Volume 8, Issue 5, November 2005



13th December, Paul Sowan. Edwin Gilbert's sand pits at Charlton, desk study and field observations
24th January AGM - Speaker Wayne Cocroft, English Heritage. An international exploration archaeology, architecture and technology of arms and explosives manufacture
14th February, Clive Chambers. Wood Wharf update
21st March, John King. Croydon Airport

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



A recent planning application in Federation Road has highlighted one of Greenwich's most difficult-to-see industrial sites. The following text is from an article by Rod LeGear (reproduced with permission).

In 1899 the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society embarked on a large building project, a venture very different from that of its modern retail activities. A small town/settlement was to be built suitable for 'the industrial classes'. The Bostall Estate was constructed by the R.A.C.S. Works Department which moved from the Society's headquarters in Woolwich to the site, which was to the south-west of Abbey Wood station and north of Bostall Heath. A feature of the building works was the centralisation of the various construction trades in an area of workshops where much of the work could be pre-fabricated. Items such as doors, window frames, etc., as well as bricks and other building materials, were transported from the workshops to all parts of the site on light tram lines radiating from the work area which was to the south of the construction site. A total of 4 miles of tram lines were put down and at least 50 tip wagons ran on them.

The temporary site for the works department was chosen for its position on the Estate. As the site was uphill from the main building area, gravity could be utilised when transporting materials on the tramways. It was also chosen for the natural resources available on site - sand, ballast, chalk, and water.

This area of intense activity at the turn of the century is now occupied by the Co-operative Woods camp site on the south side of Federation Road. The only reminders of its industrial past is Federation Hall. which was the works dining hall and, hidden 60 feet below ground, nearly 2,000ft of manmade caves - the Bostall Estate chalk mine.

The mine was dug to provide chalk for the building operations on the new Estate. Most of the chalk was burnt in a kiln to give lime which was suitable for internal plasterwork. Unburnt, the chalk was used as a foundation for the estate roads.

The 8m diameter shaft was sunk in January 1900 in a corner of the works area near to the mortar mill and lime kiln. Four main headings were driven from the base of the shaft to commence mining operations. The floor of the mine was on, or just below, the water table as the mine was also used to obtain water for the mixing of mortar in the manufacturing processes.

The mine was drained by pumps driven by a 16 h.p. surface engine. This engine, made by Marshal & Sons of Gainsborough, also powered the mine's winding hoist as well as a dynamo which provided electric light in the mine. This was an unusual feature as most mines of this period were lit by candle or oil lamps. The hard-worked engine also provided motive power to the workshop machines via a system of shaft drives.

In the first full year of operation four men worked underground cutting out the chalk with picks and wheeling the excavated material to the shaft bottom in barrows. Two men were employed on the surface to unload the chalk from the tub and barrow it to either the lime kiln or to a nearby dump for collection by the road building gangs. By 1902 the workforce had increased to six men underground and four on the surface. From 1903 until 1906 the figures were five below and two above ground. After 1906 the mine had ceased operation. For the first two years of its life the mine was recorded in the Inspector of Mines Reports as Suffolk Place Mine. From 1902 it was shown as Bostall Estate Mine. Originally the mine was named after the land on which it was situated - Suffolk Place Farm - one of the two parcels of land that made up the development. The committee of the Society, however, decided to call the building venture after the original fame bought in 1887. This dual naming of the mine has led to some historians searching in vain for another mine which does exist.

In 1914 the mine was converted into an air raid shelter by the addition of a sloping entrance by the side of Co-operative Hall (now called Federation Hall). The underground tunnels remained accessible up to the 1960's when it was still possible to crawl into the rubbish filled entrance. Harry Pearman of the Chelsea Speleological Society entered by this method in 1960 and produced a quick survey. Some time after the entrance was completely filled following fears that children, who were known to 'explore ' and play in the caves, could become lost or injured.

The next visit to the mine was in 1967 when, with the kind permission of the R.A.C.S. and the local authority, a small group of mining archaeologists, led by the writer, made an examination of the underground galleries. The strong grill sealing the top of the shaft was removed by workmen from the London Borough of Greenwich (the principle lessee of the site) in order to gain access.

