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Notes and news — December 1983

In this issue:

Dorset Rise DC substation

Dorset Rise substation, just off Fleet Street, is the last DC Converter Station to be operated by the LEB. It currently (no pun intended) supplies several premises of one consumer, Associated Newspapers, principally to drive their presses to print 'The Mail on Sunday'. Work is now in hand for Associated Newspapers to install their own rectification equipment, thus allowing the LEB to cease their DC supplies and close and vacate Dorset Rise.

The station houses 2 x 2.5MW motor-converters and two banks of 2.5MU mercury arc rectifiers. The outputs from these terminate on a huge and magnificent DC control panel, dominated by enormous air circuit breakers and the associated knife switches. Part of this panel is to be preserved by the Electricity Council in their own museum, but the remaining equipment will be disposed of. Other balancing and distribution equipment is also installed in the station and in the associated basement of 20 Tudor Street which is connected to the Station by a sub-way beneath Mutton Street.

Dorset Rise substation was originally fed from Bankside Power Station, both operated by the City of London Electric Lighting Co. (CLELC) to feed their DC network. This was a concentric cable network energised at 420/210 volts. Other supplies in the City area were given by the Charing Cross Electricity Supply Co, Ltd, with their own three-wire mains at 410/205 volts. Each company operated completely independently and in competition with the other. Services derived from both companies were installed into the buildings now used by Associated Newspapers and these still exist, giving duplicate supplies at each intake position. Only one company supply would have been used at any one time, the other being a stand-by in the event of a supply failure. These two independent networks are still maintained by the LEB, although all supplies now come from Dorset Rise.

When Associated Newspapers have completed the installation of their own rectifiers, the DC network will be made dead and the Dorset Rise substation decommissioned and vacated. The 'Battle of the Systems' (the name given to the debates in the early days of the supply industry as to the relative merits of AC or DC distribution) will now be over. I declare AC the winner: DC in the City will die in 1984 aged 92 years. Robin Brooks

Willesden Paper

I came across it while browsing in the fascinating volume L'Industrie de Nos Jours by P. Jacquemart & J-F. Bois (1919). They say that it is a waterproof paper ('imperméable'), made by dipping paper in 'la liqueur de Schweitzer' and then washing and drying it. It is not in the Oxford English Dictionary, nor is Schweitzer in Campbell's The Chemical Industry or Sherwood Taylor's History of Industrial Chemistry. Since I connect Willesden mainly with the London & North Western Railway, I am tempted to wonder whether it was invented to keep the rain off third-class passengers! (>>>) Derek Bayliss


Towards the E end of Cheshire Street in the somewhat derelict area between Shoreditch and Bethnal Green to the NE of Brick Lane, E2 is a two-storey Great Eastern Railway horse stable building dating from the 1880s, its former purpose clearly proclaimed by a ramp on the W side for horses to ascend to quarters upstairs. Part of this building is at present in use for the manufacture of high quality pewter ware and carries the name Reflection House. Here is the firm of Englefields (pronounced 'Inglefields') and in conjunction with the Newcomen Society visits were made on September 20 and October 6 1983. The firm, almost the only one of its kind in Europe, produces pewter ware using traditional methods and reputedly originated from the pewter casting business of Thomas Scattergood founded in 1700. Pewter manufacture is typical of the many small craft industries of London: work done largely by hand with few machines. The crown & rose touch mark is struck on all Englefields products which include syringes, ice cream and other moulds, World War II aeroplane models (about 1:70 scale), candlesticks, handbells, facsimiles of items from the Mary Rose (King Henry VIII's flagship, sunk 1545, raised 1982) and various ornaments and replicas, as well as plate and tankards. Much goes for export to the US. The Mary Rose is now 'running out of steam', but another galleon is shortly to be raised in the West Indies which it is hoped will furnish further articles for reproduction. Englefields 16th- and 17th-century facsimiles are really superb.

