Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2002







15th January - Annual General Meeting - Dennis Smith - The Life of Henry Maudslay

AGM - we need to elect Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Meetings Secretary, Treasurer, 2 members EC

12th February - Clive Chambers. The development of shipping up to the Great Eastern.

12th March - Tim Smith on Hydraulic Power.
Tim is unfortunately unwell and his talk has been replaced by;
Mary Mills on George Landmann - Woolwich born engineer

16th April - Ray Fordham with Video of the Arsenal

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

Mary Mills would be interested in any photographs of people at work in Greenwich and Woolwich.

She will explain why if you contact her on 020 8858 9482.


By Jack Vaughan

On page 5 of the November Newsletter a small item caught my eye under "Bygone Kent" Vol. 22. An Ashford lady recalls being raised next door to an old public house, which she refers to as 'Ye Olde Sheer Hulk'. I remember it (just about) and I looked it up in Volume 1 of Vincent's "Records of the Woolwich District". An excellent 'Plan of West Woolwich in 1748' is on page 41. It covers the streets and alleys adjacent to the Royal Dockyard main gate in one of which the pub stood. It appears on the map as 'New Alley' but at the time that Vincent was writing his two volumes this name had been changed to 'Martyrs Passage'.

In recent years the area, has, needless to say, been destroyed. I have a map of Woolwich Pubs drawn in 1950, which shows the pub but not the passage. I would welcome knowledge of the survival of Martyr's Passage.

Perhaps the name of the pub is of interest. 'Sheers' (or Shears) were a special type of lifting structure used in dockyards for inserting or removing masts in wooden vessels. The word 'hulk' is famously used to describe cut down obsolete battleships for accommodating convicts for deportation - the practice ended with the American War of Independence.

It is likely that some shears were carried in hulks to form a type of floating crane. I recall that the pub was said to have been built using timber from the Royal Dockyard, which closed in 1869.

I have found further information on the pub in a booklet on 'Woolwich, Plumstead and Neighbourhood' - the date is unknown but certainly no later than 1890. Some of this is reproduced below;

The "Old Sheer Hulk," Church Street, Woolwich -

The "Old Sheer Hulk", another of the branch establishments, (of the Woolwich Distillery and the Old Shakespeare's Head) is a house with many associations, having been one of the institutions of Woolwich for many years. In the porch of the house attention is attracted by a painting of the "Old Ship," and the words of the song, "Tom Bowling," by Dibdin, appear below. Many of our readers may regret that the "Old Sheer Hulk" has been restored and improved under Mr. G. H. Campbell's proprietorship. It has, however, now been brought into line with modern requirements, and it is fitted up in the very latest and most effective style. The house stands opposite to the Royal Dockyard gates, and has always been well patronised by the Navy, this patronage still being extended to it, even in its rejuvenescent form. The hotel is singularly well conducted, being under the personal management of Mr. Walter Campbell, the brother of the proprietor. We should also mention that this is the headquarters of the West Woolwich Cycle Club.


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

From: Nicholas Hall, Curator, Fort Nelson Museum

I am just revising my article on Blakely, the gun founder who had a works on the Greenwich Peninsula. This will be for this year's yearbook.. I cannot remember if I told you that I had acquired a wonderful Blakely mountain gun earlier this year - the very same gun is shown in the album. I also have a report of a Blakely gun in Wales.

From: Steve Foster

I was researching the name Molassine and found your site. I have a tin Matchbox approx 3" x 1 1/2" which has the Molassine Trade mark to the front which consists of a bulls head and on the horns it says Molassine Horse Food on one and Molassine Cattle food on the other with a rearing horse and bull either side. On the reverse it has a reclining naked lady holding a tray or plate with one elbow resting on a Pig. Down one side it says 'THE MOLASSINE CO. Ltd. 36 Mark Lane, LONDON. E.C.' and on the other it says Telegrams:-"SPHAGNUM, LONDON." Telephone 1970 AVENUE, This item is for sale if any of your members are interested. <>

