No. 477 DECEMBER 2010 Edited by Don Cooper
Doesn’t time go quickly, here we are in the middle of November looking forward to that end-of-year holiday period again!! May we, however, take this opportunity to wish all our readers a joyous holiday and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
HADAS 50th Anniversary by Don Cooper
Next year (2011) is the 50th anniversary of the founding of HADAS by Themistocles Constantinides in 1961. He founded the society with the main aim of finding and proving the Anglo-Saxon origins of Hendon. Themistocles would be delighted at the progress that has been made. This year will see the publication of the results of the excavation at Church Terrace which provides ample evidence of occupation in Anglo-Saxon times. LET’S MAKE IT A YEAR OF CELEBRATION! Plans are already being laid for an Exhibition of HADAS’ achievements and history at Church Farm Museum, A Roman Cookery day, a number of excavations, the launch of the Church Terrace book and, hopefully, many other events. I and your committee call on all HADAS members to celebrate this momentous year, by helping to organise the events and proposing events that they themselves would like to organise. For your ideas and offers of help please contact any of the officers mentioned at the end of this newsletter.
HADAS Holiday September 2011
I know it seems very early to be thinking of holidays already, but our able planning team (Jo & Jim Nelhams) have found a seaside holiday hotel on the Isle of Wight (see October’s newsletter for places that we might visit). The only dates available are the Monday 19th – Friday, 23rd September 2011. Prices are expected be very similar to this year at £345 per person sharing a double room and £395 for singles. We will travel by coach and stay at the hotel for four nights on a Dinner, Bed and Breakfast basis. Jo & Jim would very much like an early indication of members (and/or non-members/friends) who would like to come on this exciting trip. Please phone or send them an email to their address below. Numbers as usual will be limited – so first come first served!!
Lectures for 2011
Tuesday 11th January 2011
Jane Siddel: Science as a tool to help understand London’s archaeology
Tuesday 8th February 2011
Richard Stein: The Roman Wooden Water Pump – an ingenious machine
Tuesday 8th March 2011
Keith J Fitzpatrick-Matthews: The Archaeology of Baldock
Tuesday 12th April 2011
Dr Robin Woolven: Bomb Damage in London and Middlesex
Tuesday 10th May 2011
Ken Brereton: The Markfield Beam Engine – the influence of effluence
Tuesday 11th October 2011
Dr John Creighton: Silchester -: the revelation of an Iron Age and Roman city
Tuesday 8th November 2011
Nathalie Cohen: The Thames Discovery Programme
Lectures are held in the Drawing Room at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley, N3 3QE, and start promptly at 8 pm, with coffee/tea and biscuits afterwards. Non-members: £1. Buses 82, 125, 143, 326 & 460 pass nearby and Finchley Central station (Northern Line), is a short walk away.
Membership Matters by Stephen Brunning
I would like to extend a warm welcome to the following members who have joined (or rejoined) HADAS since May 2010: Alan Aris, Judy Kazarnovsky, Audrey Lewis, Margaret O’Reilly, James Rea, Emma Tait and Guy Taylor. I hope to see you at a forthcoming event.
Pat Karet joined our society before 1973. Though not active in HADAS in recent years, she may be remembered by some of our long standing members. Sadly, she died in April after a long battle with a brain tumour. For most of her working life, she ran the administrative side of UCS school in Hampstead, and when she retired, turned her talents to supporting the North London Hospice.
Virginia was greatly interested in theatre and opera, and also in travelling. She joined us on a number of our longer outings, the last being our trip to Beverley in 2008. She had booked to join us again this year in Norwich, but sadly died in April.
Jack Newbury by Don Cooper
By now many of you will have heard that Jack (Dorothy Newbury’s husband) was knocked down by a car on the crossing on his way to work at his business Hilary Press Printers. Jack ,who is 91, suffered multiple injuries and was taken to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel where he was placed in intensive care. As of this morning 17/11/2010 Jack is making good progress and is out of intensive care. We all wish Jack a complete and speedy recovery. If sending a card please send it to 55 Sunningfields Road, Hendon, NW4 4RA.
