Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2001





16th January - Annual General Meeting.
Special Guest Speaker - Julian Watson, Greenwich Local History Librarian - Place Names - how we can interpret industrial history from them

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

27th March - Peter Guillery - Greenwich Power Station

17th April - Mike Neill - The Woolwich Kiln

22nd May - Dave Ramsey - White Hart Road depot and Frank Sumner.

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


This is the claim made on a Web site The author says that this was built at the Merryweather works in Greenwich High Road by Edward Butler..... Tell us more someone!?


by Peter Trigg

J. Stone & Co. - The Charlton branch of this firm is mainly known for making large propellers and, in more recent times, for thurst units as well. Such famous ships as the Queen Mary were fitted with Stone's propellers and transport of these from the works was always a great source of interest.

Electrical Engineering

The earliest practical application of electricity was the telegraph and about the middle of the nineteenth century many firms set up business to make telegraphic cables and instruments. Submarine cables, in particular, were in great demand and Greenwich/Charlton. Having ready access to the Thames, were ideal areas for their manufacture. As electrical engineering developed later in the century most of the early firms widened their scope to cover virtually all electrical equipment.

Elliott Brothers (Lewisham) - Originally scientific instrument makers, they moved to Lewisham late in the nineteenth century. Electrical instruments became their speciality soon after the move and, in more recent times, electronic control systems.

Glass Elliot & Co. (East Greenwich) - This company in conjunction with the Gutta Percha Company made part of the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1857 and many others over the next decade or so on including the second transatlantic cable laid by the Great Eastern in 1865.

W.T.Henley (Greenwich) - This was another firm initially prominent in telegraphic work but mostly known in later times for power cable production.


The great gasholder at East Greenwich is not generally seen as an attractive object. Things are not the same abroad:

Milan - an almost exact copy of the East Greenwich gas holder is being turned into a Museum and exhibition centre. See - and a number of other Web addresses for the site.

Oberlin, North America, a small gas holder is an estate feature:

Oberhausen in the Ruhr the enormous gasholder (of a different design) is now an entertainment and exhibition complex. (many other Web sites on this subject)

Brisbane, Australia, a holder is a feature in a new park.

Vienna, Austria, cultural events have already been held in the gas holder while it, and three others, are being renovated. (many other web sites on this, including a web-cam on the renovation work).

Gelsenkirchen, Germany, a spherical holder is now a used as a feature in a 'greening' process throughout the city.

Amsterdam ... try

other similar projects in Florence and in Portugal.

Hopefully all these web address are correct - and please note that many of them are in English!

John Bowles has passed us copy of the SAVE Britain's Heritage newsletter from February last year. This includes a special item on gas holders with particular reference to proposed demolition of those at St. Pancras. They go on 'perhaps a more interesting approach might be the one adopted at some sites in the German Ruhr.... Kings Cross is not the only site under threat. Britain was once a world leader in the gas industry and the race is on to survey surviving sites and assess which ought to be preserved before they are all gone. You can help by letting SAVE know of any particularly attractive or historic gas holders near you that you believe deserve consideration for listing'.

SAVE Britain's Heritage, 70 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6EJ



The Maze Hill Pottery is in the Old Ticket Office of Maze Hill Station in Woodlands Park Road, SE10 and is very much in business. Lisa Hammond, the potter, developed a soda glaze technique while at Goldsmiths and has worked on the process ever since. She draws attention to the similarity of this process to that undertaken at the Woolwich kiln - now under restoration (see our previous issue). Lisa not only makes and sells pots at Maze Hill, she also runs classes in the subject. Write to her for details. Another Greenwich pottery can be found very close by in Chevening Road - where Sarah Perry makes stoneware.


A group of Royal Arsenal enthusiasts have now set up their own website - this is at It includes a lot (rather small) pictures of the Arsenal in the past as well as today. It includes details of developments and of the archaeological dig, which has been going on recently. There are links through to many relevant local and national organisations including the new Firepower project, and to the Royal Arsenal Woolwich Historical Society. This is a really important initiative which should soon put the Arsenal and its past firmly into a world-wide web presence.


GIHS member Darrell Spurgeon has re-issued 'Discover Eltham' in his 'Greenwich Guide Books' series. While Eltham may not seem to be the best source of IA in Greater London, Darrell has nevertheless done his very best. By including Shooters Hill and Mottingham in the area covered he has found some interesting water industry and farming remains. Sadly the only remaining factory in the area - Stanley's in New Eltham - has now closed although the buildings remain for the present. All in all Darrell has found some surprising things in an unpromising area, £5.99 from Greenwich Guide Books, 72 Kidbrooke Grove, Blackheath, SE3


Locally based river-interest organisation, The London Rivers Association, hopes to launch an annual award together with URBED. This would be to encourage good waterfront design as a catalyst in promoting urban renaissance - a similar scheme in the USA attracts 80 applications, some from the UK. Do you think this is a good idea? Do you have comments on the criteria for judging the award, would you or your company be interested in entering? (The LRA is at 24-31 Greenwich Market, SE10 9HZ).


In 1861, a William Montague Glenister and a Mr. Merryweather patented the first twin hand pump-action fire tricycle - the forerunner of the modern fire engine. Glenister had begun his career in the police working for the Great Western Railway and then becoming Superintendent in Hastings. In 1861 he also became the first Captain of the new Hastings Fire Brigade.

Info. taken from

- is he anything to do with Glenister Road, SE10?


Where addresses are not given, please contact through the Editor, c/o 24 Humber Road, London SE3

From Barbara Ludlow

Re: Stratford and Co. Barge Builders (mentioned in the last issue). This was at St. Mary and St. Andrew's Wharf, Woolwich. There is a photo on p.71 in my Greenwich book (pub. Tempus).