Present day pewter consists of 94% tin, 4% antimony and 2% copper. Lead has been eliminated, the resultant product is claimed to be non-toxic and free from tarnish. Mechanical properties are also affected and modern pewter bells ring, but the price of tin makes pewter ware expensive. At Englefields some special orders (often one off) are made wholly from Cornish tin, for example special items for Cornish councils made wholly from tin mined within their respective areas of jurisdiction or ware for Prince Charles (Duke of Cornwall). Casting is in simple gunmetal or steel moulds (some, still in use, said to be hand carved and to date from the 18th century) and hand finished. The latter involves skilled hand turning on a lathe, reputedly giving a distinctive finish, in which the tool is merely supported on an adjacent bar by the craftsman's hand. (This looks easy.)

Since 1700 the company has had many names. Competition from cheaper china and pottery brought a decline in business, so much so that by 1885, when W.J. Englefield took over, he was soon to become the sole surviving pewterer in London. However, he did succeed in keeping the craft alive and became Master of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers in 1909. Englefields still produce traditional gravity cast pewter which is heavier and hence more expensive than its modern stamped or spun counterparts. The present Company, Englefields (London) Ltd, was formed in 1945 and moved to Reflection House, Cheshire Street, E2 from Northington Street, WC1 about 24 years ago. We are grateful to Mr. E Hutchinson, General Manager, for permission to make visits and to Mr. John Steggles our attentive and knowledgeable guide. Bob Carr

217 Long Lane, London SE1. Formerly premises of Samuel Taylor & Sons Ltd


This site was visited on a Saturday morning in October 1979. This brief report has been compiled by John Pattle, assisted by Henry Williams, Philip Purkis and David Thomas.


'When we cone to reflect that in Bermondsey ... (there are) ... the wholesale wool, hop, leather, provision and wine and spirit interests and that each of these inherently involves the continuous transference of goods in bulk from hand to hand, the amount of cartage and labour requisitioned in such transference is evident. By far the majority of firms... are dependent on certain well-organised carrying organisations... An especially prominent position has for years past been occupied by Mr. Samuel Taylor of 88a Tooley Street and 23 Duke Street, City, who may be fairly described as the leading bonded carman and general cartage contractor identified with the south side of the Thames... (He is) a member of the St. Olave's Board of Works and President of the London Master Carters' Association... Extensive stabling is maintained, the accommodation available consisting of two ranges of stables and van sheds, with suitable yards attached. These premises are respectively located at 217 and 181 Long Lane, Borough...'

Thus Mr. Taylor's undertaking is described in 'Southwark & Bermondsey Illustrated', a publicity-orientated book containing details of many firms, published in 1894. (A copy is held at John Harvard Library.) The premises at 217 Long Lane still stand and below we give the history and a brief description.


Summary of buildings' and main occupiers' histories, taken largely from trade directories:

1868   First entry for S Taylor — 27 Abbey Street South.

1880   Long Lane properties renumbered, previous buildings on site — no details known.

1886   New buildings at 217 Long Lane occupied by Samuel Taylor (bonded carman) — later Samuel Taylor & Sons. Directory entries continue the same until 1932 when evidence of the buildings still being used for horse traffic is given by the entry 'Samuel Taylor & Sons Ltd, carmen (stables)'.

1933   217 Long Lane ceased to be used by Taylor's; in this year they had premises at 181 Long Lane, 170 Grange Road, Southwark, 88a Tooley Street and 12 Holborn Viaduct. They were described as 'road transport contractors' which probably demonstrates the complete changeover to motor vehicles when most of the buildings at 217 Long Lane would have become redundant. Taylor's continued to use premises at 181 Long Lane and Grange Road until 1962. Their final directory entry is in 1967 as Samuel Taylor (Hay's Wharf) Ltd at 151 Tower Bridge Road.

