FOCUS on Industrial Archaeology No. 69,

December 2007


Calshot Spit Light Vessel

Fire at Medusa’s Hythe boatyard


Meetings Reports

June 2007 - A trip on the Portsdown & Horndean Light Railway

July - Whitchurch Silk Mills

August - 40 Years of I.A.

September - Corsets and all that

October - Railway bridges and their engineers

November - Annual General Meeting and Photographic Competition



    AIA Annual Conference, Preston



    From Gater’s Mill to Cobden Bridge

    Trip to Crossness Engines and Three Mills Complex



    Twyford Waterworks Trust

    Maritime Projects

    HIAS Rescue and Restoration Section

    Waterside Heritage


Canal Cuttings






Fire at Medusa’s Hythe boatyard                                

Alan Watson, Medusa Trust


The work on Medusa (HDML 1387) was going well and our engines were about ready for their test run after 18 months of work. Then, on the morning of Tuesday 30 October, just as our team arrived for work, a fire broke out and rapidly consumed the workshop building.


Many of you will have seen this on the news; it was a major event involving six fire engines and nearly 100 fire fighters. When the site was handed back to us late Wednesday evening, the sight was beyond comprehension. We had lost most of the internal fittings from Medusa, all our tools and woodworking machinery, many parts that had been restored and the main engines were partially melted, full of water and rusting.


The good news was that no-one was hurt and Medusa herself is safe. We are now working out what was lost and costing its replacement. The main engines, Gardner 8L3 of 1940 manufacture, may be partially recoverable. The engines have gone to a specialist Gardner firm which has dismantled them and it looks like they may be salvageable. On the small one, the piston had melted in the bore and one of the large ones has the camshaft seized due to the bearing melting. We are waiting to hear how the crank bearings have fared. All the ancillaries such as injection pumps and starter motors are fried. Overall it looks like about £250,000 worth of damage when all the ship’s furniture/fittings are included.


We would be grateful for leads to Gardner parts and if anyone knows a second-hand table saw and planer/thicknesser (industrial rather than hobby rated) we would be most interested. Although this is a major setback, the project goes on. Work has continued unabated on Medusa and it is our intention to be back afloat next summer.


(Alan can be contacted on tel (023) 8026 1638, fax (023) 8090 7417 or e-mail [email protected] )



Calshot Spit Light Vessel, Ocean Village                   

 Angela Smith


This historic vessel has been on and off the agendas of the Southampton Heritage Federation since its formation five years ago and members have continually checked on its deteriorating condition. Matters have come to a head since July when it was discovered that developers Wilson Bowden, who are building the Admiral’s Quay apartment blocks on the Canute’s Pavilion site, wished to get rid of the light vessel as they needed to relocate their marketing suite currently in the remaining portion of the former Southern Railway‘s Continental Booking Office, which will be demolished (sadly not listed nor even in the Canute Road Conservation Area) to make way for the final block of the development. The company offered it free to a good home, otherwise it would be cut up for scrap. The initial problems were twofold where to put it and who would pay to have it moved.


The Calshot Spit Light Vessel station was established in 1842 by Trinity House. This light vessel, No. 78, was built by the John I Thornycroft shipyard at Woolston in 1914 and is the sole surviving light vessel from that yard. No. 78 was previously stationed at “Mouse” and “Mid-Barrow” before moving to Calshot in 1951 where a five-man crew lived on board. It was converted to unmanned operation in 1973. Associated British Ports took over the Calshot Spit station on January 1st 1987 and decided to replace the aged No. 78 with a fully automatic solar-powered catamaran light float.


After it was withdrawn from service No. 78 was anchored in Cowes Roads while tenders were sought for its disposal. The Ocean Village consortium purchased it for £10,000 and it was lifted out in the spring of 1988, laid in a concreted hole on sleepers and surrounded by a cushioning bed of gravel to the waterline, which was later covered in brick paviors. Although there are a number of lightships preserved around the country, none are as old or of the significant traditional design as this one, which is also the smallest at 140 tons. It has a 55mm dioptic Paraffin Vapour Burner at a height of 32ft (c.9.75m), which had a range of 12 statute miles.


Members of the Maritime Group of the Heritage Federation (principally Graham Mackenzie) have recently stepped up efforts to try to save the vessel. An internal inspection revealed that the hull was filled with water to a height of 2ft above pavement (waterline) level, the rain having entered through vandalised ventilators. At least that proved it was sound. However, ABP has refused to allow it to be craned back into the water even if that were possible bearing in mind that items such as lamp posts and the marina’s ramp were not there when it was lifted out nearly 20 years ago. Cllr John Hannides, the Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture on Southampton City Council, has thrown his weight behind the effort and representatives from Wilson Bowden have been as helpful as they could possibly be all credit to them.


A deadline of December 3rd was given to remove the vessel and, at the time of writing, I am still waiting to hear how things have progressed. In the first instance the contaminated water inside No. 78 has to be pumped out into a road tanker and the gravel removed from outside, so that a thorough inspection can be made to assess the condition of the hull. Wilson Bowden agreed to pay for this since they would have to carry out this task anyway if they were to have the vessel scrapped. Then if all is OK, there are the ‘small’ matters such as finding a new home for it and getting a move financed. If this all works out and it‘s a big IF members of HIAS may well be asked to join working parties to do some chipping and painting.




report by Carol Burdekin


Our June speaker was Geoff Salter, a retired librarian, on A Trip on the Portsdown & Horndean Light Railway but it was in fact a tramway service. Authorised in 1899, it opened on the 3rd March 1903 and initially ran from Cosham to Horndean. Starting on the Portsmouth Road south of Cosham, the route ran alongside the London Road, now the A3, until the last tram ran on the 9th January 1935, by which time it had been superseded by buses, which would eventually become the Southdown Bus Company.


This new tram system inevitably transformed the area and amongst the beneficiaries was Waterlooville. Named after the Battle of Waterloo by soldiers making their way home from the docks, it consisted of just one pub called the Heroes of Waterloo before the advent of the tramway. Geoff had a considerable amount of slides to accompany his talk thanks to the enthusiasm of a Mr Marshall who started taking pictures as early as 1910, and thereafter kept a meticulous record in picture form of the construction of the tramway, as well as other local events in the area. Although greatly changed, many parts of Waterlooville were surprisingly recognisable. During the tramway’s heyday, the tram shed could accommodate up to 12 trams and, by 1905, the company had 15 trams, plus its own power station which also supplied the owner’s house nearby with electricity. 


Extremely popular in its day, especially during the “Fairs” when about 40,000 descended on Portsdown Hill for this annual event, it finally closed in 1935, although the tram shed was used in WW2 for the storage of torpedoes etc. Geoff showed us a slide of one of the original trams which has been beautifully restored and it is hoped it will be possible to put it on public view in the near future.


In July our speaker was Geoff Hide on Whitchurch Silk Mills. Geoff, who had been a volunteer at the Mill for the last twelve years, has a close family connection his Great Grandfather being James Hide who bought the mill in 1889. James’ father John already ran a successful drapers business in Whitchurch. The Mill was modernised with the introduction of powered looms and winding frames together with a warping mill run by the waterwheel. 