From Peter Adams

A fellow genealogical researcher has directed me to your Industrial History Society web site. In the 1871 Census my grandfather was at John Street, Rochester aged 18 working as a Wood Pattern Maker in an 'Iron Factory'. His father and grandfather were both James Bowden, Iron moulders from Phillack Cornwall. Any help regarding his Greenwich connections would be greatly appreciated. I would particularly like a copy of any J Penn articles and am happy to meet any cost.

The following is part of his obituary from the Hastings and St. Leonards' Observer. 2nd Feb 1929.

AN ENGINEER: - On 22nd January, Mr James Bowden of 62 Vicarage Road, died at the age of 76 years. Apprenticed to engineering at the age of 13 years, he became chief pattern maker at the Thames Iron Works, and for the 15 years previous to his retirement, at the age of 72, was engineer's pattern maker at Vickers engineering works, Crayford. During his career he made patterns for the engines of H.M.S. Dreadnought and H.M.S. Thunderer. Tributes included one with "Sincerest sympathy from Greenwich branch of United Pattern Makers' Association, in the loss of one of its founders, Bro James Bowden was a straight man".

From Angela Pascoe

Hello - I've just discovered your Web site and it seems very interesting. I lived near St. Alphege' s until I was 14 so I know the area quite well. Many of my ancestors lived and worked in Greenwich e.g...Harryman (fishermen/seamen), William Simpson (oil mill labourer at gas works), Robert Simpson (proprietor at the Ship Hotel). My Nan worked at the now demolished factory in Roan Street during the last war. I'll enjoy looking at the Web site in peace once my children are in bed. Good luck.

From Neil Mearns

I am currently researching material for a book to be entitled Guardians of the Tyne, a history of the River Tyne Police, the Tyne Improvement Commission Docks and Piers Police Service, and the Tyne Fireboats. I am particularly interested in obtaining additional information concerning a fireboat, which was built by Messrs. Merryweather & Son, Greenwich in 1916. I would be extremely grateful if any members of the Greenwich Industrial History Society could assist me with any knowledge they have regarding the availability of records relating to Merryweather & Son.

The information which I have concerning the fireboat is detailed below:

Calcutta / Merryweather

* Steam Fireboat; Constructed by Merryweather & Son Ltd., Greenwich to the order of the Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta, India: 1916;

Requisitioned by the Admiralty on completion of trials with agreement to deliver to Calcutta at end of the War: 1916; Sailed from River Thames, crewed by Royal Navy (Chatham): 28th August, 1916; Arrived in River Tyne: 29th August, 1916;

Based on River Tyne and crewed by Royal Naval Reserve borne on the books of H.M.S. Satellite, under orders of Senior Naval Officer, River Tyne; Placed out of Admiralty commission at Boulogne, France: 21st February, 1919.

* On 14th June, 1916, Captain Superintendent, Tyne District proposed that the vessel be named Calcutta. However during voyage to Tyne her name was reported as Merryweather. It is unclear which name was officially adopted.

From B.M.Starbuck

My interest concerns the Gravesend Gas Works, where in the late 1800s my family held a contract to supply coal. Their fleet of 'cats' included the sailing schooners 'Sea Witch', the 'R.N.Parker', 'Jane Duff' and ill-fated 'Glenroy' lost with all hands in a gale off Yarmouth. At one time Starbuck and Rackstraw was the oldest private firm of shipowners in the Port of London.

From Andy Hollings

I can send you photos of Appleby's steam engines in NZ, very well preserved. I know Arrol was Sir William Arrol who purchased Jessop and Appleby in the 1900's and then went out of business shortly afterward.

From Alan Smith

I have in my possession a silver pocket watch made in Switzerland with a Molassine trademark in enamel on one side. This is in a presentation box and has been passed down through family lineage to myself. The original recipient was an Albert Smith who lived 1868-1917. I am trying to find out whether the watch was given as a token of service to the company or had some other purpose. I originally thought that Molassine was an American company until I recently found on the web the GIHS newsletter. If he was an employee, it is quite possible he resided near to Greenwich. You will appreciate that with a name like Smith I have a few problems!

From John Spreadbury

Any info on the Greenwich Workshop for the Blind in Easteny Street [now Feathers Place]. Thank you.

From Lorraine Ong

My great grandfather and great, great grandfather were noted as being watermen on marriage certificates. My father always believed his grandfather was a merchant seaman! What did watermen do? They both were born and lived around Northfleet, Plumstead and Gravesend areas. Do you have any publications available on this? My Ancestors were both named Charles J Ginn b. 1859 and Charles Ginn b. 1835! The latter being the son of Scarff Ginn from Essex. approx. b. 1807. I do hope that you can help me with compiling a picture of the life of my grandfathers.

From John Day

Re. the note on Merryweather steam fire engines in the last issue (appliances is the proper term).

Why has 'Sutherland', the horse drawn engine of 1863, believed to be the oldest preserved steamer, been left out? After all, Kensington is not all that far from Greenwich. There is a picture of it in 'The Fire Engine' by Simon Goodenough published by Orbis in 1978, p.55. It is also pictured in 'The Engineer' (Vol. 16, p59, July 31, 1863), because it gained first prize in its class in the Steam Fire Engine trials of that year. The full report of these trials is on pages 9, 23, 32, 47 and 59. It gives all the dimensions and performances. Later in the same volume is a copy of a paper on the 'History of the Steam Fire Engine' by W. Roberts, who built some of the earliest three-wheeled engines. Other references to steam fire engines that have mention of Merryweather are in the same journal (Vol.12, pp.8 & 279, Vol.14, pp.12, 26, 259 & 295, Vol. 22, p241, Vol. 28, p114 and Vol. 74, p412).

