Notes and news — April 2022
In this issue:
From the Chair
- From the Chair
- GLIAS walks
- Brenda Innes
- Guinness brings back brewing to Covent Garden
- Personal archives
- A visit by GLIAS in 1976 to the former Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington
- Museum of London closure announced
- Upminster Windmill reopening delayed
- Cattle to London. Part 2
- Kew news
- Chimneys this spring
- Welwyn Garden City hospital chimney
- Babcock & Wilcox
- Last chronicle on the News Chronicle
- Ayr 30 years ago
- The tug Sammy
- Hampton Waterworks — a walk
As we start the new financial year at 1 April we're in the middle of our lecture series which we've held as 'hybrid' with an audience at The Gallery, Cowcross Street and online. In-person numbers have been encouraging and, with the online audience as well, we've had attendance figures well above recent years.
The programme of walks for the summer is in hand but we are always on the look-out for volunteers to lead them and devise new routes.
With the changes brought about over the last few years, we've changed how we're asking for renewal of subscriptions and distributing the AGM papers We have also changed our membership year to align with our financial year, from 1 April to 31 March each year. Those who have already paid in 2022 are members until 31 March 2023.
With this Newsletter you'll receive both by email and post, a note of subscriptions due on 1 April, if applicable. Unlike in previous years the reminder will not include the details GLIAS holds for contact purposes.
The AGM papers will be distributed by email to all members for whom we have an email address and by post to others as required in advance of 18 May when the AGM will be held before the lecture 'Aviation Manufacturing in Greater London', by Chris Scivyer.
The next issue of London's Industrial Archaeology is in hand and will be posted later in April along with a note of the contact details held by GLIAS for your information and, if needed, correction.
I'm looking forward to seeing as many of you in person and online over the next few weeks.
Dan Hayton, Chairman
GLIAS has organised guided IA walks in London and nearby for many years. As mentioned above, we are always looking for new volunteers to help devise and lead the walks.
The walks are usually based on the walk leader's knowledge of a local area but we can also repeat some of the earlier walks. Several previous GLIAS walks have been written up and using these could be an easy way to get involved.
If you are interested in helping with the walks or have suggestions for areas that have not been visited recently, please email email@example.com. Assistance in devising or leading a walk is always available. Andrew Turner
Brenda Innes died peacefully on 20 January 20, aged 89. She and Tony were among the original members of Denis Smith's Goldsmith's IA Class. She served as GLIAS Secretary for some 10 years before they retired to Shaftesbury around 1985. They lived on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, famous for the Hovis advert. Brenda was a founding organiser of SERIAC and a strong supporter of the AIA.
Guinness brings back brewing to Covent Garden
The brewing industry is set to return to Covent Garden with plans to create a Guinness microbrewery in the Old Brewers' Yard redevelopment.
Fathom Architects' plans will create a 50,000 sq ft complex around a generous courtyard by removing later buildings to show off eight Grade-II listed buildings, some of which date from the 1740s.
The new site, bounded by the retail streets of Shelton Street, Neal Street and Langley Street, will be called 'Guinness at Old Brewer's Yard'. It will include a microbrewery producing limited edition beers and offering guided tours; events in the central courtyard; a Guinness store, and an open-fire kitchen, restaurant and a 360-degree glass rooftop space.
It is appropriate that Guinness should have a London brewing presence as it was here that Arthur Guinness first sampled London porter in 1776 and returned to Ireland to create his own version.
Porter had been brewed in London from the early 1700s and was popular with dock workers and market porters (GLIAS Newsletter April 1988) who gave it its name.
Beer was brewed in Covent Garden way back in 1722 at the Woodyard Brewery on Castle Street (later Shelton Street). Grade-II listed buildings on Shelton Street, Neal Street and Langley Street were originally part of the brewery complex which closed in 1905.
I was reminded of the extent of the data we, as individuals, hold when I visited Kempton Park with a visitor from the USA via Portugal.
On the last day of pumping in 1986 I took a 'new toy' from my office, a colour VHS portable video recorder, to try it out. It turned out that the official film record of the day was misplaced and sometime later my recording was digitised by volunteers who happened to be BBC engineers. It is now part of the visitor experience.
This is an unusual example of how notes, photographs or drawings, collected by design or chance by an individual, can add to, even complete, the story of a site, company or process.
