newsletter-099-may-1979

Newsletter

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SUMMER DIGGING PLANS

...at West Heath - a note from DAPHNE LORIMER.

Digging will begin at West Heath for the 1979 season (our fourth) on Sunday, May 20. Last year's back-filling will be removed and the trenches laid out during the previous week-end. We are not opening up on Sat. May 19 because there is a Society outing then. It is hoped that, by that time, the weather will have recovered from its usual spring 'vapours' and will permit our efforts to go ahead uninterrupted by rain or sleet. (Should an unexpected heat wave occur in early May, diggers are urged to ring me, as an earlier start would obviously be desirable).

It is hoped to dig, as usual, from 10 am-5 pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (except Saturdays of HADAS outings). There are 10 trenches, started in 1978, to be finished, and these are the richest of the whole site. The tool-types recovered last year from these part-dug trenches nearly equal in number the total from all other trenches put together; and the total number of struck flakes from these 10 trenches slightly exceeds the total for the whole 1976 dig, when 29 trenches were concerned. The 10 trenches plus the intervening undug squares therefore: promise exciting and rewarding digging. It is not proposed to continue the excavation after the end of September and, unless there is strong pressure, excavations will not take place during the main holiday period, mid-July to mid-August. Nor will there be a training dig this year. It is hoped to have a full-time week - probably at the beginning of September. Since the season will be shorter than in previous years, it is hoped that members will make every effort; to turn up in large numbers to excavate this very rewarding area.

... and at Church Crescent Finchley - news from PADDY MUSGROVE.

As announced last month, we had hoped by now to have resumed digging at Finchley in continuation of last year's Rectory Close excavation.

There have, however, been some problems concerning access. As soon as these have been overcome, I will advise the starting date to all those who have already volunteered to work on this site. Although publication of last year's work must await the completion of this year's dig, one interesting by-product of the 1978 season can be reported now. On the site we were approached by the caretaker of the nearby old people's flats in Rectory Close, who asked if we knew anything about bottles. He then led the way to a garden plot where the soil contained a considerable quantity of broken bottle glass and which had yielded three intact corked bottles containing liquid. The "contents of one bottle," kindly examined for us by Mr. Alfred King FPS, turned out to be - water!

The bottle, of green glass, is moulded without any seam and has an applied lip about 13 mm. deep. The lip retains traces of a hard dark-grey material presumably used for sealing the original cork. The bottle is well shaped, but with one large "tear" and various smaller ones. Its neck is relatively short - about 50 mm. out of a total height of 232 mm. The sides are straight and the diameter of the base is 80 mm. The diameter just below the shoulder is about 2 mm. more. A shallow depression in the base, together with a central moulded 'pimple' are hangovers of the old kick and pontil mark. The cork, though slightly decomposed, was still airtight. The bottle has a capacity of approx. 70 cl. i.e. that of a modern European wine bottle, and is 'un-English' in general appearance.

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Finchley water supplies of over 100 years ago were none too savoury. Could these bottles have held supplies from some more acceptable source? What was the idea of burying them? To keep the contents cool? Has any one come across this practice elsewhere? Comments would be welcomed.

MAY 5TH - A DATE FOR OUR SURVEYORS

Thanks to the vagaries of the British winter, our superb new level has remained unused during the past few months; and newly learnt skills have, no doubt, rusted. It is therefore proposed that a survey will be made of the location of a possible old moat or pond in the grounds of the demolished Grove House, off The Burroughs, NW4. Members who helped to survey the mound in nearby St. Joseph's Convent will remember a long narrow pond which still exists there. On early maps this is shown continuing for some distance northwards into what is now Hendon Grove public park.

Will all members interested in brushing up their surveying please let Daphne Lorimer know and arrive at the entrance to the park (beside the fire station in The Burroughs) at 10 am on Sat. May 5? Please bring notebook and pencil. Barrie Martin will lead the operation.