The Hide family was related to the Burberrys at nearby Basingstoke by marriage, so the linings for Burberry raincoats were woven at the Mill. Everything changed with the event of the Second World War when silk supplies were difficult to get hold of, but when the War ended electric motors were installed replacing the water power. James Hide died in 1955 aged 92 and the business was bought by Stephen Walters & Company, Silk Weavers of Suffolk. The business then passed to Ede & Ravenscroft in 1971 who made legal gowns. The ottoman silk used was woven at the Mill and the legal gowns were made up on site.


The business was losing money and the Mill facing closure when, in 1985, the buildings and contents were purchased by The Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust who carried out extensive repairs, including nearby cottages which were then sold to help fund the repair work. It was then in 1990 that the Mill was leased to the Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust enabling the weaving to continue, still using the historic machinery. Today the Mill is very busy with orders coming in for silk from all over the place, including the National Trust, costume suppliers, as well as private clients, enabling the Trust‘s ethos of education and preservation to continue.


Geoff kindly passed round numerous silk samples for us to look at as well as different thread, cocoons, and other bits of machinery used in the process of silk making. Together with showing a selection of slides and sharing with us his own very personal memories of his family, it made for a very entertaining evening.


August found us with our very own Jeff Pain on 40 Years of I.A. Jeff has been involved in I.A for many years and told us that he was spoilt for choice on what slides to show us. Although not an engineer by trade, Jeff has always been interested in all forms of transport, and has been taking pictures of I.A. subjects for as long as he can remember. 


In no particular order or theme, we appropriately started with a view of Ironbridge, and then travelled around the country with Jeff looking at his collection of slides mainly taken on I.A. trips over the last forty years, as many members of the audience fondly remembered. These included canals such as the Basingstoke Canal, the Wey & Arun, the Kennet & Avon [including the beautiful Dundas Aqueduct] viaducts, the Gloucester Canal Junction and the Bude Canal, together with canal locks, in various states of repair, narrow boats and a steam dredger [now in the National Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port].


We also looked at ocean liners including the Queen Mary on her last voyage out of Southampton with the Queen Elizabeth following a year later. Other ships included were three from the Union Castle line, cable ships [which Jeff had been involved with], Royal Mail ships including the Transvaal Castle which sailed the Southampton to South Africa route, and a lovely little slide of the Calshot Spit light ship. 


Also included were various factories, kilns, pumping stations including Cromford internal as well as external shots, steam traction engines, old fingerpost sign posts, mills including our own Woodmill and Timsbury where preservation work is still ongoing by the Hampshire Mills Group. Steam trains including those taken at Southampton & Eastleigh Stations, railway bridges, buses including vintage Hants & Dorset, trams, and trolley buses including Bournemouth ones. Unfortunately, time was running out, although Jeff still had another box of slides to go, but hopefully he will be back next year to complete his very entertaining presentation on Forty years of I.A.


I was unable to attend September’s meeting, so once again thanks to Angela for providing a report. As might be expected, combine Ray Riley with a lecture entitled Corsets and all that and you know you are in for a good evening.


Ray said that, after meeting Dr Edwin Course in the 1960s, he began looking into the industrial archaeology of the Portsmouth area. The 19th century corsetry industry was small-time businesses when only a small building was needed and also employing many women who worked from home. He had looked at directories from the 1840s to 1911 to see how the percentages of people employed varied between garment manufacture and shipyard workers: in 1841 there were 41% working at home in the garment industry and 26% in the shipyard, whereas in 1911 14% were in the dress industry (hats, gloves, shoes, tailoring for the navy, suits, etc), 21% shipbuilding and 24% metal and engineering.


Much of the male population of Portsmouth were sailors, soldiers and men in the dockyard, many of whom were overseas leaving their wives to support themselves. A lot of them turned to the “oldest profession” with so many pubs to “work” from, but women who could knit or sew were set up by London businesses to work at home and take their products to a warehouse.


The reason for the explosion in the corset industry can not be easily explained, but a large number of women in Portsmouth were employed. It may be that, because of the sailmaking in the port which is heavy material, the women adapted to corsets as they were of a similar weight. The suburb of Southsea became very fashionable for the upper classes in the 1840s/50s, and the ladies wanted corsets. In the 1860s about 500 were employed but by 1900 there were 3,000. A decline in fashion meant the run-down of the corset industry which had more or less come to an end by 1911. One (male) manufacturer still exists in Rowlands Castle making fashionable corsets for the Ann Summer outlets, and Rosie said that Madonna buys her basques from Portsmouth (these are generally coloured and worn outside as is the current fashion).


To round off the most interesting evening, Ray showed a few slides of surviving buildings used as corset workshops, now re-used for other purposes. Most were destroyed during the war. One of the major manufacturers was Leatham. In one small workshop original machinery can still be seen preserved.


For our October meeting, we were very pleased to welcome back Dr Bill Fawcett who has spoken to us before and whose various books on railway topics can be found in our library. The talk began with a review of some of the later works of Thomas Telford born 250 years ago and whose bridges anticipate, and often exceed in ambition, those built by the early railways. We then saw the earliest surviving railway bridge, the 1727 Causey Arch built for the horse drawn Tanfield Waggonway in County Durham, followed by the oldest masonry railway viaduct Laigh Milton on the 1811 Kilmarnock and Troon Railway in Ayrshire.


Conventional railways were introduced via George Stephenson’s Stockton & Darlington railway with its Skerne Bridge at Darlington designed not by Stephenson, but by the architect Ignatius Bonomi. On the world’s first trunk railway, the Liverpool & Manchester, opened in 1830, Stephenson had the benefit of the great dock builder Jesse Hartley as consulting engineer. We saw Hartley’s sturdily idiosyncratic Sankey Viaduct and the River Irwell Bridge and typical overbridges with their heavily rusticated masonry. 


We then looked at the work of two established civil engineers experienced in dock and canal work and not normally associated with railways: Francis Giles and James Walker. Walker’s elegant elliptical arched overbridges for the early Leeds & Selby Railway [1834] were incredibly designed to span four tracks although only two were laid, while his Wear Bridge at Penshaw in County Durham [1838] with main spans of 120 & 140 feet was one of the most ambitious of early railway structures. Giles enjoyed a reputation as a gifted surveyor and the London & Southampton Railway was laid out on his alignment, although early in its construction he had been superseded as engineer by James Locke because of the slow rate of progress.  This had happened earlier with the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway [begun in 1830] where we saw examples of his elegant viaducts and bridges.


Arguably the major figure considered is Robert Stephenson who made a considerable contribution to the evolution of the steam locomotive before turning his attention to civil engineering in partnership with his father. Robert’s first major work which made his reputation was the London & Birmingham Railway, and we saw examples of the masonry and iron bridges including the notable tied-arch bridge over the Regent’s Canal. Unfortunately, the enlargement and modernisation of the railway has led to the loss of many of these structures. However, we were able to see something similar in principle to the Regent’s Canal Bridge on the Manchester & Leeds Railway built shortly afterwards and engineered by George Stephenson and Thomas Longridge Gooch. This was the cast iron bridge carrying the line over the Rochdale Canal near Chadderton, now maintained in excellent condition. We also looked briefly at the work of George’s former assistant Joseph Locke who took over from him on the Grand Junction Railway and went on to a very distinguished career.


