Volume 3, Issue 2, March 2000

With this issue is an index to the first (printed) numbers of this Newsletter.
This has been prepared by Kate Jones
The Society would like to thank her very much for her work- which we hope everyone will find useful.





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

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

16th May - Clive Chambers on Wood Wharf and the Greenwich Steam Ferry.

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

4th July - John Ford on Siemens - A Century of Communications.

17th October - Alan Pearsall on Thames Colliers.


All meetings will take place at the Old Bakehouse in Blackheath Village - behind the Reminiscence Centre opposite Blackheasth Station. All at 7.30 pm.


Don't tell English Partnerships but....... David Riddle has found a note in the Fortean Times concerning ghosts in the Arsenal where "one gets a distinct feeling of being watched". There is, it says, an archway where the Duke of Wellington used to "spike the heads" of "recalcitrant prisoners" - this is now "close to freezing even on the hottest days". The building was used by the Royal Navy in WWII and an old lady working at her desk heard the air raid sirens as a labourer put coal on the fire - she fell dead - and it was discovered that a cartridge case accidentally left in the coal had discharged and shot her in the neck!!!

Also, you can hear a young girl coughing in the main building .. they say it's atmospheric pressure ..... but .... a young secretary died of consumption there....

And a servant committed suicide by hanging himself from the balcony when he was accused of theft after 25 years service. ..

And you can hear marching footsteps.........

...and .. in Building 11 was a WW1 Major with "eyes glowing softly" who checked out the models stored there...... and he tore all the light fittings out of their sockets after a search

....... and in Building 2 is an elderly lady who keeps walking down the stairs, and again, and again, and again

.... and the First World War there was a 19 year old soldier who shot himself rather than go to Ypres and when his country is threatened he stands outside the Guard House

................ and ......... .... and ...... and .......


Another instalment of John Day's memories of his life as an apprentice in the Arsenal....

John describes his move to the Pattern Shop .....

The foreman of the Pattern Shop was Clarke. His office was in the north-west corner of the building on a kind of mezzanine floor and he had a system of mirrors looking down so that he could see what was happening on every bench. All the apprentices took the opportunity to make themselves a toolbox and then the foreman told the shop labourer to smash it with a sledge hammer. I made two boxes, one in pine to hold my teamaking equipment and the other in mahogany, which was kept in a drawer and never assembled. I told Clarke that the pine box was to keep the dust from my cup and it was allowed to remain - he never knew about the mahogany one.

Near the Pattern Shop was the Pattern Store, where the ground floor was used for wooden mock-ups of tanks to find out how much could be stowed and still leave space for the crew. One of the apprentices surreptitiously moved everything several feet forward and opened a little door to drive his Austin Seven into the space. He then fitted it with a beautiful two-seater body painted battleship grey. When we drove it out through the main gate I had a "Brooklands" silencer for my own Austin between the floor boards.

From the Pattern Shop the next step was the Brass Foundry. There I spent most of my time moulding skimmer cores and brackets for the wires of overhead cranes. A great deal of the casting was done in manganese bronze and in the inlet passage the molten metal was made to duck under a cubic core to skim out slag. The "core box" for these was a block of brass with a hole of about an inch and a half square. I made them by the dozen. They went into the core oven to dry - this oven had other uses. It was ideal for roasting potatoes for a mid - morning snack. At times I had other castings to mould. Risers were made in which steel rods were pumped up and down to make sure the molten metal filled all the space in the mould. I spent some days casting arming vanes for torpedoes. The mould was made in steel having six wedge shaped pieces to be pulled out to release the fan shaped casting. I stood by a crucible of molten aluminium, ladled it into the mould, gave the mould a bash with a mallet, took the mould apart, took out an arming vane, put the mould together and started all over again. It was not a popular job, especially in the summer.

Next was a spell as a centre lathe turner back in the New Fuze Tool Room. I was put on an old 8 inch Le Blond lathe. Apprentices always got the most worn-out lathe - if we could do a good job with that, we could certainly use a more modern tool. Jobs varied from 0.2 in. diameter striker pins to 4 in. diameter bronze discs. Working next to me was a rotund, red faced, cheery character who had a mind like an engineerís pocket book. He had instant recall of all the decimals for fractions of an inch by sixty -fourths, the sizes of number and letter drills and the thread depths of all the screw pitches - all to four figures ! In our fourth or fifth year we were given a turning test. For this we were given the choice of drawings of jobs that could be done in less than a day and given a very modern lathe in the Carriage Tool Room to make it on. The lathes were so complicated compared to the old clapped - out ones we were used to, that we either spent the morning trying to find out how everything worked or, as I did, nipped back to the old machine that we knew and machined the test piece on that.