THE KITCHEN AT CHURCH FARM HOUSE MUSEUM

Many members will have heard with regret that this attractive kitchen was recently burgled. Here it is described by GERRARD ROOTS, a HADAS member who is Museum Assistant at Church Farm House, where he was appointed some months ago when Harry Todd retired.

Although Church Farm House is a 17th c. building, the kitchen is arranged as it might have been at the beginning of the 19th c. Of most interest is the large fireplace, which was uncovered during the restoration of the Museum. The fireplace had been bricked in and a range introduced, presumably in the 19th c. As it stands now, the fireplace, with its sophisticated chimney crane and weighted spit-jack, represents the highest stage of kitchen development before the widespread use of cooking ranges, thanks to mass-production in the 1850s.

Of the larger items in the kitchen may be noted a massive refectory table, an early 19th, c. We1sh dresser and a plate-warmer of a type so unusual as to suggest that it was home-made. Smaller items of interest include a fine example of a salamander - used for browning food - floor and table rushlight holders, a curious Victorian glass fly trap, and stone jars for beer stamped with the names of Hendon brewers.

The fireplace has been photographed recently, and it is hoped that a blown-up photograph, together with a diagrammatic key to the objects in the fireplace, will soon be on display at the Museum. In addition, a leaflet is being produced which will give a more detailed description of the contents of the kitchen. The Museum's stock of kitchen material has been sadly depleted in the last few months. In part this has been due to the return of a number of pieces which had been on loan since 1959 from the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading. In addition, a burglary at the Museum at the end of February removed several articles of value; including a fine copper kettle and a 17th c. child's cradle. As a result, we are most anxious to build up our collection of domestic items again. At the moment there are no funds available to purchase items, but the Museum would welcome donations of domestic material especially - but not exclusively - material pre-1900.

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The kitchen attracts a great deal of interest from visitors to the Museum. We hope by an increased collection and by documentation of material to attract even more.

Note: HADAS members who have kitchen objects which they would be prepared either to donate or lend to the Museum may care to ring Mr. Roots (during Museum hours) to discuss possibilities with him.

RESCUE RECORDING AT NEW SOUTHGATE

During this winter, HADAS member Harold Cover has been doing a good deal of tombstone recording. In addition to being part of the group which, under the leadership of Ann Trewick, is working in the churchyard of St. James the Great, Friern Barnet, Harold also kindly volunteered to do a small piece of rescue recording which was needed at New Southgate {formerly Great Northern) Cemetery, where - taking the cemetery as a whole - 170000 people ate buried and there are sections for different religions -Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jewish and C. of E.

Last summer HADAS learnt that the company which runs this cemetery intended, if planning permission could be obtained, to allow a small part of the land to be developed for housing. Some 70 graves might be affected. Accordingly we sought permission to record any of the stones which were legible. The company was most co-operative, and we are very grateful to them. Arrangements were made for Mr. Cover to do the work this winter.

The cemetery had been opened in 1861 and all the graves concerned were in the oldest part, known as 'W' section. It was the custom in mid-Victorian times for London parishes to lease ground in the new cemeteries then being made in what is now outer London. 'W' section was leased by the parish of St. George the Martyr, Bloomsbury, and early interments were exclusively from the Bloomsbury area.

In fact only 19 stones were sufficiently legible to record, and those took a bit of unearthing, as 'W' section is densely overgrown, with saplings sprouting from graves and sometimes splitting the stones. Harold describes the preliminary work as "hacking and scraping!"

In addition to the stones he recorded, both with inscriptions and careful drawings, he was able to obtain from the cemetery Superintendent the official record of interments. This does not give inscriptions, but it provides some valuable information: the name of the person buried, his address, date of burial, age, number of the grave and the person responsible for it. A breakdown of this information shows that the total number of graves in W section, was 74, in which there were 229 interments. The majority of burials were therefore of paupers" in common graves with no headstone or grave identification, though there may at the outset have been wooden markers. Nothing remains of these markers today, so the a Superintendent's list is the only evidence. The Superintendent also provided a plan of the area which originally came under the parish of St. George, with the grave numbers concerned.