The Barnet Archive is open again. It has completed the move from Daws Lane and is now housed on the top floor of Hendon Library. The address of Hendon Library is as follows: The Burroughs, Hendon, London. NW4 4BT Tel. No. 0208359 2628. Either Yasmine Webb and Hugh Petrie will be there to answer your queries. Parking is a nightmare in the area so try and use public transport if possible and do make an appointment in advance of your visit either by phone or email
Report on the first lecture of the 2010 Winter series by the speaker
Hard hats and stripy jumpers – Behind the Scenes With Time Team By Raksha Dave
Time Team has been at the forefront of popular television for the past 18 years. In October Time Team archaeologist, Raksha Dave came to HADAS to give us an inside perspective on how the show operates and most importantly how this fits into the archaeological arena today.
From the viewpoint of a professional archaeologist being asked to become a Time Team member has been both daunting and challenging. Indeed from day one and to the past 8 years of working on the programme I and the team constantly question what we do and how we are perceived by the public and our profession. Before I even started working on Time Team I shared many thoughts touted by the archaeological community. How do they manage to excavate in three days? Do they record and report their findings accurately and in a timely fashion? Does the telly-making process takeover? or is it just dumbing down archaeology?
The Three-Day Format
Tony Robinson’s opening gambit “we only have three days….” is often mind boggling. People don’t often realise that although the programme is filmed over a period of three days, hours of research, meetings and consultation has gone into making one episode of Time Team. At the beginning of every year a production team pours over a list of possible sites and determines whether sites are viable or if they fit into the category of community archaeology, rescue archaeology or ‘special’ sites i.e sites in inaccessible areas or in areas of special, scientific interest. The influx of viewer’s letters also determines whether or not there are any viable options to be explored. Time Team’s strength is going to communities and finding sites in places they wouldn’t perceive archaeology to be present. It isn’t until everything is thrown into the mix that the final cut is made and sites are chosen for the year.
So what about excavating in three days? Time Team is essentially a glorified archaeological evaluation which is commonplace in professional archaeological practice today. Often developer-led projects are evaluations where there are set questions asked within a brief. Time Team follows the same process with initial questions asked at the outset. The archaeology leads the direction of the programme and in some cases other questions may be asked and answered outside of the original brief. Throughout this process there is continuous consultation with field archaeologists, specialists, inspectors and directors (film and field!) that determine the strategy of the day. I often call this the ‘wikipedia effect’, there is always someone to talk to with an opinion, more information or an alternative interpretation. Knowledge of archaeological sites, finds and processes are not finite so having regional or local knowledge is very important in determining what you have or don’t have!
A fluid process
Time Team has pushed the boundaries of archaeological techniques over the past years and we are always looking at processes to make things better or to improve output over the three days without sacrificing quality. In the past Time Team have rightly been criticised for the lack of effective and punctual report writing. In 2003 the decision was made to bring in Wessex Archaeology to take over the process of post-excavation and writing the final report. This has worked very well with Wessex personnel on site during the excavating process and supervising the recording on the three days of filming and the fourth day of reinstatement. The report is normally completed within 6 months of excavation and is published on the Wessex website. Time Team also look at other ways to improve what information we can add to the archaeological record and often pioneer or test new forms of technology. The pioneering geophysics team are constantly building new geophysics hybrids to improve performance. One shoot involved trialling a hybrid magnetometer and GPS survey to give us a instantaneous geophysics results on a surveyed location grid. Other shoots have involved inviting other companies to use new technology and adapting their use to use on archaeological sites.