Among lesser known, but major, figures we encountered John Miller and Thomas Grainger whose Ballochmyle Bridge in Ayrshire remains the largest single span masonry railway arch in Britain. As the system expanded the challenge arose of spanning large waterways such as the Menai and Tamar. We saw Robert Stephenson’s innovative cast iron double decker road and railway bridge the High Level over the Tyne at Newcastle whose construction overlapped that of his immense tubular bridge across the Menai. Stephenson and William Fairbairn also patented a “side box girder” system and we saw one of the last of these to remain in use, at Cahir in Ireland, brought back to life after an unfortunate encounter with some cement wagons. We then saw Brunel’s equally inventive approach to a similar problem with his now vanished Wye Bridge at Chepstow and the well known Tamar Bridge at Saltash. Perhaps more of a surprise was his wrought iron tied arch across the Thames at Windsor.


After a brief reminder of Brunel’s timber viaducts, the talk closed with a glance at the technology which made both Brunel and Stephenson‘s innovations somewhat redundant. Sir John MacNeill‘s Boyne Bridge at Drogheda, a wrought iron lattice structure drawing on American timber bridges, was an early and notable example; even earlier were Joseph Mitchell’s designs for the Highland Railway. We ended by seeing William Law’s Tyne Bridge at Wylam, which reinterpreted Stephenson and Brunel’s tied arch designs with the use of a lattice girder arch which prefigures such 20th Century masterpieces as the Tyne Bridge at Newcastle and Sydney Harbour Bridge.


At the Annual General Meeting in November, Jeff Pain was elected as the new Chairman. A big thanks was given to outgoing Vice-Chairman Roger Hedge (who presided at the meeting in the absence of Rodney) for his three years in that rôle and the preceding three as Chairman. Alison agreed to continue as Treasurer. Re-elected to the Committee were Keith Andrews and Mick Edgeworth, and volunteering to become committee members from ‘co-opted’ status were Rob Fish and Angela Smith. Three prizes were presented for the photo competiton, and all were won by female members  overwhelmingly first was Carol Burdekin, second was Eleanor Yates and third was Angela Smith. The quality and quantity of entries this year was excellent, so we look forward to next year’s competition.




Association for Industrial Archaeology Annual Conference               Rodney Hall  


The conference this year was held on the campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) close to the centre of Preston, between August 10th and 16th. After the omission last year, on the Isle of Man, a seminar was again held on the Friday, followed as usual by the weekend conference with lectures and business on Saturday and Sunday morning and field trips in the afternoon with a formal dinner on Saturday evening. After the conference, field trips were organised until Thursday.


The seminar was entitled Urban regeneration and the adaptive re-use of industrial buildings: problems and potential, attracting both professional and amateur speakers. Starting with slides illustrating the mixed fortunes of industrial buildings in the Bolton area demolished, transformed and re-used it was apparent that industrial complexes often occupy prime locations and large sites. Maintenance of older structures is expensive and there is still prejudice in some areas against retaining the buildings. A more hopeful sign was provided by a speaker from the organisation Planning Aid England wherein ‘heritage’ is often linked to enterprise and innovation and which encourages older areas to be refurbished rather than demolished. Using a current ‘in’ phrase, the ‘carbon footprint’ for re-use is less than for demolish and build new, at the same time skills in construction are maintained. Among changes required to further encourage re-use are: equalising VAT, maintaining a ‘buildings at risk’ survey, promotion of training and skills in re-use, and a higher priority in agreeing grant schemes.


Another speaker, from a firm of consultants, agreed that finding uses for large industrial complexes can be difficult, housing is another matter though. In the recent past, official policy has usually been for wholesale demolition and build new, but now, often led by conservation and/or residents groups, there is increasingly reassessment of the policy with refurbishment and re-use becoming more common. As an instance, the next speaker was a leading campaigner of one of these protest groups fighting to save the area of terraced housing in Nelson she has lived all her life, against the ‘demolish and rebuild’ plans of the local council. It is not only the houses that go, the community also disappears.


The ports and harbours of Lancaster and West Cumbria have severely declined as the nearby industries have disappeared. Lancaster has refurbished and adapted warehouses on the old quay, and Whitehaven has restored many of its Georgian buildings, the former aided by revival of the local economy and the latter by grants for regeneration schemes. This speaker emphasised there is a problem in maintaining buildings once refurbished (or even newly built!). Manchester still has many textile related buildings. Archaeological recording of the buildings and excavation of below-ground remains is giving more understanding of the structures, leading to more sympathetic re-use of the remaining, often complex, industrial sites.


Another example of where below-ground archaeology is assisting in sympathetic re-use of a large complex industrial site is Woolwich Arsenal in London. Here the location and foundation work for new structures is being considered with conservation of below-ground remains in mind. Most projects need to be financed and recently money for many refurbishment and urban regeneration schemes has come from the National Lottery. The last speaker in the seminar gave case studies and evaluation of some projects involving Industrial Heritage which have been funded through the National Lottery.


The conference proper started on the Friday evening and concentrated on the cotton industry, and was confined to the present county of Lancashire (the Annual Conference in 2000 was in Manchester and covered ‘cotton’ in the Manchester region). Instead of the usual general introductory industrial overview of the area, short talks were given by three speakers on textile mill engines, textile machines and textile mill buildings, during which it was pointed out that the present area of Lancashire was predominantly concerned with weaving and finishing textiles, spinning predominating in the Manchester region.


A speaker from the Northern Mill Engine Society traced the changes and development of power sources for textile mills from human, horse and water, through steam, to electricity. The progression of textile machinery from fulling stocks, which are considered the first textile machines, through the important 18th century inventions with a brief look at modern weaving machines followed. The speaker from the Lancashire County Museums Service illustrated the importance of the distance between the drawing rollers which made Arkwright’s Water Frame successful. Instead of tracing a strict progression of buildings, the range, different uses and architecture of buildings was explored by an A.I.A. member who has studied mill buildings for many years.


Saturday began with a run-through of Lancashire’s archaeology. The county had major medieval towns in Lancaster, Preston and Blackburn, the textile industry being mainly responsible for the emergence of Accrington, Burnley, Colne, Darwen, Nelson and other towns along with the resorts of Blackpool, Morecombe and St Annes. Putting on his County Archaeologist’s ‘hat’ the speaker went on to aspects of Town Planning. Considering the importance of textiles in the county, industrial remains are under-represented in statutory protection. For instance, within the 140 SAMs there are only 5 textile mills and only 4 mill engines (3.6% of the total). Loss of industrial buildings occur through permitted developments, illegal action and general decay. Both expansion and contraction of industries pose threats to buildings and sites. Changes in technology can result in existing buildings and structures being inadequate for new processes. Land values have a major influence in saving or demolition of buildings.


Recent typical figures given are; 410 planning applications passed with no ‘strings’ attached; 196 applications were permitted with records being made; 35 a watching brief was required to be kept; 16 needed further evaluation, and 2 had other restrictions. Most planning applications are allowed as they stand, seldom is a record insisted on and rarely are applications refused outright. Most problems with planning applications revolve round lack of knowledge of actual number of sites in the county; their type; distribution; importance locally, regionally or nationally; professional priorities and public perception.


A lecturer from UCLan has made a study of weavers housing. Invention of machines for weaving did not keep pace with the invention and development of spinning machines with the result that hand-loom weaving enjoyed a boom time and the construction of many houses with domestic accommodation and loom shops in the same building. A humid atmosphere is desirable in weaving cotton, but also good light. Although some loom shops were on the ground floor, mostly they were either on the top floor, with good light and where coarse weaving could be carried on; while fine weaving needed damp cellar loom shops. Example of both top floor and cellar loom shops can still be found. Eventually weaving looms were developed which required factories, with consequent loss of employment for hand weavers. Estimates put 170 000 hand-loom weavers in the old county of Lancashire around 1820.