In the early days of building work on the new estate an al-fresco concert was held each summer in the nearby woods. Visitors were shown around the new houses and workshops, and adventurous souls were lowered down the shaft in the cage/tub and taken on a conducted tour of the mine. In 1967 the shaft was descended using strong lightweight flexible wire 'caving ' ladders and associated safety equipment. When the mine was to be converted to a shelter, a detailed plan of the underground galleries was made by Howard Humphreys & Sons of Westminster. During the 1967 visit the plan was checked and a new survey was plotted to the same scale. Very few differences were found, the most significant being that the sloping entrance was now filled and inaccessible. Another was the appearance of a small excavation at the end of a side passage off of the main southern gallery. This consisted of two poorly cut upwardly inclined tunnels which joined after a few feet. It is probable that this relatively modern piece of mining had been undertaken by adventurous youths at a time prior to the closure of the sloping entrance.

The mine was found to be in excellent condition with no roof falls or sign of stress in the wall observed. The galleries average 10ft wide and 18ft high with an arched roof which gave a mechanically strong cross section. Chalk is fairly easy to mine and is usually quite stable so it is not necessary to use props as long as care is taken on the roof sections. The junctions of galleries are also cut with great care to ensure that the loads are spread correctly. The highest galleries are to the south of the shaft where the main development of the mine took place. The adits are 20ft high in this section. Only three galleries were dug to the north of the shaft and they are only 11ft high. In this part of the mine the depth of the roof below the surface is only about 17ft. The excavators wisely did not extend the mine further in this direction as the surface slopes down to the north and cover would have been decreased to a point when the risk of subsidence would become acute.

The mine proceeded forward in a series of steps or benches, the miners cutting away their working platform as the adit was extended. A number of those benches could be seen in the Bostall Estate mine. Such working benches can be seen in any chalk mine, but their presence in the chalk workings at Chiselhurst have lead to the rather quaint theory that they are 'Druid's Altars'. The final layout of the mine developed from the four original galleries radiating from the shaft. From these main driveways other adits were cut at right-angles to be joined by cross passages which created large pillars of chalk to support the ground above. From a careful study of the underground galleries and the pick marks left by the miners tools it is possible to re-construct the probable developmental sequence of the mine. The last section of the mine to be worked was an extension to the south when a further 180ft of passages were excavated in 1906, the last year of operation.

The final addition to the mine was made in 1914 when the drift entrance was the side of Federation Hall so that underground tunnels could be used as an air-raid shelter. The sloping tunnel from the surface was intercepted by another dug from the main east driveway to create the shelter entrance. Although the water table had dropped since the mine was abandoned, it was found necessary to put boards and gravel on the floor as parts of the mine were wet. Harry Pearman noted several inches of scummy waterover much of floor during his visit in 1960. In 1967 no water was present although a long period of dry weather had preceded the date of the investigation. By 1939 parts of the entrance drift had fallen in and it was declared unsafe. For this reason, despite vigorous protests from local residents, the mine was not used as a shelter in the Second World War.

Upon completion of the two-day investigation of the mine in 1967 the shaft was re-sealed and made safe, the underground galleries once again quiet and dark, and a silent reminder of the busy industry that existed on the surface at the turn of the century.



Crossness Wins Coveted Award


On 11th May, 2005 the volunteers at Crossness received due recognition for their many years of dedication and hard work. At an awards ceremony held at the Café Royal in London, the Trust was voted winner of the Museums & Heritage Award for Excellence for 2005, in the category of Restoration/Conservation, for its work on Prince Consort and ornamental Victorian ironwork. What makes this award so special for the Trust is that the category of Restoration/Conservation was introduced for the first time in 2005, attracting entries from many highly respected organisations such as the Discovery Museum - Tyne & Wear. Well done, Crossness volunteers!!

Woolwich Antiquarians Report

Jack Vaughan, Chairman of our Conservation Sub-Committee (and ex-Chair of GIHS) has a letter printed in the Mercury on 2nd November in which he makes a plea for the retention, in situ, of the Clock by Thwaites on Building 10 in the Royal Arsenal. Although required by the listed building conditions, it seems that other plans are afoot.

A new PLA radar tower for the Arsenal? Architect-designed in steel, recalling the helical rifling used in the guns made at the Arsenal.

A leaflet history of the East Greenwich Pleasaunce has been produced by the Council. The Pleasaunce was the old cemetery of the Royal Hospital and where a number of survivors of the Battle of Trafalgar are buried. The leaflet is by Malcolm Godfrey and was written for the recent Trafalgar Memorial service to all Seafarers in the Pleasaunce. Copies are free from the Heritage Centre.

