Volume 3, Issue 1, Janury 2000




11th January 2000 - Annual General Meeting followed by Jack Vaughan on Woolwich Arsenal

8th February 2000 - Hugh Lyon on Greenwich and Woolwich Tunnels and Ferries

15th February 2000 - Afternoon visit to White Hart Road Depot, Eltham (details)

14th March 2000 - Dr.Rodney Dobson (Hon. Research Fellow Goldsmiths College) on Early Labour Troubles on the Thames

18th April 2000 - David Vaughan on the work of the Woodlands Farm Trust

6th June 2000 - Jonathan Clark of English Heritage on Mumford's Mill

Meetings at 7.30pm and held at The Forum, Christchurch Way, Trafalgar Road, SE10 (Christchurch Forum and East Greenwich Community Centre have now merged).


The September minutes of the Creekside Open Meeting give some details of the new river wall works (that is the Ravensbourne River - Deptford Creek). The river wall is being clad with vertical elongated timbers. The wood is 'tanalised' which will not allow plant growth, although plants can grow in the deposited silt. It had not been possible to use recycled wood for this because it would be a non-standard size.

A great deal of information and invitations to interesting meetings comes from Creekside - but is usually received too late to advertise. If you are interested please contact them direct to go on their mailing list. Otherwise a volunteer to report their meetings for us would be nice. (Tel: 0208 312 5503)


by Christopher Philpotts

Sir Francis Drake's ship the Golden Hind was lodged in a specially constructed brick dock in Deptford on his return from his circumnavigation voyage in 1581. This was almost certainly on the Dockyard site although some writers have maintained it was in an inlet off the Creek. Benjamin Wright's map of the Thames estuary in 1606 and a contemporary Dutch map both show "Captain Dracke's ship to the north of Ditford" approximately on the Dockyard site. Philipott stated the skeleton of the ship was near the Mast Pond. Drake's ship was a tourist attraction for some decades before it fell to pieces in the 1660s. The remains of the ship, complete with its stone-shot ballast, may have been disturbed during the digging of a new dock in the Dockyard in 1667. An excavation at Deptford Wharf in 1977, designed to find the remains of the ship and its dock, found evidence of seventeenth-century shipbuilding in the form of tar and wood-shavings.

To the north of the Dockyard a naval victualling supply depot developed at the Red House in the seventeenth century This continued to expand, despite a series of disastrous fires in 1639, 1739, 1749, 1755, 1758 and 1761, and it succeeded Tower Hill as the main victualling yard of the Navy in 1785. It was enlarged in 1833 and renamed as the Royal Victualling Yard in 1858.

The East India Company was formed in 1600 and ran its first voyages to the far east from Deptford. The first Company fleet in l601 was commanded by Sir Thomas Lancaster, a Deptford dock owner. At first it borrowed facilities from the Royal Dockyard to lay its cannon and other stores on the wharf. In 1607 the Company leased the Stone Wharf at the end of Watergate Street in Deptford Strand from the Bridge House estate, and built a timber dock in Deptford the following year. The lease was extended in 1610. The Company was building ships at Deptford in 1609.

In 1614 the Company leased other Bridge House lands at Church Marsh, on the west part of the Power Station site at the north end of the study area. This followed a protracted series of negotiation with the Mayor and Common Council of London in 1613, and included the sublease of land held by the Sheffield family. There it built a dry dock and slipways for shipbuilding, and various other structures for storage and manufacture of its ships' supplies. These included an iron foundry to make anchors and chains; a spinning house to make cordage; a slaughterhouse for the killing, salting and pickling of pork and beef; storehouses for timber and canvas; and an isolated powder house to store its gunpowder on the east side. On the west side was the house of William Burrell, its shipbuilder. Several of these buildings and two docks are shown on the plan of 1623. In the decade 1610 to 1620 the Company built over 30 ships at Deptford, employing a workforce of 500 men. The dockyard here built the larger ships, while the other Company yard at Blackwall undertook repairs. However, there was little activity at Deptford after 1626 and only a few small pinnaces were built up to 1640.

The Company withdrew from its leases in Deptford in 1643, but it continued to have some of its ships built there until the early nineteenth century, contracted out to private dockyards. In 1726 it was leasing part of the Victualling Yard buildings for storage.

The East India Company yard was the origin of the dockyard which operated on this site until the mid-nineteenth century under a succession of shipbuilders, and underwent several phases of expansion of its facilities. Several detailed plans and leases of this property are to be found in the Bridge House Estate archives. The Company leased it to John Tailor before 1636. In 1649 and 1652-3 it was held on lease by Peter Pett, together with some areas of marshland and upland. A view of c.1660 shows a dock and two slipways on the site. In 1692, when it was leased to Robert Castell, it was called the Merchants' Yard and had a dry dock and two slipways, a crane, and various sheds and saw-pits. Free access was to be allowed for carts along Anchor Smith Alley from Deptford Green. The Castell family had been building naval ships in Deptford since the 1660s. The dockyard was leased to Edward Popley in 1713, to Titus West in 1738, Thomas West in 1759 and 1774, and Joseph Hales in 1776. In each of these leases the Wests agreed to undertake repairs and improvements. In 1788, when the lease was taken by William Barnard, the dockyard consisted of a dry dock and three slipways, yards, crane-houses, saw pits, carpenters' shops, a rigging house, a pitch house, warehouses and gardens.



Among grants given locally are:

Terry Scales/Open Studios - Visions of Greenwich Reach.
Grant for publications of paintings of the River Thames

Greenwich Borough Museum - History of Greenwich 2000 Tapestry Project.

Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre - Ebb and Flow, multi-media performance project looking at the lives and experience of people on and around the river Thames.

Greenwich Millennium Community Play - large scale play to be presented in Greenwich Park.


A note in the Greenwich Waterfront Community Forum News outlines the new centre at Pear Tree Wharf in an interview with Joyce Loman. The Web Editor reports that all the Club's old premises on the Redpath Brown site had been bulldozed by Christmas, thus leaving only The Pilot Inn and Ceylon Cottages standing on the line of the old River Way.


On 11th November the War Memorial to employees at East Greenwich Gas and chemicals works who died in the First and Second World Wars was re-dedicated on a new site. The War Memorial - almost the only thing to survive from the old Gas Works - has now been put on a new 'parkland' site to the rear of the Pilot Inn. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Greenwich, John Fahy. Our member, Kay Murch, who is Site Manager at the Peninsula, was the moving spirit behind the presentation of the stone. She has sent some photographs of the ceremony (please contact Mary if you like to see them, 0208 858 9482). Nice to see you back at work, Kay!


During November, the buildings in the Riverside Industrial Estate (River Way) were demolished in connection with the Millennium Exhibition. While most were modern, the two large warehouses (units 17-19) were constructed around the existing steel framework and roof trusses of the Redpath Brown sheds formerly occupying the site. These sheds were originally built in the 1920s or 1930s and were used for the storage of erection equipment. The framework appeared to be little changed from that recorded in the 1950's, and in particular, the beams for the travelling cranes were still very much in evidence.

By early December, the only remaining former industrial building in the River Way area was the Greenwich Yacht Club, originally Redpath Brown's canteen (but see above addition).

The Jubilee Line Extension Station. A celebration of Architecture and Engineering

- was the title of a seminar held by the Brutish Cement Association and the Institution of Civil Engineers on 10th November. Malcolm Tucker, one of our members, has been kind enough to send a copy of the one the papers submitted - The Contractors Tale by Rolv Kristiansen of Sir Robert MacAlpine. This paper gives a lot of interesting details about the construction of the line from North Greenwich (ring me for a copy, 0208 858 9482). Of historical interest is the discovery under the Jubilee Line station footprint of a cast iron pipe "inserted deep into the gravel bed through which toxic wastes from the former gas works were discharged".

I would have been interested to have been to able to ask how they knew it was from the gas works and not from the chemical works which had once been on site.


The Greenwich Society notes the following at their AGM (among many other things):

Greenwich Station - proposals to enlarge the forecourt for the Millennium bus link.

Lovells Wharf -the Society approves the development but not its "height, scale and indifferent architecture".

Hoskins Street - notes the refusal of the Council for a renewal of the licence for the breakers yard..

Support for the idea of the Halfpenny Hatch bridge across Deptford Creek.

Support for regeneration of the East Greenwich riverfront because of "dereliction because of designation of the riverside area for wharfage use".

Their suggestion to Amylum that there should be a viewing platform on one of the old riverside maize silos and they hope to take this further.


The English Heritage quarterly update by the Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service shows the following results, of interest, from Greenwich work:

Greenwich Magistrates Court, 9-10 Blackheath Road - post medieval pits and trenches, Deptford kilns from 17th century.

