pulverised, and lighter, or more porous in its nature'. He went on to observe that '... there are two methods of obtaining chalk. The first is by uncallowing a piece of ground and making it convenient for a pit, where the carts may be drawn into it and filled; this is on a presumption that the chalk lies near the surface and that the pit is within a small distance of the field on which the manure is to be laid. The other method is to sink pits in the field where the chalk is intended' to be laid as a manure and which is far preferable to that of drawing it in carts. These pits are to be made in the form and circumference of a well, with an apparatus at the top and a bucket to draw up the chalk.'

There were many other uses to which chalk could be put. It could, for instance, be burned in a kiln to produce quicklime which could then be used as a mortar. The chalk and a fuel were laid in the kiln in alternating layers and the kiln could be charged from the top and the lime extracted from the bottom.

Before the 19th century the site of Pinner Hill Farm was part of the old Pinner Common. Between 1805 and 1815 Charles Blackwell of Harrow Weald brick and: tile works was digging chalk in the ME corner of the Common. The chalk was probably burnt for lime in the kiln which existed to the NW of the farm site (see Fig. 1). As early as 1767 William Bodimeade of Harrow Weald had a kiln on Pinner Common.

After the Enclosure Award of 1803-17, on the map of which the farm site is covered by field no. 620, the field was awarded to Robert Tubbs. Ownership passed to John Baker Sellon, owner of the adjoining Pinner Hill House and he sold the whole estate to Albert Pell in 1821. Pell's son and heir sold the estate in 1844 to William Tooke, for his son Arthur, in whose family it remained for the rest of the century. The conveyance of 1821 makes no mention of a farm, or a lime kiln, or a chalk mine. On the other hand the prospectus for the sale of 1844 refers to a farm, a lime kiln and a chalk mine, all of which are shown on its accompanying map to occupy the field formerly no. 620.

Fig 1. Industrial activity at Pinner Hill. PLHS, 1981

Fig 1. Industrial activity at Pinner Hill. PLHS, 1981

The Farm Buildings: The original farm buildings were those put up by Albert Pell when he erected two cottages, probably in 1827, as part of the development of a 'model' farm just down the hill from his mansion. Arthur Tooke seems to have undertaken a major rebuilding programme in the 1860s and most of the existing buildings probably date from this period. Although part of the farmhouse is probably earlier. The main buildings are arranged around a large rectangular yard which is now divided roughly into two by a fence. The farmhouse occupies a central position on the north side of this yard and forms a continuous range with various outbuildings to the west. There are other outbuildings on the W and S of the yard, probably cowsheds, pigstys and general barns. The S range continues with stables and a cart-shed and on the E side of the yard is a separate stable block of a rectangular plan. At the N end of this building, erected in 1862, is a clock tower; of three storeys, the ground was possibly a tack room, the first floor a hay loft and the second a dovecote. The tower bears a crest and the date 1862.

The buildings are mainly of brick of varying colour and texture, but wood has been used on some of the outbuildings. Behind the farmhouse, ie to the N, are a number of small out-buildings together with the remains of others. It is in this area that there are the main items of interest to the Industrial Archaeologist.

The Horse Circle: At the W end of the site, behind the farmhouse range, is the paved circle of a former horse gin. The circle has an internal diameter of 16ft 6in and a paved area, 3ft 9in wide, consisting of eleven concentric rings of red granitic setts. The setts have an average width of about 4in along the radius of the circle, while lengths vary from 4in to 6in; they are about 4in deep.

The circle is broken on the N side by an approximately 3in gap containing a shaft of about 1¾ diameter which connected the horse engine in the centre with a spur wheel of 2ft diameter (60 teeth) in a small building to the N of the circle. The shaft, which ends with a universal coupling near the centre of the circle and spur wheel are in situ. Close by we found two bearing blocks joined to two pieces of wood and with a short length of 1½in diameter shaft and a 6in diameter pinion (14 teeth) and on one end, a universal coupling. Hence the circle was used to drive fairly light, fast-running machinery.