The Deptford Ark - we have been contacted by Emily Medley, Project Co-ordinator for the Deptford Ark. She is looking for anyone who would like to contribute to a history of the Albany -- and in particular anyone involved with the old Albany on Creek Road. 020 869 2446 ext 276

Another idea!

A recent conservation issue has been the continuing saga of Borthwick's Wharf in Deptford. Members of the Creekside Forum commented in their Annual Review:

People will remember the overwhelming support for this fine building shown on our Seven Wonders of Deptford event in summer 2004.

We responded to Ken Livingstone's invitation to suggest alternative uses for the building. We proposed three uses: as storage space since there was still a healthy demand for such solid and secure buildings; as a major new art gallery; as an opportunity for Chris Carey's Collections, Deptford's biggest employer, to expand.

We also secured a letter of support from the Royal Historical Society of Queensland which expressed concern that a building of such significance for the handling of the vast quantity of meat exported from Australia and New Zealand to the UK was likely to be demolished. Over the winter we sought to penetrate the opaque workings of English Heritage and find out what was happening to the review supposedly taking place of their previous decision not to list the building. We then learned that the developers, George Wimpey, were seeking a Certificate of Immunity from listing. We responded by saying that there was an immediate user for the building in the shape of Christine Carey. She had seen round the premises and was 'enthusiastic' to move in with her recycling business. Her operation currently runs 20 lorries, handles 200 tonnes of paper, polythene but mainly textiles a week, and employs 120 people. The business is located in railway arches off Deptford High Street but cannot expand there, so Christine is urgently seeking new premises. Nonetheless David Lammy, the new minister in the Department of Culture Media and Sport, issued a Certificate of immunity.

The group goes on to discuss Convoys Wharf - site of Deptford Royal Dockyard. These 42 acres, occupying half of Lewisham's waterfront, continued to be a major focus of our work. In this we operate through Convoys Opportunity, an umbrella group that we facilitate embracing a whole range of estates surrounding the site. The owners News International, it will be recalled, have been seeking outline planning permission for a massive housing development of 3,500 residential units, including three tower blocks 26, 32 and 42 storeys high. An employment triangle at the Greenwich end would occupy about a quarter of the site. A recycling complex would take up approximately half of this triangle. We argue that the river-side half of the site, which is safeguarded for marine use, is ideally suited to be a cruise liner terminal for London - with, around it, a marine enterprise zone offering boat repair and support services that are urgently needed on the Thames. To that end we continued to make our case in high places.

Woolwich Antiquarians reported on progress with the Docklands Light Railway in Woolwich:

"Lloyds Bank has not yet moved in to Powis Street, but The Pharmacy has (some way down on the right; next to McDonalds), and Fads has shut up shop. Scaffolding and a dark green coloured fence surrounds the latter's buildings, making for awkward access to the Bank. Works in New Street have halved its width, slowing traffic, and the odd provision for pedestrians means they can only go where they want by jay-walking. These works have also taken out the letter box opposite Woolwich Arsenal Station (another in Calderwood Street, which survived drunkenly for over a year while behind scaffolding was in place) has also gone. Ground works on the north side of the Station, where the Docklands Light Railway is to enter Woolwich, are in hand with a couple of crane jibs and a giant boring machine looming over them.



The Gunpowder and Explosives Study Group recently looked at the hitherto unknown family papers of Sir Frederick Abel. This nineteenth-century chemist has been unduly neglected, in part because of a dearth of original manuscript material on him.

The career of Frederick Augustus Abel has a three-fold significance for the development of modem British science. As a charter student in the Royal College of Chemistry, Abel was one of the first professionally-trained chemists in England. The Royal College of Chemistry, founded in 1845, was based on the model of research training in chemistry that had recently been developed in German universities. Secondly, Abel was one of the earliest scientists in Britain to spend virtually his entire career in Government service, working for the military arm as Chemist to the War Department. And thirdly, he carried out investigations in areas that became particularly prominent in the late nineteenth and twentieth century, such as metallurgy, petroleum chemistry, and electricity. However, the focus of his research was unquestionably in military chemistry, particularly explosives and munitions.

