Notes and news — April 2006
In this issue:
GLIAS January lecture: Napier's — Engineers Of London
- GLIAS January lecture: Napier's — Engineers Of London
- Respecting The Railwaylands
- There was this old gasholder in Dublin ...
- Concrete lampposts
- Handyside's of Derby — 'anonymous' pillar boxes
- Factory pillboxes
- Waste bricks
- Thames barge news
- Greater London news
- Royal Albert & Victoria Docks Cut
- Paddington — on film
- A simple postcard
- Engineering in literature
- Tramway Memories, London
- Science Museum Library
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography — online
- Wooden brick roads
- The South-East — Britain's industrial heartland
The January Society lecture was given by Alan Vessey, archivist and founder member of the Napier Power Heritage Trust.
Napier's have existed for almost 200 years — they celebrate their bicentenary in 2008 — and are still in production. David Napier (1785-1873) was a Scot, who came to London in 1808, where he became a pupil of Henry Maudslay at his works in Soho and then in Lambeth. David's son James was apprenticed to his father in 1838, working in Lambeth, close to the site of the Festival Hall (the last works were demolished in 1951). In 1848, the business became D Napier & Son.
The business became a limited company in 1908 and went public in 1912. In 1942, the English Electric Group were ordered by Lord Beaverbrook, the wartime Minister of Supply, to manage the company. Rationalisation of the aero engine industry in 1961 led to Napier Aero Engines Ltd becoming 50% owned by Rolls Royce.
Alan illustrated the range of work done by the company over two centuries: general engineering from 1808 to 1898; the motor trade 1915-1925; marine engines from 1915; aero engines from 1916; rail traction to 1965; and turbochargers from 1935 to date.
He then showed slides of Napier's production and leading figures over the period, including printing presses of 1830; ordnance, including precision pressing of ammunition; a banknote printing press of 1870 — Napier presses printed Bank of England notes until well into the 20th century; coin sorting machinery for the Royal Mint and foreign mints also used into the 20th century; the only surviving example of a Napier beam engine, c1858, now in the Madrid Science Museum; a bullion balance; an early internal combustion engine; the Napier car of 1900, the first to use a steering wheel instead of a tiller and pressure tyres; a 1902 four-cylinder car which won the Gordon Bennett trophy in France; a 1903 boat which won the Harmsworth Trophy, manufactured at Camden Lock; a 1904 racing car, which broke the world land speed record at Daytona in 1905; First World War aero engines; the aircraft which won the Schneider Trophy in 1922; a gas turbine helicopter engine; post-war diesel engines and the most powerful railway engines. Brian Strong
Respecting The Railwaylands
Argent's proposals for the redevelopment of King's Cross Railwaylands — what we used to call the Great Northern Goods Depot — the area north of the Regent's Canal up to the North London Line and the area south to a point about level with the German Gymnasium now adorned with a facia proclaiming its purpose, but not its nationality, is in — and has been reviewed by KXCAAC, the King's Cross Conservation Area Advisory Committee which has produced a report called Respecting the Railwaylands.
If the plan is a curate's egg, it is possibly a little more palatable than Sir Norman Foster's oeuf of 15 years ago. The good parts are that the whole of the Goods Shed is retained, and the coal drops, the Handyside and Midland Sheds. The linked gasholder triplet is re-erected and Gasholder No 8 is moved north of the canal. Culross, Stanley Buildings North, the GN's Western Goods Station and the Plimsoll Coal Drops approach viaduct are lost. The new development has a grand name — the King's Cross Central. A major difference from Foster's proposals is that commercial redevelopment is largely located south of the canal — his plans placed an oval park in between the stations at the south and the major commercial development to the north. This makes the road layout and internal transit routes less complex and no new through and few extra access routes are to be built.
From the south to the east of the German Gymnasium a new north-south axis — the Boulevard — designed for public transport, crosses the Regent's Canal, using an existing bridge, and then is routed between the Granary/Goods Shed and the Eastern Coal Drops. The old basin in front of the Granary is not opened up but, in the architect's impression, sports a Somerset House-style fountain feature.
