Newsletter 127: September 1981
Extended, summer outing season: Saturday, September 26, to Bath and Lacock
As mentioned in the August newsletter, the Bath excavation and Lacock Abbey outing in July was heavily overbooked. Reaction to a re-run has been favourable and the trip IS ON, writes Dorothy Newbury. I hope members will try to make it a full coach. If you would like to join the outing please complete the enclosed application form and send it, with cheque, to me at once.
Weekend in Wales: September 11 to 13 This is fully booked with a short waiting list – but names can still be taken for last-minute cancellations.
Autumn Minimart and Get-together: Saturday October 17 at St Mary’s Church Hall, at the top of Greyhound Hill (near Church Farm House
Museum), Hendon, NW4, from 11am to 3pm. Come and have coffee or ploughman’s lunch and meet old friends and new members. 1982 is HADAS’s 21st anniversary year and as there will be special activities to mark it, we have decided to hold our fund-raising market before Christmas instead of next spring. We make an appeal to members for their contributions to our usual stalls:
Cakes, groceries and preserves
Bric-a-brac (not large items)
Toys and books (not magazines)
Unwanted gifts, holiday mementoes, toilet goods, etc.
Please phone or deliver to Christine Arnott, 455 2751, or Dorothy Newbury, 203 0950.
Winter programme: Here is advance notice of the pre-Christmas events – full details will be in the October newsletter.
Tuesday October 6 at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4, 8pm for coffee, 8.30pm lecture. The Roman Port of London: Members will have read about, or seen on television, the Museum of London’s excavation in the Pudding Lane area of the City, now extending into Fish Street This is revealing timber structures associated with the revetments and Roman water front. There is a possibility of timber being four, which formed the northern end of the London Bridge of that time. Evidence of Roman warehouses and baths have been unearthed on the Pudding Lane site. Mr Gustav Milne, the site supervisor, is coming to talk to us on this latest Roman London discovery.
Tuesday November 3 at Hendon Library: Excavations on Guernsey 1979-81 by Dr Ian Kinnes, MA, PhD.
Tuesday December 8: Dinner at the RAF Museum, Hendon, with previewing of the Battle of Britain exhibition.
West Heath Dig: The area under threat of erosion has finally been excavated at West Heath, but there are still one or two problems needing answers in this our last season, writes Daphne Lorimer. The 1981 season started on Saturday August 29 and will continue throughout September and October, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as Saturdays and Sundays. As many people as possible are wanted (beginners need have no fears as they will receive training). Do come and make 1981 as happy and successful as all the other seasons.
Calling Junior Members: Just a note to remind you that there will be a meeting for junior members at my house on Saturday, September 5, at 2.30pm, writes Bryan Hackett. At this meeting I hope we will be able to discuss what activities we would like to do. Please write to me, or telephone, if you can come. Can you also tell me Whether or not you would like to go on the walk looking for the Roman road in Mill Hill on Sunday, October 4. Please contact me at 31 Temple Fortune Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, NW11 7XL, or telephone 455 9019.
Research activities: There are meetings this month of two of the research groups, documentary and Roman, to which any interested members are invited. The documentary meeting is at 88 Temple Fortune Lane, NW11, on Thursday September 3, at 8pm. Please phone Brigid Grafton Green (455 9040) beforehand to guarantee there’s enough coffee to go round. The Roman meeting is at 13 Sunningfields Road, NW4′, on Tuesday September 29, at 8pm. There’s no need to phone Helen Gordon (203 1004) beforehand, but anyone contemplating going on the walks on October 4 or October 10 in search of Roman roads would be well advised to. The walks, she warns, are for the dedicated-as the terrain is unlikely to be rewarding.
The current exhibition at Church Farm House Museum, Greyhound Hill, NW4, is titled Mill Hill – Our Village, our Suburb and has been organised in conjunction with the Mill Hill and Hendon Historical Society. It traces the development of Mill Hill from early times to the present day, with emphasis on important buildings and institutions and prominent’ people who have lived in the district.
HADAS members are invited to a lecture organised by the Anglo-Israel Friendship League of Finchley at Avenue House, East End Road, N3, on Tuesday September 8 at 8pm. The sepaker is Mr Alexander Kinder, chairman of the Nautical Archaeological Society and an eminent underwater archaeologist, and his subject is An Underwater Archaeologist in Israel.
