Newsletter 242 May 1991 edited by Andy Simpson
Tuesday May 7th Annual General Meeting. Minutes of the 1990 AGM included in this newsletter. Come and help plot your society’s course for the coming year. “BE THERE OR BE SQUARE” Slides of our activities after the meeting.
Sunday May 12th Walk and afternoon visit to the Museum of Jewish Life, Finchley Application form enclosed.
Saturday June 8th Essex History Fair – part of the battle of Maldon Millennium year – see separate leaflet enclosed.
Saturday June 15th Outing to Mapledurham with Ted Sammes
Saturday July 15th Outing to historic Chatham Docks- ships, figureheads, dockyard railway, and the 1878 built steam-powered sloop HMS Gunnet undergoing restoration. A true relic of gunboat diplomacy.
Saturday August 10th Outing to Hertford for National Archaeologists’ day
Friday, Saturday, Weekend In and Around Norwich. Now fully
Sunday, August booked, but contact Dorothy Newbury (203 0950)
30, 31 and Sept 1st to join the reserves bench.
STONEHENGE TO BE MOVED? Stewart J. Wild
I wonder how many members were shocked by the article about Stonehenge on
page 3 of the Daily Mail recently. It seems that the gradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation has resulted in the misalignment of the stones such that sunrise on Midsummer’s Day is badly out of line. The plan is therefore to dismantle the monument and build a new motorway through the site. Stonehenge would then be re-erected in a more prominent place, such as the summit of Snowdon.
A Japanese consortium has put in an alternative bid worth £2 billion to buy Stonehenge and re-site it on top of sacred Mount Fuji in order to enhance Japan’s reputation as the Land of the Rising Sun.
The article concludes with the news that a decision will be taken today and that work will start in exactly one year’s time. The date of the article? April 1st!
PRIORY COTTAGE COACH HOUSE Bill Bass
HADAS members may remember Priory Cottage in Hadley Green Road, whose listed 19th century coach house was demolished without permission in 1984. The owner was fined £10,000 for the offence, later he wanted to build a new three bedroom house on the site, this plan was rejected by Barnet Council. Councillors were willing only to allow the owner to re-build the coach house with a small extension at the back. There was an appeal to the Department of the Environment, John Davies an inspector of the DOE said: “To allow replacement dwellings so significantly larger than the originals would, in my view destroy the historic character in the areas of Monken Hadley”. Mr Davies said the plans were out of keeping with Green belt policy and would damage the setting of a nearby house The Grove.
(As Reported in Barnet Borough Times 28th March 1991)
HENDON AND DISTRICT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
MINUTES of the 29th Annual General Meeting held at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4 on Tuesday May 8th 1990 at 8.30 pm.
In the Chair: The President 51 Members attended
1. The Chairman welcomed Members.
Apologies for absence: Ann Lawson, Camilla Raab, Ted Sammes, Brian Wibberley, Shiela Woodward.
2. Minutes of the 28th AGM on 9th 1989 were approved and signed.
The Annual Report (copy in Minute Book) was given by the Chairman, Andrew Selkirk.
The Accounts (copy in the Minute Book) were presented by the Hon Treasurer, Victor Jones.
The Annual Report and the Accounts were accepted nem con.
3. Vice-Presidents: the following were confirmed in office:
Mrs Brigid Grafton Green Miss D P Hill
Mr Brian Jarman Mrs Daphne Lorimer
Mr E Sammes Mr Andrew Saunders
Election of Officers: there being one nomination for each vacancy, the following were declared elected:
Chairman: Andrew Selkirk Hon Secretary: Brian Wrigley
V-Chairman: John Enderby Hon Treasurer: Victor Jones
Election of Committee: There being 11 nominations for 13 vacancies, the following were declared elected:
Christine Arnott, Deirdre Barrie, Phyllis Fletcher, Ted Sammes, Alan Lawson, Margaret Maher, Andrew Simpson, Peter Pickering, Dorothy Newbury, Jean Snelling and Myfanwy Stewart
Consideration of organisation of HADAS library/librarians: debate was introduced by the Chairman, Andrew Selkirk, who pointed out the situation that after damage to many of our books, our insurance claim has been paid so we have the money to begin to replace our collection and must consider afresh what we want to do. comments were invited. Points made in discussion included:
Did we need a library and what purpose(s) should it serve?