1936   217 Long Lane occupied by Baldock & Pearce, confectionery machinery manufacturers.
Baldock & Pearce first appear in 1931 at 775 Commercial Road East E14 as Grinding Mill Makers. This firm has continued to use the northern section of the stables complex to the present day and has specialised in the manufacture of machinery for food processing. Their products include elevators, conveyors, grinders, cyclones and sifters. The former rear yard was roofed over at some time to form their workshop. The machinery was belt driven from a high-level shaft along the length of the shop. Much of the original engineering machinery (lathes, milling machines and drills) is still in use but now individually powered by electric motors.

1936-1979   While Baldock & Pearce occupied and adapted the north end of the site, the remainder of the buildings were sub-divided and used by a number of different companies, eg:



The site is approximately 20 yards by 70 yards running north from Long Lane, the buildings being laid out to enclose a cobble-paved yard entered through a gateway between buildings in the street frontage. The main building (A) (Photo 1) is a three-storey brick built stable block on the east side of the site. At ground floor this has five large openings facing on to the yard, probably originally used as open bays for housing road vehicles under cover, but now filled by timber doors and windows at high level and one hoist door. On the east side of the buildings these upper floors have a row of small vents at high level facing the next site. First and second floors appear to be constructed in concrete, the first floor supported by a central iron beam which is supported by alternate brick cross wall and cast iron columns between the open bays.

The second floor is supported by two parallel lines of beams on cast-iron columns with three timber posts between columns and it seems possible that these timber posts form part of the division between the horse stalls. The present roof is flat and replaces the original roof destroyed by fire in the late 1960s. Photographs taken just after the fire show the roof to have been supported on timber trusses, covered in slate and having a central clerestory rent. The southern end of this building has two tall doorways at ground level with inscription stones over each. Over the more northerly door the stone carries the monogram 'ST', standing for Samuel Taylor and the date 1886, whilst over the other door are the names of architect and builder (J Butterworth and WH Castle respectively). The first door leads on to the original shallow dog-leg staircase up which horses would have been led to the stalls on the first and second floors. The original roof structure survives (Photo 2) (this has been rebuilt since 1979) over this section and is finished with an Italianate pyramid-roofed ventilation tower. Abutting the stable block on the street end is a single storey workshop (B) built behind the original single stone gable wall on the street front. All the buildings described above are now occupied by a graphics, photographic arid exhibition company.

At the northern end of the site the main block is completed with a four-storey block at right-angles to the main block (C). The interior of this block has been substantially altered and a new north-light roof added. At first and second floor levels original door openings face the yard, which suggests that this could have been a hay loft. Between ground and first floors a small section of creep stair similar to that described above remains. North of this four-storey section the remainder of the site has been roofed-over to form an irregular-shaped workshop (D) which together with the four-storey building and single storey building on the west of the site is now occupied by Baldock & Pearce (see above and Photo 3). Inside the workshop evidence can be seen of the roofline of the single storey building which originally formed the northern building of the site enclosing a small yard behind the main block. The west side of the site is bounded by single storey brick buildings (E) and the street frontage is completed by a pair of three-storey houses (217A and 217B Long Lane; F) with the gateway alongside. A small brick office just behind the houses overlooks the yard and gateway.


Apart from rebuilding of the ventilation tower, the premises remained as described above, in October 1986. GLIAS would like to thank staff of the John Harvard Library for assistance in research and the present occupiers of the Bite for permitting access. A copy of this report with further photographs and some plans, plus a description of Baldock & Pearce's activities taken from the April 1942 Anglo-Latin Trader's Review, will be deposited at the London Borough of Southwark's John Harvard Library, Borough High Street, London SE1.

Lots more

I think there is some slight confusion in the historical background to the report of the Lots Road Power Station visit (GLIAS Newsletter August 1983). According to published information some of its history is as follows:

Lots Road Power Station, 23.9.07 © Anne Mayoh 2007 Lots Road Power Station, 23.9.07 © Anne Mayoh 2007

In 1897 the Brompton & Piccadilly Circus Railway was authorized, including a proposal to build a power station at Lots Road, Chelsea. The company failed to raise capital and in 1899 the venture, including the power station site, was acquired by the Metropolitan District1 Railway2. During 1901 the Chicago-based financier Charles Tyson Yorkes obtained control of the District and a separate Company, the Metropolitan District Electric Traction Co. Ltd, was registered with the initial objects of electrifying the District and building the Brompton & Piccadilly Railways3. The Traction Company went on to acquire the Great Northern & Strand Railway (united with the B & PCR), Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway and the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway4.