His research in these areas falls rather neatly into the three principal decades of his career. In the 1860s, he worked at purifying and stabilising 'guncotton' (tri-nitro-cellulose), initially as a military propellant but then for other military uses (mines and torpedoes) and as a blasting agent in civilian mining and construction activities. In the 1870s, Abel carried out the most comprehensive scientific study of gunpowder undertaken up to this time. In the late 1880s, he was appointed president of an Explosives Committee to develop a smokeless propellant. The committee succeeded in developing a double-base powder (nitro-cellulose, nitro-glycerine), based on a similar powder of Nobel ('ballistite'), which they patented under the name of 'cordite'. Although Abel was never an academic chemist he possessed the prestige of a fully professional scientist, as shown by the numerous offices he held in scientific societies and his publications in the most prestigious scientific journals and he took out patents for a number of results of his scientific investigations. But his attempts to develop some of these patents commercially raised serious issues of conflict of interest since he was a Government-employed scientific expert and advisor. These issues were highlighted in two conflicts with Alfred Nobel over dynamite versus guncotton around 1870, and then, twenty years later, OVCF ballistite versus Cordite. This latter resulted in a patent-infringement suit brought by Nobel's Explosive Company over cordite. One of the problems in studying the life of any scientist is establishing the details of his career, especially the early years, which are often poorly documented. In the case of Abel, there has been uncertainty about the precise details of his career before he became Chemist to the War Department in 1855. Documents in the newly discovered archive provide complete clarification and are complemented for the early years by a copy of Abel's letter of 9 February 1852, in which he applied for the position of Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. It also provides an invaluable account of how Abel created a niche for himself as a Government military chemist. When the chemical establishment of the War Dept (Ordnance) was created in 1854, no special duties were assigned to the chemist, on whom depended the development of the Department. During the first few years they were chiefly connected with the purchase and inspection of stores for the Manufacturing Establishments. Abel went on to delineate in great detail the very complex functions that he and his staff took on. Although space constraints preclude illustrations of them, this and similar documents will afford the researcher infomation on Abel and, more generally, on the development of Government scientific activities in nineteenth century Britain.

As a sign of the success with which Abel established his position as a Government scientist, he came to move in the very highest social circles. This was recognized by his quondam opponent, Alfred Nobel. In a letter of Nobel to the General Manager of Nobel's Explosives Company of 19 January 1892, over the impending patent-infringement lawsuit over cordite, Nobel cautioned that 'one of the opponents is on very friendly terms with a powerful Prince'. Nobel was undoubtedly referring to Abel and the Prince of Wales, and this royal friendship is borne out in correspondence.


By Wayne Cocroft

Sir Frederick Abel as the War Office chemist was usually based at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. In the early 1860s, while he was carrying out his important work on the manufacture of guncotton he designed a new chemical laboratory, one of the earliest purpose-built chemical laboratories in the country. The building comprised offices and a double-storey laboratory with a galley walkway at first level. Such an arrangement both provided a light and airy environment, and a platform that allowed Abel to observe the work going on below. The building is Listed Grade II and has recently been converted into flats.



by Philip Binns

Notes on comments by the Conservation Group on current planning applications.

Lovell's Wharf Planning application for redevelopment comprising offices, studio workshops, hotel, 754 residential retail, restaurant/cafe/bar, boat yard/club, ecological centre, medical health centre/health club, open space/tidal gardens, sports area/play area river slipway, parking for 896 cars, vehicular access arrangements cycle/pedestrian routes and landscaping,. This is a revised and the group notes the omission of the two 36 storey tower blocks, the reduction in size of the hotel, the variation to the housing mix, the introduction of tree screening between the northern-most residential block and the adjacent industrial uses, the reduction in size of the retail element at the ground floor residential block between Christchurch Way and the Lower Square, the decision to build tight to the back pavement in Peron Road - the arrangement of the Victorian terrace to the east - and the introduction of what appears to be a new pier into the area adjacent to the hotel block. However we continue to be concerned.

Land bounded by Creek Road/ Creekside/ Copperas Street. SE10 - application for demolition of existing building/structures for a mixed-use development comprising 493 residential units, commercial uses, offices, studio/workshops, cultural/dance studio, food and drink uses, gym./health/fitness, open spaces, cultural square landscaping and underground parking (338 spaces)

Land at Creek Road/ Norway Street/ Thames Street/ Deptford Creek. SE10 - redevelopment of land to provide 982 residential units, retail/ food/drink, non-residential institution/assembly/leisure, business, servicing, parking for 712 cars

The Cutty Sark,Cutty Sark Gardens, SE10 - internal and external alterations to provide restoration and conservation work, provision of improved public access raising of ship to create a false floor within dry berth, exhibition space and canopy - welcome the change proposed and fully endorse English Heritage's comments on the revised application.