No interments have taken place in this part of the cemetery since the beginning of the first war, so the period covered is exclusively 1861-1914. Mr. Cover points out that the addresses on the Superintendent's list are interesting because they suggest, for instance, that one place - No. 21 New Ormond St, Queen Square - must have been an institution (perhaps a workhouse or hospital) since 22 of those buried in the 1860-70s came from there. Inmates of other workhouses and hospitals are mentioned: Middlesex Hospital, St. Marylebone Workhouse, Charing Cross Hospital, Colney Hatch Asylum, Caterham Asylum, the Consumption Hospital at Hampstead, Islington Workhouse, Holborn Union Infirmary and St. Lukes Workhouse.' The first burial from a parish other than St. George's, Bloomsbury, occurs in 1868, when Fanny Aldred, of Friern Park, aged 5 months, is buried. Later there are burials from Southgate, Hornsey, Highbury, Crouch End, New Barnet, Kilburn, Stoke Newington, East Barnet and other places.

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The Great Northern Cemetery had its own small railway station (see Newsletter No. 77, July 1977, for more about this), the signal box of which, called Cemetery Up, remained in existence until about four years ago. It is, however, rather surprising to find that the address of one person buried is given as "Great Northern Cemetery' station. What is the story behind this? Who was Phyllis Eveline Lovell, aged 36, buried in 1883? Was there a resident porter or station master, and was she his wife? Was she a vagrant who sheltered on the station only to die there? It seems too macabre to suggest that she was a mourner at another funeral, stricken down suddenly on the platform and promptly buried!

Of the stones which Mr. Cover recorded, the one which takes us furthest back in time is that of Sara Bailey, who died On May 29, 1871, at the age of 92. She is a direct link with the 18th c. and was born before the French Revolution. Her headstone does not record where she lived, but the cemetery records do at 20 Queen Square, Holborn.

SUMMER OUTINGS

By Dorothy Newbury.

Was it the postal strike or the wintry weather that held members back on our projected April outing? Regrettably it had to be cancelled through lack of numbers.

SAT. MAY 19. Our outing into Kent is packed with interest and I am sure will bring the applications flooding in again. Please complete the enclosed form and send it to me with your remittance as soon as possible.

SAT. JUNE 16. (please note change of date - not June 9 as stated in the last Newsletter) will give us a day out in the Maidenhead area, led by our vice-chairman Mr. Ted Sammes who now lives there. Ted always managed to bring out the unusual and unpublicised details on his outings.

SAT. JULY 14 takes us on a return trip to Coventry. It is seven years since we last visited The Lunt -the reconstructed Roman fort ~ and much additional work has been done since then. This trip will be led by Dr. Eric Grant, who has taken us on many successful outings in the past.

SAT. AUG. 18 will be the last day trip of the season. Raymond Lowe will take us to Castle Acre in northwest Norfolk, the site of the Cluniac Prior founded by William de Warrenne in 1090, along with one of the grandest motte and bailey castles in England. Time permitting, we will also visit moated Oxburgh Hall.

Sept. 19-23. Our long weekend has reverted to autumn - five days in North Wales, arranged by Jeremy Clynes. Application forms have already been sent out, and the coach is full, with a short waiting list. Anyone else who might be interested is very welcome to have their name added to it.

ALL ABOUT PEOPLE

Congratulations to Joanna Corden and small son Gregory Hamilton, who made his safe arrival in the world a few weeks back. Joanna, now on maternity leave from her job as Borough Archivist, is well-known to Newsletter readers through her recent series of articles on archives.

Good news, too, from long-standing HADAS member Harry Lawrence, who is glad to see the back of what was, for him, 'a long, tough winter. F1u and chest trouble laid him low, and we missed him greatly at lectures; now, he is better and plans to join some of the summer outings.

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Congratulations also to Margaret Maher and Dave King, two West Heath stalwarts, who have been accepted by the Institute of Archaeology for full-time university courses starting next autumn.

And welcome back to several HADAS members who had spells in hospital this winter but are now out and about again: Nicole Douek, Laurie Gevell and Liz Aldridge.