The hardest part of this process is trying to relay this information to the public in an interesting and informative way. How do you make digging in a muddy field interesting? The process of excavating can be painstaking and tedious and packaging this into something informative and entertaining can be quite tricky. The programme aims to tell a story of an area or region. We have clear objectives of what this might be and we aim to try and relay this throughout the programme. That’s not to say the archaeology behaves itself! On several programmes we have had to change the shift of a story from Roman temple to Bronze Age Barrow or as in the case of Warburton in 2006 broadcasting an episode on finding absolutely nothing! However, the really interesting sites are the ones where we bring archaeology to communities. We have termed this ‘back garden archaeology’ when we get to dig within towns and villages and often end up digging up back gardens of the residents who have volunteered to lose their gardens for three days. Many of these sites have originated from letters sent in by viewers who have done research on their local area. I find this an interesting process as it becomes more intimate and personal. Last year we excavated in the back gardens and open field areas of a village called Litlington in Cambridgeshire. The premise was to test the theory that there was a high status Roman building in the village, a portion of which had been excavated by antiquarians in the 1800s. The residents of Litlington were completely engaged in the process and interested in what the archaeology could tell them about their village. More importantly however, it bought the community together; neighbours started talking to each other by visiting gardens that had been test-pitted and by the end of the three days had become firm friends. This is as satisfying as excavating a site, this for me brings to the forefront the relevance of archaeology today. Time Team already reaches 3 million people a week but to have such a direct effect on a group of people is in some way more worthwhile.
Time Team www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team
Post Excavation Reports www.wessexarch.co.uk/reports
Get Involved www.britarch.ac.uk
Young Archaeologists’ www.britarch.ac.uk/yac/
Battle of Britain HQ has been saved! By Stephen Brunning
On 15th September 2010 Harrow Council unanimously approved the application to create the long-hoped for museum on this historic site, the former RAF Bentley Priory, which closed in 2008. The developers have been committed to contributing approximately £9.5m to help maintain and run a Battle of Britain museum in the Grade II* listed house. Visitors will be able to see the ground floor office where Air Chief Marshal “Stuffy” Dowding worked, (as seen in the classic 1969 film ‘Battle of Britain’) and see a holographic recreation of the great man himself. As part of the deal, 103 private homes will be built on the upper floor and elsewhere on the site. It is expected to take 2 years to complete the transformation, and the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust still needs to raise at least £1m in order to equip an education centre and renovate their collection.
Erica Ferguson, Executive Consultant of the Trust gave a lecture to HADAS on 9th March 2010, and the report of her talk on the history of RAF Bentley Priory can be found in the April newsletter.
For a history of the whole site, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Bentley_Priory
Report on the Council of British Archaeology’s Annual General Meeting
The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) held its Annual General Meeting at the Royal College of Pathologists in London on the 6th November 2010. After the customary business of approving the annual report and accounts the over fifty attendees listened attentively as the trustees and staff outlined a strategy for the next five years. The key themes were Increasing Participation (helping to get more people involved by initiating and promoting projects that attract and encourage greater public participation), Enhancing Discovery (by creating a better learning environment, improving publications etc.), Strengthening Advocacy ( continuing to champion archaeological causes by mobilising an informed public) and Developing Sustainability (ensuring that the historic and archaeological legacy is sustained against the ravages of climate change, bureaucratic interference etc., and that the CBA itself can secure its future by building its reserves and increasing its membership). The presentation of the strategy was followed by a highly entertaining talk by Michael Woods highlighting the archaeological aspects of his recent television series “The Story of England” told through the history and archaeology of Kibworth, a Leicestershire village. The AGM was followed by a reception at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Colin Renfrew.
North Finchley Congregational Church by Jim Nelhams
Many of you will remember that a church used to stand on Ballards Lane, North Finchley, close to Tally Ho Corner. This was originally called Finchley Common Congregational Church.
The railway reached New Southgate in 1850, making access to and from London much simpler and leading to a growth in the local population. In 1863, a group of influential nonconformist gentlemen met to discuss the building of a new Church, and they received encouragement from Mr John Hey Puget, a prominent nonconformist, though parish records show that he was baptised in the Church of England at St Andrews Holborn in 1803. Mr Puget lived at Poynters Hall, Totteridge, close to Totteridge church, and had already, with his mother, been responsible for the building of a Chapel in Totteridge Lane.
