Volume 3, Issue 4, June 2000







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

19th September - Rodney Dobson - Part II of Early Labour Disputes on the Thames

17th October - Alan Pearsall on Thames Colliers

21st November - Jack Vaughan - Part II of Woolwich Arsenal

20th February - Bob Aspinall, Museum of Docklands on Docklands Past and Present

All meetings will take place at the Old Bakehouse in Blackheath Village at 7.30 pm.

Thanks to recent speakers Clive Chambers (on Wood Wharf) and Jonathan Clarke (on Mumford's Mill). It is hoped that both talks can be reported in detail in a later edition.

Millennium Heritage Trails

A number of metal plates have appeared in pavements around the Borough recently.

They reflect a series of Heritage Trails which, needless to say, cover all the important historic bits of Greenwich that don't have anything to do with industry (except - as usual - Royal Arsenal - North Woolwich Old Station Museum - the Ferry - Co-op HQ - Cutty Sark). More importantly, perhaps, they fail to give visitors the sense that there is more to the area than this and fails to put the contribution made by Greenwich and Woolwich into a context of national (and international) scientific and industrial innovation and progress. (Sorry - they look very nice though, and visitors should love them).


Please note revised birth date, May 2002.

Although the life of the boxer, Tom Cribb, is hardly industrial history we have had so many requests for information about him through the Internet - several from Australia and New Zealand - that we are publishing these notes by Sue Bullevant:

The house where he died at 111 Woolwich High Street is still here, now a sandwich shop and his son lived there after him. The Public House which he owned, (and sometimes fought in) in Oxenden Street, near Panton Street Leicester Square, London, was called The Union. It is now called The Tom Cribb and has some of his old fight bills, etc. there.

Several people locally have heard the story of Queen Victoria's message to Tom Cribb asking him never to fight again. There is also a Tom Cribb Road in Woolwich.

His tomb is still in Woolwich Churchyard although the railings went in 1940 when scrap iron was collected for the war effort. Otherwise the statue is in good order. The words on the urn are: 'Sacred to the memory of Thomas Cribb. Born July 2nd 1781, died May 11th 1848. At the base 'Respect the ashes of the dead' The words were recut by the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society in the 1980s as they were becoming indistinct. It is also known that he was christened on July 8th 1781.

Extract from Records of the Woolwich District, p.158:

......... Tom Cribb - it was under Mr. Greenlaw's tolerant rule that the lion monument was erected to Tom Cribb, the pugilist, who died in 1848. He was proprietor of a baker's shop in the High Street, much respected by his neighbours for his peaceful character and has left us his posterity to keep up his good name.

{Mr. Greenlaw was the Vicar of St.Mary's Church in 1851}

Fistina's record of Tom Cribb's 'war services' is as follows:

Born at Hanham, Gloucestershire, July 8th 1781.
Weight 14 stone, 3 lbs. (champion and presented with a belt).
Died in High Street, Woolwich, May 11th 1848.
Monument erected to his memory in Woolwich Churchyard, May 1st 1851.
George Cribb Tom's brother, fought and was beaten with unvarying monotony five times.

Beat Maddox near Highgate Jan 7th 1805
Beat Tom Blake at Blackheath, February 13th 1805
Beat Ikey Pig at Blackheath May 21 1805
Beaten by George Nicholls
Beat Richmond at Hailsham, October 8th 1807
Beat Jem Belcher £200 a side at Moulsey, April 8th 1807
Beat Horton October 25th 1808
Beat Jem Belcher, £200 at Epsom February 1st 1809
Beat Molyneux (a black man) £200 a side and £100 Copthall Common December 10th 1810
Beat Molyneux £2,600 a side at Leicester, September 28th 1811 (presented with a cup value 80 gns) Beat Carter (room turn up) Oxenden Street, February 1st 1820.

A lot of more detailed local information about Tom Cribb can be found at;

Those who patronise Woolwich cafes might think the web address 'readysnacks' has a familiar ring. Also on site is their recipe for bubble, photographs of customers and a really smashing article, plus pictures, about Woolwich Power Station, the ferry and the legendary autostacker. The day will come when we can order their sausage sandwiches electronically!

Another site about the ferry, with lots of local pictures, can be found at - run by a John King, who is nothing to do with Lewisham Local History Society.



The new Swiftstone Trust says... 'We are an environmental and educational charity concerned with the improvement of the environment in London. We preserve and run the vintage Thames Tug, The Swiftstone, donated to us by Cory Environmental, who have operated her commercially since 1953. So what has an old tug got to do with improving the environment?