The Warren/Royal Arsenal, Beresford Street/ Plumstead Road, SE18 - mixed-use development comprising 2,517 dwellings, retail, café/bars, offices, hotel, cinema, health, museum and leisure uses, including detailed works to Building 10 (Royal Carriage Factory) at the same time consideration will also be given to the separate but related listed building consent application for Building 10. The Group has sent a reply to the case officer registering continuing concerns at the heights of new buildings proposed for both the Royal Arsenal site and the Warren site with particular reference to their impact on the retained and refurbished listed buildings.

St Mary's, St Andrew's and Wharves, Woolwich Church Street, SE18 - representatives at the meeting expressed grave concern at the brash colours being used on these prominently sited buildings.

The Warren/ Royal Arsenal. Beresford Street/ Plumstead Road, SE18 - Environmental Screening Opinion relating to a proposed mixed-use development of 3,000 new dwellings, retail/bar/restaurants, leisure, offices, hotel, health care, nursery, museum, cinema/community theatre uses, as well as full details of conversion of former Royal Carriage Factory into residential, retail, A3 and A4 uses, offices, cinema and open space. It is the Group's view that a scheme of this magnitude must have an EIA, given the impact of the proposals on the urban infrastructure, and particularly on the listed buildings in the RAW conservation area.

Castlewood Reservoir, Castlewood Drive. SE9 - construction of a replacement service reservoir -- there is a major concern at the massive loss of established trees on the site which, if contractor's accommodation requirements cannot be met off-site, will effectively represent a 100% deficit; should this application proceed it is essential that the very highest quality and quantity of tree replacement be used.



The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Building 46 undertaken by Oxford Archaeology.

The Grand Store complex at the Royal Arsenal is of national importance comprising a set of Grade II+ listed buildings and it is among the architectural highlights of the historic military site. The complex was constructed between 1806 and 1813 due to the high on-going military demands of the Napoleonic Wars and formed part of a wider development at the Arsenal during this period which expanded the site's productive capacity. The Grand Store was constructed to meet the greater storage capacity required and although it was slightly scaled down from the original grandiose designs, the complex was still a magnificent architectural composition facing on to the river. It originally comprised three quadrangles but only the main (central) one survives in anything like its original form. It was designed by James and Lewis Wyatt with a plain Georgian classicism and is described by the list description as 'architecturally one of the most distinguished of the large late 18th and early 19th century warehouses erected in both naval and civil docks'. However, the external grandeur of the complex masked fundamental flaws in the construction of its foundations and in the decades after its completion parts of it suffered greatly from subsidence and much patching and rebuilding work was undertaken to counteract this. The southern range (Building 36) and the east quadrangle were particularly affected by subsidence but Building 46, the subject of the current study, appears to have suffered little.

Building 46 foils the west range of the central quadrangle and although from the exterior it broadly retains its original form and elegant design, the inside has been much more altered than the other two main surviving ranges and it retains fewer historic features. The internal structural frame of the south half has been substantially rebuilt in the mid-20th century (possibly due to wartime bomb damage) and the surviving primary timber frame in the central section has been substantially damaged by a fire, presumably related to rebuilding of the south range. The primary timber frame survives in the north range and it is very similar to the construction throughout the rest of the main Grand Store ranges.

The first floor was converted to offices, possibly in stages from the late 19th century, and most of the ground floor was similarly converted to offices in the 20th century. The ground floor of the north range is the least altered part of the building but even here it retains far fewer historic features than the other ranges of the complex. It does contain some evidence of the former use and layout of the building, particularly in the form of mortices against each post which indicate that there would have been a pair of mezzanines within the current tall ground floor area, either side of a double height central aisle. Similar mezzanines survive in the other Grand Store ranges and mortices show that in Building 46 these would have extended into the central block. Evidence within the building suggests that there would have been small stoves at ground and first floor, again similar to evidence in the other ranges, and there are various other minor features of interest. However, there is no surviving evidence of former hydraulic lifts in Building 46, whereas three such hoists survive in-situ in the other ranges and only one of the very impressive primary double doors survives whereas, again, many more of these survive in the other ranges. In addition far fewer primary windows survive in Building 46 than in the other ranges. Fortunately, as the Grand Store complex is known to have been of such consistent layout and construction, the surviving features and layout in various parts of the other ranges provides a good indication of the historic form of Building 46. In return, there are clues relating to Building 46 which also add to our understanding of the other ranges and among these is a surviving plan and section through part of the building dating to 1856. This details the insertion of the mezzanine through the building (including the now reconstructed South Range) and provides the only concrete date for these features which were also added throughout the other Grand Store ranges, some of which survive in-situ. The insertion of the mezzanines can therefore be seen as part of the massive Crimean-period expansion at the Arsenal when there was a flood of investment at the site due to the chaotic response of the military establishment to the crisis.

