Volume 4, Issue 2, March 2001





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.


Please look at:


Further extracts from Christopher Phillpott's study

Areas of settlement continued to expand in Deptford in the early modern period. The Broadway was still a focus of settlement in 1608 and the succeeding decades as it had been in the late medieval period. Here the Old Draw Well stood in the centre of the road, later capped and replaced by the Parish pump.

A row of brick and tile cottages survives at 19-31 Tanners Hill, stone terraced houses of a similar date at 17-21 Deptford Broadway and a late seventeenth century brick house at 47 Deptford Broadway. Excavations at the Dover Castle (the site of the Christopher Inn) found post-medieval pits, gullies, drains, and a metalled area, and at the Odeon Cinema site, seventeenth century pits and a series of nineteenth century, brick-lined tanks in garden behind the houses of the street frontage. The Dover Castle and Odeon Cinema sites were intensively occupied in the post-mediaeval period.

In the early eighteenth century ribbon development along the Thames waterside linked Deptford to Rotherhithe and London. Daniel Defoe commented in 1724 'the docks and building yards on the riverside between the town of Deptford and the street of Redriff or Rotherhithe are effectually joined and building daily increased.'

In 1701, the need for a water supply was answered by the granting of a patent to pipe water from the Ravensbourne. The patent permitted the breaking up the roadways throughout the royal manors of Sayes Court and East Greenwich to lay supply pipes. This was the origin of the Kent Waterworks site to the east of Brookmill Road which absorbed the site of the Steam bakery there in 1855, and the watermill in 1884. A wooden sill from a water wheel race and nineteenth century wooden pipes have been found at the site.

A ferry operated across the mouth of the Creek from Hoy Inn Stairs then called the Peter Boat Alehouse in the eighteenth century. Another ferry ran from the end of Horseferry Place to the Isle of Dogs until 1883.

The road from Southwark to the lime kilns at Blackheath was controlled from 1718 by the New Cross Turnpike Trust which had a tollgate at the west end of Deptford Bridge. Deptford was linked to London in 1748 by the roads of the Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Deptford Turnpike Trust. The roads under its control include Butt Lane (Deptford High Street), where was a tollgate at the north end. The method of repairing the roads was to lay large quantities of loamy gravel on them, resulting in hard baked deep ruts. The Trust also cleaned and arched over many of the commons areas of the area.

Sixteenth century gravel pits are known to have been on the east bank of the Ravensbourne in 1535 which had gone out of use by 1588 and on the west bank at Gravell Pitt Meade in 1577 and later. This is almost certainly the late area of gravel extraction which appeared on Rococo's map of 1741-6. In 1671 the roadway was drained into the gravel pits by means of paved gutters. Other post-mediaeval gravel pits have been found elsewhere.

To the north of the Gravel Pits estate lay the Copperas lands where early dye and chemical manufacture was established by Sir Nicholas Crispe in the mid seventeenth century. Crispe also experimented with growing madder (for red dye) in Deptford in 1680. The works processed copperas stones of iron pyrites collected from the Kent and Essex beaches in copperas beds, trenches measuring 100 feet by 15 feet and twelve feet deep filled with rain water, to produce red and black dyes, A map of 1674 shows the coppris beds on the north side of Cooperas Lane, a littl to the asdt of th Trinity Almshouses. In the south east corner of their enclosure lay the coppris Houses and further east a dock opening onto the Creek with a crane. The property also included gardens and an orchard. It continued in the Crispe family until the mid eighteenth century. The works continued until the 1830s when the site was taken over by other uses.

A number if small pottery manufacturers were established in Deptford by the eighteenth century and possibly in the late seventeenth. These local potteries producing domestic wares were forced into specialisation by the success of the Staffordshire potters in the eighteenth century. They then made industrial pottery - sugar moulds, flowerpots, chimney pots and crucibles including the Deptford Ware for which the town became noted.

Several of these potters were in this area. One was situated at the north east corner of the (Deptford) Power Station site with access by a lane running north from the Stowage. In 1737 it was occupied by John Westcott and in 1751 by George Westcott. However, also in 1751 and later it was operated by Abraham Dalton who was still working as a potter in 1792. Some of his products were found in the backfill of a dock in the northern part of the area. They were mostly industrial wares of c.1650-1750 including sugar moulds and kiln props.

Another pottery began in the north side of Copperas Lane behind the tenements of Church Street to the south of the Trinity Almshouse. In 1720 it was operated by John Timms, and was run by the Parry family from at least 1730 to 1891. By which it time it was called the Upper Pottery and had developed into four kilns. Latterly it was operated by Gibbs and Canning until it closed in 1961. Its north wall survives, consisting largely of nineteenth century flowerpot fragments, stoneware and crucibles embedded in mortar. There are also paved surfaces and brick machine bases. An excavation here uncovered late seventeenth or early eighteenth century brick walls and mortar surfaces, late eighteenth century brick walls and a nineteenth century kiln area.