The second spell was in the Light Gun Shop. Guns, particularly in the breech, use at lot of odd, large size countersunk screws. These were the province of the apprentices as they did not rate well in the piecework stakes, but the saving grace was that an apprentice had the right to refuse to make more than twenty three of any one thing. It was realised that they were there to learn and not to take part in production. One job was a number of Morse taper sleeves of the larger sizes, which meant that the internal taper hole was longer than the travel of the lathe top slide. Apprentice lathes did not have the luxury of taper turning attachments. I complained to the foreman, he knocked me out of the way, did one and then said you will do the ****** rest. Another lesson, if one can do the job, a subordinate has no grounds for complaint.

Greenwich Conservation Group

- with thanks to Philip Binns

Pepys Building, King William Walk - erection of new sub station - insufficient information provided. New gates and pathway considered unobjectionable. Advertising material is also considered unobjectionable but temporary railings should be replaced by new ones to match those already there.

24 Straightsmouth - demolition of old oil depot and replacement with homes and parking spaces. Consider that this is overdevelopment with a bad effect on neighbouring buildings and the amount of parking to be provided is questionable.

55/57 Invicta Road - change of use from parking commercial vehicles to new homes. Felt that proposals were overdevelopment and also concern about where the commercial vehicles concerned would be parked in the future - also worry about parking so near the Invicta Primary School.

Coronet Cinema, John Wilson Street - change of use from cinema to place a of worship. No objection but hope the cinema can return to its Art Deco Glory.

Royal Military Academy - retrospective approval for cat ladders. Condemn this for disfiguring the appearance of this listed building.

78 Sandy Hill Road - change of use from spares parts shop to flat. Recommend that hidden display panel be taken to the Borough Museum.

Garibaldi Street/Plumstead High Street - conversion of former cinema/warehouse to church, flats and house. Welcome this.

118/119 Woolwich High Street - refurbishment for a restaurant. This is an old Burtons shop and the glazed shop front should be retained and the foundation stone should be kept.


Philip Binns has also passed to us a document on the proposed planning framework for the East Greenwich riverside - a vast site covering the peninsula west of the Blackwall Tunnel as far as the railway line. Among the key issues it identifies are - a consideration of transport modes - new initiatives for river use - the need to deal with the industrial legacy (they mean contamination) - the need for open space (historic elements have "crowded the urban form" - they mean too many wharves) - the need to consider the working river "safeguarded wharves" - increased use of the river - etc. etc. etc..

We have written to the Strategic Planning Department asking to be included in any future consultation.


- another extract from Howard Bloch's history of the North Woolwich Pleasure Gardens

Arthur McNamara, a haulage contractor employed by Eastern Counties Railway became manager of the gardens in 1855 but was succeeded by Edward McNamara, probably related. Over the next four years they spent over £20,000 on improvements, described in the Stratford Times as;

"Dinners of every description and wines of good quality can be obtained (in the hotel) throughout the day at prices which considering the excellent manner in which the dinners are served, and the excellent attendance, are exceedingly moderate .... The gardens themselves are admirably laid out. A broad, long terrace runs for some distance by the side of the river; at the back are pleasant winding walks bordered by fresh green turf and beds of gay flowers, a maze and gipsy's tent is in one part, a rifle gallery in another, in the centre of the grounds is a large ballroom, and a little beyond a refreshment room, half marquee and half booth. Beyond this again is a capital specimen of an Italian garden, brilliant with scarlet geraniums, and at the end is a large platform for dancing, adorned with an orchestra. Chinese in form and decoration and by crossing the visitor arrives at the margin of a small lake, on the opposite shores of which a stage is erected for the performance of drawing room entertainments and the display of poses plastiques. The grounds are of considerable extent so open that a pleasant breeze is generally to be found playing about them, rendering them cool and refreshing even in the hottest days. At nights too, when they are lighted up the effect is charming, and not the least effective of the illuminations are two fountains, in which the combination of artificial light and dancing waters is most capitally contrived."

