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Notes and news — December 1995

Food, glorious food

A number of slightly less than serious items in recent newsletters have had an effect and several GLIAS members have risen to the bait with excellent notes on Saxby's, pork pies, Zebo (GLIAS Newsletter August 1995), etc. It might be thought that items in this newsletter would all be about industrial archaeology but it seems some of our members read this publication while feeling hungry and things to eat come to mind. The lecture on ice cream by R Weir scheduled for 9 November should attract a huge audience. (Zebo, I gather, is not edible).

Now things sold in bakers' shops vary surprisingly as one moves about the country. In London a cheesecake is often covered with white strips of coconut and one can also get something quite different, creamy and containing mostly cheese, in more continental establishments.

In the East Midlands the cheesecake is utterly different again from both the varieties sold under that name here. American-style Alabama Raisin Pie is surprisingly reminiscent of the Leicestershire cheesecakes served at the Tea Pot Café, Great Glen, in the 1950s. In the town of Leicester itself similar cakes can still be bought from branches of Greasley the bakers. (The Tea Pot Café was a notable landmark on the main A6 road between Kibworth and Oadby. A large teapot sign hung outside).

Thinking the above was a brief resumé of the cheesecake a recent encounter at Lawrence's café, St Giles Street, Northampton with a 'Towcester cheesecake' proves the fallacy of this assumption. Compared with the Leicestershire variety Towcester cheesecakes are considerably deeper and they are oval in shape. Bob Carr

GLIAS rail tour

On Friday 20 October 1995 14 GLIAS members took part in a journey by train around Greater London starting from Waterloo. Leaving Clapham Junction station on foot by the north exit the party looked at an interesting public house with arms of Irish signposts displayed in the windows before boarding the diesel train to Willesden Junction.

Many felt that this next part of the journey was the most interesting. We crossed the river by the venerable Battersea railway bridge of the 1860s, had good views of Chelsea Dock and Lots Road power station (GLIAS Newsletter December 1983), ran past West Brompton, Earl's Court, Olympia and White City with views of Trellick Tower and passed over the Eurostar depôt at North Pole Junction.

From Willesden the route was via the North London Line to Gospel Oak and then on to Barking and Upminster. After refreshment at the Windy Miller tearoom in Station Road we took the branch line train via Emerson Part to Romford where we had a very good but somewhat hurried tour of the town before returning direct to Liverpool Street.

The former LMS and LNER stations at Romford are connected by a 'boarded crossing' and on this pedestrian route there is a Westwood Baillie bridge and the broken remains of a cast-iron lamppost. The latter was fractured completely across about four feet from the ground and is a good illustration of the difficulty foundries had in casting hollow columns with walls having an equal thickness all round. In this example the core used in the casting was not concentric at the time the metal was poured and there is a marked variation in the thickness of the iron around the top of what is left.

Little now remains on the site of Romford Brewery (GLIAS Newsletter June 1990). There are still some of the older buildings on the south side of High Street around the bridge over the River Rom but apart from the mid 1950s buildings with dramatic ferro-concrete shell roofs to the south west of the site, now used for road transport operations, almost everything has been cleared.

Also noted in Romford was the star on a c1930s cinema building in South Street just north of the railway station which marks the site of the Star Inn, the starting point for Romford's brewing industry (GLIAS Newsletter August 1989). A number of notable historic buildings survive in the town which surprisingly still has a little of the character of a market town. In the Market Place some granite setts survive and, of course, the Golden Lion Inn is noteworthy. Bob Carr

Kingsway telephone exchange

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Death at Broadcasting House

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St Pancras Lock Cottage

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St Pancras Lock, 2012. © Wendy Hasnip St Pancras Lock, 2017. © Robert Mason

Another early gas works

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Charles Tyson Yerkes — founder of the Underground

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Richmond Ice Rink

There are now proposals to build a new ice rink at Richmond over the multi-storey car park at Richmond Station (GLIAS Newsletter April 1995).

Also included in the scheme would be ten-pin bowling and the ice could be covered for tennis, music and dancing. Work could start in one to two years' time, and the rink could open at the end of the century.

The cost, in the region of £5m, would be met by a developer. However, there are now alternative ice-skating facilities to the west of London, notably at Guildford, and £5m would only provide for a modest scheme in Richmond. Bob Carr

News from Crossness

For those of you who do not see a copy of 'The Crossness Engines Record' here is an update on what is happening at the northern extremity of the Erith marshes.

The most recent acquisitions have been a Merryweather steam fire pump from Stone House Hospital and a pair of Shone ejector sewage pumps from the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. While the Merryweather fire pump is not strictly concerned with sewage pumping and disposal, when it is restored it will make a very good exhibit in what is fast becoming a 'live' steam room. The Shone ejector is not one of the most impressive sewage pumping systems in appearance, they are however an integral part of sewage pumping history. The recovery and removal of both pieces was not without event.

The painting of the C.I. screens and top panels of the 'Octagon' continues and for those who have seen it recently, it will come as no surprise that many of our visitors wonder at the riot of colour. The replacement of the 'foliage and fruit' to the capitals of the columns of the 'Octagon' is under way now that a suitable means of fixing has been found.

The 'mining' team continue to remove the sand and fly-ash from around the pumps and have now started burrowing beneath the 'outboard' pump-plunger, and within the pump barrel. I am sure this dedicated team wish they could extract the material with the same ease that was used to deposit it but apart from the sheer physical effort, safety measures decree just how fast one can work.

Restoration continues in the fitting shop and the team there have produced a fine degree of finish on the 'bright-work' of 'Prince Consort'. Items are brought to a bright shine, coated with 'Rustillo' and either placed in store until required or re-instated on the engine. Work on the restoration and replacement of the hand-barring engine is well advanced and should be complete by the time you read this. Establishing the museum continues and at present is almost the work of one man who scours the country searching out toilet-pans, cisterns, chamber-pots, soap and toilet-roll holders, etc. He and the librarian seek any information on house plumbing and sanitation (if anyone has an unwanted book or sanitary equipment they care to donate, please contact me), and by next 'Open Day' it is hoped that the start of an exhibition of sanitation will be mounted.

When weather conditions permit, work continues on the gardens and paths to the south of the boilerhouse. On Tuesday 14 November a tree was planted in memory of Bob Guntrip, a worker who had served many years at the pumping station. Two of his sisters were in attendance at the tree-planting ceremony.

This is just a brief outline of some of the work that continues at Crossness Engines. To find out more, why not come and visit us, or join the Crossness Engines Trust and receive a regular copy of the 'Record'. 'Tosher'
Crossness Engines Trust. Website: www.crossness.org.uk

Camden Roundhouse

A full page in the Guardian newspaper's Arts section on 12 December 1995 was devoted to the Camden Roundhouse and traced the various attempts to put the building to some appropriate use which will comply with its Grade II Listed status — all attempts so far having either failed to get off the ground or else petered out after a few years.

The paper stated that in November 1995, the British Architectural Library Trust had exchanged contracts for the purchase of the building and has applied to the National Lottery Fund to use the building as an architectural library. Let's hope that this proposal has more success than its predecessors! Don Clow

Letters to the editor

(GLIAS Newsletter October 1995)

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© GLIAS, 1995