Notes and news — October 2019
In this issue:
GLIAS @ 50 Newsletter themes
- GLIAS @ 50: Newsletter themes
- GLIAS @ 50: GLIAS coach trips
- GLIAS @ 50: Industrial reuse in London
- Steam engine pioneers
- A 30 minutes' stroll from St James's Park Station
- 55 Broadway
- East Greenwich Number One
- Daniel Defoe's Tile Works at Tilbury
- Stevenage station update
- Victoria jubilee plaques — again
- Nestlé's Factory
- English Oilfields Limited
- Information/help required
- Quirky bits of I.A. going singly or en bloc ...
- British Transport Treasures
- The Clerkenwell and Islington Tour Guiding Course
- Conservation Watch
Each of the six Newsletters during our Anniversary Year will have a section dedicated to a particular theme. This month's theme is GLIAS coach trips. Future themes will be:
December: GLIAS Recording Group
February 2020: GLIAS outreach / walks / conferences
Please send your memories, whether serious or light-hearted, to firstname.lastname@example.org
GLIAS @ 50: GLIAS coach trips
On 18 October 1980 GLIAS had a day visit to the Kennet & Avon Canal, which was written up in GLIAS Newsletter December 1980. Included was a boat trip through Bruce Tunnel, Savernake. My photo shows the boat ascending Crofton Top Lock, east of the tunnel. Easily recognised is Olly Perrett (then still Davies). Alongside is camera-slung Tony Freeman. To his left is Alan Burkitt, in front of him is Joan Gray, now his wife. Behind Olly is the late Jim Barr, a lovely chap, who helped in recording at several sites, including Sun Flour Mills (GLIAS Newsletter August 1979), and undertook research in Bancroft Road library. His wife, Eadie, was always ready with a cuppa when we returned to their flat after such sessions. Looking out of the boat's side are Stuart Weir and the late Bill Firth. Any more recognised? David Thomas
GLIAS @ 50: Industrial reuse in London
In Newsletter 303 our Editor reported that a request for contributions on this theme in the Society's 50th Anniversary Year had attracted no response. As an enthusiast for industrial reuse, and having worked as a structural engineer on a number of schemes, I offer this very selective overview of notable London examples. These are arranged by original building type, which is highlighted, as is the reuse. Railway stations (perhaps surprisingly) rarely find a new use in London: when change occurs, it is either major alteration or rebuilding (St Pancras, King's Cross, London Bridge, etc), or total demolition (notably Broad Street and Holborn Viaduct).
Among many dockside and riverside warehouses adapted mainly for residential use are:
The late 1850s T-shaped I Warehouse, now known as the Ivory House, in St Katharine Docks — an early 1970s conversion to flats, with shops at quayside level;
One of only two of the large North Quay warehouses of 1802-3 in the West India Import Dock to survive Second World War bombing, now home to the Museum in Docklands (GLIAS Newsletter June 2003) and a reminder of the past to contrast with the commercial modernity of Canary Wharf;
William Whiteley's 1890s furniture depository (a variant form of warehouse), a lengthy five-storey range facing onto the West London Extension Railway, north of the later Cromwell Road Flyover; partially rebuilt after a serious fire in 1975, and now part of Kensington Village, offering quality office space.
Multi-storey mills, abundant in textile-working areas of the country, are scarce in London. But one is notable:
A former purpose-built silk mill of 1820 off Streatham High Road (GLIAS Newsletter December 1991), the first mill in Britain to employ Jacquard looms (early punched-card semi-automation); although this use was fairly short-lived, it was of sufficient technological significance for the mill to be listed after representations by GLIAS in 1986. David Thomas subsequently gave evidence at a public enquiry when its demolition was proposed by Sainsbury's but refused; the adapted building now serves as offices and a refreshment facility for both staff and customers.
Markets often have large open market halls, readily adaptable when the trade withers or is relocated, as increasingly happens.