Just to stir things a bit more, there is an engraving of the Merryweather 'Greenwich' steam fire raft in 'The Story of the Fire Service' by Tony Paul, published by Almark Publishing in 1975, page 40. The engraving shows the name as M.F.B. Active. If somebody likes to research the subject, the following may be helpful: - James Compton Merryweather, Fire Protection of Mansions, 1884, James Compton Merryweather, Handbook of Fire Brigades, 1886, Roper's Handbook of Modern Steam Fire Engines, 1888.

Forgot to tell you in the last epistle that there is a series of 22 instalments of 60 Years of Thames Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in Vols. 84 and 85 of 'The Engineer,' July 1897 to June 1898. Don't look to me to abridge them, I'm too busy with a model of the Crofton No. 2 engine and researching a paper on Multi-barrel guns over a time scale extending from Ezekial to the present day. Just realised that Simon Goodenough's book was republished in the same format as a soft back in 1985 under the new title of 'Fire, the Story of the Fire Engine,' its all part of a racket to make sure nothing is easy.

From David Riddle

Did you know about this? - a Web page by Woodlands Art Gallery with a brief history of the Angerstein family.

From Mary Anne Gourlay

I have just been reading your Web site and came across the Enderby Settlement Diaries. I am interested in this subject as I am doing research on the Enderby Co. I would like to obtain a copy. I am also researching my family whose background is the Greenwich region.

From Nicholas Hall

My article on the gun maker Blakeley should be coming out in our next Royal Artillery yearbook - with a suggestion as to why Josiah Vavasseur named his Blackheath house 'Rothbury'! I went to see if the Bear Lane premises of the London Ordnance Works survived in Southwark - they don't, but the pub predating it does. It is so annoying: the London Ordnance Works building was still there in 1974 when I was working at the Tower so I could have seen it if I'd known!




It is with great sadness that we would like to note the death of Howard Bloch. Howard was known to many GIHS members as the Local History Librarian for the London Borough of Newham where he worked for many years. During this period he published several books and articles most covering the heavily industrialised area of West Ham and the Royal Docks &endash; some of which was once in Woolwich. His last book Germans in London was about German immigration in Canning Town and detailed much about the sugar industry there in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Howard was closely involved with the community and it's history in Newham - for example he was involved in community plays, talks and walks. Although he continued to write the history of the area he left his job in Newham some years ago, eventually moving to Lewisham Local History Department where he worked until this summer. In this period he helped set up Greenwich Industrial History Society &endash; leading the Society on its first outdoors event in a walk around the North Woolwich area. He made many contributions to this newsletter &endash; and there is a backlog of articles by him, which will appear in due course. So many people knew Howard and worked with him and many of them will want to pay tribute to his dedication and hard work. He had many friends and admirers and it is with great sorrow that we have all since realised that he himself never knew that.


We are indebted to Peter Jenkins for the following notes taken from the Surveyor General's minutes.

Woolwich Wharf - September 15th 1806. 'Captain Hayter, commanding Royal Engineers at Woolwich... the Steam Engine used in the construction of the New Wharf at Woolwich required repairs for a sum not exceeding £350. Ordered that Captain Hayter be acquainted that the Board approve of Mr. Lloyd being employed to repair the Steam Engine upon the terms of his proposal'

Royal Carriage Department - January 25th 1809. Maudsley to provide a steam engine, plus an extra boiler for the Royal Carriage Works at Woolwich. (N.B. the engine is to be connected by drums and shafts to straps - thus it is a rotary engine) - February 24th 1809 Bramah had made repairs to boiler and valves at the Royal Carriage Department.

Royal Armoury Mills at Lewisham - December 16th 1808. John Faulder allowed 52/- a chaldron for Wylon Moor Coals, the market price, for the steam engine at Lewisham - April 1st 1809. 36hp steam engine at Lewisham working extremely well. Lloyd made straps for the drums. April 18th 1809 Two labourers required to carry coal and sift cinders at Lewisham.


This is the subject of a Conference to be held in May in Orebro County, Sweden - under the auspices of the Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Industrial Era in Sweden. It asks how industrial monuments can be used to create identity, and can they be a force in a changing society? Details:


We have been sent a copy of The Order of Industrial Heroism by W.H.Fevyer, J.W.Wilson and J.E.Cribb. (pub. Orders and Medals Society). Details of how to obtain a copy in our next issue. This may seem to be an unusual subject to highlight here, but it contains many stories which throw a great deal of light on industrial history in our area. For example:

Albert Boswell, Charlton, SE7 - a foundry worker presented with his award in Greenwich Town Hall - 27th October 1954

A trimmer was grinding a magnesium casting during which a considerable amount of inflammable magnesium dust had gathered on his clothing. A spark from the grinder set his clothes alight and, dropping the girder, he ran along the main gangway of the shop. Albert Boswell, with two others, went to his rescue and put out the flames. This was at considerable personal risk because of dust on their own clothes.

James Ernest Hawes, Charlton, SE7 - presented at Minor Hall, Greenwich, 8th January 1954.

James Hawes was a 51 year old employee of the South Eastern Gas Board, known locally as 'Big Jim'. In October 1953 at Phoenix Wharf a storage tank burst and released 30,000 gallons of liquid ammonia. W.J.Bell, a stoker, was trapped and overcome in a boiler room where the liquid was 18 inches deep. Without waiting for a respirator, Hawes took a deep breath, and waded 20 yards through the ammonia to where Bell was lying face down, and carried him out. While others tried, in vain, to revive Bell by artificial respiration, Hawes went back into the fumes to look for two fitters who were thought to be trapped in the engineer's work shed, but who had actually managed to escape.


More from John Day

As far as I remember there were four canteens for the use of the workforce. They all reeked of a strange mixture of boiling fat, cabbage and cheap soap - and I kept out of them - but they were well supported during the day for tea as well as during the official lunch hour. The surgery was presided over by "Septic Sam". As now, all injuries had to be reported and sent to the surgery but such was the treatment meted out that small injuries were kept quiet. I went once and have a memory of a mid-Victorian standard of equipment and hygiene. The surgery backed onto the boundary wall a couple of hundred yards from the main gate - nearby was the apprentices club. Its main attribute was a table-tennis table which was heavily used lunch times and evenings.

