Volume 6, Issue 6, November 2003






11th November - Peter Gurnett on General Steam Navigation

20th January - Annual General Meeting and speaker - Neil Rhind.

10th February - Clive Chambers on London Bridge

9th March - Mr. Puddefoot on 'A Family Nursery'

13th April - Peter Kent on Riverwatch

18th May - Dr. Gerry Moss on The History of Fireworks

15th June - Robert Hulse on The Brunel Engine House at Rotherhithe

13th July - Philip Peart on Appleby Engineers

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


By Steve Barr

The weather on the morning of Thursday the 9th of July 1987 was simply glorious. The sun shone down from an azure sky. By 4.30am it was shirtsleeve weather. As the porters and drivers made their way to the Abattoir for a 5am start on that beautiful morning noone had a care in the world. But within a few hours all that was to change. Unknown to all except the police who were involved in the operation - P.T 17 tactical firearms unit, number 9 Regional Crime Squad (Flying Squad) and the assistant depot manager Mr. Brian Peake who was, very unluckily, in charge that week as the depot manager was on vacation in Spain, there was going to be an armed robbery at the Abattoir that morning.

Mr. Peake had been visited at work late the previous afternoon by members of the Flying Squad and informed that there was more than probably going to be an attempt to rob the Securicor wages van which was to deliver the wages of the Abattoir workers as usual the next morning at around 8.15am. The Abattoir was only one of the wages drops that the van was to make that day and it was estimated that it would be carrying around 50,000 pounds in cash. Mr. Peake was to keep this information a secret, telling none of the other Abattoir employees what was afoot because it was suspected that the gang may have an "inside man" working there.

The police had their whole operation fully planned. Under the codename Operation Kincraig an elaborate ambush was to be set-up in order to thwart the raiders and all possible escape routes would be covered. The main thrust of the ambush was to be launched from a parked rental Luton van with a team of P.T 17 officers and their dogs secreted inside the cargo box. This box had observation holes drilled into it in order to allow the team full surveillance of the area. Thus when the right moment came the team could heave up the roller-shutter and emerge from the back of the vehicle to intercept the raiders. On that fateful Thursday morning the day's work began at 5 am as usual and continued until around 7.55 am when the manager, Mr. Peake, called a halt for breakfast. All the employees made their way to their rest rooms and the office ladies arrived for their 8am-start time. Also at around this time the Luton van containing the P.T 17 team arrived and reversed into the loading bay. The driver and his assistant (two flying squad officers in white butchery coats and hats exited the van's cab and entered the little (manager's) office which adjoined the main office on the loading bay. The police were now fully deployed in their ambush positions ready and waiting for the arrival of the wages van and the armed raiders.

But in the meantime, unfortunately for the P.T 17 team in their van, a Co-op lorry had pulled up and parked in front of the covert police vehicle blocking any possible view of the raiders initial approach which, it was believed, would come from the woods to the front of the loading-bay.

At about 8.10 am the Securicor wages van arrived followed by the gang's getaway car. a silver Ford Granada Ghia, containing only its 24 year-old wheelman (driver). The wages van reversed into the loading bay and parked about 8 or ten feet away from, and parallel with the covert police van.

By this time the Abattoir employees had reached their rest rooms. The porters had gone to the canteen at the back of the building; the office workers were in the main office on the loading bank - the drivers in their small rest room which was directly in line with the action which was about to take place. Little did they suspect that they were to have ringside seats for the tragic spectacle which was shortly to unfold. Only one person remained working on the loading bay - Mr. Peake the assistant manager. During their visit the previous afternoon the flying squad officers had asked him if he would be willing to continue working after he had sent the other workers to breakfast. This, it was hoped, would make it appear that business was going on as usual and the raiders would not be spooked by a deserted loading bank. Bravely he agreed to do so. He was to move boxes of frozen chickens around in an area near to the door to the little (manager's) office and beat a hasty retreat into the office on the raiders approach. He did not have long to wait as events moved very quickly now.