The University of Leeds is running a weekend course, on September 11 to 13, on New Work on the History of Mining and Ironworking in North East England; The CBA Group 7 (Essex, Herts and Cambs) annual general meeting and conference on Saturday October 3, in Cambridge, has the Stone Age as its central subject; and the ninth York Archeological Weekend, organised by the University of Leeds and the York Archaeological Trust, on November 20-22, has as its subject the Great Cities of Medieval Britain. For more details of any of these, contact this month’s newsletter editor, Liz Sagues, 868 8431.
ARCHAEOLOGY IN WINTER, Part two:There are more courses which may interest members, following on from last month’s listings.
Among local WEA classes are: GOLDERS GREEN: Roman Archaeology (Thursdays, 8pm to 10pm, Unitarian Church Hall, Hoop Lane, NW11, from September 24) and London Life and London Buildings (Mondays, 8pm to 10pm, 44 Rotherwick Road, NW11, from September 21). Fees for 24 lectures £14.50 (pensioners £10.50). More details from Mrs F. Michaelson, 452 8850.
MILL HILL AND EDGWARE: Geology, a practical approach (Wednesdays, 8pm to 10pm, Mill Hill Public School, The Ridgeway, NW7, from September 30), The Drama and The State in Ancient Greece (Mondays, 8pm to l0pm, Edgware Library, Hale Lane, from September 28) and Regency to Edwardian Houses and Interiors (Tuesdays, 10.30am to 12.30pm, Primary Hall, Union Church, Mill Hill Broadway, from September 29). Fees for 24 meetings £15. More details from Peggy Davies, 959 3505.
THE BARNETS: Local History (Fridays, 8pm, Wimbush House, Westbury Road; N12, from October 2, 12 meetings), London Life and London Buildings (Thursdays, 8pm, South Friern Library, Colney Hatch Lane, N10, from September 24), The” Beauty of old Churches , Queen Elizabeth’s Girls School, Meadway, Barnet, from September 21), Ancient Egypt – Religion, Gods and Myths (Thursdays, 10am, Assembly Rooms, 1st floor, 321 Colney Hatch Lane, N11, from September 24) and Britain in the Roman Empire (Fridays, 10am, Owens A.E. Centre, by 60 Chandos Avenue, N20, from September 25 – lecturer Tony Rook). Fees for 12 meetings £8.25, 24 meetings £16.50 or £15, reductions in all cases for pensioners. For more details phone Mrs S. Neville (Barnet) 449 6682, Miss E.F. Pearca, (Finchley) 446 2143, or Mr J. White (Friern Barnet) 368 6612.
HENDON: Nineveh and Babylon in Biblical Times (Wednesdays, 7.30pm’ to 9.30pm, Hendon Library, from 30 September). Pee £15. For more details ring Helen Adam 202 7961.
The NORTH LONDON POLYTECHNIC is running two short courses, plus a geology workshop, before Christmas. London’s Parks And Gardens is on Wednesdays, 2pm to 4pm, from November 4 to December 9; An Appreciation of the National Parks of England and Wales is also on Wednesdays, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, same dates; and the Geology Workshop, also Wednesdays, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, from October 7 to December 9. Fees for the courses are £10, for the workshop £16. For more information ring the poly’s Department of Geography and Geology, 607 2789.
The CITY UNIVERSITY is also planning to repeat its two courses on Surveying and Photogrammetry for Archaeologists this autumn. Phone N.E. Lindsey of the Department of Civil Engineering, 253 4399, for more details.
Members of the Roman Research Group staged a week-long exhibition last month at Grahame Park comprehensive school’s Centre Point community centre, on the theme of Where did the Romans Live? It attracted a good deal of interest but did not, as its organisers had hoped, bring to light any back-garden finds of Roman material,
NORTHAMPTON AND AROUNDJulia Rawlings and Robert Michel report on the August outing
Another day damned bright and clear for the August HADAS outing, and some 45 members set out to explore the historical delights of Northampton and surrounding area.
Roy Friendship-Taylor met us at Piddington and led us to the site of a large Roman villa on which he and his friends from the Upper Nene Archaeological Society are currently engaged. Work has been going on for approximately 2½ years following the rediscovery of the site by a metal detector wielded by the local vicar. While much damage has been caused by treasure hunters and farming methods, there is still a great deal to be learnt from the site.
A vast quantity of tessera has been collected and many pieces are of good quality and are in various colours. Plaster fragments have also been found and are thought to have come mainly from decorated ceilings in the villa. Roman roof tile fragments abound, and all these finds are useful in dating the levels, as so far relatively little other material has come to light.