Spotted at an evening class in the City of London - a piece of cable - all done up in a proper presentation case - from the first Deptford Power Station.


by Jack Vaughan

The physical state of the above may be observed from three vantage points external to the site:

Point One

Walk from Beresford Square down Warren Lane and turn in at the Warren Gate. Entry to the site is not possible but the general layout may be discerned albeit that it resembles a vast bomb site left over from World War II.

This is the result of:

  1. A general massacre by the owners, English Partnerships, carried out with tacit Council approval. This work to provide services for future use, drains, electric supplies, etc. has resulted in the needless loss of fine buildings and all the contents thereof. This means that there has been a wholesale disappearance of Arsenal artefacts both from inside the buildings and externally. Fine structural ironwork, railway lines and associated control gear, cranes, hydraulic hoists and even an ancient fossil bed have been spirited away. Enquiries as to the fate of these items are met with evasion.
  2. Archaeological exploration, while welcome, has also contributed, especially on the sites of the Royal Laboratories (1696) and of Dial Square (1717). The two portions of the former are still standing but in woeful condition, as is the front block of Dial Square including the sundial added in 1764.


The straight road running east from this gate is Wellington Avenue.

On its right side;

  1. Royal Laboratory Pavilion (1696)
  2. Royal Brass Foundry (front of 1716)
  3. Dial Square Front Block (rear of 1717)
  4. New Carriage Store (1728)
    Later Main Machine Shop of the Royal Carriage Department.

On its left side;

  1. Tower Place (1716)
  2. New Laboratory Square
  3. Paper Cartridge Factory (1810)
    Later Metallurgy Branch of the DQA.
  4. Gun Mounting Shop (1887)
  5. Central Office (1905)
    The only surviving Edwardian building and under threat.
  6. Statue of the 1st Duke of Wellington (on a clear day!)


No.2. on the right is listed Grade I

No.1. on the left is listed Grade II star

Nos.1, 3 & 4 on the right are listed Grade II

Nos. 2 & 6 on the left are listed Grade II

Nos. 3, 4 & 5 on the left are not listed but may be retained.

Point Two

At Beresford Square, behind the former Main Gate (Grade II but now divorced from the main site, 1825 & 1891).
The general site destruction is equally visible from here and need not be elaborated on.


Behind the railings there is a plate showing some of the buildings.

To the left;

  1. The Main Guard House (1758)
  2. Side view of the Royal Brass Foundry (1716)

Straight ahead;

  1. Front view of Dial Square block (1717)

To the right;

  1. Verbruggen's House (1772)
  2. The Officers' Quarters, birthplace of the Royal Artillery (1720)

All have Grade II listing.

Point Three

From Beresford Square walk east towards Plumstead, turning left at Marshgate Path which leads to the 'East Gate' end of the site.


At the start of Marshgate Path;

  1. Middle (or Second) Gate 19th century
  2. Middlegate House (1808).
    Built for the storekeeper and later HQ of the Inspector of Naval Ordnance.
    Now occupied by the Council's Leisure Services Department.

From the East Gate;

  1. Rear of Armstrong Gun Factory (1856)
  2. Gate (two storeys) of Rifled Shell Factory (1896)
  3. Distant view of the Grand Storehouses, on the river-side (1806)

Listed buildings not visible from any of the three points given are the two Riverside Guard Houses and front view of the Armstrong Gun Factory.

This external perambulation gives glimpses of most of the buildings but emanates absolutely no atmosphere or nostalgic feelings for ex-Arsenal habitues or relatives of same.

Loss of artefacts as outlined and removal of the many guns, shells, etc. by the Tower Armouries shows a disregard for local feelings that is quite unforgiveable. Some of the remaining buildings are subject to vandalism, shattered windows, etc.

Apprecation of the importance of industrial artefacts, both on the part of the owner, and the Borough Council is zero, and we must continue to criticiseat every opportunity in the faint hope that enlightenment will come.

Greenwich Conservation Group

- with thanks to Philip Binns

13th October items raised were:

LOVELLS WHARF, BANNING STREET - the Group did not comment pending sight of a further submission but welcomed the inclusion of a new pier/jetty and the rearrangement of the proposed block at the end of Pelton Road.

GREENWICH PIER - did not object to proposed V-berth pontoon and support early implementation.

MERIDIAN HOUSE, GREENWICH HIGH ROAD (Old Town Hall) - heartily welcome application to replace damaged clock face and bring it back into use.

45 GREENWICH CHURCH STREET - erection of three-storey rear extension and extensive internal alterations - Group objects strongly to the removal of central staircase. English Heritage must be consulted.

BUILDING 45, ROYAL ARSENAL - Group do not object to demolition of free standing gas boiler unit.

BUILDINGS 17 & 18 ROYAL ARSENAL - no objection to demolition of W.W.II air raid shelter.

BUILDING 41 ROYAL ARSENAL - provision of new sub-station within listed building. Some elements unacceptable. A door in character with the building should be provided.

10th November items:

GREENWICH REACH EAST - this was an outline planning application covering a wide range of issues. The Group was concerned about the amount of parking to be provided - they welcomed the bridge link to the Fairview site, regret the fore-shortening of the boardwalk, and worry about the height of the development at the western end.

PEDESTRIAN BOARDWALK, GREENWICH REACH EAST - the Group is concerned that the boardwalk terminates at one of the narrower parts on the existing river path and feel that the timber planking of the board walk must not project over the river path. They hope there will be some sort of continuity of design from Cutty Sark Gardens.

196-212 PLUMSTEAD COMMON ROAD - conversion of first and second floors to flats. No objection but would not like this local landmark altered and would like treatment to be sympathetic.

ROYAL ARSENAL - demolition of boundary wall to facilitate traffic signals from Plumstead Road. Group finds this unacceptable.

ROYAL ARSENAL - provision of 32-space car park by Building 2. Concern at the need for this given the proximity of buses.

MELLISH INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, WARSPITE ROAD - erection of six new silos - Group did not comment.

9th December Items:

GREENWICH REACH EAST, STOWAGE - statue of Peter the Great rather than a bandstand. The Group welcomed this.

ROYAL ARSENAL - Group objected strongly to proposal to route guided buses through Dial Square. Considered to be damaging. A second proposal was considered less damaging.

The Group welcomed proposals for security systems planned for the British Library holdings in the Armstrong Gun Factory.



by Howard Bloch

Up until 1963 Woolwich extended across the river to the area now known as North Woolwich. When Greenwich Industrial History Society was set up we decided to take in this area and work to the historic boundaries of the area. Both Newham Local History Society and Howard Bloch, the author of the following article have sent us interesting material on the industries of the area - and these will follow in due course. First, the scene is set by this article which describes what was in the mid-nineteenth century our nearest local pleasure resort - but one set up by the industrialists who hoped to exploit the area in more than one way.....

Before the railway reached North Woolwich in 1847 the area was largely marshland where cattle were grazed and fattened for market, a few houses by the river front, a public house and a ferry which carried passengers across the river to Woolwich.

During the 1840s a large piece of land along the river bank including 34 acres at North Woolwich owned by the Westminster Abbey estates was purchased by the North Woolwich Land Company, a syndicate whose principal shareholders included George Bidder, Samuel Morton Peto and the Kennard family. In 1846 the Stratford and Thames Junction Railway, also promoted by Bidder, opened its line from Stratford to Canning Town. In the following year this was extended to North Woolwich where with a steam ferry boat service to Woolwich it was hoped to provide the main route to the City from south of the river.

With the opening of the South Eastern Railway from Greenwich to Woolwich on 30th July 1849 the North Woolwich line lost a major portion of its traffic. In order to compensate for this loss Bidder, who had by this time sold the North Woolwich line to the Eastern Counties Railway; proposed to the Company on 15th August that North Woolwich should be developed as a residential area and that people might be encouraged to build houses there by the offer of annual season tickets entitling them to travel between London and North Woolwich at reduced fares; 1st class £2.l0s, 2nd class £l.5s. As an additional inducement to residents and visitors the proprietor of the Pavilion Hotel proposed in October 1850 to spend £150 on laying out gardens, if the Eastern Counties Railway would agree to contribute £250. Although his request was refused, he nevertheless laid out the garden and built a new wing to the Hotel. These he was able to use to advantage during 1851 to attract visitors who had come to London to see the Great Exhibition. Among them a party of workmen and their wives from Norwich who were treated to a dinner in the Hotel on 11th July 1851 by their M.P Samuel Morton Peto.