One of the Securicor guard's, fifty-eight year-old James Anker (whom it was later revealed had been the victim of armed robbers fourteen times before) climbed out of the van to gather the wages bag for the Abattoir from a chute in the body of the vehicle. A guard inside would deposit this to him. At this point three armed raiders charged out from the inside edge of the wood that was directly in front of the loading bay and around forty feet distant from it grabbing and threatening the hapless guard. The raiders were wearing dark blue overalls and Balaclavas. They were equipped with awesome firepower. This consisted of a Franchi SPAS (Special-Purpose Automatic Shotgun) which was used by Italian specialist police units; a Browning self-loading shotgun which had been sawn-off and modified with a pistol grip rather than its original rifle stock and a nickel plated Smith and Wesson 686 .357 Magnum revolver. Meanwhile, the P.T 17 team in their covert Luton van glimpsed the raiders as they dashed past one of the spyholes in the side of their vehicle's cargo box. In an instant the rear roller-shutter of the van was thrown up and the team exited out of sight of the raiders. P.C Anthony Long was the first member of the team to exit the vehicle and glance around the corner of their van. He was armed with a 9mm Browning automatic pistol in one hand and carrying a shield in the other. About ten feet away from him he saw the Securicor guard and the three armed raiders. One of the gang was pointing his weapon at the stomach of the guard whilst the other two were hammering on the side of the wages van screaming for the guard inside to "open the f&emdash;&emdash; door and give us the money". At this point it was stated by the police that one of the P.T 17 officers behind P.C Long shouted, "stop armed police" through a loudhailer. Whether or not this warning was given became the subject of much controversy in the days and weeks that followed. What then occurred was that raider number 1 began to turn his head toward Long who then fired two shots in quick succession with his Browning pistol. Both shots hit the raider in the back and he fell mortally wounded. Alerted by the gunfire, raider number 2 started to turn toward the source of the firing but Long quickly loosed two more shots hitting him in the chest and head. He too dropped to the ground dying. Realising that he was caught in an ambush the third raider started to bolt from the scene in order to save himself but as he did so P.C Long fired another two shots. The first shot missed its mark and the second hit him in the side with the bullet lodging against his spine. As he ran around the van he was confronted by two P.T 17 officers armed with pump-action shotguns and he raised his arms in surrender.

Meanwhile the getaway driver, seeing the carnage unfolding in front of him and being unable to help his fellow gang members, sped-off up the Abattoir road bursting through a police cut-off team in Garland Road but was brought to a halt after being rammed by a police car near The Slade. The fugitive then abandoned the car and ran. Pursuing police officers chased him into the back garden of a house in Timbercroft Lane and brought him down with a well-timed rugby tackle. The garden belonged to seventy-five year-old Mary Peckover. Two officers were sitting on the getaway driver and a third was standing guard with a gun. Mrs. Peckover told reporters that 'The police stayed sitting on this chap and asked me for a cup of tea. I didn't know whether he was dead or alive so I said 'do you want three cups or four?' Still sitting on this chap they said 'Just the three please'.

In less than a minute the whole thing was over. Two raiders lay dead on the ground with their blood running down the yard of the loading bay. An ambulance which was on standby for the police operation quickly arrived and took the wounded raider to Greenwich Hospital where he was kept under armed guard. In the immediate aftermath of the incident police officers appeared from everywhere. There were scores of them all doing then- different tasks. Over the next few hours the shell-shocked Abattoir employees were each interviewed by detectives who took their statements regarding what they had seen and/or heard during the attempted robbery. A helicopter brought in Sir Kenneth Newman the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. He was given a guided tour of the scene and inspected the bodies of the dead raiders which still lay where they had fallen. Both had been turned over onto their fronts and their hands had been-tied-up behind their backs. The bodies were finally removed by the Co-op Funeral Department about three hours after the shootings had occurred. Until around midday no one was permitted to enter or leave the Abattoir grounds. Every possible entrance and exit was cordoned-off by the police. Once the cordon was lifted, however, the media besieged the whole area. This was a huge story. The incident had set a new record on mainland Britain for the number of deaths and woundings in a single incident which did not involve terrorism. On the following morning a twenty-nine year-old Abattoir employee, who was the brother-in-law of the wounded raider, was arrested on the premises and taken to Woolwich Police Station where he was quizzed for eight hours by members of the flying squad. He was released that evening without charge.