The Thames has a long history of working for London. For centuries it was the only way to bring goods into or out of the capital. Thousands of tons of coal, sugar, ballast, all manner of foodstuffs, exotic or ordinary, anything and everything that London needed came up the Thames in barges.. pulled by tugs (oh, and the stuff we didn't want -thousands of tons of rubbish - went out by the same route).

Sadly this happens less and less. Wharves are being lost to housing development, more and more transport is being diverted to the roads as companies and local authorities switch their contracts from river to road. But what can we do about it? Ask your local Councillor if your rubbish is transported the clean, or the dirty way. Join the Friends of the Swiftstone Trust and support our activities. Contact us to find out more'.

or email:

or phone:

Reg 020 8310 5167 or Lorna on 020 7474 2640


In their March Newsletter, Woolwich Antiquarians reported on a talk given to them by Mr Paul Shaw on The Royal Artillery Library.

Mr Shaw is the first archivist at the library, which is situated in the Old Royal Military Academy. There are also libraries in the Officers Mess of the Royal Artillery barracks, the Rotunda, various regimental collections, and elsewhere. None of them is open to the public.

There have been 'gunners' since the 13th century, but it was not until about 1722 that four companies of the Royal Regiment of Artillery were formed by Royal Warrant. 'Artillery' includes guns, engines, machines of war and, latterly, guided missiles. Their motto is 'Ubique' - 'Everywhere'. The official repository of their records is at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst - originally set up in Woolwich on what is now known as the Arsenal site. The collection includes students' notebooks from 1826 to 1856 - the curriculum included mathematics, water colour drawing, French, German or Hindustani.

The collecting of material on the history of the Royal Artillery has been rather haphazard. An Historical Committee was set up in 1923 to co-ordinate the various collections but it lapsed, was resumed in 1966 and lapsed again. The opportunity has now arisen to open an Artillery Museum in the place where the Royal Regiment of Artillery was born and where its guns were designed, developed and produced. It is hoped to house the collection of documents, drawings, photographs, uniforms, medals - and the guns themselves - where the public can see them, together with a proper library with research facilities.

On the afternoon of Friday, 1st September a large party of foreign industrial historians will be arriving in Greenwich - we don't know how many yet or exactly what time - for the Millennium Conference of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage. They will be given the choice of going to the Maritime Museum, the Observatory or going for a guided walk from Cutty Sark to Enderby's Wharf. If they all come on the walk we will be in a lot of trouble! Volunteer helpers please ring Mary urgently on 020 8858 9482. A script will be provided.

Bletchley Park

Following comments in the last Newsletter I have been given a leaflet on Station X, home of the world's first programmable electronic computer.

'Visit Britain's best kept secret' it says.

The museum is at Bletchley Park, The Mansion, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK3 6EB. Ring 01908 640404 or visit
Open 10.30-5.00, alternate weekends.

It includes a cryptology trail and a tour of the site. Sadly the Enigma machine was recently stolen. A recent American film claims that they were responsible for the previous theft of it - from a German U-boat in the war - so some indignation can be expected about that!


In early June the TV was full of the last return of the 'little ships' to Dunkirk. A few days earlier a number of Greenwich people had stood on the London Fire Brigade pier in Lambeth to see Massey Shaw set off down river to join the rest of the fleet at Dover. The Fire Brigade gave her a good send off with officials, dignitaries - and the pumps - all there to see her go. Those of us who never saw her on the TV coverage were told by Reg Barter ' it was her the TV crew were on'.

The following notes on Massey Shaw are taken from an information sheet compiled by John Furlonger.

More information and pictures can be found at

The historic fireboat MASSEY SHAW is named after Sir Eyre Massey Shaw (1830-1908), first Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade. She was ordered by the London County Council for the London Fire Brigade for £17,000 from J Samuel White of Cowes, Isle of Wight, and commissioned in July 1935. Her first major "shout' was in September when she attended a huge fire at Colonial Wharf, Wapping. At the outbreak of war she was stationed at Blackfriars Pier as flagship of the fleet.

In May 1940 the Admiralty asked for a fireboat to be sent to Dunkirk and a crew of 16 LFB River Service volunteers were selected. With a compass bought from a local ships chandlers and brasswork painted grey Massey Shaw proceeded to Ramsgate. On 31st May, navigated by a Royal Navy Sub-Lieutenant, she left for Dunkirk - not to fight fires, as first thought, but to pick up soldiers from Braye Dunes. Although there was no time to swing and correct the new compass against the massive deviation caused by the steel hull, the young Sub-Lieut. navigated minefields and treacherous sandbanks following the smoke rising from Dunkirk.