Charles Bishop succeeded McNamara in 1862, going there after a fire had burnt down the Surrey Music Hall in June 1861. He ran the gardens until 1867.

During the next period of their history the gardens came under the control of two of the leading music hall managers - Charles Morton and William Holland. Morton, who had established the concept of music hall with the Canterbury Hall, Lambeth, became manager after that had been destroyed in a disastrous fire on 11th February 1868. He set to work immediately and trees and flower beds were put in order, buildings overhauled, a new stage erected in the Concert Hall and two new dancing platforms built.

On Whit Monday 1868 about 17,000 people went to the Gardens where they were entertained by a programme which included a Volunteer band, playing on the Esplanade, Jean Price and Gevani on the trapeze, a concert in the main hall by Miss FitzHenry, Miss Kate Stanley and Mr. Jonghmans and the ballet Le Demon de Paradis.

To mark the visit of Lord Napier to Woolwich in July 1868, Morton staged a spectacular representation of his victory in Abyssinia. The desired effect was achieved by erecting a painting of the March of the English through Abyssinia and the Storming of the Magdala and a contingent of Volunteers firing off rifles and mortars to massed brass bands and a display of fireworks.




Surely the arrival of shire horses, Merlin and Thomas, at Woodlands Farm, count as industry....?!



Many people are familiar with Enderby House, Enderby Wharf and Enderby Street in East Greenwich but until now little has been known about the ill-fated expedition to the Auckland Islands, one of which is called Enderby Island.

In 1849 Charles Enderby of Greenwich left Plymouth in the Samuel Enderby whaling ship hoping to found a prosperous whaling station in this newly created British Colony to the south of New Zealand. Why, you may ask, did the senior partner of a once very successful shipping and whaling business go to a distant part of the world where there was nothing and worse and, to put it mildly, the climate is not good?

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Enderbys were looking for new whaling grounds and began exploring the southern oceans. Whales were scarce in northern seas and the raw material which produced Enderby's barrels of oil was much farther away from their base in London. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Enderby captains such as Bristow, the discoverer of the Auckland Islands in 1805/6, were away for several years but not returning with enough oil to cover the cost of the trip. As the whaling ships went towards and into the Antarctic seas the cost of strengthening each vessel began to eat into profits, but Samuel Enderby and his son Charles were exited by, and committed to, exploration.

At the beginning of the 1830s Charles Enderby, who had become the senior partner in 1829, established a rope works and sail making factory on Greenwich Marsh, the site today of Enderby Wharf and Alcatel. Charles had a house built on the riverside by his works and it became both workplace and home for him. His brothers, George and Henry, did not live there for long. In 1837 Charles was approved to make a waterproof rope covering for telegraph wire but unfortunately failed in this enterprise as water seeped through the hemp. However, whilst he entertained explorers and scientists at Enderby House and listened to some glowing descriptions of places like the Auckland Islands, he put much effort into making the Greenwich rope works a success.

All this came to an end when on 8th March 1845 the majority of the East Greenwich works went up in flames. The damage to everything was extensive. This was a disaster for the Company as they were not as prosperous as they had been, and Charles set about seeking a way to revive their fortunes. He put forward the ideas of promoting a new whaling company with the help of the British Government. Alarmed at the decline of the nation's whaling industry the Government was eager to help.

In 1847 Sir James Ross, the famous Antarctic explorer, totally backed Charles Enderby's choice of the Auckland Island as a fixed whaling station, and in 1849 the Southern Whale Fishery company was granted a Royal Charter. Charles was appointed the Company's resident Chief Commissioner and the Crown conferred the office of Lieutenant Governor of the Auckland Islands on him. No doubt he wondered what honour would be bestowed upon him if the station were successful - Sir Charles Enderby or Lord Enderby of Greenwich?

The family fortunes were certainly in the balance as Charles sailed out of Plymouth on 18th August 1849. In October 1849, the following appeared in the Times;

"Messrs Charles Henry and George Enderby for many years connected with the whaling trade and lately engaged on a large scale as rope manufacturers at Greenwich, have announced themselves unable to meet their engagements. The general liabilities of the house are extremely small but it is feared that various members of the family will suffer severely."

