Notes from Bob Carr — February 1993
Although not in Greater London the recent closure of Tilbury Riverside railway station is of sufficient importance to be of interest to many GLIAS members. With little in the way of public transport left on the north bank the ferry to Gravesend will be threatened. It has been in operation for many hundreds of years.
The street-level buildings of 1905 at Woolwich Arsenal railway station were demolished rapidly without any apparent attempt at retention. The designs for the new station exhibited at the last Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, were a second attempt, the first proposals having been rejected. The exhibited proposals are likely to be implemented. Design work is by British Rail Architecture and Design Group — an outfit somewhat distant from mainstream British Rail. With privatisation likely the group might eventually to be sold off as a separate concern.
At the former Cubow's shipyard now operated by Downtown Marine (GLIAS Newsletter 141/5), on the south bank of the Thames just up-river from the Woolwich Ferry, repair work still appears to be in progress. Opposite on the north bank at Tate & Lyle's Thames Refinery substantial building works are under way with a large new vertical steel cylinder being completed and a considerable amount of other plant being installed. All this work looks very expensive indicating that Tate & Lyle intend to stay on the site. Real ocean-going ships continue to call at the adjacent jetty. These are generally standard bulk carriers of about 15,000 tons gross and are chartered foreign-flag vessels. They anchor off Southend when awaiting unloading at Silvertown.
John Penn's pattern-making shop, recently used by Broomfield the bakers (GLIAS Newsletter June 1992), is reported demolished despite attempts by the local authority to assist retention.
The new East Croydon railway station building in George Street (GLIAS Newsletter June 1992) was officially opened on 19 August 1992.
In the London Borough of Lewisham, on a triangle of land two sides of which are formed by railway lines and the third by Landmann Way (named after a Royal Engineer), work is well under way on the construction of a new rubbish-burning power station (SELCHP). Brighton trains from London Bridge pass just to the south-west. If you travel this way look out for the building work in ferro-concrete from the left hand side of the train facing the direction of travel (towards Brighton). The power station project is a joint venture by the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark and Greenwich.
At Chalk Farm there have been complaints that the well-known Roundhouse (GLIAS Newsletter June 1992) is in a poor state of repair. Despite attempts at rehabilitation, the building is not open to the public and on the hoarding along Chalk Farm Road which excludes people graffiti reads 'this is a disgrace — why is the Roundhouse still empty?' Considering the recent history of the building and the present poor state of the UK property and development market an answer is not hard to find.
In the London Borough of Brent work is starting on the replacement of the canal aqueduct over the North Circular Road near Stonebridge Park. Built of ferro-concrete in the 1930s the aqueduct carries the lock-free branch of the Grand Junction Canal from Bulls Bridge to Paddington Basin (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979). Known as the Paddington Arm, the canal was originally constructed through the area in 1801.
Next door in Ealing at the Hoover Factory, now the Hoover Building (GLIAS Newsletter April 1992), Tesco's are already open for business.
The West London Railway from Clapham Junction to Wormwood Scrubs which links London north and south of the Thames is being refurbished and electrified for use by Channel Tunnel trains with a new depot of considerable length at North Pole junction, immediately south of and alongside the Great Western main line near Old Oak Common. The Battersea Railway Bridge of the early 1860s, five wrought iron arches across the river each of 144 feet span, by William Baker (LNWR) and T H Bertram (GWR) is something of a historic structure and its recent poor condition is being remedied for the extra traffic.
At the Musical Museum, Brentford a major reorganisation of the paper music roll collection is nearing completion. Poor storage conditions had been causing considerable concern and a suitable part of the museum has been walled off and converted into a storage room with controlled humidity. Cleaning, cataloguing and inventory work continue. The proposed move of the Musical Museum to purpose-built premises is in abeyance owing to the dreadful state of the UK property and development market.
Nearby at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum the steam hall, formerly the first boiler house dating from 1838, is having its grade 2-listed roof rebuilt. Restoration work is funded jointly by English Heritage and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The interesting and unusual trussed rafter roof truss construction consists largely of wrought iron flats with support by cast-iron pillars and beams. For further information telephone 020 8568 4757. At Dock Road, Brentford the barge repair works of E C Jones & Son is reported to be in receivership and work there has ceased. This was one of the very last examples of a working yard up river. Bob Carr
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© GLIAS, 1993