Lancashire had other industries, many rural and based on woodland, some still being in existence. The extreme northern part of the Lancashire coalfield is in the present county with minor deposits elsewhere. Many of the industries are common with Cumbria, whose County Archaeologist was the speaker.


The conference ended with the Rolt Memorial Lecture, where an eminent person in IA speaks on a subject of their choosing. This year a person from the University of Cork spoke on the industrialisation of Ireland and role of the Quakers in that movement, and differences they found between Ireland and England.


A series of lectures were laid on in evenings during the week, directed at giving background information for field trips the following day. The first lecture traced the history of the Lancaster Canal from Preston to Kendal and the formation and development of Glasson Dock with the linking canal. The Wigan to Preston length of the canal was briefly mentioned.


The next evening, the history of aircraft manufacture in the Preston area was the subject. The initiation and growth of the industry from early 20th century to the present day was traced. Manufacture of aircraft parts is still an important industry locally.


The Rossendale Valley, although looking geophysically part of the Manchester region, is still in modern Lancashire, and the rise of industry in the valley was explained and some of the still extant remains of the textile industry to be seen noted. The following talk the same evening explained the position of the canal and tramway between Wigan and Preston with results from an excavation of part of the tramway (seen by SUIAG members on the field trip to the Lake District in August 1990). The history of the large Royal Ordnance Factory near Chorley built for filling WWII shells followed, with pictures of some of the latter-day products. The talk on the final evening covered the history and conservation of the ‘Weavers Triangle’ area of Burnley and the history and development of a museum from Queen Street Mill cotton weaving shed in Burnley.


Five conference members gave presentations on widely different subjects. Several paintings by the famous artist John Constable were compared with what could be found extant on the ground with the conclusion that the pictures are not accurate depictions. From London, records made of a wool import warehouse were described. A quick history and the state of restoration of the Sankey Canal was seen. An aspect of land drainage of the fens, pumps and flood defences was also given. Finally the story of a small cycle firm manufacturing mainly velocipedes in Ryde, Isle of Wight around 1880 was traced.


The AGM of the A.I.A. was held on the Sunday with nothing of note. Awards were presented, and as announced at meetings, the HIAS Journal again won the Journal Award. The Dorothea Award for Restoration was won by the Kelly Mine (shiny iron ore mine) near Bovey Tracy in Devon. The Recording Award was won jointly, and members of both teams gave presentations of their work. A professional archaeology organisation has made a detailed record above and below ground of the Ministry of Supply World War 2 chemical weapons factory at Rhydymwyn in North Wales. A community all-volunteer group in the Craven District of Yorkshire has searched for and recorded lime kilns and lime burning bowls in the District and has excavated six of them.


A total of 13 field trips were run over 6 days, thus choices had to be made and as usual difficult decisions were necessary. There were 3 afternoon trips on the Saturday. One went to the well-established textile mill museum at Helmshore Mill which is having major work carried out on displays. Another group went to Blackpool, and split between a conducted tour of the Tower complex, including behind the scenes, and a perambulation around sites of interest near the centre of the town. The third trip was to the remains of the Old Sedgewick gunpowder works not far from Kendal, followed by Carnforth railway station, where the cafe in the film ‘Brief Encounter’ has been restored.


On Sunday another 3 trips, this time around Preston. Two groups walked round within the city, one group concentrating on workers’ housing and the other on textile mills and remains of the Lancaster Canal. The third group toured Preston Dock, which is now given over mainly to housing and a marina but also has the volunteer-run Ribble Steam Railway on part of the old dock railway system. This group then went onto view the Ribble Link, the Millennium project linking the River Ribble to the Lancaster Canal so enabling boats from the latter to reach the country’s canal network for the first time.


One all-day trip on Monday visited the Lancaster area, starting at Rennie’s Lune canal aqueduct, visiting the Maritime Museum on St George’s Quay and ending at Glasson Dock. The other tour that day visited Nelson, viewing textile mills and terraced housing in the area which was planned for demolition and heard about in the seminar. The interior of one mill building and a redundant church, both being restored for re-use and owned by the local Trust, were seen. Lunch at Pendle Heritage Centre was followed by looking inside Higherford Mill, another mill in ‘Trust’. The day ended at the restored engine of Bancroft Mill, Barnoldswick which was in steam.


Tuesday saw one group going to St Helens where the World of Glass is an important museum of the glass industry, followed by exploration of the main features of the Sankey Canal. The other trip made a short call at the BAE Systems factory site at Warton, followed by a visit to a WWII shadow factory at Blackpool airport (Squires Gate). In part of the factory a firm assembling car exhausts is situated and a tour of the production lines was made. Why did many industrial archaeologists take photographs of elephants in a zoo?!!! The answer being that Blackpool Zoo occupies part of the site of the former Stanley Park aerodrome and the old clubhouse still stands, behind the elephant enclosure. Also seen were five former hangars in re-use by the zoo. Finally a visit to BAE Systems, Salmesbury, where guides explained the modern machine shop and the working assembly line for the front fuselage section of the Typhoon/Eurofighter. Tomorrow’s industrial archaeology!


On the following day, one group perambulated along part of the remains of the Lancaster Canal tramway, also viewing remains of later railways in the area and an extant, but now empty, textile mill. A visit to the Commercial Vehicle Museum at Leyland near the site of Leyland Motors works was followed by a drive through what remains of RAF Chorley. Few original buildings remain but housing development is proceeding apace. Lastly a look at Coppull Ring Mill, a late cotton mill built especially for ring spinning, not mule, spinning of cotton. The other trip visited the Rossendale Valley. First the small Weaver’s Cottage Museum in Rawtenstall was visited and from where a walk round the immediate area was made. The nearby Grain Mill was next on the list. A small part of the weaving shed remains but the engine and boiler house are complete. The engine is at present turned over by electric motor attached to the barring engine. Two Lancashire boilers remain in situ, unused. It is very early days in the restoration of the site, the boiler house has not been touched and building materials, ironwork etc. is stacked everywhere a real IA delight. A steam train on the East Lancs Railway took the group to Bury and the coach then went to Ramsbottom and the remains of Ramsbottom Mill. This is a large site where several large buildings have been demolished and the rest are in multiple occupancy.


The final event of the conference was a field trip to Burnley. The Weaver’s Triangle with its mills and canal, was toured on foot. After lunch a visit to Queen Street Mill was made with the steam engine in operation. This is a working weaving museum in contrast to Helmshore which concentrates on the spinning side of the industry.


Again a very enjoyable conference, with much to see and learn. Next year the Annual Conference is much nearer to Hampshire, being held at Lackham Countryside Centre, about 3 miles from Chippenham, Wiltshire. The dates are from Friday August 22nd to Thursday 28th. Details are usually available in February.




From Gater’s Mill to Cobden Bridge                 Carol Burdekin


Sunday, June 10th, turned out to be a beautiful day when about twelve of us met at the White Swan at Mansbridge to walk from Gater’s Mill to Cobden Bridge. Jon Sims, familiar to all of you I am sure, led the walk ably assisted by John Silman, who told us more about the mills, and Bill White with his extensive local knowledge. 