The problem is what to do with them. Members have published their work in London's Industrial Archaeology and other Journals' Papers have been lodged with local history libraries or similar organisations but the space and staff to make such donations available to the public is under financial and other pressures.
Can GLIAS and its members help with this dilemma? Can we put people in touch with local, or even national, resources? We do have a note of members' locations by borough and postcode and we might be able to point people in the right direction.
Dan Hayton, Chairman
A visit by GLIAS in 1976 to the former Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington
In October 1976 a GLIAS recording group visited the then derelict Royal Agricultural Hall (known locally as 'The Aggie') in Islington, North London.
The structure was in a dangerous state as the lead seals had been stolen from the enormous glass roof and the wind occasionally dislodged pieces of glass which fell down to the ruined floor, waterlogged due to penetrating rainfall. The group had to wear hard hats but was otherwise free to roam and record the ground floor, galleries and basement. Health and safety was not so strict nearly 45 years ago.
The Grade II-listed building lies between Upper Street in the east to Liverpool Road in the west, covering some 6,000 sq m with a glazed single span roof some 22m high and almost 40m wide. There are galleries on the north and south sides. Twin towers rise at the west end, formerly the main entrance.
There were many traces of former occupants and users found since its construction in 1861-62 (architect Frederick Peck). It originally was built for the agricultural Smithfield Club show, later the Royal Smithfield Show, but outgrew the space and moved in 1938 to Olympia in West London. Other events included cycling events from 1878, the Royal Tournament from 1880 and Crufts from 1891. A significant use was by the GPO for some years from 1943 as a Parcels Depot following the bombing of nearby Mount Pleasant.
For decades it then lay derelict and crumbling until 1986 when it was refurbished into the Business Design Centre as a conference and exhibition centre with offices and showrooms, as it remains today. A large number of photographs, both black and white and colour were taken in the short time available. A selection of them is presented here as a pictorial record of a stunning building set in a former working class district.
Sidney Ray. All photos by the author
Museum of London closure announced
The Museum of London's London Wall site will close at the end of this year in preparation for its relocation to Smithfield Market (GLIAS Newsletter October 2016).
The public will not be able to see the collections for about three years until it reopens in 2025 or 2026. The Museum of London Docklands will remain open to visitors during the move.
From this June a final series of events, activities and displays at the existing Museum of London site are planned, celebrating the museum's successes over the past 45 years.
The new museum at ground-floor level will 'retain the feel of the old Smithfield marketplace' while much of The London Collection will be displayed in an underground gallery space through which the Thameslink trainline will pass.
Upminster Windmill reopening delayed
We reported in 2020 about the renovation at Upminster Windmill which has been taking place since 2016 (GLIAS Newsletter December 2020).
However, progress towards completing the restoration has been slowed by Covid and Brexit. The Dutch millwright's return to the UK has been hampered by the removal of free movement of labour into the UK and obtaining a visa has not proved straightforward.
The remaining work includes removing the concrete floor installed circa 1949 and replacing it with a wooden one similar to the original design; installing safety railings around the gallery to enable public access; and completing the work to get the internal milling machinery working. All being well this work should be completed by October 2022.
The mill is now not expected to open to the public until April 2023.
Cattle to London. Part 2
Part 1 ended with a note of routes for livestock to be driven between the four railway cattle depots and the Metropolitan Cattle Market (MCM) in 1897. A previous Act in 1857 also specified routes from railway depots at Bricklayers Arms, Nine Elms, Paddington, Shoreditch and, for cattle de-trained at Tottenham, the Essex boundary. There were routes from riverside wharves near the Tower — Custom House Quay, St Katherine's Wharf, Downes Wharf, British & Commonwealth Wharf — plus two further downstream, Brown's Wharf (Poplar) and Brunswick Wharf (Blackwall). In addition, routes were specified from the wharves to cattle layers or lairs in Hermitage Street, Hackney Wick and off Church Street, Mile End, and from each of those to the Market a. All railway depots had pens to hold animals on arrival, but there was no room for facilities at river quays to rest animals after their sea journey. In 1867 driving cattle from the above-mentioned wharves to the Market was banned and thereafter only Brown's Wharf retained the trade (see later).