From: Lisa Milord

I am searching for information about some ancestors who worked as firework makers and foremen at the Royal Laboratory and Arsenal. The family name was Cook; my great-great-great-grandfather Thomas Cook worked at the Royal Arsenal and invented a flare that was used as a distress signal by ships at sea. His father, John Cook, was listed on an 1813 christening record as a foreman at the Royal Laboratory. Thomas Cook's son Thomas (John's grandson) appears on the 1891 census in Oare, Kent as "chief artist in fireworks" at the Green Cotton Factory there. Do you know where I could get more information about John Cook and his four sons (James, John, Thomas and William), who lived and worked in the Woolwich/Plumstead area, or at least more information about British firework makers in the 18th and 19th centuries? We even have a family story about Thomas Cook's wife Mary hiding gunpowder under her skirts, pretending she had a bad leg and couldn't walk, when Government inspectors came one time to their home when gunpowder was being strictly rationed or otherwise controlled by the government.

You do have a marvellous website; it brings the area to life. Thanks for any help you can provide.

From: Barbara Ludlow

I had a really pleasant surprise on Thursday when the Postie delivered a book to me. It came from Canada and at first I thought it had come to the wrong place. However not so. In May 2000 I sent a load of information on women workers in the Royal Arsenal to Prince Rupert Library. It was needed by a man writing a book. I also sent information on Cliffe in Kent. They thanked me and I literally forgot all about the author and the book. It is a novel - a rather adult children's book - set in 1914. France, Cliffe and Woolwich come into the story. The author is Iain Lawrence and the book's title is 'Lord of the Nutcracker Men'. Published by Delacorte Press, New York, 2001. $15.95. ISBN 0-385-72924-3 (trade). Hard back with a very attractive dust cover. Personally I would not call it a children's book. Kathleen Larkin of Prince Rupert Library told me that the book has had very positive reviews and Iain has received expressions of interest for turning it into a film. He has written prize-winning books before. I really did not do that much for them and what I did I did for love of the subject. Iain wrote on the title page "thank you for your help - I hope I did justice to Woolwich and the munitions women'. He also listed me in his acknowledgements. So strange to see thanks to 'Barbara Ludlow of Hawkinge, Kent'. I suppose I am now! Website for the Delacorte Press is

From: Lesley Bossine, Kew Bridge Steam Museum

We have now produced the CD-ROM of the Maudslay Seminar and Exhibition held in this Museum in July 2001. Further copies can be purchased from the Museum Shop (Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 DEN 020 8568 4757 for £7 plus post and packing. You may be interested to know that we are working with the Maudslay Society to re-print and update their commemorative brochure on Maudslay Sons and Field again in CD-ROM format. The publication date is not fixed yet but we will notify you when it becomes available should you be interested in purchasing a copy.

From: John Milner

This summer I was in a pub in Killarney, Ireland when I saw a ship model with the following inscription 'Clementia. Built 1873, for Sir John Tadman. Blackwall. Marylebone' - any information please?

From: Bob Aspinall

Please note that the Museum of London's Docklands Library and Archive has now been transferred on a loan basis to the new Museum in Docklands. I have been seconded by the Museum of London to the Museum in Docklands as Librarian. My new contact details are: Museum in Docklands, Library and Archive, No.1. Warehouse, West India Quay, Hertsmere Road, London, E14.

From: Ted Barr

Thank you for the latest Newsletter (November issue) I see you have given me a whole page! Ho! Ho! I had hoped to get in the following notes for Bob Patterson (re: item in No.4. Vol.4. July issue). Here it is:

Holbrook Lathes - I have no personal knowledge or experience of this make of machine but our Chairman, Jack, may be able to help. A recent contact tells me that he has a "Holbrook tool room machine guaranteed by the makers to be accurate to 1/10,000 inch (more comments, please Jack). Apparently of massive design and built with great rigidity, weighing over 1 tons. In capacity similar to a Boxford AUD, CUD etc. ". The owner has given me some contacts if anyone is interested.

There was also a former member of Dockland and East London Model Engineering Society who had been a time served machine tool maker at Holbrook's and might be of assistance. He had built a "scale model of a Holbrook which has been on show at National Exhibitions at Wembley and Castle Donington".