The last shop I worked in as an apprentice was Miscellaneous Machine situated at the Warren Lane end - near where the new Museum of Artillery will be. There I worked on what must have been a rejected export to Russia just after WW I; all the wording on it was in Cyrillic and, what was worse, all the feed handles worked the "wrong" way because, for a fixed handle to move a slide away by clockwise turning, the thread has to be left handed. I also made bits for a printing press which the foreman was building for himself - all the apprentices well knew that if they got a drawing on an odd sheet of paper, it was a 'foreman's foreigner'. There was a first year apprentice in that shop who asked me about a difficult screw cutting job. I lent him, grudgingly, my special screw cutting tool with instructions not to let it get blunt. When he came back it showed signs of heavy use, so I told him to take it to the shop blow pipe and harden it, but not to get it too hot. He came back, very hang-dog, with a shapeless blob of metal to the delight of the rest of the shop who knew that the tool was made of lead!.

I don't remember ever getting caught by the old favourites of "a long weight" or "a right hand cuff", but Woolwich had a special trick that was foolproof. Going to the stores to borrow a tool, one would be told that 'Bill Starbuck' had it, but was 'not using it at the moment' . Enquiries about Bill's whereabouts landed one in a far corner of the shop asking again, only to be told he was working in another building and to go there. The other building either denied knowledge or moved one on another wild goose chase!

In April I became 21 and could no longer be an apprentice, so when term at the Poly finished, I went back as a journeyman fitter for a few months. WW I equipment was being resuscitated and I was engaged in fitting drum brakes to 1918 3 inch A.A. guns to make them suitable for vehicle towing, There was also another job in strengthening the trails of 9.2 inch howitzers - knocking out 3/4 inch rivets to enable a heavier gauge plate to be fitted. As I left I took out my tool box in my own Austin with a gate pass for the tools. The only thing I was not allowed to take was a very nice set of single ended spanners up to 1 inch. These had arrived with a new electric motor and had never been entered in the books, so I reckoned they did not belong to Woolwich! There was quite an argument and in the end it was agreed to put them in store with my name on until possession was sorted out. The war started a few weeks later and I never went back for them. I wonder what happened to them and who acquired them in the end?


by Philip Binns

Meeting held 15th November:

Greenwich Sorting Office, Greenwich Park Street - change of use to office use. No objection.

9-11 Westerdale Road. Conversion of barn into two 2-bed houses. Welcome a sensitive conversion.

Building 20 Royal Arsenal - conversion to 8 homes. Group hopes to meet the developers about key internal features which should not be compromised in this Grade II listed building (former Chemical Laboratory). At present the original main cast iron staircase and galleried room is clumsily handled. The Group also wants to know what has happened to the giant fossil bed once nearby.

Former Council Depot, White Hart Road - Change of use to TV Studios. This is welcomed but care and vigilance should be exercised and it is recommended that the buildings are considered for the Council's Local List. The Weighbridge should be considered for transfer to Woodlands Farm where it is urgently needed.

Former Coronet Cinema, John Wilson Street - External works and alterations. Group feels that this is acceptable but timid. Suggest English Heritage be asked to look at this in the light of their recent book on redundant cinemas, that an audit of internal fittings be taken and any not needed in the conversion to a church should be taken to the Plumstead Museum.

Convoys site (old Deptford Dockyard). Although this site is in Lewisham it is of great local importance. An exhibition is to be held on the plans.

Meeting held 12th December

79 Bloomfield Road, SE18. Replacement building for manufacture of windows. Insufficient detail.


by Allan Burnett (part 2)

Deptford's shipbuilding industries attracted a rich variety of personalities - the best known being Samuel Pepys, the first Secretary of the Admiralty, President of the Royal Society, and twice Master of Trinity House. His name is preserved in a huge housing estate, opened in 1966 by Lord Louis Mountbatten on the site of the old Navy Victualling Yard adjacent to the Dockyard.

Deptford was also the birthplace of the notable Pett family. Phineas Pett born in 1570 was the keeper of the Plank Yard at Chatham when he was thirty years of age. He became the first Master of the Shipwrights Company and built 'Sovereign of the Seas' at Woolwich when he was sixty-seven. This ship was 232 feet long, had a 49-foot beam, and was 1,647 tons with eleven anchors. She was nicknamed the 'Golden Devil' by the Dutch. Phineas's son, Sir Phineas, was Commissioner of the Navy in 1667 when the Dutch ships, led by de Ruyter sailed up the Medway and attacked Chatham. Sir Phineas was impeached by the House of Commons for inattention to duty, but the charges were later dropped. His cousin, Peter Pett, is credited with the introduction of the frigate to the British Navy - the first being 'Constant Warwick' in 1649.

For over forty years John Evelyn, the diarist, dramatist, City Commissioner and promoter of the Royal Society lived at Sayes Court, in Deptford - a manor house with a chequered history. The manor of West Greenwich had been granted to the Bishop of Liseux under William the Conqueror. The property passed through the female line to the wife of Geoffrey de Saye and in 1612 it was given to Richard Brown, Ambassador to Paris. His great granddaughter married John Evelyn - which is how this celebrity came to Sayes Court, as a tenant in 1648 and then by purchasing it for £3,500 in 1652. After 1694 his tenant was Captain (later Admiral) Benbow and then Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, who came to Deptford to learn the art of shipbuilding. Most of Sayes Court was demolished in 1728 but the remnant served as a workhouse until 1881. The site of Sayes Court is now a small park, Sayes Park - situated behind a public house called the John Evelyn.

