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Notes and news — August 2005

In this issue:

From the secretary's postbag

Malcolm Tucker continues to deal with planning applications affecting London's industrial archaeology on behalf of the society. He represented the society at the public inquiry into an application for development at Bow Wharf, on which Tom Ridge was also involved. The inspector rejected the application on the grounds that it would involve over-development. It will no doubt be followed by an amended proposal. Meanwhile, the problem of the future of Stop Lock Bridge remains unresolved.

The society has also written to support an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund from the Crossness Engines Trust. The trust are seeking £2 million to help refurbish the buildings and set up a proper exhibition space. The society has always supported the work of the trust — indeed, the 'Chronicle' programme in 1968 was the catalyst for the formation of the society itself. In supporting the application, we recognised the achievements of the trust in restoring the pumping station and bringing Prince Consort back into steam, which itself represented a major contribution to preservation of the industrial heritage, not only of London but of the UK as a whole. Indeed, there is a need for wider recognition of Sir Joseph Bazalgette's sewerage system, eg as a World Heritage site. We therefore fully support the trust's bid to develop the site further. Brian Strong

Kirkaldy Testing Museum notes: 60 years after the war — nostalgia for the 1950s

The 1950s saw the first real upturn of activity in Britain after the end of the Second World War and how better to mark it than by celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 with a Festival of Britain? The celebrations were somewhat muted since the rationing of some foods was still in place, but a very lively exhibition of manufactured goods, art-work and general social revival was staged on the site now occupied by the Festival Hall. A symbol for the festival was 'The Skylon', a cigar-shaped 'pencil' some 100ft (c33m) in height, pointing straight into the sky. It was suspended by cables from three lesser 'fingers' arranged around it. From the top of each supporting 'finger' a cable went to the bottom of the Skylon, some 20 feet (c6m) above the ground while another cable went to the top to act as a stay. The whole was proportioned to look elegant and rather ethereal, the cables barely visible in some lights.

According to a member of staff at the time, who later spoke to one of the founders of KTM, these supporting cables were tested for strength by David (Jnr) in the Kirkaldy Testing & Experimenting Works. There is no record of the details and no certainty of just what tests were made. Almost certainly a direct tensile test on a length of the full size cables would have been made in the famous 'big machine'. Grips suitable for testing large cables on the 'big machine' are in existence but it is not known whether those particular grips were used in this instance. Tests on individual strands of the wire from which the cables were made would undoubtedly have been conducted by the manufacturer before the cables were spun, but such tests were probably not at the Kirkaldy works.

The museum does, however, have three other machines relevant to testing wire and cables. There are two small hand-operated machines (just a few inches in size), one for reversed (to and fro) bending of a strand of wire through a large angle and the other to twist a strand of wire through as many revolutions as it takes to break it. Both give just qualitative measures of ductility, useful when assessing batches of wire in relation to previous batches. These date from perhaps around 1880 or 1900. The third relevant machine is a chain or cable testing machine made by Denison's of Leeds in 1929. This was installed by the widow of William Kirkaldy at the time when she ran the works through a manager. It was used for 'bread and butter' testing of chains from cranes or other machines. It consists of a hydraulic cylinder (long since 'rusted solid') with a chain run of some 50 feet connecting to a lever-arm weighing system. This machine could have been used for the tests on the Skylon cables, but the 'big machine' seems more likely.