There is some possibility of a joint venture with the LBB library service to make our books available to the public as well as more readily to Members.
We should bear in mind the importance of information being available to schools, and of interesting the young generation in our current excavations.
We should organise exhibitions in schools, with suitable equipment, to arouse interest.
We should now set out to equip the library with books useful for Members taking archaeological study courses.
Members appreciated the system of having books available for loan/return at monthly lecture meetings.
Discussion concluded with a recommendation by the President of appointing a sub-committee to consider the matter, taking account of all the views expressed.
The following resolution (proposed by Percy Reboul, seconded by Andrew-Pares) was carried by a large majority (2 against):
This Meeting calls upon the Committee to consider changing the name of the organisation to reflect more accurately the scope and geographical boundaries of its activities to-day.
Points made in discussion included:
That to express the geographical boundaries accurately required the phrase “Barnet Borough” and for this such a change there was a need to consult other Societies as well as the London Borough of Barnet itself.
To change a name already widely known could be an overall disadvantage.
The suggestion of “Hendon Barnet & District AS”.
Some potential members were deterred from joining by not realising the Society covered the whole Borough.
Opinions and suggestions could be asked for in the columns of the Newsletter.
There being no other business, the formal part of the Meeting ended at 9.35 pm.
After the formal Meeting, there was a short talk by Andrew Simpson on the Whetstone dig.
SERIAC 91 One Day Conference – 23 March 1991 Stewart J Wild
As members of Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, Bill Firth and I attended the South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference at the Science Museum on 23 March. A series of well-illustrated and well- researched dissertations included some case histories from Southampton, the role of English Heritage in the preservation of significant industrial sites and their conversion to modern uses, and the work of the Railway Heritage Trust.
After lunch we heard about the work of the National Trust, with particular reference to a success story in the Vale of Neath where an early watermill and tin smelting works has been restored to such an extent that water power is now generating electricity which the NT sells at 6 pence a unit.
Dr Thomas Wright of the Science Museum spoke about the difficulties of keeping up with the pace of technological advances, particularly in science and medicine. There was good news that the PRISM fund (i.e state funding) was now empowered to give money for pro-active early conservation of buildings, machines etc as well as re-active acquisition at a later stage. An eminent professor from Canada spoke of the growth of Industrial Archaeology internationally, with particular reference to the USA, Canada and Spain, and the Director of the Science Museum, Dr. Neil Cossons, brought the conference to a close with a call for more IA training, university courses etc., and the pleas that there should be more emphasis on the
Archaeological aspect of IA.Overall an enjoyable and worthwhile conference left me with the impression that although funds are scarce, IA is certainly a growth industry. Delegates were later invited to visit Kirkcaldy’s Testing Museum in Southwark where David Kirkcaldy’s amazing 1864 Testing Machine was demonstrating its awesome power in testing steel, concrete etc to destruction exactly as it did when it was installed 127 years ago.
GLIAS membership costs £7 per annum – further details from Hon. Secretary Bill Firth on 081-455 7164
PHANTOM TRAMS CAUSE EERIE SILENCE Bill Bass
“Tram lines have caused hundreds of telephones to be cut off more than 50 years after the streetcars stopped running. Old cables laid along the Great North Road by Barnet Odeon caused up to 800 phone lines around the area to go down, the tram lines were tarmacked under the road surface and over years they sank under the weight of all the traffic and damaged the cables underneath”.
The above was a report in a local newspaper, the lines in question belonged to the Metropolitan Electric Tramways (M.E.T) in conjunction with the Middlesex and Herts County Council, the terminus was sited at Barnet Parish Church.