The Coal Drops are tasteful eateries and outlets like Covent Garden. The Granary and Goods Shed are under active consideration as a campus for the University of the Arts, London (the Camberwell, Central St Martin's and Chelsea Colleges of Art and the London Colleges of Communication and Fashion) — a solution which may be less demanding on the existing structure than Argent's previous proposals, in which the area between the two Goods Sheds became a series of blocks of flats. The old track fan to the north of the Goods Shed — probably more than half the area of the site — becomes dockland-style residential blocks. The commercial heart of the site is the 'Great Wall of China' located along the canal's south bank.
KXCAAC has argued for many changes. We believe that the Culross Buildings, erected as accommodation for the GNR's employees within the 10-minute rule, could be retained with the Boulevard driven through it turning it into a 'living bridge'. This fashionable idea has been proposed by architect Christophe Egret for the renewal of the Park Hill Flats in Sheffield. The Stanley Buildings block that is to be demolished should be retained, and we are wary of the attempt to embed the other as the facade of a new service building. That the Plimsoll access viaduct is lost is a pity as its two gradients are deceptively ingenious so coal trucks could be worked onto and off the coal drops south of the canal by gravity. A particular brutality is the removal of the walls along the canal in front of the Granary and their replacement by steps. We believe that not only would the towpath be too narrow to handle the pedestrian traffic attracted on it — unless it were widened, but by doing so it would cease to recognise that the canal and the goods yard were separate worlds.
We are also worried that the proposals soften what is a hard urban landscape too much — pocket-sized parks which could be better located as open space to appreciate the existing buildings better, and as usual insufficient thought has been to retaining the hard surfaces as they are, and not allowing them to become part of a demented heritage architect's pattern-book. Watch this space. Charles Norrie
King's Cross gazetteer
There was this old gasholder in Dublin ...
... and they've it converted into a block of flats. And indeed it's a very handsome building. The bell of the Alliance Gasworks holder near the entrance to the Grand Canal on the south side of the Liffey in Dublin has been replaced by an elegant residential block. At King's Cross Argent's proposals call for the re-erection of both the No 8 Gasholder (still standing) and the triplet — EH are very keen — just north of the canal basin on the site of the Western Goods Station. The plans for housing in this zone of the development calls for the erection of residential blocks in the triplet frames.
So far, so good. KXCAAC took the view that as the triplet had to come down as it was in the path of the extended platforms for St Pancras, re-erection was better than total loss, and re-erection meant exploitation of the internal space. That the new structure could be 'read' transparently as if it were a gasholder and bell, but at the same time its re-use was clearly stated was as much as could achieved in the circumstances. That meant the replacement building inside the frame should be as much like a bell as possible in shape and as 'bland' as a metal gasholder bell is. This has been achieved in Dublin. Though the new building is a ring-shaped block of flats with a central circular courtyard, for the most part externally it looks like a full gasholder bell.
Unfortunately, the outline plans at King's Cross show that the architect has understood the visual outline of a gasholder but not how it works. The circular buildings inside do not fill the frames and are placed eccentrically; one bell extends above the guideframe and an arbitrary atrium building has been imposed on the lot. The effect is rather like one of those Japanese paintings of one of Commander Perry's Black Ships. The elements are all present, but the artist has no idea of how it hangs together.
John MacPolin's Alliance gasholder demonstrates no such ignorance and his confident and informed essay stands out among a collection of rather dull Docklands-style buildings.
Please complain to Camden! Charles Norrie
Bob Carr asked whether it is possible to re-use or recycle old concrete lampposts (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006).
Concrete lampposts are now out of favour because they tend to break on impact from vehicles and can cause additional damage by falling on the vehicle.
Hardened concrete can be recycled and most large demolition sites now crush concrete as simple disposal to landfill is too costly. The reinforcement is recovered as scrap and the crushed concrete is generally used as hardcore but it can be processed into recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) and used in new concrete. RCA can only be produced from uncontaminated concrete originally made using a hard aggregate.
If the concrete from old lampposts is to be recycled it would be done in a fixed plant. John Buekett
Handyside's of Derby — 'anonymous' pillar boxes
The following is based on a note written by Malcolm Marples in the March 2006 Journal of the Derbyshire Family History Society, for as stated in a previous newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter December 2005), the 'Anonymous' Pillar Boxes were made by Handyside's of Derby.
Handyside's foundry produced a considerable amount of railway equipment worldwide including locomotive parts and stations at Glasgow St Enoch's, Manchester Central and Nottingham Midland, as well as the ornate Friar Gate bridge in Derby and street furniture.