Massey Shaw ferried over 600 soldiers from the beaches to larger vessels which lay offshore. She made three round trips to return 106 soldiers directly to England. During one of these trips she rescued 40 survivors of the French auxiliary vessel 'Emil de Champ' which had struck a mine and sunk off North Foreland.

Massey Shaw arrived back in London on 5th June 1940. The Thames on Fire describes how 'she was cheered all the way up the river by firemen from the various fire stations and the Brigade's commanding officer collected the wives and mothers of the crew for a reception at the Lambeth Head Quarters'. She was the only civilian vessel to be 'Mentioned in Dispatches' and several of her crew were honoured including the coxswain, Sub. Officer A.J. May, who was awarded the Navy's Distinguished Service Medal.

On resuming her normal duties she was the first fire appliance to be fitted with wireless. She played a major role during the Blitz pumping water ashore for the land appliances when mains had been destroyed by bombing. In 1947 a secret meeting was held on board her in the Thames Estuary between Herbert Morrison, MP, Chairman of the LCC, and Aneurin Bevin, MP - this would eventually result in the formation of the National Health Service.

Massey Shaw retired in 1971. Her last major 'shouts' were to a huge fire at Tate & Lyle Silvertown and to the steamship 'Jumna' ablaze in the Royal Albert Dock. She was then moored to a pier at Woolwich and abandoned. Later she was towed to St. Katharine's Dock as a convenient walkway during dock rebuilding. The GLC, her owners, proposed to put her on a stick in an ornamental lake in Thamesmead.

In 1980 Philip Wray, an ex-LFB member, was so appalled that he formed a Charitable Preservation Society. He leased her from the GLC and set about long-term working preservation. So, 65 years after her launch, her two massive 8 cylinder Gleniffer diesel engines coupled to pumping machinery made by Merryweather's of Greenwich, are both still in working order.

She was present at the opening of the Thames Flood Barrier, escorted The Queen on VJ Day and HMY Britannia on her final visit to the Pool of London. The last surviving member of the crew of wartime Dunkirk volunteers R.W.J 'Dick' Helyer BEM is President of The Massey Shaw & Marine Vessels Preservation Society Ltd. - a charity that is entirely dependant upon the support of its members, sponsors and public donations in ensuring the long term preservation of this unique and historic vessel.


LOA - 78ft

Beam 13ft 6 ins

Draft 3ft 9 ins

Air Draft 15ft

Gross Tonnage 50.54 tons

Engines - Twin 8 cyl Glenniffer DC8 165 bhp (each) Diesel

Speed 12 knots.

Pumps Twin Merryweather 4 stage, 8 in

Centrifugals 1,500 gpm each

Monitor 1 x 3 inch

Enderuance 30 hours

Deliveries 8 Surelock Couplings

Salvage Heads - 2 twin 5 in

Foam - 40 x5 gal. Pails 1 x Pyrene mechanical foam generator and knapsack tank.

Auxiliary Power - Russell Newbury D2 2 cyl. Diesel driving 110v generator 12v dynamo - 2 cyl. Compressor for radial main engine air starters.

Bunkers - 500 gallons diesel.

On a pouring wet day GIHS & GLIAS members visited Massey Shaw at Wood Wharf. A GLIAS member who went was Peter Skilton - here is some of his report from the GLIAS Newsletter:

'In spite of a drizzly cold morning we had an excellent visit to the Massey Shaw fireboat .... members of the preservation society welcomed us aboard, fortified us with hot drinks and biscuits and told us the fascinating history of this boat and her valiant crew. Space on board was at a premium (as on most vessels) and as we sat huddled together listening to the story of this craft's part in the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk, we could only wonder at the cramped conditions those poor wet souls endured as they were brought hack to the relative safety of England.

Such stories brought the vessel's past to life for me. There are sites and projects that I have visited and upon leaving have thought: 'That is worthwhile'... when I stepped ashore from the Massey Shaw, I felt she was a very special project and deserved as much assistance as possible. I can promote this good cause at every opportunity and recommend GLIAS members visit the Massey Shaw when visits are available '

Peter Skilton


Mary Mills - in association with Peter Kent &endash; has brought out a booklet describing a Walk from Wood Wharf to the Dome. Contact, for details, 020 8858 9482. Copies available at the moment have some problems with picture reproduction and with the end of the walk (still not entirely clear). Therefore copies are for sale from 24 Humber Road, SE3 7LT at £1.50 each or £1 if you call round or see Mary or Alan somewhere. A better edition will be produced more expensively once things are clearer!