There had been considerable opposition from clergy and people of influence against the MCM continuing the Smithfield arrangement of trading on Monday, with an early start, 04.00. Thus cattle would be driven there (to lairs) on the Sabbath. A Committee sat in 1851 to hear witnesses, one being Mr Moseley, a manager with the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR), later part of the Great Eastern Railway (GER), with a monopoly of lucrative cattle traffic from Norfolk and Suffolk. He and the Committee Chairman seemed to agree that if his Company's trains ran into a station on the land next to the Market, and trains of other railway companies did similarly, by definition no cattle would be driven through the streets on Sunday b. He suggested a railway from Tottenham (its main London cattle depot) and/or one as a continuation of its line already under construction to Hackney. This was, incidentally, several months before a site had officially been chosen for the MCM. But, it seems, nothing materialised. The ECR/GER made do with a junction into the North London Railway (NLR) at Hackney to give access to that railway's facilities at Maiden Lane. This meant cessation of cattle driving from Shoreditch, but perhaps it continued from Tottenham until the GER's own Tufnell Park (AKA Junction Road) depot opened in 1887. As mentioned in Part 1, the NLR failed to get an Act for a line that would terminate close to the lairs on land owned by the Market, which would subsequently become Brewery Road.
The MCM opened in June 1855, with cattle sales on Monday and Thursday. Sites along Brewery Road were leased to firms associated with the Market. One lessee was Spiers & Pond, a firm which among other businesses held contracts to run many station refreshment rooms and a few railway-owned hotels.
Brown's Wharf, Coldharbour, just south of the entrance to Blackwall Basin, was owned by the General Steam Navigation Company (GSN), which among other trades ran cattle boats from various European ports. When it became a legal requirement (about 1860?) to rest all cattle arriving by ship for a minimum of 12 hours after landing, the firm acquired nearby land as a lairage — and did so similarly near their Brunswick Wharf before ceasing to use that. But their animals were included in an 1867 Order that limited driving cattle to the MCM. A deal was hurriedly done with the NLR, which provided the land and wagons to carry animals from a platform (which the GSN paid for) alongside a siding at nearby Poplar Dock. The NLR, not owning any cattle wagons, hired some from the LNWR. The trade flourished and the NLR confidently purchased 60 cattle wagons 1876/7. Just in time to see the trade collapse in the second half of 1877. Dock development meant the platform had to be re-sited next to the London & Blackwall line (by then GER) and there is a hint that cattle from Brunswick Wharf were (or could be) also loaded, or trans-shipped, into NLR wagons here. And then the GSN was hit by a new Government requirement that all foreign cattle must be slaughtered at the port of arrival. The GSN ferried arriving foreign cattle from Brown's Wharf to the new Deptford Foreign Cattle Market, opened 1871, reverting to using Brown's Wharf and the NLR when restrictions were lifted. But in 1882 the GSN moved permanently to using Deptford and their NLR trade ceased. The spare NLR wagons were hired out as needed to carry peaks of traffic to Maiden Lane from the West India Docks (I have not checked any further mention of this traffic), the Royal Victoria Dock, opened 1855, and perhaps the Royal Albert Dock (1880) — as well as for Thames Haven traffic. They were later either sold or converted to ballast wagons.
The NLR charged for both handling cattle and for the transit of each wagon on its line, so including any en route. It would have handled livestock exports going from London, the latter mostly to establish and breed herds/flocks in other countries, both Empire (yes, British cow herds in India!) and developing (eg Mexico, Argentina). It took technology to replace pedigree bulls with what were described as thermos flasks. The NLR receipts from livestock/cattle (it used both words and presumably included all animals) were around ₤2,000 p.a. from 1856 to 1863 (about 3% of total revenue); rising to a peak of ₤10,175 in 1876; then falling to ₤2,437 in 1877. The last figure available, 1912, showed ₤1,630 — just 0.04% of the total revenue, ₤408,698 c.
By about 1860 the GER had its own purpose-built cattle ships, importing via its quays at Harwich and Lowestoft. Other ports whence cattle were brought directly to London by rail included Aberdeen, Newcastle, Hull, Southampton, Fishguard (replacing Milford Haven), Holyhead, Heysham and Birkenhead. Store cattle, requiring fattening before sale, also came through these and other ports (eg Stranraer, Preston, Fleetwood), and later were also carried by rail to London and other main markets.
