No. 329 AUGUST 1998 Edited by Peter Pickering
SATURDAY 15th AUGUST OUTING: SHAFTESBURY & FONTWELL MAGNA
Bill Bass & John Enderby.
HADAS ANNUAL WEEKEND BRISTOL
THURSDAY 3rd to SUNDAY 6th SEPTEMBER More places may become available. Our weekend will include LACOCK ABBEY, the FOX TALBOT PHOTOGRAPHIC MUSEUM, the ROMAN BATHS and PUMPROOM in BATH, CAERLEON and CAERWENT in WALES, a CURRENT EXCAVATION in MONMOUTH; STANTON DREW STONE CIRCLE, a return visit to S.S. GREAT BRITAIN, and a guided walk in BRISTOL.Ring Dorothy Newbury (0181-203 0950) if you would like to join us.
SATURDAY 26th SEPTEMBER OUTING: KENSAL GREEN CEMETERY — Stewart Wild
SATURDAY 10th OCTOBER MINIMART our annual fundraiser.
TUESDAY 10th NOVEMBER LECTURE: BRONZE, BRASS and ZINC in Ancient & Modern China Paul Craddock
THURSDAY 3rd DECEMBER LECTURE: THE WROXETER HINTERLAND SURVEY Gordon White. 8 pm for 8.30 pm.
PLEASE NOTE NEW DATE CHRISTMAS DINNER at Avenue House. Norman Burgess, Curator of the Stephens Collection, will talk to us about ‘Inky Stephens’, and the history of Avenue House and grounds. There will also be an opportunity to see the Stephens Collection.
FROM THE MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Vikki O’Connor
Hello to new members Stella Marina Caldas and John Saunders. It has been good to see our newer members coming along to lectures and outings and getting involved in current projects. Anyone with ideas for new projects should contact the next newsletter editor for publication and response from other interested members. Let’s get going!
One of our members who used to live in Barnet, Jean Hawkins, wrote saying she has recently moved to Earls Barton in Northamptonshire. She has joined the Upper Nene Society but sends regards to HADAS to `any who remember me’. Earls Barton is also probably familiar to many members, with its famous Saxon tower and nearby motte and bailey… (tinge of envy creeping in!)
TRAMWAYS CORNER Andy Simpson
Those good folk at Middleton Press have given me another excuse to write about trams in the newsletter through their latest publication in the Tramways Classics series — ‘EDGWARE AND WILLESDEN TRAMWAYS’ by Robert J Harley which follows the usual Middleton format — 96 hardbound pages with a profusion of Edwardian streetscenes, plus rolling stock details including drawings and details of the `Feltham’ trams of the 1930s which dominated the Finchley and Golders Green services of the time.
The book covers Canons Park, Edgware, Colindale, West Hendon, Cricklewood, Willesden, Wembley, Sudbury, Harlesden, Paddington, Acton and Wood Lane routes in some detail. There is a detailed track diagram, historical summary, route map excerpt, and extracts from large scale Ordnance Survey maps including the Annesley Avenue area of Colindale with its tram depot, motor works, laundry, soap works, bookbinding works and electrical works.
The photographs include some very sylvan-looking views of Canons Park terminus, trams stabled at Colindale depot, running through Edgware and West Hendon and also Cricklewood Broadway.
This excellent book costs £12.95. To support a worthy cause it can be obtained post free from LCCTT (Promotions) Ltd, 66 Lady Somerset Road, Kentish Town London NW5 1TU.
This worthy cause — the London County Council Tramways Trust, with which your reviewer (surprise, surprise) is associated — exists to rescue, and raise funds for the restoration of, old London tramcars. Our current project is the restoration of a London United Tramways double deck, open top bogie tram of Edwardian date very similar to the Metropolitan Electric trams that ran for some 30 years in the Barnet/Finchley/Edgware areas. The lower deck of our example survived as part of a bungalow, and when restored will operate at the National Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire, where the two London trams already restored by the trust (both double deck electric — four-wheeler LCC 106 and El bogie car 1622) operate. Rush your order off now! The previously reviewed Middleton books on Barnet and Finchley Tramways, Hampstead and Highgate Tramways, Enfield and Wood Green Tramways and, for railway buffs, the Alexandra Palace Branch can be obtained from the same address, price £11.95 each.