As well as encouragement, Mr Puget gave some land at North End, Finchley, and later added more in Dale Grove for the erection of a school building. Mr Puget and his daughter Hannah, and others laid foundation stones for the two buildings. The church and the school opened in 1864. In 1894, the church was extended – strangely, the funds for this were found by selling the school to the Baptist Church.
During the twentieth century, congregations dwindled in many churches, leading to the merger of various groups. Thus some church buildings became superfluous. In North Finchley, less than 200 yards from the Congregational Church stood Trinity Church in Nether Street – originally the Baptist Church, and the two church groups agreed to merge. So the Congregational Church and the now Baptist School were demolished providing funds for Trinity Church now designated Baptist/United Reformed Church to be renovated and further rooms to be added.
The Congregational Church disappeared. Or did it? There are at Trinity Church a number of stones rescued from Ballards Lane, including most of the foundation stones from 1864.
These are mainly displayed in the concourse on the west side of the church. One of these reads –
THIS MEMORIAL STONE
OF THE SCHOOLS
IN CONNECTION WITH THE
WAS LAID BY
Miss HANNAH PUGET
JUNE 23RD 1864
THE GROUND HAVING BEEN
PRESENTED BY HER FATHER
JOHN HEY PUGET ESQRE
Incidentally, Mr Puget was also a benefactor to St Andrews Church of England Church in Totteridge. When the churchyard became full, he donated land for an extension. Because it was not his church, he is not buried there, but there is a memorial to him inside the church.
Norfolk DAY 3 – Monday 30th August – BANK HOLIDAY
Trains and Stations Andy Simpson
The day started bright and early with a run to the privately (mainly volunteer) run Mid-Norfolk Railway at Dereham to join our reserved coach on the first train of the day. When we arrived in the station car park there was an instant ‘photo opportunity’ as there awaiting a comparison shot with our ultra-modern coach was a superb late-1950s vintage preserved ‘Bristol Lodekka’ doubler deck bus in Eastern Counties colours. Our driver was soon engaged in a technical conversation with her crew!
On a line dating back to 1847, our 11.5-mile, 40-minute steam hauled run was headed by former GWR design, but BR-built, pannier tank No. 9466 of 1952, one of the 200 or so steam locos rescued from the famous Woodham Bros. Barry Scrapyard in South Wales. Normally a resident of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, she is a well-travelled loco, and in the 1990s was a stalwart of the late-lamented annual ‘Steam on the Met’ runs from Harrow to Amersham and Watford, following overhaul at Neasden LT depot. As the line concentrates on ‘Heritage Traction’ – historic ex BR main-line diesel locos and railcars like the ones I trainspotted in the 1970s/80s – this is normally the only steam loco on the line. Dereham station retains a very 1960s main-line feel, and the well-stocked souvenir shop there did a roaring trade – helped by a very tempting selection of second hand books.
The line closed to goods in 1989 and has been undergoing gradual restoration and tourist trains have run since 1995. The five miles or so of line north from Dereham via North Elmham to County School is also undergoing gradual restoration, though not open to the public as yet. More details from http://www.mnr.org.uk
After a leisurely run south through Yaxham, Thuxton, Hardingham and Kimberley Park, with several level crossings and views of pleasant countryside, we arrived at Wymondham Abbey station, and many of the group strolled to the nearby level crossing to watch the loco run round its train for the return journey, before we boarded the coach for the short run to the elegant Wymondham main line station, situated on the Norwich – Ely railway line. Here we enjoyed a leisurely coffee stop at the Brief Encounter Refreshment Room, obviously very popular with the locals – always a good sign. It is packed with a treasure trove of Railwayana (and a small shop) and themed to pay homage to the classic 1945 film ‘Brief Encounter’ (actually partly filmed at Carnforth Station, which was visited on a previous HADAS long weekend, together with its own similarly named restaurant). The station itself, with semaphore signals, signal box and junction with the Mid Norfolk Railway, offered plenty of photo opportunities.
