With this issue is an index
to the first (printed) numbers of this Newsletter.
This has been prepared by Kate Jones
The Society would like to thank her very much for her work- which we hope everyone will find useful.
14th March - Dr.Rodney Dobson (Hon. Research Fellow Goldsmiths College) on Early Labour Troubles on the Thames
18th April - David Vaughan on the work of the Woodlands Farm Trust
16th May - Clive Chambers on Wood Wharf and the Greenwich Steam Ferry.
6th June - Jonathan Clark of English Heritage on Mumford's Mill
4th July - John Ford on Siemens - A Century of Communications.
17th October - Alan Pearsall on Thames Colliers.
THESE MEETINGS WILL BE HELD AT A DIFFERENT PLACE TO THAT PREVIOUSLY ADVERTISED.
All meetings will take place at the Old Bakehouse in Blackheath Village - behind the Reminiscence Centre opposite Blackheasth Station. All at 7.30 pm.
GHOSTS IN THE ARSENAL .....
Don't tell English Partnerships but....... David Riddle has found a note in the Fortean Times concerning ghosts in the Arsenal where "one gets a distinct feeling of being watched". There is, it says, an archway where the Duke of Wellington used to "spike the heads" of "recalcitrant prisoners" - this is now "close to freezing even on the hottest days". The building was used by the Royal Navy in WWII and an old lady working at her desk heard the air raid sirens as a labourer put coal on the fire - she fell dead - and it was discovered that a cartridge case accidentally left in the coal had discharged and shot her in the neck!!!
Also, you can hear a young girl coughing in the main building .. they say it's atmospheric pressure ..... but .... a young secretary died of consumption there....
And a servant committed suicide by hanging himself from the balcony when he was accused of theft after 25 years service. ..
And you can hear marching footsteps.........
...and .. in Building 11 was a WW1 Major with "eyes glowing softly" who checked out the models stored there...... and he tore all the light fittings out of their sockets after a search
....... and in Building 2 is an elderly lady who keeps walking down the stairs, and again, and again, and again
.... and ........in the First World War there was a 19 year old soldier who shot himself rather than go to Ypres and when his country is threatened he stands outside the Guard House
................ and ......... .... and ...... and .......
Another instalment of John Day's memories of his life as an apprentice in the Arsenal....
John describes his move to the Pattern Shop .....
The foreman of the Pattern Shop was Clarke. His office was in the north-west corner of the building on a kind of mezzanine floor and he had a system of mirrors looking down so that he could see what was happening on every bench. All the apprentices took the opportunity to make themselves a toolbox and then the foreman told the shop labourer to smash it with a sledge hammer. I made two boxes, one in pine to hold my teamaking equipment and the other in mahogany, which was kept in a drawer and never assembled. I told Clarke that the pine box was to keep the dust from my cup and it was allowed to remain - he never knew about the mahogany one.
Near the Pattern Shop was the Pattern Store, where the ground floor was used for wooden mock-ups of tanks to find out how much could be stowed and still leave space for the crew. One of the apprentices surreptitiously moved everything several feet forward and opened a little door to drive his Austin Seven into the space. He then fitted it with a beautiful two-seater body painted battleship grey. When we drove it out through the main gate I had a "Brooklands" silencer for my own Austin between the floor boards.
From the Pattern Shop the next step was the Brass Foundry. There I spent most of my time moulding skimmer cores and brackets for the wires of overhead cranes. A great deal of the casting was done in manganese bronze and in the inlet passage the molten metal was made to duck under a cubic core to skim out slag. The "core box" for these was a block of brass with a hole of about an inch and a half square. I made them by the dozen. They went into the core oven to dry - this oven had other uses. It was ideal for roasting potatoes for a mid - morning snack. At times I had other castings to mould. Risers were made in which steel rods were pumped up and down to make sure the molten metal filled all the space in the mould. I spent some days casting arming vanes for torpedoes. The mould was made in steel having six wedge shaped pieces to be pulled out to release the fan shaped casting. I stood by a crucible of molten aluminium, ladled it into the mould, gave the mould a bash with a mallet, took the mould apart, took out an arming vane, put the mould together and started all over again. It was not a popular job, especially in the summer.