We started by going in the opposite direction to have a look at Gater’s Mill. The mill is now a mixture of houses and small businesses, and we were able to have a look round after asking permission from one of the residents, who we came across as he was unloading an enormous salmon he had found along the river bank. The information from the handout John [Silman] passed round told us that “Gater’s Mill was the largest complex of watermills in the vicinity of Southampton, and paper was made here by Huguenot refugees, who were granted a Charter in 1686 by James II. It was to this Company of  White Paper Makers that Henry Portal came in 1702 to learn his trade, and in the 19th Century it became known as ‘West End Flour Mills’.”


From Gater’s Mill we retraced our steps back to the White Swan and joined the Itchen Navigation where we took a short detour to have a look at the old City Reservoir, now partly covered in water lilies, many of them in flower. Just before reaching Woodmill we were fortunate to come across an ice cream van, which was very welcome, as the afternoon kept getting hotter and hotter! During our “refreshment” stop, we were able to look at some old postcards and photographs that Bill kindly brought along as a “then and now” exercise, which was extremely interesting.


On reaching Woodmill now the Woodmill Sailing & Canoeing Centre and Shop we were lucky enough to meet Malcolm Zobel who runs the centre on behalf of Southampton City Council and, as it was a quiet Sunday afternoon, he kindly showed us around and for his kindness and obvious interest in I.A. [a possible new recruit!] I promised to let him have a copy of Seaplanes & Flying Boats of the Solent as a thank you. Malcolm also found Bill’s old photographs and postcards of the mill and surrounding areas, as they used to be, very interesting.


Unfortunately, none of the mill’s original fittings remain, and the mill house has been demolished, but nevertheless it was interesting to see the mill’s massive timber beams and iron columns supporting the floors. John’s handout told us that the mill is built of brick with a slate roof, and this 19th Century mill stands at the head of the tidal River Itchen with the by-pass channels of the mill forming the salmon pools below South Stoneham House. Malcolm also showed us around the grounds of the mill, and we saw for ourselves a medieval salmon pool, together with  some of the “activity” aids including a “rock climb” used by schools, which is hugely popular with the kids.


Moving on to Riverside Park, we made our way to the miniature railway and, although not a great deal to see, we were able to have a look through the doors of the maintenance shed and talk to one or two of the people who maintain the engines and tracks. Some of us, who have not been able to “transcend our childhood”, took a ride on the train and enjoyed every minute of it! 


It was now getting on for teatime, when we finally arrived at “Southampton‘s best kept secret” as Jon called it, the St Denys Rowing & Sailing Club where we were able to have a very welcome cup of tea and have our picnic sitting outside in the very warm sunshine and admiring the view of the river. Jon promised us a sail in some of the club’s vintage rowing boats, but instead we had an even bigger treat in store by being taken out in a 40-year-old ex-Thames survey launch by one of the club members, Dick Bampton, who took us all the way from Cobden Bridge past the Itchen Bridge and back again. We could not have wished for a better day with brilliant sunshine and were very grateful to Jon for providing us with an enjoyable few hours exploring the River Itchen.



HMG/HIAS trip to Crossness Engines and Three Mills Complex                Nigel Smith


On Sunday September 16 about 25 members and friends from HMG and HIAS visited Crossness Engines and the Three Mills complex in East London in two mini buses driven by John Silman and Andy Fish.


The weather was fine and, after an early start, we arrived at Crossness shortly after its opening time of 10.30am to find it was already quite busy. The four beam engines, which are the main attraction there, were constructed by Boulton & Watt in 1865, but were totally rebuilt in 1899 from simple to compound working. They were used to pump London’s sewage into the tidal reaches of the Thames as part of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s major improvement works for the Metropolitan Water Board. Each engine was named and the fully restored Prince Consort was in steam and running for long periods they are said to be the largest rotative beam engines in the world. All visitors to the main engine hall were issued with hard hats as there is still a lot of unrestored iron work and steep metal staircases to negotiate. In line with the special nature of this weekend being ‘Open London’, there were some vintage vehicles and antique oil engines on display.


In the afternoon we travelled via the Blackwall Tunnel to the Three Mills complex and were split into two groups for a guided tour of House Mill. There have been mills on this site since the Domesday report, but this building dates from 1776 and is Grade I listed. It, and the adjacent Clock Mill (Grade II listed), were owned by a Huguenot family and over the years were used for grinding corn, meal, animal feed and materials for the production of raw alcohol for the gin industry. House Mill was rated to be the largest tide mill in Western Europe in its heyday with four waterwheels and six pairs of millstones.


Both mills ceased work during the Blitz and Clock Mill is now a film studio. (The third mill was a windmill close by). After our guided tour we were free to explore the mill and the surrounding area which is rich in wildlife living cheek by jowl with busy roads and railways, and to patronise the tea shop.





Twyford Waterworks Trust                    Ian Harden


With another successful open day season recently ended, it seems appropriate to continue at the point the previous report left off. The continuing efforts of the Wednesday Conservation Volunteers cleared the way, literally, for a wildlife and nature theme to the August event with guided walks, a lace-making demonstration and some owls and falcons on show. September’s Emergency Vehicle day provided much of interest for children of all ages and included the return visit of a French Citröen fire appliance. The end of season open day in October attracted the highest attendance of the year, including a coach party of stationary engine enthusiasts from Norfolk who combined their visit to Twyford with one to Whitchurch Silk Mill in the afternoon.


Various social events are gaining in popularity with the now traditional autumn barbecue having just taken place and preparation for another Wassail at the Works for December 15th well under way. Similarly, we look forward to receiving visitors courtesy of the Friends of King Alfred Buses Running Day on the first day of 2008.


Visitors to Twyford Waterworks next year will notice an immediate difference on arrival. The former Jewry Street kiosk from Winchester is now essentially externally complete after the fitting of new guttering, cladding and roof slates. An electricity supply has been installed to enable the internal fitting-out to proceed during the winter and, to this end, some redundant counter units have been obtained locally which will suit the kiosk admirably. Completion is scheduled to be in time for the May 2008 open day.


Of the somewhat larger items of kit at the Waterworks, by the time this report is published, most of the remaining Haines water filters tanks should be installed in the Filter House, freeing up space around the Boiler House and Quarry. As regards the boiler restoration project, this remains at the paperwork and planning stage so little actual progress is evident at the present time. The final structural report on the Babcock boilers is awaited on which decisions on their restoration will be based.


Planning of the winter work schedule is being finalised and, in addition to the aforementioned areas, further attention will be given to upgrading of some of the railway infrastructure and vegetation clearance resumed around the quarry and along the Hazeley Road frontage.


Another open day season will then be upon us before we know it, the provisional programme repeating the themes of 2007, although taking place on the first Sundays of the respective months.



Maritime Projects                                                        Angela Smith


S.S. Shieldhall    ( )


The Shieldhall has had a fairly successful excursion programme in 2007, with three trips still to take place in December Friday 7th, greet new Cunard liner Queen Victoria as she arrives from her builders (7.30am dep); Sunday 9th, Christmas lunch cruise (fully booked); Tuesday 11th, bid Queen Victoria bon voyage on her maiden trip (evening). Some winter maintenance work has already been undertaken but, after Christmas, the engines will receive their annual overhaul, while deck crew will be sprucing up the paintwork. In 2008, May will also see a West Country programme in addition to the annual visit to Weymouth in August. The ship is likely to dry dock in Falmouth again and running excursions helps to recoup the fuel costs. Fuel prices have risen by over 30% and this will have to be reflected in ticket prices.