We then departed for the magnificent Wymondham Abbey, already glimpsed from the train.
Wymondham Abbey Jeffrey Lesser
Wymondham Abbey has differing towers, one at each end of the present building. Founded in 1107 by William D’Albini as a Benedictine Priory as a dependency of St. Alban’s Abbey, it served also as Parish Church. This was the root of continued disputes with the townspeople. The monastery buildings were torn down at the Dissolution, leaving the present Parish Church with its two towers, as agreed by Henry VIII. The present Central Tower is a rebuild in 1409 of the weakened original Norman Tower.
The 12thC Nave of Caen stone has seventy angels carved in the 15thC. Above the altar the Nave is dominated by the impressive golden Screen and Tester with images and heraldry designed by Sir Ninian Comper in 1919 and finished in 1934. At each side of the altar is a low door in a wall erected by the laity to exclude the clergy from the Parish Church. It was built as a result of the disputes of monks and townspeople about the bells. The former objected to those of the latter, which could be rung independently: the latter objected to those of the former being hung higher and therefore being heard better than those in their own rebuilt Central Tower.
Within the Abbey, the 15thC hammer-beam roof with wooden and painted angels and stone corbels is of great beauty as is the 18thC brass chandelier which originally illuminated the Nave. Among other features of interest are the octagonal stone font of 1440 with some residual paint and a modern wooden spire cover; the mahogany organ case of 1793 and the main organ in the West Tower; the chamber organ of 1810 in the North Aisle; the terracotta Sedillia near the High Altar; the fascinating reversed monogram of flint inlaid into the column nearest the West Door.
The Abbey Church is still in everyday use as a particularly fine Parish Church.
As usual, not enough time to experience it properly!
Wymondham Heritage Museum Emma Robinson
Although not on our formal tour programme many (perhaps a majority) of our group visited this fascinating local museum – although some of us might have spent longer there if we had not first been diverted by the attractions of the real ale festival in the ancient Green Dragon Inn. For me the Museum was a real exemplar of what could be achieved at a local level by a voluntary group. It was no surprise, therefore, to learn later from the webpage (http://www.wymondhamheritagemuseum.co.uk/?p=home) that the Museum was a recipient of a prestigious Gulbenkian Award – being highly commended for the most outstanding achievement of a museum with limited resources.
Before coming to the Museum I knew very little about Wymondham – apart from that it possessed the fine remains of an Abbey. By the time I left to hurry back to the coach I felt much better informed about the history of the town and its people. The stated objective of the Museum was to tell the story of Wymondham through displays and collections – with a particular focus on introducing characters from the town’s past. This it achieved with great flair and made the history of the town come to life for people of all ages.
The Museum is an initiative of the Wymondham Heritage Society. It was first set up in a small bake-house in 1984. Ten years later the Society purchased the Bridewell and re-located the Museum there in 1996. The name Bridewell itself has fascinating origins. In 1553 one of Henry VIII’s palaces was converted into a House of Correction to deal with vagrants. It became know as Bridewell Palace – since it was near the Holy Well of St Bride in London. Other houses of correction then came to be called Bridewells. The building now houses other activities and resources for the Heritage Society – including the popular tearoom which is based in the original exercise yard for prisoners in the police remand cells. The space has been well used and the guiding round the Museum is particularly clear. Even the shop counter is the converted magistrate’s bench of the court once housed in the building.
In the time available it was not possible to do much more than to skim the surface of the Museum’s displays and collections. So perhaps it would be best just to give a few personal highlights. I did not know, for example, that the town had once been an important centre of the brush making industry – and home of the Briton Brush Factory. The working machinery, displays and photographs were further interpreted by an audio commentary of people who had worked in the industry. I really felt that the essence had been captured of what it must have been to work in the factory. The displays relating to Norfolk’s Home Guard and ‘Secret Army’ during World War II were fascinating – as was the history of Girl Guiding since the early 20th century and farming with horses in the early to mid-20th century. Visitors were repeatedly invited to help identify local individuals in photographs. The notion of people’s memories of the town in the recent past was explored most helpfully. The more distant past, however, was not forgotten and it was good to see archaeological displays focussing on particular periods of pre- and more recent history.