After a successful season in 1851 the Pavilion Hotel and the gardens were opened in 1852 as the Royal Pavilion Gardens. A description written in 1853 indicates that they had many of the usual features found at the other London pleasure gardens. 'The gardens are most luxuriant abounding in flowers and plants of the choicest kind and in a high state of cultivation. The magnificent esplanade, beautiful walks, bowling green, maze, rosary and a variety of natural attractions which alone would repay a visit'.

During the summer season thousands of 'respectable' visitors travelled there by railway and steamboat to enjoy a day out and a programme of entertainment's such as those advertised on 12th September 1855. During the 1850s many of these would also have seen some of the leading music hall stars of the day perform there including Sam Cowell, E.W. Mackney and J.W. Sharpe. From 1852 the aeronaut Henry Coxwell was engaged to make balloon ascents and perform aerial feats. After he left North Woolwich in 1859 to become aeronaut at the Crystal Palace, balloon ascents became a less frequent part of the programme. Instead, freelance aeronauts were hired to make ascents at special events.

Since most of the traffic on the North Woolwich line consisted of visitors to the gardens during the summer the Eastern Counties Railway was eager to encourage their promotion. In November 1854 they agreed to an arrangement with the North Woolwich Gardens Company under which they would divide the receipts from visitors, pay one-third of their advertising costs, build a new ballroom and be represented on their board of management.

This decision was criticised a year later when a Committee of Investigation examined the Company's financial affairs. In its report it drew attention to the low profits from the North Woolwich line and the unnecessary expenditure of £1,500 on a ballroom which had been built on land not owned by the Company.

The Eastern Counties Railway's interest in the gardens waned as a result of the large amount of new traffic which was generated by the opening of the Victoria Dock in 1855 and the movement to the area of a number of 'noxious' industries. These, in addition to the 'stink' from the polluted Thames were soon to make North Woolwich an extremely unpleasant place to visit.



Trinity House is often mentioned in books about the river and the estuary - but rarely explained. In April 1999, Peter Gurnett gave a talk to the Docklands History Group on Trinity House and we reproduce it here (with permission and our thanks to them). We would stress, however, that this is not the text of Peter's talk but the notes taken by the minutes secretary at the DHG meeting. Peter has, however, seen this script and approved publication.

Peter Gurnett's depth of knowledge and passion for his subject was amply demonstrated in his talk on Trinity House and Deptford Strond.

Peter explained that 'there are three bodies responsible for safe navigation around our islands':

In addition, separate Trinity Houses operate at Hull, Newcastle and Dover.

Around 1511, Thomas Spert, who spelt his name Spertt, founded the Corporation of Trinity House at Deptford Strond, and its existing Hall with Almshouses behind St. Nicholas' Church. Spert is generally agreed to be the true founder of the Corporation of Trinity House, as we know it today, during the early years of Henry VIII's reign when Spert was serving as the sailing master of the ill-fated Mary Rose from 1511 to late 1513. In 1514 the Great Harry, (Henri Grace a Dieu), was built at Woolwich and Spert was transferred to her as Sailing Master. Henry's largest ship, she was around 1000 tons, compared with the 600 ton Mary Rose.

The year 1514 was also generally thought to be that when Trinity House was granted its Charter of Incorporation, by Henry VIII. An earlier Charter petition found carries Henry's signature on it, and as it dates from the early part of 1513, it may be one of the earliest documents outside of Henry's personal correspondence containing his signature. In 1513, Henry had set up the famous Royal Dockyard at Deptford, near St Nicholas' Church.

Various Acts have given Trinity House powers to make laws, ordinances and statues in controlling the passage of shipping round the English coast, with legal powers to levy charges and enforce them for the services provided, and levy fines for non-payment. It also assumed responsibility for the charitable protection of its less fortunate members. The Almshouses of Deptford were built probably earlier in the 15th century to cater for the needs of old and decayed members. The motto of the Corporation is Trintas In Unitate, which roughly translates as All one under the Holy Trinity.

Around 1520, the Admiralty and Navy Board were formed and held their meetings at Deptford. This probably had some bearing on the appointment of Spert in 1524, as Clerk Controller of the King's Ships. Thus he became an administrator and his deputy Thomas Jermyn took over as Master of the Henri Grace a Dieu, presumably to leave Spert free to carry out his full time duties of Clerk which would have involved provisioning, manning and paying the crews of ships. He held this position until July 1540, when it passed to John Bartelot. The post was later renamed Secretary of the Navy. In November 1529, Thomas Spert was knighted at York Place by Henry VIII. He died in 1541 and was buried in St.Dunstan's Church at Stepney.

Trinity House Charter was renewed by Mary I in 1553, and Elizabeth I in 1558. An Act was passed in 1566, concerning the placing of sea-marks by Trinity House at dangerous parts of the coast to ensure the safety of ships and mariners. In 1573 they were granted a seal and a Coat of Arms. In 1594, Elizabeth granted Trinity House by Act, the rights on the river Thames of all lastage (duty paid for the right to dispose, stow and tally goods on ship's ballastage, beaconage and buoyage and setting up of channel navigation markers, which were also dutiable). These provided a steady and lucrative income for the next 300 years.

In 1604, James I further revised the Charter to include the rights granted by Elizabeth in 1594. The new Charter was primarily concerned with the governing of the Corporation, which now divided into 31 Elder Brothers, the group from which all executives are elected, and an unspecified number of Younger Brothers. All Elder Brothers must have been Commanders or Masters for a period of not less than four years, to ensure that experience would be added to all decisions made by the Corporation. Trinity House was given the exclusive rights to licence all pilots on the Thames. Existing and successive Acts now gave Trinity House the charge in respect of laying buoys and erecting beacons for safe navigation. Ships of the Royal Navy to be built or purchased were laid down to their design, accepted or rejected on their certificates Provisions, cordage, ordnance and ammunition for Royal and Merchant Ships all passed through their control. They were responsible for pressing crews in time of war, both Masters and Seamen, and had the right to appoint Consuls in certain foreign countries e.g. Leghorn and Genoa. They acted as hydrographers for the navy and all the limits and boundaries of seas and channels were referred to them. In the early 1600's, an additional meeting house was acquired at Ratcliffe near Limehouse. Ratcliffe and Wapping were busy maritime centres then, and provided crews for ships on many famous voyages of discovery. In 1618, the final move to the new headquarters at Ratcliffe from Deptford took place.

By the early 17th century relations between Trinity House and the Admiralty became very close. Trinity House had now effectively become the civil arm of the Navy. The first lighthouses were two in Caister, Norfolk, purpose-built in 1620 by a private owner and later passed to Trinity House. In 1638 Trinity House raised wrecks from the Thames and helped suppress pirates around the coasts. Around 1650 they leased part of a building in Stepney and about this time St. Dunstan's took over from St. Nicholas' Church at Deptford as the Trinity House Church. In 1650 Samuel Pepys was appointed Clerk of the Acts to the Navy (Board), a similar position to that held by Spert earlier. He attended St. Olave's Church, in nearby Hart Street which was later to supersede both St. Dunstan's and St. Nicholas' Churches, to become the Trinity' House Church. During the Commonwealth, Trinity House was dispossessed of all rights and their activities were carried out by an appointed committee.

In 1660, Charles II was back on the throne, and a new Charter restored the status quo, with Trinity House acquiring a new headquarters building at Water Lane, near the Tower. He appointed General George Monke and Edward Montagu as Master and Deputy Master. In 1661, Edward Montagu, the first Earl of Sandwich, and Lord High Admiral, was elected Master of Trinity House and his cousin, Pepys, along with most of his colleagues, were elected Younger Brothers. In 1666 the Great Fire of London, burnt down the Water Lane headquarters building. A large number of Trinity House records and old documents were lost. Trinity House moved its headquarters to temporary accommodation in Whitehorse Lane in Stepney, not far from St. Dunstan's Church.

In 1671, Samuel Pepys was elected an Elder Brother. Sir Richard Brown, who lived at Sayes Court, gave land for projected new almshouses in Church Street at Deptford. In 1672, Sir Richard resigned as clerk to the Privy Council's special committee, a position he had held since 1661, and was elected Master of Trinity House.

A mathematical school was founded at Christ's Hospital by Charles II, and examination of the boys was entrusted to Trinity House Brethren, to produce new navigators and ships' masters etc.. In 1673 John Evelyn was sworn in as a Younger Brother of Trinity House, and Pepys was appointed Secretary of the Navy. Pepys himself became Master of Trinity House in 1676, and immediately reorganised it into a more efficient body, and took the lead in the Commons against removal of Trinity House's right to licence Thames Watermen. Trinity House were empowered to inspect vessels and exact any fines they thought to be due.