THE ETRUSCANS - NOT SO ENIGMATIC AFTER ALL

Anne Thompson reports on the April lecture.

"The Etruscans are not so familiar because they did not leave a literature like the Greeks and Romans, but in their time they were as important," said Geoffrey Toms in his talk on April 3. Yet they were a dominant group of powerful independent city states growing up in the 8th Co and reaching their apogee in the 5th CG BC. Their wealth was based on metal resources which attracted trade from every corner of the then-known world, seen in the objects in their tombs. Rome itself developed under Etruscan (Tarquin) kings and only in the 3rd c. shook them off and itself emerged as a world power.

They are enigmatic insofar ns their language in a borrowed Latin or Greek script, was not fully understood yet, and because there is little direct evidence of the living Etruscans on archaeological sites. Their hill top towns overlooking fertile, farmlands are largely unexcavated, being built over by the: medieval towns of Tuscany. Etruscan carved stone work was built into medieval walls. Recent work at Masarotto, north of the Arno, has however excavated one street grid plan.

More than any other people they actually reproduced the life of the living in huge "cities of the dead" outside their settlements, and these are accessible to archaeologists. As a result, this sophisticated society is no longer enigmatic as once it was. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids, these cemeteries housed the remains of tens of thousands of families of all classes. Air photography reveals landscapes entirely covered with tumuli arranged in "streets", with street doors surmounted by family names, tombs cut out of the soft tufa rock to form completely realistic houses inside, with. a knowledge of corbelled and cantilever roofs. A series of excellent slides showed details of the stone-carved beds, furniture, household objects and weapons which accompanied the dead, especially fine in the Tomb of Reliefs at Cerveteri. The vivid colours and fresh, lively details of wall paintings particularly at Tarquinii, depicting scenes of feasting, dancing and hunting, gave a strong impression of Etruscan enjoyment of the quality of life. Finely made bronze work and jewellery showed a strong Greek influence but entirely transformed to their own more "human" style.

At question time one member ~ a dental surgeon by profession - told of his delight at finding in the museum at Florence several Etruscan skulls with bridging plates in the lower jaw - some in gold and some (presumably poorer patients) in bronze!

A few days after the Etruscan lecture the Editor met a HADAS member, a doctor, in the local supermarket. "1 couldn't get away from Hospital last Tuesday," she said. "I wanted to go to that lecture badly, but I expect there'll be a good write-up in the Newsletter. The reports on lectures are: usually excellent."

For that unsolicited testimonial the Newsletter is most grateful: but it is even more grateful to the members who so kindly and willingly agree to write reports. We sieze this chance, at the end of the lecture season, to thank all those who contributed in this way last winter: Edgar Lewy, Paul Craddock, Lilly Lewy. (who "covered" the Christmas party for us), Helen Gordon, Enid Hi11, Bi11 Firth and Anne Thompson. May their pens grow ever stronger!

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THE TRAVELLER'S TALE

Another in the series, by PERCY REBOUL of transcripts from tape recordings.

I am 86 years old, was born in Bermondsey, and worked for over 40 years as a commercial traveller. I went to an ordinary Board School in Bermondsey. In those days they had a 'labour' exam and if you passed it you could leave school at 13 - which I did.

I started work immediately afterwards with Dunn Bros, leather manufacturers who made materials for bookbinding. The job was advertised (I think in the Daily Mail) and I did clerical work - invoices and wage sheets.

After about 3 years a friend told me of a clerical job in a firm called Dussek Bros. The firm started, I believe, in 1828, when Mr. Dussek took a 40-gallon barrel of naphtha on a truck down a major Bermondsey shopping centre with its barrows on both sides of the road. The stalls were lit by naphtha flares and he supplied the costermongers with a 'fill' for their lamps. He then bought pitch from the gasworks, which he made into a caulking compound and sold to the Deptford victualling yards. He built up the business from there.

The wage was 10s. a week, but the firm was just round the cornet from where we lived. The firm supplied materials such as creosote, putty, pitch and bitumen to builders' merchants. To give you some idea of prices in 1908, creosote was 4d a gallon (I saw a gallon can the other day for £1.78p); putty was 4s.6d a hundredweight!