One of the most important of Greenwich Institutions and employers was the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society. Last year Greenwich Industrial History Society heard Ron Roffey talk about the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society and his work in collecting their archives and memorabilia. Ron also concentrated on the work which the Society did as a productive unit - not just as a series of retail outlets - and he talked at length about their factory in what was then known as Commonwealth Buildings on the old Woolwich Dockyard site.

The following article is by Peter Collier, Assistant to Honorary Archivist.

The former Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society's premises in Powis Street, Woolwich, are well known to many who live in South East London. Until the end of 1999 they housed, amongst other things, the Co-operative Archive that was founded and built up by Ron Roffey, the former Secretary of the RACS. At that date, the collection comprised over 10,000 objects and documents and an estimated 10,000 unlisted pictures and photographs.

In addition to the RACS records and artefacts, the collection included material from the societies that, at various dates, had merged with the RACS, from Faversham & Thanet in the East to Slough in the West. Today it additionally includes other societies that merged directly with the CWS SE, as it then was, namely South Suburban, Brighton, Invicta and Sittingbourne Co-operative Societies. Altogether, the Archive comprises an extremely important record of local, commercial and working class history.

At the end of 1999 when the office closed, Greenwich Council agreed to provide temporary accommodation for the material, in order to keep it in the Borough.

However, also at the end of 1999, a decision was taken to create a National Co-operative Archive at the Co-operative College. As a result, a selection of approximately 3500 records and documents were dispatched to the College in February 2001.

While the development of a Co-operative Archive Centre at the national level is most welcome, the future of the local archive is still uncertain. The National Centre does not meet the need for archival resources relating to past co-operative societies in London and the South East and a good case can still be made for a regional co-operative archive and study centre.

For, while the Archive was in Co-operative premises, Ron Roffey, as Honorary Archivist, was able to show visitors the museum part of the collection, and also to welcome individuals who wished to carry out research. He was, in addition, able to obtain funds from South East Co-op to develop a number of databases. This enabled a catalogue of the collection to be completed, and also his own research into the Royal Arsenal and South Suburban Societies, which was published in the book The Co-operative Way a year ago.

Since leaving Powis Street, these activities have ceased due to the material being held in storage conditions. Since then, we have had only a trickle of funds to enable caretaking functions to continue, to allow, for example, the reception of new items and the loan of parts of the collection for exhibition. Yet still, today, we receive requests from people wishing to carry out research (which we have to refuse) and records and objects continue to be donated.

At the time of writing, the Archive is again being moved, now to smaller and more basic premises in Eltham owned by Greenwich Council. We hope it will be adequate for the essential functions of maintaining the collection.

If the immediate goal of preserving the collection can be achieved, we shall then need to develop a strategy of long term development. Suitable accommodation will be needed, as also will funds for conservation, for database work, and to enable the public to have access. An encyclopedia of local co-operation on CD-ROM or the Internet could be produced; and digital recording is increasingly significant as a means of giving access to old and delicate documents.



In January the Society was contacted by residents and members from the Ballast Quay area who said the cranes on Lovell's Wharf were being demolished. Enquiries to the Council's Planning Office were met with surprise - but they later confirmed what was happening and that the owners had not informed the Council of their intentions despite the planned use of the cranes as a feature in the outstanding planning application for the site.

Jack Vaughan wrote the following letter on behalf of the Society:

I am writing about the cranes on Lovells Wharf demolished with no notice to Greenwich Council or the local community.

Lovell's was a working wharf into the mid-1980s when Shaw Lovell left it - having recently renovated the two 'Scotch derricks'. These two cranes have became a local landmark - and were probably the two last such cranes left on this part of the Thames. Three articles about the history of the wharf by Mary Mills appeared last year in Bygone Kent. The wharf has not been used since the mid-1980s and locally it has been widely accepted that if there was no way it could be kept in industrial use then it was important that a way was found to keep the cranes as a feature -it is felt important to preserve as much of the character of the riverside as possible. The site is owned by Morden College, who have rented it out on a short term basis to various film companies - which has meant that it has become less secure than it ought to be.

The cranes were demolished by Morden College on grounds of lack of site security - and demolition must have cost a lot more than enhanced security fencing!

A number of organisations and individuals have written to Morden College to protest - and it is quite clear that a great many local residents are also angry at what they saw as their 'heritage' being disposed of. Several local people contacted the newspapers and NewShopper published an article which quotes a Morden College spokesman saying that there were safety fears. The Greenwich Society is also quoted 'We are angry this happened without notification. Their demolition ruins the heritage and landscape of the area'. It also said that English Heritage confirmed that Morden College were not breaking the law by demolishing the cranes and Greenwich Council had 'expressed disappointment to Morden College about the demolition and that they did not come to us to address their safety concerns'.