Part II

By John Fox

Harland's works occupied about nine acres of land on the riverside of the road from North Woolwich to East Ham. The works were all under one roof, with a large open foundry occupying perhaps a quarter of the site. For safety purposes, a brick wall enclosed the area where wood and other inflammables were worked on. In this bricked-off area toiled the joiners, upholsterers, sail-makers, pattern-makers and laying-out loft for the platers. The rest of the works housed the stores and the workshops of all the other trades needed to keep ships repaired. Behind the works, next to the river was a large open space criss-crossed by a railway system for the storage of boiler plates and other rubbish a ship repairing firm generates. In the corner of this yard was a slipway where LCM's (Landing Craft, Men) had been built during the war. During my apprenticeship, for a couple of weeks I worked on this slipway with an Australian fitter; we were overhauling the steam engines of a German tug taken as reparations.

In the main part of the works were the boiler makers and the fitters - over these shops beneath the corrugated iron roof ran overhead cranes, operated by the crane 'drivers' in their cabs above ground whose contact with the mortals below was via the 'slingers', who, not unnaturally 'slung' whatever was to be lifted. Many of us have seen the old photograph of William Penn's engine works taken in the 1870's; except for the machinery, being connected by lay-shafts Harland and Wolfe's fitting shop was just like that. I was, literally, thrust into this world when I reached sixteen.

After signing my indentures as a Fitter and Turner in the works manager's office, I was turned over to the tender mercies of the fitting shop foreman, Mr Haines. That's if Mr Haines had any mercy, tender or otherwise. For in my five years with him I never saw any sign that either was any part in his make up. Incidentally, you could always recognize the foreman in any London ship-repairing firm then, they were the ones who wore a bowler hat. The foremen wore them as a status symbol and also protection, (a forerunner of the safety helmets worn to enhance the macho appearance of building workers I suppose). The symbolism of being entitled to wear a bowler hat was such that legend had it that many years ago a mere boilermaker had come to work wearing a bowler hat. He was taken to one side by the foreman and told, politely but very firmly, that on no account was he to come to work wearing that kind of headgear again.

Mr Haines gave me his welcoming speech. "Don't give anyone any lip and do everything you're told." He took me down the short flight of stairs; his office was on stilts of course so that he could keep an eye on the workers below, to the brass finishers shop. Putting me under Bert, a brass turner, to spend nine months or so learning this aspect of the trade. Bert was one of the last four remaining members of the Brass Finishers Union and, bearing in mind that we are working in the London docks, a remarkably well-spoken man. There were two of us lads working under his watchful eye, learning brass turning by making cones, to be brazed by the coppersmiths on to pipes, valve spindles, re-cutting valve seats, fancy brass handles and a handy sideline for us lads was making plumb bobs for whoever was willing to buy one for a six pence or so. Much brass turning was done using hand tools, something like wood turning, a lot of screw cutting was done by scratching a cut on the job you were doing at the pitch of the thread (a brass lathe's feeds were the usual brass and pipe threads pitches) and then finishing off with hand-held thread chasers.

The skill of being able to use hand turning tools never left me, many years later I was in Green and Silley Weir's, another London ship repairing firm, it was about the time that their apprentices were refurbishing the Cutty Sark before it went into its final resting place at Greenwich. I was in Green's machine shop watching the fitting apprentices making a big meal out of turning some brass handles for the tea clippers cabin cupboards, when my big head got the better of me. "Come here", I told them, "I'll show you how it's done". Borrowing a couple of hand scrapers, I produced a rather good effort. Today somewhere in the bowels of the old tea clipper stands a brass handle on a cupboard, that is gazed at daily by a thousand tourists marvelling at the long-ago craftsmanship that went into the intricate brass work, not realizing they are looking at one of my efforts.

There was no apprentice training school at Harland's; the skilled men with whom we worked did our training. They were entrusted to teach us what they knew of the trade and, looking back, they did a damned good job, regarding it as their duty to pass their knowledge on. Recently there was an item on the television news about the Education Minister intending to run more trade-oriented tuition and a lad was shown using a round file on some sheet metal. Yes, he was using a file, he certainly wasn't filing. It was obvious the poor lad had never been taught how to hold a file, let alone use one. I was told to stand erect as you file, put pressure on the forward stroke and ease off on the return, not rub the file back and forward as he was. Any passing fitter in the shop would regard it as part of his job to give my elbow a sharp rap if he saw me copying the antics of the boy on TV. Yet, going back to the lad rubbing a file on an inoffensive piece of metal, I expect he was the best in the class to have been selected to appear on TV, how bad was the worst in the class I wonder. There was no works based training school but you could take a day off to go to the Polytechnic. This was unpaid of course and as my weeks wage, as a first year apprentice, was 90p I certainly couldn't afford that luxury, so evening classes it had to be.