Towards the end of the 19th century tramway operators in London began rapidly to decline and most were absorbed into municipal control as a result of the 1870 Tramways Act. The M.E.T. system was by far and away the largest company operator and second in size only to London County Council, it was incorporated in 1894 as the M.E.T Tramways and Omnibus Co. Ltd. Services reached Whetstone in 1905 and Barnet on the 28th March 1907. Rapid growth brought the total of route miles worked to 53.5, including 42.5 miles owned by Middlesex County Council and 1.5 miles by Hertfordshire County Council at the northern end of the Barnet route. There was a depot at North Finchley and a Depot/Works at Colindale.
The M.E.T. was noted in its later years for experiments towards improved tramcar design, unfortunately one such experimental vehicle was involved in a collision on Barnet Hill due to a fault in the air-braking system, the driver, who was not used to the characteristics of the vehicle, received fatal injuries
On the 1st July 1933 the London Passenger transport Board took over the M.E.T together with all other London Transport undertakings.
Tramcars finished their last journeys around 1938 when they were replaced by Trolley Buses which, not being restricted to following rails laid in the road, were able to pass around obstructions such as parked vehicles and they were more comfortable and quieter then the trams.
(The Trolleybuses themselves last ran to Edgware and Barnet on 2nd January 1962, an event marked by heavy snowfall. The depot at Colindale was used to scrap many of London’s trolley buses the last in September 1962, four months after London’s last trolleybus on the Fulwell route in South London. It was demolished in 1965.-Ed).
LAMAS – 28th Conference of London Archaeologists Andy Simpson
Museum of London 22nd March 1991
The event this year was moderately well attended, with a small HASAS contingent present, some of us being involved with our sales/exhibition stand. Our new exhibition got much attention, but like the few other exhibitors the sales left something to be desired, since most people seemed rather parochial in their archaeological interests!
The morning session offered an excellent selection of talks. The Roman period was covered by Taryn Nixon’s talk on DUA excavations on the roman cemetery at Smithfield, 1 of 3 main extra mural settlements of the period. Ms Nixon was at pains to point out that the dead were being studied to learn about the living. The cemetery had been intensively used – 120 burials in an area 15m square! – so there was little regard for previous burials, which were all coffined and had differing alignments – too mixed to differentiate ‘christian’ or ‘pagan’. There was some jewellery but no sign of monuments or tombstones, suggesting a fairly low status. The oldest person was barely 40 – many died in their teens, and there were few women.
John Mills of the DGLA covered excavations of a Saxon site at Winslow Road, Fulham, adjacent to the Thames, in advance of office development. Shallow stratigraphy included saxon clay, pottery, gullies, pits and postholes, the latter associated with sunken-floored huts, often 12 post’ buildings. Some postholes contained bone comb fragments of the fifth-seventh century. An unusual find was some lead weights and an articulated house burial. At 5 miles from central London, this is the nearest early Saxon settlement to London yet found. The Saxon period was also covered by the Passmore Edwards Museum excavations at Barking Abbey, near the river Neding.
Here too, Saxon evidence was sought, and found in the shape of traces of saxon buildings slumped into backfilled gravel pits, leaving traces of beamslots and postholes. Saxon finds in the fill of these pits included bone comb fragments and glassware, mostly imported, and a splendid iron weaving sword of middle saxon dates, and some gold thread. 8 sceuths of C. 730 were recovered, together with a whistle made from a gooses’ leg bone!
Traces of outbuildings of this Saxon abbey, probably of the 10th century included a stone built celler, a glass kiln, and a timber-lined well.
Mike Webber described excavations at Lambeth in search of the Duke of Norfolk’s palace, built in the 16th century. Residual prehistoric, roman and saxon material was found on the Lambeth road site, together with a well preserved wooden medieval silt scoop, pitched with leather 14th Century flourkley and re-used 14th Century architectural fragments.
Docklands archaeology was covered by Mike Hutchinson’s talk on rescue work prior to building of the linear E-W routeway. This was partly illustrated by an interesting short video describing the project. Trial trenching and selective larger excavations, for instance at Dunbar Wharf, were carried
out, in advance of this ‘Limehouse link’ road. The Dunbar Wharf excavations revealed extensive remains of the short-lived Porcelain Works of Joseph Wilson, in production 1744-1748. The material recovered gave a securely dated porcelain collection – useful comprehensive source for porcelain sundries.