It would have been good to have more time to do justice to the Heritage Museum and I am also grateful to the voluntary staff for helping me make best use of my visit.
Forncett St Mary Industrial Steam Museum by David Robinson
I confess that I approached the trip to a display of stationary steam engines in the depths of the Norfolk countryside with some trepidation since the group already knew that none of the engines would be in steam for our visit. However, any doubts I may have had as to how interesting the museum or the tour might be were at once dispelled by three factors. First, the magnificent restoration work carried out on the machines themselves; second, the fact that a 1904 vintage mechanical piano was serenading the party with extracts from Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Patience; and, third, the extraordinary enthusiasm and knowledge displayed by the owner / curator of the collection Dr Rowan Francis. Guided tours often add little to what the visitor sees but Dr Francis proved a notable exception to this rule, giving first class descriptions of the origins of the stationary engines and explaining how he had spent substantial parts of his career abroad to finance the purchases and restoration work.
One point that Dr Francis made is one which is, on reflection, obvious but will nevertheless bear repetition. For about 200 years (up to the 1960s) most of the manufacturing processes carried out in this country were powered by steam engines of the type on display. They were responsible for enabling such varied processes as lace making and vinegar production to take place and they were used too for other basic processes such a pumping water and raising bridges. When these fine engines became redundant it was possible to pick them up for relatively small sums of money; often little more than their scrap value but, as Dr Francis explained, purchasing an engine itself was the least of his worries. These came rather with the transport and restoration of the machines which were often in a sad state of disrepair. Thus Dr Francis, an anaesthetist by profession, had to turn himself into an engineer and learn how to strip down and rebuild engines. He explained further that the machines themselves are relatively simple to dismantle and reassemble and that (with only one exception) they are all now in working order. However, looking at the size and complexity of the machinery on display I think there may have been an excess in modesty in Dr Francis’ suggestion that restoration was a relatively straightforward matter.
A second issue mentioned by the doctor related to a number of the larger machines (particularly the beam engines) on display. For example, the Easton Andrews beam engine which had been used to pump water near Pontefract was of such a size that it needed to occupy its own building. Indeed, the building in which it was housed formed part of the engine itself in that it provided stability to enable the engine to work effectively. After the engine’s relocation to the museum huge “A” frames, built by Dr Francis and his team, had been used to stabilize the engine again. Here the need to take such measures again emphasizes the complexity of the work carried out. In addition, the group was shown a beam engine named “Spruce” constructed by Gimson and Company of Leicester (a firm which now incidentally manufactures stair lifts) that originally pumped a well which was 420 feet deep and was located near Tamworth. Again, the massive proportions of this engine required it to be properly housed for the sake of stability. It should not be thought however that all of the machines on display are large and indeed Dr Francis explained how he had started the collection with some of the smaller machines on show, partly due to the fact that they were easier to transport. These machines include, the earliest in the collection, a Corless value gear engine of 1873 which, despite its relative modest proportions, was responsible for providing power for all seven floors of a Nottingham lace factory.
Industrial historians often comment on the noise levels produced by a variety of the manufacturing processes employed in this country. However, a third point made by Dr Francis was that the machinery providing the power was relatively quiet. Indeed, when working the machines were silent, apart from the odd hiss of escaping steam. Thus, even a huge machine like the Worthington Simpson triple expansion engine of 1947 that had been used to pump water near Dover for the Folkestone and District Water Company was relatively quiet when working. The only noise to be heard after the acquisition of this machine by Dr Francis was from his bank manager who apparently felt that enough was enough. As a result of this the Dr was to spend three years in Saudi Arabia to earn enough professionally to keep the finances of his hobby “in the black”.