A History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards is being advertised. It is edited by Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day and published by Mansell, Orca Book Services, Stanley House, 3 Fleets Lane, Poole, Dorset, BH15 3AJ at £49.95. Anyone who has a copy of this and who would be prepared to write us a revie - please do so and just send it in! Thanks.

It includes: Roger Knight, (NMM), Strikes and Disruption in the Royal Dockyards 1688-1788... and articles by Roger Morris (UCL & Univ. Exeter), Philip MacDougall, Neil Casey (Univ. Plymouth), Mavis Waters (Ontario Univ.), Peter Galliver (Ampleforth Coll.), Kenneth Lunn, Ann Day and Alex Law (Univ. Abertay).

Millennium Dome books

The New Millennium Experience Company commissioned a number of books and there are several others. Anyone who has read one... please send a review in.

The following, by D. I. Dawson, appeared in the GLIAS newsletter.

The Millennium Dome by Elizabeth Wilhide and Simon Jenkins.

'As a structure the Dome is amazing. Whatever your views on the political and monetary aspects the engineering and tight time schedule to bring it into being is almost unbelievable. With government indecision on site and budget eating away at the millennium deadline final design ideas for the structure could not be finalised. Once those decisions were taken it became a race against time to complete the structure. The book covers this race with chapter titles such as 'The birth of the Dome's' 'Running the project' 'Siteworks' and many more. As well as text, some 210 excellent photographs of the work in progress are included. Every part of the construction is followed photographically - 8,000 piles were driven in 13 weeks, all masts were erected in two weeks. The very special relationship that developed between the various contractors was evidently unique. The cover price may seem high but the quality of the book is worth it. It is possible to get a copy at much less than the asking price. 191 page hardback, published by Harper Collins, £19.99.

The book is full price still at the bookshop in the Dome - but is remaindered for £4.90 everywhere else!

Sir Joseph Bazalgette

The Great Stink of London by Stephen Halliday, (Sutton Publishing 1999).

I recently came across this most interesting book which might be worth mentioning in the Newsletter. It tells the story of why, and how, London's 19th century sewage system (including the Crossness and Deptford Pumping Stations) was built, focussing on Bazalgette's role. Both Greenwich and Lewisham Libraries have copies.

Alan Dove

Devotees of The Weasel on the back page of the Saturday Independent Newspaper will know that he has often shown an interest in Greenwich and its more 'out of the way' attractions. On 6th May the Weasel took himself to the Shipwrights Palace in Deptford and had a look round;

'Probably the last great Thameside House'.. was described by our furry friend as 'distinctly unpalatial'. However, William Richards, one of the owners who is attempting to renovate this important and semi-derelict building with no funding, seems to have done his best to talk up industrial Deptford to the newspaper. He mentioned 'the first double dry-dock in the world' .. 'Henry VIII's great storehouse' .. and the clocktower ' now in Thamesmead Shopping Centre, and we want it back'.

Visit to Crossness Sludge incinerator

The current edition of the Newcomen Society Bulletin includes three pages on the visit to the incinerator - which we have already reported on twice, so no more details. The article adds however that the sludge ship Thames was sold to a West African republic last year and that Hounslow and Bexley still await disposal. Is this still true? Are they still there? Would anyone like to report on this important piece of our past - while they are still afloat?

One of the most important parts of Greenwich's industrial history was that part of Woolwich across the water. No one has interpreted North Woolwich better than Howard Bloch and his new book on Germans in London paints a vivid picture of industry in that area. Most of the book concerns the treatment of German nationals - or those thought to be such - at the hands of local English people. And a very shocking record it is too.

Alongside the smashed bakeries, and the 'jute factory converted to internment camp' is the story of immigrant workers in an industrial heartland - and this includes many details about the works themselves, glass, sugar, chemicals, shipbuilding and everything else.

This is probably a very important book - and a good read - and Howard should be congratulated on it.

Germans in London, compiled by Howard Bloch and Graham Hill. ISBN 0-9538370-0-9. £12.50 + 90p p&p from All Points East, c/o 69 Frinton Road, London, E6 3HE 020 8472 6530

Blackheath 'Guide'

May 2000

Peter Kent's 'Riverwatch' article started off by saying that 'London may no longer be a world port.. but there's still life on the River'... he mentions.. the Global Mariner, 12,778 cargo vessel with an exhibition condemning flags of convenience, ... the Massey Shaw, off to Dunkirk, the Swiftstone, and the new Dixie Queen owned by Livetts which, says Peter, has come from Stockholm and has the same manoeuvrability as the Woolwich Ferry.