Pepys was elected Master of Trinity House for the second time in 1685, as the King's nominee. In 1691, Captain Henry Mudd, then Deputy Master, died and was buried in St. Dunstan's Church. He left a gift of land in Mile End, as a site for more almshouses. In 1694, a Commission comprising the Master, Warden and Elder Brothers of Trinity House and including Evelyn, as treasurer, and Christopher Wren as architect, had been appointed to build and establish Greenwich Hospital. The Hospital was granted a lighthouse at the North Foreland to augment funds. Samuel Pepys died at Clapham in 1703, aged 70, and was buried in St. Olave's Church in Hart Street. In 1714, the headquarters of Trinity House in Water Lane was burnt down and a new one built. More early records and documents were lost, as was the flag taken from the Spaniards by Sir Francis Drake during the Armada. The first effective lightship was built by David Avery on the Thames at the Nore in 1732 under licence from Trinity House.

The second half of the 18th century saw Trinity House appointed to examine the competency of Ships Masters to grant and navigate ships of his Majesty's Navy. In 1774, both sets of almshouses in Deptford were in use, at the Stowage and at Church Street. The headquarters building in Water Lane had been very badly reconstructed and in 1790 required costly repairs. As it was considered to be cramped and inconvenient a move to the new site on Tower Hill was mooted. Building commenced on the new headquarters in 1793, to the design of Trinity' House Surveyor Samuel Wyatt at an estimated cost of £12,000. The building was completed in 1798, at a cost of around £26,000 after considerable amendment to the interior had been insisted upon by the Trinity House Court.

The last Court meeting was held at Water Lane in 1796. On the threat of a French invasion in 1803, Trinity House undertook the defence of the Thames. They raised and equipped a body of men sufficient to man ten frigates. In 1804, the Trinity House workshops at Blackwall had been set up to repair and maintain buoys, sea marks and light vessels etc. This became the principal repair depot until quite recently, when it was closed down and its work transferred to Harwich.

In 1837, the Duke of Wellington was elected Master at the Hall at Deptford. Prince Albert, the Prince Consort took over as Master after Wellington's death and was in fact the last Master to be elected at Deptford, in 1853. Since then, the elections have always been held at Tower Hill, and the commemoration service in the nearby church of St. Olave's, in Hart Street.

Latterly, Trinity House has effectively been split into two bodies. The Corporation itself deals with all charitable work, with a separate body called The Lighthouse Service dealing with aids to navigation, and having the right to levy charges under governmental control. Financial restraints have lately caused considerable reductions in staffing and premises used. Lighthouses are no longer manned as from Christmas '98. The headquarters at Tower Hill has been completely refurbished after war damage by incendiary bombs, as closely as possible to the design of Samuel Wyatt in 1790. The present Master of Trinity House is Prince Philip.


The Co-operative Way

by Ron Roffey

A new historical study of the formation and development of the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society and the South Suburban Co-operative Society.

Hardback, 250 pages, 120 photographs.

In their time the RACS and SSCS were two of the largest retail societies in the United Kingdom. RACS was founded in Woolwich in 1868. Central Premises opened in 1903. At its centenary in 1968 it numbered over 492,000 members with a turnover of £36.5 million.

Price £14.95. All proceeds to the Greenwich and Bexley Cottage Hospice.


by Mary Mills

This analyses the minute books of the early London gas industry to see where waste products - tar and ammonia - were sold. Greenwich chemical companies feature in this along with others in East London - and the final chapter is devoted to Frank Hills whose main works were on Deptford Greek and East Greenwich Marsh.

Details from Mary (0208 858 9482)


The Old Dairy at Crouch Hill by John Hinshelwood.

Describes an amazing decorated dairy building- now a pub - in Crouch Hill.

Hornsey Historical Society, The Old Schoolhouse, 136 Tottenham Lane, London N8 7EL. £2.50

Burning to Serve. Selling Gas in Competitive Markets by Francis Goodall.

Outlines the history of the marketing of gas appliances. The book contains a lot about the South London gas industry which were leaders in the field.

Landmark Publishing, Waterloo House, 12 Compton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 IDA. £20


£9.95 by post from 24 Humber Road, SE3, £8.50 at the door.

From Deptford Forum Publishing, 441 New Cross Road, SE146TA.
£20. £10 if you live in Deptford.



Local artist, river watcher and GIHS member Peter Kent has produced his own report - illustrated in his own inimitable style - on what has been going on recently. He covers the subjects under a range of headings - Naval Matters .. Culture and the Vultures ... Ships that Pass and so on. This is a limited edition but anyone interested in seeing a copy should approach Peter direct.


This is the latest book on the Dome site - basically a report of the machinations and negotiations of the Dome's construction based on interviews with the leading players and written by a local journalist. There is a short piece on the history of the site in which the lack of proper research on the part of the author shows badly. I will only be convinced of the existence of a windmill on the Tide Mill site if someone can show it to me on a map. The book also includes an extended piece on the background to the Gas Works and use of the site - which does pull some of the various elements of the background to the works together (review by Mary Mills).


(23-25 Greenwich High Road) by Jonathan Clarke.

This is clearly a very important report for Greenwich industrial historians.

Jonathan will come and speak to the Society in June.

A Handbook for Carers

by Age Exchange

Another glossy publication from the Blackheath based Reminiscence and Drama project. Although clearly of specialised interest mainly to those working with demented clients it gives some details of how to approach the subject of 'the world of work'.


The November and December 1999 issues includes two articles by Mary Mills on Lovell's Wharf. These cover the building of the Wharf under Coles Child in the 1840s and the work of the wharf up to the Great War. Hopefully an article about Lovells themselves will appear in January.


An informant tells us (thanks Howard) that the January 2000 edition of Railway Magazine includes an article on a visit of the Loco Club to East Greenwich in 1963. Does anyone have any more information?


The November issue of The Guide (sadly) records that a new management will be taking over at what is the only local publication to give us any consistent publicity (thank you Carol!).

Neil Rhind outlined 19th century mod cons in Blackheath - and mentions the TV family who lived in the 19th century house in Charlton (which the whole world seems to have been watching avidly!). Neil also records that the Blackheath Preservation Trust has just taken over Brigade House in Brigade Street. It has been Lab One (who will stay on the ground floor) but was originally in 1871, the Village Station, fitted up, says Neil, with every mod con. The firemen actually lived above the station and old cooking ranges have been found walled up behind the plasterwork. Neil has discovered that these were made by Frederick William Cash, ironmonger and bell-hanger, of 49 Montpelier Vale. Neil thinks Mr. Cash probably didn't make the ranges there but just screwed his labels on them. Neil goes on to comment on the life and times (and occasional drunkenness ) of the Blackheath firemen.

In the December Guide Neil is much less industrial with an article about bazaars - but this lapse on his part is more than made up for by an article by Peter Kent which includes a splendid map of the river from Spice Island to Anchor and Hope. Peter illustrates and points out several items on the industrial waterfront.

Its a pity some of the recent river-walkers in the national press didn't study Peter's walk first - then they would have found it all less frightening and confusing!



In its October issue Greenwich freebee Meridian ran an item on Tree Planting on the Greenwich Peninsula. This basically describes the planting arrangements for the new park alongside the Dome site. It includes an interview with Bernard Ede, landscape architect, on the site. It includes the statement "the team has deliberately rejected the current fashion in urban regeneration landscaping of referring to the area's industrial past, although a working gasometer remains a landmark by the A102 - to the dismay of Mr. John Prescott, the deputy Prime Minister".

Following this we wrote immediately to Mr. Ede inviting him to come and talk to the Society and tell us what his policy was, how it was derived, and what the rationale behind it was. He faxed back immediately to say he would reply "on Monday" but ever since then there has been a massive silence.

In November, Meridian ran an article on local buildings at risk. Some of those they included were:

* The Royal Military Academy "an establishment at the heart of British military history". First established by Royal Warrant it moved to the present site in 1806 into the building designed by James Wyatt. A number of other buildings have been added since. The Gothic parade ground is 72 feet long and the centre block is based on the White Tower at the Tower of London. Michael Faraday lectured there. There is, says Meridian, a clear backlog of maintenance.

* the former Odeon (Coronet) Cinema at the bottom of John Wilson Street and the Granada Cinema (Gala Club). The Coronet, now closed and due to be sold, is listed and is "a fine example of an Art Deco Cinema". The Granada's "exotic interior" had a designer whose speciality was stage sets for the Russian ballet.

* the fine Art Deco HQ of RACS. Like the Coronet cinema this is boarded up. It is listed, has a fine tower and original Crittall windows. It is also for sale.

Meridian also draws attention to the fine beam engines at Crossness - "painstakingly restored by a trust".