The villa was probably started in about AD 100 and it covers an extensive area some distance from the parameters of the current excavation. The number of rooms with evidence of a heating system leads us to suppose that this must once have been a particularly grand villa. Perhaps one of the most interesting features is a corridor floor with tiles set herringbone fashion in alternating bands of yellow and red, and the quality of this floor strengthens Mr Friendship-Taylor’s opinion of the importance of this villa.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, the villa was used variously as a store for domestic goods and as an industrial site.
Next on the programme was the Eleanor Cross on the outskirts of Northampton. This is one of the three remaining original crosses and it is such a pity that monuments like this prove so popular with the “Fred was ‘ere” brigade. Nevertheless, Edward I’s engaging memorial to his dead wife was enthusiastically recorded by HADAS photographers who expertly times their masterpieces to coincide with the occasional gaps in the traffic.
Hunsbury Hill Fort, sadly overgrown, must have presented a stiff challenge to the average member’s imagination. The task was not an easy one: it was necessary to sweep away the undergrowth, fell the circle of dense trees and banish the adjacent picnic tables to reveal an early Iron Age single ditch and bank hill fort, badly damaged by 19th century ironstone quarrying.
In Northampton, members were free to wander as they pleased. Ted Sammes’ annotated maps identified Northampton’s attractions: the Leathercraft Museum, the Central Museum, the rare, round church of the Holy Sepulchre – we seemed spoilt for choice. We, ourselves, elected to visit the round church, which proved a fascinating mixture of ecclesiastical architecture of all ages.
Assembly in the Co-op restaurant for tea brought together a selection of church and museum guides as well as second-hand books and other shopping – testimony to the many and varied interests of the members and evidence of how much could be achieved by so few in so short a time.
Grateful thanks are due to our leader for the day, Ted Sammes, and to Dorothy Newbury and the other people without whom the day would not have been the sweltering success it was.
A SMALL BOY’S RECOLLECTIONS OF THE START OF HENDON AERODROME
As an appetiser to Bill Firth’s report of the HADAS visit to Hendon Aerodrome as it is now – delayed for approval by the RAF authorities – we print an account of the aerodrome’s earlier days. It comes from Mr George Johnston, who some weeks ago wrote to the local paper from his home in the country saying he remembered the development of the aerodrome. HADAS wrote and asked Mr Johnston to put his memories on paper – and this is the result.
I was born in 1903 at Priory Hill, 63 Sunny Gardens, and the family moved in 1907 to St Ann’s, Sunningfields Road. At that time there was a field in Sunningfield Road which overlooked the Midland Railway and the land that was to become the aerodrome. It was used as a playground by the local boys to whom it was known as Hepple’s field after Miss Hepple who ran a small girls’ school in the road and where the girls played hockey. The field became allotments at the beginning of the 1914-18 war and has now been built over.
It was also possible to see the aerodrome from the gardens of St Ann’s but more especially from the “house in the tree”, a wooden building constructed around a large tree. The building had a proper staircase, was some 10 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet high and was some. 15 feet above ground.
It was from these three spots that I was able to see the development of the aerodrome.
Until the building of hangars for the planes started the site was fields and quite rural. The land was farmed by a Mr Dunlop and was part of Church Farm. He and my father used to go partridge shooting over it every September. Later on each winter there used to be meetings of the drag hounds at The Greyhound. The run was across the fields to Mill Hill and back on the west side of the railway to their original starting point.
The fact that Church Farm had a 40 acre field although it was not entirely clear of trees brought flying to Hendon. It had in fact a few oaks and on the north western edge there was a spinney with a small pond.
I cannot be certain which was the first plane to come to Hendon. It may well have been Louis Paulham’s Farman or it might have been a Bleriot belonging to Messrs Everitt and Edgecomb, an electrical engineering firm whose factory was in Colindale and where my brother Rutherford worked in 1915 for l¼ (old money) an hour. The chances are that the first plane to fly was Paulham’s Farman. In 1910 it was entered for the Daily Mail £10,000 prize for the first person to fly from London to Manchester. After waiting all morning in Hepple’s field I saw it take off in mid afternoon.
It set off in the direction of Hampstead as Hendon was not considered part of London. Then it came back and set off on its way. It had to land once but took off again and late in the evening landed at Manchester.
The only other competitor was Claude Grahame White. As soon as he heard that Louis Paulham had taken off he too started and although he tried to fly guided by car headlights he had to land and did not reach Manchester until the next morning, by train.
rom that time onwards, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Grahame White and supported by handsome prizes presented by the Daily Mail, the aerodrome made good progress.