The craftsmen under whom you were working not only taught you how to handle the tools but also how to do any basic mathematics that was necessary for the job you were doing. Thus when I worked with Bert he taught me how to use trig tables to find any angles required and later in the machine shop I was shown how to use log tables to ease any calculations. The calculations we did were was mainly to convert metric sizes to imperial, for sizes in marine engineering were millimetres, but Metric micrometers are so awkward to read, as compared to Imperial, we would invariable convert the millimetres into inches and work in those. Incidentally, a part of any lathe was always kept clear so that, with a damned great lump of chalk, you could do these calculations.


by Philip Binns

Minutes of 20th November

Land at Saxon and Lion Wharf, Norman Road, SE10

Application for demolition of buildings and use of site as offices. Group concern at massing. Another application for redevelopment of the site for production and distribution of ready-mix concrete - concern at this too.

Land at Brewery Wharf, Norman Road, SE10

Redevelopment for residential and hotel use. Still concern by the group on conflicting information.

Eltham Grid Station, Rochester Way, SE9

Installation of 9 antennae etc. etc., concern about safety of users in the meadows and the local site of Special Scientific Interest.

Nathan Way and Eastern Way, Thamesmead, SE18

Erection of 6 industrial units - unobjectionable in principle but need more detail.

Group has also looked at the proposed redevelopment of Stockwell Street in Greenwich town centre. Group warmly welcomed the initiative in involving the public in this planning application. Essential that Railtrack is part of this and there is a need for involvement with Greenwich Hospital Estates.

The Mulgrave Pond area is also considered for development. And a planning brief drawn up. Group do not want to see Cambridge House demolished. Otherwise this is welcomed.

Minutes of meeting of 18th December

Hiltons Wharf, Norman Road, SE10

Development of commercial space, 1,110 homes and car park - on six floors. Group thinks this is unacceptably high and has no ground floor linking Norman Road with the Creek. Thinks that the proposal conflicts with the West Greenwich Development framework in that there is too much residential space as against employment space, and the development will turn the Creek into a canyon, but they welcome the new Creek-side path.

Seagar development Deptford Bridge and Brookmill Road, SE8

Some members of the group had been to an Exhibition on this. They are still concerned at the height of the residential tower block, which is even higher now because of a public observation deck. Happy that the warehouse is now to be kept but still worried about the tower and its impact.



(from Mary Mills)

This class of Engine is made in one size only. It is the lightest of the double-cylinder Engines of our make, and is constructed to be drawn either by men or horses. One of these Engines was supplied to the Municipality of Calcutta some years since, and has given every satisfaction; since then orders for similar Engines have been er & Sons sent six Steam Fire Engines to Paris for its protection. One of these engines was of the above class, executed for the same municipality. The wheels are made of wrought iron, as shown in the illustration, these being found to suit the climate of India better than wood wheels. During the Franco-Prussian war Merryweath and, although it left their works unfinished, having to go into Paris by the last train previous to the closing of the city gates, it was selected to supply the street mains with water, as the waterworks had stopped, being outside the city, and the work was accomplished very successfully. This Engine was also employed to supply enormous reservoirs placed at an elevation of two hundred feet from the ground. It has, therefore, been amply proved that this Engine is not only a most excellent Fire Engine, but also a powerful portable Pumping Engine. The other Steam Fire Engines were, according to the Engineer's report, instrumental in extinguishing very extensive fires during the bombardment. This size of Engine is in use in the Moscow Fire Brigade (made to burn wood). Her Majesty's Government, also adopts it for the Colonies. Another Engine of this class was taken by the makers to Stockport, where it was shown off in the presence of the Town Council. The Town Council met specially, and purchased the Engine at once, although it was on its way to another part, having been lent only to the Corporation of Manchester, about eight miles distant, during the building of a more powerful Engine to their special order.

This account taken from Merryweather's catalogue.



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.