June 2000 This issue includes a wonderful double-page spread drawing of the river by Peter Kent. Peter has based it on the String of Pearls Millennium Festival which brings (or strings) together a whole host of events along the river, including some in Greenwich. Most of these are in June, so are too late for our 'Events' column - but others are covered elsewhere.

Industrial Heritage

This journal has just been relaunched by Phil Hudson who runs Hudson History at;

Proctor House, Kirkgate, Settle. (01729 825773)


In this edition Phil reproduced our article on Robinson's Flour Mills. Deptford Bridge - and was brave enough to reproduce the picture which went with it, which was more than I was!

Bygone Kent

The latest issue (Vol.21 No.5) includes Mary Mills' article on What happened to the Fountain. Strictly speaking this is neither Greenwich, nor industrial history, since it is about the, now missing, drinking fountain in Telegraph Hill Park. The article asserts that the fountain, which commemorated George Livesey, was a monument to strike breaking!

GLIAS Newsletter No. 188

Some items from this are reproduced elsewhere. One smaller item concerns The Great Wheel at Earls Court - Michael Bussell and Paul Calvocoressi have pointed out that this is described in Vol. CLII of the Survey of London (South Ken. Athlone Press. 1986). The wheel was made in Greenwich by Maudslay, Son and Field under the direction of Walter B. Basset as part of the Exhibition of 1894/5. It was near what is now West Kensington Station, was 300 feet in diameter, weighed 500 tons, had 8 inclined columns which supported the axle, adding another 600 tons. It was powered by 2 x 50hp steam engines taking 20 minutes for each revolution,. There were 40 cars with 40 passengers. It was demolished in 1906/7 having carried over 2,500,000 passengers.

A new 'heritage experience' has opened at the Tourist Information Centre at Cutty Sark Gardens. We would be delighted to receive a report on this from any visitor who has been inside.


Kay Murch has sent a copy of British Gas Pensioners' News which covers the 'New Home' for the War Memorial on the Greenwich Peninsula to employees of the South Metropolitan Gas Comany based at East Greenwich Gas Works, Phoenix Wharf and Ordnance Wharf, who died in the War. It also records that the Memorial is recorded on the Imperial War Museum Database.

P.S. Congratulations on the MBE, Kay.

Silvertown explosion

The current issue of GasLight (newsletter of the North West Gas H.S.) includes a number of cuttings about the 1917 explosion contributed by Bob Darkin of Orpington. Bob also describes his own family's memories.

'My father remembered seeing a glow reflected in a kitchen mirror. He would have been four years old at the time and the family lived in Armitage Road.

His mother was not at home - being the lone parent supporting a family of 4 children she was out working as a cleaner at the gas works when the explosion occurred. She was in one of the offices when the gasholder went up,. She rushed to the door to escape but was trapped; something had fallen across the other side. Luckily her cries for help were heard by someone who managed to release the door allowing her to get out.'


From Angela (

I have a copy of the following local history book and wondered if you could advise me how I can find out if it is of value, please:

Thankfull Sturdee - Reminiscences of Old Deptford. Reproduced from old prints. H. Richardson. 1895.

Many Thanks.

From John and Jan Drabwell (in sunny Queensland, Australia.)

I have discovered my great, great, grandparents (John STEVENS, his wife Jane, nee. KNOTT) lived in Frances Street in 1881 and 1891. On one of the censuses John worked at The Royal Arsenal. One of his older sons (Henry) also worked there. I have a picture book, which came to me through my mother's line, of the Arsenal.... lovely photos of people working in all areas. They brought the book back when they went for a trip there in 1914. I am interested in finding any LIVING relatives also. My problem with joining the Society is that I live in Australia... so I will join when we're in England at the end of October. Thank you for a very interesting Newsletter.

From Phil Hudson, Procter House, Kirkgate, Settle, N.Yorks.

Hi All. A quick note to inform you that we have re-launched the journal INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE.
The May issue, Vol.26 No. 1 is now available. Cheers!!!

From Stephen Selby, Crowborough, Sussex

I would like to say how much I have enjoyed reading the GIHS newsletters. Although I do not live in the area I do appreciate the enormous industrial heritage of Greenwich and the surrounding area, and the efforts of your Society in recording and passing on your knowledge. The main reason for writing, however, is to ask if you know if there are any records existing of the people who worked at Woolwich Arsenal, and if they are accessible.