The paper also predicted that the Southern Whales Fishery Company could be nothing but an advantage to the Enderby firm. Alas, this was not so.

The colony only lasted a few years and by 1852 the Southern Whales Fishery Co, was facing financial disaster. For Charles it was also a personal disaster. His Assistant Commissioner, William Mackworth, age 25 years (Charles was 52 when he left England), tended to hold Enderby in disdain, declaring that he could not manage personnel, settlers, or the whaling. Eventually the company sent Special Commissioners to take over from Charles in December 1851. They were back there to wind up the company and Charles had reverted back to being called 'Mr. Enderby' instead of 'His Excellency'. On 27th January 1852 Enderby was made to resign as Lt. Governor but he became angry over this and declared "he was determined to shoot either Mackworth or any other man attempting to remove him or his effects by force". The Special Commissioner threatened to put Enderby in irons. In the end Charles Enderby took them to court in Wellington and eventually the whole affair became the subject of two detailed Parliamentary Papers. Charles Enderby returned to England in July 1853 and the firm of Enderby Brothers was formally wound up in 1854. Charles died in Fulham on 30th August 1876 in an "impecunious state".

The diaries of William Mackworth, Assistant Commissioner and William Munce, Company Accountant, start on 1st January 1850 and finish on 13th August 1852. They have now been published in New Zealand. As well as a complete transcription of the diaries there are excellent chapters on all aspects of the Auckland Islands settlement. This 288 page book is well priced and contains 32 plates plus maps and plans.

I shall never walk past Enderby House again without thinking of Charles and his dreams of creating a new whaling station in the Auckland Islands. Little did he know that it would all end in tears.

The book is edited by Dingwall, Fraser, Gregory and Robertson and is limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies. It is published by Wild Press, PO Box 12397, Wellington NZ and Wordsell Press PO Box 51168 Pakuranga, Auckland, NZ. Price £25 postage and packing included. ISBN 1 87245 01 1



£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.


Under the Dome appeared in January 2000 edition of The Oldie about how the author, Oliver Bernard, spent his holidays charging retorts at East Greenwich Gas Works. He seems to have enjoyed it.

Gaslight is produced by the North West Gas Historical Association. In their January 2000 edition is an article about Gas Company Steam Wagons. This says that a former South Metropolitan Gas Company Sentinel wagon from East Greenwich Gas Works is now dismantled in store in Lancashire. It was built in 1936 and the registration number was CWX13.

Rail Roots on Site of Dome by Peter Excell appeared in the January 2000 Railway Magazine. This outlines the background to the railway inside East Greenwich Gas Works - although in less detail than the article by Malcolm Millichip which appeared last year. It also describes a visit by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain in 1963. They went to United Glass at Charlton and then to the Gas Works. Their final comment is that the Dome is unlikely to "contain anything as spectacular as a gas retort and coke car".

Festival Times, the newsletter of the Festival of Britain Society has made an astounding discovery - and one which some of our members might be able to help with. They quote a letter from "a lady living in Surbiton" who claims to know what happened to the roof beams of the Dome of Discovery (well sort of, anyway). It was demolished in 1952 when she was a 13 year-old living in Kidbrooke. Her school had been badly damaged in the war but a new semi-circular hall was built which used the beams from the Dome of Discovery .... so .. does anyone know where it was? Er.. er.. it can't be Kidbrooke School because that was new.... and Eltham Green and Crown Woods don't have semi-circular halls.... and ... and ......

Woolwich Antiquarians Newsletter for January/February 2000 summarises Roy Hopper's talk to the Society about Chislehurst. They draw attention to his comments on chalk mining in the area.

MERIDIAN for February 2000 has an interview with Tom Taylor-Benson of English Partnerships about their plans for the Woolwich Arsenal site. It is, they say, "the last hidden jewel of English Military Architecture" and that "whatever we bring into the site must not damage the existing shops and businesses to the west of it". In the same issue is an article by Mary Mills on the Ceylon Place cottages at East Greenwich.

ALCATEL have produced a booklet on their history, Greenwich. Centre for Global Telecommunications from 1850. We are trying to find out how to get more copies.

The current issue of Open History, Journal of the OU History Society, contains a rant by Mary Mills on Writing about the History of the Greenwich Dome site. It tries to take on some impoprtant, and unpopular issues. [Available from Jill Groves, 77 Marford Crescent, Sale, Cheshire, M33 4DN. £2.50+ 60p.p&p.