WROXETER WRAMBLINGS Andy Simpson
Many moons ago, when Pontius was a pilot and your scribe a lowly undergraduate, he spent the first of several seasons excavating at the Roman city at Wroxeter, between Shrewsbury and Telford, Shropshire. [Even more moons ago, when the ashes of the Roman and his trouble were scarcely cool under Uricon, your editor participated in a training dig there led by Graham Webster.] Trowelling away in the shadow of that remarkable survival, the ‘Old Work’ — the largest fragment of a Roman civilian building still standing in Britain — he was working on the Baths Basilica site in the centre of the town, directed by Philip Barker — him of ‘Techniques of Archaeological Excavation’ fame. One of the site supervisors was Roger White — the same Dr Roger (not Gordon as previously listed in the Newsletter) White from the Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit who will be lecturing us on the Wroxeter Hinterland Survey in October.
Together with Philip Barker, Roger has just published a new account of Wroxeter — `WROXETER —LIFE AND DEATH OF A ROMAN CITY’. This is the first of the new ‘History & Archaeology’ series to be produced by Tempus Publishing Ltd of Stroud, Gloucestershire. Released in June, the book is priced at £14.99. This softback book has 160 indexed pages and over a hundred illustrations, including colour, showing extant remains, site plans, finds and several reconstruction drawings.
Wroxeter (Viriconium Cornoviorum) was the fourth largest city in Roman Britain after London, Cirencester and St. Albans and flourished from its first century origins as a legionary fortress around 57AD well into the sixth century. The whole site is now a scheduled ancient monument with the well preserved baths complex and site museum open to the public, with the modern village of Wroxeter the only present habitation of the site. Since the 1960s intensive modern excavations and survey work have supplemented the efforts of Victorian and subsequent excavators to make it possible to understand much of the rise and fall of the city.
Chapters include: The modern rediscovery of Wroxeter; Wroxeter under the Roman military rule; The impact of Rome on the local inhabitants; The growth of the city and its buildings; The late Roman city; The Dark Age Town; and saxon, mediaeval and later Wroxeter. The site is particularly important for Philip Barker’s painstaking excavation of the rubble platforms laid down after AD500 overlying the demolished basilica which revealed several phases of substantial, classical style timber buildings which were occupied well into the seventh century. They were then carefully and peacefully dismantled and the majority of the inhabitants moved away, leaving a few around the crossing of the River Severn and possibly a Celtic monastery. Certainly parts of a free-standing Saxon cross survive in the walls of the now redundant village church. Similar evidence has been found at other sites, including Chester, and gives a valuable insight into the still Romanised habits of sub-Roman Britain. The book discusses the politics of dark age Shropshire and the Welsh Marches at some length.
This is an excellent and very readable book that should be on the shelf of any student of Roman and early mediaeval Britain. Further Tempus publications will cover Fishbourne Roman Palace; Hadrian’s Wall —History and Guide; the House of Horus — Ritual in an ancient Egyptian temple, and Roman Infantry Equipment of the later Empire.
OUTING REPORT — BLETCHLEY PARK AND WINSLOW HALL
A full coachload of HADAS trippers old and new braved the June downpours for this most enjoyable excursion around the leafy and very picturesque byways of Buckinghamshire. Bletchley Park — “Britain’s Best Kept Secret’ — where wartime German codes were deciphered — came first after a fast run from London. During the journey we were entertained by HADAS member Jean Neal’s recollections of her own wartime service at the site — for which see below. On the outskirts of Bletchley we passed the appropriately named modern pub, ‘The Enigma Tavern’ named after the wartime German code broken at Bletchley Park.