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

From Brenda MacCulloch

What a wonderful Web site! Congratulations. We are looking for my husband's family and the occupation - 'Foreman Lighterman' was entered on a marriage certificate. We would very much like to understand this occupation and if there is a record of a work organisation or Union with members names.

From Peter Mitchell

I am a teacher in Australia and I am looking for a list of prices of items used to provision the First Fleet to Australia in 1788.

Probably a very daunting request, but do you know of such a list, or where I might find such information?


From Jim Longworth

Hi. I am an environmental scientist working for Rail Services Australia, the infrastructure maintenance division of the Rail Access Corporation here in NSW Australia. I am currently investigating the environmental contamination resulting from old railway gasworks (x7) that were operated to supply gas for carriage and station lighting. Can you give me any information about such works in Britain?


From Chris Freeth

With reference to the Maudslay Shipbuilding Yard at Greenwich. I am currently living and working in the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brasil. As a scuba diver I am taking advantage of the local warm water and diving as often as possible. One of the sites we visit, especially if we have new divers, is a wreck known locally as the Black Drr, a Norwegian steam/sail ship. Very recently, a local diver has discovered that the ship is actually the Blackadder. She lies alongside the shoreline at the bottom of a rock outcrop. Two of the masts lie pointing out to sea and there is very little of her hull left. The site is between 2 and 10 metres deep and approximately 50 metres off shore. Can any readers help me with a digital photograph of the Blackadder in her heyday?

Editor's note. Blackadder was built on the Greenwich Peninsula in the early 1870s - she was a sister ship to the Cutty Sark and was only beaten by Cutty Sark in speed records.

From Nicholas Hall, Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson

It looks as though there is not space in the Royal Ordnance yearbook for my article on Blakeley - who built an arms factory on the Greenwich Peninsula and his associate, Vavasseur, who lived in Blackheath and built Rothbury Hall.

Just briefly then, William Armstrong bought Vavasseur's firm in the 1880s. This was because Vavasseur was very successful in designing recoil control mountings [he had been working on this since the 50s and Blakeley included a recoil control system in his provisional patent - it was removed from the enrolled version presumably because it was either not original or was someone else's, Vavasseur's presumably] and his system had been adopted by the Admiralty. Armstrong, who combined with the shipbuilder Mitchell at about the same time and was well known for naval armament, must have decided he wanted some of the action and instead of buying in the mountings or the rights, simply bought the lot. Vavasseur became very senior at Armstrong's and must have got lots of money from the sale; I imagine he was in no way overawed by Armstrong and that it amused him to use the name Rothbury as an indication of the source of his extra cash. Rothbury was the name of Armstrong's big house in Northumberland. Vavasseur was also noted for his driving band adopted by the government for the new BL guns.


From Ruth Paley

This year (14 October 2001) the annual Car and Vehicle Show at Crown Woods School will be extended to include a parallel Technology Fair. The school's Technology Department will be show-casing some of its own wares - but we are not simply looking at modern technology but also at the industrial heritage of the area. After all it is likely that some of the classic motorbikes on show will have been made in Plumstead!

Our intention is to broaden the appeal of our show and to promote the importance (both now and in the past) of the role of science and technology in society. We would very much like to involve representatives of the wider community, especially those involved in the investigation and preservation of the local industrial/engineering heritage, and wonder if your organisation would like to have a display at the show. We think such a display could give you a chance to attract new supporters and to publicise your society.

I am contacting you in my capacity as co-chair of Crown Woods School PTA, which is a registered charity. The Car and Vehicle Show is our major annual fund raising event and all proceeds go to benefit students at the school.


Stone's of Deptford

This is a response to a letter from Louise Carpenter. The full name of the company was J. Stone & Co. Ltd., Arkwright Street, Deptford, SE8. They were founders and manufacturers of train lighting systems used on railways in many parts of the world. The use of the apparent plural was simply local slang, or perhaps, jargons.

Most of the big names in industry were on the lower levels of the Borough and folk higher up in Charlton and Blackheath mostly went down hill to work ... 'down at Stones' ... or 'down Johnson's' - meaning Johnson and Phillips Ltd. ... or 'down Harvey's' - meaning G.A. Harvey Ltd. In my day at United Glass on the riverbank, it was 'down the glass blowers'. The only local exception was Molins of Evelyn Street, Deptford - the name being Molins Manufacturing Co, Ltd, Makers of tobacco machinery. Some of these organisations were known again locally as the Greenwich sweatshops because of low pay, non-union recognition and appalling working conditions which by today's standards would be as alien as funny little men from Mars!

Ted Barr


This is a response to comments in a letter from Norman Bishop. I, too, was at Invicta School 1919-1924. In the Second World War, it was an AFS Station. The mine fell on the gas-meter sheds alongside their quarters in the main building. There were many fatalities, including two of my friends - Walter Smith who lived opposite the school and Charlie Barrow, from Hassendean Road.

Ted Barr


The National Railway Museum at York have a number of fire engines. Have they anything from Greenwich?