The tabloid newspapers that Friday morning were hailing P.C. Long a hero. The Sun newspaper carried the front page headline 'The Equaliser' with a photograph of the 9mm Browning automatic pistol used by the marksman to gun down the gang. On Saturday morning the newspapers were reporting that Long had shot a man before. This had occurred at the culmination of a police siege of a house in Northolt, Middlesex in which a man had been holding a little girl hostage with a knife. However, given that P.C. Long had fired six shots during the incident at the Abattoir, killing two and seriously wounding one of the robbers and not a single shot had been fired in return, questions were now being asked, not least by the families of the gang, as to the legitimacy of the shootings. There were cries of police execution and the demand for a public inquiry into the affair. Had P.C. Long broken the rules of engagement with armed criminals?

The police 'Gunlaw' which laid out the rules, as they then stood, for challenging an armed person, officially called the 'Minimum Force Doctrine' ordered that an officer should always shoot to disable rather than kill - an officer could face a murder charge if s/he kills a suspect when it would have been possible to 'stop' him with a wounding shot. Further, guns may only be fired as a last resort to prevent loss or further loss of life. An officer may never fire a weapon simply to detain an offender or prevent a crime only if they are convinced that the criminal is about to shoot someone. Furthermore, an officer must first shout 'Armed police! Stop or I will fire!' - even if it endangers the officer's own life. Only if this order is ignored can the officer fire his weapon at the criminal. Had P.C. Long followed these rules as far as reasonably possible or had he ignored them? The Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, ordered an independent police investigation into the shooting. This was to be carried out by the Essex police force under its Deputy Chief Constable James Dickinson. The Metropolitan Police were to have no part in the investigation. Every Abattoir employee who had been present during the incident was very thoroughly interviewed by the Essex Detectives and statements were taken noting everything that had been seen and heard during the incident. When complete the Essex police investigation into the shooting cleared P.C. Long of any wrongdoing and the result of the eight-day inquest into the deaths of the two robbers returned a unanimous decision on raider 2 and a seven-to-two majority in favour of 'Lawful Killing' on raider 1.

However P C. Long had become a marked man. Amongst the families and friends of the shot raiders and the South London underworld, feelings were running high. It was rumoured that the underworld had put a ten thousand pound price tag on the Policeman's head and that his home had to be given round-the-clock security. It is also interesting to note that during the interviews with the Essex Police conducting the inquiry into the incident each and every Abattoir employee was very directly asked if they had heard the alleged Police loudhailer warning to the robbers but, of some fifteen employees (around ten of whom were within fifteen feet of the shooting) not one single person heard the loudhailer warning or even a shouted one! For their parts in the attempted robbery the wounded raider was later found guilty of armed robbery and sentenced to thirteen years and the getaway driver to eight years imprisonment. Thus ended the saga of the Abattoir robbery. For those Abattoir employees present, and probably for everyone who was involved in whatever capacity on that fateful day, things would never be quite the same again.


AN APOLOGY - in our issue last June an article about the Shooters Hill abattoir was wrongly attributed to the author's helper - not to the main writer who was Steve Barr (sorry Steve).

LONDON OPEN HOUSE DAY included the opening of 'A Slice of Reality'. This sliced-through section of a ship stands in the river alongside the pathway at the back of the Dome. This is used as a studio by the originator of the piece, Richard Wilson and it was a startling and interesting experience to go aboard. Richard Wilson writes "I sometimes cycle to the 'Slice' - whatever happened to our shipbuilding heritage? I can certainly give you some info about the 'Slice'. Come aboard again if ever the gangway is down.


Howard Chard has pointed out to us the connections between this Welsh Railway and Eltham.

He quotes from Colin Chapman's The Vale of Glamorgan Railway (Oakwood 1998). It says;

'In June 1888 Colonel John Thomas North (1842-1896) acquired the Llynvi and Tondu Co. (L&T) which owned coal mines and iron works to the north of Bridgend. An engineer from Leeds, North had made a fortune out of various nitrate enterprises in Chile as a result of which he had acquired the sobriquet; the 'Nitrate King'. He lived at Avery Hill, Eltham, where his neighbour was John Joseph Smith, receiver and manager of the L&T Co. …'.