The year 1951 also saw another famous event; the launching of the de Havilland 'Comet' aircraft into the public eye, the first jet-propelled civil air-liner in the world. Its success was instant but short lived. In 1954 two such aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean Sea with loss of all aboard. The cause was a mystery until the Royal Navy managed to dredge sufficient parts from the seabed to allow detailed studies to be made. It soon transpired that the fuselage of each machine had suffered a catastrophic failure due to 'low-cycle' fatigue of a few thousands of loading cycles, suffered from the pressurisation and de-pressurisation of the fuselage on each take-off and landing. Although 'high cycle' fatigue (lasting millions of small cycles due to loads such as wind and vibration causing, for example, flexure of the wings) was quite well known at the time, the concept of fatigue after just a few thousand cycles was not at all well understood. De Havilland did in fact conduct quite extensive fatigue loading on a prototype machine but for several reasons not appreciated at the time, did not reveal the impending fatal problem. The main investigation into all this was conducted at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, by submersing and filling a whole fuselage with water, that was then pressurised and de-pressurised repeatedly. The water (as distinct from air) allowed a failure to develop to appreciable size without a violent burst, and thus showed up cracks developing from certain corners of windows and other openings in the fuselage.

Again, staff of the time told founder members that David (Jnr) conducted tests in relation to the 'Comet' failures. No details are recorded, but since, as far as is known, the works did not have fatigue testing machines, it seems probable that static tensile tests were made to check the quality of the aluminium alloy sheets used to construct the aircraft. Grips suitable for such tests still exist, but it is also possible that another, smaller, tensile machine not now in existence was used since the sheets would have been very thin and rather 'flimsy' to handle in the 'big machine'. Ted Turner

Kirkaldy Testing Museum website:

Previous related articles

Excavations at Erith Docks

An archaeological evaluation and subsequent excavation was conducted at Stonewood Road, Erith, Kent (NGR: TQ 5124 7825) by Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd during July and August 2004. The site bounded to the north by West Street, to the east by Walnut Tree Road, to the south by Stonewood Road and to the west by residential apartments. The work was carried out in advance of the redevelopment of the site for residential flats by Hill Partnerships Limited. The evaluation consisted of four targeted trial trenches, and the excavation involved the extension of evaluation trench 1 to an area of 7m x 2m. The site was situated on relatively flat ground approximately 200m south-west of the River Thames, positioned near the division between the Crayford Marshes to the north and east, and the higher ground, which lies to the south and west and marks the beginning of the North Downs. The underlying geology consisted of Upper Chalk. No drift geology survived due to modern worked or made ground. The site was allocated the site code WBX 04. The completed archive will be deposited with the London Archaeological Archive Resource Centre.

The naval dockyard at Erith was founded in 1514 by Henry VIII, where warships, built at Woolwich dockyard, were fitted out. The town continued to grow in importance as a river port into the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1805 a number of quarries had been established by the Wheatley Estate. This was owned by the Wheatley family who influenced the town's development throughout the 18th and 19th century. The quarries stretched back from the River Thames to Northumberland Heath and supplied stone ballast for the ships being fitted in the dock. When the stone eventually ran out, the underlying loam continued to be quarried and was shipped to foundries in South Shields and elsewhere for use in making moulds for metal casting.

In 1842 a deep-water wharf was built to the north east of the site, which coincided with the construction of a narrow gauge (4ft wide) railway connecting the Northumberland Heath quarry to the new wharf (Lower Ballast Wharf). This railway can be seen on the Ordnance Survey map of 1860 where it runs through the south-eastern side of the site. By 1897 the large wharf building featured in the earlier maps had been demolished, and the wharf is referred to as 'Railway Station Wharf'.

In 1932 the Northumberland Heath quarry was taken over by Talbet Estates Ltd., and quarrying ceased sometime in this decade. The Ordnance Survey map of 1933 shows the railway has been removed, indicating disuse.

Over two metres of ground make-up was encountered during the evaluation, below which was found, in Trench 1, a flint cobble surface with a built in brick drainage gully. This brick gully was constructed from 'London Stock' bricks, of an early 19th-century date, and combined with dating evidence gained from above and below this cobble surface dates it to sometime in the early 19th century. On the Tithe map of 1843 the two lots of land which the area of the site encompasses are listed as store stables and yard, and ballast office and grounds, occupied by the landowner himself, William Wheatley. It can therefore be assumed then that the cobble surface encountered was indeed the yard listed on the Tithe map, and subsequently the area of land was raised in the construction of the narrow gauge railway which ran to the newly constructed deep-water wharf on the River Thames.