Probably the most famous stationary engine in the collection is the 147 h.p. Cross compound engine that was used to provide auxiliary power for opening Tower Bridge. This massive engine had actually been installed in 1943 to provide the main engines with support in the event of damage through enemy action. It became redundant with the introduction of new power sources in 1974 and Dr Francis and his team were able to transport it one Sunday morning in 1975: having secured the agreement of the Metropolitan Police to close Tower Bridge Road between 2 and 6 am. Dr Francis admitted that he had also almost closed Tottenham Court Road whilst attempting to remove a stationary engine from a J. Lyons Corner House. These are simply further examples of the enthusiasm with which Dr Francis has pursued the many and varied projects to restore these engines and he has more recently located and installed his own working boiler to provide steam for all of the much loved machines. He has even gone to the lengths of collecting rain water for the boiler and scavenging wood from any available source (notably cricket bat willow off cuts) to provide the fire. Thus, he has ensured that the whole of the project can truly be carried on “in house” and on his and his father’s property.
I raised one further issue with Dr Francis at the conclusion of the tour and this related to the possibility that railways might have been operated using stationary engines rather than locomotives. It is a little known fact that when the survey work was carried out at the time of the construction of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (1827-1828) two individuals James Walker and John Rastrick were commissioned to produce a report as to the best means of providing power on the line. They had three options; horses, stationary engines or locomotives. A great deal of research was carried out and visits were paid by Walker and Rastrick to virtually all of the lines then in use; being chiefly in the north of England and used for transporting coal. The report ruled out the first option but actually came down in favour of the second largely on the grounds of cost. There was therefore the distinct possibility at the time that the first main line railway in England would be powered by engines of the type in Dr Francis’ collection. It was Dr Francis’ view that stationary engines, using a system of ropes or cables, would be quite capable of hauling heavy wagons over short distances – say from a pit head to a nearby port. However, he felt that the system would be far too inflexible for mainline working and that this was particularly the case where passengers rather than freight were of prime importance.
All in all the group were provided with an excellent and thoughtful entertainment by Dr Francis, his wife and his team who did not stint when it came to providing an excellent tea in the large refreshment room on the premises. I look forward to making a second visit to the museum this time to see the machines in steam.
Report on the second lecture of the winter 2010 series by Liz Gapp
The November lecture given to HADAS on 9th November 2010 was Archaeology and the Olympics given by David Divers who now works for Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). David’s involvement with the Olympic site started when he was working at English Heritage. He is specifically involved with the site based in the Lower Lea Valley.
The site before the latest developments was a very dirty industrial area with areas of soil contamination. This was covered with electricity pylons which have now been removed.
This area has now been, or is still being, regenerated as a knock-on from the Olympics development which is virtually all on a flood plain. This area is (or was) crossed by several rivers which include the Lea, the City Mill, and the Channel Sea. To the North there were already some sports facilities and several bus depots.
Because of the size of the area, a Planning Authority was formed for the sole purpose of considering the Planning Applications for this area, and in the process Archaeology requirements were put on the site conditions.
Prior to the Olympic site development, very little archaeology was known on the site, although there is some in the vicinity including: a Bronze Age settlement at Oliver Close overlooking the flood plains, excavated about ten years ago; Old Ford Roman Road and settlement which is known to cross the site; Stratford Langthorne Abbey, which is a part scheduled ancient monument, the rest being unprotected; also at Stratford International Station there is Iron Age and Saxon activity on the Channel Sea Waterway. There was, however, potentially a lot of unidentified archaeology.
Development on the site was only started after considerable desk-based research to highlight the significant waterways which the committee had originally hoped to naturalize. Deposit modelling through archaeology showed the watercourses throughout history. Being a managed area, not totally natural, these were moved over time. In fact, these waterways had always been managed, so naturalizing would have changed the area detrimentally. Some bridges have been retained and refurbished; others have been removed as part of the Olympic project.