The latest issue of the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society Newsletter gives a short biographical piece under Where are they now? on Richard Buchanan. Richard is of course one of our members, and is also very active in the Shooters Hill Group and in the Blackheath Scientific Society. He mentions in particular the founding of the London Kiln Study Group of which he was treasurer which was triggered by the discovery of the Woolwich kiln. This turned up at Woolwich Ferry Approach and was "the earliest stoneware one in England" (er er errm, where is it now?)

Industrial Archaeology News - (the newsletter of the National Association for Industrial Archaeology) records events at their national conference held this year in Kent. They ventured twice into Kentish London - so what did they think of us?

On the Sunday afternoon one party went to Crossness - and IA News published a nice photograph of some of the "Victorian splendour" on view there and commented on the "four mighty beam engines".

On the Thursday morning everybody who remained at the Confernece went to Woolwich Arsenal. The visit was organised by Paul Calvocressi of English Heritage who also lectured to Conference on the previous evening on the subject. The party visited "the original cartridge works (later a bomb factory) from which can be seen some of the outstanding Grade I listed buildings". This was "necessary because all the roads have been dug up and carted away in yet another fatuously expensive contaminated land clearance by outside contractors". In actual fact the coach lurched about the site up and down the ruts while Jack Vaughan heroically tried to give a commentary having had no briefing and almost unable to keep his balance! Meanwhile Paul coped with the second coach!.

Later they went to Avery Hill for lunch "the picturesque campus of Greenwich University which allowed a visit to the impressive Edwardian conservatories". The afternoon visit was spent at David Evans silk mill at Crayford - well worth a visit!

Mary Mills gave the throat damaging commentary on the coach all day "comprehensive and erudite" (gosh!).


Reports on a new sculpture in Woolwich. This represents the Great Harry (the Henri Grace a Dieuí) the great ship built at the Royal Dockyard in Woolwich in 1512. The sculpture is on a stainless steel column with wave effects at the base and it appears to sail over the rooftops towards the open sea.


The October 1999 Newsletter contains an article by Mary Mills on the Bulli wreck built in Greenwich by Lewis and Stockwell. It also contains an appeal by Brian Forristal (7 Glen Terrace, Waterford City, Ireland) about lime kilns in everyday life. Surely some of the Greenwich kilns would be of interest to him? Greenwich is mentioned again in News from Greater London - if only commenting that the East Greenwich gas holder is still full of gas. The opening of the DLR extension from Island Gardens to Lewisham is also mentioned.


This contains Mary Mills' article on the possible Ice House at Lovell's Wharf - giving details of the possible construction and ownership. The article notes that it was possibly built by a John Ashby in the 1890s and hopes that, despite the fact it has not been possible to get on site so far, that an investigation can eventually be done.


The October issue of Crossness Record makes the following points:

They have received the Bradlee Boiler which is now in the boiler house. It will run the Prince Consort engine and they will also need a boiler feed tank and a 1000 gallon fuel tank. They will need planning permission for a chimney.

As far as the engine itself is concerned they have now replaced all three pistons and cylinder heads.

They have now completed work on the grasshopper beam chamber and the floor panels are being replaced. Restoration of the windows is being explored.

An Association of London Pumping Heritage Attractions (ALPHA) has been set up and had its inaugural meeting.

There is now a Museum Manager at Crossness - Margaret Wilson - and the museum displays are now being rearranged.

P. Slate, their Librarian, has reviewed a new book The Great Stink of London by Steven Halliday (Sutton 1999). This is about the treatment of sewage in London and - of course - the building of Crossness Works.

Record also contains an article on Broad Gauge Locomotives at Crossness. This records how, in 1879, the Metropolitan Board of Works bought six broad gauge locomotives from the Great Western Railway. The two destined for Crossness were to be mounted and altered to become stationary engines to drive centrifugal pumps. They were delivered to Crossness by barge. The article goes on to describe the engines in detail.


From Philip Binns

I am told that, at the 11th October meeting organised by the Greenwich Waterfront Community Forum to discuss the future of Lovell's Wharf, it was said that John Prescott had done the journey by boat from Greenwich to the Dome and was not impressed at what he saw on the Greenwich bank.

The understanding is that he is trying to get Morden College and their developers to the hotel/apartments application - pro tem - and that he has asked English Partnerships or, or whatever that regeneration agency is called these days, to come up with a development framework for the whole of the industrial area from the east Greenwich Power Station to the west side of the Peninsula.

This initiative is to be welcomed but there had to be concern that the strategy is not being extended further downstream from the Millennium Village site (for which English Partnerships are already responsible) to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, where again English Partnerships are the key players.

It is also essential that comprehensive grass roots consultation with existing land users, residents, and local amenity groups is built into the development framework from the very beginning. English Partnership's track record in this respect has, in the past, left much to be desired and now is the opportunity for English Partnerships and Greenwich Council to show that they value a true consultation process and do not just pay lip service to it.

From Alf Allen

I am researching my family history but I live in Southampton and don't know Greenwich very well. I have discovered that my ancestors were Lightermen on the Thames and several generations have lived at Greenwich.

The 1881 Census shows my great grandfather, William George Allen, living at 3 Crooms Hill with his family of 10 children (4 of his sons became Lightermen). My grandfather (his second son) was also the licensee of the Sun public house at Wood Wharf. I would be interested to learn the exact location of that pub and some of its history, if possible.

Another query is that many Allen families are shown on Census returns (1851 onwards) as living in Bridge Place and Bridge Street. I'm curious to know if these are two different roads, or are they one and the same?

(Address from Editor, 0208 858 9482)

From Iris Bryce

I thought you might be interested to hear that I was invited to Broadcasting House to take part in the BBC Radio Four programme Book Club. The book discussed was Longitude and the author, Dave Sobell, was very interesting. I run a readers' group in my village and took five members to the BBC. As the broadcast was not recorded until late afternoon there was time for a visit to Greenwich to see Harrison's clocks at Flamsteed House - everyone was VERY impressed and I hope their reactions will be part of the broadcast.

From Perrotta

Would u know where i can find info on the History of Turret Lathes and other info on this machine? ( [spelling as it arrived]

From Howard Bloch

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has information about the glass bottle manufacturer Moore and Nettlefold which had a factory in North Woolwich during the late nineteenth century and moved to Charlton in about 1908. I have come across a number of accounts in the local newspapers of fights between the German and Lithuanian employees.

(Address from Editor, 0208 858 9492)

From Doreen Abraham

We have particular interest in the rope and cable companies. My great-great-grandparents moved from Camberwell to East Greenwich around 1858-60. The family had followed work from Limehouse in the early 1800s to Chatham around 1840. Great-grandfather came back to Limehouse around 1855 and then to Camberwell and finally to Greenwich. Their address in the 1861 census is 2 Enderby Cottages. We gave searched map after map to locate the cottage but cannot find them.

(Address from Mary 0208 858 9482)

From David Cuffley

I became interested in brickmaking and thought of the Brickmakers index to help family historians. Once it grew and took over part of my life the information requested of it extended the database and now I get questions in daily -

Today's questions were about Arlesey brickworks and the GOODWINs and the other about the HUNTERs of Cumberland.

Which brings me to the point. I have done articles on the Woolwich, Plumstead and East Wickham brickfields but I was recently asked about a brickmaker in Ordnance Place, Woolwich in 1853 which I assume meant he worked at Charles Gates Brickfield or with Robert Jolly. Has anyone done any research on brickfields in the Arsenal or Woolwich Common military areas? Where there brickfields here? I know Chatham dockyard had its own brickfield on St Mary's Island so wondered if Woolwich might have the same?

From Ian Sharpe

The American Ambassador with Barratt staff unveiled the Virginia Settlers Monument at Blackwall (see the East End Advertiser) on Thursday 23rd September. We are going to have our own ceremony soon and invite the Governor of Virginia, and Dale (Newport's descendent). Someone will have to pay their Hotel bills though!

From Pat O'Driscoll

I went to the National Maritime Museum to see if I could find details of the Bulli which you mentioned in the last edition of the Newsletter (wrecked off Tasmania, but in built in Greenwich). No trace at all in Lloyds Register although she should be there.

The Mercantile Navy List for 1875 states:

Bulli. Official Number: 64409, registered at Sydney, New South Wales, 1873, built East Greenwich 1872.
Iron constriction, dimensions, 180ft x 23.2 ft x 15.9 ft. Nett tons 334, gross tons 496.
She was screwdriven and had a 100hp engine. Owner Bulli Coal Mining Company, Sydney, New South Wales.