To supply electricity for the District and the three so-called 'Yorkes Tubes' mentioned above, as well as for part of the London United Tramways system, the construction of Lots Road power station was undertaken between 1902 and 1905, It was probably the largest traction generating station in the world5 and was also the first all turbo-alternating heavy traction station in the UK.6 The Central London Railway, opened in 1900, did not become part of the Underground group (successor to the Traction Co.) until 1913 and its Wood Lane power station was not closed until 1928. The Stockwell power station of the City & South London Railway, opened in 1890 and also acquired in 1913, was closed in 19157. Lots Road came into partial use on 1 Feb. 1905. The same source states that originally there were 64 Babcock & Wilcox, with space for 16 more and that 8 had been added by 1925.8

I imagine that the reference in the original report to the Metropolitan Railway arose out of confusion with the MDR, but Yorkes failed to get the Metropolitan to agree to his accepting, on terms, responsibility for electrifying of that railway as well as the District, or a later offer to supply electricity only and in Feb 1902 a contract was placed by the Metropolitan for a 10,500 KW station at Neasden.9 Neasden opened on 1 December 1904.10 After the Metropolitan's absorption into the LPTB in 1933 it was linked to Lots Road and the ex-LCC tramways station at Greenwich. Neasden was closed on the morning of 21 June 1968, by which time it was the last power station in Great Britain to supply electricity at a frequency of 33⅓ cycles. 11, 12 Demolition began shortly afterwards and was completed by the end of the following June, except for the two chimneys, which were blown up on the morning of 29 Sep 1969.13

As an aside, it may be added that when the Metropolitan Railway in 1913 acquired the Great Northern & City Railway, opened in 1904, it also found itself with a power station in Poole Street, Shoreditch, which was closed on 24 Sept 1914.14 The building later became Islington Film Studios, scene of some of the early work of Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Balcon and later the home of Gainsborough Pictures.


Richard Graham

Historical postcards, Limehouse waterfront

For those of us who have deplored the lack of decent postcards of London scenes, a deficiency met only erratically by the museums and borough libraries, here is an answer. Tom Ridge, a local historian, has published 32 postcards carefully chosen from old photographs and sketches of Limehouse. All bustle with people or boats and vanished features of technical interest and visual appeal, and although the half-tone reproductions do not bring out the finest details they all repay close study.

They are packaged in sets of four, each set accompanied by informative notes:

1. Limehouse Through Three Centuries (Rocque's map, Shepherd painting, aerial photos)
2. Ship Building & Repair (scenes from c.1770 to c.1938)
3. Limehouse Reach in the 19th Century (with three etchings by Whistler)
4. The Waterfront (wharves & warehouses)
5. Crossing the Thames (ferries, pier, tunnel)
6. Regent's Canal Dock (sailing vessels, lighters & steamships)
7. Night Run to Rotterdam (aboard a cargo ship 1949)
8. Limehouse in the Thirties (unexpected photos of domestic life)

Sold in aid of the Limehouse Development Group, they are available at 50p per set of four + 15p per order for postage & packing, from Tom Ridge, 7 Shepton House, Welwyn Street, London E2. A venture to be supported. Malcolm Tucker

Activities (and products) captured in architecture — Part 4 banks, utilities, services & shops (except food shops)

This section is a bit of a mixture, but still does not cover all guild halls and clubs; schools, museums, theatres, art galleries and the like are also omitted, but if any have particularly nice manufacturing scenes please advise.