Of the building, apparently known as the threshing barn, only the foundations and lower brick courses survive. The footings are of flint, probably from the nearby chalk mine. The building was 10ft 6in wide by 14in long (see Fig 2). The floor of the building was sunk some 2ft below the level, of the horse circle. It was paved with brick except for two parallel pieces of slate, one about 16in by 5ft, the other about 18in by between 3ft and 4ft. This latter was a broken piece of slate and the 'gap' had been filled with brick.

Fig 2. Pinner Hill Farm horse circle. TRS, November 1980

Fig 2. Pinner Hill Farm horse circle. TRS, November 1980

The whole layout is not inconsistent with a horse gin used to drive a threshing machine and other farm machinery such as a turnip chopper. (See Animal Powered Engines by J. Kenneth Major. On p24 there is an illustration of a circle used for threshing and on pp 50 & 51 further illustrations show engines typical of a kind probably used at Pinner Hill Farm. There is a preserved example of this type of engine at High Corn Mill, Skipton, Yorks.) This form of horse engine first appeared in the 1840s.

Paved Cartway: Immediately to the E of the horse circle is a small building, part, wood part terra cotta coping, all on a brick foundation with flint footings and said(?) to be a replacement for an earlier building. A wall, since demolished, made up of more lengths of hollow terra cotta coping, possibly seconds, enclosed a small yard beyond this building. On the N side of the wall, before their removal, there wore a 'large' number of blocks of granite — 2ft by 2ft by 1ft. These are undoubtedly stone sleeper blocks from the London & Birmingham Railway (1837-8). Blocks of this sort have two holes in the centre where the chair was fastened down. I understand that one of the blocks has been turned over and that the chair holes were found on the lower surface.

On the L & B, Robert Stephenson initially used stone sleeper blocks in the cuttings and tunnels, while on the embankments he used transverse, wooden sleepers. Stone sleeper blocks were the norm on many early railways and, on the tramroads, plateways and wagonways which predated them. For the low weights and slow speeds of horse-drawn wagons they were fine, but they were totally unsuitable for the higher speed steam railway, lacking resilience and tending to spread the gauge. So they were soon replaced by the now conventional transverse wooden sleepers and the redundant stone blocks can be found for several miles either side of the L & B route in gardens, on the Grand Junction Canal and elsewhere.

Some of the sleeper blocks at Pinner Hill Farm partly overlay the remains of a paved cartway which appears to curve towards Pinner Hill Road, but more likely heads for one of the two limekilns which have now disappeared. In the opposite direction the cartway was lost beneath the wall and in the small yard.

The paving of this cartway is of interest and is shown in Fig 3. There were four parallel lines of larger blocks, grey in colour and possible basalt. The inner lines were too close to be suitable for a normal sized cart unless it had wheels of a narrow 'gauge' at the front and of a wider gauge at the back. The blocks have roughly square surfaces with sharply defined edges, giving the impression that the cartway has been little used. Between the lines of larger blocks were small square setts similar to those used in the horse circle.