By the 1877/78 Volume she had acquired the identifying code flag signal WNGR

I checked in Lloyds list under Casualties for June, July and August 1877, but found no retrace. Had she been in Lloyds Register there would have been more details of her engine and also the month in which she was launched. This would've made it easier to check the Kentish Mercury. At the end of earlier volumes of the MBN List they mentions losses of vessels in the previous year, but I could find no mention of the Bulli, probably because there was apparently some chance of salvaging her. Otherwise I would have found the date of her stranding.

From Karen Day

My family lived in East Greenwich for many years during the 1700s and 1800s - and took their living from the river.

Recently I was surprised to discover that my family were originally boat builders situated at Crowley's Wharf. Their name was ëHoskins' but unfortunately there appears to be no record of this little firm anywhere - except a brief mention in the directories of Pigot's (1827-1839) However in the baptism registers for St.Alphege I have found a Samuel Hoskins, boat builder, baptising his son Workman in 1777 and a Workman Hoskins boat builder (my 4 x great-grandfather) baptising his sons in 1799.

Greenwich Local History could only tell mention they think ëHoskins Street was named after this firm p it was originally Bennett Street and ran down to Crowley's Wharf.

My father David Alan Hoskins, was amazed at my discovery and felt very proud because he makes the most beautiful model boats. There is one of his in the window of the Greenwich Model Shop under the name of David Alan. It is for this reason ht I would like to find out more about this little firm if possible. Would you know of anyone who could help me.

From Andrew Turner

Responding to Ted Barr's letter in the October Newsletter: During the early 1980s, Trafalgar House acquired some of the constructional divisions of British Steel and integrated them into the Cleveland Bridge Group. These included the works formerly belonging to Dorman Long (Bridge and Engineering) and Redpath Brown. By then, operations at the former Redpath Brown and Dorman Long sites at East Greenwich had ceased. So the present day Cleveland Bridge Company can claim descent from the builders of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but a connection between Cleveland Bridge and Greenwich is less obvious.

Can I also draw attention to Web site which gives some information on McCalls and Co., (Sheffield). Does anyone know anything about McCalls Greenwich plant and when it closed ?

From Mrs. Ward

I have for many years been researching the life of my Huguenot ancestors and Anne Roper (Ardouin) 1861-1888 who died at Waverley House, Humber Road, Greenwich. Her father, Alfred Ardouin, 1822-1906 lived there with his housekeeper, Margaret Harris, and his niece, Anne Ardouin, until 1894. Alfred Ardouin was a Master Barge Builder at Anchor and Hope Wharf, Charlton. I believe the Anchor and Hope Pub is still there. Can anyone give me any more information?

From Mark Smith

Hi! I'm trying to find out when a photographer (F.Wiedhofft) was operating out of a shop in 338 New Cross Road. I have some old photos taken in the above shop which look like they were taken around about the turn of the century, If I knew when this person ran his business out of these premises I might be able to accurately date them. I am probably asking the wrong person, but do you know someone who can help or point me in the right direction.I will probably need to gain access to old business directories of the New Cross area; but where can you find them?

From Alan Merryweather

Does anyone have information of Stuart le Gassic who bought up the Merryweather Fire Engine Co. a few years ago?

The following notes are about a model - I could give anyone a few pointers if they wanted to follow this up.

From a memorial about Albert Frederick Bolton. 'When Prince Charles was born, he made a wooden model of a steam engine for a present, for he was a skilled metal and woodworker. Albert loved to demonstrate to anyone interested, his accurate, working, scale model of a Merryweather fire engine complete with extending ladders. He said he had had a lot of difficulty over the hosepipes and eventually hit on the idea of white cylindrical shoelaces.

His model won him first prize at an exhibition of Hoover employees' work - an upright washing machine - which were then just coming on to the market. That would have been c.1950?]

Note: Moses Merryweather, believed to have been the founder of the fire engine makers, was a Yorkshireman and not related to me. Pity: he became very wealthy, living in a house facing Clapham Common.

Anybody interested in the history of this Merryweather family may find the extensive records of a Mr. Smith - who unsuccessfully searched for more than 20 years for the burial place of the Merryweathers. They are in the hands of the Clapham (Common?) Society.




15th February 2000 afternoon visit to WHITE HART ROAD DEPOT.

This is a fascinating site - a purpose built local authority depot where a multiplicity of works department tasks were carried out - once Woolwich's waste disposal and electricity generation site. As Greenwich Council begins to leave the site we have been given the opportunity to take a look.

Please book via Mary 0208 858 9482. We hope to provide more information in advance.


No not THAT one! This one is from Mingus Mountain Machine Works, no less, in Arizona and contains a request for knowledge of a 40 ton steam hammer which worked at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, in the 1870s.

The specific query related to the suggestion by the maker (Nasmyth, of course) that its use upset certain delicate instruments at the Greenwich Observatory, two miles away. I am seeking help from the Observatory but if any reader can offer anything the Society would gain credit thereby.

The hammer was reviewed by the Czar of Russia in 1874 on the occasion of its first use. That occasion was described in Warlike Woolwich written in the late 1890s by W.T.Vincent (whose two volumes on Records of Woolwich & District are the standard source of Woolwich history. I have a copy of Warlike Woolwich and the above description could be copied for any interested member who is into steam hammers.


Greenwich Maritime Institute are to hold the eighth Conference in this series at the Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College, University of Greenwich. The Conference will be held over three days and include a Greenwich Walk and other items of local interest. They are calling for papers to be read at the Conference and proposals should received by them by 1st January 2000.

Details from New Researchers Conference, Greenwich Maritime Institute, 30 Park Row, SE10 9LS. 0208 331 7688



Another call for conference papers - this is for the role of oral testimony in the life and history of cities. The Conference will be held in Birmingham in April 2000. It aims to encourage people to share ideas from variety of sources, to cross disciplinary boundaries and to arrive at innovative visions. To analyse the significance of the role of physical and political boundaries to the creation and maintenance of a sense of place. To explore creative and innovative approaches to recording, storing and presenting oral histories in cities. Synopses of contributions or themes, (not more than 200 words please) welcome.

Contact: Dr Wendy Rickard, by 17th December 1999.



Iain Lovell concludes his article on the Siemens Museum

On some matters however Dr Sutton was quite adamant. He wanted any exhibit that could be made to work to be available for visitors to operate. Thus the water meter had to be connected to a power supply so that it could be operated by a push button. The Alphabetic Telegraph presented problems, as we had only one instrument containing transmitter and receiver. The receiving dial was removed from its wooden housing, and set up at the opposite end of the display cabinet, connected by two wires emerging from the hole where it (the receiver) had been fixed. A glass pane was left out of the cabinet so that visitors could reach the transmitter handle to operate it. He reluctantly agreed that it would be impractical to have the visitor operate the Morse Inker or Soot Writer, and settled for messages on the paper tape, described above. We had attempted, at his request, to use the Sound Powered Telephone in conjunction with a modem earpiece. Much to John Arnold's relief these experiments failed, possibly because of mismatching impedances. When I told John that the Victoria Lamp was blown (though not that I had blown it) his comment was "thank God for that".

Another matter of contention was the Cable with the Ends Teased Out. John had identified as one of his themes for the exhibition the fact that early telephone distribution systems used huge arrays of wires on poles, which in modem times had been replaced with multicore cables. We had several excellent Edwardian photographs of streets festooned with wires. It only remained to acquire eighteen inches or so of modern multicore cable, and teased out the ends of the various layers to show how many there were. Terry Card knew the foreman of the shop where it was made, and offered to get an offcut. Dr Sutton felt that he should approach the manager of the Cable Division officially, as it would otherwise "upset a lot of people". He also doubted Terry's ability tease out the ends neatly, rather an uncomplimentary remark to an instrument maker. However, the request was made, and weeks went by with nothing appearing, despite constant chivvying. We would sometimes sing about The Cable with the Ends Teased Out to the tune of The Surrey with the Fringe on Top. Eventually, a few days before the visit, the exhibit appeared. It was a display stand made of pine and covered with treacle varnish, into which were mounted about a dozen or so communications and light power cables, including coaxial wiring. Far from demonstrating the compression of a festoon of wires into one neat cable, it suggested the substitution of one muddle for another. The effect was totally ruined. Terry renewed his offer to get some multicore cable, but Dr Sutton turned this down as he felt the Cable Division would be upset "after taking all that trouble".

Eventually the time came to set up the Exhibition. I was very impressed when I saw the walnut display cabinets for the first time. The legs were slightly curved and tapering along their length and also curved in section. The curves were continued into the upper part of the cabinet. Although of modern design (in 1958) they perfectly complimented the Victorian panelling of the library, each being related to the appropriate panel sizes. Inside, they were fitted with platforms of various heights, mounted inconspicuously on steel rods, all painted matt black, and tailored in size to match the exhibit to be displayed It gave the impression that the exhibits were floating within the cabinet. I was amazed that four slender rods could support quite comfortably the weight of the W40 Magneto Electric Machine. The notices were printed by a photographic process on to matt white panels, each supported by a rod of appropriate height. There were also panels with drawings reproduced from Victorian books and journals.