Next was a spell as a centre lathe turner back in the New Fuze Tool Room. I was put on an old 8 inch Le Blond lathe. Apprentices always got the most worn-out lathe - if we could do a good job with that, we could certainly use a more modern tool. Jobs varied from 0.2 in. diameter striker pins to 4 in. diameter bronze discs. Working next to me was a rotund, red faced, cheery character who had a mind like an engineerís pocket book. He had instant recall of all the decimals for fractions of an inch by sixty -fourths, the sizes of number and letter drills and the thread depths of all the screw pitches - all to four figures ! In our fourth or fifth year we were given a turning test. For this we were given the choice of drawings of jobs that could be done in less than a day and given a very modern lathe in the Carriage Tool Room to make it on. The lathes were so complicated compared to the old clapped - out ones we were used to, that we either spent the morning trying to find out how everything worked or, as I did, nipped back to the old machine that we knew and machined the test piece on that.
The second spell was in the Light Gun Shop. Guns, particularly in the breech, use at lot of odd, large size countersunk screws. These were the province of the apprentices as they did not rate well in the piecework stakes, but the saving grace was that an apprentice had the right to refuse to make more than twenty three of any one thing. It was realised that they were there to learn and not to take part in production. One job was a number of Morse taper sleeves of the larger sizes, which meant that the internal taper hole was longer than the travel of the lathe top slide. Apprentice lathes did not have the luxury of taper turning attachments. I complained to the foreman, he knocked me out of the way, did one and then said you will do the ****** rest. Another lesson, if one can do the job, a subordinate has no grounds for complaint.
Greenwich Conservation Group
- with thanks to Philip Binns
Pepys Building, King William Walk - erection of new sub station - insufficient information provided. New gates and pathway considered unobjectionable. Advertising material is also considered unobjectionable but temporary railings should be replaced by new ones to match those already there.
24 Straightsmouth - demolition of old oil depot and replacement with homes and parking spaces. Consider that this is overdevelopment with a bad effect on neighbouring buildings and the amount of parking to be provided is questionable.
55/57 Invicta Road - change of use from parking commercial vehicles to new homes. Felt that proposals were overdevelopment and also concern about where the commercial vehicles concerned would be parked in the future - also worry about parking so near the Invicta Primary School.
Coronet Cinema, John Wilson Street - change of use from cinema to place a of worship. No objection but hope the cinema can return to its Art Deco Glory.
Royal Military Academy - retrospective approval for cat ladders. Condemn this for disfiguring the appearance of this listed building.
78 Sandy Hill Road - change of use from spares parts shop to flat. Recommend that hidden display panel be taken to the Borough Museum.
Garibaldi Street/Plumstead High Street - conversion of former cinema/warehouse to church, flats and house. Welcome this.
118/119 Woolwich High Street - refurbishment for a restaurant. This is an old Burtons shop and the glazed shop front should be retained and the foundation stone should be kept.
PLANS FOR THE PENINSULA
Philip Binns has also passed to us a document on the proposed planning framework for the East Greenwich riverside - a vast site covering the peninsula west of the Blackwall Tunnel as far as the railway line. Among the key issues it identifies are - a consideration of transport modes - new initiatives for river use - the need to deal with the industrial legacy (they mean contamination) - the need for open space (historic elements have "crowded the urban form" - they mean too many wharves) - the need to consider the working river "safeguarded wharves" - increased use of the river - etc. etc. etc..
We have written to the Strategic Planning Department asking to be included in any future consultation.
