Posts Tagged ‘Kew Bridge Engines’

Industrial Archaeology: Gloucestershire, 1988

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

Lock gates, Lydney Harbour, 1988 88-7a-62-positive_2400
Lock gates, Lydney Harbour, 1988 88-7a-62

Some time in 1977 I visited Kew Bridge Engines in Green Dragon Lane, Brentford and was greatly impressed by the huge beam engines there, once used to pump water to the top of the tower. I had joined a local camera club, and they were running a photographic competition in conjunction with the site and allowed us free access. One of my pictures ended up with the second prize (rather to the surprise and disgust of many club members as I wasn’t really a ‘club photographer’) and also got printed in Amateur Photographer. You can see this and many other pictures on my web site London’s Industrial Heritage.

Blast furnace, Gunns Mills, Flaxley, Forest of Dean, 1988 88-7b-63-positive_2400
Blast furnace, Gunns Mills, Flaxley, Forest of Dean, 1988 88-7b-63

But it was there, either on that visit or a later one when I took my young sons and friends to Kew Bridge Engines for a birthday treat that I picked up a leaflet about the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, and I’ve been a member ever since. Though none of us to this day know how to pronounce GLIAS. And as I say on the web site set up for me by one of those two young boys 25 years on, “I’m not really an industrial archaeologist, but over the last twenty-five years I’ve photographed many things that interest industrial archaeologists.”

Gloucester Docks, 1988 88-7b-65-positive_2400
Gloucester Docks, 1988 88-7b-65

At least one of those boys came with me on a coach trip organised by GLIAS in June 1988 to Gloucestershire where we visited Lydney Harbour, Gunns Mills at Flaxley in the Forest of Dean, Gloucester Docks, the Old Sharpness Canal entrance and Sharpness Docks. It was a long day out, and we arrived back in London only just in time to run for the last train to Staines.

Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 198888-7b-21-positive_2400
Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-21

The weather wasn’t ideal, with some quite heavy rain at times, but I still took around a hundred pictures, and there are 29 of them in my album ‘GLIAS trip, Gloucestershire, 1988‘ some perhaps more interesting for their IA content than as photographs. I can’t tell you a great deal about the industrial archaeology, but I think some make interesting photographs, and others are welcome to make more technical comments either here or better on the album.

Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-24-positive_2400
Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-24
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7c-51-positive_2400
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7c-51
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7b-16-positive_2400
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7b-16

More at ‘GLIAS trip, Gloucestershire, 1988


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GLIAS 50

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Last Wednesday evening I went on a short walk with members of GLIAS, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, from City Hall to Rotherhithe, one of a number of events marking 50 years of the society.

I’ve been a member of GLIAS for much of that time, first coming across it in 1977 when I visited Kew Bridge Engines, ostensibly for the benefit of my one-year-old son, and picking up a leaflet about it there. I’m not sure whether I joined it then, or after a second visit, when we took a party of slightly older boys on an outing for one of his birthdays.

Later that same son wrote a web site for me 20 years ago as a birthday present, London’s Industrial Heritage, a rather more professional site than my own various offerings, on which the black and white pictures here can be found, along with a couple of hundred others, dating from 1973-1986. Its a nice design which creates the site from templates, a database file and of course the images using a batch file which runs a Perl script, but in some respects it is now a little dated. Back then, 550 pixels seemed a sensible size for web images.

Although I have an interest in industrial archaelogy, I lack to engineering knowledge to be a true GLIAS member, and my one real attempt at site recording as a part of the organisation was frustrating. But then I’m not always very impressed by the standards of photography in many of their communications. ‘Record photography’ is sometimes used as a perjorative term, but the best record phography has a power and resonance that is undeniable, for example some of the work of Walker Evans.

St Saviour’s Creek, 2014. We walked around its landward end this week

Our walk the other night was a reprise of one made earlier by two leading GLIAS member back in the 1970s and published in a GLIAS walk leaflet. One is now longer with us, but Professor David Perrett, now Chairman and Vice-President was there to lead us. These published walks, sent free to members also sold well for a few pence at a number of tourist sites in the area. They prompted me to produce a similar leaflet, partly as an example for a desk-top publishing course I was then teaching, on West Bermondsey
in 1992, in part based on a walk led by Tim Smith for the GLIAS Recording Group :

“a downloadable illustrated leaflet for a walk that concentrates on the industrial archaeology of the former leather area of Bermondsey in South East London. I wrote this in 1992 largely to show how simple, cheap and easy it was to produce such things with Pagemaker and a laser printer. I sold around five hundred copies over the next five years, gave some to the church in Bermondsey St to sell, and gave away many more, before deciding to put it on the web rather than bother to print any more. Although the area has changed considerably, it it still an interesting walk to follow. “

The area has changed even more since I wrote this, but you can still download and follow the walk and find much of what was there in 1992.

West Bermondsey walk leaflet (PDF)


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