Fig 3. Pinner Hill Farm paved cartway. TRS, November 1980

Fig 3. Pinner Hill Farm paved cartway. TRS, November 1980

The Chalk Mine: In the small yard there is a shaft which, at the time of our first visit, was capped with a brick dome characteristic of the district. The local Caving Group have uncapped the shaft and have explored the chalk mine beneath. These notes of the mine are based partly on their findings. This is probably the 'Chalk Pit' which, together with a lime kiln, was said to produce about £3 a week in 1844. A second mine existed on the opposite side of Pinner Hill Road and was surveyed in 1932 before the shaft was filled with clay during building operations. The shaft is located under the path inside the EEB sub-station. The first shaft was sunk by Pell: the name of his son Albert and a friend — A. Pym — were found burned into the chalk roof. The shaft, sunk through the Woolwich and Reading beds, is 112ft deep to the mine galleries. Below this is a rubble filled, sump of unknown depth. The shaft is about 5ft wide and is brick lined down to the gallery roof at a depth of 97ft. The mine was, worked by the pillar and stall method with two main galleries about 80in long, see Fig 1. An 8in diameter cast iron rising main can be seen in the rubble filling the sump. There was a small hole in the capping dome of the shaft and it is possible that the mine was used as a well after its closure. The mine would require some method of winding the chalk out of it and of pumping it dry. The horse circle is about 25ft from the shaft and it is tempting to suggest that, in an earlier form, this was used for these purposes. The arrangement would be entirely different to that found there today. A wooden frame above the circle would support a central wooden shaft with a vertical drum for the winding rope. Pulleys mounted on another, frame above the shaft would guide, the rope. But there is no direct evidence for this and the rebuilding work done by Tooke could easily have removed an earlier horse circle, perhaps a little nearer to the shaft. That this type of whim-gin was used in the area we know from an Indenture dated 29 September 1830 relating to the other known chalk mine at the Dingles, Pinner. Charles Blackwell was allowed to 'use the Engines, Whymsies, Gins, Tackle, Rope, Buckets and other conveniences within the said pits'. The Dingles mine is much larger than the two at Pinner Hill Farm with two surviving shafts, one of which can be descended. This shaft is about 51in diameter, brick lined and about 45in deep, this being the depth to the chalk at the Dingles.

Other items of interest: The chalk from the Pinner Hill Farm mines was no doubt used both for lime mortar and as a manure. Another use could have been for making whiting for whitewash. This process involves the use of a great deal of water to remove the impurities from the chalk. About 300 yards from the farm, up the hill to the N, an earth dam encloses a rectangular reservoir fed by two springs. This was constructed between 1844 and 1864 and there was a pipe connecting it with the farm. To the S of the farm buildings there is a pond shown on the 1865 OS plan. This plan also shows an unknown structure on the opposite side of Pinner Hill Road just N of the second chalk mine. The reservoir is about 90ft by 36ft by about 6ft deep.

Another curiosity is a slab of carboniferous limestone lying beside the road (marked R on Fig 1) known locally as a millstone. It is roughly semi-circular in plan, about 5ft 4in across the 'diameter' and 2ft 10in across the 'radius'. It seems to have been broken in two, the other half is missing. The stone has a very smooth edge 12in wide, the total thickness being about 16in. There are two iron pegs set in the upper surface. Clearly the stone is not a conventional millstone, but was it used as an edge-runner? If so, why was it made of limestone, a material not normally associated with crushing?

In the farmyard there is a wrought iron tank used as a fish-pond. It is circular. It is in plan and semi-circular in cross-section, 5ft in diameter and 2ft 6in deep, made of small wrought iron plates, there are eight around the rim, each 3/8in thick, riveted together in a crude fashion. There are rivet holes around the rim suggesting that it was attached to more plates, perhaps to form some sort of externally fired boiler. It could easily have been made by the local blacksmith. Its original purpose is unknown.

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to Mr. Lawrence Camps, owner of the farm, for permission to visit the site, to Mrs. Pat Clarke and Mr. Ken Kirkman of Pinner Local History Society for the historical information about the farm and Mr. Kirkman for permission to use Figure 1. Tim Smith

Trinity Buoy Wharf — A postscript

The GLIAS recording group members who visited the glass bending works of Messrs. John Bowden Ltd, on 25 February 1981 were intrigued to hear that the triangular pieces of glass being bent to form part of a cylinder were being worked for Trinity House. They were the glasses which, fitted into metal frames, form the burner surrounds on light buoys. A note on the visit to Bowdens will appear in a future newsletter. John Parker