Ted Barr


With reference to the letter from Linda Dobinson in Vol. III Issue 4 - this information should be of help. The Tunnel was built between 1892 and 1897 - width 241/2 ft.

Now, a few reminiscences from my commuting days between 1937 and 1939 on the 108 bus from the Standard to Bromley by Bow. In those days, there were narrow footways each way with granite kerbs so the carriageway was a lot narrower. The tunnel was open to foot passengers but the practice was for horse drawn and motor traffic to hug the kerbs which became highly polished. The iron tyred cartwheels made high pitched squeaky noises, which went eerily along the tunnel. There was no overtaking and the speed was that of the slowest - if you got behind a cart, well, that was 'life', to use the current vernacular! As regards cleanliness - it was always well kept and the only smell was motor exhaust. The air was always foul and a hazy, dirty, greyish, blue. I'm sure Julian Watson at Woodlands could give a full history of the building of the tunnel.

Ted Barr


I noticed a request for information in your last issue about the Greenwich Workshops for the Blind. My father was a worker at the Workshop for the Blind and spent most of his working life there until he retired.

There was a Workshop for the Blind with a shopfront in Greenwich High Road situated in the middle of the block, which now has the Ibis Hotel at one end and a residential home at the other end. The premises in Greenwich High Road were large with a glass-fronted shop window, which displayed for sale the goods made by the blind people. A variety of basketware was made for business (laundry baskets etc,) and for the public (shopping/picnic/gardening baskets etc) all of which were beautifully displayed in the window. When this shop closed for redevelopment of the block my father was transferred to Eastney Street. At Eastney Street were made fendoffs (rope buffers) for ships and also mattresses. The foreman was named Jim and when Greenwich High Road was closed he opened up a small shop in Trafalgar Road selling the basketware. Jim had all his faculties and was an accomplished singer. He had a good relationship with the men.

On the one occasion that I remember visiting my father in Eastney Street, I found him in a tall, open-ended, cold, drafty building, sitting on an iron bollard in the dark, at work alone, making a huge rope fender. I thought it sad at the time that the authorities must have felt that lights were wasted on blind men.

I believe the workshops were managed by the LCC/GLC.

Beryl Mason


The 29th Annual meeting of the History of Technology Group

This will be held at the Chatham Campus of the University of Greenwich over the weekend 29th June - 1st July 2001. Offers of papers should be sent before the end of April 2001 to Dr. Colin A. Hempstead, 2 Uplands Road, Darlington, Co. Durham DL3 7SZ. Contributions should be 'welcomed in view of the historical significance of the Thames Estuary and its immediate environs in the development of electrical engineering, papers relating to the various industries and establishments that grew up along the banks of the river from submarine telegraph cables of the 1850s to semiconductors and computers'.




Recently I cleaned up a small theodolite which I inherited. The instrument, pocket sized really, was made at Troughton and Sims in Charlton, although it says 'London' on the case. It must have been made at the beginning of the century and I was told it was an 'apprentice's piece'. Made of wood and brass it is fully comprehensive with a compass, spirit levels, protractor and many different measuring tables. I do not want to dispose of it but I am wondering if this small, neat instrument could have been used by Surveyors?

Barbara Ludlow

Re: Pat O'Driscoll's Account of a' recent visit'

I, too have recently walked the path from 'The Trafalgar' to the Blackwall Tunnel entrance. Oh! What a change from the 1920s! In those days, it was full of interest, almost continuously by the water's edge and one could see what was going on in many of the factories.

Now - 2000, and all that! Just an elongated brick paved pedestrian precinct, guard rails and high walls and fences full of threatening notices, guard dogs, CTVs and the rest of it.... As I approached each corner, I almost expected to see watch towers, searchlights and machine guns pointing menacingly down! The name, too, - why change it? It was always the 'Riverbank', which is what it's basically for and marked as such on the Ordnance Maps for 100 years.

I have many more memories of a personal nature, which have no place here, but I'm always pleased to talk about the path to anyone patient or mad enough to listen! Contact me by telephone (01751 432655) at weekends when it's a cheap local rate anywhere.

And also ... 'The Greenwich (so-called) Peninsula'. Does anyone know the identity of who dreamed this name up? A peninsula is just not what it is. My Oxford dictionary defines a peninsula as a 'piece of land almost surrounded by water or projecting far into the sea'. The maps label the area as 'Greenwich Marshes' and it formed part of the Borough's political administration as 'Marsh Ward'.

Ted Barr


Jack Vaughan comments;

Allan Burnett's two part tale of Deptford Dockyard perpetuates the claim that Deptford was, as he puts it, the 'Cradle of the British Navy' (GIHS Vol.4. No.1. p.9).

Portsmouth people could nurse a similar belief since the Mary Rose was built 'somewhere near' Portsmouth in 1509.

Referring to Nathan Dews History of Deptford (page 250) it says 'Deptford was fixed upon by King Henry VIII as a site for a Royal Dockyard'.