It was the narrow gauge railway which was the focus of the archaeological evaluation, with targeted trenches being located along its length to determine its survival. Remains of the railway were encountered within Trench 2. Two cast-iron rails, lying parallel to one another, were found in-situ on a series of heavily decayed timber sleepers. Directly east of these was a third rail, running slightly offset to others, again on heavily decayed timber sleepers, but no corresponding parallel rail line existed. The railway then appeared to survive only sporadically in the north east of the site and had been truncated away, possibly even robbed out and removed sometime after its abandonment in the 1930s.

The increase in the ground level from the original flint cobble yard surface to the level of the narrow gauge railway, over two metres, is interesting. It may have been that this was a necessary measure to raise the level over any slopes as the 'trucks' would originally have been pulled by horses. More likely, however, is the need for a solid base to build upon. The composition of the two metres of made ground consisted of various layers of compacted gravels, chalk and silts making for a solid foundation for the railway.

Although the narrow gauge railway only existed for approximately 90 years, from the 1840s to the 1930s, it went through various phases of development with more lines being added to the original few. The area of the narrow gauge railway encountered within the evaluation most likely corresponds to the latest phase in the railways history. The heavily decayed nature of the sleepers and rails encountered implies the railway was left abandoned over a reasonable amount of time, however, as the railway does not exist on the Ordnance Survey map of 1933 this seems unlikely. More likely the railway was disassembled and the iron and wood reused for various other purposes. Neil Hawkins (Follow-up)


Pritchard, JA 1978. A History of Erith, Part III: 1837-1894. London Borough of Bexley Libraries & Museums department
Spurgeon, D 1995. Discover Crayford and Erith. Greenwich Guide Books

Death of Dr Eugene Logunov

It is with sad regret that we report the death at the age of 44 of Dr E V Logunov who in recent years became an acknowledged expert in the industrial history and archaeology of the Urals region of Russia.

He travelled to the West attending conferences; visiting Britain, the USA, Canada and the Continent to present papers and was an active board member of TICCIH.

He was murdered at his home on 26 December 2004 but his wife and daughter survived.

Several GLIAS members are likely to have met him in London at the TICCIH conference held here during August/September 2000, principally at Imperial College. As part of this major conference there were site visits including a cruise on the Thames disembarking at Greenwich and a visit to Kew Bridge Steam Museum. Bob Carr

The anglepoise lamp

The Anglepoise lamp beloved by architects was invented in the West Midlands in 1932 by George Carwardine, a motor engineer with a good knowledge of motor vehicle suspension systems. It was an innovative design based on the constant tension principle of human limbs. In the lamp springs imitate the behaviour of human muscles and provide an auto-balancing system, the force exerted by the anglepoising springs being proportional to their length.

Herbert Terry & Sons, Redditch, a specialist spring manufacturer who had already developed a range of hose clamps and the well-known Terry Clip took up production of the lamps which were originally intended for industrial and commercial use. However with their immediate flexibility and ability to hold any position they quickly became popular for the studio, study and home and since their introduction have gone through a number of modifications. It was the designer's original intention to utilise the Anglepoise principle for the positioning and support of other things, say telephones — not just lamps.

Herbert Terry the founder of the spring business started winding springs at home, a terraced house in Peakman Street, Redditch, later moving to a workshop 400 yards away. His son Charles introduced hose clips and the Terry bicycle saddle and it was he who signed the contract with George Carwardine, who originated from Bath.