Although the surviving primary structure of Building 46 and the other Grand Store ranges has a monumental grandeur and is still impressive in scale today, it was structurally relatively conservative when compared to other contemporary buildings and can now be seen to represent the end of the building tradition. It was constructed a decade after the first iron-framed, fire-proof textile mills were constructed and although this type of construction was yet to be widely adopted it did spread and develop in the early decades of the 19th century, particularly for large structures such as the Grand Store. In a historical context there is no doubt that the construction of the complex has much more in common with storehouses of the second half of the 18th century (particularly naval storehouses) rather than the commercial warehouses of the first half of the 19" century which comprised cast iron columns, iron beams and brick jack arches. The contrast is even greater with the light-weight iron roof trusses and open floor spaces of various buildings at the Arsenal dating to the second half of the 19th century.

The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich undertaken by Pre- Construct Archaeology.

The remains of walls relating to the Cartridge Establishment of The Royal Arsenal were found. Evidence was seen for the Pilkington Canal within the excavated trenches.

Royal Arsenal, Woolwich (Zones 17, 21 & 23)
undertaken by Pre-Construct Archaeology.

A watching brief over Zones 21 and 23 revealed substantial industrial remains of the Royal Arsenal. The natural and made ground sequence was recorded. The remains of the Boiler House and Rolling Mill, and its successors Buildings D71, D72 and D74, were found in the north of the site. In the centre and south of the site expansive remains of the South Boring Mill were recorded including superstructure and machinery. External features associated with the building were found. Other structures included Buildings C33, C47 and D80, and peripheral buildings. The route of Street No 10 was visible across the site, as was the remediated Pilkington Canal.

The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich: Greenwich Heritage Centre (Building 41) undertaken by Oxford Archaeology.

Made ground comprised of building rubble associated with the military history of the site. Two iron cannons were recovered from within these deposits. They had iron rings set in their muzzles for reuse as mooring points along the Thames.

Docklands Light Railway, Woolwich undertaken by AOC Archaeology (London).

The extension of the Docklands Light Railway to link with Woolwich Arsenal overland station requires the demolition of two blocks of buildings that largely date from the 19th century. None of the buildings pre-date 1790. The majority seem to be early or mid-19th century structures which have been modified by the addition of facades. Some of these facades are very decorative, notably Lloyds Bank and 21-24a Greens End. There are two buildings which merit no recording i.e. 6 Woolwich New Road and 2-4 Spray Street. Both of these are modern buildings of low architectural and artistic merit. These do not require further recording, but there may be basements of previous properties below. The potential earliest buildings at 4 Woolwich New Road, 8 Woolwich New Road and 21 Greens End all merit further examination to determine their age.


From Peter Witts

I am trying to trace information on a company supposedly called Roberts & Merryweather of Greenwich. This relates to a mystery locomotive that was photographed in Mackay, Queensland, Australia in the early 1920s. I have identified the maker, Hunslets of Leeds, but at some time it was noted as having been rebuilt by Roberts & Merryweather, Greenwich, England. I am aware of famous firm of Merryweather Greenwich but a search of the directories did not mention the name of Roberts. I presume that Roberts was connected with the firm and if so information could point to a date when this locomotive was in England and perhaps its identity. I would be most grateful for any help that I can pass on to my colleagues in Australia.

From Carole Lyons

I am responding to a letter published by the Society in 2002 written by Len Chapman then living at Locke's Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. He had been told that the propellers for the Queen Mary had been made there. In 1936 my great grandfather was a foreman working at the Manganese Bronze and Brass Company at their works at St. David’s Wharf, adjacent to Locke's Wharf which was the site of the Millwall Lead Works. This Manganese Bronze site was concerned solely with propellers. My family have a commemorative ashtray cast by Manganese Bronze, inscribed around the top edge: RMS Queen Mary Maiden Voyage, 27th May 1936. It has, as a centre, a 3 inch-high silver propeller. On the underside of the base is the following inscription:

This is a Model of one of the propellers made by the Manganese Bronze and Brass Co. Ltd. London, England

From Steph Grieves

Do you have any suggestions as to the origin of the following? My garden backs onto the chapel halfway down Charlton Church Lane. It consists of a steep slope at the bottom of which is material I can best describe as slag/clinker and would appear to be the residue of some industrial process. Many pieces are more than a foot across. Could there have been a limekiln here? Is it dumped industrial waste like that tipped by Harvey's where Coutts House used to stand? The concrete arches which partially contain the 'slag' were there in 1910 as seen in the background of a family photograph. The house itself was built in 1898. If you have time I would welcome your opinion on what, to me, is a mystery.