- another extract from Howard Bloch's history of the North Woolwich Pleasure Gardens
Arthur McNamara, a haulage contractor employed by Eastern Counties Railway became manager of the gardens in 1855 but was succeeded by Edward McNamara, probably related. Over the next four years they spent over £20,000 on improvements, described in the Stratford Times as;
"Dinners of every description and wines of good quality can be obtained (in the hotel) throughout the day at prices which considering the excellent manner in which the dinners are served, and the excellent attendance, are exceedingly moderate .... The gardens themselves are admirably laid out. A broad, long terrace runs for some distance by the side of the river; at the back are pleasant winding walks bordered by fresh green turf and beds of gay flowers, a maze and gipsy's tent is in one part, a rifle gallery in another, in the centre of the grounds is a large ballroom, and a little beyond a refreshment room, half marquee and half booth. Beyond this again is a capital specimen of an Italian garden, brilliant with scarlet geraniums, and at the end is a large platform for dancing, adorned with an orchestra. Chinese in form and decoration and by crossing the visitor arrives at the margin of a small lake, on the opposite shores of which a stage is erected for the performance of drawing room entertainments and the display of poses plastiques. The grounds are of considerable extent so open that a pleasant breeze is generally to be found playing about them, rendering them cool and refreshing even in the hottest days. At nights too, when they are lighted up the effect is charming, and not the least effective of the illuminations are two fountains, in which the combination of artificial light and dancing waters is most capitally contrived."
Charles Bishop succeeded McNamara in 1862, going there after a fire had burnt down the Surrey Music Hall in June 1861. He ran the gardens until 1867.
During the next period of their history the gardens came under the control of two of the leading music hall managers - Charles Morton and William Holland. Morton, who had established the concept of music hall with the Canterbury Hall, Lambeth, became manager after that had been destroyed in a disastrous fire on 11th February 1868. He set to work immediately and trees and flower beds were put in order, buildings overhauled, a new stage erected in the Concert Hall and two new dancing platforms built.
On Whit Monday 1868 about 17,000 people went to the Gardens where they were entertained by a programme which included a Volunteer band, playing on the Esplanade, Jean Price and Gevani on the trapeze, a concert in the main hall by Miss FitzHenry, Miss Kate Stanley and Mr. Jonghmans and the ballet Le Demon de Paradis.
To mark the visit of Lord Napier to Woolwich in July 1868, Morton
staged a spectacular representation of his victory in Abyssinia. The
desired effect was achieved by erecting a painting of the March of
the English through Abyssinia and the Storming of the
Magdala and a contingent of Volunteers firing off rifles and
mortars to massed brass bands and a display of fireworks.
LOCAL & COMMUNITY NEWS
Surely the arrival of shire horses, Merlin and Thomas, at
Woodlands Farm, count as industry....?!
Many people are familiar with Enderby House, Enderby Wharf and Enderby Street in East Greenwich but until now little has been known about the ill-fated expedition to the Auckland Islands, one of which is called Enderby Island.
In 1849 Charles Enderby of Greenwich left Plymouth in the Samuel Enderby whaling ship hoping to found a prosperous whaling station in this newly created British Colony to the south of New Zealand. Why, you may ask, did the senior partner of a once very successful shipping and whaling business go to a distant part of the world where there was nothing and worse and, to put it mildly, the climate is not good?
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Enderbys were looking for new whaling grounds and began exploring the southern oceans. Whales were scarce in northern seas and the raw material which produced Enderby's barrels of oil was much farther away from their base in London. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Enderby captains such as Bristow, the discoverer of the Auckland Islands in 1805/6, were away for several years but not returning with enough oil to cover the cost of the trip. As the whaling ships went towards and into the Antarctic seas the cost of strengthening each vessel began to eat into profits, but Samuel Enderby and his son Charles were exited by, and committed to, exploration.
At the beginning of the 1830s Charles Enderby, who had become the senior partner in 1829, established a rope works and sail making factory on Greenwich Marsh, the site today of Enderby Wharf and Alcatel. Charles had a house built on the riverside by his works and it became both workplace and home for him. His brothers, George and Henry, did not live there for long. In 1837 Charles was approved to make a waterproof rope covering for telegraph wire but unfortunately failed in this enterprise as water seeped through the hemp. However, whilst he entertained explorers and scientists at Enderby House and listened to some glowing descriptions of places like the Auckland Islands, he put much effort into making the Greenwich rope works a success.
All this came to an end when on 8th March 1845 the majority of the East Greenwich works went up in flames. The damage to everything was extensive. This was a disaster for the Company as they were not as prosperous as they had been, and Charles set about seeking a way to revive their fortunes. He put forward the ideas of promoting a new whaling company with the help of the British Government. Alarmed at the decline of the nation's whaling industry the Government was eager to help.