Andrew Handyside, acquired his Derby foundry in 1847 from the executors of Thomas Wright. Between the years 1833-1933 the foundry made pillar, wall and lamp post boxes for use throughout this country and abroad. The foundry became a limited company in 1873; by 1911 the company went into liquidation but reappeared under the same name. Again the company went into liquidation in the 1930s when it was resurrected and renamed Derby Casting. Unfortunately, the new company did not survive long and the foundry finally closed in 1933.
In the 1881 Census of Derby, RG11/3398 Folio 82 page 29, Andrew Handyside is listed as a civil engineer (retired) aged 75, birthplace Edinburgh, Scotland, wife Anastasia aged 58, birthplace Babanka, Ukraine BS Poland, there was a niece and two servants living in the same house.
The three 'anonymous' pillar boxes (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006) at Humber Road Greenwich, Ellerdale Street and Marsala Road Lewisham have the makers name: 'A Handyside and Co Ltd, Derby and London'.
Does anyone know if there was in fact a foundry or a showroom in London and if so, where, or, was the 'London' just to impress? Peter Butt
Andrew Handyside's entry by Robert Thorne in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that among Handyside's London commissions was the cast-iron roof of the Broad Street Station (1864-5) and the Albert Suspension Bridge (1871-3) by R M Ordish.
Pillboxes erected c1940 to inhibit invasion of Britain by German forces will be well-known to almost all readers, generally they are free-standing and obvious, if not downright obtrusive. Probably less well-known are the semi-official to almost amateur enthusiast constructions, often of ordinary brick, built as extensions to the top of factory buildings. Most were probably put up by the factory workers themselves as part of their Home Guard activities, and being relatively well-camouflaged they are not that easy to spot.
Two fine examples existed in Luton, at least until recently, on the east side of the main line railway north of Luton station. They are extensions at the top of previous structures and give themselves away by their characteristic gunslits. Pillboxes of this kind often look a little out of place architecturally, sometimes like a brick shed or an enclosure for an elevated water tank, but when one has seen a few they get easier to spot. Their gunslits generally have concrete surrounds angled to deflect bullets, etc. It appears that there was a plan to hold up the German army along the line of the LMS railway in North Luton and with no cover the cleared multi-track railway here would have been difficult to cross with snipers firing from pillboxes.
On 7th May 2005 during the GLIAS walk starting from Willesden Junction station a factory pillbox was noted in the Hythe Road area. This was an extension on top of a factory building on the south side of the road which probably also overlooks the canal to the south. Again the canal would have been difficult to cross, made more difficult still by determined fire from an elevated pillbox. One can well imagine the atmosphere in the dark days of 1940 as we waited for the expected German invasion; the siting and construction of pillboxes was probably in part supervised by veterans of the Great War and there would have been bold talk of bagging one more German before the speaker himself was annihilated.
GLIAS members might consider looking out for and recording factory pillboxes, it is fairly certain comprehensive records of their whereabouts were not kept at the time. Such records would have been far too useful had they fallen into enemy hands and it is likely that some of these emergency structures are now in a sense 'lost'. Bob Carr
With reference to 'slag or burnt brick front garden walls' (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006), the use of brickmakers' wasters in front garden walls is not confined to the area asked about. They can be found all over the boroughs of Wood Green and Hornsey (now L B of Haringey) notably on the estate between Green Lanes and Wolves Lane and houses fronting on to Alexandra Park Road and Colney Hatch Lane. There is even an isolated instance in Granville Road where I used to live.
When Alexandra Palace was being built (c1873) a brickworks was established in the grounds using local clay to make the 60,000,000 bricks required.
But to quote from Wood Green Past by Albert Pinching ISBN 0 948667 64 8:
'Brick-making had been established in Tottenham and surrounding parishes since the 15th century. The first clay workings in the Wood Green area were located at the southernmost extremity of the Wood Green ward alongside Beans Green, on a site which later became the Harringay Stadium and Arena, and now is home for a Sainsbury's Superstore. These clay workings and their associated tile kilns were well established by 1798 when they were owned by Nathaniel V. Lee; by 1843 13 cottages had been built for the workers. These works became Williamson's Potteries in the later part of the 19th century and closed in the early 1900s, the workers' cottages being condemned on health grounds in 1905.So it seems that this latter could have been the source for Wood Green and Palmers Green, with Alexandra Palace being the source for housing nearer to that site.
