No: 289 APRIL 1995 Edited by VIKKI O’CONNOR
Remember – meetings venue for 1995 – Stephenson Room, (1st floor), Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3 – starting at 8pm for 8.30pm.
Tuesday 4th April Lecture: Excavation at Folly Lane, St Albans by Simon West, Field Archaeologist, St Albans Museums Service.
Late Iron Age ditch enclosure with ritual deposits and a timber-lined sunken shaft which was later recut and reused by the Romans.
Tuesday 2nd May Annual General Meeting.
Tuesday 16th May Evening visit to the House of Commons with John Marshall, MP. Date now confirmed. Application form enclosed.
Saturday 17th June Outing: Malmesbury and Compton Bassett with Micky Watkins and Micky Cohen.
NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
To all Members: The Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3 on Tuesday 2 May 1995. Coffee will be available before the meeting from 8.00 – 8.15pm.
Nominations for the Officers and Members of the Committee must be submitted to me at the address below. The consent of your nominees must be obtained in writing before submitting their name/s, Nominations must be received by me not later than one week before the date of the Annual General Meeting.
Resolutions submitted by members for consideration at the Annual General Meeting must be received by me not later than three weeks before the date of the Annual General Meeting.
E A Holliday, Hon Secretary
Gorse Cottage, The Common, Chipperfield, Herts, WD4 9EL
We are sad to report the death of Tamara in March this year. She and Julius have been regular attenders at lectures over the years, joining us on outings and weekends away. She was ill a year or so ago, but, apart from having to give up driving, was back amongst us last year and was her old self again at our Christmas dinner in December. Sadly, her illness suddenly returned soon after. She died peacefully at home with Julius at her side, and our thoughts and sympathy go out to him.
Another member of long-standing died in February, For many years she assisted Irene Frauchiger in producing a newsletter on a very aged Gestetner. Between them they ran off, collated, stuffed and dispatched them, until Irene moved to Radlett. Both have remained keen members, and many of us will remember them on outings and on our memorable weekend to Hadrians Wall.
Trudi Pulfer was German-born and had few relatives in this country, and Irene Frauchiger cared for her over the last few years. Mrs Puffer had always expressed her wish for many items to go to HADAS on her death. Her niece came over from Germany, and, confirming this request, has donated them to HADAS.
On the clearance of the house she has also given us further contributions for our Minimart to help HADAS funds. We are grateful to Trudi for this and also to her niece for her generosity.
Andrew Selkirk has received the following note from Ralph Merrifield’s widow:
“Dear Andrew, Thank you very much for your kind letter, I know that Ralph much enjoyed his presidency of HADAS and greatly regretted it when he found it increasingly difficult to make the journey to attend meetings and other functions. I think he always felt he was returning to his roots, though of course he did not remember the area at all But he felt it was a very fitting rounding off to his connection with the district. With, again, many thanks. Yours very sincerely, Lysbeth,”
NEWS FROM NORTH WEST LONDON Frances Radford
A new Conservation Area has come into being. It is centred on West End Lane and West End Green, NW6. The hamlet of West End, as it was known, dates back to medieval times and, as Christopher Wade says in his book “The Streets of West Hampstead”, it “was held of the Abbot of Westminster by the Prioress of Kilburn. In the reign of Henry VIII its estimated area was eighteen acres.” Population growth was slow so that as late as 1841 the census recorded only eight households. It is interesting to note that during the Great Plague a report of 1665 stated that though there had been over two hundred deaths in Hampstead only a quarter of a mile away at West End none had died.
A three-day fair used to be held annually on the Green until it became so riotous that local residents had it suppressed in 1821. Even in the 1860s maps show a relatively rural area with a few large houses but before long the railway brought with it a rapid development of housing. Now, because of its medieval history, it has been designated as an Archaeological Priority area.
THE MARCH LECTURE TESSA SMITH
Our second lecture at Avenue House was well attended, for Andrew Reynolds’ lecture entitled “Landscape Archaeology in North Wiltshire”, He began by comparing a range of rural settlement patterns, where he has been surveying and excavating – Compton Bassett, a roadside development; Yatesbury – a cluster of houses and church; and Cherhill, built on a Roman site, with manor and church.