SUBBRIT Web site

See (URL corrected) for Nick Catford's write-up of the Greenwich Borough Control Centre - Southwood Road, New Eltham SE9. Nick describes how this blockhouse was built in 1954 as the Woolwich Borough Control Centre but became the Greenwich Centre in 1965. It goes on to say that in 1980 the GLC said it was not fit for use - the web site also shows Nick's photographs of the premises.


Includes an article by Bob Carr about the new riverside path now open around the Dome site. He mentions the slice of ship, which is still moored alongside the path. 'There are still a few small ships to be seen at the Tideway'. Bob mentions SS Vic 56 (, which can be seen across the river and also a diesel trawler, Ross Leopard. (Bob does not mention the extremely opulent private cruise vessel which was around at the same time.)



By Jack Vaughan

Ted Barr's survey of electrical generation in the area in the last Newsletter (November 2001 Vol.4. No.6. p.8) is comprehensive. I would only add one item - the so-called Woolwich Tramshed in Woolwich New Road. In fact it never had a tram inside it but was part of the London Tramway support system. I recall it having large machines, presumably generators, or alternators and transformers and a balcony full of meters and control gear.

With the disappearance of the trams the building became redundant and a prime target for destruction by the Borough. A 'Tramshed Supporters Club' was set up in 1978 to protect the shed which by then housed a theatre of some note. Its bar became a popular lunchtime rendezvous, presided over by no less a person than the present Mayor of Greenwich, Councillor Malone. The bar offered two famous ales, Fullers ESB and Everard's Tiger. In 1981 the Council approved demolition of the Tramshed as part of a comprehensive development of the whole town centre. A petition of 17,000 signatures was organised without avail and a protest movement was assembled under the name of 'Save Woolwich Now'. Battle was joined.

To cut this long story short - in the end the property company in question wilted under the local objections and pulled out. The present popular park square was the final somewhat desperate alternative, but the future of the Tramshed can never be taken for granted.

Returning to Ted's quest for information on the generation of Electrical Power in the Royal Arsenal: -

The Arsenal comprised four factories

Royal Gun Factory (1716)

Royal Laboratories (1696)

Royal Carriage Depot (since 1895)

MED (Mechanical Engineering Depot)

Each of them had its own generation plant until 1888, when responsibility passed to the Building Works Dept.. For maintenance no doubt the four relied on the workshops of the MED.

Installation of overall electrical power came in 1891. Extensive changes were needed to all types of machinery and the new central power station was completed in 1908. From then until 1938 is a story of constant expansion. Basic energy source was coal gas from the Arsenal's own gas factory feeding a group of boilers which in turn supplied steam to three turbines. The early output was 300 volts DC, later raised to 500 volts. A three-wire system was adopted, enabling lighting to use 250 volts DC and 500 volts DC for machine power. Alternating current was not supplied until after the Second World War.


By John Day

Ted Barr is asking about the electricity supplies in the Arsenal. I have an idea that I have already written that up for somebody, I can't remember who, but I can remember more than was in my apprentice screed. So here goes: -

The Central Power Station was situated on the south side of the road running along the river front roughly just east of the present Arsenal boundary. I had a fair bit to do with it; in the early thirties my father was one of the five station engineers who looked after it on shift work. When my father was on Sunday shift, I took him a hot dinner in a basket and spent the rest of the afternoon, till we both went home, investigating the building and its contents. Later, as an engineering apprentice, I spent a month, or so, as the station engineers assistant (see Vol.1 No.5 of the Newsletter). The building comprised, from north to south, the Electrical Shop (headquarters for all electrical maintenance), the Pump House (supplying hydraulic pressure around the manufacturing area), the Power Generating hall and, finally, the boiler house. Along the north wall of the electrical shop were two smaller shops, for magneto repairs and for accumulator repair and charging, the foreman's office and the stores. The magneto repair was for all the Arsenal vehicles and the accumulators were mainly for the Shelvoke & Drewery electric trucks (known as 'dillies'). The south side had the door into the pump house, an armature store and a rudimentary test area. The centre was taken up by benches, two lathes and a Drummond hand shaper.

The pump house, from west to east, housed a triple-expansion, scotch crank, Worthington-Simpson pump (very rusty and obviously not steamed since WW1), two - or was it three?- electrically driven, three-throw, single-acting, horizontal pumps, the door into the generating hall and a couple of electric centrifugal pumps for odd duties and supplying the boiler feed water softening plant. The latter was in a tower at the eastern end of the pump house and, at times, saw apprentices swimming in the clear cool water.