Turning to Vincent's Records of the Woolwich District (Vol. 1. P.128) Camden's Brittanica (1695) gives Woolwich seniority as the Mother Dock of England. Vincent follows with two pages of detailed items relating to the materials used in constructing The Henry (or Harry) Grace-a-Dieu at Woolwich from 1512.

Henry had inherited four major ships from his father which were not warships but armed merchantmen and the sinking of one of them by the French promoted the laying down at Woolwich of the 'Great Harry'. It is possible that a yard of some capacity existed at Woolwich in Henry VII's time, for the remains of a 'great ship' were unearthed in 1912 when Woolwich power station was built. This ship was supposed to be one of those inherited by Henry VIII in 1509.

It appears then that the claim 'Cradle of the British Navy' belongs to Woolwich by a short head.

The comparison of armaments carried in the Great Harry and in Mary Rose suggests that the latter, built first, was a sort of pilot experiment by Henry VIII whose two passions were big ships and big guns.

The figures are;

Mary Rose

Great Harry


600 tons

1,000 tons


Heavy Bronze



Heavy Iron












On the basis of the foregoing, I think the Great Harry was the true 'First Baby' of the Royal Navy and its cradle was the Royal Dockyard, Woolwich.


This might quite coincidentally be related to the small piece on Industrial Heroism in the last issue.

Postmans' Park in the City of London is the site of a national memorial to heroic men and women and was conceived by Mr. G. F. Watts in 1887. So, in 1900 a dedicated wall displaying the names and the heroic deed was instigated, with each one displayed using decorated tiles by Doulton, Lambeth. One of the names and their deed is recorded as follows:

P.C. Edward George Brown Greenoff, Metropolitan Police.
Many lives were saved by his devotion to duty at the terrible explosion at Silvertown. 19 Jan 1917.

The tiles are in good order and laurel leaves form a border around these words. Postman's Park is off St. Martin's Le Grand, EC2. The memorial is obviously incomplete and the history of it must be recorded with the Guildhall library.

Kate Jones


Enfield Royal Small Arms Factory - I've been told that many artefacts are in store at the MOD Depot at Glascoed near Usk, kept with a view to setting up a museum there with items from other sites - like Woolwich Arsenal, and Waltham Abbey. I will let you know when I hear more.

John Bowles


The Ashburnham Triangle by Diana Rimel, contains some information about Merryweather's. Priced £3 it can be obtained from Richard Cheffins, 19 Ashburnham Place, London, SE10 8TZ (020 8692 4562)

Richard Cheffins



By Ted Barr

This list is offered with the idea that others may have further knowledge or can help in other ways. It is by no means exhaustive and was compiled from a variety of sources. Please add and amend it as you think fit.

General Engineers and Machine Shops

Thompson and Co. At Endyne Works, Blisset Street. These people made small lighting for isolated country houses 100 years ago. I acquired the electric motor and some pulleys that drove their machine tools through line shafting (I'm sure Chairman Jack can explain that in detail). This motor and catalogue are in the Borough Museum at Plumstead. The motor has a twin brother, which is in the Chalk Pits Museum, Amberley, Sussex.

Fry's (London) Ltd. Catherine Grove. Tool Makers and consumables - e.g. they made hacksaw blades, drills etc., I have a copy of their catalogue from about 1930.

Custance and Thompson. Meadowcourt Road, Lee. They were long established and all through World War II, they were on repetition machine parts.

Elliott Machine Co. On Blackheath Hill in the old railway station. Similar to Custance and Thompson.

DeVille Brothers. Sited on the corner of Royal Hill and Gloucester Circus. Run by retired Royal Navy 'Tiffies'. They had a well-equipped workshop, and traded as general and motor engineers. During World War II they made parts for PLUTO valves and control gears.

Haybeerd - they were somewhere near South Street and made transformers, chargers and other electrical gear.

Phillips Motor Engineers. Shooters Hill Road - there is still a petrol station on site.

????? General Engineers of 156 Eastcombe Mews, Taking these together with Phillips (above) both had machinery driven by line shafting during World War 1. They must have been on war work as there were virtually no motors locally.

W. C. Keach. Motor Engineer, in Sun Lane Garage. They were sub-contractors for a works at Crayford.

E. Dello. General engineer in Sun Lane Garage. Had traded from other addresses and did general repetition work - in the war it was of a munitions nature.

E. Kingsnorth and Sons. Motor Engineers, Blackheath Hill. They did tool making and precision works for Elliots (above).

Dangerfield. Trafalgar Road, plant engineers.

Henry Sykes. Pump manufacturers.

Colloid Mills. Woolwich Road, near the tram graveyard. Machine tools could be seen at work there.

Arthur Martin. Tool Maker of Plaxtol Place.

This list will be continued in a future issue - but comments and additions are encouraged!


by Philip Binns

Meeting held 25th January:

Shooters Hill Fire Station - proposal for conversion to flats. Group felt that this was acceptable but that more information was needed.