'Clay pits with tile kilns and potteries were established at Bounds Green by 1862 by Charles Paul Millard, then described as 'brick and tile maker'; he was mentioned earlier as a property developer. By 1903 the Bounds Green Pottery was owned by Charles Pickering and specialised in glazed bricks and tiles. Operations ceased by 1926 when the site was sold to the Wood Green District Scouts and in 1928 renamed Scout Park which it remains today. Some of the original buildings remain and the levels of the workings can still be seen.'
These are only logical surmises on my part, but those distorted bricks have intrigued since I was a child. Bob Rust
Thames barge news
Despite a number of well-loved craft having recently gone (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006) there is some good news in that barges are being rebuilt with a view to keeping the type seaworthy for many years to come. The very efficient Thames barge evolved from craft-like lighters and represents technology intermediate between the old coastal sailing ships, such as schooners like the Kathleen & May, and the present day small coaster or motor barge. The title Thames barge is really a misnomer as they traded from the Humber to Lyme Bay and across to France and Belgium.
The sailing barge Cambria, the last UK vessel to carry a commercial cargo under sail alone, is to undergo extensive restoration and will be moved to Sheerness for the work to be carried out. The makeshift floating dock in which she presently sits at Dolphin Yard was adapted from a steel lighter, donated by Cleanaway Ltd to the Cambria Trust. The sides of the lighter were drastically cut down to make the floating dock and so presently there is insufficient freeboard for a tow along the Swale to Sheerness. When the sides of Cambria's floating dock have been sufficiently raised, the move will be able to take place. It is reported that all craft have to leave Dolphin Yard by 1st April 2006.
Cambria, built in 1906, should be floated to Lower Camber, Sheerness Dock Yard, in March this year, where a number of shipwrights will work on her. She is to be almost totally renewed with the intention that the new Cambria will survive until 2106. Work is to start in the spring of 2007 and should be completed by spring 2009. Cambria was notable for her very long bowsprit and a gaff-rigged mizzen sail, without sprit. She is not the only Thames sailing barge to be substantially renewed. Dawn and Pudge are being/will be rebuilt too.
At Dolphin Yard the museum artefacts are being packed away in containers with care being taken to make proper reference to the archives. The Sail Loft and Forge will probably be dismantled and may well be destroyed as there is nowhere to store the parts. The large-scale redevelopment of the whole area will take about six years and the reinstatement of a museum cannot take place before this is finished.
The above was prompted by a talk given by Tony Ellis, chairman of the Cambria Trust, on board HMS President in February 2006. This is the relatively new venue for the River Thames Society which used to meet at Hurlingham Yacht Club in West London. President is an excellent choice, with the tideway sluicing by in the dark and plenty of ship's motion caused by passing river craft. Tony Ellis started the Dolphin Yard museum in June 1968. Bob Carr
Greater London news
At the White City, Shepherd's Bush, a very large shopping mall development is taking place. It will be about as large as Bluewater. Many of the underground railway tracks in the vicinity, formerly on the surface, will be buried by the new buildings and new siding accommodation for Central Line trains will be subterranean. However, relatively little in the way of track realignment will be undertaken.
Two listed buildings, part of the old Central Line power station will be retained, one of them being reused for part of a new bus station. A surface rail station will be built at the south-east corner of the site for trains on the West London Line. If trams are introduced along the Uxbridge Road this will be their eastern terminus. It is the intention of the developer to attract shops and stores (retail outlets) from abroad which presently do not have a branch in the UK. Completion should be by about 2010 and the scheme is designed to last for 103 years.
At the Silwood Estate, South Bermondsey (GLIAS Newsletter April 2005), a great deal of demolition and rebuilding has been taking place and now, from the original scheme, only some of the smaller housing blocks near the railway remain. It looks as if even these may eventually go.
By the end of February demolition of the Greenwich District Hospital (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005) was already well under way. A long-reach cruncher was being used to nibble away at the concrete.