From Julie Tadman

I eventually plugged in "Greenwich Industrial History" on my search engine and got the Goldsmiths pages, which included issue 13. I printed out all 19 pages, and continue to read about all the wonderful meetings and discussions, lectures etc. which the Society holds. Is there any way I can get hold of reports or copies of any lectures, etc. which are of interest?

I picked up a copy of "The Illustrated London News" of September 9, 1854 in Canberra, of all places, for $20. The shop owner had seven at the same price, which I thought was a bit rich. This particular issue has an article about the Victoria London Docks, with an artist's impression of the works. Interested? I would have loved to have purchased all of them, just to get an idea of the times.

From Aroha Cribb

Kia ora, Tom Cribb being a Great Great Grandfather. As a child I was given the story of him being challenged on his deathbed to a boxing match, which he did. He won. Queen Victoria made him promise that the Cribb family would never fight again in the Boxing Ring. The story goes that a Monument has been erected in his Honour with the wording that he "died with a Lions Heart". I am unsure as to the validity of this story, however, am excited at the prospect of further information, as my family of New Zealand have not had confirmation over the years or seen a photo/postcard of such. Your help and any assistance appreciated.

From John Humphery

I wonder, please, if you have any information on Zeeley's Sawmill in Cobden Road, Sevenoaks (at the junction of Prospect Road, originally Bushes Road). The 1905 Salmon's Directory of Sevenoaks lists the sawmill although it later became a builders' yard. For the last few years it has had a number of tenants and is now semi-derelict. Could you please suggest any likely sources of information on this?

From Iris Bryce

Re: Robinson's Flour Mills. I wonder where the Sewing Shop was - no mention in the write-up. When my mother left British Ropes, Charlton, in the early 1940s, she went to work at the mills, sewing and repairing the flour sacks. I have a photo taken of her on her last day at work in May 1953, dressed in the wrap-round overall and mop cap.

From Philip Binns

I thought you might be interested in details of the planning application at Wood Wharf. It shows proposals by Richwood Developments, the current owner, for a potential future use of the site. I have no idea what use Richwood intend to make of the building (perhaps luxury housing over a ground floor and mezzanine of retail) but what is clear is that the present buildings between Wood Wharf and the river would be cleared to make way for a so-called 'board walk' as an extension of the present river path in front of the Meridian Estate leading directly to the Fairview Homes site.

(Since Philip wrote this letter things have moved on very considerably. He has telephoned to say that, following a public meeting attended by many people from the Meridian Estate as well as other locals, historians and conservationists, that this planning application has been withdrawn. He promises to keep this Newsletter up to date with events).



Docklands History Group

At their April meeting, the Docklands History Group heard a talk, by Capt. Christopher St.J. H. Daniel on Sundials. This might not appear to be a particularly industrial subject but, like everything else, sundials had their uses!

'From Saxon times sundials played a fundamentally important role in regulating the daily life of mankind throughout Europe a - 'The art of dialling' was an integral part of every scholars' education.

In May the group heard Captain Chris Burls talk about his work as Hydrographic Officer for the Port of London Authority. He defined this as 'the art of converting to paper sufficient information to allow a vessel to navigate safely. The Thames Estuary is notorious with constantly shifting shoals - someone has to provide charts'.

The service once had three sections - Upper, Docks and Lower and a survey could take six weeks so long as the weather was good. A team as made up of two surveyors and nine crew.

Today, inevitably, there are only 5 surveyors and 6 support staff in total. Their vessel is Chartwell - which can reach the seaward limit from Gravesend in 30 minutes. Side-scan Sonar will survey the river bed to near photographic quality. POLAPLOT and Global Positioning have revolutionised everything and 95 miles of the busiest tidal waterway in the world can be surveyed to digital standards. Today the survey of a Reach which once took six weeks takes one week in any weather. Satellite scanning will cover the whole river bed producing a model to virtual reality resolution. The biggest ships can be guided up river by showing the keel and the river bed on screen.

Domesday Industry

At a recent lecture at the Maritime Museum, Andrew Butcher of the University of Kent pointed out that Greenwich was an important industrial centre in Norman times. He indicated that in the Domesday book there were 4 mills in Greenwich and 11 in Lewisham.

We can assume that most of these were on the Ravensbourne, and that probably the ones listed for Greenwich were in the Deptford Bridge area. What sort of mills were these? How did they work? Did they mill corn for flour - or something else? This is not a subject we should ignore.


Alfred Baluch has sent us a some pictures of himself and his involvement in pensioners' demonstrations and with Jack Jones at the opening of the Working River exhibition at Age Exchange. He attended our meeting on Mumford's Mill and contributed some of his reminiscences of the Mill in work.