Setting up was not without its problems. We checked all the notices immediately and found a few with spelling mistakes, which had to be sent back and corrected. Two of the historic light bulbs, which appeared to have standard bayonet bases, were in fact a little too large to fit the modern lamp holders fitted in the display cases. A little gentle easing with pliers was necessary. Various office and shop floor workers seemed to be constantly moving in and out, sometimes meddling with the exhibits. The water meter was switched on before the circuit was sealed, splashing water everywhere.

The library was close to the offices of several senior executives, including that of Dr John Aldington, the managing director, who was out of the country until a few days before the visit. His secretary, a statuesque, impeccably coiffured blonde with icy blue eyes and clicking high heels, made no attempt to hide her distaste for our presence. Surveying the packaging, tools and other items strewn about the floor as we worked, she would say "Oh dear, this dreadful mess will have to be cleared before The Doctor returns". "The Doctor" was the expression she always used when referring to Dr Aldington. She looked particularly disapproving when she spotted the tank suit I used as a motorcycling outfit folded up with a crash helmet resting on it. Dr Sutton gave us a key, and permission to use the executive washroom nearby, which was invaluable as we needed constant to wash our hands, and required water to clean up parts of the exhibition fill the water meter, etc. Executives coming in to find us there would at first look startled, then disapprovingly raise their eyebrows.

The most serious problem, which infuriated John Arnold, was the sudden and completely unannounced installation of radiators in the library. The display cabinets no longer fitted in the room. No one seemed to know who had ordered the work, when or why appeals to get the work stopped, or at any rate deferred till after the visit, were to no avail. By moving two cabinets into the centre of the room John was able at least to keep the remaining cabinets against the wall, but the overall effect was greatly impaired. The final disaster came when workmen came to paint the radiators a muddy brown the day before the visit. They were by this time in use and hot, and gave off clouds of steaming paint. The stench was appalling. John appealed for something to absorb the smell, and in response crystalline tablets, of the type designed to disinfect lavatories, were placed in the room. This had the effect of making it smell like a lavatory. Half an hour or so before the Duke of Edinburgh's visit, John Arnold was trying to dissipate the smell by flapping sheets of newspaper: This greatly amused the people who trundled through but did not amuse John Arnold at all.

The Duke of Edinburgh's visit was by most accounts very successful. On his arrival he was treated to a lecture illustrated with a large carefully drawn map of the works, with his planned itinerary clearly marked fn blue. Predictably, he soon broke away from this as was his wont on such occasions, and entered areas which had not been prepared for him. Some operatives, suddenly recognising him, cowered behind their machines, but were quickly reassured by his outgoing and friendly manner. He was taken into the museum, but made no attempt to play with any of the toys so carefully prepared for him. If he noticed the smell, he made no comment on it . He was in the room less than two minutes, and made some such remark as "Interesting set of old stuff you've got here". He was clearly more interested in talking to people than in looking at historic artefacts. I am quite confident that I have not in any way reduced the quality of his life by depriving him of the opportunity to illuminate a glass effigy of his great great-grandmother-in-law.

The aftermath was something of an anticlimax. Brian and I helped John Arnold make temporary rearrangements of the exhibits so that he could take more flattering photographs for his portfolio. The millwrights arrived at the Research Laboratory and erected one or two steel bookcases, which we filled with some of the books. We lied about the case we had already erected, saying it had always been there.

After returning to College I never met or heard from Dr Sutton, Terry Card or Thunder & Lightning again. I had put John Arnold in touch with my father, Theodore Lovell, who was the director of publicity for Tube Investments Ltd at that time. He visited my father in his office some time later, and discussed the Siemens Museum in passing. By this time he had completely overcome his feelings of irritation, and remembered Dr Sutton for the warm and charming, if somewhat eccentric person that he was. I met Brian Rispoli a year or two later by chance in Lewisham High Street, when he was on leave from National Service (I had completed mine long before). We chatted for a few minutes but never met again.

Some years later, after I had left the company, it was progressively closed down I do not know what happened to the Museum or the books in the store room. I do know that Thunder & Lightning was sometimes told to "get rid of some of those old books" and would take a few to the boiler. Those with coloured pictures would stand the best chance of survival as he liked to look at them himself.

I still do not know what a winwom is.


Although the recreation of the Siemens Museum would suggest some interest by 'Industry' in preserving its industrial past, the motive was more to impress a visiting dignitary (which it failed to do) than make a serious attempt at conservation. It was also carried out in a haphazard and disorganised way.

Iain Lovell, December 1995



This successful course, a partnership arrangement between GIHS and the Museum is now finished.

There were eight sessions:


This list of meetings and events has been culled from leaflets and notices brought to our attention.

If you want your meeting listed here please contact 24 Humber Road, SE3 7LR (0208 858 9482)


5th January, Chris Ellmers on Museum in Docklands, DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00 pm

6th January, The Croydon Canal. David Delaney, London Canal Museum, Wharf Road, Kings Cross. 0207 713 0836

10th January, Architect's View of the Festival of Britain 1951, Gordon Bowyer, Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Rd, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

11th January, Professor Gillian Beer, Cultural Fall Out from the Franklin Expedition. Cent.Maritime Research, Inst.Hist., Univ.London, Senate House, WC1 (0208 312 6716)

12th January, The Development of Cash Handling in Stores by John Liffen, Newcomen Society. 5.45pm. Royal Ent.Soc. 41 Queens Gate, SW7

15th January, History on the Millennium Site, Mary Mills, Plumstead Museum, 2.30pm. 0208 855 3240

17th January, North Woolwich. A detached part of Kent. Howard Bloch, Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

19th January, 8 weeks, The 20th Century Navy, Open Museum at National Maritime Museum, Weds, 10.30-12.30. £37.50 course. 0208 312 6717

19th January, 8 Weeks Maritime Lives, Film Series, Open Museum at National Maritime Museum, Weds, 14.00-16.30. Free. 0208 312 6717

19th January, John King on London's Airports, Their First Fifty Years. GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Science Block, St. Bartholomew's Medical School, Charterhouse Sq. EC1. 6.30pm.

21st January, Discoveries by the Hubble, Blackheath Scientific Society. Mycenae House. 7.30pm

22nd January, Brunel's Ships - celebrates the publication Brunel's Ships by Denis Griffiths, Andrew Lambert and Fred Walker. Open Museum, NMM 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 0208 312 6717

22nd January, GLIAS visit to Kempton Park Engines. No charge and no need to book. David Perrett 0208 692 8512. Meet there 11am.

22nd January, Plumstead Museum Exhibition opens. 2000 Years of Jesus Christ. Usual times.

24th January, Princess Caroline of Brunswick's Greenwich & Blackheath, Diana Rimel. Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

25th January, Dr.James Knowles on Jonson and Maritime Trade with China - rethinking Jacobean Orientalism. Cent. Maritime Research, Inst.Hist., Univ.London, Senate House, WC1E 7HU (0207 312 6716)

25th January, Ron Roffey on Co-operative Development, Local to International, 7.30pm. Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, SE1

26th January, Hugh Lyon on Greenwich and the Thames. Greenwich Hist. Soc., Music Centre Blackheath High Sch.Vanbrugh Park, SE3. Details 0208 858 4631

28th January, Eric Inman on The Real Story of Chiselhurst Caves. LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13.

26th January, The IA of the Millennium Site. Mary Mills, RBHG, 7.45pm. Time and Talents, Rotherhithe.

31st January, Looking Around Eltham, Frank Kelsall. Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

2nd February, Visit to Fishmongers Hall, DHG. Contact Bob Aspinall, 0207 515 1162

3rd February, Julian Watson on Royal Dockyards, Hall Place, 7.30pm. £2.50 book through Bexley Local Studies, Hall Place.

3rd February, Gallantry at Sea, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £32.00. 0208 312 6717

5th February, Aspects of the Royal Military Academy by Paul Shaw. WDAS, Charlton House, Charlton, SE7, 2.30pm,

7th February, Edward Robert Robson on Schools and other London Buildings. Neil Rhind, Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

8th February, Dr. Harriet Guest on 18th Century voyages of Exploration and Gendered Identity. Centre for Maritime Research, Inst. Hist, Univ. of London, Senate House, WC1E 7HU (0208 312 6716)

12th Febrary, Risings Riots and Rebellions, 10.30-16.15. Open Museum at NMM, Weds, £26.00. 0208 312 6717

14th February, Short Brothers in Kent, Jim Preston. Gravesend HS, Chantry School, Ordnance Road, Gravesend, 7.00pm

14th February, The Changing Architectural Scene Viewed by a River Artist. Peter Kent. Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

16th February, John Walsgrove, London's Unknown Historic Bridges, GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2 Science Block, St. Bartholomew's Medical School, Charterhouse Square, EC1. 6.30pm.