In 1847 Sir James Ross, the famous Antarctic explorer, totally backed Charles Enderby's choice of the Auckland Island as a fixed whaling station, and in 1849 the Southern Whale Fishery company was granted a Royal Charter. Charles was appointed the Company's resident Chief Commissioner and the Crown conferred the office of Lieutenant Governor of the Auckland Islands on him. No doubt he wondered what honour would be bestowed upon him if the station were successful - Sir Charles Enderby or Lord Enderby of Greenwich?
The family fortunes were certainly in the balance as Charles sailed out of Plymouth on 18th August 1849. In October 1849, the following appeared in the Times;
"Messrs Charles Henry and George Enderby for many years connected with the whaling trade and lately engaged on a large scale as rope manufacturers at Greenwich, have announced themselves unable to meet their engagements. The general liabilities of the house are extremely small but it is feared that various members of the family will suffer severely."
The paper also predicted that the Southern Whales Fishery Company could be nothing but an advantage to the Enderby firm. Alas, this was not so.
The colony only lasted a few years and by 1852 the Southern Whales Fishery Co, was facing financial disaster. For Charles it was also a personal disaster. His Assistant Commissioner, William Mackworth, age 25 years (Charles was 52 when he left England), tended to hold Enderby in disdain, declaring that he could not manage personnel, settlers, or the whaling. Eventually the company sent Special Commissioners to take over from Charles in December 1851. They were back there to wind up the company and Charles had reverted back to being called 'Mr. Enderby' instead of 'His Excellency'. On 27th January 1852 Enderby was made to resign as Lt. Governor but he became angry over this and declared "he was determined to shoot either Mackworth or any other man attempting to remove him or his effects by force". The Special Commissioner threatened to put Enderby in irons. In the end Charles Enderby took them to court in Wellington and eventually the whole affair became the subject of two detailed Parliamentary Papers. Charles Enderby returned to England in July 1853 and the firm of Enderby Brothers was formally wound up in 1854. Charles died in Fulham on 30th August 1876 in an "impecunious state".
The diaries of William Mackworth, Assistant Commissioner and William Munce, Company Accountant, start on 1st January 1850 and finish on 13th August 1852. They have now been published in New Zealand. As well as a complete transcription of the diaries there are excellent chapters on all aspects of the Auckland Islands settlement. This 288 page book is well priced and contains 32 plates plus maps and plans.
I shall never walk past Enderby House again without thinking of Charles and his dreams of creating a new whaling station in the Auckland Islands. Little did he know that it would all end in tears.
The book is edited by Dingwall, Fraser, Gregory and Robertson and
is limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies. It is published by Wild
Press, PO Box 12397, Wellington NZ and Wordsell Press PO Box 51168
Pakuranga, Auckland, NZ. Price £25 postage and packing included.
ISBN 1 87245 01 1
GREENWICH MARSH. THE 300 YEARS BEFORE THE DOME by
DEPTFORD CREEK, SURVIVING REGENERATION by Jess
From Mrs. Bates
I am enclosing two pictures of instances which stick in my memory of visits to the Gas Works when we were children. One is a photo of an Armistice Day occasion. My father, whose title was Mechanical Superintendent, was at Ordnance Wharf from about 1927 to about the outbreak of WW2, when he went to work at Vauxhall Gas Works. Before he became land-based he spent a few years on the coastal run between Greenwich and the North-East (Tyneside) bringing coal for the Gas Works. Before that he had been in the Merchant Navy travelling all over the world.
The other photo is of the damage done to the wharves in the floods
and storms of 1938. There was a lot of damage done down the river at
From John West
Referring to the query form Mark Smith regarding Wiedhofft, the New Cross photographer:
Frederick Wiedhofft had a studio at 338 New Cross Road (near
Deptford Town Hall) from 1897-1914.
He also had branches at Holland Park, Highgate and Forest Gate.