Covent Garden, formerly London's main fruit, vegetable and flower market (displaced to Nine Elms), the central Market building is now a buzzing tourist destination with shops, restaurants, and the like;
'Old' Spitalfields Market in Shoreditch, like Covent Garden, now offers shops, food, and events;
Bermondsey Leather Market in Weston Street, once at the heart of the noxious tanning trade, has been adapted to more genteel uses as workspace and offices.
Factories and workshops are rarely of sufficient architectural merit to find new long-term uses, but there are exceptions.
Merton Abbey Mills started life as a silk-weaving centre, water-mill-powered by the River Wandle, but was adapted by William Morris in the 1880s as a factory and workshop complex for larger-scale weaving, printing, stained-glass manufacture and other uses. Morris believed in adapting old buildings rather than replacing them — a very early pioneer of reuse! Later occupied by Liberty's, and today is a crafts and retail centre;
The Sanderson's wallpaper factory in Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick is another early example of reuse, in 1976, providing small units for use as offices, workshops, and studios;
The Hoover factory (GLIAS Newsletter December 1993) on Western Avenue, Perivale, 1930s Art Deco, listed Grade II*; initially adapted for Tesco supermarket, the upper floors now accommodate flats.
Power stations have proved to offer reuse potential, although opinions on how sympathetically they have been adapted may differ.
Bankside now houses the Tate Modern art gallery, but sadly stripped of the electricity generating plant that was its raison d'être;
Wapping hydraulic power station, used for two decades by the Wapping Project as arts centre, offices, and restaurant, but closed after complaints about noise from local residents. A new scheme proposes to adapt the building as offices and restaurant;
Lots Road, another riverside power station which formerly supplied power to London Underground, is being converted to mainly residential occupancy;
The former London United Tramways power station in Chiswick High Road has been adapted as recording studios with flats above;
Battersea power station has had a troubled path towards reuse, the current scheme for it proposing cafés, restaurants, shops and cinemas; surrounding new high blocks of flats reduce its visual impact.
Even breweries have been adapted for new uses, as historic inner London sites have been vacated as a result of company mergers and rationalisation of production, and rising land values have meant high prices for the original sites:
The historic core of Whitbread's brewery in the City, with its magnificent 65-foot span kingpost timber trusses over the 1784 Porter Tun Room, and vaults designed by John Smeaton, is now an event, dining, and conference centre;
The Anchor Brewery next to Tower Bridge, a desirable riverside location on the south bank, has become luxury flats.
Redundant utilities buildings and structures are finding reuse too.
The castle-like Green Lanes water pumping station in Stoke Newington, imaginatively, is now an indoor climbing centre;
Also in castle style is the tall drum-like brick Southall water tower with machicolated battlements alongside the GW main line into Paddington, converted to flats (GLIAS Newsletter February 2011);
Three linked cast and wrought iron gasholder guide frames now enclose cylindrical blocks of flats on the north bank of the Regent's Canal as part of the King's Cross Central regeneration scheme, together with another guide frame surrounding public open space — all removed from their original location south of the canal (GLIAS Newsletter June 2017).
Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, offices are being adapted, mainly for residential use.
The fine Edwardian Acton Town Hall in Acton High Street, 'demoted' when the metropolitan boroughs were amalgamated into Greater London boroughs in the 1960s, is now flats;
Blythe House behind Olympia was built c.1900 as the Head Office of Post Office National Savings. This was moved to Glasgow around 1970. After some years of mixed use it became the Joint Museums Repository housing reserve collections, archives, etc of the British, Victoria & Albert, and Science Museums. The Government has decided that the listed building is to be sold, probably for residential adaptation; the collections will have to be expensively relocated.
Two examples of 'outdoor' industrial reuse.
The pleasant and peaceful Town Hall Gardens in Croydon, in a lowered area immediately north of the Town Hall: formerly the short-lived Central Croydon terminus of the LBSCR, opened in 1868 and closed in 1890;
In Barnes, reservoirs on the former Metropolitan Water Board site have become the London Wetland Centre (GLIAS Newsletter August 2000), attracting both avian and human visitors.