The generating hall, again from west to east, had a space where heavy electrical things were dumped on delivery, the 6,000 KVA Metropolitan-Vickers turbine generating set, two triple-expansion, Corliss valve, 1,450 HP engines direct coupled to DC generators and a Vickers-Howden, triple-expansion engine with piston valves for HP and IP and slide valve for the LP, also coupled to a DC generator. The gantry crane serving these was the slowest ever seen, wonderful for erecting steam plant but irritating when one just wanted to move some delivered goods. To the north of the Vickers-Howden were two rotary converters, essential since the western part of the Arsenal was still DC-powered while the eastern part, probably from the Plumstead gate, was AC. On a balcony, jutting from the south wall, was the black slate switchboard and, at the west end, the shift engineer's office. Going through the door by the turbine, on the right were two Babcock & Willcox boilers and on the left were four John Thompson boilers, all with chain grate stoking. Above them were the hoppers containing the pea size coal, feeding by gravity to the chain grates. The ash from below the boilers was taken out in long narrow trucks on the 18 inch gauge railway - that narrow gauge railway had to stay operative all the time the CPS was in use, since there was only room for the narrow trucks under the boiler house. They were towed by standard gauge engines, which could back up to the outside of the boiler house. Electrical transmission from the CPS, or, in shut down and peak times, from Warren Lane substation (connected to the power station between the Arsenal and the Ferry), was by 6,600 volt buried cables to the various substations which contained transformers and switch gear and, apart from sub 4, were unmanned. Sub 4 had a workshop and rest-room attached, since it acted as an outstation of the Electrical Shop providing trouble-shooting service for the AC area that included the woodworking shops, stores and the explosives pier.

If there are errors in this please let me know, after all I am trying to remember how it was nearly seventy years ago.


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



2nd January, Jim Packman & Alan Cartwright, The Port of London Authority, Past Present and Future.
DHG, Room C. Interpretation Dept. Museum of London, London Wall, EC2. 5.30 p.m.

8th January, Crossness Visitor Day. (You must book. See details for access.)

9th January, E.F. Clark. Metallurgical Evaluation of the Tyre of the Lion Locomotive. Newcomen Society. Fellows Room, Science Museum, SW1, 5.45 p.m.

12th January, Mike Brown, Evacuation in World War II, Woolwich Antiq. 2.00 p.m. Charlton House.

16th January, Stephen Halliday. The Great Stink. Bazalgette and the Cleansing of Victorian London. GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Medical School, Barts, Charterhouse Square, E1. 6.30 p.m.

18th January, Development of the Caterham Car. Blackheath Scientific Society. 7.45 p.m. Mycenae House.

20th January, Crossness Visitor Day. (You must book)

23rd January, Spring Quiz on Local History. Greenwich Historical Association. Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanburgh Park, SE3. 7.15 p.m.

25th January, The German Church at Sydenham. Peter Walker, Lewisham Local History Society, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13. 7.45 p.m. £1 donation

26th January, Labour Heritage Conference. Labour in London. Exploring the History of the Labour Party in London. 10.00 a.m.-5 p.m. 40 Northampton Road, EC1. Details: Sean Creighton, 020 8640 1814

30th January, Museum in Docklands. Chris Ellmers. R&BLHG, Time and Talents, SE16


5th February, Crossness Visitor Day. (You must book)

6th February, Trevor Rosoman, English Heritage. Re-establishing Eltham Palace. DHG, (see above)

9th February, Local History Parks and Open Spaces. 10.30-16.15. National Maritime Museum

13th February, Judith Roberts & Martin Hargreaves. Technology in the Landscape Park. Newcomen Society. Fellows Room, Science Museum, SW1 5.45 p.m.

17th February, Crossness Visitor Day. (You must book)

20th February, John Liffen The Patent Office Museum. The First Industrial Museum, GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Medical School, Barts, Charterhouse Square, E1. 6.30 p.m.