Buildings 40 & 41 Royal Arsenal - landscaping. The group felt that York Stone should be used in the approach to the new Museum and Heritage Centre.

Royal Arsenal - proposed new access from Plumstead Road involving part demolition of boundary wall. Group regrets the demolition and objects to replacement by guard rails. They would like a resited wall similar to that demolished.

Meeting held 27th February

Seagers Building Site, Deptford Bridge and Brookmill Road, SE8. This site is actually in Lewisham - but is an important industrial complex right on the Greenwich border - and sits right on top of Deptford Creek. It can be clearly seen from local viewpoints like The Point and parts of Greenwich Park. The planning application is for housing and offices - including a 25 storey tower block. In addition there will be homes alongside Brookmill Road (4-5 storeys) and Broadway Fields (3-10 storeys). The old Seager's gin building will be kept for community use but will have an additional glazed penthouse. The group felt that this is all too intensive development for the site - but they welcome the refurbishment of the Seager building.

Royal Arsenal - demolition of unlisted wall and reconstruction. No case file provided.


by Reg Barter 

A number of articles published in previous issues of this Newsletter have drawn attention to Billingsgate Dock in Greenwich. There is a lot more to this story than appears at first sight - Billingsgate still has a role to play today.

Thanks to Nick Raynsford, MP, I have been able to discover a great deal about its present status - although to most passers by it appears to be just another bit of the frontage on Cutty Sark Gardens, it is in fact still a dock with rights and privileges attached to it.

In 1850 an Act of Parliament was passed to 'enable the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital .. ' to enlarge and improve the Billingsgate Dock and widen Billingsgate Street in Greenwich'.

This was a strange and obscure Act of Parliament. It is described as a 'Public Act of Local Application' - and as such does not appear in the normal reference lists like 'Chronological Table of Local Legislation', 'Halsbury's Statutes' or the 'Index to the London Government Act 1963 and orders made thereunder'. At the same time there is no sign that it has ever been repealed. It is understood that Acts of this type remain in force unless evidence can be brought forward to show that it has been repealed.

What does the Act say? First of all it makes clear that Billingsgate Dock is to be used by the public in the place of Ship Dock and Ship Stairs (near what was the Ship Pub sited where the Cutty Sark ship now stands). It was for the 'Use of Watermen and other Persons resorting to and using the same' .. and as a 'great Accommodation and Improvement to the Town of Greenwich .. and Persons using the said Dock' Billingsgate Street was to be widened and improved. Billingsgate Street ran roughly down the eastern side of what is now Cutty Sark Gardens. This all means that Billingsgate Dock is a public dock for the use of Greenwich people and others.

If the dock went into the ownership of the Greenwich Pier Company, in due course then under the Thames River Steam Boat Service Act of 1904, the London County Council took responsibility for it. However the owners should have given notice in writing to the LCC before 1907. Did they ever do this? Was there ever an agreement with the LCC to transfer it to them?

What does all this mean? What we probably need is a clever lawyer to sort it all out. But it may mean that Greenwich people and 'watermen' have some rights that they never knew about.

Please can we have some comments - or some more information?


Thursday July 26th 2001 10.30am-4.30pm

Seminar: Maudslay, Sons & Field and the first Kew Engine

A seminar exploring the Lambeth based engineering firm Maudslay, Sons and Field. Best known for their marine engines and the founder, Henry Maudslay's reputation as the father of modern engineering, the seminar will also examine to complex history of the museum's 1838 beam engine, which is believed to be the only non-rotative Maudslay beam engine remaining.

Speakers confirmed to date include Richard Maudslay (great, great grandson of Henry Maudslay), Dr Denis Smith, Dr Mary Mills and John Porter. Papers will embrace a number of themes including the Maudslay family; a history of the company and its impact on the British manufacturing industry; Maudslays shipyard in Greenwich and a historical study of the museum's 1838 Maudslay beam engine probably the last surviving Cornish engine built by the company. This engine will be operated under steam for delegates during the seminar. Cost including lunch £45, £40 seniors & members of the Kew Bridge Engines Trust.

Places limited, early booking recommended.............................

Fee includes delegate pack, morning coffee, buffet lunch and afternoon tea. In addition all delegates will be able to view the museum and attend an early evening private view of the museum's exhibition.

Henry Maudslay has been called the father of the machine tool And was widely respected by many prominent engineers of his time such as Brunel and Telford. Although he died in 1831, his sons continued his successful engineering business and in 1838 supplied the first pumping engine for the Grand Junction Water Works' new Kew Bridge pumping station, now the Kew Bridge ,Steam Museum.

However Maudslay is one of the 'forgotten' engineers, his reputation eclipsed by the more flambuoyant Brunel. This exhibition will examine Henry's life and work and his continuing legacy and its impact on many aspects of life which we take fro granted today.