The initial two springs on the arm and two springs at the base design was superseded by an arrangement having three tightly coiled springs at the base. This overcame the problem of some users accidentally trapping fingers or hair in the upper springs. Recently Kenneth Grange has produced a subtle re-design of the traditional Anglepoise. It is slightly reminiscent of the redesigned Mini motorcar — could there be an influence? Kenneth Grange is a commercially successful industrial designer responsible for the Inter-City 125 train, a London taxicab, the Kodak instamatic camera, and the Kenwood Chef, etc. Bob Carr

Greater London news

Telstar House near Paddington station, the Waterside Inn and other premises opposite the London Canal Museum and many other buildings are being demolished. Driving round London large piles of rubble are a noticeable feature and the roadside petrol station seems to be on the way out. In Baker Street the old Abbey National House is going but the famous tower is being retained — currently a droll sight supported on steelwork with little beneath it.

At the very substantial 'Docklands' development surrounding Paddington Basin three novel footbridges have been installed. These are really works of art rather than functional engineering. In June the steam narrow boat President (1909) towing the butty Kildare (1913) brought cast iron columns made in the Black Country to London for the Paxton's Crystal Palace Corner Project at Sydenham. For the return journey a fly-run was re-enacted with the boats working day and night and crews interchanging about every three hours. With people in period dress they made a fine sight setting off from London in the evening.

The population of Routemaster buses in London is now down to about 150 with only routes 13, 14, 22, 38 and 159 still using these fine old vehicles and that not for long.

Kew Bridge Steam Museum celebrated its 30th birthday in March and the Bull engine there should be steamable by now.

The King's Cross–St Pancras railway redevelopment is progressing steadily. Midland Main Line are due to move to their new permanent station to the northwest of the great Barlow train shed next year and the whole CTRL scheme should be completed in 2007. Bob Carr

The German Gymnasium

German Gymnasium, 30.5.08. © Robert MasonBob Carr reported that the German Gymnasium, between King's Cross and St Pancras stations, is opening as an exhibition of Channel Tunnel Rail Link activities in the area (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005).

I strongly recommend a visit to see the exhibition — and the building! The 1865 'gym', with its splendid bolt-laminated timber roof arches, has been in my life for over 30 years. In 1974 when working at Ove Arup & Partners, I designed the structure of an additional second-floor gallery for Circle 33 Housing Trust which had rented the first floor and needed more space. (The first floor had been inserted at gallery level within the gymnasium hall, after the Great Northern Railway had taken over the building before the start of the First World War.) Well, what goes round comes round, and as part of the work for the exhibition scheme its architects, Allies & Morrison, decided to remove a large part of the first floor infill, allowing visitors on the ground floor to look up and see the roof over the full height of the hall. This also involved removing 'my' second-floor gallery. The building was by now listed Grade II, so listed building consent had to be obtained for the various alterations.

This is the second of 'my' structures to be demolished so far. The steel-framed enclosure erected in 1982 in the courtyard of the Royal Exchange for the then-fledgling London International Financial Futures Exchange was in use for only nine years before LIFFE moved elsewhere. It stood disused for a decade or so, but it has now been removed and the courtyard has been returned to public access. The ever-more-frequent replacement of 20th-century urban structures makes you wonder how much industrial archaeology of this period will make it to 2100. For example, elsewhere in the City, the 10-storey Ropemaker Place — an early example of the resurgence in steel-framed office construction, complete with glazed atrium — has just been pulled down after a working life of less than two decades. Michael Bussell

Stout tankers and a closed brewery

In the mid 1970s Arthur Guinness, Son & Co (Dublin) Ltd used to operate a small tanker to carry Guinness in bulk. She was The Lady Patricia of 1,385 tons gross built in 1962 by Charles Hill and Sons of Bristol and she sailed under the British flag. Powered by a diesel engine aft The Lady Patricia had a speed of 11 knots and was 213 feet long. Her hull was painted blue and the funnel was red with a black top.

The Lady Patricia was converted to a beer tanker in 1973 with a carrying capacity of 1.87 million pints. This must have been a success as a purpose-built Guinness tanker was constructed in 1976 called the Miranda Guinness. This was the world's first purpose-built beer tanker and was launched by the Countess of Iveagh after whom she was named. She was sadly the last ship built by the Albion Yard Bristol which closed after 156 years of shipbuilding there. From 1987 Guinness ships were operated by Irish Marine Services but this only lasted until 1993 when Guinness discontinued the use of tankers.