22nd February, The drama of family life at Newfield House. David Crane, Lewisham Local History Society, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13, 7.45 p.m. £1 donation

23rd February, Coastal Craft. 10.30-16.15. National Maritime Museum

27th February, Frost Fairs on the Thames. Jeremy Smith. R&BLHG, Time and Talents, SE16

27th February, Immigration to Greenwich by Arnie Wijnberg. Greenwich Historical Society, Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanburgh Park, SE3

28th February, Judy Harris on The Roupells of Lambeth. Hawkstone Hall, Kennington Road, SE1. SLAS. 7.30 p.m.


5th March, Crossness Visitor Day. (You must book)

6th March, Edward Sargent on the West India Dock up to 1830, DHG, (see above)

13th March, Prof. Ian Inkster. Patents as indicators of technological change and innovation. A historical analysis of the data c. 1830-1941. Newcomen Society. Fellows Room, Science Museum, SW1. 5.45 p.m.

11th March, Charts and Globes. 10.30-16.15 National Maritime Museum

15/16th March, Maritime London. 10.30-16.15 National Maritime Museum

17th March, Crossness Visitor Day. (You must book)

20th March, Don Clow. The Streets of London. GLIAS, Lecture Theatre 2, Medical School, Barts, Charterhouse Square, E1. 6.30 p.m.

22nd March, AGM and Commercial Vehicles in Lee. Gus White. Lewisham Local History Society, Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13. 7.45 p.m. £1 donation


Industrial Greenwich. Tuesdays, 5 weeks from 12th February. Greenwich Borough Museum. 2.15-4.15 p.m. £26. Goldsmith's PACE course. Ring 0800 092 0659. This comprises:

12th February - Diana Rimel on West Greenwich Industries

19th February - Ian Turner on the History of Amylum UK

26th February - Mary Mills on Maudslay Shipyard, Greenwich

5th March - Chris Foord, on Shifting Sands

12th March - Beverly Burford on Artefacts and Artifice

Historic Architecture in London and Local Boroughs. Mondays from 7th January, 10.15-12.15 am £32. Goldsmith's PACE course. Ring 0800 092 0659

Deptford Past and Present. Lewisham Library. 15th January - 19th February, 10.30-12.30 £19. Goldsmith's PACE course. Ring 0800 092 0659

Know London will run from spring 2002 and be run by two Blue Badge guides. Wednesdays from 7th January 11.00 a.m.-1.00 p.m. £40. Goldsmith's PACE course. Ring 0800 092 0659

Details of all courses from PACE Goldsmiths College, <>

Lewisham and its surrounds. Thursdays from 7th January 2.00 p.m.-4.00 p.m. Lewisham Library. £13. Community Education Lewisham. 020 8694 8445

Submarines. Tuesdays 10.30 a.m.-12.30 p.m. 8 weeks from 29th January. National Maritime Museum

Seapower in the Age of Nelson. Wednesdays 10.30-12.30 from 30th January. National Maritime Museum

A History of the Royal Navy. Tuesdays 8 weeks from 23rd April. 10.30-12.30. National Maritime Museum

The Beach - history of its role in the seaside. Wednesdays 10.30-12.30. 8 weeks from 24th April. National Maritime Museum


By Jo Hadland

Cornelio Ambrosio Sperati founded the button wholesale business which stands on Westcombe Hill and is one of the oldest enterprises of the area.

The company was founded in 1856 when Cornelio recognised the importance of imported Italian silks and trimmings to the burgeoning textile industry in England. His base was Tooley Street and then Milk Street before, in 1961, the company moved to Westcombe Park to beat rising costs in central London. Managing Director, John Atkinson, has been with the company for 35 years and remembers Westcombe Hill before the motorway was built, with its clusters of shops.

The stock-in trade of Sperati's has not changed much for 100 years - they still sell buttons, sewing thread and trimmings, mostly to British manufacturers, the armed forces and the police. The firm is one of the main six button wholesalers in England and employs nine people.

(reproduced with kind permission of the Westcombe News)


The Society's officers are curently as follows:

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 2001.
Subscriptions remain at £10 and should be sent to:

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

This newsletter was produced for Greenwich Industrial History Society, Chair, Jack Vaughan, 35 Eaglesfield Road, SE18. Views expressed in it are those of the authors and not of the Society.

Contributions (within reason) are always welcome.


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.



The Web version has been created by;

.... David Riddle, Goldsmiths College

Space courtesy of Goldsmiths College, University of London