For details of either event, both of which will be held at the museum, please contact Jo Willis at or write to Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, TW8 0EN



We receive a great many newsletters and booklets - thank you, and keep them coming - however, what is listed here are only those which have something of Greenwich interest in the current edition. Reviews of any publications of Greenwich interest are always welcome.

Bygone Kent

The February 2001 edition (Vol. 20 No. 2.) contains a number of pieces of Greenwich interest. These include - an article by Diana Rimel on Thomas Tilling (1825-1893) Livery Stables and Depots in the South East (including details on the Blackheath and Shooters Hill depots), an article by Mary Mills on Jim Hughes and Orinoco - in which Mary writes up the late Jim Hughes' notes on Hughes Barge builders at Providence Wharf in Greenwich, an article by Richard Hugh-Perks on The barges of Frederick Hughes of East Greenwich (giving details of Orinoco and other barges), and Bernard Brown on Romeo, Law and Order in Old Greenwich 1699-1899 (are the police industrial history??).

THE ISLE OF DOGS 1066-1918

This publication on the history of one of Greenwich's nearest neighbours is produced by the Island History Trust. It is by Eve Hostettler and available from Dockland Settlement, 197 East Ferry Road, E14 3BA. 020 7987 6041. Price £12.99.

This is a fascinating account of life and work on the Isle of Dogs - mainly in the past 150 years. It is embellished with many, many interesting photographs- something collected by the Island History Trrust over nearly twenty years. There was always a strong interchange between Greenwich and the Island with residents from both sides working on the other. Many Island families migrated to Greenwich as they prospered. It is highly recommended to anyone interested in our recent industrial past.


This booklet is by Bob Jeffries, a member of the Metropolitan Police River Thames Division - and thus rests on his intimate knowledge of the riverside from Woolwich to Battersea. It is a commentary on what can be seen from the river - and an antidote to much of the nonsense which tourists are told every day! On your next river trip, you could do a lot worse than take a copy with you!

(We have no information on how to get copies - can someone please provide information?).


The Winter 2001 copy of Crossness Engines Record brings some welcome news from the Octagon - the area of the Crossness Pumping Station built by Bazelgette in the nineteenth century.

Much of the work on cleaning and polishing linkages and connecting rods on the Prince Consort steam engine have been completed and the team are looking forward to setting up the parallel motion linkage. Concern is growing about these polished parts in the damp engine house and a small team will be set up to check their condition on a regular basis. For example, the governor put on display 3 or 4 years ago is now having to be stripped for re-polishing.

The Boiler Inspector has visited the site and given the OK for work to proceed in constructing a boiler room. The welders, Ernie Burrell and Albert Stedman, have built brick walls for the new boiler room.

Two of the original large steam pipes have been pressure tested and will act as reservoirs of steam when the engine is first started up. Four windows in the Octagon have been fitted with special shutters so there is now a lot more daylight!

The Record also contains some extracts from Hansard on the Great Stink of 1858, a miscellany of useful facts on sanitation, and on the Sewers of Paris.

Additions to Listed Industrial Buildings in Greenwich

Paul Calvocressi, English Heritage

I was glad to see the list of listed industrial buildings on page 8 of your latest newsletter (January 2001) but there are a few that were missed:

At the Arsenal;

- The Officers Quarters (Building 11)

- The former Paper Cartridge Factory (Building 17, to be part of the Royal Artillery Museum)

- The Laboratory Offices (Building 18, also part of the Royal Artillery Museum)

- The former Mounting Ground (Building 19)

- The former Chemical Laboratory (Building 20)

- The Grand Store (Buildings 36, 37, 46 7 49)


- No. 145 Charlton Road has a blue plaque to William H. Barlow, engineers.

- The Fire Stations at East Greenwich, Shooters Hill and Woolwich.

- Greenwich Railway Station

- The London to Greenwich Railway viaduct between Greenwich Station and Deptford Creek. The section in Lewisham is also listed, as far as North Kent Junction.

- The former outbuildings to Well Hall Farm, Well Hall Lane (a.k.a. The Tudor Barn).

I have also just heard that the Depot at White Hart Lane and the ventilation shafts to the Blackwall Tunnel have been listed.

WOOD WHARF (an update)

by Philip Binns

At the 27th February meeting of Greenwich Council's Planning Board, a decision was deferred on plans for Wood Wharf - this was to demolish all existing buildings there and to give planning permission for a replacement development comprising a seven-storey mixed use block with restaurants at ground floor level and 51 apartment units on the upper floors. A separate decision for an application to erect a four storey rotunda building at the end of Horseferry Place directly above the below ground engine chamber of the former Greenwich Steam Ferry was also deferred. This building would be dedicated entirely to restaurant use.

Members of the Planning Board were particularly concerned at the height of the proposed main block which is higher than the surrounding residential properties on the Meridian Estate but lower than the buildings proposed for the Greenwich Reach 2000 development immediately upstream. The design is in the style of a Victorian riverside wharf building with brick piers and arches, yet topped by a lightweight glass and steel penthouse structure.