The staircase tower of the locally listed building at 25 Payne Road E3 has recently been demolished. New works were built here 1897-8 for Taylor Bros Ltd who manufactured chocolate and confectionery. However this was relatively short lived and the Payne Road building has had a multitude of occupiers since the First World War. It is of interest as it is a structure with an internal cast iron and steel frame, representing a transitional stage between buildings with load-bearing walls and internal iron frames, and fully steel-framed buildings. There is a central line of cast-iron columns, many of which bear the name Henry Edie & Co, High Street, Bromley E, but also fabricated I-section steel girders. Some recording work has been carried out by GLIAS, notably by Tom Ridge and Malcolm Tucker. Bob Carr
Royal Albert & Victoria Docks Cut
There was/is indeed a 'Royal Albert & Victoria Docks Cut' (GLIAS Newsletter February 2006), as shown by OS London Sheets 73-77 (1894-96).
On Sheet 73 the Cut is clearly shown bottom centre (leading, it seems, from its own basin on the Thames, then by tunnel) and top right (again linked by tunnel). The other sheets show its continuation along the full length of the north side of the Royal Docks. Unfortunately, I do not have the sheet that shows its eastern extremity.
I am most grateful to Harry Mernick of the East London History Society for drawing these maps to my attention. Don Kennedy
Paddington — on film
Now that Bishops Bridge, Paddington is no longer with us (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005), for those who would like to see it again, there is a good photographic record to be found in an old film called The Blue Lamp. Made in 1950, and starring Dixon of Dock Green. Set at Paddington Green police station, the film shows interesting views of the surrounding area which can no longer be seen.
The front of the old Paddington Police Station is seen with views towards Bishops Bridge. Now buried below the flyover.
There is a close-up of Bishops Bridge, but not the small cafe set into the wall of the bridge. There are views of Bishops Bridge with the depository towering over the bridge.
In an opening night shot, Dixon is chatting on the Warwick Avenue Canal bridge. Still there.
There are views of the Metropole Music Hall (1836-1962) in Edgware Road, both internal and external. In the days when it was a music hall. Entry to the balcony was 9d, and the stalls were 1s. Shortly afterwards it became a wrestling hall, before being pulled down in 1963 to make way for the new Paddington police station.
The round front of the Coliseum Cinema can be seen. Location unknown, but probably Harlesden.
Much of the early street foot-work took place along the Harrow Road, near the junction of Walerton Road. Showing views of the shops, and market stalls.
The action then takes place in what is now the new Westbourne Green/Warwick Estate.
Then it was a rundown Victorian slum on the inside bend of the Grand Union Canal. Which had started to be pulled down, to be replaced by the new council estate. There is a shot of the police on the banks of the canal, with the Victorian houses overlooking the canal and children playing.
A foot chase starts on the Formosa Street Canal footbridge. Then a concrete footbridge, now a curvy steel bridge, built in the 1980s. The young gunman lived in a house on the corner, opposite the southern side of the Formosa foot bridge. Part of that row of houses is still there. Most noticeably there were no trees then, now the canal is almost obscured by trees.
The car chase starts at the church, in Cirencester Street, and goes up Clarendon Street next to the canal. These streets are no longer there, now it is covered by a small park. But the church and a nearby school are all that remains of the old Westbourne Green area.
The car chase action then moves along an empty Ladbroke Grove, and there is a high shot of the empty Ladbroke Grove Canal bridge. There is high shot of an empty star junction, probably inside the old Westbourne Green area.
The gunman is finally arrested inside the old White City Dog Track, now replaced by BBC offices.
There is a shot of the outside of Dixon's house, but I don't know where this was. Derek Daniels
A simple postcard
A humble postcard can quite often be surprisingly informative and provide an entry into a vanished world, providing a rich experience for anyone who takes the trouble to consult a little reference material. Here is an example, acquired recently for less than the price of a cup of tea and posted in Blackpool in 1904.
The card, depicting Morecambe — West End Parade, a Chester Vaughan Series printed image and not a 'real photograph', was written by someone called Ethel and addressed to a Miss G Brewer, Regent Street, Leamington (just this). At the time there appears to have been no use of house numbers when addressing postcards and the writer presumes that Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, is a universally well-known place. The postcard was almost certainly delivered; what postmen they had then!
This postcard was produced early in the 1900s when writing on both sides of a card was a novelty which had only just been permitted. In the view of Morecambe some people are still wearing Victorian dress. Apart from the main black and white illustration all the printing is in red and rubric above the space to the left of that intended for the address announces that 'For INLAND Postage this Space, as well as the Back, may now be used for Communication.' The original capitalisation is reproduced here and by back is meant the side with the picture of Morecambe. Below this sentence it says 'For FOREIGN Postage the Back only. (Post Office Regulation).' The view of Morecambe is surrounded by a good deal of space for Communication — usual practice at the time. The message written in pencil beneath the double dose of rubric on the 'Front' reads — 'Dear G., We are just coming back from Morecambe. I am writing this on the boat. We have been for a drive round Morecambe. It has been a lovely day & I have enjoyed myself very much. Yours Ethel.'