GLIAS video evening

On Thursday evening 12 March in the salubrious Old Kent Road a number of GLIAS members met to see Danny Hayton's video film of our exchange with VVIA (The Flemish IA Society) and various visits to Sindall's, the Dalston specialist weaving firm (GLIAS Newsletter February 1981). We were very pleased to welcome Mr. Cecil Sindall and his small party who arrived in good time, allowing conversation before the show. Mr. Sindall described his early motoring experience. His first car was a second-hand De Dion-Bouton, bought in 1919. He talked of motoring holidays in France in the early 1920s, driving to Switzerland and of having the car broken into at night while his party was staying at a hotel. At the police station policemen were going on and off duty and they seemed too busy kissing each other to take particulars, it was only with reluctance that details were finally taken and nothing was ever recovered. A wooden shutter was devised to replace the window broken by the thieves. Despite repeated coaxing the TV set of KBS Computers being used to show the video that evening would not produce colour for more than a minute or two at a time from the edited cassette (the original version was fine, perhaps there was a loss in copying, Danny insisted that the edited version was splendid on his TV set at home). This meant we had added nostalgia — watching in black and white. We were, also treated to a display of high technology in the shape of a hot drinks machine with out of phase loading. It was nice to see some old faces from the Belgian visit and the evening served as something of a reunion. Danny had selected some fine clips to show us: many thanks Danny for all your exertions, especially for all that editing. Bob Carr


Most of the surviving stations in London will be closing down in October 1981, except for a few where the supply network is not yet sufficiently secure. It is possible that Deptford will remain as a combined heat and power project. This would be a special pilot project. The existing CHP at Battersea may remain after 1983 when the existing contract ends. This does raise a question of whether it would be possible to preserve one of these older stations. The scale of the operation suggests a Science Museum outstation with considerable CEGB support. Ironbridge 'A' or the one near St. Neots come to mind; the redevelopment potential of the London sites rules them out. Paul Gibbons

Following our visit to Blackwall Point Power Station (GLIAS Newsletter February 1981), when some members of the party enquired about photographs, CEGB have contacted me concerning a collection of their photographs being set up at Bankside. The collection includes a file on most power stations that have existed in Greater London and photographs show construction at various stages, opening ceremonies and scenes of the stations in use. Photographs of old power stations before demolition are also collected. Construction photographs include the old station at Bankside, being built c.1890 and Blackwall Point c.1950. One or two photographs taken c.1947 depict the old station at Blackwall Point prior to demolition. The better old prints are being copied on film. The CEGB welcomes serious enquiries. In the first place write to Mrs. P. Morritt, Room 417, CEGB Public Relations Dept, Bankside House, Sumner Street, London SE1.

Where is it now?

The following appeared on p444 of The Quarry, Volume 5 in 1900:

'A Giant Map
There has just been built into the wall at King's Cross (GNR) Station a remarkable map of the country from Sheffield to Inverness, showing the North Eastern Railway system. The map, which is painted on glazed tiles, consists of 64 large squares in an amber frame of the same material. The map shows the positions not only of cathedrals, castles, abbeys and parks, but also of battlefields, with the dates of the battles fought there. Smaller designs on the same map show the docks at Hull, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough and on the Tyne.'

Does any member know what happened to this map, is it just hidden at King's Cross? Tim Smith

News from Woolwich

After an enthralling 'Workshop' at which a full complement of Goldsmiths 'regulars' (some of them for eight years!) swelled by a goodly contingent from the Woolwich & District Antiquarian Society were updated on the Brunel Project by Bob Barnes, introduced to George England's Locomotive Works by Dave Perrett and initiated into some of the mysteries of Woolwich Arsenal by Jack Vaughan, the following appeal was given to me for the newsletters:

On Wednesday 11 February 1981 Greenwich Council decided by a majority of 35 to 14 votes to let the 'Imry Development Scheme' for Woolwich Town Centre go ahead. This scheme involves the demolition of the existing, mainly Victorian and Edwardian, townscape of small shops and businesses and the erection of a multi-storey shopping complex plus car park, rising to above the height of the present Woolwich Equitable building. Two buildings of interest to industrial archaeologists that will be lost are:

The 'Tram-Shed' (GLIAS Newsletter April 1980)
Built in 1912 as an electricity transformer station for L.C.C. trams, this has since been converted to a successful local theatre and bar after being derelict for many years. It retains much of its industrial character, with massive brick walls and piers, steel roof trusses, runway beams (for travelling crane) and the underground cable-way provides extensive cellarage for the real-ale bar.