To end, there are varied examples of industrial reuse to be found in the King's Cross Central regeneration scheme.
The German Gymnasium of 1864, subsequently railway offices and various later uses; now (appropriately) a German restaurant;
Gasholder guide frames that surround blocks of flats and public open space — see above;
Coal and Fish Offices flanking the Regent's Canal and above vaults that formerly stabled railway horses, now adapted to retail and restaurant;
Coal Drops Yard, two buildings to discharge loaded coal wagons with adjacent viaducts for returning empty wagons; restored and linked by a dramatic (intrusive?) new raised building by Thomas Heatherwick, all serving as upmarket shopping centre (GLIAS Newsletter February 2016);
The Granary Building, now accommodating the University of the Arts, with accompanying new-build within the retained perimeter walls of Train Assembly and Transit Sheds behind;
Midland Goods Shed and East Handyside Canopy, now a Waitrose store, with outdoor café under the West Handyside Canopy;
Former goods yard main office, now the House of Illustration with exhibitions, displays, and workshops on all aspects of illustration.
Fuller information on many if not most of these buildings can be found via the online GLIAS Newsletter Index, and/or in the six volumes covering London in the Pevsner 'Buildings of England' series. Michael Bussell
Steam engine pioneers
The early pioneers Savery and Newcomen originated from Devon, they came to London to refine their inventions and market their ideas. In 1702 a Savery engine could be seen at work in his workshop at Salisbury Court off Fleet Street. The public were admitted on two afternoons a week.
A later wave of inventors were from Cornwall. Cornish engineers who had an interest in developing the steam engine moved from their native county to work in London towards the end of the 18th century. Arthur Woolf (1766-1837) was only 19 when he came to the capital. Richard Trevithick arrived later and we know that he was here in the early 1800s. Woolf developed his high-pressure compound beam engine while working at a brewery in the Tottenham Court Road 1. This was presumably the Horseshoe Brewery at the junction with Oxford Street. It was opposite the site that became Lyons Corner House and is now a Primark store. Here in 1814 a large vat of fermenting porter burst and eight people were killed.
A period illustration of the Horseshoe Brewery shows only modest chimneys. Woolf's work there was to some extent experimental so he probably did not need steam in large quantities. Woolf patented his compound engine in 1804 and 1805.
An illustration of the same brewery dating from 1910 shows really massive industrial chimneys. It is now hard to imagine such a heavy industrial scene in this part of London. In 1921 the Horseshoe Brewery closed, there was no land available for further expansion and the Dominion Theatre was built on the site in 1928-9.
In London, chimneys were seldom very tall until about 1820 or so. John Farey's book on the steam engine published in 1827 2 describes a good number of chimneys. They are built of brick, square in cross-section, and are limited in height to about 80 feet. Farey was based in South East England and had a particularly good knowledge of steam engines in the capital. By the late 1820s taller chimneys with a circular cross-section were beginning to be built in the London Area, if Farey was aware of these developments he decided not to mention them. His chief interest was in steam engines and in particular those of Boulton & Watt type. At the time he was probably living in London near Russell Square. Does anyone know more about John Farey when he was writing his great book? Bob Carr
1. See for instance Mr Lean and the Engine Reporters by Bridget Howard 2002.
2. A Treatise on the Steam Engine. This book has been described as 'the finest book on technology published during the Industrial Revolution'. John Farey seems to have known Arthur Woolf who was 19 years his senior and they were probably on friendly terms. Since Woolf was working a short walk away from Russell Square this seems likely. Bridget Howard's book includes an appraisal of Woolf's character. Unlike John Farey, Howard is rather critical of Woolf.
A 30 minutes' stroll from St James's Park Station
This has been prompted by an item which appeared in the free e-Newsletter, 'Ian Visits', which has been combined with some other items to make a circular walk. If arriving by train, leave the platform by the Broadway exit and then the 'Park & Petty France' one from the ticket hall. Turn right outside and after passing a few windows, look out for the 'commemoration stone' directly underneath the Broadway street sign. There's a similar one around the corner, showing the then owners of the site, the date anticipating retirement of Mr Auton.