From Mrs. Bates

I am enclosing two pictures of instances which stick in my memory of visits to the Gas Works when we were children. One is a photo of an Armistice Day occasion. My father, whose title was Mechanical Superintendent, was at Ordnance Wharf from about 1927 to about the outbreak of WW2, when he went to work at Vauxhall Gas Works. Before he became land-based he spent a few years on the coastal run between Greenwich and the North-East (Tyneside) bringing coal for the Gas Works. Before that he had been in the Merchant Navy travelling all over the world.

The other photo is of the damage done to the wharves in the floods and storms of 1938. There was a lot of damage done down the river at this time.

From John West

Referring to the query form Mark Smith regarding Wiedhofft, the New Cross photographer:

Frederick Wiedhofft had a studio at 338 New Cross Road (near Deptford Town Hall) from 1897-1914.
He also had branches at Holland Park, Highgate and Forest Gate.

Information about other Lewisham and Greenwich Photographers can be found in my The Studio Photographers of Lewisham and Greenwich 1854-1939 (1995). This work covers all the districts that now comprise the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich, copies which can be seen at Lewisham Local Studies Centre and Greenwich Local History Library.

From Dennis Gubb

I do hope you do not consider this as junk mail! I am trying to trace my history and have reason to believe my great grandfather had a brickyard/kiln somewhere in Woolwich. His name was Henry Grubb. On my grandmother's side it seems her father, Henry Farr, was killed at the Arsenal in a train accident. I would appreciate if you were able to shed some light on these facts.

From John Smith

I intend to dispose of my collection of books, booklets, pamphlets etc. relating to Blackheath, Bromley, Charlton, Eltham, Greenwich, Lee & Lewisham, Woolwich and Kent's history, etc. this year. I hope to offer them for sale through local book fairs, family history societies or similar outlets to those particular areas. I have therefore accepted Dartford Family History Society's invitation to man a stall at a meeting on Saturday April 1st at Dartford Girls Grammar School. If you Society intends to hold a book fair, or act as host to a similar organisation I would greatly appreciate details.

From Roger Backhouse

I came across the magazine of Thames Ironworks in Stratford's local history library. A strange mixture but lots on various engineering projects undertaken including a railway footbridge at Ilford, dockworks at Vladivostock and the building of the Fuji for the Japanese Navy. I have read that Thames Ironworks once produced cars but I can't trace any details. Also I have seen a reference to a "Silvertown" electric car pre-1914 and wondered if that was built in Newham. (Walter Hancock's pioneer steam carriages were built in Stratford - 175th anniversary coming up, but no interest yet from the local museum people.)

The magazine justifies the 8-hour day and rails against a Northern cartel rigging the market for naval vessels. Also gives details of the "Good Fellowship" scheme, a form of bonus distribution based on reduction from estimated costs. And information about the Cycling Club, Operatic Society, etc..

From Graeme Petit

I found your Web pages purely by chance, whilst looking for Angerstein's Wharf railway photographs, it led me to an article on John Penn and Sons, by Peter Trigg, and I spotted a potential namesake - Francis Pettit Smith - The Pettits were mill operators before this time (1700's/1800's), and were involved in wind and water mill manufacturer at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk at some stage. Some of their products ended up going south - I wonder if there is a connection?

Also, I'm looking for articles on New Cross (Gate) (see Blackthorne Yard - and The Southern Railway Gallery railway/index.html

This latter site appears to have moved, but the former contains a most interesting piece on a huge fire at the New Cross Gate Station and Works in 1844 which coincided with a Royal 'transfer'! Web Editor

From Julie Tadman

I have just found your site on the Net, and read with a great deal of interest all that is on it about the area. Really fascinating stuff, and congratulations for the quality of all the information. My great-grandfather was an apprentice on the Samuel Enderby on its voyage to the Auckland Islands from August 2nd 1849 and return April 1852. His family lived in the area, with various family members leaving England and emigrating. His father is buried in Shooters Hill cemetery. Could you advise where to go for some information on the voyage of the 'Samuel Enderby'?