He also says 'I collected and delivered sacks (bags) of flour to small bakers shops in and around London in 1940-41 for around eight years. This was bags of flour of 140 lbs in weight, Australian flour at 150 lbs of weight or sacks of wheat at 252 lbs in weight. Sacks were always used when collecting from shop of granary for delivery to the mill'.

General Sir Martin Farndale

We have been sent a copy of the Times obituary of General Sir Martin Farndale who inspired the project to build a Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich. The article describes Sir Martin's distinguished army record up to his retirement in 1988, finally in command of BAOR. He then published a number of works on the History of the Royal Artillery and was appointed as Master Gunner of St. James' Park. He went on to Chair the project to house the regimental collection in a new museum on the Arsenal site. He died on May 10th, 2000.



In our last issue we reported on efforts to get the Locomotive 'Woolwich' returned to its native town.

Jack Vaughan reports further....

'Readers may recall that we set out on an ambitious attempt to bring the locomotive Woolwich home to its rightful place in the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. At that time the Bicton Gardens Railway, which consisted in the main of ex-Arsenal components and rails, had been put up for auction. Of course, several locals were interested....

The following organisations were contacted, some by letter, some by legwork. The following catalogue of indifference demonstrates an old story once again

Greenwich Borough Council - Letter to the Leader. No acknowledgement or reply.

English Partnerships - owners of the site. Refused to have anything to do with the idea.

The Royal Artillery Museum Project, Woolwich Arsenal. No reply. On the grapevine they said they would approve, but they made no offer of any help.

English Heritage. Replied to our letter but the writer said the letter would be passed on to another official, who would reply. It didn't happen.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (a trip to Chelsea). They listened patiently and explained that the fund did not deal with individuals or Societies, and that in this case application for grants would have to come from the site owners, e.g. English Partnerships. In any case I perceived that action would be painfully slow (my interpretation). The system was up for auction and could disappear at any moment.

So this was obviously the wrong track.

But, discouraging as it is - all is not gloom.

The system has been sold to Waltham Abbey Powder Mills. This was one of the five original Royal Ordnance Factories. The others were:- Small Arms Factory, Enfield, Royal Laboratories, Royal Gun Factory, Royal Carriage Deptford. The last three were all within what became the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich in 1805. (ed. note - they all started off in Greenwich, anyway).

At least the Woolwich is a lot nearer to home and perhaps the matter of her future could be resurrected when the dust has settled.

Jack Vaughan

News from Greenwich Conservation Group

- with thanks to Philip Binns

Meeting held 15th May 2000

6/7 Angelsea Avenue, Woolwich - this is to convert to offices and a flat. The Group thinks the site should remain in commercial use, since there is no open space and no parking.

Cambridge Barracks, Frances Street - use of the two wings for a facility for young people. The Group considers this to be an admirable intention and hope the clock can be put into working order and that an effort is made to 'deter graffiti'.


Jack Vaughan writes:

I understand from a Council contact that some items from the Red and Cambridge Barracks, formerly in Frances Street, Woolwich, are in fact not lost. They are:

Red Barracks

The gates are still at White Hart Depot (we saw them!).

The missing panel of railings is, in fact, still in custody, probably at the new Birchmere Depot.

Funding has been applied for for the restoration of the Gate Lodge.

English Heritage is encouraging this since the gate is on the list of endangered species!

Cambridge Barracks

The missing pedestrian gate is currently at the Depot but is damaged and some parts are missing. A Council-approved metalwork contractor has confirmed that it can be repaired. Funding for the work has been applied for.

The Clock on top of the gate - of which the dial and hands remain - has lost its movement and nobody knows where it went.


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 (020 8858 9482)

JUNE, 2000

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.

21st June, GLIAS walk, Victoria to Westminster. Meet Victoria Underground, Wilton Road. 6.30pm. Leader Bill Firth.

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. 0208 312 6717

26th June. Exploring the Royal Docks, Peter Kent, meet 11.00am Poplar Station, Weekly fee £5/£2.50 Goldsmiths Course

27th June. Peckham and Nunhead, John Beasley, Goldsmiths' Course at John Harvard Library, 2.00-4.00pm (see below for details)

28th June. Time and Tides. How the hand of man shaped the Royal Docks. At Univ. East London, Docklands Campus. 5.30pm. Book on 020 8223 4368.