The famous Guinness Brewery in London (GLIAS Newsletter 126, p5) has just ceased work and as the buildings are unlisted demolition is imminent. A DCMS certificate of immunity from listing was granted in 2003 and will remain in force for several years yet so a reprieve seems unlikely. The brewery was built by the engineers Sir Arthur Gibb & Partners in 1933-6 and the architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott of power station fame (GLIAS Newsletter June 2000). Guinness intend to brew 50 per cent more draught stout at their St James's Gate brewery in Dublin to make up for the loss of their West London production and one wonders how it will all get here. The reintroduction of tankers which might sail up the Thames is an attractive proposition but the beer will probably come by road tanker. The St James's Gate site in Dublin was acquired by the 34-year-old Arthur Guinness in December 1759 on a 9,000-year lease at £45 per year. Presently Guinness is brewed in about 50 countries worldwide. Bob Carr

Ovaltine factory, Kings Langley

The Ovaltine factory at Kings Langley, whose demolition was reported by Bob Carr (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005), was built by Wander Ltd in 1911 and production commenced in 1913. The site was chosen because there were good transport links (adjoining Grand Junction Canal and close to LNWR goods yard) and locally available farm produce as raw material for Ovaltine.

The factory was in the civil parish of Abbots Langley and two local farms in the same parish were purchased in 1929. These subsequently housed the model dairy farm and the model egg farm.

New, larger factory buildings, including the art deco façade, were erected during 1924 to 1929 by C Miskin and Sons of St Albans. Although the archives have been presented to the Kings Langley Local History and Museum Society the architect for this landmark alongside the West Coast main railway line is not know at present. The factory was on the opposite side of Station Road from the railway and the land adjoining the railway was occupied by formal gardens in the hey days of the 1930s. Later it was used for car parking and process plant.

In 2002 production of Ovaltine for the UK market was transferred by the then owners, Novartis, to a Swiss factory and the Kings Langley site was sold to Fairview, a housing company who had also developed much of the former John Dickinson site at Apsley Mill for housing. Ironically, Novartis Foods was sold by the Swiss owners to Associated British Foods shortly after the Kings Langley factory was closed.

The façade of the factory is being retained as frontage to apartments but houses will occupy the land in front of it and the land adjoining the railway has been earmarked for commercial development. It is not clear how much of the famous art deco frontage will be visible from the railway.

The model dairy farm built in 1932 closed in 1979. The buildings were a local show place designed, as a replica of a farm built by Louis XVI for Queen Marie Antoinette, by J A Bowden, Sons & Ptnrs. In 1982 the buildings were converted to private houses known collectively as Antoinette Court.

The model poultry farm buildings were less distinguished and less well documented. They included an interesting horseshoe shaped building which housed growing parlours for the pullet chicks. This building became derelict but has recently been converted to an administration centre by Renewable Energy Systems who have erected a landmark wind turbine on the north side of the M25 between junctions 20 and 21. The number of times this is stationary or near stationary is a reminder of the problems of reliance on wind energy.

Kings Langley was, at one time, a centre for large scale poultry and egg production. Thomas Toovey, who owned Kings Langley Mill and the adjoining Rectory farm, was a pioneer of intensive poultry keeping and was already using the term 'battery' early in 20th century in his prolific writings. Between Kings Langley and Chipperfield was St Dunstan's poultry farm which in the 1920s was reputed to be the fourth largest in the UK. Little now remains of these enterprises. John Buekett

*I am indebted for much of the information on Ovaltine to the book A Taste of Ovaltine — The Official Story by Alice Spain 2002 ISBN 0 9526932 1 6

Mondial House

Further to the article on BT Fleet Building in Farringdon Road (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005) here is some information on another BT building soon to be vacated and thus left with an uncertain future.