The centuries following the founding of the Dockyard at Deptford saw a great expansion in trade and exploration. Joint Stock Companies were formed to finance voyages of discovery - one of the earliest being the Russia Company in 1553 to try and find a north east route to China. Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor sailed from Deptford and although Willoughby perished, Chancellor went on to discover the White Sea, visit Moscow and open up trade with Russia.

In 1576 Sir Martin Frobisher led an expedition to look for the North-West Passage - it is more than likely that the expedition was fitted out at Deptford.

In the following year Drake left for his trans-world voyage of discovery in 'Pelican'. The Pelican sailed back to Deptford and on 4th April 1581 Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and the ship renamed 'Golden Hinde'. It was permanently preserved - but eventually destroyed.

In the year Drake was knighted the East India Company fitted out its first expedition. The company obtained its charter from Queen Elizabeth. With the financial rewards of an expedition to the east, the companies bought storehouses at Deptford, on the same site later used by the General Steam Navigation Company as a repair yard, and later occupied by a road haulage firm - the narrow approach road is still known as Stowage but is now part of a new housing estate.

In 1607 the East India company launched its first ship 'Trades Increase' - at 1,200 tons the largest of her day and Henry Hudson left from Deptford in the 80 ton 'Hopewell' on this first voyage for the English Muscovy Company to seek in vain, a North-West Passage across the North Pole to China and the Far East. Instead he found Spitzbergen and the fishery trade. In 1768 a former Whitby collier left Deptford with a Lt. James Cook in command. Three years later 'HMS Endeavour' returned having rounded the Horn and discovered New Zealand. Thus Deptford has an assured place in maritime history - but no hint of this is available to the tourist. I sometimes wonder if the local authority is aware of its' heritage!

The run-down of the Dockyard co-incided with the decline of the sailing ships. It's resources could not cope with iron and steam. It closed for the first time in 1844 and finally closed in 1869. The last ship to be built at the Royal Dockyard was a 1,322 ton corvette, the steamship 'Druid'. The site was bought by the City of London to serve as a cattle market, live cattle being imported from North America and slaughtered, but trade declined due to improvements in refrigeration and the market closed in 1914. Thereafter it was an army reserve depot and then became Convoy's Wharf - and is now due for change again. The main imports recently have been paper from the Baltic, general cargo from nearby European ports and the transhipment of grain - a far cry from the rumbustious days of Drake, Cook and Hudson.

Next to the Dockyard site is that of the Royal Naval Victualling Yard, established by Order in Council in 1742. This was the largest of the Royal Navy's UK storehouses and until 1961 could provide everything from the proverbial pin to an anchor - not forgetting the rum which was stored in huge vats holding thousands of gallons. The main buildings erected by Sir Charles Middleton in 1780 are preserved and incorporated in a housing scheme as luxury flats - and known locally as the 'Rum Warehouses'.



Issue 28 contains an article by GIHS member, Pat O'Driscoll on her experiences in sailing barge Olive May - and indeed the history of the barge before Pat joined her. It would not be honest to pretend that the article contains anything about Greenwich - but there are some stunning pictures and stories of a sailing barge at work on other parts of London River - well worth reading! The issue also contains a picture of Thornley Colliery, Co. Durham taken following a disastrous fire in 1875. It is very likely that Thornley Street in East Greenwich was named after this colliery. (Archive, £6 from 47-49 High Street, Lydney, Glos., GL15 5DD)


When Mary Mills wrote Greenwich Marsh. 300 Years Before the Dome in 1999 she promised an annotated version to any one who was interested. A page by page commentary and update of the book is now available. This is free by e-mail from or as photocopied sheets from M.Wright, 24 Humber Road, SE3 7LT. Ring Mary on 0208 858 9482 for details.


Contains a report of the visit to Woolwich Arsenal arranged by Mike Neill - and attended by many GIHS members. It also contains the article on Excavations at the Arsenal taken from our previous Newsletter, a report of the Crossness Engines AGM, and a note about the Antigallican Pub in Charlton.


The December 2000 issue contains an interview with the new Director of the Maritime Museum - Rear Admiral Roy Clare. Some GIHS members have already met Roy and we look forward to future co-operation.


Roger Hough has passed us a copy of this monthly magazine - which is to do with railways not chalk mines (sorry, Nick Catford). Roger points out that - perhaps now that Greenwich is attached to the underground network at last - that it is full of articles of great interest. The edition which Roger has given us is for April 2000 and includes the working timetable for the Jubilee Line as well as all sorts of news snippets and reviews.


Contains a note from Peter Gurnett about the Russian replica ship, Shtandart, which visited us last summer. Peter points out that when Peter the Great left Deptford in 1698 he took with him about 500 English engineers, artificers, surgeons, artisans, artillerymen, etc. Peter points out that this means that the original Shtandart was in effect Deptford built!

The issue also contains a reproduction of a gas bill from someone who lived at 6 Annandale Road in 1917. This came from the South Metropolitan Gas Company, at Old Kent Road, and showed that the occupant, a Mr. Drapper, owed 18s.6d. for his gas plus 1/3d. for meter rent and 1/6d. for gas stove hire.


The December issue contains a fascinating article by Neil Rhind on 'modern' architecture - and draws attention to a new book by a local author on the subject (Modern Retro by Neil Bingham and Andrew Weaving).

The January issue has an interview by Sarah Hodgson with Terry Scales about his new book, Visions of Greenwich Reach. A Homage to the Working Thames. (Blue Anchor Press £10.95). Neil Rhind writes about Blackheath winters with particular reference to alterations in the course of the Kidbrook stream and the swimming bath once near Blackheath Station - using old carp ponds.


Amazing as it may seem Charlton Football Club supporters have published an article on interest to local industrial historians! This is in their April issue in an article by Keith Ferris and concerns the history of the site of the Valley Ground.