On arrival, following coffee in the NAAFI and an introductory talk in the magnificently ceilinged former ballroom of the elegant Victorian mansion built from 1883-1905 by the Jewish stockbroker, local benefactor and Liberal MP Sir Herbert Leon we embarked on a tour of the many displays. The mansion and its 550 acre estate had its origins in a farmhouse built around 1860, part of which survives in the present fabric. Following the death of Sir Herbert and his wife the house and estate passed to a property developer in 1938
But was saved by the deteriorating situation in Europe which led to its leasing by the Government Code and Cipher school in June that year
but was saved by the deteriorating situation in Europe which led to its leasing by the ‘Government Code and Cipher School’ in June that year — the forerunner of today’s GCHQ. Churchill visited and stayed frequently and called the work of the Intelligence Services in Bletchley Park his ‘Ultra Secret’. By its wartime peak—in-1944, 12,000 people were working in the hugely expanded site, (8000 on code work and 4000 support staff). By 1946 most personnel had left, leaving a small monitoring station operational until 1987. Many of its buildings survive following post-war use as a training centre by the Post Office, a teacher-training facility and the Civil Aviation Authority until 1993.
It is now run by volunteers who formed the Bletchley Park Trust Ltd in 1992 to retain part of the site for use by local groups and as a codebreaking memorial and museum and is open alternate weekends throughout the year. Visitor totals so far have been very encouraging (50,000 in two years) — it was certainly busy during our visit. We viewed the beautifully restored AFS vehicles in the garage and the sentry box that saw the passing of 40 motorcycle despatch riders per hour at the peak. Bletchley Park’s secrets were so well kept that-the only German bombs to hit it, in 1941, were a few randomly jettisoned by a passing bomber. Early uses included using radio hams to pick up German messages and provision of a loft for carrier pigeons. There is a display and partial reconstruction of the ‘Turing Bombe’ (Enigma code deciphering machine) and a working replica of the ‘Colossus’ — the world’s first large electronic valve computer, of which there were 10 on site by 1943. There is a cryptology museum, 50 vehicles of the Military Vehicle Trust, including a WW2 German ‘half-track’, a wonderful display of model boats, a model railway exhibition, displays of uniforms, flying equipment and aircraft crash site material by the Buckinghamshire Aircraft Recovery Group, an amateur radio station, old cinema projectors, wartime uniforms, two resident wartime re-enactment groups — British Airborne and German — computer displays, an extensive Churchill memorabilia collection, relics of RAF Halton Camp and its military railway, a toy collection and cafes and a bar. More than enough for a full day return visit!
After leaving Bletchley Park we ventured deeper into Bucks and its rolling countryside to visit the pretty market town of Winslow where we were to have a tour of Winslow Hall. Built for the very able Winslow-born Treasury Secretary Sir Christopher Lowndes in 1700, at a cost of £6,586 lOs 2d, the hall was probably designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and is one of the very few country houses to have survived without major alteration. A family home for Lowndes, his fourth wife and their 14 children, it was the first private country house to have sash windows, helped by the fact that the outer walls were not loadbearing, the central partition wall and its four chimney breasts providing much of the strength. The original accounts book for the construction was viewed during the tour. Following nineteenth century use as a school and wartime use as a RAF Bomber Command Headquarters, it has been modernised and redecorated by the present owners, retired Ambassador Sir Edward Tomkins and his wife, having narrowly escaped post-war demolition. We started with a tour of the extensive gardens, accompanied by Sir Edward and his two lively spaniels, followed by some very welcome tea and cake. The group then divided, one half being shown round by Lady Tomkins herself — she is a founder member of the St. Tiggiwinkles Hedgehog sanctuary, evidenced by the many toy/model hedgehogs given by friends.
Our thanks are due to Micky Cohen and Micky Watkins (and Dorothy!) for organising this most enjoyable day out.