He explained his research into old documents, maps, aerial photos, and charters from before the Viking invasion, Sites & Monuments Records, and field name maps. It was interesting to hear the meanings of certain place-names, Burr, Bailey and Bury relating to a fortified enclosure, Yatesbury meaning ‘Entrance gate of a fortified place’. It was here at Yatesbury that Andrew Reynolds concentrated his excavations, where a `barrow way’, a half-forgotten road, ran right through the middle of an early earthwork enclosure, on its way to Avebury. He dug trenches at intervals in the area of the church and earthwork enclosure, apparently sometimes helped by sheep! His finds included barbed and tonged arrowheads, unexpected evidence of Bronze Age, and medieval, including a late medieval wolfhound skeleton and rubbish pits which revealed pottery of a high status. Finally, a medieval manorial site and fishpond were identified close to the present church, apparently church and manor are often developed close together in Wiltshire.
Finally, Andrew linked his excavation area to wider administrative centres and old army routes of communication, explaining how the barrow way had sunk into the almost forgotten past, as the modern Yatesbury road system and the major Bath to London road evolved.
We are looking forward to our summer outing to Avebury, and thank Andrew Reynolds for highlighting this particular area and current excavation.
PS It was good to have a preview of the HADAS display boards for the March LAMAS conference. This is a bonus for our new venue at Avenue House. Thank you to those concerned.
EVEN BETTER THAN LASCAUX Stuart Wild
Last December a group of covers exploring in the remote Ardeche region of southern France noticed a draught of air coming from a recent rock slide. They spent a day clearing a narrow shaft to what they hoped would be a new cave to explore.
A week later, last Christmas Eve, they descended into it by rope. What their lamps illuminated was stunning – the most significant trove of prehistoric art to be discovered in the last half-century. Four chambers, the largest 210 feet long, contained more than 300 paintings of rhinos, lions, oxen, mammoths, a rare red hyena and the only panther and owl images ever recorded. Most of the amazingly clear pictures are rendered in yellow ochre, charcoal or iron oxide. The paintings, believed to be 20,000 years old, are accompanied by sketches of a human hand, possibly that of the artist.
The cavern, near the little town of Combe D’Arc, rivals Lascaux in the Dordogne and
Altamira in northern Spain, and is likely to transform most of what little we know about
palaeolithic man. Unlike those at other sites, the Ardeche paintings depict mostly
beasts that humans didn’t hunt, suggesting they were painted for religious or purely decorative reasons. Many of them are extinct European cousins of African animals, lending weight to the theory that a land bridge once connected the two continents.
Suggestions that the paintings may be a hoax have been dismissed. Researchers say that the virgin state of the cave’s floor guarantees that nobody’s been there for centuries. And few people will be stopping by now. The French Ministry of Culture plans to buy the cave from its private owner, and for the foreseeable future, only experts will get access.
Abridged from an article in Newsweek, 30 January 1995.
KEEPING TIME IN BARNET Rick Gibson
(How Rick Gibson found his place in time)
One of Barnet’s landmarks is the clocktower at Golders Green, but how many of us knew that it had stopped, or why, and that it had subsequently been repaired, and by whom? NADAS member Rick Gibson reveals all..
In 1993 June phoned the Council to ask why the clock hadn’t worked for the last 5 or
years, to be told that it was due to a severe fault, and to problems with the firm contracted to maintain the public clocks in Barnet. They said it couldn’t be fixed without enormous expense, so, being familiar with tower clock mechanisms, I volunteered to look at it, and the Council duly delivered the key. Opening the door for the first time I was presented with a fairly standard tower clock mechanism – the sort supplied to the Admiralty and the War Office. Sitting about 3′ from the bottom of the tower on an iron frame, it was covered in a mixture of pigeon guano, brickdust, rust and water, because the roof had been leaking for several years. 1 told the Contracts Dept and as soon as I had fixed the clock they not only repaired the roof but also put floodlighting on the four faces of the clock because I had told them wanted to get the clock going and chiming for Remembrance Day.