The story goes that it was at a garden party at Avery Hill that Smith and Col. North concluded a deal whereby the latter was to acquire the L&T Co, transaction being completed on 10th July, 1888, through a private syndicate called the 'Western Navigation Collieries Syndicate'. Under a further agreement, dated 29th August 1888, North undertook to transfer the contract of sale to this syndicate, which changed its name to 'North's Navigation Collieries Syndicate Ltd'. Finally on 19th January 1889 this syndicate agreed to sell its assets to 'North's Navigation Collieries (1889) (NNC) Co. Ltd.', in which Colonel North was the major shareholder. The company had a registered capital of £450,000, divided into 90,000 shares of £5 each.

The property acquired by Colonel North comprised six collieries in the Bridgend valleys: Park Slip near Tondu; Wyndham and Tynewydd in the Ogmore Valley; and No. 9 Level, Maesteg Deep and Coegnant at Maesteg; together with iron works at Maesteg (which was rapidly dismantled and sold) and Tondu, along with various other related assets. Extensive holdings of steam and house coal were also acquired, and a new pit was sunk at Caerau in the Llynfi Valley.


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

From: Cllr. Paul Tyler

Re: The RACS Archives.

I have just negotiated a swap with Julian Watson - the RACS Political Committee minutes (hardcopy) for Comradeship 1896-? We already have a microfilm copy of the minutes at the History Library. The bound copy will go to Manchester. We now have ALL the local RACS Archives in situ at Woolwich Arsenal, where they belong. Mission accomplished! There is hardly anything at Sun Yard now; we have found a home for all of the archives, and only the library is left. Most of the artefacts have been sold and the photograph collection is at Dartford. Following on from the allocation of RACS Records I have some further good news. Next year, which is the centenary of Woolwich regional government (LCC elections) a conference is being organised, which will be funded (hopefully) by the Regional Coop. One the themes of the conference will be Work, Education, and Politics 1868 - 1904. It will look at the contributions of the RACS, and the trade union and labour movement. The conference will also address the changing/developments London in the 1930s and 40s. It is hoped that not only will this conference attract Coop and Labour members, but students as well. It is being organised by Karen Froggett (Coop UK Regional Secretary), Ron Roffey, Peter Collier (RACS Archival Assistant), and myself.

From: Carolyn Howe

I'm not sure whether you may be able to help, but I thought I'd try! My husband's ancestors were Shipwrights in Deptford from 1720's through to the early 1800s. We are anxious to find out more about the Deptford Shipbuilding industry. Any help would be appreciated.

From: Angela Smith

I e-Mailed you some time ago about George Mence Smith who founded a chain of hardware stores. One of his ancestors has in her possession a book of beautifully drawn items such as plans for what appear to be castles, and more interestingly a plan for a canal to join the Thames across the loop it makes at Greenwich. It would seem that it was proposed to shorten the Thames shipping route. The plans are all dated in the 1830's and signed G Smith. We don't know anything about them and don't think they are a G Smith from the family. The drawings appear to have been produced by someone with surveying in mind. Have you ever come across any plan for a canal at Greenwich?

From: Elizabeth Howard

Many thanks to Mr. Philip Binns for alerting me to the fine History of Blackheath Village and Environs, by Neil Rhind. In Vols. 1 and 3 the Bennett family of watch and clockmakers are discussed extensively. It is clear from the illustrations of Tranquil Vale in the 1870s that the two clocks, one above and one overhanging the pavement, at Bennett's shop are from the same maker as the Tower clock at Royal Arsenal Woolwich, the movement of which is dated 1836, and the winding mechanism marked Bennett of Blackheath. I am indebted to Mr. Binns for pointing me in the right direction and to Mr. Rhind for his marvellous book detailing the history of the Bennett family. Never was a tenner better spent!

From: English Heritage

This summer has seen the publication of important consultation documents by the DCMS, both available on their website. These are: Protecting our Historic Environment - and the Historic Environment Records - (consultation on the future of Sites and Monuments Records). These, together with other changes to planning legislation, could significantly alter the ways in which the historic environment is managed. It has been described as a once in a generation opportunity to influence this aspect of government.