REMINISCENCES OF BLETCHLEY PARK Jean Neal
I arrived at Bletchley Park, or BP as it was not very affectionately known, in July 1943, straight from University and without the faintest idea what my war work was going to be. I was then given my pass and sent out on the Transport to my billet in Wolverton, an unappealing small town some ten miles away, dominated by the railway works and consisting almost entirely of distinctly mean dwellings without bathrooms or indoor lavatories. I was fortunate enough , however, to be billeted in one of the very few modern semis, with a bathroom. By the end of the war there were about 12,000 of us, Army, Navy, Air Force, American Forces and Foreign Office civilians, distributed over a large area in North Bucks and adjacent counties, in all sorts of conditions. The Wrens, for example, were in Woburn Abbey, the civilians, of which I was one, in private billets. Transport was a major operation. We were nearly all on shift work (my section worked one week days, one week nights, one week evenings, which meant we never had time to establish a sleep pattern) so the great fleet of coaches surged through the countryside several times a day, bringing us in, taking us home.
The next day I went to school, signed the Official Secrets Act and began to learn about the Enigma machine, and a fortnight later I started work in Hut 6, dealing with German army codes. My section did the preliminary work on the thousands of coded messages that poured in daily and the brilliant mathematicians in the room next door cracked the codes with astonishing speed, aided by the Turing Bombe, the great computer that filled a room. The work itself was not usually exciting, but we always knew how important it was, and during the Normandy landings we were all working flat out and excitement was at fever pitch as we waited for vital messages to come through. I still feel I shouldn’t be writing this. We were forbidden to say a word about our work to anyone outside Hut 6, so we couldn’t mention it in the canteen or the Transport, let alone to the world at large; and none of us did. It really was the Best Kept Secret of the War; but in 1972 I read an article in The Times, I think, telling all.
Well, I thought, that’s all right then, and was delighted to be able to tell Tim, to whom I had been married for many years, what I did in the great war. My parents never knew. Social life, for most of us, was almost non-existent. Our friends were as likely as not to be on different shifts, and there were at least ten women to every man, which didn’t help. Mostly we went to the cinema. There were five accessible fleapits, all changing programmes midweek so there was a fair amount of choice if you weren’t too fussy, and it got us out of our billets: There was a certain amount of entertainment laid on. I remember a revue in which a row of sailors sang ‘We joined the Navy to see the sea, but what did we see? We saw BP.’.
We saw BP, and it was very strange to see it again, 53 years on: Hut 6, where it all happened, once full of life and drama, now a boarded-up ruin. It was strange, and a little sad, but I’m so glad I went.
DOLAUCOTHI Peter Pickering
During a wet week with the Classical Association in Lampeter this spring I went on a visit led by Barry Burnham of the Department of Archaeology at Lampeter to the Gold Mines at Dolaucothi. These mines were worked extensively in Roman times, if not before, and just before the last war a serious attempt was made to extract gold; but failed — one reason was that the level of arsenic in the ore was so high that the only smelters that would take it were in distant Seattle and politically impossible Hamburg. The Roman workings include two tunnels (adits) and many water-channels (leats) and tanks; some archaeological evidence has been found for a Roman water-powered crushing and grinding mill. There are, by the river below the mines, traces of a Roman fort with later civilian occupation.
The mines are now owned by the National Trust, and open to the public. It is unfortunate that some things done to make the site more friendly to the visitor have not helped in the preservation of remains of Roman or recent mining.
SITES AND MONUMENTS records (SMRs) should have statutory status to ease funding local government reorganisation. So says a ‘strategic partnership’ of English Heritage, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers and the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. SMR development has been identified as a legitimate area for Heritage Lottery Fund grants, they add. A new `statement of co-operation’ by the three bodies provides a framework for decisions on grants — and includes a plan for a computerised ‘national network of heritage information’, with wide public access. From The Library Association Record, courtesy of Ann Kahn.