The first thing 1 had to do was clean the clock, which was quite ❑ palaver, then, when I tried to get it going for the first time I realised there was something severely wrong with the auto-wind mechanism. It has two electric motors, fitted to it after the last war, and, although the weights only descend two feet, as soon as they reach the bottom of their travel they are re-wound. The problem was serious because ❑ slightly longer pendulum had been fitted and when the weights descended the pendulum fouled the weights and stopped the clock. (This hadn’t been realized by the maintenance team). I realigned the motor-driven rewinding chains so the pendulum could swing and miss the weights when they descended. Even then I had problems because, when the motor suddenly galvanised into action to raise the weights again, they swung slightly and, once again, the pendulum hit them – so I had further work there to realign the chains on the other side of their idler gears.
So, the clock was ticking at last. I cleaned and oiled the mechanism and it merrily went for four hours then jammed up solidly! This was due to the striking rack which had been re-made by the contractors – the teeth had been cut very inaccurately, so as it descended it jammed on its drive pull. It was rather a long-winded business re-cutting several teeth on the rack. Then, the clock was working again, and for the next four weeks, once a week, I adjusted the clock. It is now at its best accuracy – to within 5 minutes per fortnight and I adjust it once a fortnight and oil it once a month, There is so much wear in the mechanism due to lack of lubrication through the years, with brick dust etc getting into the gears, that there is sufficient play in the escarpment. Also, it has an uncompensated pendulum so when the weather is hot it slows down, and when it’s cold it speeds up, but 5 minutes a fortnight isn’t bad for a 1923 tower clock mechanism.
There are two motors, the left one winds the chiming mechanism weight and the right one winds clock drive weight.
The wooden pendulum shaft descends in centre, and ❑ chain runs over pulley on right. The pendulum can easily swing, hit and foul the chain which used to run on the right side of the pulley, so that the pendulum could easily catch the chains and weights which were correspondingly closer during its operation. Looking straight at the clock mechanism, the vertical shaft goes up to a quadral gear mechanism that drives the four faces of the clock at the top of the tower.
Everything on the right hand side is connected with the clock and the escapement, and everything on the left hand side is connected with the chiming mechanism, A large fan regulates the chiming speed. A lever, below the wire, goes up to the bell, where it’s disconnected so it doesn’t pull on the wire and chime on the bell. It has an anchor escapement, also known as a recoil escapement, What we are looking at is a good quality turret clock mechanism which can be mounted in the top of towers or, in this case, low down, providing there is automatic winding. I don’t know whether it has always been in this position but, judging by the flooring which is halfway up the tower, I should imagine it has because it is original flooring with one single hole going up through the centre for the drive shaft.
The nameplates are visible – the date is on the centre dialled wheel which is turned with ❑ brass key to adjust the hands of the clock. Just behind that is a cam which operates the chiming mechanism. The electrical switch on the right in the tower operates the lights which are behind the dials of the clock. Originally the dials were of an opal glass so that when they were illuminated from within all four faces were lit. Some bright spark came along and covered them with blue paint – probably just thinking they would look reasonably attractive –
but of course it is peeling off, and no light gets out, although the facility for lighting the clock internally is still there. Up on top of the tower is a trap door, and you can actually climb a metal ladder (which you can’t see very well but is on the immediate right just behind the door jamb) and get out on to the roof of the clock. Barnet Council did a bit of re¬wiring during the Remembrance period; I was very pleased because it meant that they were paying some care ana attention to it.
The date on the clock mechanism, which I presume also relates to the tower, is 1923. It was built by subscription as a memorial to the 1914-18 war. Barnet Council couldn’t tell us who subscribed, or how much it cost. I’m not sure who owns it now, but presumably the responsibility lies with Barnet Council. The clockmaker is J W Benson of Ludgate Hill, clockmakers to the Admiralty, War Office and the India Office.
After WWII they also carved on the monument “1939-45”. The book of honour on it has people from Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb -there are some interesting names and would like to look into this and see if there are any surviving relatives who maybe I could talk to.
There was an annoying incident when some mindless yobbos daubed graffiti on the clocktower and the door; I managed to get the Council to sandblast that off, but I daresay it will happen again.