British Military Powerboat Trust ( )

In the fire at Medusa’s yard in Hythe on October 30th, the BMPT lost around £4000 of parts it was using to restore FMB Ark Royal, which was under restoration in a part of the yard unaffected by the fire. A new Perkins S6M diesel engine and gearbox were being worked on in the burnt-out workshop. Any offers of help, please contact Richard Hellyer on (023) 8089 0900.


Cutty Sark: A Ceefax report of November 21st said that the fire-ravaged Cutty Sark was a quarter way through a £25m conservation project before the fire in May (blamed on young arsonists). More than £20m had been raised, but now an additional £9m is needed as well as the £5m shortfall. However, I have heard that only 2% of the structure was actually lost. 60% was elsewhere at the time in storage or being restored, and in many places the thin layer of blackening on the burnt timbers could be scraped off to reveal almost pristine timber.


Paddle steamer to operate on Isle of Wight: The P.S. Monarch, at 42ft regarded as the smallest commercially-operated paddle steamer in the world, is set to operate on the River Medina after steaming from its present home in Kent. Passengers will be able to enjoy a trip from April on the vessel.



HIAS Rescue and Restoration Section                        

Nigel Smith


Bishopstoke Turbines


In July John Silman arranged to get a key to the turbine house at the Shears Mill site in Bishopstoke so that the ‘Heavy Gang’ / Hampshire Mills Group could begin to assess the condition of the machinery and requirements for future operation. Several members turned out to begin the task of cleaning and applying releasing oil to the machinery. I took a series of photographs which hopefully will show the ‘before’ condition inside the turbine house which can be compared one day with completed restoration. We were joined by Peter Storey, the clerk of the Bishopstoke Parish Council which is sponsoring the plan to see if it will be possible to use the restored turbines to generate electricity. It was encouraging to hear from him that there should be access to some grant funding to help deliver this project.


Unfortunately, little remains of the former mill which was demolished in the 1920s. However, the turbine installation was retained with the idea that it might be used to generate DC power for the village at that time. This double turbine (20" and 36") installation by Armfields of Ringwood is very unusual in that the two machines are coupled together, although it appears they could run independently when required. Apparently they had a very short life and were only in use for four years before milling ceased and the mill was demolished. The adjacent mill house survives and is quite a large and grand building.


The major task will be to free off the turbines which are no doubt seized with chalk deposits and decades of river silt and rubbish. Access will be extremely difficult and work cannot be done without damming off part of the river to allow workers to get to the turbine drive and input / outflow tubes. Before any work or even detailed surveys can be attempted, negotiations with the Environment Agency and the local authorities will be needed to devise a method of working that is safe and does not damage river life.


Some notes on other HMG/Heavy Gang activities   


Timsbury water wheel and pump: Work at Timsbury has still to be completed. In June the fountain was installed in the pond adjacent to the channel which contains the wheel and pump, and the water hit a height of 15 to 18ft when the pump was set running. One of the pump rods was later broken during unattended use and needs repair. Work is progressing on the construction of the main bypass sluice gates which are now ready to be placed in situ. However, a concrete sill needs to be made to allow the gate to engage securely and this is proving difficult because of the high water levels at this time of year.


Eling Tide Mill: The installation of the new sea gates has been completed by contractors. Work continues by HMG members on the water wheel infrastructure to replace the stop planks with new green oak boards as well as work to maintain the main wheel bearings and grease points.   


Hampshire Mills Group website:


Waterside Heritage

Excavations under the aegis of the association took place over three weeks during the summer at the site of Holbury Manor. The work was undertaken by students from Southampton University and Brockenhurst College. Resistivity and magnetometry surveys were carried out. The association has also been involved with Hardley Secondary School and its feeder primary schools to encourage interest in local history. The research undertaken related to the local impact of the Second World War and investigations into the Cadland Estate, Holbury Manor and the Mulberry Harbour.


A two-day exhibition of many photographs illustrating the work and personnel of the British Power Boat Company at Hythe was mounted at Hythe Community Centre in July, accompanied by a small display of model power boats provided by the British Military Powerboat Trust.



Canal Cuttings


. . . two items from Tony Yoward

Ulster Canal

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland is promoting the restoration of the Ulster Canal (between Lough Neagh and Lough Erne) through its Making Structures Visible project. Work parties are being organised to reveal the defunct locks and bridges. A survey of all the features associated with the Co Monaghan section of the Ulster Canal see website for details.


Mountmellick Canal

Last year, the Laois Heritage Forum commissioned an industrial and ecological survey of the Mountmellick Canal. This was carried out by Dr John Feehan of University College, Dublin, in partnership with the IWA of Ireland.

This 20km canal runs from the Athy Branch of the Grand Canal at Monasterevin to Mountmellick. It was constructed by the Grand Canal Company between 1827 and 1831 (it took two years to water!) primarily to convey bulky low-value items such as grain, meal, beer, coal and timber. Malt from Mountmellick and flour from Portarlington were its two mainstays. Coras Iompair Eireann took over the canal‘s operation in 1950. Traffic dwindled to such an extent that the canal was abandoned in 1960. Although defunct for over 50 years and partly infilled, many canal features survive locks, lockhouses and bridges.


Ellesmere Canal                                       Mick Edgeworth

In early September 2007 whilst travelling along the B4396 in Shropshire I noticed that we had passed over a new section of a canal being constructed or totally renovated (Landranger 126 SJ 300 241 at Redwith). It was only a quick glimpse from a coach but it was very interesting to see the details of its construction.


According to the other passengers, this section of the canal was never completed and this was being built to complete the missing link. My OS map named it as the Shropshire Union Canal, but I have since found out that this was the Llanymynech branch of the Ellesmere Canal which was abandoned after a breach in 1936. There are some good details of the canal in Archaeology of the Montgomeryshire Canal by Stephen Hughes, 1988, RCAHMW.


[Information from 2007 Inland Waterways Association Journals gleaned by Angela Smith]


Restoration started more than thirty years ago on the Montgomery Canal and many structures have been restored. The canal is open to navigation on an isolated 11-mile section from Berriew, through Welshpool, to Ardleen and for 6 miles from Maesbury to the junction with the Llangollen Canal at Frankton Junction. A £1.1m Heritage Lottery Grant, European and British Waterways funds, and grants from the Shropshire Union Canal Society and IWA, announced in January 2006, is enabling the canal to be extended.


The dry section which Mick saw, between Gronwen and Redwith Bridge, is subject to a current £½m project, relining the canal bed, which also involved the installation of a new wooden lift bridge. The section has been test-filled with water. On the south side of Redwith Bridge (the B4396) volunteers were working on the bridge approach and the walls of the old Redwith Wharf.



A final couple of canal items from Angela Smith:-


Burbage Wharf Crane

Although not in Hampshire, I’m sure many of us frequently pass over the road bridge on the A346 where it crosses the Kennet & Avon Canal between Burbage and Marlborough and look down on this crane or did. In the Autumn 2007 edition of the magazine of the South-West Region of the Inland Waterways Association is an update on restoration work of the crane. It was carefully dismantled on June 2nd after a working party the previous week had cleared the area. British Waterways provided a workboat on which to load and dispose of the scrap timber and a local contractor stored the metal components, which were subsequently taken to Claverton. Details of the construction of the crane were recorded by drawing and photography as it was dismantled (by chain saw) so as to enable the parts to be replicated in the new crane, using Green Oak, purchased for the project by Crown Estates. A “Project Launch Ceremony” was held at Claverton Pumping Station on August 11th.