The afternoon session was given over to Politics – the effects of the proposed changes imposed by English Heritage upon the Museum of London and the result this will have upon the museum’s ability to carry out effective archaeological work.
Dominic Perring of English Heritage pointed out that the ‘developer pays’ principle was spreading from London, so the developers needed good guidance from local authorities and planning depts, and guidance through ‘briefs’ and research designs. Targets had to be set and digs written up more quickly.
Harvey Sheldon, Head of the DGLA, felt no confidence in the future, though he appreciated the value of developer funding, it should not be relied upon exclusively. He opposed project funding and the progressive withdrawal of the MoL’s establishment grant by English Heritage. He feared that, with English Heritages’ own planning advice team working in London from summer 1991 it would become a reactive rather than a creative organisation.
David Barker, Bedfordshires County Archaeologist stressed need for efficient use of resources and involve all interested parties – the doers and the users.
Colin Bolt, as ‘amateur’ representative, pointed out the value of use of societes for small digs and on slow moving sites, giving HADAS a good plug as one of the few active societies in the excavations fields, and that standing buildings – ‘upright Archaeology’ should receive more attention, these being ideal items for amateur groups to study.
Local groups could also re-assess previously exhausted material.He suggested that LAMAS should create regional groups from the ranks of active amateur archaeologists.
A member of the Southwark planning Dept reminded us that developers need to make a profit – around 15% on the average site, and planning authorities could be held financial responsible for affecting development through archaeological or other priorities.
Richard Hughes, consulting archaeologist with a developer, suggested that archaeologists should study the ‘natural’ more as a way of understanding how the buildings that stood on it actually worked.
Tim Schadla – Hall of the Society of Museum Archaeologists stressed the need for good management – and that London Archaeology needs independent status to be able to make feasible responses and provide information and action, whilst providing quality and value for money.
LAMAS Day Conference – Discussion Session Jean Snelling
In the general discussion, forceful views came from the floor and contributions had finally to be cut off as time ran out. The general theme was alarm for the future of the Museum of London’s excavation work and for its necessary support by conservation, environmental and other technical investigations, research and publication.
All these were seen to be threatened by diminution or diversification by English Heritage of financial support, as it had been initiated by the former Greater London council. Speakers emphasised that reputable archaeology could not be achieved by excavations financed only project by project which no continuing planning and support service. The English Heritage panel member expressed empathy with these views while feeling unable to forecast his organisation’s policy.Other speakers stressed the value of renewing cooperation between professional archaeologists and volunteers, and also between professional services and local societies; mutual need for each other was expressed, and the hope that local societies would not wither away or cease to undertake excavations and to publish their results.
On the issue of having a central body for London which could advise on possible sites which could be worth excavating (this was getting at E H again), it was pointed out that some of the most significant discoveries of recent years turned up on sites where they had not been expected (eg the Guildhall amphitheatre). The preference of Developers was underlined, for direct and continued contact with the archaeologists who were to excavate or were actually excavating their sites; they would not value rather generalised advice from a body without the closest concern. A further shot from Developers stated that archaeologists could benefit by being more knowledgeable about geological conditions encountered on sites.
A speaker recommended the several excellent museums of archaeology to be found in Japan.This led to exclamations that local archaeological discoveries belonged to the local people, that good museums could channel such interests, and that government should not be the arbiters of policy for archaeology.
Finally, the Chairman repeated his initial question. How many of you feel confident about the future of London archaeology? Not a hand was raised.
Exhibition – Pharmacy Past, Present and Future. Church Farm House
Museum 4th May – 9th June and at Barnet Museum 2nd July 31st August.
Exhibition – The Rota Tracts and Pamphlets 1620 – 1712.
Church Farm Museum 21st March – 23rd June –
Covers Stuart tracts and pamphlets, from Royalists to witchcraft to Sermons and verses.
STOP PRESS !!
Readers will be glad to know that at long last the West Heath report is with the printers and will shortly appear as part of the BAR series. It is hoped to hold a special launch event in late May or early June.