30th June. Researching East London on the Internet. At Univ. East London, Docklands Campus. 5.30pm. Book on 020 8223 4368

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


1st July, GLIAS Walk, Brentford, Western Waterworks, meet Kew Bridge Station, 2.45pm. Leader Stephen Hine.

1st July, Night Visions. Festival of Life Long Learning with Greenwich and Docklands Festival. 6pm illustrated talk on the Royal Docks at night, 7pm East End evening, 9.45 Tower of Light. At Univ. East London, Docklands Campus. Book on 020 8223 4368.

4th July, Long Southwark, Diana Rimel, last of the term's Goldsmiths Course at John Harvard Library, 2.00-4.00pm

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, 6.00pm

5th July, Changing Times. How the world set their time by Greenwich. At Univ. East London, Docklands Campus. 5.30pm. Book on 020 8223 4368

6th July, Regenerating East London. Walk with Howard Bloch to Royal Docks. 6.30-8.00pm, Univ. East London. Free. Book on 020 8223 4368

8th July, Natives and Exotics. Plant introductions and experiments in London. Merion Cynog Evans. Afternoon lecture at Greenwich Borough Museum, 2.30pm, please book on 020 8855 3240.

8th July, Regenerating East London. Walk with Howard Bloch to Royal Docks. 6.30-8.00pm, Univ. East London. Free. Book on 020 8223 4368

10th July, Regenerating East London. Walk with Howard Bloch to Royal Docks. 6.30-8.00pm, Univ. East London. Free. Book on 020 8223 4368

19th July, GLIAS Walk, Clerkenwell, meet Farringdon Station, 6.30pm. Leader Sue Hayton.

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

29th July, Walk: Three Mills to Abbey Mills. Friends of Ironbridge Gorge, meet 2.30pm, Bromley by Bow Station. Info. Chris Grabham on 01582 546759, daytime only.

30th July, Crossness Engines and Museum of Sanitation Open Day. Thames Water, Belvedere Road, Abbey Wood, SE2. 1.30pm, booking essential, 020 8311 3711


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

5th August, GLIAS Walk, East India Docks, meet Blackwall DLR Station, 2.45pm. Leader Chris Grabham.

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.

16th August, GLIAS walk, Whitechapel. Meet Aldgate Underground, 6.30pm. Leader Tim Smith.

19th August, Walk: Battersea to World's End. Friends of Ironbridge Gorge, meet 2.30pm, Battersea Park Station. Info. Chris Grabham on 01582 546759, daytime only.

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; 42 Devonshire Road, Cambridge CB1 2BL. An international conference at the Science Museum, includes trip to Greenwich on 1st September (see above)


September - Shipbuilding on the Thames & Thames-built Ships
Nelson Dock House, Rotherhithe. Stuart Rankin (020 7232 1780).
Includes: Castles' Shipbuilding Firm (Robert & Linda Tate), Millwall Ironworks Site (Edward Sargent), First PO Steam Packets at Rotherhithe (Tony Arnold), Pitchers of Northfleet, Cleverley & Banckham of Gravesend (John Basley), Mills & Knight, Rotherhithe (Bryan Cummings), Recent archaeology (Damian Goodburn), Shipbuilding on the Greenwich Peninsula (Mary Mills), Charles Lungley's Ships (Peter Newall), Brent family shipbuilders (Brent Steit & Roger Barrington), Shipwrights (Stuart Rankin).

2nd September, GLIAS Walk, Southall, meet Southall Station, 2.45pm. Leader Geoff Donald.

6th September, DHG visit to Docklands Library and Archive

10th September, Woodlands Farm Summer Open Day

19/21st September, Engineering in the Millennium, Newcomen Society, Science Museum, SW7 - contact the Society for info.

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


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

Shipwrights and Shopkeepers. Deptford Houses from the Sixteenth Century, Shipwright's Palace, Deptford, June.

Secret Garden, Shipwright's Palace, Deptford, July. Ring 020 8692 5836 or


Officers and Committee are:

Chair - Jack Vaughan

Secretary - Mary Mills

Vice-Chair - Hugh Lyon

Treasurer - Steve Daly

Committee Member - Alan Parfrey

Auditor - Juliet Cairns

Subscription renewals will fall due in October 2000.
Subscriptions are £10 and should be sent to:

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

This newsletter was produced for Greenwich Industrial History Society
Chair, Jack Vaughan, 35 Eaglesfield Road, SE18.

Views expressed in it are those of the authors and not of the Society.

Contributions (within reason) are always welcome, send to Mary Mills (address below).




The Web version has been created by;

.... David Riddle, Goldsmiths College

Space courtesy of Goldsmiths College, University of London