UPDATE ON THE BRIDGES
In December 1996 the society visited Tower Bridge, prior to the annual dinner. On December 8th —two days after the dinner — it was announced that “the competition to design London’s first pedestrian bridge was won by the British team of architects Sir Norman Foster and sculptor Sir Simon Caro. The bridge, an arc of stainless steel and cable, will run from below St. Paul’s Cathedral on the north bank to the Bankside power station, the site of the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art, on the south side.”
Plans are now in hand to commence building the bridge and it will be designated the Millennium Bridge. As a footbridge only, the view of Southwark on one side and St. Paul’s and its environs on the other side will be enhanced as will the view of the river. It will be financed by public and private funding in the sum of £12,000,000.
Meanwhile, close to Vauxhall Bridge, archaeologists, led by Gustav Milne whose enthusiastic talks to us many members will recall, have uncovered a series of paired oak posts, about four metres apart, which they believe to be part of a prehistoric bridge across the Thames. The structure has been carbon-dated to between 750 BC and 400 BC, some 2,700 years old.
Ancient spearheads have been found nearby, but archaeologists are hampered by the fact that the remains are only visible at low tide, which is just one hour a day. The tide erodes the evidence and artefacts each time it covers the excavation, and it is a race against time and tide.
According to the Guardian newspaper, there is a possibility of recreating the bridge, not at the same place, but somewhere higher up the Thames.
A new exhibition “London’s River: Turning the Tide” has just opened at the Museum of London.
AND A MORE AMBITIOUS BRIDGE PROJECT Peter Pickering
One of the more speculative papers at the Lampeter conference mentioned above was by David Woods of Maynooth, who produced the, to me, startling theory that the Roman emperor Gaius (popularly called Caligula) (37-41 AD) planned to construct a bridge of boats across the English Channel so as to get his army into Britain and conquer it. Ancient historians, who are very hostile to Caligula, ascribe his actions to megalomaniac madness, but David Woods believes there was policy behind them.
In 39 AD Caligula built a bridge of boats from Baiae to Puteoli on the bay of Naples, reputedly to emulate Xerxes, who had constructed such a bridge across the Hellespont. David Woods argues that he had two practical reasons for this: first, to test the technology which he wished to use for an invasion of Britain, and second to reassure his troops that it was entirely safe to entrust themselves to such a novel structure. The `invasion’ of Puteoli was a dress-rehearsal for the invasion of Britain, down to the triumphant procession back from Puteoli to Baiae, which was intended to prefigure a similar procession from Britain to Gaul. Besides testing his bridge, early in 40 AD Caligula visited the coast of Gaul; David Woods saw this as a reconnaissance. He would have put his plans into effect but for his premature death.
GLEANINGS FROM NEWSPAPERS
The remains of a prehistoric forest at least 4,000 years old have been discovered by the Thames at Erith, in South-east London. Besides the trunks and roots there are signs of wooden structures, possibly raised trackways, and lines of stakes, which may be fish traps. The remains have been identified by the Thames Archaeological Survey, a largely amateur project, whose co-ordinator and only paid employee, Mike Webber, talked to us in April 1996.
The Museum of London Archaeology Service has found London’s earliest main drain, a Roman culvert high enough to walk through, on the site of a housing development near the Monument. Some 80 feet of the structure survives intact.
RESEARCH AND DIGGING NEWS Vikki O’Connor
In preparation for the fieldwalking at Bury Farm, Brockley Hill, some twenty members attended our training day on 13th June. Fiona Seeley of the Museum of London Finds and Environmental Service (MoLFES) conducted a session on pottery-processing. Her thorough descriptions of the industries found in the Brockley Hill area covered vessel type, form, fabric and dating. Some of the material from previous fieldwalking at Brockley Hill was available for members to handle, with Fiona explaining details to watch out for, such as the sparkle on the mica-dusted ware. She expects HADAS to gain some useful information from the walk such as whether the scheduled monument area is being damaged. This would be obvious from the number of freshly broken sherds. There could also be evidence of potters’ specialisation as well as signs of activity on the site after the kilns went out of production in the late 2nd century. We will be meeting Fiona again later this year after the finds have been cleaned and numbered when she will be overseeing classification. In the meantime she intends to assemble a reference collection for us to use.