Waterway closures due to flooding

Owing to the severe and exceptional flooding caused by the unprecedented rainfall in July, canals and river navigations across the country were closed or restricted. These included the River Severn, Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, Lower and Upper Avon in Warwickshire, part of the Stratford Canal, all parts of the River Thames, parts of the Grand Union, Oxford and Kennet & Avon Canals, all parts of the Great Ouse and Nene, Erewash Canal, Fossdyke Canal, River Soar, River Trent and the river section of the Trent & Mersey Canal. Other warnings to take extra care were in force on the Aire & Calder Canal, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (below Kinver) and the southern end of the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal.


In other words, if you‘d chosen the peak of the summer season to go on a canal holiday, you were stuffed!





The Eel House at Alresford

There were reports about the Eel House on the River Arle in the June and December 2006 newsletters, with a photo taken by Carol in the June edition showing a brick building with a large hole in one side, partially covered with trees and ivy. After Carol visited it in May last year she said, “It is in very poor condition and in need of major work as a matter of some urgency, especially to the foundations, otherwise the whole thing will collapse into the river.” The December Focus reported that restoration had begun.


Come forward a year and things are not looking so good. BBC-South reported on November 16th that a large part of the wall had collapsed into the river possibly when ivy was being removed. Film showed that the roof was propped up and relatively intact, but there is little left of the wall overlooking the river and most of one side had also fallen in. There seemed to be little floor left, either. Another £20,000 is needed to fully restore the little building. Work to stabilise it in the short term is under way. Builders were seen cementing in concrete blocks to the foundations.


Theft of metal on the increase

With the ever-increasing price of scrap metal, thieves are becoming more daring (and foolhardy?) in their attempts to get their hands on anything that can be melted down. If your precious and expensive bronze statue has disappeared from the garden, it’s now not likely to be found again. The thieves are not concerned with its value as a statue, only what cash they can get from the scrapman.


Thieves struck two railway preservation centres during the summer. Thousands of pounds-worth of signalling equipment was stolen from a station on the Churnet Valley Railway in August. The theft came weeks after 20 sleepers were stolen from the stretch of line between Froghall and Consall stations. The funds to replace the equipment could be better spent on other projects. In a separate incident, components for an ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST were stolen from the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway in June and July.


In September a news item said that, at a crematorium, all the bronze (about 25) memorial plaques had been stolen. They were replaced free of charge by the memorial company. How low can these thieves sink?


There have been a lot of reports of lead flashing being stolen from roofs in the south east. One victim was Crossness Pumping Station. Volunteers arrived on site one day to find many rolls of flashing having been taken from the roofs and left on the ground, presumably for later collection by the thieves. Although the flashing was recovered, it will be costly to replace because it was too damaged to re-use. Police said that there was a similar theft in the area not long before. Lead flashing theft has also been reported in Haslemere and, very recently, at a school in Sussex where rain entered and ruined books and computer equipment.


Vulcan takes to the air

The preserved Vulcan XH 558 finally got its wheels off the ground on October 18th at Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire, making a 40-minute flight before returning home “with a textbook landing”. The flight followed successful ground tests on 28th September. When more test flights have been completed, the CAA is expected to issue a Permit to Fly which will enable a flying programme for 2008 to be planned. The challenge now is to keep it flying for many years to come, so fund-raising needs to continue. It is the first time a jet aircraft of this size has been restored to flying condition.


Cody Flyers

Work on the two Cody Flyer replicas is continuing apace. Southampton’s Solent Sky museum’s flying replica of S.F. Cody’s British Army Aircraft No. 1B is taking shape at Hawker Restorations’ workshop near Ipswich. Meanwhile, at Farnborough (thanks to John Asteraki for sending updates from the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust), work has commenced on all the wing wooden components, and the wood for the fuselage is being prepared. The undercarriage is almost complete. John says that he spoke to someone and was told the reason it is to be a non-flying replica is that the original was only just capable of flying, so if anyone was brave enough to try it with the replica, it would almost certainly repeat the crash of the very first flight after a few hundred yards. The 1B was a good deal more airworthy.



Snippets old and new                                  

Tony Yoward  

"  The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, near Chichester, has acquired a tin tabernacle for re-erection on its campus. It is hoped to achieve this as soon as possible once planning permission has been obtained. During dismantling the number “207” occurred so often that the Museum deduces this must be a kit number for what would have been a purchase in prefabricated form from a catalogue. A particular find was the Red Hand Inodorous Felt used for insulation and made by D Anderson of Manchester and Belfast.


"  Bristol Industrial Museum closed on 29 October (2006) to make way for the new Museum of Bristol due to open in 2009.


"  Rhayader Museum, Radnorshire (Lottery grant £483,500). In 2002 the original Folk Museum in Rhayader located above a shop with limited access had to close and this grant will allow it to be rehoused. Recently the project gained the support of people in Birmingham who lobbied the City Council to make a donation towards the project. The Elan Valley near Rhayader was flooded 101 years ago to provide the UK’s second city with clean water and this is one of the stories that will be told in the new museum. It is hoped to open in Easter 2008.


"  Paper Mills at Apsley, near Hemel Hempstead (Lottery £995,500). Frogmore Paper Mill at Apsley is hailed as the birthplace of the world’s paper industry and contains one of the oldest papermaking machines still in operation made by Fourdrinier and dated 1803. The project will open the whole site, Frogmore and Apsley Mills, to the public for the first time to enable visitors to try out handmade papermaking, printing and book binding.


"  Chatham Dockyard, No 1 Smithery (Lottery £4,725,000). This is the dockyard’s last Building at Risk and was built between 1805 until 1808 to the designs of Edward Holl. After a long and occasionally frustrating search for a viable new use it has now become the centre for the display of some of the 4,000 ship models owned by the National Maritime Museum, Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum. Models, many depicting vessels since lost, were used as working templates for constructing the real thing.


"  Ryde Cemetery, Isle of Wight (Lottery £486,000) to restore the monuments, boundary wall and railings of the Island’s first municipal cemetery (1842), to use on one of the chapels as a heritage learning centre, the other to generate income.


"  Pontardawe Tinplate Works, Glamorgan. This is a rare survival of what was once a fairly common building type in the Swansea hinterland. The works date from the late 19th century and is listed Grade 2. The Neath-Port Talbot Council has been advised to be cautious about its proposed total demolition, despite the degree of alteration, the very poor condition and the acknowledged difficulty of alternative use. In the first place, a thorough historical assessment of the building, using the internet, showed that there are relevant archives.


"  The Waterways Trust is now able to offer a new on-line database of 33,336 records from some 13 Record Offices dealing with the history of the waterways from the C17th to the present day. It includes, for example, an exhibition on Sharpness Docks. Further information:


"  Oxford Castle and the new public square called Castle Yard, admitted its first visitors a year ago, after having been closed, quite literally, since the C18th when it became the city’s prison. It has been turned from a prison to become a luxury hotel where only the railings and handrails have been redesigned!