Thames Haven was for a time a main port for London's foreign cattle imports. A railway to this then remote spot, to provide a 'short cut' to convey coal and North Sea fish to London, and passengers part way to Kent, was proposed in 1835, but was eventually built 20 years later as a branch of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. By which time fish came to London by rail via East Anglian ports. But in the mid 1860s an upsurge in foreign cattle imports provided plentiful traffic. A new riverside wharf, lairs and sheds were built to handle both cattle and sheep, with open pastures. In 1876 traffic peaked when 105,204 cattle and 182,627 sheep were landed — all sent on to London by train, sometimes using hired NLR wagons. Then, in 1877, the same import restrictions that had hit Brown's Wharf reduced numbers to less than a quarter. There was another flourish and expansion of facilities in 1887, but trade withered away after further restrictions were imposed in 1896, accelerated by imports of frozen meat replacing live animals d.
One riverside wharf that dealt with imported cattle was Odams' Wharf, just downstream of the western entrance to Victoria Dock. The firm made fertiliser, slaughtering beasts and using the blood, offal and (ground) bone in its fertiliser works; carcases were sent to London by rail.
Despite Government import restrictions, and inspections on disembarking, foreign cattle with infectious diseases, not noticed at the time of sale, spread them at and from the MCM. The obvious solution was a separate market solely for imported foreign cattle. After considering Thames Haven, the Isle of Grain, Wapping and other locations the City Corporation decided to buy the former Naval Dockyard at Deptford, evacuated by the Navy in 1869. Their dithering cost them an extra ₤20,000 — it had to be purchased at enhanced price from a businessman who had already purchased it. Three new river jetties gave deep water berths, an existing enclosed ship building dry dock floored and equipped with stalls as an indoor market, and new facilities for cattle and sheep in the form of sheds, slaughterhouses and open-air pens were laid out. The existing house and office was adapted for the Superintendent and Customs. Other buildings were banks, a place for treating hides and stores for blood, tripe and gut; cold stores were added later. At the time there were still local dairies and licenced slaughterhouses, so some purchased animals were led to those.
Although the Act to authorise this Market had included provision for a railway link to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (initially Croydon Railway) Deptford Dock branch, it was not constructed until 1899/1900, along Grove Road to an awkward a double shunt via two sidings to gain the Brighton's tracks. Horses were soon replaced by a small petrol locomotive, able to pull up to 50 (or 60) tons, though they must have continued to be used within the Market, where turntables were needed to get wagons on sidings between the buildings. The line was used for vans carrying carcases, but maybe not cattle wagons. However, this Market was within easy cattle-driving distance to Bricklayers Arms and Willow Walk goods depots. Both had facilities to load cattle into trains for despatch elsewhere in the UK. A GLIAS member has mentioned cattle trains running from London to sidings adjacent to Ashford Market. These might have been through from elsewhere in the UK; remarshalled at Willow Walk/Bricklayers Arms; or, before 1914 maybe included cattle from Deptford Market. The Ashford railway site, which received six wagons of Irish cattle in four weeks in October 1963, is now beneath Ashford International station — though a livestock market continues, on an out-of-town site.
Deptford normally only received live cattle, so did not benefit from imports of frozen meat. Bans on imports from Argentina and the USA appear to have hit hard and in 1912 traders sought, and obtained, reductions in rents for premises they could not fully use. The Chairman of the MCM had already 'informal negotiations' about selling or leasing part of the site before this became a subject for formal Committee discussion, leading to approaches to the PLA, Admiralty, LCC and the Military. When war was declared in August 1914 the Chairman was able to immediately offer the site to the Army Council on terms he knew would be accepted — a lease at ₤10,000 p.a. In the event the Market never returned. Some buildings were adapted, mainly as storehouses — including the covered shipyard, and the railway connection rebuilt. Today most of the site is cleared land with planning applications outstanding, retaining the 'listed' ship dock and some peripheral buildings. In early 2022 a fragment of the railway remained just inside the gate off Grove Road (below left).
Left: fragment of railway, Deptford Foreign Cattle Market; Right: trough from Croydon cattle market.