Anyone who has visited The Valley can see it is an old pit and in the 1800s this was owned by the Roupell Boyd estates but quarried by Lewis Glenton, limeburner. In 1840 the Turnpike Trust gave Glenton permission to build a railway from the quarry to the riverside. Once work started there was an immediate row - and Keith Ferris gives some details of this. He points our that the route of Glenton's railway was today's Ransom Road and that the rather strange angle, and bridge, on this road is explained once you realise it is an old railway trackbed - and he further said that lines fanned out over the area of today's football ground. Part of the railway was reused by British Ropes - and indeed some track remained by the riverside until reasonably recently.


The latest edition, No. 8, contains an extremely important article on Mumford's Flour Mill in Greenwich High Road by English Heritage's Jonathan Clarke. This is in fact the text of the lecture given to our Society by Jonathan earlier this year (and snaffled from under our noses by Peter Gurnett!!!). Anyone who didn't come to our lecture is urged to go at once and buy a copy of this text - perhaps one of the most important descriptions of a Greenwich building to be written this year. If you did come to the lecture you will be rushing out to get it anyway because you will know how good it was!

Also in this issue are articles on Jacobites in Deptford and Henry Williamson in the First World War. Lewisham Local History Society are a bit coy about where to buy copies from. I got my second copy from Tom Sheppherd, 2 Bennett Park, SE3. I needed a second copy because the first one was stolen by someone who was so overwhelmed by Jonathan's article that they ran off with my copy!


The newsletter of the North West Gas Historical Society, an unlikely place to find Greenwich industry, you might think. BUT - in their December 2000 issue is a reproduction of the directors and chief officers of the Plumstead and Charlton Consumers Gas Company taken in 1870. Gaslight's editor, Terry Mitchell, reckons that this is the oldest photograph taken of interest to gas historians. It was reproduced in the South Metropolitan Gas Company's Co-partnership Journal in May 1936 and credited with thanks to Woolwich Antiquarians.


The proceedings of a Conference held in September at the House Mill at Bromley by Bow have been published. It contains items on tide mills - at Bromley by Bow but also at Eling, Woodbridge and at the Tower of London, as well as details of some abroad. Copies are available from Brian Strong, 14 Eversleigh Road, New Barnet, Herts, EN5 1NE

Merryweather and Saskatoon

Go to the Web site of the City of Saskatoon - its in Canada! There you will not only find pages and pages and pages of pictures of Greenwich-built fire engines but a company history embellished with archive pictures of the factory in Greenwich High Road.... (Someone said something about a prophet not being recognised in their own country...?).

Locomotive 'Woolwich' at Waltham Abbey

Earlier this year questions were raised about the Woolwich - a locomotive once in the Arsenal and until recently part of a preserved railway in Devon. When plans were announced for the sale of this railway some of our members raised questions about the fate of the locomotive - it was eventually sold to the heritage project at Waltham Abbey. Since then it has turned out that that some local Greenwich and Lewisham people are closely involved with development of the heritage site on the old Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey - thanks in particular to John Bowles, of Blackheath, who has given us a great deal of useful information about events at Waltham Abbey. We hope to have a speaker and a visit to the project within the next year.

Another activist from Waltham Abbey, Robin Parkinson of Lewisham, has written to us to say:

"I am pleased to pass on news of the ex-RAR equipment which has been purchased by the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills Company. Dating back to the 1870s the railways or tramways as they were then, were used to transfer material between the process areas and also from the south site (now built on) to the northern site (remaining). Records show an 18" gauge railway was built to replace previous systems around 1916 as a number of paraffin fuel and electric vehicles were used. Steam was never a motive power at Waltham Abbey - so 'Woolwich' will be a first. The initial plan is to rebuild the line at the original 18" gauge, which was the same as RAR Woolwich and other MOD sites. The layout will try to follow the path of the original from Cordite store across the bottom of Long Walk and down past the Gunpowder mills at the end of Queen's Meadow. The good news is that on October 16th 2000, locomotive Avonside 'Woolwich' (No. 1748 of 1916) plus six coaches arrived safely on site from Bicton Woodlands Railway in Devon. The company has also purchased Hunslet 'Carnegie' 0-4-4-0 diesel (no. 4524 of 1954) also ex-RAR Woolwich. This needs some attention to one of the drive bogies and is at present awaiting inspection at a railway engineering company in the south-west.

There are two ways in which you might be able to help. I have yet to find any photographs of 'Woolwich' taken whilst operating at RAR. Copies of these might confirm the original chimney design and shed number whilst at the Arsenal. Also, I would like confirmation of the livery and lining out. Track laying is going to be a major project and we will certainly be looking for volunteers for both this and carriage restoration. This is an area where your members would be very welcome. It is going to involve a lot of hard work. Whilst no formal group as yet been formed I would appreciate hearing from anybody interested. Please feel free to contact me (daytime) 0797 982605 or evenings 0208 297 0928.

Gunpowder production began in Waltham Abbey in the mid-1660s and the mills were purchased by the Crown in 1787 - at around the time when the Greenwich gunpowder depot was closed. Production ceased during the Second World War because of a perceived risk from bombers and the site was eventually decommissioned in 1991. There are 300 structures, 21 listed buildings, and 34 acres of 'Special Scientific Interest'. The Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills Charitable Foundation was set up to protect the site and administer an endowment fund. The site is described as one of Britain's best kept secrets. They hope to open to the public in April of this year.

The Waltham Abbey site must be of particular interest to historians in Woolwich and Greenwich because of its close relationship with the Arsenal and some of the earlier military establishments in Greenwich. For instance their Web site tells us of the work at Waltham of both William Congreve and Frederick Abel - both names strongly associated with research in Woolwich. Waltham Abbey is, of course, a close neighbour of the other large military site in North London - the Enfield Lock Small Arms Factory - an organisation which grew up in Greenwich and Lewisham before moving to Enfield. News is a bit scarce about what is happening on the Enfield site - beyond a mass of new housing - has anyone any news?