One other thing I should mention is that the gears on the clock in the early stages of the escapement mechanism are terribly worn. They consist of thin steel shafts mounted like a squirrel cage. Some of them are worn nearly halfway through due to the diet of brickdust, water, and no lubricant for many years. I think that within the next two years I will have to stop the clock, strip it down and do a considerable amount of work to stop these gears snapping. Unfortunately, if they break on this type of clock with autowind, they can go into self-destruct. You probably know that the clock mechanism in Big Ben actually exploded when the shaft on the fan controlling the chiming mechanism snapped due to a gear failure, and the clock just whirred out of control. It actually snapped in half the main frame that held the clock. £1.5 million were spent on it and even now it is a patched up job. To actually see Big Ben and go up the tower is quite an experience, but if anyone had been in the vicinity when that exploded they would certainly have been killed because there were gears and fragments of metal everywhere.
When I was working at DoIlis Hill Research Station, two colleagues and myself volunteered to try and sort out the clock at the ancient church of St Mary’s, Willesden – the site of the Black Madonna. The stairs going up to the clock tower were extremely unsafe, and the clock had to be wound constantly. We managed to get a large geared electric motor and we actually coupled this up to the clock in the top of the tower. This was another clock that had given intermittent trouble due to lack of maintenance through the years, and pigeon droppings had fouled between the hands, the hour and the second hand – it was a solid lump. The work also involved us stripping out the gearing to the four faces of the tower itself, and people having to go outside of the tower, which isn’t for me because I suffer from vertigo!
As the weights of the clock descended the tower they came to a hinged platform which operated a micro switch (this is all stuff built by us) which operated a large relay. This in turn switched the motor on, and the weight steadily rose up the tower. At the top it operated another micro switch that turned it off again, We had a lot of fun with this because the actual weight of the clock descended into the church itself and could be viewed by the congregation, so we made a lovely golden cardboard angel and fitted it to the clock weight so that it actually disappeared into a pit in the floor of the church. When the mechanism operated you suddenly heard the whirring noise and this golden cardboard angel steadily rose up the wall and disappeared into the clocktower, (The Reverend there was a friend of ours!) Everyone loved it, but it was only a short-term thing to amuse the congregation. We did that work nearly twenty years ago and it’s still going beautifully. There are other clocks in my life, but that certainly was one of the most rewarding one,
Footnote.’ The Golders Green project took Rick about three weeks to sort out the mechanical problems, with a further couple of weeks regulating the clock. Asked if he had his eye on any other public clocks Rick stated a preference for “a long-term project in my workshop – something I can fiddle with”.
As a matter of interest, how many public clocks in the Borough aren’t working? (Clockhouse Parade, East Barnet Village, for one,..)
The Society for Medieval Archaeology and the Medieval Settlement Research Group held a conference at the British Museum in March entitled Recent Work in the Archaeology of Medieval Rural Settlement. Maurice Beresford, vintage archaeologist of Wharram Percy fame responded to Prof Christopher Dyer’s open invitation to the
audience to nominate a new Wharram for the next millenium. Mr Beresford, rather than predict another site, is rather hoping for the National Lottery or a friendly millionaire to provide the wherewithall to re-open the Wharram project.
SURFIN’ in the 1990’s doesn’t require much physical energy, just a computer and a modem. Members having access to the Internet might like to check out the LAMAS information pages which have just been set up by their Secretary, Malcolm Harden. He lists their current activities and has impressively scanned their logo into the document. To view, the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for LAMAS is
Distance is no barrier to the Internet; one can browse documents world-wide on virtually any subject, including information from archaeological institutions, for example, interim excavation reports. Looking ahead, communications are evolving so rapidly that we can expect to see not just pages of information on digs but video shots of sites, finds, etc. on the Internet by the end of this century – the technology for this already exists in the form of CD ROM, now entering the classroom as a teaching aid. Programs are being fine-tuned at an ever-increasing rate to make the Internet faster, easier to use, cheaper, and available for most home computers. Maybe HADAS could put up info pages in the not too distant future? Our Chairman is into electronic mail and the information superhighway, but are other HADAS members on¬line? Membership queries by e-mail? firstname.lastname@example.org If anyone didn’t quite understand what this is all about, I’m sure Andrew can explain!!