Several other places which are now within Greater London had cattle markets. Romford was sufficiently busy as to justify (in 1856) a weekly cattle train to Shoreditch; loading was done at pens in the goods yard east of the station. Southall had a purpose-built open-air cattle market, with stalls but no sheds, latterly used as a general market cum car park, accessed alongside 92 High Street. A 'local memory' blog says that cattle, horses and pigs were still being sold in 1961 and the last animals sold were horses in 2007. In 2018 LB Ealing announced a housing development. Croydon moved its cattle market in 1851 (or 1848) south from the town centre to a new site, again with pens but no sheds, on the outskirts. It closed in 1931 (or 1935); the site, off Drovers Road, is housing. However, there is a remnant, a few miles away in Norbury Park — bear right after the entrance from Harefield Road. A circular cattle trough, pink granite, which appears from a map to have been in the centre of Drovers Road. It is without water supply or any descriptive plaque (above right). Wording around the outside, which I couldn't read in poor light, is: 'The gift of H Prater Esquire, M.D. 1882'. Other former cattle market sites, sometimes just part of a general market, include Barnet (Fair), Uxbridge, Kingston and Waltham Abbey.
In the late 1950s British Railways was seriously looking at its economics and rationalising activities e. Scotland was a 'special case' with inter-island cattle journeys and poor roads compelling rail journeys, so is excluded from most of this section. After analysis and cull, out of 2,493 stations with 'livestock facilities', 232 remained. A list drawn up in 1961 gave those within London as Maiden Lane, Feltham, East Croydon, Woolwich Arsenal, Temple Mills, Romford and Waltham Cross. Of these, in a four-week period in October 1963, only Maiden Lane and Waltham Cross received any cattle wagons — 47 and seven respectively. Also listed, but without traffic recorded, was a private siding at Walls, Harlesden (whence the siding ran; road access was Atlas Road, Acton). The associated works closed in 1978, but I have no date for cessation of rail traffic. Maiden Lane's 47 comprised 21 wagons from Heysham, 15 from Birkenhead, 11 from Fishguard and none from Holyhead. Woolwich Arsenal must have been kept for cattle en route to Woodlands Farm, where the once-prosperous RACS had its own slaughterhouse — but that had, according to a website, closed before 1959. Less likely is a connection with the Military, as there is a mention in passing that in the First World War they had their own abattoir at Woolwich.
This subject was now obviously under scrutiny, with the 1961 list being updated at least twice in ink — by deletions.
By sea, railway cattle traffic was only from Ireland and already subject to non-rail competition, including via Birkenhead and Silloth ports. From elsewhere in the world, meat came as frozen carcases. Within England and Wales lorries were providing a farm to market and market to farm service that the railways could not match. A further survey concluded that domestic traffic was a dead duck, and that for many stations traffic from Ireland was too meagre or over too short a distance (80 miles or less) to cover its costs. And so a notice was issued. All internal cattle traffic would cease on and from 1 January 1965, and only 40 stations would remain open to receive Irish traffic. None were within London — the only mention there being the Walls siding at Harlesden. A map showed lorries from a Cambridge railhead would serve Waltham Cross and Temple Mills, with Reading serving all other London locations e.
Surprisingly, some 'feed and water' places would remain for cattle 'in transit' — by now the requirement to cater for cattle had been reduced from once every 24 hours to once every 12 hours from the start of the journey. These were Paddington, (wagons 'tripped' from and to Old Oak or Acton sidings), Feltham (a platform in the centre of the marshalling yard until that closed), Kentish Town and Temple Mills.
Cattle traffic settled down to trainload traffic only from Ireland with Holyhead the sole railway port, to a handful of destinations. The last train such ran in December 1975 f.
Lack of space and knowledge mean this article has not dealt with 'dead' meat — maybe something for the future. And there are two 'loose ends'. Do any of London's City Farms have cows? One blog says the City Corporation owned three boats which they used as 'lighters', meeting large cattle — carrying boats near Gravesend. Can any member advise, please? David Thomas
a TNA MEPO 2/2119
b TNA. HO 45/6266
c TNA RAIL 529/2 to /8
d Thames Haven Rly, Peter Kay. Seen at British Library
e TNA. AN 183/65
f TNA AN 192/761
The latest issue of Kew News, the newsletter of the London Museum of Water and Steam (formerly Kew Bridge Steam Museum), gives an interesting account of all the problems faced by the museum as a result of lockdown closures, in particular the havoc caused by climactic conditions inside.
Volunteers have been hard at work addressing the various issues and it is encouraging to note that a number of 'Steam-Up Weekends' are planned for the coming year. The next is 14-15 May, followed by 17-18 September and 12-13 November.
Chimneys this spring
This year in May there will be a celebration for industrial chimneys, in the same way as in 2018. It is expected that there will be humorous as well as serious events.