Information about other Lewisham and Greenwich Photographers can
be found in my The Studio Photographers of Lewisham and Greenwich
1854-1939 (1995). This work covers all the districts that now
comprise the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich, copies which
can be seen at Lewisham Local Studies Centre and Greenwich Local
From Dennis Gubb
I do hope you do not consider this as junk mail! I am trying to
trace my history and have reason to believe my great grandfather had
a brickyard/kiln somewhere in Woolwich. His name was Henry
Grubb. On my grandmother's side it seems her father, Henry Farr,
was killed at the Arsenal in a train accident. I would appreciate if
you were able to shed some light on these facts.
From John Smith
I intend to dispose of my collection of books,
booklets, pamphlets etc. relating to Blackheath,
Bromley, Charlton, Eltham, Greenwich,
Lee & Lewisham, Woolwich and Kent's
history, etc. this year. I hope to offer them for sale through local
book fairs, family history societies or similar outlets to those
particular areas. I have therefore accepted Dartford Family
History Society's invitation to man a stall at a meeting on
Saturday April 1st at Dartford Girls Grammar School. If you Society
intends to hold a book fair, or act as host to a similar organisation
I would greatly appreciate details.
From Roger Backhouse
I came across the magazine of Thames Ironworks in Stratford's local history library. A strange mixture but lots on various engineering projects undertaken including a railway footbridge at Ilford, dockworks at Vladivostock and the building of the Fuji for the Japanese Navy. I have read that Thames Ironworks once produced cars but I can't trace any details. Also I have seen a reference to a "Silvertown" electric car pre-1914 and wondered if that was built in Newham. (Walter Hancock's pioneer steam carriages were built in Stratford - 175th anniversary coming up, but no interest yet from the local museum people.)
The magazine justifies the 8-hour day and rails against a Northern
cartel rigging the market for naval vessels. Also gives details of
the "Good Fellowship" scheme, a form of bonus distribution
based on reduction from estimated costs. And information about the
Cycling Club, Operatic Society, etc..
From Graeme Petit
I found your Web pages purely by chance, whilst looking for Angerstein's Wharf railway photographs, it led me to an article on John Penn and Sons, by Peter Trigg, and I spotted a potential namesake - Francis Pettit Smith - The Pettits were mill operators before this time (1700's/1800's), and were involved in wind and water mill manufacturer at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk at some stage. Some of their products ended up going south - I wonder if there is a connection?
Also, I'm looking for articles on New Cross (Gate) (see Blackthorne Yard - http://www.creteave.freeserve.co.uk/index.html and The Southern Railway Gallery http://members.tripod.co.uk/southern railway/index.html
This latter site appears to have moved, but the former contains
a most interesting piece on a huge fire
at the New Cross Gate Station and Works in 1844 which coincided with
a Royal 'transfer'! Web Editor
From Julie Tadman
I have just found your site on the Net, and read with a great deal of interest all that is on it about the area. Really fascinating stuff, and congratulations for the quality of all the information. My great-grandfather was an apprentice on the Samuel Enderby on its voyage to the Auckland Islands from August 2nd 1849 and return April 1852. His family lived in the area, with various family members leaving England and emigrating. His father is buried in Shooters Hill cemetery. Could you advise where to go for some information on the voyage of the 'Samuel Enderby'?
I have his applications and copy of certificates for Second and
First Mate and Captain from the (Australian) NMM, excellent and
invaluable information which poses as many questions as it gives
answers. I would also like to gain an appreciation of the life and
times in the Greenwich, Deptford areas over the early nineteenth
Thanks to Sally Maschiter we have been shown an extract from a PLA report (No. RNB15/UK/1098/1) on Greenwich Pier, compiled by R.N.Bray. The document pieces together a history of the Pier.
The original Act of Parliament for the Greenwich Pier Company was passed in 1836. This was for a pier 175 feet long sited upon the present upstream portion of the pier. Later that year the Act was amended to allow the company to extend down-stream over land owned by Greenwich Hospital and the Ship Tavern.
In 1843 dredging in front of the pier was reported to lead to a sudden collapse on 16th May - the foundations were distorted and the toe of the riverside face of the pier had moved outwards. This was illustrated in the Pictorial Times. The pier appears to have been reconstructed but no documentation on this has been found.