From: Emir Roscoe

In the 1901 census for England and Wales my great, great, grandfather was captain of the SS Faraday. His name was William Roscoe. The ship was in Trafalgar Dock, Liverpool and then at Princess Dock, Liverpool on the 1.4.1901. I would very much like a photo of this vessel. It states she was a steamer.

The Webmaster writes: Checking through these archives now (2020), makes me realse how much imore information is out there now than 15 years ago when this Newletter was first published. A search on Google for SS Faraday just now has revealed a great deal of information is now available on-line about the 'Faraday', either as SS Faraday, or CS Faraday as she was sometimes known. The main point of interest without going in to too much detail here, and hence the alternative moniker CS, is that she was used as a cable-layer, and as such was probably a frequent visitor to the cable derricks at Greenwich.

From Neil Bennett

If you do another list of research interests you could put my name down for 'Merryweather', seeking to further enlarge my collection of information. In exchange for new pictures, information, etc., I could offer similar, or sincere thanks/modest payment. Regarding the High Road building, I don't get to see it much but appreciate its history. If it cannot be preserved I think Watford's example might be relevant. When the Scammell Motors works was knocked down for a housing estate, the main access road was called Scammell Way with side-roads named after company products e.g. Crusader Way, Explorer Drive, Pioneer Way and Himalayan Way.

In Vol 1, Issue 4 of this Newsletter the 'Flexible Metallic Tubing Co.' was mentioned. Around 1980 I worked for Ransome & Rapid Ltd, Ipswich. They made the NCK Rapier cranes which can still be seen working, mobile (wheeled) cranes, giant walking dragline excavators and, among other things, the turntable for the revolving restaurant in the Post Office Tower. While there my drawings included a piece of flexible exhaust pipe (3 or 4 inches diameter) for a diesel engined crawler-crane which came from the United Flexible Metallic Tubing Company. lts address was probably not given as Greenwich or I would have remembered it as a neighbour of MW&SL. If it is the same company, the addition of the name 'United' might suggest that it merged with another company at some point and may then have moved. Later (1983) I looked them up and they had become T.I. Flexible Tubes, but apparently I did not note their address. The Tube Investments group now has a web-site featuring T.I. Automotive. Their products don’t look at all similar,

From John Evans

Farrington's guide to East India Company ships refers to the Streatham, the 4th of that name, having been built at Dudman's Yard. Do you or any of your colleagues know anything about the family or shipyards?

From Simon Ward

My Dad, who is 93 was telling me recently about his war experiences. He was called into the army (Royal Army Ordnance Corps) sometime after 1939 and did his basic training at Cambridge Barracks, Woolwich. He remembers that it was surrounded by a large wall like a prison with big gates. He also remembered the large square in the middle of it. No-one was allowed on the square unless they were drilling. He (and I) was wondering what had become of the barracks. Are they still in situ? I would be grateful for any information you have on Cambridge Barracks so I can pass the information on to my Dad.

From Iris Bryce

I'd love to learn more about the East Greenwich History Club and perhaps get along to a meeting. One of my great grumbles is the loss of East and West in Greenwich addresses. It was one of the first things we learnt when we went to school. I wonder what Miss Tills, my first teacher, would think of North Greenwich Station?

From Gerry

Noticed your comments about MV Royal Iris. Have you any information about who owns her and what plans there are for her future?