The whole second part of the Dutch periodical Erfgoed van Industrie en Techniek is to be devoted to chimneys.
The initiative comes from EFAITH, the European Federation of Associations of Industrial and Technical Heritage. Note that the E in EFAITH refers to the whole of Europe, not just the European Union. Bob Carr
Welwyn Garden City hospital chimney
I was very interested to read in recent newsletters about the construction of brick chimneys (GLIAS Newsletter December 2021). In 1961-4 I was employed on site as a quantity surveyor by William Moss and Sons Ltd (established 1820, now lost within the Kier group) who were main contractors for the construction of the Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Welwyn Garden City, the first completely new greenfield site hospital to be built since the war.
The services facility was away from the main building and comprised oil-fired boilers, emergency generators, incinerator and various workshops and stores. To vent the boilers, generators and incinerators a circular brick-built chimney on a rectangular base was built by a subcontractor aptly named 'Chimneys Ltd'. This must surely be one of the last such built.
The chimney was built from internal staging with no external scaffolding, the brickwork comprising an inner skin of refractory brickwork and an outer facing brick structure executed overhead. I think it was about 100ft high and quite large diameter with its height, no doubt because it did not have to provide draught for a coal or coke boiler.
The hospital was closed and demolished a couple of years ago which seemed sad, bearing in mind the efforts taken in its design, construction, equipping and occupation. It was, however, in use for some 55 years. I understand that due to its substantial rigid reinforced concrete structure there was no flexibility for alterations, etc to meet current needs. At the opening ceremony in 1964 (by the Queen) the structural engineer was boasting that the structure was designed to withstand nuclear attack and that you could remove every other column and the building would still stand. I rather doubt a weaker blast would have been that selective. Ray Plassard
Babcock & Wilcox
This firm, initially American but later worldwide, is perhaps best known for its patent water tube boilers produced for steam ships and other industries — for example, one was at Kempton Park water pumping station and another at St Pancras Vestry's power station, Stanhope Road.
A new London HQ was built in 1921 at 34-35 Farringdon Street. A modest steel frame building, clad in Portland stone, just south-east of Holborn Viaduct. Planning permission has been given for its demolition. Of interest are two stone carvings, either side of the doorway, reflecting the firm's activities.
After input from GLIAS and other organisations, these are to be reinstated on a new building which will cover this site plus that of 61-65 Holborn, above. They'll probably still be there to see en route to the GLIAS April lecture. David Thomas
Last chronicle on the News Chronicle
GLIAS Newsletter October 2021 had a walk which included the doomed News Chronicle building at 72-78 Fleet Street. In mid-March 2022 it was completely shrouded in sheeting attached to scaffold. Presumably demolition was imminent. David Thomas
Ayr 30 years ago
If you thought Whisky Warrior was a fishy story (GLIAS Newsletter February 2022) here's another one.
Back in the far-off days of 30 years ago fish merchants used wooden boxes; the photograph shows a delivery of new ones. Many boxes like this would have been sent to London. There is also a photograph of a fish merchant's van. The Marine Bar, known locally as the 'Wendy House', is now only a distant memory. Both photographs were taken in Ayr in July 1991. Bob Carr
The tug Sammy
Sammy, formerly Whisky Warrior (GLIAS Newsletter February 2022), still exists. Here is a photograph of her taken in February showing her surrounded by other craft in the main Greenland Dock in London. She now serves as a houseboat — obvious from the plants on the after deck. The big bag over the funnel is probably to keep the rain out.
Thanks are due to all the people who responded to the request in the last newsletter regarding the tug's whereabouts. It is encouraging to know that people read this Newsletter and even more that they take the trouble to write in — very many thanks.
Built in 1955 by the Smith's Basin Dry Dock Company at Port Everglades, Florida USA, Sammy is not exceptionally old. Because of the work they are designed to do tugs have strong hulls which last well. The tug Britannia was a familiar sight on the Thames in London in the 1960s. Rebuilt in 1957 with a diesel engine and a new modern-style funnel this vessel looked about 10 years old. The hull was built when Queen Victoria was on the throne in 1893. It was finally broken up about five years ago and it is hoped to write more about this long-lived tug in the next Newsletter.