1928 commemoration stone laid by Mr Wakley
Turn back and head east along the south side of Tothill Street. Across the road is Broadway Building, 1924, intended to be multi-occupied, as already was the earlier Sanctuary Chambers, now a hotel, soon passed on the right. The similar Broadway House (No. 22), 1918, was built for the Engineering Employers Federation. Again in similar style, on the NE corner of Dartmouth St, is Portland House, c1920, so named as the HQ of The Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd, encompassing over 30 cement and quarry companies in the UK and abroad. After they moved out in about 1962 it was re-named Telford House. In May 2019 was name-less.
Stop at No. 11, Steel House, 1936, for steel-related organisations; in 1961 these included the British Iron & Steel Federation. Cross the road to note the beefy reliefs.
Man of steel, 11 Tothill Street, 1936
Walk back past Portland House and turn into Dartmouth Street. That building stretches along the east side of the street — including a section which has railings with initials IH. This was all previously the site of the Imperial Theatre and its replacement building was to be called Imperial House, but renamed Portland House before occupation, although the new railing remained unaltered.
Initial IH, Imperial House, in railings, Dartmouth St
At the end of Dartmouth St is Queen Anne's Gate, for long a 'desirable' address for organisations wishing to have a presence near to Parliament and/or the professional engineers' headquarters. Sir John Wolfe Barry & Partners were at No. 2. He was consulting engineer to the Barry Railway Company 1. One wonders how he regarded the competing Cardiff Railway Company, (Cardiff Docks), at No. 22a, under the name of the Marquis of Bute. Edwin Lutyens had his office at No. 17, next door to Aston Webb (19). But back to the corner of Dartmouth Street.
Nos 1 & 3 has a delightful wooden carving above the door, the Cubitts family coat of arms. They were part of Holland & Hannen & Cubitts who once occupied the building. Wording translates as 'happy is the prudent man'.
Cubitts' coat of arms
Turn left into Carteret Street. No 15 is on the one-time site of a small workshop and offices, converted from stables in about 1910. From about 1914 to 1921 these were the premises of Victor, a short-lived motor tyre company. It had a factory in Southall, then New Malden, and was insolvent by 1926. The advertising mosaic would have been alongside the entrance. In January 2019 'Ian Visits' said it might be at risk from proposed development.
Victor mosaic sign, alongside 15 Carterer St; Pratts advert in 1921 edition of 'Sell's Telegraphic Addresses'
Return to Queen Anne's Gate and continue west, past her statue. Ahead right, Nos 36 & 38 stands out. This was built in 1906-8 as the exuberant HQ of the Anglo-American Oil Company, and the associated Tank Storage & Carriage Co Ltd (telegraphic address 'discharge'), which together had previously been at Billiter Buildings, 22 Billiter St, EC. AAOC was formed in the late 1880s and grew rapidly. By 1906 it had 'depots' at many railway stations around the Home Counties, distributing oil products in drums and cans. A trade name, Pratts, was used for many years 2. The name Esso was later adopted. Company initials remain in railings and above the door. Opposite, at the end of the short cul-de-sac, three decorated plates (iron or lead?) are fixed to the wall of No. 40.
Anglo-American Oil Company initials in railings Plate on wall of 40 Queen Anne's Gate
Finally, head north towards 55 Broadway and the station. From here there is a view of some of the chunky building's embellishments. Higher figures represent the four winds; lower ones are day and night. No. 29, on the left, is dated 1888. This is much larger than just the street frontage, extending rearwards with four wings. It was built as a hotel plus residential block with well over 100 residences. A 1920 rate book mentions hydraulic power for lifts.
1. His family asked the Barry Railway for, and was given, permission to include its coat of arms in a memorial window in the nave of Westminster Abbey, dedicated in 1922.Sources include: 'Ian Visits', 'The Buildings of England, London 6: Westminster', Grace's Guide, records at Westminster Archives Centre, and Kelly's Directories held on open shelves at Bishopsgate Institute Library.