In 1954 part of the up stream end of the pier was dismantled to allow the Cutty Sark into its dock. A drawing of the pier's construction was made by those involved in this work. This shows that York stone landings were laid on a mat of 15" x 4" timbers. The timber was supported on two rows of 16" x 3" timbers tied at the top with timber whaling while the outer edges of the landings rest on cast iron piles, tied back by 2" tie rods to an undermined point in the fill. The brick wall is stepped backwards from the top width of 14" to the bottom width of 48". Timber piers (or counterforts) have a concrete backing to the wall between them. There was a 7" high chamber behind the top of the wall on the upstream corner which had no apparent use. A large (6" x 3") oval sewer ran along the south bank of the river and curved to run through the pier and discharged from the up-stream end of the front face. This sewer also had a bricked branch going downstream through the pier. This may, or may not, be an accurate description of the original foundation or it may be an improved design used after the problems in 1843.
Both the re-constructed up-stream and original downstream ends of the pier seem to be tied back with tie rods. Up-stream are 2" diameter rods installed in 1955, the downstream rods are smaller and were shown by the two inspection pits.
The report notes been four hydrographic surveys - 1924, 1930, 1974 and 1997 - relating to the variation of the levels of the foreshore. Generally it seems that currently the foreshore level is higher than it was in the past - important information because the level of the foreshore affects the stability of the pier wall.
So - the report concludes: - the upstream corner and end wall of the pier date from 1955 - the main pier frontage dates from after 1843 - the downstream corner and side wall probably date from 1836 - the level of the river bed in front of the pier has not changed significantly in 75 years, meaning that scour is not a problem.
In February a party from the Society and from GLIAS visited Greenwich Council's White Hart Road depot. The Council have recently vacated this site which was originally occupied by municipal industries set up in the 1890s by what was then Woolwich Metropolitan Borough. It contains an important and dramatic complex of buildings which housed the original, and very early, Woolwich Power Station which generated electricity from local rubbish. A report on this visit will appear in a future issue.
In the meantime we have written to ask the Council the following questions:-
Greenwich and Woolwich have lots of important buildings. If this one was anywhere else, it would be something we all raved about - but here it is overlooked. We ought to take some notice of it. Thanks to Mo and Ian for showing us round.
PS. Ian told us about a ghost there too .........
GREENWICH INDUSTRIAL HISTORY SOCIETY
Officers and Committee:
Chair - Jack Vaughan
Secretary - Mary Mills
Vice-Chair - Hugh Lyon
Treasurer - Steve Daly
Committee Member - Alan Parfrey
Auditor - Juliet Cairns
Subscription renewals fell due in October 1999. Members are urged to pay as soon as possible in order to avoid the cost of chasing you up! Subscriptions are £10. (we are considering an excess postage charge for overseas members) and should be sent to:
Steve Daly, 5 Pankhurst Close, Garrison Close, Shooters Hill, SE18 4JE
NEW MEETING PLACE
Meetings will now be held at The Old Bakehouse, (at back of
Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre, 11 Blackheath Village, London, SE23 9LA
Do not go to the Reminiscence Centre itself - the Old Bakehouse is
at the back in Bennett Park.
Walk into Bennett Park and turn left into a yard.
The Old Bakehouse is the building on your right. The entrance is straight ahead.
By the way - there is an urn and cups - have we a volunteer who could make tea/coffee for members?
This newsletter was produced for the Greenwich Industrial History
Society by Mary Mills.
Views expressed in it are those of the authors and not of the Society.
ANY NEWSLETTER IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS CONTENTS MAKE IT.
IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO TO CONTRIBUTE - ARTICLES, REPORTS, LETTERS - ANYTHING:
.... OR PLEASE CONTACT MARY MILLS, 24 HUMBER ROAD, SE3 7LR. 020 8858 9482
A number of 'serials' have once again had to be held over in this issue for lack of space. They will continue to be featured in forthcoming issues. Please keep sending the stuff in - it will all appear eventually! Information on the riverside project has also been held over - but for further information please ring Mary.
And...... DON'T FORGET TO ASK US FOR A MEMBERSHIP FORM
.... David Riddle, Goldsmiths College
Space courtesy of Goldsmiths College, University of London