In 1911 there was a round Great Britain competition. The race started from Brooklands on Saturday and the planes were due to reach Hendon in the afternoon. The Daily Mail recommended to onlookers to go into the churchyard of St Mary’s and this they did in their thousands. They then spread into Sunningfields Park or fields as it then was. It was an exceptionally hot day, with little breeze. As we were looking over the garden fence someone asked if we could give them a glass of water as they felt very faint. Immediately we were besieged with people so much that jugs of water were insufficient and we had to lay on a garden hose to satisfy the demand.
The competitors had to take off at dawn on the Sunday and as it was a perfect summer’s night hundreds of people camped out in the fields ready for the morning flight. The noise of laughing and shouting was devastatingly increased by the sound of a one-string fiddle being played as it was on this and every Saturday by someone on Greyhound Hill. So disturbing was the uproar that the police were contacted, only to get the reply: “They are passing the police station (then in Brent Street) in droves.”
During the three years before the war the number and types of planes using the aerodrome increased greatly. There were Henri Farmans, Maurice Farmans with their large front elevators, Deper-dussins, Valkyries, a monoplane with a front elevator, a main plane with a propellor behind it and a tail plane with two rudders. This plane was designed by two enthusiasts, Barber and Prentice, who afterwards built the Viking. This was probably the first biplane with two pulling propellors driven by chains from a centrally placed engine. It was not a very great success but it started a style which was to lead to considerable developments.
Then there were Grahame Whites, Bleriots, Caudrons made in France, and occasionally S.F. Cody would fly his heavy biplane over from Farnborough.
After a year or two displays of night flying became common on summer Saturday nights. The planes, lit by a row of electric lights on their wings, flew around the aerodrome about 200-300 feet off the ground.
Another event in 1911 was the first aerial post from Hendon to Windsor. This went on for a week, the planes taking off every day carrying the mail. It was more of a curiosity than serving any useful purpose. Still, everything has to have a start. The week was not without its excitements as one plane, a Maurice Farman, could not reach the aerodrome on its return flight and had to land in a field next to the present Sunningfields Park. After some servicing it was able to get back to its starting place.
In the 12 months before the war a Frenchman called Pegout had looped the loop in France. The first man to do so at Hendon was, I think, B.C. Hucks. Another celebrated pilot was Gustav Hamel and he flew often from Hendon.
In the early weeks of the war he disappeared on his way back from France. No-one knew what happened to him. One suggestion, probably correct, was that his plane landed in the Channel, the other was that he was a German spy and had gone home when things got too hot in this country.
.All during the years the aerodrome had been developing flying schools had been increasing and more and more pilots had been turned out. When the war’started-there was. a. tendency for civilians to be re- placed by Army and Navy officers and later, of course, by the Royal Flying Corps.This. andother wartime activities lead to more flying, especially during the week and as my generation of boys grew up there was less timet to devote to watching planes and :our general interest in. what was., happening on the other side of the old Midland Railway declined.
It was once more stimulated when in about 1915 a Zeppelin dropped some bombs one night in the fields close to the Silkstream and one actually in the aerodrome near to the railway line.
Members who have followed-the excavations by Harvey Sheldon and Tony Brown of the Roman pottery production site in Highgate Wood will be happy to know that some of the fruits of their labours will soon be permanently on display locally.
One of the five kilns they uncovered has been presented to the Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham on permanent loan and work has just finished on restoring it – after being split into sections for removal it was, in the words of museum curator Claire Tartan, “in a slightly fragmentary condition”.
Now she and her colleagues are working on the display of which the kiln will be a principal feature. They’re preparing background material and waiting for more examples of the Highgate Wood pottery – still being studied prior to publication of the final report on the site-. but hope all will be ready early in the new year,
Meanwhile, the museum is happy to show the kiln to specialists, keen amateurs or organised groups. But make arrangements first, by writing to the museum, in Bruce Grove ,N17,.or phoning 808 8772.
Brigid Grafton Green reviews Ancient Agricultural Implements by Sian E. Rees (Shire archaeology,£1.95)
Shire Publications has recently added three titles to its archaeology list, and this is one of them. The book opens by stating that-“by-the end of the-Roman period in Britain all the agricultural implements that were used in Britain until the industrial revolution had been invented”. There were, it continues, improvements – but by 400 AD the basic shape of each implement had been developed.
The author then. takes the three main areas of agriculture – preparation of soil and ploughing, care of the crop during growth and harvest — and describes, in a short text, the evolution of tools in these three departments during the prehistoric and Roman times.
After some 25, pages of text come eight pages of photos and some 30 pages of figures, showing ards, coulters, yokes, hoes, mattocks, spades, sickles, bill-hooks, scythes and rakes.