So it appears that Ethel has been with a party which has sailed from Blackpool for a day out in Morecambe. Morecambe is some distance to the north of Blackpool, and what does she mean by boat? One would hardly write a postcard in an open boat and probably not on the deck of a small ship. Most likely this was written at a table in the saloon of a substantial steamer, perhaps as part of having afternoon tea — you can easily imagine the silverware and white tablecloths.
However there is more. Written in pencil above the space set aside for INLAND Communication (how daring!) it says, 'Thanks for PC. Love to Tony & a kiss. This boat is called 'Deerhounds', or 'Deerhound' (unclear). Now the Deerhound was a sizeable twin-screw steamer introduced in 1901 and this is almost certainly the vessel. She was operated by the North Pier Steamship Company and sailed from Blackpool's North Pier — so we have found Ethel's ship. Incidentally there is a splendid website, 'Excursion Ships of the North West UK', which reproduces Edwardian picture postcards of many of the pleasure steamers from this part of Britain, but no picture of Deerhound. The steamers that are depicted are really splendid.
The card still has its original green halfpenny stamp with the head of King Edward VII, then only three years on the throne. It is heavily postmarked Blackpool, 7.15 pm Au (August) 16, 04 (1904) and very likely was put in a pillar box on the way back from the North Pier to Ethel's Hotel or Boarding House.
Ethel probably lived in Leamington and very likely close to Regent Street. Miss G Brewer may have had a name like Gertrude she disliked and was keen that friends used G. instead. Men often did this. Since Ethel received a postcard in Blackpool (from G.?) she was probably staying there more than a few days, but then the post was very quick in Edwardian times. The drive round Morecambe was probably in an open carriage or landau and we now know that there was delightful weather in the North West about 16th August 1904.
The journey from Leamington to Blackpool may appear a difficult one but in 1904 one only had to take the local train to Rugby and catch a fast LNWR express to Preston, and probably a through train all the way. Through carriages were very popular at that time as people going on holiday took loads of luggage with them and having to 'change trains' was regarded as something of an ordeal, even as late as the 1950s.
From the characteristic slight impressions across the corners of the card at 45 degrees to the edges about 5/8ths of an inch from the corners, Ethel's card has been kept in a postcard album — the Brewer family album most likely — collecting postcards like this was a popular Edwardian pastime. Many of these albums could still be seen in second hand shops about 25 years ago by which time they were generally falling to pieces. Dealers have tended to take the cards out of albums for sale to collectors individually. People generally collect cards of a particular kind rather than be interested in the whole heterogeneous jumble of types to be found in a typical Edwardian family album. If we had come across the complete Brewer's album we would know a great deal more about Ethel and even what the G in Miss Brewer's name stood for. Bob Carr
Engineering in literature
The Rolt Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr Denis Smith at Hatfield Polytechnic in August 2004 dealt with the subject of Engineering in Literature*, so it is perhaps not out of place to mention here that we have had the novel North and South (1855) by Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65), with its background of a northern textile town and a mill owner as one of the major characters, serialised on television. Readers will probably also be familiar with Mary Barton set in Manchester and published in 1848. Denis quotes the account of a fire in Carson's Mill from this book.
Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford set in Knutsford, Cheshire, at an earlier period (the good old days before the coming of nasty industry) is a gentle satire, at times reminiscent of Jane Austen, of impecunious genteel life in a small country town but even here one of the principle characters Captain Brown is run over and killed by one of the new fangled railway trains. The captain is very fond of reading Boz (Pickwick Papers) and while immersed in the latest instalment at the railway station looks up and spots a child in danger on the tracks with a train approaching. Immediately he darts onto the line and throws the child to safety but his foot slips and he is caught by the train with fatal results. Cranford first appeared from December 1851 in instalments in Household Words (edited by one C Dickens). Later as a book it became very popular and in the period up to 1947 there were about 170 editions and reprints.