When I returned from the war in 1920, the guv'nor offered me a job on the road. My customers were builders' merchants in London, but as time went by a lot of building started on the outskirts of London and we took to supplying direct to builders. When I first started selling in North London I used buses to travel. A ld fare on the tram took me to the Thames bridges. I walked over the bridge and took buses to call on my customers. A lot of time was spent waiting for buses, so the firm bought an open Morris 2-seater. The South London traveller used it one week and I would use it the other. The trouble was that neither of us knew how to service it and it eventually broke down. Having got used to a car I couldn't do without one, so I asked the guv'nor to lend me enough money to buy a Clyno - one of the worst cars I ever bought as the makers were going broke at the time. Amazingly, I earned enough to pay the guv'nor back with ease, but in 9 months the car was a wreck.

My main customers in Barnet were Prentice Bros, Chivers Bros and a big glazing firm, Central Tile & Glazing Co, to whom we sold putty. Today, only Chivers Bros remains, although under new management, and they are a first-class firm. I knew the Chivers brothers personally. The brother that did the buying was a difficult man. If I quoted him 1s.9d for American turps he would ring up a competitor in my presence and try to get a better price. A typical order from the firm in those days would be a hundredweight of putty, 5 gallons of American turps, 5 gallons of turps substitute and 14 lbs. of pitch - total cost about £10. Later, as they grew in size., they would buy 40 gallons of creosote at a time.

In the early days delivery was by horse and cart. We had our own stables and liverymen. In about 1925 lorries were brought in. We had 3 coopers for making the barrels which were returnable at 10s.

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We had a tremendous export trade. We sent out drums of coal tar at 4 1/2d a gallon to Africa for delivery to Tanganyika where the railways were being built. We had our own barges and the materials were sent from Surrey Docks. When they arrived at the African depot, natives carrying a can in either hand travelled on foot up country for many miles to the site where the tar was required.

Dussek's factory was a collection of old buildings with a canal behind. The pitch shop, for example, was in an open building which housed huge open 5-ton vats heated by an open fire burning wood and coal. On one terrible occasion the vat caught fire, boiled over and a workman was burned to death.

The whiting for the putty came by sailing barge from Purfleet - about 60 tons at a time. A gang of our own workers would contract to unload it for a price. The first thing they did was to get 4 gallons of beer from the local pub to wash down the dust. Once the job was started, it had to be finished in one go. They took large sacks down into the bottom of the barge, filled them with whiting, climbed up a vertical ladder to the deck carrying these one-cwt sacks; crossed the canal and into the putty shed via a runway of boards which bounced up and down. Learners had problems in working out the 'bounce' and would often fall off with their hundred-weight bags on top of them. The work was terribly hard.

EXERCISE HAY-TEDDER - A CONTRIBUTION TO LOCAL INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY

By Nigel Harvey.

In the middle of March Council workmen clearing scrub along the south-west corner of Arrandene Open Space, opposite the junction of Wise Lane and Parkside, Mill Hill, uncovered a long-abandoned agricultural machine. One of its two wheels was broken but otherwise it was in quite good condition. Mr. Philip Bloom, a local resident who by happy chance combines agricultural and engineering experience, recognised it as a hay tedder and informed the Society of the find. The immediate problem, its removal to a safe place, was solved by the Secretary with varied local co-operation. Mr. Chris Ower of College Farm, Finchley, kindly offered it an appropriate temporary home and the Territorial Army equally kindly offered to move it there. On March 25, by courtesy of the Commanding Officer, Major Burton, a detachment from 240 Squadron, Royal Corps of Transport (Volunteers), under Mr. Kevin Nisbet, arrived by land rover and lorry with a remarkable multi-purpose lifting and shifting vehicle called an Eager Beaver and carried it off to Finchley. The whole task was completed in under 2 hours. The Society is most grateful to all concerned.