From: David Ramzan (Charlton supporter since 1965)

I was looking through your pages trying to find some information on the Charlton sand pits and saw a message about the Merryweather pumping machines. I was born in Greenwich and now live on Romney Marsh and being a Charlton Athletic supporter I was surprised to come across a fire engine in Lydd museum that was made by Merryweather's of Greenwich, Merryweather's were associated with Charlton Athletic in the Club's early formation. The engine has a lot of history behind it and is in excellent condition. In 1905 a group of young boys from the North Charlton area of South East London formed a football club and named it Charlton Athletic. The club played its initial matches on a piece of waste ground owned by the Siemens telegraph works near East Street. A committee was set up and the first headquarters was in the now demolished public house called The Crown. Amongst the committee members was a Joe Merryweather. Although there is no mention of his profession, a family member of the company Merryweather's was named Joe and from the records available, he was around at the same period of time. Joe Merryweather was involved with the club up until at least 1914, and was the last surviving member of this first committee until his death in 1977. A local fishmonger Arthur Bryan was also involved with the committee. Joe's son recalls that his father told him that the fishmonger supplied haddock to the players for after-match suppers. This is confirmed by cartoons from the local papers of the day, and is the origin of the club nickname 'The Addicks'. Joe Merryweather, who was also a former timekeeper for the Boxing Board of Control, kept the name going in later years by parading around the pitch holding up a board with a picture of a haddock on it.

Also can I take this opportunity to ask if you have any information on the history of the Charlton sand pits?

From: Andrew Hunt

From the Nuffield Foundation we run a general interest Web site to tell people about the way science and technology have shaped London. We also provide information about lots of easily accessible science places and events for the public and visitors to London. Anyone can contribute to the site and it is easy to do so. Please consider putting in a link to our site from the links section of your web site.


The Web Editor writes: We don't currently operate a links section on this site. Perhaps we should?

From: Ian Barrow

My Grandfather lived and worked in Greenwich all his life. For much of his working life he toiled on the 'Rubbish Barges'. He was dockside-based and loaded and levelled the loads. I would be interested to find out more about the work he did. He died last year aged 100, so I am unable to ask him now. Can anyone help?

From: Mary Paterson

I have a gold medal that belonged to my Grandfather dated 1898-9 for 'WDL Winners'. He worked in the Arsenal at that time, and despite many hours searching I cannot find out what WDL might have been. Can you suggest anything?

From: John Porter

On the river wall, at Millwall, were two marks 700 feet apart, and between them in large letters was written,' THE GREAT EASTERN BUILT HERE 1858'. The biggest ship in the world, built here in London, a size not exceeded for fifty years, and now there is nothing to show for it as the words have gone. London should be proud of Brunei's masterpiece, certainly enough to bear the cost of re-painting the wall to remind all river users of our heritage. I can think of no one better to campaign for this to be done than you.

John Porter, 19 Leigh Park Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, S39 2DU

From: Keith Furlong

My father worked man and boy at Siemens Brothers (later AEI) in Woolwich until it closed. He has often mentioned the Engineering Society he belonged to and wondered if it still existed. Have you any more recent information I could use?

From: Nicole Weller, Museum of London

This is to introduce myself as the new Portable Antiquities Liaison Officer and Community archaeologist for Greater London. I have been in post at the Museum of London since 28 July. I am looking forward to setting up a working relationship with the archaeological societies and clubs based within the Greater London area. The main purpose of my Community Archaeologist role will be to build upon the invaluable work of my predecessor Vanessa Bunton and to promote the involvement of individuals and community groups in London's archaeology and in particular by supporting local archaeological societies. At a later date perhaps I could talk to your members about the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the Treasure Act and any other related issues that your members would be interested in.

From: Chris from Downunder

I am researching the family "Hillier". The first of my ancestors (from Bishops Canning) to arrive in Australia came on board (a brig) "Neptune", sailing from Deptford to Cork, Ireland and no port of call until Sydney, Australia.

I am very interested to acquire a sketch of the port/wharf at around this time. How they would have travelled etc. to reach the port, and maybe info on the weather in October, 1843. They were assisted emigrants, so they were not wealthy. Thank you to anyone who can help me in this mammoth search.

From: Irene and Graham

My husband is trying to find details of the circumstances of the death of an ancestor of his, William Walden, born about l867 possibly Charlton Vale, Woolwich. His niece believes that William, who was a tug driver, was killed whilst on duty on the Thames Tug "Harlow" during the 2nd World War. I understand that reports of such events may not have appeared in newspaper articles at the time. Would you know where I might find details? The exact status of tug drivers, and indeed tug skippers seems to be difficult to establish. Were they qualified, and if so, by whom?