I have his applications and copy of certificates for Second and First Mate and Captain from the (Australian) NMM, excellent and invaluable information which poses as many questions as it gives answers. I would also like to gain an appreciation of the life and times in the Greenwich, Deptford areas over the early nineteenth century.



Kate Jones has drawn our attention to the Times obituary of Kenneth Hudson. Kenneth was, of course, a very well known writer on industrial history and industrial archaeology, and president of the Greatrer London Industrial Archaeology Society. The obituary is particularly interesting because it gives a whole new depth and breadth to Kenneth's life to that which was generally known. This includes his work abroad, his interest in language and his many, many books. This is all reflected in his more recent work in co-ordinating European museums.

Kate has also drawn attention to an article from the Daily Telegraph (8th Feb. 2000 p.20).

This is by the Prince of Wales, no less, and is part of an introduction to a new book on Industrial Buildings (Spon £45). In it, attention is drawn to the wealth of industrial buildings of a very high standard which are often demolished and replaced with something new and less worthy. Planners he says "regard a 'brownfield site' as a cleared and vacant site". We should, he says, regard "heritage industrial buildings as a sustainable resource".

The Prince says that he has created a new (but unnamed) body for architecture and the urban environment which will operate from a "warehouse in East London". He wants it to be a "crucible for a more holistic and humane approach to the way we plan and build in the 21st century".

All good stuff .... if anyone can afford the book perhaps they would tell us what else it says..

Oh ... yes ..... and tell English Partnerships too!

Michael Rose has drawn our attention to the astonishing offer from the Woolwich Equitable Building Society which originally appeared in Greenwich Time. This is for FREE copies of a history of the Society.

The book is a proper hard-backed book, lavishly produced and packed with pictures of Greenwich, Woolwich and Bexley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - and after all the Woolwich itself must count as a local industry.

Anyone who wants to see if copies are still available should contact;

The Woolwich, Watling Street, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7HB or ring 020 8298 5599.

Reg Barter has written to say that he and his associates have now formed the Swiftstone Trust.

Swiftstone is a Tug built by Richard Dunston at Thorne in 1952/3. She is 80 feet long, 19 feet 6 ins wide and 9 feet 6 ins deep. She is made of welded and riveted steel and has a Lister Blackstone ERS8 600 bhp@750rpm engine. The Trust will promote the benefit to the environment by increasing the use of the Thames and bring about a greater public understanding of the Thames as a working river through history. There is a Web site at

In June Swiftstone will go to Dunkirk as the support vessel for the Little Ships crossing - and it is thought this might be the last time that many of the remaining small boats will be able to make it. On June 17th she will be involved in a Tug Push as part of the annual barge driving race - when watermen row 'under oars' 30 ton barges between the Palaces of Greenwich and Westminster . Swiftstone will accompany the race to Westminster, but beforehand will have battled with Touchstone head-to-head in a reverse tug of war.

Howard Bloch has drawn our attention to an item in Museum's Journal, Docklands Museum in Trouble. This says that redundancy notices were issued to four of the six staff last December. The Museum was due to open early this year at West India Quay - just over the river from Greenwich - and has Heritage Lottery Funding.

At a recent Docklands History Group meeting Bob Aspinall, the archivist, explained that the collection was set up by the Museum of London in the early 1980s and that in 1996 a separate body of Trustees was set up to develop the Museum. Unfortunately, the project had drifted beyond the opening date of January 2000 and the Museum will not open before the summer of 2001 - hence the crisis.

While it is understood that the Trustees are trying to bridge the funding gap, this is not good news.


In our last issue we drew attention to the Woolwich Kiln with reference to a note about Richard Buchanan who had been involved in the founding of the London Kiln Study Group which was triggered by the discovery of the Woolwich kiln. This had been found at Woolwich Ferry Approach and was "the earliest stoneware one in England". We asked if anyone could tell us where it was now. Happily, Greenwich Borough Museum knows all about it. Curator, Beverley Burford has written to say;

"The Woolwich kiln is stored at the Royal Arsenal Site. It is encased and measures in length 18ft, width 14ft, and height 10 ft, weighing in at over 20 tons! The kiln was moved (necessitating a low loader and a police escort) to its present location from the Tunnel Avenue depot in 1990."