Mondial House (90-94 Upper Thames Street) was built 1970-1975 as a purpose-built international telephone exchange. Upon its completion it was the largest exchange in Europe. It is clad in GRP (glass re-enforced polyester) and its squat design was imposed due to height restrictions to maintain unobstructed views of St Paul's.

It design has been likened to an early VDU & Keyboard (circa late 1970s) and Prince Charles famously called it the wedding cake. Most GRP has badly weathered but Mondial House is an exception. There is only one listed example of this type of cladding (The Olivetti International Education Centre). The building cost £18m and the integration of the ventilation and overhanging projections to minimise solar gain all add up to a finely integrated design.

BT will vacate within the next 18 months and there was some suggestion regarding conversion to a hotel.

Listing has not been successful as the building is deemed as a building for machines rather than people (although over 1,000 worked in the building at one time) occupying a fine riverside site.

I for one will be sorry to see it go. Dave Morris

Jock broken up

The Thames sailing barge Jock was broken up at Gravesend in September 2004. This vessel will be well known to many GLIAS members from the early 1970s when she used to frequent the St Katharine Docks. The Jock of Ipswich was a large barge of 86 registered tons, nearly 91 feet long, and from 1995 occupied the west end of the Canal Basin at Gravesend where she was used as a kind of restaurant boat.

She was probably then in poor condition. Jock was built of wood by R & W Pauls of Ipswich in 1908 and they continued to operate her, latterly as a motor barge, until 1973 when she was acquired by Taylor-Woodrow, who re-rigged her for corporate entertainment. Bob Carr

Thames Water visit

The Blackheath Scientific Society went on a visit in June 2005 to the Hampton Water Works, now just inside the western edge of the GLA area but still in Middlesex when established in 1851 — by the Southwark & Vauxhall Waterworks Co, the Grand Junction [Canal] Waterworks Co and the West Middlesex Waterworks Co. This was in response to impending 1852 legislation prohibiting water extraction from the (tidal) Thames below Teddington weir. They built two reservoirs to take water from the Thames before pumping it to London.

The entrance to the Water Works is marked by elegant buildings — which are listed — different architectural styles being adopted by the several water companies. Some of these buildings date from 1850s, but as demand increased more were built. After the First World War demand increased further; more reservoirs were built around Staines and Walton-on-Thames, the original Grand Junction reservoir being rebuilt to balance the flows from them.

The works have since been amalgamated into the Metropolitan Water Co, now Thames Water; and considerably enlarged. It is the second largest of five water works for London. Throughput is measured in mega-litres per day, Ml/d. Normally this is 790 Ml/d (170 million gallons per day), about a half going to the Ring Main, the rest directly to areas of west London. When full the reservoirs hold about six weeks supply without recourse to the Thames.

A splendid early 1930s Art Deco pump house was built by, and named after H E Stilgoe the then chief engineer, for new high lift pumps for the west London mains. Despite the date the pumps were steam driven, and the building was accordingly designed with a large machine hall. Although smaller modern pumps now look rather lost in it, original control panels let into the wall, with tiled decoration running round them, have been retained; as has a large dc voltmeter with a scale from 160-280V over the entrance.

The scope of the works was widened to include two stages of filtration, Primary 'rapid gravity' Filters being added. These are controlled from a more severe late 1930s Art Deco building named after J R Davidson. These provide the first treatment; 32 concrete tanks about 11m sq and 4m deep with ¾m of a special grade of sand over pea shingle on the base, have water pumped in at the top, to flow out beneath the shingle — taking about 15 minutes. At any one time four of the tanks will not be in use while they are: drained to just above the sand; blown with compressed air, then high pressure water; fully drained (to the Thames); before refilling. This is all done by computer control, the outgoing water checked for particles — normally a tank is cleaned once in 24 hours, though if there is a problem this can be changed.