The afternoon session was brilliantly improvised by Brian Wrigley who demonstrated surveying techniques indoors on this drizzly day! Having explained why we use the dumpy level and how to set it up, members were invited to have a go themselves. For laying out a grid on the field it will be necessary to measure right angles accurately, and Brian outlined two methods,— by using the levelling equipment and by using a baseline with the good old three-four-five triangle. Brian has been buried in paperwork recently applying for all the permissions required before we so much as poke a ranging rod into the field.
Duncan Lees, a MoLAS land surveyor, was able to re-schedule to Saturday 11th July his session on levelling and setting out a grid. We had only a few days notice to round up fifteen people who expect to be available to set up the actual grid for fieldwalking. It was not possible to contact the entire membership, but we have spare copies of Duncan’s detailed notes on Establishing and setting out a site grid and Levelling Traverses — a few basic pointers which will be kept at HADAS’s Avenue House library. Thanks once again to Gerard Roots for his permission to invade the Church Farm House Museum garden — and to Duncan for lugging his high-tech equipment over to Hendon.[Your editor was there. The weather was most unseasonal (global warming has taken a year off), but his interest was held throughout and he now knows what planes of collimation are.]
By the time this newsletter appears, we should be in the middle of the Brockley Hill project; the farmer has indicated that the land should be combined and available for approximately ten days from the last week of July/first week of August. If you have some free time PLEASE PHONE NOW: Brian Wrigley 0181-959 5982 or Vikki O’Connor 0181-361 1350 (both have answerphones).
Note: The scheduled monument’s field is opposite the entrance to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, on bus route 107 which runs from Edgware in one direction and to Borehamwood and Barnet in the other. Car parking is limited, but we can provide further details. Details of finds processing sessions will be in future newsletter/s.
Members may be aware that College Farm, Finchley, which is owned by the Highways Agency, is in danger of being sold off to a developer. Letters from the public should help to prevent this. So please write expressing your feelings to Kevin Daves, Highways Agency, Room 16, Federated House. London Road, Dorking RH4 1SZ.
ST. PANCRAS CHAMBERS AND THE LONDON CANAL MUSEUM Peter Pickering
The visit arranged for the morning of Saturday 4th July proved so popular that it was repeated in the afternoon. St. Pancras Chambers started life as the Midland Grand Hotel, built by the Midland Railway Company to a design by Sir George Gilbert Scott and opened in 1878. It is one of the greatest monuments to the confidence of the railway age. It is enormous — bigger than Lincoln cathedral. It was closed as a hotel in 1935, and was used as railway offices — with an interlude as a YMCA hostel just after the war — until it was virtually abandoned in the mid-1980s. Its exterior was conserved and restored early this decade, but the inside has had very little done to it. This means that, under later coats of paint and the grime of London from the days before the Clean Air Act, there is a complete Victorian scheme of decoration, mostly of patterns but with pictures of the Virtues (Temperance, Chastity and the like) and a remarkable oneof the ‘Garden of Deduit’ by Thomas Wallis Hay showing an illicit amour in an idyllic mediaeval garden. Decoration is everywhere: Minton floor tiles; Wilton and Axminster carpets; a wonderful colour contrast between the red Mansfield limestone, yellow Ancaster stone and pink and green polished limestones; carved ceiling bosses; plaster skilfully masquerading as carved wood; and decorative metalwork.
Heating such a building was an awesome task. There was some central heating in the corridors, if the boilers were up to it, but for the rooms there were 650 fireplaces, each requiring daily coal in the winter. Lighting was originally by gas, though conversion to electricity came fairly soon. The public rooms included a Ladies’ smoking room.