Papers are invited for the 5th International Conference on The Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal to be held at Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, England 7th-10th September 2000. They want papers on anything pertinent but particularly on : -




Send an outline by 31st March 2000. For further information, please contact;

Craig Spence, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. Phone: 020 7919 7035 or 7490 (office) Fax: 020 7919 7398 Email:

Sue Bullevant writes - with reference to the Plumstead White Hart site there is a depiction of the refuse destructor in the high altar reredos of St.Nicholas Parish Church in Plumstead. This shows the scene of the crucifixion set on Winn's Common, Plumstead, with a background which also includes the Thames, the Church and Vicarage, Plumstead Baths and Barking Power Station. It was designed by Stephen Dykes Bower and painted by Donald Towner. The Saints on either side are two artists and the vicar.



Thanks to Sally Maschiter we have been shown an extract from a PLA report (No. RNB15/UK/1098/1) on Greenwich Pier, compiled by R.N.Bray. The document pieces together a history of the Pier.

The original Act of Parliament for the Greenwich Pier Company was passed in 1836. This was for a pier 175 feet long sited upon the present upstream portion of the pier. Later that year the Act was amended to allow the company to extend down-stream over land owned by Greenwich Hospital and the Ship Tavern.

In 1843 dredging in front of the pier was reported to lead to a sudden collapse on 16th May - the foundations were distorted and the toe of the riverside face of the pier had moved outwards. This was illustrated in the Pictorial Times. The pier appears to have been reconstructed but no documentation on this has been found.

In 1954 part of the up stream end of the pier was dismantled to allow the Cutty Sark into its dock. A drawing of the pier's construction was made by those involved in this work. This shows that York stone landings were laid on a mat of 15" x 4" timbers. The timber was supported on two rows of 16" x 3" timbers tied at the top with timber whaling while the outer edges of the landings rest on cast iron piles, tied back by 2" tie rods to an undermined point in the fill. The brick wall is stepped backwards from the top width of 14" to the bottom width of 48". Timber piers (or counterforts) have a concrete backing to the wall between them. There was a 7" high chamber behind the top of the wall on the upstream corner which had no apparent use. A large (6" x 3") oval sewer ran along the south bank of the river and curved to run through the pier and discharged from the up-stream end of the front face. This sewer also had a bricked branch going downstream through the pier. This may, or may not, be an accurate description of the original foundation or it may be an improved design used after the problems in 1843.

Both the re-constructed up-stream and original downstream ends of the pier seem to be tied back with tie rods. Up-stream are 2" diameter rods installed in 1955, the downstream rods are smaller and were shown by the two inspection pits.

The report notes been four hydrographic surveys - 1924, 1930, 1974 and 1997 - relating to the variation of the levels of the foreshore. Generally it seems that currently the foreshore level is higher than it was in the past - important information because the level of the foreshore affects the stability of the pier wall.

So - the report concludes: - the upstream corner and end wall of the pier date from 1955 - the main pier frontage dates from after 1843 - the downstream corner and side wall probably date from 1836 - the level of the river bed in front of the pier has not changed significantly in 75 years, meaning that scour is not a problem.

Visit to White Hart Depot

In February a party from the Society and from GLIAS visited Greenwich Council's White Hart Road depot. The Council have recently vacated this site which was originally occupied by municipal industries set up in the 1890s by what was then Woolwich Metropolitan Borough. It contains an important and dramatic complex of buildings which housed the original, and very early, Woolwich Power Station which generated electricity from local rubbish. A report on this visit will appear in a future issue.

In the meantime we have written to ask the Council the following questions:-

Greenwich and Woolwich have lots of important buildings. If this one was anywhere else, it would be something we all raved about - but here it is overlooked. We ought to take some notice of it. Thanks to Mo and Ian for showing us round.

PS. Ian told us about a ghost there too .........


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)


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 March, Film The General, Age Exchange, Bakehouse Theatre, Blackheath, 2pm. (Best film ever made! Lots of old locos)

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 (020 8331 7688)

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

14th March, Crossness Engines and Museum of Sanitation - Guided visits only, which must be booked in advance. 020 8311 3711

14th-16th March, On the River - a play by Age Exchange. Deptford Albany Box Office 020 8692 4446

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)

22nd March, Julian Bowsher and Phil Woollard on Clay Tobacco Pipes of Greenwich, Greenwich Historical Society, Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanburgh Park, SE3, 7.15pm.