BIRKBECK have just published their 1995-96 extra-mural part-time course prospectus. Certificate courses span 3 years with a fourth year available to convert the qualification to a Diploma. Of possible interest to HADAS members: Archaeology; Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology; Egyptology; Field Archaeology; Industrial Archaeology; Prehistoric Archaeology; Garden History; Genealogy & the History of the Family; History; Local History; History of London; Medieval History; History of Art; Islamic Studies; Victorian Studies, Required course work: 4 written pieces, carrying 100% of the marks. Details of fees, enrolment, etc, will be published mid-June, phone the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies on: 0171- 631 6687 for a free copy of either document.
LAMAS Conference of London Archaeologists
The Conference Chairman, John Kent, advised us that Harvey Sheldon couldn’t attend as he was “undergoing routine conservation”. Harvey has been in hospital for an eye operation – HADAS wishes him a full and speedy recovery. It was especially noticeable this year that each speaker thanked the several funding bodies contributing to the excavations, in a manner reminiscent of the ‘Oscar award ceremonies. Several of the sites were on brickearth and after a couple of hours we wondered if they were re-cycling the slides. It seems unlikely though – we understand that the first four speakers had never met before the conference – even though their areas are interrelated. (Report on the conference will be in the May newsletter).
In our February newsletter Andy Simpson advised that a leaflet entitled ‘Sites to See -Northern & Eastern Herts’ can be obtained by phoning Hertfordshire Environmental Information Service. We took up the offer and were pleased to receive, not one, but three leaflets! The other two are entitled: Sites to See – Southern & Western Herts; and Mooted sites. Apparently, there are over 200 hundred mooted sites in Hertfordshire -not all are accessible to the public, but the Hells Environment Info Service will provide further details on request – tel: 01992-555244 / 5. (Revised number with the extra digit, necessary after ‘phone day’ on April 16). We understand that one of our members, Norma King, had difficulty getting through to the right department. We re-checked the number and they helpfully promised to send a copy of the leaflet to Ms King, We trust other members haven’t stumbled on the same problem?
BARNET & DISTRICT LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY – Wed. 26th April 8pm for 8.30pm The Hyde Room, Chipping Barnet Library, Staplyton Rd, Barnet
Beating the Bounds- talk by Peter Willcocks
ENFIELD ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY – 21 April 8pm Jubilee Hall, Parsonage Lone, Enfield
Invasion 1940 – Operation Sea-Lion – talk by Geoffrey Gillam
THE FINCHLEY SOCIETY – Fri. 27th April at 7.45pm Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3
The Regents Canal System – talk by Dr M Essex-Lopresti
AN OPEN INVITATION has been received, from the Finchley Society for HADAS members, to attend their National Trust Centenary Meeting on Thursday 29th June at Christ Church C School, Hilton AvenuelWarnham Road, North Finchley at 7.45. Peter Clayton, Chairman of the Octavio Hill Society, Wisbech, will talk about ‘Octavio Hill’s Childhood in Finchley` She was a great social reformer and a co-founder of the National Trust. Admission is free, and to help them estimate how many to cater for we have been asked to advise the Finchley Society how many HADAS members expect to attend. Anyone who plans to accept, please contact Vikki O’Connor (0181-361 1350) so we can respond to them by the end of May. Thanks!
NATIONAL TRUST ARCHAEOLOGY CENTENARY CONFERENCE
Another NT centenary event, scheduled for 18/19 May in London, will include some of the Trust’s archaeological activities: gardens and designed landscapes, historic buildings, industrial archaeology, and historic ecology. Further details are available from Archaeology Conference Co-ordinator, The National Trust, 33 Sheep Street, Cirencester, Glos, GL7 1QW. Telephone 01 285 651818.
MORE MEMBERS’ NEWS…
Our congratulations to Daphne Lorimer – she has been made Chairman of the Orkney Heritage Society.
STOP PRESS: it is likely that building works at St Martha’s Convent School, Monken Hadley, will commence at the end of April – those interested in participating in archaeological excavation should contact Brian Wrigley (0181-959 5982) or Roy Walker (0181-361 1350) after 15th April when further details should be available.