Physically this rusty relic recalls Emmett rather than sunny hayfields. But its historical interest is considerable, for it tells us much about the life and work of our remote as well as our recent ancestors.

Until the general use of root crops in the l8th c, grass dried into hay by exposure to sun and wind was the only winter fodder available for the ruminant livestock on which the farmer depended for milk, meat, leather and power. So the supply and quality of hay were major limiting factors to food production. But haymaking is a laborious process which involves the cutting, repeated movement and final stacking of more than a ton of easily damaged material for every large beast inwintered. Further, the time for cutting grass when it is at its best and for making it into hay are at the mercy of a singularly unpredictable climate. Nobody knows bettor than the farmer that one should make hay while the sun shines. But he also knows that, within certain limits of time, he must make hay whether it shines or not. Speed or working alone can avoid or decrease the damage which nature can inflict at will. Our ancestors, working with scythe and rake and the power of the human body (which engineers reckon at one-eighth of a mechanical horsepower) must have suffered fearful wastage of both quantity and quality of hay in bad seasons. And when hay was scarce, first animals and then men went short of food. It is significant, that the symbol of the patron saint of farming, the forgotten Walstan of Bawburgh, was not a plough but a hay rake. The tradition continued. Readers of Mrs Gaskell's mild classic will remember that in Cranford in the early 1800s hay at the proper season was permitted subject at the most aristocratic country tables ... and the state of clouds or of the weather-glass were inquired into as diligently as speculations on the St. Leger or calculations of a contested election." There were centuries of actual or potential hunger behind such conversations.

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Yet it was long before haymaking was mechanised. Ploughing and cultivating were mechanised, in the sense that animal power replaced human power, very early. Haymaking was not mechanised until the first half of the 19th c, when the horse drawn mower, the horse drawn rake and the horse drawn tedder began to replace human muscles and hand tools. The tedder, which by a system of rotating tines spreads and scatters the grass to speed drying, played an important part in this technical revolution. Indeed it was originally called "the haymaking machine," an exaggerated but not wholly unjustified name for an implement which so greatly eases the task of enabling nature to convert grass into hay.

The tedder now at College Farm was manufactured by Bamfords Ltd of Utoxeter, a famous agricultural machinery firm founded in 1839 and still going strong. It carries a number, apparently 11308, but its date of manufacture is unknown since records of sale have been destroyed. But it is an example of a model called "Progress" which was first marketed in 1885 (and continued in production until the end of the second world war.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The original wording of the Newsletter is as follows: "(Opposite we reproduce a page of Bamford's 1892 catalogue, showing the "Progress" in all its glory.)" As it is not possible to transcribe pictures, please look at the image of page 9 of the original Newsletter by selecting the following link.

Original text continues ---

It illustrates the skill of the early Victorian engineers who invented a machine which in basic design changed little for over a century, and of their successors who so successfully mass-produced it. In addition, however, it shows agricultural change.

For sometime in the later 1930s, a date which Mr. Bloom established by the type of welding used, a drawbar was fitted to this horse drawn tedder to convert it to tractor haulage. So the tedder reflects one of the greatest of all technological changes, the coming to the fields of cheap reliable and versatile inorganic power.

Presumably this tedder was abandoned when farming ceased in the area. So it also illustrates more change. It was left in a corner of a farmer's field. It was found in a suburban recreation ground.

Getting the hay tedder into Chris Ower's care at College Farm ought, we feel, be only stage one of its reclamation. What HADAS would like to do is to repair the machine (the main item, which might require some blacksmithing, is the re-attachment of the detached-wheel) and to rub it down and repaint it. Bamfords say the original colour was sky-blue, with the wheels picked out in scarlet, so it would make ~ colourful item for the collection of farm byegones which Mr. Ower talks of trying to build up at College Farm.

Are there any members who would be prepared to undertake such a project this summer? If so, please let Brigid Grafton Green know - your help will be much appreciated.

DON'T FORGET THIS MOST IMPORTANT DATE - TUES. MAY 15, 8 pm, CENTRAL LIBRARY NW4 : THE HADAS AGM.

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