2. Many Pratts paper and enamel adverts are illustrated in Grace's Guide.
On 16 September 2019 there was a short article in the Evening Standard saying that a long lease of the former LT HQ had been sold for £120 million to Integrity International Group — a property investor. Planning permission already exists for conversion to luxury flats. David Thomas
East Greenwich Number One
The great gasholder near North Greenwich underground station (GLIAS Newsletter June 2018) is being demolished. Dewatering the tank started last year and has been proceeding slowly.
In July the crown of the bell had been removed revealing the wooden rest frame which supported the bell in its rest position — see photograph below right. This wooden frame was due to be removed soon after the photograph was taken. Below left, for comparison shows the crown of the bell before demolition work.
A small portion of the guide frame on the northeast side is to be retained for now, with the possibility of some of it being incorporated in an art work. The remainder of the gasholder will have gone by about February next year. Bob Carr
Daniel Defoe's tile works at Tilbury
In 1694-5 Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) went to Tilbury and became first secretary and then the owner of a pantile and brick factory in the Chadwell marshes. He built a house nearby and stayed there for about nine years. In 1697 he had a contract to supply bricks for the new hospital at Greenwich and at one time he employed more than a hundred local families. The business failed when Defoe was in prison for seditious libel in 1703. One of his neighbours, a Mr Friday, perhaps gave his name to a character in Robinson Crusoe. Part of Defoe's novel Moll Flanders, a fictitious autobiography, is set in Gravesend reach. Bob Carr
Stevenage station update
Bob Carr asked about work taking place to the south of Stevenage station on the west side of the railway (GLIAS Newsletter August 2019).
I saw a notice reading that the work at Stevenage to the south and west of the station comprises 'new platform, new track, upgraded signalling. The East Coast upgrade', said their poster adjacent.
Contract is with a company named Spencer.
Much on their work can be found here: https://thespencergroup.co.uk/news/
Victoria jubilee plaques — again
Searching for a slide photograph of Newcastle, I came across the two Victoria Jubilee plaques, shown below. The photographs were taken on 19 March 1989.
1. Jubilee Cottage, 6 Bentnick Street, Newcastle. Made by Stanley, Nuneaton, re-using mould for 1887 plaques.
2. Jubilee Terrace, Consett. Although the angle distorts it, this is identical to those mentioned by Robert Excell in the June 2018 Newsletter, with an added date stone.
3. 102 Fair Close, Beccles. Made by Stanley. Block with words Nurses Home within decorative surround. Are there any others with additional information? Can any member say if they still exist, please?
Meanwhile, a friend has kindly sent a recent photograph of a plaque in Beccles. David Thomas
Bob Carr's article on Nestlé's factory at Hayes, Middx (GLIAS Newsletter August 2019), brought back memories. In the late 1960s my bedsit room at 170 Nestles Avenue faced the factory, and it didn't take long for the incessant smell of coffee to become as welcome as that of boiled cabbage would have been! As Bob mentions, some of the road-facing buildings will be restored. But not those at the rear, alongside the canal. The two photos below were taken in January 2018, after production had ceased but before demolition commenced. David Thomas
English Oilfields Limited
In the August Newsletter David Apps wrote about this company (GLIAS Newsletter August 2019), also mentioning that he worked for Metal Scrap & By-Products Ltd, who moved to King's Lynn in 1962 'as they had outgrown Old School Wharf, in Leamouth Road, Poplar'.
There was a wharf of this name on the east side of the Goodluck Hope peninsula, surrounded on both sides by Bow Creek, which had a road along its spine called Orchard Place, Leamouth Road being further south.
The site was previously occupied by the Thames Plate Glass Works which closed in the 1870s when it was acquired by the London Schools Board to replace an earlier and smaller school lower down the peninsula and which itself was closed in 1936 during a major clearance of residential properties. The LCC sold the land to Metal Scrap in 1956.