The photograph of a tug on the river shows GPS India built in the Netherlands in 1958. This tug, rebuilt in 2012, is still working hard, full time. Sammy retired from work as a tug more than 30 years ago. Bob Carr
Hampton Waterworks — a walk
Hampton Waterworks cover quite an area and have several buildings, the oldest (listed) dating from the 1850s and the latest 2008. They can be seen from the road and this walk suggests a route starting at Hampton station. It is a 'look see', not a detailed history.
Exit the station on the south side, near to the station master's house, and turn left along Station Road. After the junction with Oldfield Road is Hampton Village Green which was, until at least 1955, the northern part of two of five filter beds, otherwise now covered in housing. Just after No. 77, a former 'Picture Theatre', turn right to walk down Plevna Road, then left to use the pedestrian crossing over Upper Sunbury Road, which here becomes Thames Street. Below a clock tower is an arch showing former ownership — Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company (S&V). (Photo 1). This was at the far end of their site, so maybe led to offices and a maintenance yard. Opposite is a small former fire station, 1897 (Photo 2). Turn back, west, to a range of buildings now collectively named Moorlands and Riverdale Buildings. (Photo 3). These were erected from 1852 onwards by the S&V, with beam engines for pumping from the Thames. In turn large diesel engines were installed in the 1930s, long since removed. In 2018, by then mostly unused, the site was sold and buildings renovated as offices and laboratories for Andrew Black (Blackbottles) Ltd.
1. Arch and clock; 2. Former fire station; 3. Refurbished buildings
Continuing, there is a further collection of buildings, some 1850s, including a chimney, across Lower Sunbury Road. (Photo 4). These were also offered for sale in 2018 and in November 2021 contractors were on site — it looked like making good the exterior. A brochure from Savills says this 'development opportunity' could become flats. Beyond are buildings of the West Middlesex and Grand Junction Water Companies — all becoming Metropolitan Water Board (MBW) in 1903.
4. On west corner of Sunbury Upper and Lower Roads
And now decision time. For a SHORTER WALK, go down Lower Sunbury Road to part way round the bend, to see the far side of the buildings and the start of a long stretch of filter beds, then return and continue along Upper Sunbury Road. There are further pumping station engine houses and two and four employee houses. (Photo 5). And finally a rear view of two large dark brick buildings. One was a pumping station equipped with steam turbines and now has electric pumps. Various additions continued until 2008. Turn back and almost immediately go left (north) into Percy Road to the station. About 50 minutes' walk.
For a FULL 90-100 minutes' circuit, keep on along Upper Sunbury Road to the four workers' houses, (Photo 5), then return and walk along Lower Sunbury Road. This potentially gives good views of the filter beds and brick buildings. (Photo 6). Potentially because in places a leafy thorny hedge inside the Thames Water boundary fence has few spaces big enough for a camera lens. On the other side of the road is a gate to buildings named 'Coal Wharf Complex', with a plinthed relatively small impeller. This area had a riverside wharf and two cranes to unload coal vessels, with sidings of a narrow gauge railway that served all the boiler houses and also some of the filter beds. A line to the first S&V buildings seen had run inside MBW property following the road curve, but there is no obvious evidence. The railway ran through what is now the next road entrance on the right, then along the top of the several filter beds next passed. After, and outside of, the Coal Wharf is a suspension footbridge (locked) to an island just before a river wharf (used as a car park) with some cobbles, but no sign of a railway. Perhaps the original coal unloading area. Beyond that, as the river veers away from the road, there are further filter beds behind a low bank.
5. Four employee houses; 6. Dark brick pumping station
At the end of the filter beds turn right onto a foot and cycle path. There's a reservoir behind the rabbit-burrowed grass bank, left. Turn right at Upper Hampton Road. Soon, on the right is a small stone-topped brick wall. It protects the cutting of the railway which also ran way under the road and on to Kempton Park. There are then some silos for filter bed sand. (Photo 7). After reaching the rear of the dark brick buildings, turn left at Percy Road to the station.
7. Sand silos.
The March 2022 timetable shows trains between Waterloo and Hampton running half hourly Mon-Sat and hourly on Sunday. For a full day out, combine this walk with a visit to Kempton Park Pumping Station. The website shows it is open every weekend, with 2022 steaming days as 23&24/4, 21&22/5, 18&19/6, 20&21/8 17&18/9, 15&16/10 and 19&20/11 — but do check before an intended visit. Kempton Park station is one stop beyond Hampton, then there is a footpath. David Thomas
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