Listed Buildings in Greenwich

A number of local organisations are looking through the Greenwich buildings on the national and local list. As a helpful reference guide, the following sites have been taken from the lists and show those which could be considered industrial. It is accepted that what is industrial, and what is not, could be argued about for days.


Harbour Master's Office, Ballast Quay, SE10

Main entrance to Woolwich Arsenal, Beresford Square, SE18

Boundary Stone, Blackheath Hill/Point Hill, SE10

Borthwick Street, cast iron 'Penn' bollard

Broadwater Estate, lock & swing bridge to Royal Arsenal Canal, SE28

Charlton Road, stable buildings to Charlton House, SE7

Christchurch Way, Enderby House, SE10

College Approach, Market Entrance, SE10

Court Road, Ice Well at The Tarn, SE9

Cutty Sark Gardens, Cutty Sark ship, entrance to Greenwich Foot Tunnel, SE10

Eltham High Street, milestone. At No.34 SE9

Ferry Approach, entrance to Woolwich Foot Tunnel, SE18

Footscray Road, Milestones at No.135 & No.494, SE9

Greenwich High Road, Mumford's Flour Mill, beam engine houses at Deptford Sewage Pumping Station, coal shed and southernmost pair of coal sheds to south west, SE10

Greenwich Park. Royal Observatory & Flamsteed House.

Grove Street, gate piers to Naval Dockyard, SE8

Hyde Vale, Conduit House junction with West Grove, SE10

Old Mill Road, remains of old windmill, SE18

Park Row, river wall, SE10

Parson's Hill, Odeon Cinema, SE18

Plumstead Road, Royal Arsenal - main guardroom. Riverside guardrooms, Dial Square block, Royal Foundry, middle Gate, Middlegate House, Verbruggen's House, Royal Laboratory, former New Carriage Store, Royal Shell Factory gateway, former Armstrong Gun Factory, Building 41, Model Room, SE18

Powis Street, Granada Cinema & RACS HQ Building, SE18

Roan Street, 46 office of Saxonia Wire Co. SE10

Shooters Hill, Mounting Block outside the Bull, Water Tower at junction of Cleanthus Road, SE18

Southend Crescent, conduit head, SE9

Tunnel Avenue. Entrance to Blackwall Tunnel, SE10

Well Hall Road, Coronet Cinema, SE9

Woolwich Church Street. Royal Dockyard, police building at gateway. Entrance gateway, Piers and walls, Clock House, 2 graving docks, Gun emplacements on the riverside, former smithery, erecting shop and brass foundry, chimney, steam factory, former police building.


This extract from the list omits the many buildings in central Greenwich and Woolwich which could have had any original use but are now largely residential or shops.

Blackheath Village, 15-19 Alexandra Hall, now Lloyds Bank, SE3

Bowater Road, 17-19 5 storey industrial building, SE18

Bunton Street, Victorian cast iron bollard and Callis Yard Stables, SE18 (is that still there?)

Cemetery Lane, Drinking Fountain in Charlton cemetery, SE7

Charlton Church Lane, Cattle trough, SE7

Circus Street, 12-18 Royal Circus Tea Warehouse, SE10

Ditch Alley, 19th factory building, SE10 (long gone!)

Eltham High Street, 65 National Westminster Bank. 131-133 Barclays' Bank, 183-187 Woolwich Electricity Offices,

Footscray Road, Grafton's factory (demolished years ago!)

General Gordon Place, Woolwich Equitable Building, SE18

Green's End, Lloyds Bank, SE18

Greenwich High Road, 161-163 Davy's Wine Vaults, SE10

Greenwich Market, roof, SE10

Greenwich Park, Conduit House, SE10

Herbert Road, War Department marker and parish Boundary marker

Nelson Road, 13-14 old Burton's shop. SE10

Nevada Street, wall of Greenwich Theatre, SE10

Passey Place, Old Post Office, SE9

Peyton Place, 6 Warehouse, SE10

Plumstead Common Road - Links RACS clock tower, SE18

Powis Street, RACS HQ building,

Princes Street. Convoys Wharf Canteen and first aid, SE8 (no longer in Greenwich!)

Rippolson Road, Old stable/forge, SE8

Shooters Hill, Board of Ordinance marker, 18th wall, Woodlands Farm House, Memorial Seat to Samuel Phillips (cable maker), Red Cross Lamp Post, other boundary markers

Shooters Hill Road, Brook Hospital Site - Water Tower, Pumping station buildings,

Sidcup Road, Clifton's Garage SE9

Stockwell Street 1-3 shop and furniture workshop, SE10

Wellington Street, Barclays' Bank, SE18

Woolwich New Road, Garrison Works Office.


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)

Every Sunday!

People required to do real work at Woodlands Farm.
Hot drinks provided. Ring Iain 020 8691 8979 or the Office 020 8319 8900


3rd January. The Lea Valley by Jim Lewis, Docklands History Group, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

4 & 5th January, The Man Who Divided the World. Life and Times of George Biddell Airey. 10.30am - 4.15pm. National Maritime Museum. Information on 020 8312 6747.

8th January. GLIAS Recording Group. 6.30p.m. Kirkaldy Testing Museum, 99 Southwark Street, All welcome. Details Tim Smith 01442 863846

15th January. History and development of Bricks and Brickmaking in Britain. Michael Hammett. Croydon NHSS Methodist Hall, Addiscombe Road, Croydon, 7.45p.m.

15th January. History of the Co-operative Movement. Ron Roffey. Streatham Soc. Woodlawns, 16 Leightham Court Road, SW16. 8p.m.