From: Iris Bryce

Just a quickie - as a child I often accompanied my father on his Sunday morning walks, which included calling at one or two his favourite pubs. One of these was the Union (now the Cutty Sark) and I would sit on one of the wide benches that were placed outside the pub on the banks of the river. Most of the barge builders preferred to sit outside and once or twice they were almost too late bringing the benches up when an extra high tide was due! They always pronounced the name as The Onion - and I heard the same name applied in the past to a public house in Woolwich, which was situated in a street at the back of Cuff's Departmental Store.

From: Gary and Stella Wenko

I read an article on the Internet from your society regarding the firm Redpath Brown. I currently work in an aircraft hangar, an "A" Type Shed built by Redpath Brown of 1931, to be exact, on RAF Station Mildenhall, and would very much like to know the original purpose of the many rooms of the hangar. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

From: Trevor Owen

I'm interested in finding detail of an engineer, Isaac Dixon, who sailed in Siemens's SS Faraday in the late 19th century. Do you know where I might be able to find records, archives, etc. which might detail Isaac's service on the ship? And photos of the officers and crew of the ship? Do you know whether Siemens have an archives department and how I can get in touch?



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.


"Good prose is like a window-pane." (George Orwell (1903-50).


The 19th January 1967 was the 50th anniversary of the Silvertown explosion and also the night when the gasholder at East Greenwich collapsed and about 7 million cubic feet of gas went up in flames. I expect there are a lot of people in South-East London who remember this night and also many of the Board's pensioners, and I am one of them. At the time I was 16 years of age and was an apprentice at J. Stones of Deptford and my father was the valve man on duty at the time the gasholder collapsed. I knew that my father would be at work and I had heard that there was a big fire at East Greenwich Gas Works so I left Deptford to make my way to Greenwich to see if my Dad was alright. As hundreds of shop windows were broken by the explosion I was lucky to get there as I was cycling at the time and there was glass everywhere but I made it. When I got to the Gas Works there were fire engines everywhere also a number of police. I told the gatekeeper who I was and why I had come so he allowed me to go and see my Dad. As I went along the yard I saw the collapsed holder screwed up like a ball of paper. I was glad to find my father was alright but badly shaken. I was about to leave for home when a gentleman came along and asked my father who I was.

My father told him I was his son and had come down to see if he was alright. So the gentleman turned to me and said," Well, my boy, your father is quite safe and you go home and tell your mother that your father will be home at his usual time", and that was the first time I met Dr. Carpenter who was Chairman of the South Metropolitan Gas Company. My father received the O.B.E. from the King for his part in helping to keep the gas flowing into the mains of the district. He also received a sum of money from the Board of Directors. I joined the South Met Gas Company in July 1919 in the fitter's shop as a fitter's turner and served nearly 43 happy years in the same shop until I retired in June 1962."

Mr. A.R.Innes, former fitter and turner recorded in the Segas Journal, February 1967.


The 2003 Journal contains articles on the Lodges of Greenwich Park (by Peter Guillery), The Theft of Nelson's Relics in 1900 (by Anthony Cross, and Shaftsbury House, A Place of Safety (by Harold Marchant). All good stuff, but not actually industrial.


For a snip Mary has acquired a copy of Perforated Metals produced by Charlton-based G.A.Harvey & Co. Ltd. - anyone interested is welcome to ask for a photocopy (0208 858 9482) but they should be warned that this book consists of 185 pages of pictures of holes!

The Greenwich Mural

We have been sent (by Ron Eteson of the Croydon Natural History Society) a copy of an article from Concrete Quarterly (No.108 Jan/Mar 1976) which describes the installation and design of the mural now languishing on the wall of the semi derelict Greenwich District Hospital. The article reveals that the Hospital, built between 1962 and 1976 was the largest ever architectural project undertaken by a Government Department. The mural was designed and executed by Phillipa Threlfall on precast concrete slabs using a variety of stones, many coming from the Amey Roadstone Corporation. There has been a local campaign to ensure that the mural is found a new home when the hospital is finally demolished - it would be only too easy to wake up one day and find that it has been smashed by contractors. In the meantime anyone who would like a copy of the article should contact Mary on 0208 858 9482.