In Gaskell's Cousin Phillis (1864), the highly accomplished young heroine (Phillis) all but breaks her heart over a very eligible young civil engineer busily engaged building a railway in the locality and there is quite a background of railway matters.
Needless to say in just eight pages Denis could only make a brief selection. Newsletter readers can no doubt suggest further items of interest, perhaps including relatively unknown works. The scope is considerable. Bob Carr
*See Landscape with Writers: Engineering and the Industrial Landscape in English Literature — Industrial Archaeology Review volume 27, number 2, November 2005, pages 187-194.
Tramway Memories, London
There is a note in the above about the Society and how further information on London's Tramways is sought. May I add some updates, corrections and further information on the book and surviving relics:
p66 (and others) Charlton Works and Penhall Road were not adjacent but some ¾ mile about. There remain some of the storage yard rails visible at the latter and Charlton Works has been pulled down.
p77 Norwood, Wandsworth, Hackney (Clapton), Hounslow (Isleworth), Ilford and Wood Green Depots survive. Finchley has now gone and Croydon (Thornton Heath) was rebuilt in 1951. Poplar is (still) in Leven Road. Peckham Horse Stables survive.
Other items around include tram shelters at Abbey Wood and Eltham, various manhole covers (eg between Herne Hill and Tulse Hill but there are many more). The sub-station in Stratford (Wise Road) exists but is derelict
p5 top — these ladies are also in the phone p71 middle. Hence can be dated
p21 lower — this is at a change pit (see the fork in the hands of the official)
p32 top — the tram 36 and bus 36 were totally different routes and would not have met at this point
p37 lower — trams 68 & 70 did not use these rails
p41 lower — this is the same stretch as on p73 middle (Bostall Hill)
Science Museum Library
The Science Museum agreed to review the proposals to split its library among three locations (GLIAS Newsletter June 2005). Following further discussion between the museum and Imperial College, in whose premises the library is located, revised proposals have been agreed, which the two bodies 'believe will ... safeguard the future of the collection and at the same time create world-class library facilities for the 21st century'. They have now agreed that:
The future relationship between the two bodies will be governed by a legal agreement. The staffing implications are still being worked out. Brian Strong
- The component parts of the collection should remain accessible as at present.
- The Central Library Building at South Kensington will remain the focal point. All frequently used materials will be retained there and the collections will continue to be developed 'at a level appropriate to needs and within available resources'.
- Less frequently used materials will be removed to secure storage at the Science Museum site at Wroughton, near Swindon, starting in April 2006, but will be available to library users at South Kensington on 24 hours' notice.
- The Rare Book Collection will be relocated to new facilities in the Science Museum at South Kensington.
- Imperial College will refurbish the South Kensington facilities to provide increased space for silent study and ensure appropriate access to electronically stored information (July-September 2006).
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography — Online
From 1 April access to the Dictionary of National Biography and its updates will become available free, initially for two years, with access from home or your local library, to the subscribers of 127 local authority libraries. So it could be a case of, 'use it or lose it', if your borough finds that not enough of their subscribers use the facility that it offers for research.
Obviously, a specific name can be looked up, but to historians, of more use, any text within the entries can be searched for. This has enabled me to add some 'human interest' when researching an organisation where I had worked. And on looking at those individuals with 'Midland Railway' in their entry it occurred to me that perhaps one of my grandfathers had taught the artist Graham Sutherland, when he was an apprentice.
In my London Borough, access is via their Reference Library webpage and one has then only to type in one's library card number. Peter Butt
Wooden brick roads
In the early 1950s I was a London policeman and remember vividly the old wooden brick roads, particularly when I was a speed cop. These roads were extensive to central London and the West End. On wet days they would erupt through expansion and they were terribly slippery; I saw buses slide into the kerb as they pulled up at bus stops. I slipped over on my police motorcycle several times.
I think there was a special name for this road surfacing but I can't remember it. I was wondering if any readers had any information on their origin as they are stimulating great interest among my grandchildren who think I am quoting some sort of Harry Potter story. John Ramsden
The South-East — Britain's industrial heartland
Figures published by the Labour Force Survey show that the south-east is now Britain's largest manufacturing region.
The south-east has 18.6% of manufacturing workers (693,000 people), followed by the West Midlands (12.8%) and north-west (11.2%).
The top manufacturing counties are Essex (96,000), Lancashire (95,000) and Hampshire (85,000).
© GLIAS, 2006