The most recent addition to the works is an Ozone Plant, which is used to reduce pesticide (and other organic) concentrations — so that less chlorine will be needed later. Water leaving this plant is rather tasteless, but its quality improves in the traditional filtration which follows: Slow Sand Filters, a series of 25 concrete walled filter beds about 2m deep, with a sand base over a layer of carbon, are used to remove smaller particles. In one corner is an access ramp for cleaning vehicles. The filter beds are taken out of service on a weekly rota for cleaning by a team of six, which is done by: pumping all the water; scraping off the top few cm of sand; gently letting about 30cm of water to cover the sand (so as not to compact it), before pumping in water to the normal depth. When the sand thickness is reduced to ½m the filter bed is cleaned out and relined to ¾m.

Final treatment is disinfection: the water is chlorinated, put through a fine mesh screen, and pumped into Contact Tanks (the 'contact' being of the water with the disinfecting chemicals). The main disinfectant is chlorine, with sulphur dioxide and ammonia to neutralise it — the ammonia forming a compound which allows a slow release of chlorine after it leaves the works, particularly useful for water in the ring main which might linger. The amount of chlorine reaching ones tap is miniscule. This plant is computer controlled, with automatic sampling of water quality. The sampling room had modern plastic piping beautifully laid out in a way that would gladden the heart of a Victorian engineer.

Generally plant was (and is) built to last, so there is much to see which elsewhere would count as industrial archaeology.

The adjacent London Ring Main Control Centre was included in the visit. Although it reaches a long way east from Hampton it only gets about two thirds the way across London. A video showed how the London Ring Main was designed and used: it is about 40m down, with vertical shafts to surface facilities. There are also surface connections so that supply can be maintained even if one of the shafts is taken out of service for maintenance. Other shafts are just used for access. The Ring Main is kept full of water, which flows by gravity to any shaft from which water is pumped, considerably reducing the energy that would be needed to pump it through surface mains — and the pressure the surface mains would need to withstand. The Ring Main Control Room has half a dozen operating positions, not all manned, each with several monitors on a computer system, and four large screens on the back wall to repeat any display of immediate interest. Another wall has a large scale map of London, on which problem points can be located. Other framed plans and schematics show the system in detail. The aims are to husband supplies while meeting demand, which is checked against a forecast demand. R J Buchanan (Follow-up)

Badgers Yard

Badgers Yard was a small ship repair yard, including a dry dock, at the south-east corner of Millwall Dock. It appears to have closed in late 1979 or early 1980. A few office papers that had been scattered around were 'salvaged'. These include four foolscap notebooks containing carbon copy sheets of hand written notes detailing jobs carried out in the period 1964–70. Below are some randomly selected notes from one of the books.

The intention is to deposit the books, with or without transcription, in Tower Hamlets Local History Library at Bancroft Road. If a typed copy is made, it will be made available to other interested organisations.

If any member would like to take on the task of typing up all the notes contained in these books, please do get in touch with David Thomas on 020 7928 8702

Information requested

On the east bank of the Regent's Canal near St Paul's Road there is a solitary hexagonal brick-built chimney about 8/10 feet across and 75 feet tall (TQ 3652 8159). Does anyone know its origin and purpose? (Follow-up)

The other enquiry is on behalf of my brother. Walking around Wood Green (N22) and Hornsey (N8) he noticed cast-iron flaps in the pavement. These are about 8in x 10in overall with a 1in frame all round. The flap has an apparent pivot hinge at one narrow end with 'crowbar' cut out at the other. They bear two letters about car number plate size, all the combinations of the letters seem different and do not appear to be abbreviations. They are very well worn (most pavements in that area are c1900) and appear to have been undisturbed for ages, there are three close to where, he for 67 years and I for 32 years lived and passed daily and have never seen opened. There are lots of other flaps and covers which are regularly used and bear identification (who remembers the Metropolitan Water Board) with the man walking round and round the valve key down a hole in the road or pavement? The local historian does not know. Bob Rust (Follow-up)

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© GLIAS, 2005