23rd East Greenwich Waterfront. Peter Kent. Greenwich Historical Society. 7.30pm, Music Centre, Blackheath High School, Vanburgh Park, SE3
26th Woodlands Farm Christmas Fayre with Father Christmas again in the Barn
26th Blood and lce. The search for the North West Passage.10.30-16.15 £29, Nat Maritime Museum. 020 8312 6522
30th A Tour of Southwark. Talk by John Beasley. RBLHS Time and Talents, St. Marychurch Street, SE1, 7.45pm


Staircases - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked. 020 8331 9312, l0.30-16.15, £29.
Crossness Engines. Guided Tours. 020 8311 3711 on Tues or Sun daytime for bookings
Models and Model Making. 10.30-16.00. Museum. 020 8312 6522
Christmas Party. Docklands History Group
25th Crossness Engines. Guided Tours. 020 8311 3711 on Tues or Sun daytime for bookings
27th Greenwich Seafaring and the Maritime Work. Nick, ring 020 7631 6652. 10.30am-12.30pm
The legendary landscape of Co-op Hall. Southwark and Lambeth Arch Soc. and Circles. 106 The Cut, SE1. 7.30pm
East Greenwich History Club. The Forum.
Roman Candles. Gerri St. Marychurch Street, SE1
Prof Holm. Greenwich Institute. Caste Room, Queen Ann Court.
AGM Blackheath Scientific Society, Mycenae Road, SE3, 7.45pm
Crossness Engines. Guided Tours. 020 8311 3711 on Tues or Sun daytime for bookings


BLHS 17th Nelsons Funeral. Lt. Cdr David Harris. Woolwich. Charlton House
Geology of West London's Royal and Monastic. Bob Cowie. ALAS Housing CoOp Hall, SE1. 7.30pm
Windows 1 - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked, 020 8331 9312
NE wind scales and weathermen. 10.30-16.15 Nat Maritime Museum. 020 8312 6522
Windows 2 - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked 020 8331 9312
Burying Nelson - his funeral and his legacy 10.30-16.00, National Maritime Museum. 020 8312 6522
The Queen's House. NMM with Birkbeck, ring 7631 L2 10.30-12.30
Blood Cholesterol & Dr. Johnson. Blackheath Scientific Society. Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 7 45pm
East Greenwich History Club. The Forum@Greenwich
Piracy - Suppression or Political Tolerance. Susan Hauke. Greenwich Maritime Institute. 6pm Windsor Castle Roof, Queen Ann Court
Local Greenwich. Birkbeck, ring 020 7631 6652
Doors - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked 020 8331 9312


Cast Iron - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked 020 8331 9312
Mapping Roman London. Peter Rowsome, £103, SLAS Housing Co-Op Hall, 16 The Cut, SE1. 7.30pm
Staircases. Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked 020 8331 9312
Rex Whistler. TheTrust. John Kennett, Woolwich Antiquarians, Charlton House, SE9
Grand Challenges in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Dr. J. Ernst. Blackheath Scientific Society, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. 7.45pm
Windows 1 - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked 020 8331 9312
18th, Third Symposium on the Thames and Thames Built Ships at Greenwich Maritime Institute.
Making sense of the Universe. The History of Cosmology. 19.30-16.15. National Maritime Museum. 020 8312 6522
East Greenwich History Club. The Forum@Greenwich. 3.00pm - all welcome.
Public Executions in London. Robert Stephenson, RBLHS Time & Talents, St. Marychurch Street. SE1. 7.45pm
Health and Welfare of Seafarers. Dr. Elise, Greenwich Maritime Institute. 6pm Queen Anne Court
Windows 2 - Brooking Collection Workshop. University of Greenwich. Must be booked 020 8331 9312
Blackwall Yard and Blackwall Frigates. Clive Chambers, RBLHS Time & Talents, St. Marychurch Street, SE1.



For further information please contact Firepower on 020 8855 7755,, website


The Society's officers are currently as follows:

Past Emeritus President - Jack Vaughan

Chair - Sue Bullevant

Vice-Chair and Committee - Ray Fordham - Andrew Bullevant, Alan Parfrey, David Riddle

Secretary - Mary Mills

Treasurer - Steve Daly

Auditor - Juliet Cairns

Members are reminded that subscription renewals fell due in October 2004. 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 the Greenwich Industrial History Society
Chair, Sue Bullevant, 11 Riverview Heights, Shooters Hill, SE18. Views expressed in it are those of the authors and not of the Society.

Contributions are always welcome. If possible please send, on disk, to Mary Mills (address below).

Mary Mills now has a limited stock of Greenwich and Woolwich at Work available at £8 each plus £2 postage. 24 Humber Road, London, SE3 7LT, 020 8858 9482


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. Members and visitors are strongly advised not to park at the Old Bakehouse.


The Web version has been created by;

David Riddle, Web Master

Logo and page end design are by Peter Kent – with thanks