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. 020 8312 6717

26th March Crossness Engines & Museum of Sanitation, see above.

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

1st April, South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference. Heriot Road, Chertsey Surrey - sites in Surrey - Reigate Stone - Animal Engines - industry and landscape - piers. Info from Alan Thomas, Birches Close, Epsom, KT18 5JG, 0372 720040

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

26th April, Joanna Smith on the Western Part of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Historical Society, Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanbrugh Park, SE3, 7.15pm.

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. 020 8312 6717

14th May, Woodlands Farm Spring Open Day

19th -20th May, Play Our Century and Us - ten performers look back over their lives. Booking/info Suzanne, Age Exchange, 020 8318 9105

20th May, Married to the Sea, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 020 8312 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.

June (no date given), Last Little Ships Crossing to Dunkirk.

2nd/ 3rd June, The Story of Time, Open Museum at NMM, 10.30-16.15. £45.00. 020 8312 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.

12th-16th June, From Rome to Dome - Birkbeck College - to be held at Mary Ward Centre, London WC1.
A week of illustrated lectures, walks and guided tours. Details Carol Watts, Faculty of Continuing Education, 26 Russell Square, WC1B 5QD, 020 7631 6652

16/17th June, Falmouth Working Boat, Open Museum at NMM 10.30-16.15 £90.00. 020 8312 6717

17th June, Work of the British Antarctic Survey, Open Museum at NMM 10.30-16.15. £26.00. 020 8312 6717

17th June, Annual Barge Driving race - Greenwich to Westminster plus Tug Push at Greenwich.

18th June, SunDay - promoted by the UK Section of the International Solar Energy Society. Some local celebrations which will demonstrate various solar powered devices. No details.

23rd-24th June, Play Our Century and Us - ten performers look back over their lives. Booking Suzanne 020 8318 9105

23/24th June, Drawing on the River, Open Museum at NMM 10.30am-4.15pm. £45.00. 020 8312 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

12th August, Sponsored barge driving race from Greenwich to Erith. Members of the public will be able to row a barge themselves.

13th August, - as above but from Erith to Gravesend.

19/20th August, Gravesend Regatta (Swiftstone will be there)

30th August -7th September, TICCIH 2000. International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage.
Details and registration from 42 Devonshire Road, Cambridge CB1 2BL. This is an international conference, based at the Science Museum, including tours of Cornwall, Scotland and Wales and trip to Greenwich on 1st September (no details known about this)

6th Sept, DHG visit to Docklands Library and Archive

10th September, Woodlands Farm Summer Open Day

24th September, Woodlands Farm Trust AGM

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

4th October, 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



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

Industrial Archaeology. University of London extra-mural class by Bob Carr, Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Monday pm. Details: 020 7631 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, 020 8858 2211

IA of East London. Tutor Bob Carr, Birkbeck College University Extra Mural Course, North Woolwich Old Station Museum from April. Wednesdays, 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 020 8770 6901.



On the River - Age Exchange, 11 Blackheath Village, SE3. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Free. Memories of the Thames & Docks. Until November 2000.

PAINTING THE RIVER THAMES - Oils & watercolours of Greenwich by Terry Scales at Age Exchange, 11 Blackheath Village. 6th - 19th March. Please ring 020 8318 9105.


Officers and Committee:

Chair - Jack Vaughan

Secretary - Mary Mills

Vice-Chair - Hugh Lyon

Treasurer - Steve Daly

Committee Member - Alan Parfrey

Auditor - Juliet Cairns

Subscription renewals fell due in 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


Meetings will now be held at The Old Bakehouse, (at back of the)
Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre, 11 Blackheath Village, London, SE23 9LA

Do not go to the Reminiscence Centre itself - the Old Bakehouse is at the back in Bennett Park.
Walk into Bennett Park and turn left into a yard.
The Old Bakehouse is the building on your right. The entrance is straight ahead.
By the way - there is an urn and cups - have we a volunteer who could make tea/coffee for members?


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.



A number of 'serials' have once again had to be held over in this issue for lack of space. They will continue to be featured in forthcoming issues. Please keep sending the stuff in - it will all appear eventually! Information on the riverside project has also been held over - but for further information please ring Mary.


The Web version has been created by;

.... David Riddle, Goldsmiths College

Space courtesy of Goldsmiths College, University of London