The peninsula was last occupied industrially by Pura Foods, which closed in 2006 although the remains of their jetty still exists on the Thames near to the entrance of the former East India Dock. It has since lost its original name and has been re-developed as London City Island, tower blocks predominating, but with a welcome pedestrian lifting bridge across to Canning Town Station.
Oddly, developers of land west of Trinity Buoy Wharf and south of Orchard Place are marketing the site as Goodluck Hope, but a riverside walk will be opened, with access to the former graving dock, infilled by the last commercial occupants Shell Oil. Peter Finch
I am researching Finsbury Park Diesel Maintenance Depot for a book and a model railway project.
I am looking for any information on the depot, but in particular construction, demolition and local residents' recollections about the depot. The book will raise funds for The Baby Deltic Project, recreating a long lost diesel locomotive associated with the depot.
Ian Lewis. Email: email@example.com
I am putting together an article for a future Great Eastern Journal on the milk train runs from North Norfolk to the United Dairies bottling plant alongside the railway at Ilford.
I am looking for photographs of the rail side, road side and any internal photographs of the Building to illustrate the article. Any information supplied is always acknowledged and I always make sure those who have provided photographs receive a copy of the Journal in which the article appears.
Graham Hallett, 39 Battle Road, GL20 5TZ. Tel: 01684 297595. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christophe Pollet, a researcher in Chile, is wondering whether anyone living at London could go to Guildhall Library and take photographs (without flash) of a series of letters sent from Iquique to London about the 9 May 1877 earthquake (20-25 folios)? 'We would be telling the exact references of the records to check, being as simple as to go, take the photos and send them to us. We would take at our cost, prices of metro and fees for the entrance to Guildhall Library. What we can offer to this person, is give her/him credits for this research within our future publications.'
Please contact: email@example.com
Quirky bits of I.A. going singly or en bloc ...
Some 30 years ago, when Kirkaldy's Testing Works was being tidied up, GLIAS members were invited to take away some of the concrete cubes cluttering the place. These, dating from the 1960s, had been cast so that samples of concrete could be tested. And now, after being kept snug in a cupboard under the stairs, four of them are seeking a new home. Kirkaldy's doesn't want them back. Each is 6 inches and weighs around 12 kilo, so one is a manageable rucksack load. David Thomas
Contact me to arrange hand-over on firstname.lastname@example.org
British Transport Treasures
British Transport Treasures (britishtransporttreasures.com) is a website that might interest some GLIAS members. It offers fully printable downloads of facsimile books, souvenirs and documents, particularly in railway and port history, priced from 50p to £5.00. Recent examples include:
Locomotion in Victorian London, by G. A. Sekon, Oxford University Press, 1938 [ebook].
Old Euston an Account of the Beginning of the London & Birmingham Railway and the Building of Euston Station, by (G. Royde Smith), Published by Country Life Ltd. for the London Midland and Scottish Railway, 1938 [ebook].
A Hundred Years of Towage, History of William Watkins, Ltd., 1833-1933, by Frank C. Bowen. Gravesend and Dartford Reporter, 1933 [ebook]. On one of the first tugboat owning companies in the world.
Three Hundred Years on London's River, the Hay's Wharf Story, 1651-1951, by Aytoun Ellis, The Bodley Head, 1952 [ebook].
The-best-ways-out-of-london-the-best-ways-to-avoid-london-the-worst-hills-in-england, edited-by-lord-montague, the-car-illustrated, n-d-but-c-1907 [ebook].
The Clerkenwell and Islington Tour Guiding Course
Applications are now open for The Clerkenwell and Islington Tour Guiding course which runs from January 2020 to July 2020. This award winning, accredited course will equip you to plan and give professional walking tours throughout the area and enable you to become one of the Mayor of Islington's official tour guides. The course takes place on Thursday evenings at the University of Westminster's Baker Street campus and practical sessions on the streets are generally every other Saturday. Closing date for applications is 4 November 2019.
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