The Coffee Tavern
(opposite the Arsenal Station). As the foundation stone indicates:


Queen Victoria's son, the Duke of Connaught, who attended lectures at the Military Academy in Woolwich, supported the aims of the Coffee Tavern Company who tried to lure men away from the evils of drink to establishments that provided only coffee with their entertainment. The Coffee Tavern has subsequently been a cinema, school of dancing, social club, Chinese restaurant and a bingo hall. The Woolwich & District Antiquarian Society would like to see it used as a local history museum and library.

The Victorian Society supports the retention of these two buildings. The 'Save Woolwich Now' group has proposed an alternative scheme retaining and rehabilitating the existing buildings where possible, plus small-scale and sympathetic redevelopment. Greenwich Council has rejected this local scheme, although most local opinion, as shown by the Council's 'public consultation exercise' is against the 'Imry' and large scale total redevelopment. GLIAS members are asked to contact the Minister of the Environment asking for a public enquiry and to send written objections to both the DoE and GLC. Susan Parker and Andrew Bullivant

Blotting paper at the V&A

Paxton's famous blotting paper on which he sketched the first idea for the Crystal Palace is part of the exhibition 'Drawing, Technique & Purpose' which continues until April 26. Open weekdays 10.00-17.50, Sundays 14.30-17.50, closed Fridays. Other items which might interest GLIAS members are felt tip pen design; thoughts and body design details for the Morris Minor car by Sir Alec Issigonis. The exhibition deals with diagrams, technical illustration and printmaking techniques as well as purer works of art more traditionally associated with the ............... Bob Carr

Gazetteer of London industrial archaeology: Barnet 2: Rail (cont.)


Opened to Finchley Central 1867, to High Barnet 1872.


235. East Finchley, TQ 272 891, rebuilt for LT electrification and extension 1938-9 in typical 'Holden' style.

236. Finchley Central, TQ 253 906 (?)

237. Woodside Park, TQ 257 926

238. Totteridge & Whetstone, TQ 261 939

239. High Barnet, TQ 250 962

These four above date from 1872 and a considerable amount of original work remains, together with adjacent related buildings.

240. West Finchley, TQ 256 918, built 1933, but in an older style since material and fittings from other old stations were used.


Opened 1867, now open only as LT Northern Line, Mill Hill East branch as far as Mill Hill East. Electrification, through to Edgware was proposed in 1938 works programme. Interrupted by World War II, the scheme was finally abandoned in 1954. Most of the trackbed can be followed from Mill Hill East to Edgware; there are considerable traces of the early works of electrification and some other interesting features:

241. Dollis Viaduct, Dollis Road, N3 TQ 246 911. 13-arch red brick viaduct over Dollis Valley, opened 1867.

242. Mill Hill East Station, Bittacy Hill, NW7, TQ 241 914, built 1867

243. Bridge carrying Watford Way over Bunns Lane, NW7 TQ 219 912. Railway ran through southern arch, trackbed converted to M1 slip road before M1 extended to Staples Corner. Now this too is disused.

244. Bunns Lane Bridge at junction with Flower Lane, NW7 TQ 217 916. Built 1867, originally took Bunns Lane over the railway. Road improvements in 1960s re-sited road over filled-in railway trackbed, so bridge remains an isolated monument.

245. Site of Mill Hill, the Hale, station, Bunns Lane, NW7 TQ 213 917
Traces of new platforms built by LT in 1938/9 are visible.

246. Deansbrook Bridge, near Westway, Edgware TQ 199 917. Three-arch structure of 1867. On N side original GNR railings remain, on S side these have been replaced by LT railings. The structure to hang a colour light signal beside the line on, one of the bridge piers remains.