1. St. Thomas' Hospital, Lambeth Palace Road, SE1. The children's wards have tiled nursery rhyme scenes by Doulton's.

2. 51-5 Waterloo Road, SE1. Doulton's artistic department produced suitable adornment for the Waterloo Hospital for Women & Children: two reclining nudes in green glazed ware!

3. Vincent Square/Vauxhall Bridge Road, SW1. Westminster Children's Hospital has a swaddled infant above the door.

4. Westminster Hospital, Horseferry Road, SW1. A larger-than-life hand takes a pulse in stone.

5. 256 Gray's Inn Road, WC1. Eastman Dental Hospital. A cruel sight as one climbs the steps, possibly with screaming toothache, what look like two stylised molars (extracted), one either side.

6. Hampstead Way, NW11. Manor House Hospital has a motor and a trolley bus over the entrance to the L.T. Workers' Memorial Laboratory, 1939-45. More info, welcomed.

7. 34 Great Smith Street, SW1. Male and female figures show the benefits of cleanliness above the doors of the public baths (entry now via St Anns Street)


8. 19-21 Mosslea Road, SE20. A book I have shows a picture of the Good Shepherd Mission, adorned by a nude female at her dressing table.

9. 7 Dock Street, E1. The Sailors' Home, rebuilt in 1960s, subtly advertises its function by having a rope design in balcony railings.

10. Montague Close, WC1. An open book adorns London University (but its pages are blank!)

11. 265 Lavender Hill, SW11. I understand that Battersea Library has a weather vane in the design of a book reader.

12. Marylebone Road, NW1. Royal Academy of Music

13. John Carpenter Street / Tallis Street, EC4. Guildhall School of Music (closed)

14. Royal College of Organists, Kensington Gore, SW7 (adjacent Royal Albert Hall)

15. 135-7 New Bond Street, W1: in 1900 Aeolian Hall & HQ of Orchestrelle Ltd, makers of player pianos; later BBC sound department. All bear designs in a variety of musical instruments.

16. Storey's Gate, SW1. While on the theme of musical instruments, have a look at Westminster Central Hall 1905-11 which shows how religion can take the world by storm, for it has a magnificent array of loud musical instruments and, equally prominent, a goodly selection of weapons of war!

17. 146 Queen Victoria Street, EC4. A more gentle approach to religions an open book proclaims 'the word of the Lord endureth for ever' on behalf of the British & Foreign Bible Society.

18. Beaver House, Great Trinity Lane, EC4. Baltic Exchange 1925 with sailing ship and a number of beavers.

19. Leathermarket Street, SE1

20. 26 St. John's Lane, EC1. Two former farriers with ceramic horses heads above the doorways. Formerly premises of United Horse Shoe & Nail Co. Ltd of late 1880s.

26 St. John's Lane, EC1 © Robert Mason 2022

21. 70-71 New Bond Street, W1. Good old male chauvinism, in the ample forms of three females labelled Science, Art & Commerce, adorn the facade of the Directors' Club.

22. High Road, N Finchley, N12. Disused 1930s Gaumont cinema with contemporary film making equipment in frieze.

23. 69-75 Cannon Street, EC4. Offices of London Chamber of Commerce and many other associations / federations have 1960s phones, etc., as window grill designs.

24. 49-53 Clerkenwell Road, EC1. Bank Chambers, now rehabilitated as small workshops, but the original function, as offices of the Penny Bank, is clear from the big chunky coin design along the walls.

25. New Change / Watling Street / Cheapside / Bread Street, EC4. A large office development of the 1950s for the Bank of England, with stylised coins above various doorways, above the entrance off Watling Street they are in stone and are 'real' coins.

26. Threadneedle Street, EC2. Far out of reach on the Bank of England a god-like figure appears to be taking coins from a pile and throwing them over his shoulder (towards the Bank, not the street!)

27. Bank Chambers, corner Gresham / Princes Street, EC2. More stylised coins above the door.

28. 75 High Street, Wimbledon, SW19. A nice lady sits with an open purse in her lap while one cherub gives his pennies and another happily flies away with a money bag. Beneath is the descriptive legend 'Banking'.