16th January. Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

17th January. Sir Neil Cossons, new Chair of English Heritage on The Future of the Heritage and the Heritage of the Future Blackheath Society, 8p.m. Blackheath Halls, 23 Lee Road, Entry, ticket only, £8 from Blackheath Society, Chapman House, 10 Blackheath Village, SAE 9LE

17th January. London's Furniture Industry. David Dewing, GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Science Block, Medical School (Barts), Charterhouse Sq., EC1. 6.30p.m.

19th January, Mathematics of Finance. Prof. Parrott. Blackheath Sci.Soc., Mycenae House, 7.30pm

21st January. Hedge Laying Day at Woodlands Farm. Meet at Farmhouse 10a.m. Wear boots and waterproofs.

23rd January. Archbishop of York's Battersea Mansion, Duncan Hawkins, SLAS, 7.30p.m. Rm 1, Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, SE1.

23rd January. Greenwich and Woolwich Riverside, Mary Mills, St. Mary Cray Action Group. Vernon Hall, St. Mary Cray High Street. 8.00p.m.

24th January. Greenwich - an architectural history. John Bold. Greenwich Historical Society, 7.15p.m. Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanbrugh Park, SE3

26th January, The Sydenham Story, Steve Grindlay. LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

28th January, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711


7th February. Brookwood Cemetery and its links with Docklands. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

13th February, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

16th February, Optical Illusions. Mark Rossi. Blackheath Sci. Soc. Mycenae House, 7.30p.m.

19th February. The Great Steam Ferry at Greenwich by Clive Chambers. Croydon NHSS Methodist Hall, Addiscombe Road, Croydon, 7.45p.m.

21st February. David Elliott on Sir John Elliott, the last MD Southern Railway. GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Science Block, Medical School (Barts), Charterhouse Sq., EC1. 6.30p.m.

23rd February. Suffragettes in Lewisham. Harvey Trueman 7.45p.m. LLHS Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

24th February, Seapower Ashore. 10.30 am - 4.15 pm. National Maritime Museum.Info. 020 8312 6747

25th February, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

27th February. The History of Croydon Airport SLAS 7.30p.m. Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, SE1

28th February. Talk the line. John Swindell and Lesley Veach. Greenwich Histrocial Society, 7.15p.m. Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanbrugh Park, SE3


7th March, Images of the Past. Roger Mutton. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

13th March, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

16th March, British North Greenland Expedition. R. Brett-Knowles. Blackheath Sci. Soc. Mycenae House, 7.30p.m.

21st March, The Great Exhibition of 1851. GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Science Block, Medical School (Barts), Charterhouse Sq., EC1. 6.30p.m.

24th March, Finding Time. The role of Greenwich in the measurement of Time. 10.30am - 4.15 pm. National Maritime Museum. Info: 020 8312 6747

25th March. Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

27th March, The History of Croydon Airport, SLAS, 7.30 pm, Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, SE1

30th March. The Last Zeppelin over Lewisham by Stan Payne plus AGM. 7.45p.m. LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

31st March, South East Region I.A. Conference, Christ's Hospital, Horsham


10th April. Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

20th April. Fibre Optical Systems for Long Distance Working. R. Buchanan, Blackheath Sci.Soc. Mycenae House, 7.30p.m.

22nd April. Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711


5th May, Thames People. 10.30 am - 4.15 pm. National Maritime Museum. Info: 020 8312 6747.

8th May, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

13th May, Woodlands Farm Summer Open Day.

20th May, New Croydon Tramways. Peter Trigg, Blackheath Sci. Soc. Mycenae House, 7.30p.m.

20th May, Crossness Engines Open Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

22nd May, Commercial Ice Wells and Ice Works. Malcolm Tucker. SLAS, 7.30p.m., Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, SE1


1/3 June, Managing the Thames Estuary. 10.30am - 4.15pm. National Maritime Museum. Info: 020 8312 6747

5th June, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

17th June, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711


3rd July, Crossness Engines Visitor Day. Ring 020 8311 3711

7th July, Crossness Engines Open Day. Ring 020 8311 3711


17- 24th August, Assoc. Industrial Archaeology Conference.
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. AIA Liaison Officer, Sch. Archeological Studies, Univ. Leicester, LE1 7RH.


Assoc. Industrial Archaeology, Visit to Australia. Will include Conference of Inst. Engineers, Australia in Canberra.
Contact Paul Saulter, 62 Marley Road, Rye, Sussex. TN31 7BD


Royal Dockyards. Tues 10.30am - 12.30pm. From 30th Jan. 2001
National Maritime Museum, Info. 020 8312 6747.

Historic Architecture in London and Local Boroughs. Mondays 9.15a.m.-12.15p.m. starting 8th January Mycenae House.
PACE, Goldsmiths. College. 020 7919 7200. Includes Clay Pipes and their sites in Greenwich by Philip Woollard, Greenwich Power Station by Peter Guillery, and Bridges, Embankments, Pumping Stations by Diana Rimel.

Looking Back at Lewisham. 10 weeks. 2.00p.m.-4p.m. starting on 8th January
Lewisham Library. 020 8691 5959. Includes Great Industries of Lewisham, Elliott, Stones, Molins, Robinsons.

London Docklands with Bob Carr. From 18th January, 6.30p.m.
City University. 020 7477 8268

River Thames. 5 week course from 29th January 2.30-4.00p.m.
Greenwich Borough Museum, via Goldsmiths 020 7919 7200.
Includes Chris Ford on The Thames and its Industries and Stuart Rankin on Howlands, Russells and the Greenland Dock.

IA of East London with Bob Carr. Wednesdays 2-4.00p.m.
North Woolwich Old Station Museum. £55/c£28. Write to Fred Bishop, 39 Freshfield Drive, London, N14 4QW with SAE.


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 fell 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
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).



Meetings as advertised at the head of this newsletter will 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?



The Web version has been created by;

.... David Riddle, Goldsmiths College

Space courtesy of Goldsmiths College, University of London