The Lea Valley Mapping Project of 2003 funded by the gravel extraction industry gave a geological stratigraphic picture of the site with the prehistoric era of the valley. An Archaeological interpretation of the area was completed to compare with the Geo-technical interpretation of the site, as a starting point.
Other surveys were: a Heritage Assessment of the Lower Lea Valley for Newham Council by Pre-Construct Archaeology; a cross-sections survey of the valley was completed to detect where settlements might have been; several OS Maps of the area including the 1st Edition were shown.
In the 1840s, Braithwaite’s viaduct was built at a time when the area was very rural. In the past water companies put several reservoirs on the site. In the Waterways 1930’s Water Act an attempt at regeneration was made using paths for horse-drawn boats all over the area.
The Metropolitan Board of works dealt with the Northern outfall sewer to which there is a plaque which includes a mention of Bazalgette. A slide showed the last Cast-Iron Sewer which went over the City Mill River.
Several slides were shown of buildings on the site before the Olympic project began. Those that were demolished for the project were recorded first. Some have been refurbished.
The area was used in the 2nd World War as the last line of defence, so several buildings still remain. A Pill Box and Tank Traps are still on the surface. About three metres down an Aircraft Battery was uncovered; apparently Mortimer Wheeler served there for a while. This was used as a Defence Training Centre and Early Warning Centre.
Once the buildings’ recording was complete, the decision as to where to site the 150 excavation trenches was made. There were no trenches in the North-West of the site, as the made ground was too deep.
The slides shown at this point were concentrated on site 25, where the Aquatic Centre is being built. A huge rectangular excavation in which a series of concentric stepped rectangles were dug within the original rectangle, it showed the very wet conditions that preserve artefacts in an anaerobic state. A sequence of samples was taken of the alluvial build-up of pollen and diatoms giving dates of organic deposits. Within the gravel is groundwater which can lead to isostatic uplift, which means the bottom of the trenches can blow up. As a result, the depth of the digging was restricted. Here was found revetments of an earlier waterway.
Digging in the river revealed an earlier 19C boat just north of the Olympic Stadium; this was in part of the river later moved, leaving the boat behind. This was lifted whole, joining the recovered artefacts kept in the repository stores at the LAARC in Eagle Wharf road.
Excavations found a Bronze Age settlement with traces of metalworking, and late Saxon/early Roman burials. They also found good evidence of the late Bronze/Neolithic traces in the water structure. The “best” artefact of this era was a Neolithic axe-head, which it was felt must have been a “ritual” offering as no traces of a haft was found, which, given the anaerobic conditions, would have been expected to survive.
Several water channels including the Roman revetments were found, but none of the medieval mills were found despite being shown on documentation. At the Northern end of Temple Mill, the 19C edge of the Channel associated with the Mill there was found. There were also 18C buildings associated with the Mill.
Other Societies activities and events by Eric Morgan
Fri. 3rd December, 10.30AM to 12.00 noon, Friends of Barnet Borough Libraries, South Friern Library, Colney Hatch Lane, N10 “175 years of the Welsh Harp Reservoir” Talk with coffee.
Wed. 8th December, 2.30 PM, Mill Hill Historical Society, Wilberforce Centre, St Paul’s Church, The Ridgeway, NW7 “ The R.N.L.I.” Talk by Keith Cunningham.
Tues. 14th December, 6.30 PM, LAMAS, Clore Learning Centre, Museum of London, London Wall, EC2 “How the Portable Antiquities Scheme is changing our understanding of Roman coin use in London & Britain” Talk by Sam Moorhead. Coffee at 6.00 PM.
Wed. 15th December, 8.00 PM, Islington Archaeological and Historical Society, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, N1. “40 years of The Camden History Society”, Talk by John Richardson. With seasonal refreshments.
Thur. 16th December, 7.30PM, Camden History Society, Burgh House, New End Square, NW3 “ A Grand Merchant Taylors’ Feast in 1606” Talk by Dr. Ann Saunders (past President of HADAS) with seasonal refreshments from 7.00PM.