We were taken round by Calum Rollo, whose enthusiasm was infectious; his knowledge was impressive, as was his readiness to tell us of the many unsolved puzzles about the building and its use. For instance, what about bathrooms; there were very few rooms that even might have had such a use, and to those he preferred to give the less definite name of wetrooms. There are drawings and photographs surviving from the beginning, but far more have been lost.
What of the future? The building came close to demolition in the 1960s, as the great Euston Arch had been; it is now Grade I listed, and seems structurally sound. But its economic use, without which it can scarcely get proper conservation, seems to depend on the construction of a Channel Tunnel Rail Link to St Pancras; and the latest financial difficulties of the Link mean that it is unlikely to be built until 2007 at the earliest. Meanwhile St. Pancras Chambers deteriorate slowly.
Emerging into daylight from the gloom of this great Victorian building we went round a few corners to the London Canal Museum, where we watched a video of a film made in the 1920s of a coal barge trip from Limehouse to Paddington Basin; definitely a film to convince one that the present day, for all its unpleasantnesses, is preferable to former times. This feeling was reinforced by the displays of ice-cream making and vending (the Museum is in Gatti’s warehouse, and includes an enormous pit where ice from Norway was stored); just looking at them made some think about salmonella.
Thanks to Vikki O’Connor for arranging a fascinating visit.
HADAS HOMEWORK Vikki O’Connor
Some of the questions posed by Calum Rollo on our recent visit to St. Pancras Chambers could possibly be answered by HADAS members. Calum was interested to learn that, as a child, Sheila Woodward stayed at the Midland Hotel shortly before its closure in 1935, and he asked her to write down every detail she could recall. There are many gaps in the history both of the building itself and of its use as hotel and railway offices so every scrap of information is of value. If you could help with any of the following (or other points) please drop me a line at 2a Dene Road, London N11 1 ES and I’ll forward it to Calum at London & Continental.
Who staved there? The registers have all disappeared — or did they?
Who worked there? Someone you know, heard of, family folklore? They could throw light on how the hotel functioned.
The silver — was auctioned off in the 1980s but no note was kept of who bought it. The pieces were stamped ‘Midland’ and with a wyvern, the symbol of Midland Railways. Only seven or so examples have been retained and these will not represent the entire collection. Where did the rest go?
The original Gillows furniture — also sold off, but where did it go? (Are you sitting on a piece of it now, as you read your newsletter?!)
Camel. Yes, camel. A series of heraldic shields, representing the major towns served by the Midland Railway, contains a mystery shield depicting a camel. We are assured it is not Camelford — but which town is it? Or is it a stonemason’s ingenious way of creating symmetry and rounding up to an even number of shields?
Clock The tower originally contained a clock mechanism by Thomas Walker which was removed early on as it was not very efficient at driving the four faces in sync, being affected by varying wind forces on each face. The only indication that it ever existed is the bracket still in the tower bearing the maker’s name. Where did it go? The clock mechanism replacing it was by Dent who had designed a method of keeping the four faces in sync. When BR’s station clocks went ‘atomic’ the Dent mechanism was to be destroyed but BR were persuaded to preserve it.
Photos, plans, catalogues, designs, any information relating to this building would be welcomed. A HADAS member collects hotel catalogues but has not found one for the Midland so, if anyone has a copy to dispose of, Calum and our member would be interested…
ARCHAEOLOGICAL GUIDANCE PAPERS FROM ENGLISH HERITAGE
English Heritage’s Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service guide and monitor all archaeological work in Greater London on behalf of the London boroughs other than Southwark and the City. They have just revised and re-issued a set of five Archaeological Guidance Papers, which will be used to make sure that a consistent approach is maintained in all archaeological work across the region. The papers are comprehensive. The first covers desk-based assessments, which are to be prepared prior to the submission of a planning application; the paper re-iterates the presumption in favour of the preservation in .situ of nationally important archaeological remains. The second emphasises the need fora written scheme of investigation to be submitted by the applicant for planning permission and approved by the planning authority. The third is a statement of the standards and practices appropriate for archaeological fieldwork in London. The fourth lays down a format for archaeological reports. The fifth deals with evaluations, which lead to the formulation of a strategy for the preservation or management of archaeological remains, and/or a strategy for the mitigation of the effects of development proposals, and/or the formulation of proposals for further archaeological investigations within a programme of research.