18th February, Weather. Blackheath Scientific Society. Mycenae House. 7.30pm

18th February, River Ravensbourne, its History and Geography. Unitarian Meeting House, Bromley Road. 7.30pm

19th February, The Yacht Skipper as Ship's Master, Open Museum at NMM, £26.00. 0208 312 6717

20th February, Prof. Trevor Dannatt on The Dreadnought Library (details Greenwich Society 0208 853 1603).

22nd February, Professor Bruce Lehman on The Royal Navy and Problems of Power Projection in the Pacific 1744-83. Centre for Maritime Research, Inst. Hist, Univ.of London, Senate House. (0208 312 6716)

22nd February, 19th Century Directory Wars, SLAS, Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, 7.30pm

23rd February, Historic Films of Bermondsey, RBLHG, Local Studies Library, Borough High St., SE1. 7.30pm

24th February, Hidden Collections: Oil Paintings, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £32.00. 0208 312 6717

25th February, Jad Adams on Ernest Dowson, Lewisham's Decadent Poet. LLHS, 7.45pm, Meth.Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

26th February, How to Trace your Ancestor, Open Museum at National Maritime Museum, £26.00. 0208 312 6717

28th February, Almshouses of Greenwich and Lewisham, Diana Rimel. Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

1st March, Barbara Jones on Lloyds Registry, DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00pm

2nd March, Friends of Greenwich Park Annual Lecture, The Story of Greenwich, Clive Aslet. Recital Rooms, Blackheath Concert Halls, 8.00pm. £7.50 booking Sara Thorling, 16 Oakcroft Road, SE13.

5th March, Conservation of Abbey Mills Pumping Station, Andrew Norris. GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2 Science Block, Bart's Medical Sch. Charterhouse Square, EC1. 6.30pm.

6th March, Greenwich in Pastel, Frances Treanor, Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

7th March, Prof. Glyndwr Williams on The Royal Navy, the Arctic and the Pacific, exploration and expansion 1780-1830. Cent Maritime Research, Inst. Hist., Univ.London, Senate House, WC1. (0208 312 6716)

7th March, Frances Ward, Impact of the Royal Arsenal on the Surrounding Area, Hall Place, 7.30pm. £2.50 book through Bexley Local Studies, Hall Place.

10th/11th March, Drawing on a Maritime Past, Open Museum at NMM, 10-30-16.15. £45.00. 0208 312 6717

10th/11th March, New Researchers in Maritime History Conference. Greenwich Maritime Institute (0208 331 7688)

13th March, Architecture of Hawksmoor and Vanburgh, Anthony Quiney, Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

20th March, The Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Crystal Palace, Diana Rimel. Goldsmith's Local History Class, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 10.15-12.15. £6.00 weekly.

21st March, Dr.Stuart Murray, Textuality and authority in post-1763 Pacific exploration. Centre for Maritime Research, Inst. Hist, Univ. London, Senate House, WC1E 7HU. (020 8312 6716)

24th March, Mr. Guy's Hospital and the Caribees, by Jane Bowden-Dan. LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist. Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

25th March, Jane Austin and the Navy, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 0208 312 6717

27/28th March, Association for Industrial Archaeology. Ironbridge Weekend. Discussion on current issues. Details Gordon Knowles 01372 458396

28th March, Recent Archaeological Work, SLAS, Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, 7.30pm

5th April, Capt. Daniel on Sundials, DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00pm

28th April, Howard Bloch on North Woolwich and Silvertown. LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

3rd May, Capt. Burls on Hydrography in the River Thames, DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00pm

6th May, Modern Greece and World Shipping, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 0208 312 6717

9th May for 8 weeks, Operation Dynamo, Open Museum at NMM, Tues 10.30-12.00. £37.50. 0208 312 6717

10th May for 8 weeks, Greenwich at the First Millennium, Open Museum at NMM, Weds, 10.30-12.00. £37.50. 020 8312 6717

10th May for 8 weeks, The Business of the Sea - film series, Open Museum at NMM, Weds 14.00 -16.30. Free. 0208 312 6717

11th May, 20th Century Warships, Open Museum at NMM 10.30-16.15. £32.00. 0208 312 6717

20th May, Married to the Sea, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 0208 312 6717

26th May, Peter Gurnett on Deptford Houses - 1650 to 1800 LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

June 2000, 100 Years of Labour History exhibition planned, Plumstead Museum. Contact Beverley at the Museum if you have memorabilia of the Labour Party in Greenwich, Woolwich or Eltham.

2nd/ 3rd June, The Story of Time, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £45.00. 0208 312 6717

7th June, Edward Sargeant on Frederick Elliott Duckham and the Millwall Docks. DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00pm.

16/17th June, Falmouth Working Boat, Open Museum at NMM 10.30-16.15 £90.00. 0208 312 6717

17th June, Work of the British Antarctic Survey, Open Museum at NMM 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 0208 312 6717

23/24th June, Drawing on the River, Open Museum at NMM 10.30am-4.15pm. £45.00. 0208 312 6717

30th June, Brigit Jochens on Berlin's Heimat Museums. LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

5th July, AGM followed by Edward Bramah on the Old and New History of Tea by the Pool, DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00 pm

21st July, Julian Bowsher on Dating the Millennium. LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

2nd August, Mike Webber on the Thames Archaeological Survey. DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00 pm

6th Sept, DHG visit to Docklands Library and Archive

September - Shipbuilding on the Thames & Thames-built Ships. Nelson Dock House, Rotherhithe. Stuart Rankin (0207 232 1780)

29th September, Julian Watson on Place names in the Hundred of Blackheath. LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

4th Oct, DHG visit to LT Museum

27th October, New Cross and other Kentish Turnpikes, Dr. Shirley Black, LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

1st Nov, Paul Calvocressi on English Heritage's Role in Docklands, DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00 pm

24th November, Does Lewisham have a Future? Bob Dunn, LLHS, 7.45pm, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

6th Dec, Christmas Quiz DHG, Room C, Museum of London Educ. Dept., London Wall, EC2, 6.00 pm



Buildings along the Banks of the River Thames by Mary Mills - from 13th January at Combe Cliffe Centre, Coombe Road, Croydon. 3.30-5.30pm. Ring 01883 623955

IA Course by Bob Carr. Thursdays, 6.30-8.30pm. City University. Ring 020 7477 8268 for details.

Industrial Archaeology Univ. London extra-mural class by Bob Carr, Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Monday pm. Details: 0207 631 6627. e-mail:

Greenwich and its River Through the Ages with Mary Mills, Greenwich Park School. Weds. 7.30-9.30pm Woolwich College, Greenwich Park Centre, 0208 858 2211

Looking Back at Lewisham. Tutor Diana Rimel at Lewisham Library Meeting Room from 13th January 2.00-4.00pm. Details: CEL, 0208 691 5858.

IA of East London. Tutor Bob Carr, Birkbeck College University Extra Mural Course, North Woolwich Old Station Museum from April. Wednesday, 2.00-4.00pm. Write with SAE to Fred Bishop, 39 Freshfield Drive, London N14 4QW

London's History from its Buildings. Tutor Mary Mills, Birkbeck College Course, Sutton College of Liberal Arts, Spring and Summer Terms, Friday 1.00-3.00pm.

Ring Scola on 0208 770 6901.



The Annual General Meeting will be held on 11th January 2000 at East Greenwich Community Centre/Christchurch Forum at 7.30 pm.

Detailed agenda available on the door. Don't forget to come!

Current Officers and Committee are:

Chair - Jack Vaughan

Secretary - Mary Mills

Vice-Chair - Barbara Ludlow (resigning)

Treasurer - Steve Daly

Committee Member - Alan Parfrey

Auditor - Juliet Cairns

Subscription renewals fall due from October 1999. Members are urged to pay as soon as possible in order to avoid the cost of chasing you up! Subscriptions are £10. (we are considering an excess postage charge for overseas members) and should be sent to:

Steve Daly, 5 Pankhurst Close, Garrison Close, Shooters Hill, SE18 4JE

This newsletter was produced for the Greenwich Industrial History Society by Mary Mills.
Views expressed in it are those of the authors and not of the Society.




The Web version has been created by;

.... David Riddle, Goldsmiths College

Space courtesy of Goldsmiths College, University of London