247. Edgware Station, car park behind Green Shield House, Station Road, Edgware TQ 194 917. Goods shed remains, now part of junk yard. From car park traces of station platform are visible.


Extension from Bedford to St Pancras opened 1867. Much altered by building of M1, Mill Hill station is modern, Hendon station buildings have been reduced to a booking office and platform shelters. Currently being electrified and re-signalled, most of what remains of the old MR features will disappear in the next few years. Throughout, the line retains MR mileposts and gradient posts. Major marshalling yard — Brent yard — N of Cricklewood, at least 100 acres now largely derelict, on E side carriage sheds including new ones for new electric trains.


248. Cricklewood, Cricklewood Lane, NW2 TQ 239 559. Station entrance 1885, platform buildings rebuilt 1906.

MAP FOR GAZETTEER Nos. 231-272 (Rail Transport in Barnet)


249. Welsh Harp, Edgware Road, NW2 TQ 229 874. Open 1870-1903. No traces remain except cobbled entrance road from Edgware Road, which could be original.

250. Hendon, Station Road, NW4 TQ 222 883. Such MR features as remained after M1 was built have recently disappeared under electrification works.

Rebuilt in 1960s in ..........

251. Mill Hill Broadway, The Broadway, NW7 TQ 212 920 connection with M1 extension.

SIGNAL BOXES will all go out of use on completion of re-signalling scheme in 1983. All of typical MR style, note 'triangular' inserts in top of windows, many retain MR style finials on roof ends:
Adjacent to 248: Cricklewood, TQ 239 860 visible from station.

252. Brent No. 1 & Brent No. 2 TQ 228 870 controlling Brent Yard and junctions to and from Midland and South West Junction Railway connecting with North London line at Acton Wells junction, this giving MR round London access to south. Between boxes typical MR eight-post signal gantry (only four now in use) some with MR finials on top. Best view from footbridge complex at Staples Corner TQ 227 872.

Adjacent to 250: Hendon TQ 222 884, visible from station.

253. Silkstream Junction, TQ 224 897, accessible by public footpath from Aerodrome Road, NW9

Other features:

254. Campion, Needham, Johnstone, Midland and Gratton Terraces, NW2 TQ 237 860. Housing built by MR for workers in adjacent Brent Yard. Derelict Midland Institute at NW corner of estate.

255. Brent Terrace (originally Midland Brent Terrace) NU2 TQ 235 866. MR housing.

256. Macadam Works, Tilling Road, NW2 TQ 230 874. Derelict, now scrap car dump. Only remains of gas works built by MR to supply Brent Yard before there was any public supply in the area.

257. Shelmerdine & Mulley Ltd. (service station) Edgware Road, NW2 TQ 233 865
Only remaining building of Cricklewood locomotive depot, now in other use.

258. Brent Viaduct, North Circular Road, NW2 TQ 255 874. 19 arches, 30ft high over Brent valley, originally four tracks, two added on W side c.1890; Note different style on each side and 'join' in arches showing where extension was built.

259. Portals to Elstree Tunnel TQ 197 948 eastern two-track original 1867, four tracked (western tunnel) c.1890.

LONDON ELECTRIC RAILWAY (now LT Northern Line, Edgware branch). Opened to Golders Green 1907, to Edgware 1924.

260. Site of Bull & Bush station, underground, visible from passing trains, TQ 260 870. No. 1 Hampstead Way is said to stand on intended site of surface buildings.

261. Tunnel portals, c.400m to the London side of Golders Green station, TQ 252 873. Only LER tunnel portals of this date (1907)

262. Golders Green Station, TQ 253 874. Basically original 1907 station and only above ground LER station of this date. Wooden platforms currently being replaced, with loss of original platform features. Golders Green maintenance Depot, adjacent to station TQ 253 875, 1907. One of only two remaining early Underground maintenance depots (Ealing Common is the other).

Bill Firth

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© GLIAS, 1981