Although the philosophy within which these guidance papers have been drawn up is not without its critics, it is good to see the systematic way in which English Heritage are tackling the job of ensuring consistency in Greater London. If any HADAS member thinks they need to study these papers, I am sure English Heritage will be happy to provide a set.
NEW EDITION OF ‘BLUE PLAQUES’
Joanna Corden and Liz Holliday are busy working on a revised and enlarged illustrated edition of ‘The Blue Plaques of Barnet’. The new booklet will include as many commemorative plaques as possible together with biographical details of their subjects.
UPDATE FROM TESSA SMITH
The latest news from Robert Whytehead, English Heritage is:- 5 Brockley Hill, Stanmore – a recommendation for archaeological monitoring of the site to be secured by planning conditions. It lies close to where a Roman cremation urn was uncovered in Pipers Green Lane. Institute for Medical Research N_W7 – A watching brief on any earthmoving and recommendation for archaeological recording. The Institute is near the Saxon and mediaeval village of Mill Hill. 360-366 Burnt Oak Broadway – further consideration. The mediaeval village of Edgware may have extended as far as the site – and in the 18th century a house stood on or near it.St-Rose’s Convent Orange Hill Road, Edgware – further assessment. This site lies close to where HADAS excavated Roman material.The following Planning applications warrant site watching:- 7 Florence St. NW4; 19 Monkville Avenue NW 11; 70 Sunny Gardens Road NW4; and 68 Sunny Gardens Road NW4.
A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
June Gibson writes – “We recently visited Sicily. In Palermo Cathedral we had the solar/zodiac clock pointed out to us. A diagonal brass line was set in the floor. Enclosed zodiac signs formed the ‘hours’ along this line. The line led to a sun sign which was under a roof solar. In effect it was a huge sundial set in the floor. Because of the language difficulty (no English spoken, and we did not speak Italian, let alone the Sicilian dialect!) we could only glean that there was one in England, in Norfolk. Enquiries to both denomination cathedrals in Norwich drew a blank, so I am appealing to the well-travelled and all-knowing HADAS members, who perhaps have seen or know the whereabouts of such a feature in one of our churches (the information about Norfolk may not be accurate. Any ideas please?
To June Gibson, 64, Erskine Hill London NW11 6HG (0181-455 3245)
LONDON UNDER THE MICROSCOPE. A CONFERENCE ON 17th OCTOBER.
The application of scientific techniques has greatly aided our understanding of many aspects of London’s archaeology. The Standing Conference on London Archaeology (SCOLA) has therefore decided that this year’s conference should be on Science and its application to the archaeology of London, with the title `London Under the Microscope’. The Conference will honour the memory of Tony Clark, one of the most important pioneers in developing geophysical surveying and archaeomagnetic dating. Alistair Bartlett will deliver the Tony Clark Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Surrey Archaeological Society. Other speakers will include Ian Tyers on the role of tree-ring dating, Jane Siddell describing the changing levels of the River Thames, Tony Waldron analysing the important Black Death cemetery at the Royal Mint site, Bill McCann reporting on the continuing work of the Tony Clark Lab, Keith Wilkinson on the multidisciplinary analyses at Bull Wharf and Richard Macphail discussing building decay and the formation of dark earth.
The conference will be on Saturday 17th October in the Museum of London. It will cost £10.00 (£8.50 for members of SCOLA), to include tea and coffee.
Tickets are obtainable from to J S McCracken, Flat B, 231 Sandycombe Road, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 2ZW. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope, and make cheques payable to SCOLA.