"  Murray Mills, Ancoats, Manchester opened last year. This sheer cliff wall of a 19th century mill complex is the flagship conversion of an early group of industrial buildings.


"  The Dorne Cinema, Worthing, with its curiously Expressionist outline, reopened in August last year.


"  Nelson’s Monument, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk was officially opened in August last year.


"  The Geevor Tin Mine, Cornwall (Lottery £2,264,000), actually the third grant to the same site. This is the largest preserved tin mine in Europe on a site where metal seems to have been worked since the Bronze Age.


"     An Illuminating Site: see Commissioners of Irish Lights’ website, Under ‘Pictures’ you will find photographs of all lighthouses around the Irish shores. One of the best known, Fastnet, commemorated its centenary in 2004.



Properties for sale

Noted in the Sunday Times ‘Home’ supplement of November 25th, a couple of properties with an IA flavour. In Battle, East Sussex, a converted listed windmill (without sails) and attached buildings with 5 bedrooms, etc. and 1.5 acres, on the market for about £1¾m. At the other end of the scale is an old pumping station still with its diesel pumps and machinery at Hilgay in Norfolk. The property is remote, measures 40ft x 35ft and was built in 1849 as one of a chain of brick buildings, using coal-fired machinery, formerly used to drain the marshy soil of the Norfolk Broads. The asking price is £150,000 to £200,000 but would need at least that amount again to turn it into a home. It sits on 1.4 acres and is six miles south of Downham Market, on the edge of a 150-acre environmental site to be managed as a bittern habitat.



LINDUM Heritage

The Lincoln-based company which offers short breaks of an archaeological nature has just published its 2008 programme. No windmill trips this time, unfortunately. One for aircraft enthusiasts is being run twice 20 to 22 April and 21 to 23 September. This is called Bomber County: Home of the Dambusters and visits are included to RAF Scampton (home of the Red Arrows), RAF Coningsby (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) and East Kirkby to not only see Lancaster Just Jane but tour over the aircraft as well. The 2-night break is based at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa, which was once the officers mess for 617 Squadron led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson. Cost from £320pp based on 2 sharing.


More local to us, but of an archaeological nature rather than IA, is a weekend on The Archaeology of Prehistoric Wessex hosted by Julian Richards who has appeared on TV. Sites such as Woodhenge, Avebury and various barrows will be visited, and there is a private visit to Stonehenge to walk amongst the stones on a late summer evening. Date is 12 to 14 September and costs £290pp sharing.


For the real archaeology freaks there is a Summer Excavation Roman Villa Site run over four weeks in July where students stay Monday to Friday (£170 not including accommodation) and, if you want to learn all about geophysics, an Archaeology Taster Weekend 17 to 19 October will give you hands-on experience field surveying an archaeological site, with the added interest of flint-knapping and ceramics (from £245pp). Contact director Zoë Tomlinson at 19 The Green, Nettleham, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN2 2NR, phone on 01522 851388 or website for a copy of the brochure (and mention you saw it in Focus).


A snippet from Roger Hedge from his holiday to Scotland in August


A first

I have it from two Scottish historians, with advice from a local Industrial Archaeologist, that the first ever battle fought across the line of a railway was at Prestonpans in 1745. The line carried coal down to the nearby port at Cockenzie, now ‘graced’ with a coal-fired power station. This station is now fed with imported coal and the line is no longer extant. However, climbing the bing (dialect for spoil heap) on the battle site, the line of the railway runs across one‘s view behind the goal posts of what is now a Sports Field.





Locomotive Lord Nelson sidelined: After a successful start to its mainline career earlier in the year, crown stays in the boiler of No. 850 Lord Nelson were found to have fractured in August. It was decided to put the locomotive on static display at the National Railway Museum in York and it was transported by road in October. A paper audit of ‘what went wrong’ and a programme for repairs is being put together, but no funding is available at present to undertake what could be a lengthy task a bit like keyhole surgery. Fellow Southern loco Sir Lamiel, which returned to steam only days after Lord Nelson 18 months ago, suffered a similar problem and was out of service for nearly a year. Meanwhile, brand new locomotive Tornado is borrowing the support coach owned by the Eastleigh Railway Preservation Society.


Blue Plaque for Hythe Cottage

When he was testing the 200 series high speed launches at the British Power Boat Company for the RAF,           T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) lived at Myrtle Cottage in Shore Road, Hythe. On 22nd October there was a special ceremony at the cottage to unveil a ‘blue plaque’ commemorating the time in 1931/32 when Lawrence (as aircraftsman Shaw) rented a room for 18 months from landlady Mrs Harriet Biddlecombe. Her husband, George, was steward on board Hubert Scott-Paine’s private yacht.


Buildings at risk: In July, English Heritage launched its Buildings at Risk Register 2007 at a meeting in Battersea Power Station itself at risk since 1991. Each building on the list needs at least £1m in public funding if they are to be saved. Among the IA-type buildings are Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Staffordshire (£25m), Cardington No 1 Shed, Bedfordshire (£5m) and the former Ditherington Flax Mill and attached former malt kin, Shropshire (£5m). Old Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight needs at least £2m.


Yarmouth Pier saved: An item in June’s Focus mentioned that the wooden piles of the Grade II-listed Yarmouth Pier were being eaten by gribble worms. The good news is that the HLF awarded a £350,000 grant in July to be spent on 54 new supports for the 131-year-old pier. It will be closed for five months from December 3rd and due to be re-opened on April 26th at a ceremony attended by Alan Titchmarsh.


Hockley Viaduct: The railway viaduct at Hockley, on which SUIAG/HIAS members have, in the past, carried out vegetation-clearing working parties, may be saved from falling down or demolition. In September Winchester City Council promised to inject £500,000 over the next 12 years to carry out progressive repairs. The council also wants to lower the parapet to open up views. Campaign group Friends of Hockley Viaduct was to be re-launched on November 12th and HIAS has been invited to join.


Arson suspected over mill blaze: A massive blaze which destroyed a listed building in Walsall is being blamed on arsonists. Up to 150 firefighters tackled the fire which broke out at Shannons Mill on the night of August 3rd. The mill is unoccupied but is the site of a multi-million pound regeneration scheme. The fire service said that at least 60% of the building collapsed. Police said the fire was being treated as arson and they were keen to trace up to four teenage boys seen in the area. (Ceefax news, 4-8-07)


Sea fort for sale again: No Man’s Land fort in the Solent was back on the market again in July after the commercial property finance business that owned it, Lexi Holdings, went into liquidation in 2006 with debts of more than £100m. The money raised from the sale of the converted fortress would be used to pay creditors. It is used as an exclusive conference venue and has 21 bedrooms.


Turbine scheme abandoned: A plan to install turbines at a weir near Windsor Castle, to provide power for the royal estate, has been abandoned due to the cost. (Ceefax news, 30/9/07)


Flying boat crash remembered: The 50th anniversary of the November 15th fatal crash of Aquila’s Short Solent G-AKNU Sydney at Chessel on the Isle of Wight was commemorated at a service in Brook.


Discovery Centre opened: Winchester Discovery Centre, with a refurbished and much improved library and other facilities such as internet access and an express zone, was officially opened on November 27th.


Digital heritage access: Hampshire Record Office is digitising around 5,000 old documents dating from 1605 which will be made available online from February under the title Access Hampshire Heritage (AHH).