The river face of this building would be directly above the flood defence wall with its ground floor set back to provide a colonnaded access link between the existing Thames Path leading to and from Cutty Sark Gardens and the new Greenwich Reach 2000 development to the west. It is proposed that the existing jetty and steps to the foreshore will be retained and renovated. The existing slipway, originally part of the Greenwich Steam Ferry, will also be retained.

The provision of a direct link passing underneath the building between Cutty Sark Gardens and the Greenwich Reach 2000 development should make redundant the planned boardwalk which formed part of that development and thus keep open the foreshore for the mooring of boats such as the Massey Shaw.

A part of the development allows for the upgrading of the long established adventure playground to the south of the site with the provision of a new building for community use.

It is regrettable that the existence of the engine chamber has not been acknowledged in the design or the use of the separate rotunda building. It is to be hoped that the developer can be persuaded to install interpretation panels; one on the Greenwich Steam Ferry and another on the history of the Wood Wharf site, home to Pope and Bond, one of the last boat repairers to operate on this stretch of the Thames.


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


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

10th March, Passengers, National Maritime Museum, 10.30-16.15. Details 020 8312 6716

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.

17th March, The Industrial Archaeology of the Greenwich Riverside. Mary Mills, Plumstead Museum, 2.30p.m. Ring 8855 3240 to book a place.

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

28th March, Archaeological Work in Greenwich 1887-2001. Julian Bowsher, at Greenwich Historical Society, Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanbrugh Park, SE3 7.15 p.m.

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 IA Conference, Christ's Hospital, Horsham details from Peter Holtham, 12 St.Helen's Crescent, Hove, BN3 8E 01273 413790 before 14th March.


4th April, Millwall Yard - Sectional Ships to the Great Eastern. S.&E. Underwood. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

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.

21st April, The 17th Century Kiln, Mike Neil, Plumstead Museum, 2.30p.m. Ring 8855 3240 to book a place.

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

27th April, Adventures of an Edwardian parachutist. Molly Sedgewick 7.45p.m., LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

25th April, The Channel 4 Time Team Dig in Greenwich Park. Harvey Sheldon, Greenwich Historical Society, Music Centre Blackheath High School, Vanbrugh Park, SE3, 7.15 p.m.

28th April, The Princess Alice Disaster, Simon Stevens, Plumstead Museum, 2.30p.m. Ring 8855 3240 to book a place.

30th May, Science and the French and Navies 1700-1850, National Maritime Museum, 020 8312 6716


2nd May, Visit to St.Dunstan's Church Stepney. DHG, 020 7515 1162

5th May, Thames People. 10.30 a.m. - 4.15 p.m. National Maritime Museum. Info: 020 8312 6747.

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

13th May, Woodlands Farm Spring Show.

18th May, T.W. Sanders, The Great Gardener by David Cropp 7.45 LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

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. 10.30a.m. - 4.15p.m. National Maritime Museum. Info: 020 8312 6747

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

6th June, Piers for the New Millennium. Tim Beckett. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

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

29th June, Morison Picture Gallery, Erith by Peter Hickson. 7.45p.m., LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13


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

4th July, Wharf Manager on the Thames, Alan Hawkins. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

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

20th July, Letters from a Victorian Schoolboy David Crane. 7.45p.m. LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13


1st August, Some Aspects of Warehousing. Malcolm Tucker. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

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


5th September, Excavations at the Riverside in North Southwark. Harvey Sheldon. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

9th September, Woodlands Farm Autumn Show.

28th September, Deptford and the Naval Dockyards. Ann Coats. 7.45p.m. LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13


3rd October, London's Lighterage Industry, John Jupp DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

14th October, Crown Wood Car and Vehicle Show.


7th November, History of Turk's Boatbuilders. Mike Turk DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

24th November, Charities of Deptford and Lewisham by Jean Wait. 7.45p.m., LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13


5th December, Christmas Quiz. DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30p.m.

7th December, The Medway. Bob Ratcliffe. 7.45p.m., LLHS, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13

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


IA of East London with Bob Carr. Wednesdays 2.00-4.00p.m.
North Woolwich Old Station Museum. £55/c£28. Write to Fred Bishop, 39 Freshfield Drive, London, N14 4QW with SAE.


The Society's AGM was held in January and the following officers were elected:

Chair - Jack Vaughan

Vice-Chair - Sue Bullevent

Secretary - Mary Mills

Treasurer - Steve Daly

Committee - Alan Parfrey, Andrew Bullevant

Auditor - Juliet Cairns

Members are reminded that subscription renewals fell due in October 2000.
Subscriptions remain at £10 and should be sent to:

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

The AGM also sent its best wishes - and concern - to Jack Vaughan who has been immobile and housebound since early December. Please come back Jack - we all miss you!

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.


Please 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