We have been lent (by David Perrett) a copy of Modern Construction - The Works of Thomas and Edge Woolwich, SE18 (photocopies possible). This Woolwich based construction company built many important buildings both locally and elsewhere.

It is illustrated with many examples of their work. Local buildings on which they worked include: Fuel Research Station, Eltham Post Office, Woolwich Gun Sheds, Army Medical Reserve Stores, temporary hostels for munitions workers, additions to the Royal Herbert Hospital, various stores in the Arsenal, Woolwich factory for H. Collier and Sons, John James textile factory Wood Street, Woolwich, retail premises in Powis and Hare Streets, Aldertons factory Plumstead, Frosts Rope Factory, Anchor and Hope Lane, Harvey's factory, Greenwich, Theatre Royal Woolwich, Palace Cinema Eltham, Woolwich Public Library, Woolwich Soldiers Institution, Woolwich sewerage work, Plumstead Labour Club, Plumstead and District Working Men's Club Bostall Hill, Lloyds Bank and City and Midland Bank Woolwich, Cottage Homes Bostall Heath., St. Mark's Church Plumstead, Wesleyan Chapel The Slade, 288 council houses in Shooters Hill Road, Mr. Colliers house on Shooters Hill, The Queen Victoria Woolwich and the Carpenters Arms, Woolwich.

Founded on Iron - Thames Ironworks and the origins of West Ham United

Brian Belton (Tempus 2003).

Although concerned with a football club from North of the River this book is of interest to Greenwich readers because a section of it deals with the Deptford and Greenwich based Hills family, in particular Frank Hills. By some strange co-incidence much of the section on the Hills bears a startling similarity to material published in Mary Mills' 'The Early East London Gas Industry and its Waste Products. Sadly, there are no footnotes.


by Philip Binns

Minutes of Greenwich Conservation Group - industrial sites noted

107 Woolwich Road, SE10 (filling station site). Plan for ? storey building with 15 flats. Unobjectionable in principle but concerns at low ratio of parking and no communal open space.

Trafalgar Tavern, Park Row, SE10. Placing of tables and chairs in Park Row. Acknowledge that this is popular but object strongly to the inappropriate use of the World Heritage site adjacent to a listed building. Removal of flood defence wall is questionable and use of historic streetscape by default.

Cutty Sark Station - Creek Road, SE10. Installation of top-lit station identifier signs. Unobjectionable.

Former water works, Brookmill Road, SE8. Construction of 8-10 storey office block. This is in Lewisham and we are advised that Greenwich Council has raised no objection.

Building 41 Royal Arsenal SE18. Erection of vertical banner to advertise new Greenwich Heritage Centre. No objection and suggest additional signage.


As many of our readers will know the Greenwich Local History Library moved recently from its long-term home at Woodlands in Mycenae Road for a home at the new Heritage Centre in Woolwich. So, what will happen to Woodlands? Over the past few weeks Greenwich Council has been undertaking a consultation with local people to get their views on this (this closed on 31st October). Janet Haworth, has written this short history of the House as information for those who want to make a contribution.

The History

Woodlands and Mycenae House play a part in our local history which working people, black and white and Roman Catholic should be proud to acknowledge and celebrate.

Woodlands was built as the home of John Julius Angerstein, reputedly one of the (many!) illegitimate sons of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.

John Julius was a wealthy insurance underwriter and one of the founders of Lloyd's of London. He made generous donations to the widows and orphans of seafarers lost at sea and set up the Patriotic Fund to make payments to sailors maimed in the Napoleonic wars. Admiral Lord Nelson received a silver dinner service and wrote to thank Angerstein. The letter and plate are in the Nelson Room at Lloyd's.

By marriage, John Julius inherited a sugar plantation in Grenada, but rather than simply accepting his role as a slave owner he joined the Committee for the Black Poor in 1786 to campaign for better conditions for the plantation workers. He also championed the cause of chimney sweeps, arguing for better pay and health and safety conditions.

A great patron of the arts, John Julius collected paintings from The British School of artists such as Joshua Reynolds, Hogarth and Thomas Lawrence, and when he died the Angerstein Collection of pictures was offered to the nation. It formed the basis of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, though two of the paintings are now at Tate Britain.