29. Langham Place, W1. BBC's Broadcasting House: Ariel is sculpted piping to two dancing children dancing in ecstasy hearing angels' music. Is this an indication of the joy an aerial (with BBC assistance) can bring?

30. Bush House, Aldwych, WC2. The W portion, high above the Strand, has a depiction of the Western Hemisphere and various worthies' names; possibly a 'nation shall speak unto nation' theme, though I've not read anything. Can any members advise if this is a correct interpretation, please?

31. RIBA, 66 Portland Place, W1. 1933 Figures in the main and Weymouth Street façades are of a painter, artisan, architect, sculptor, mechanic. The main entrance doors show 'London & Its Buildings'. See Journal of RIBA, 6/11/34

32. 12-14 Long Acre, WC2. A cherub with a chart and a globe sits above the shop of Stanfords, map publishers.

33. 213-5 Old Kent Road, SE1. Former shop of G. Carter & Sons Ltd, tailors. A dapper man's head surmounts a clock, the mechanism that raised his hat hourly is not presently working.

34. Covent Garden Market, WC2. The 'new' Floral Hall, now London Transport Museum, has flower power railings.

London Transport Museum © Robert Mason 2016

35. Greycoat Street, SW1. New Horticultural Hall (1928) has a gold painted frieze of plants along the entrance canopies.

36. 195-9 Tottenham Court Road, W1. Heal's shop has enamelled strips showing their products and a nice four-poster outside the bedding workshop in Alfred Place.

37. 105-109 Oxford Street, W1. Former shop of Henry Heath Ltd, hat manufacturers (the factory was directly behind). Three furry rodents cling to the skyline to avoid being turned into Davy Crockett headwear!

Henry Heath Ltd, hat manufacturers © Robert Mason 2022

38. 112-138 Camden High Street, NW1. Part of Bowman's Department store has, in mosaic above two windows, a sailing ship and steam engine, presumably once the toy department?

39. Warwick Lane, EC4. Cutlers Hall, with workers grinding away in a terracotta frieze along the wall.

40. 81 Coleman Street, EC2. Two heavily clad knights keep unwanted visitors away from the Armourers' Hall.

41. Gresham Street, EC2. Busy bees head for their hive above the Wax Chandlers' Hall

42. 1 & 3 Regent Street, SW1. British Columbia House, built 1915, has several 'products' therefrom as adornments: logs, steer, fish, seals.

43. 15-16 Buckingham Street, WC2. Burdett House. The building has housed several charitable institutions since at least the 1920s, including the Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses, but the metal depictions that surround the doorway must be much later. They show small figures with food bowls on one side and one with a big bowl (assumedly providing) on the other.

44. Albert Embankment, SE1. Fire Brigade House, c.1935, has contemporary firemen reeling out their hoses.

45. Horseferry Road / Dean Bradley Street, SW1. Electric insulators keep shocks off the Westminster Electric Supply Co's office (and generating station?) in a design above the door.

46. Battersea 'A' Power Station, SW8. The bronze doors have two stylistically muscular chaps heaving away at pulling a switch with a semi-circle of rays behind; official description is 'energy'.

47. Mill House, Romilly Street, W1. c.1935. Offices of Inland Revenue and Customs & Excises; the hunting horn motif is all too appropriate!

48. 9-20 The Broadway, N8. Hornsey Town Hall, flanked by gas and electricity offices, has depictions of workers thereon.

49. Wandsworth High Street, SW18. The Town Hall here has people doing things on it, too.

50. Holies Street / Oxford Street, W1. A mosaic plaque of scissors cutting fabric is attached to the London College of Fashion (c.1965)

51. Near Kingston / Hampton Wick (exact location unknown) a sub-station with electric spark design railings and a stone lamp bulb emitting rays of light on a wall.

David Thomas

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© GLIAS, 1983