After the Angerstein family moved out, Woodlands continued as a private home for many years and then was taken over by the Little Sisters of the Assumption, whose mission is to help the sick and needy. In the days before the National Health Service, the poor of Westcombe Park and Blackheath could not afford doctors, nurses or medicines, and the Little Sisters nursed them free of charge, forbidden by their holy vows to accept so much as a glass of water in return for their services! The Sisters built Mycenae House alongside Woodlands to house their novices, and their archivist Sister Margaret Lonegan still remembers its days as a convent. The nuns left in 1967 and Woodlands became a library and art gallery and Mycenae House a community centre.


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)



3rd November, PACE Course (see below). Plum Picking, a history of Plumstead - Mary Corr.

4th November, Paul Sandby and the Royal Arsenal. David Brighton PACE Course (Tel: 020 7919 7766) 10.30am. Greenwich Heritage Centre.

5th November, Blackwall Yard. Mrs. Usherwood. Docklands History Group. Museum in Docklands, 5.30pm

6th November, Thames Frost Fairs. Jeremy Smith, London Canal Museum, New Wharf Road, N1. 7.30pm

6th November, Thames Coal Trade. Alan Pearsall, River Thames Soc. Hurlingham Yacht Club, 7.30pm

8th November, TransAtlantic Slave Trade. Emma Clarke of NMM - WADAS Charlton House. 2.00pm

8th November, Maritime Frontiers, 10.30-16.30 National Maritime Museum. £29. Bookings 020 8312 6747.

9th November, Crossness visitor day (Ring 020 8311 3711)

10th November, Elephant and Castle. PACE Course (Tel: 020 7919 7766). Stephen Humphery

11th November, Andrew Schalch, First Master Founder of the Royal Brass Foundry. Tony Fawcett (PACE Course Tel: 020 7919 7766) 10.30am. Greenwich Heritage Centre.

17th November, Pepys Hereabouts. PACE Course (see below). John Swindell and Lesley Veach

18th November, Prison Hulks. Chris Foord. (PACE Course. Tel 020 7919 7766) 10.30am. Greenwich Heritage Centre

18th November, Crossness visitor day (Ring 020 8311 3711)

21st November, Lowne. A family business in Lewisham and Lee. Sue Hayton. LLH. Methodist Hall, Albion Way, SE13 7.45pm

24th November, Water in East London. PACE Course (Tel: 020 7919 7766) Mary Mills

25th November, Royal Arsenal Tour. Alan Turner. (PACE Course. Tel 020 7919 7766) 10.30am. Greenwich Heritage Centre.

26th November, Margaret Makepiece. East India Property Companies in London. RBLH Time and Talents

26th November, Past Present and Doubtful Future of the Cutty Sark, Richard Doughty & Simon Schofield. Greenwich Historical Assoc. Blackheath High School, 7.30pm.


1st December, Southwark Inns and Dickens. Diana Rimel. (PACE Course. Tel 020 7919 7766) 10.30am. Greenwich Heritage Centre

5th December, The Railway Children of Grove Park. LLH Ringway Centre, 268 Baring Road, SE12. 7.45pm.

6th December, East India Company and China. 10.30-16.15 National Maritime Museum. £29 Bookings 020 8312 6747.

10th December, Christmas Eve, Rotherhithe and Bermondsey 1911, Brian Green. RBLH, Time and Talents

16th December, Crossness visitor day (Ring 020 8311 3711)

19th December, AGM and conversaazione, Blackheath Scientific Soc. Mycenae House, SE3 7.45pm. All welcome.


3rd January - 9th March, The Port of London: the Industrial Archaeology and Regeneration of a Riverscape. Tutor: Mary Mills. Birkbeck, University of London, Accredited Course. To be held at Museum of Docklands, West India Quay, E14. £133.00. (cc £67). Tuesdays, 6.30pm. Info: 020 7631 6631

7th Jan - 16th March, A History of Maritime Greenwich. Tuesdays, National Maritime Museum. £40. Bookings 020 8312 6747.

29th Jan - 18th March, The Lion and the Bear - from the Crimea to the Cold War. Thursdays, National Maritime Museum. £29. Bookings 020 8312 6747.

22nd April - 10th June, The Stuart Age. Thursdays, National Maritime Museum. £29. Bookings 020 8312 6747.



For further information please contact;

Firepower on 020 8855 7755,, website


The Society's officers are currently 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 2002.
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