newsletter-113-july-1980

Newsletter

Page 1

FUTURE OUTINGS

July 12 - Bignor and Fishbourne led by Raymond Lowe.

He says "we are returning to these two famous and important Roman sites. Both have something new to see. Bignor now has the largest mosaic pavement open to view in the country, the 80 foot North Corridor. Fishbourne have lifted the polychrone Cupid and Dolphin and found an earlier Black and White Pavement underneath. Tea is in Chichester in a Crypt."

August 16 - Northamptonshire (Isobel McPherson)

September – The September weekend – Sept. 19-20-21 at Southampton has been cancelled due to lack of support. However, Mr. David Johnston of Southampton University who was to have guided us that weekend has kindly agreed to arrange a day trip for us on September 13. Details will follow later.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

At West Heath there will be full-time digging for the week of Mon. July l4 - Fri. July 18 - as well, of course, as on the preceding and following weekends. That means committed diggers will be able to get in quite a lot of hard labour! Digging will be from 10 am – 5 pm each day, and Daphne Lorimer hopes that as many members as possible will come for as many days as they can.

It may be possible to continue with a further full-time week from Mon. July 21 - Fri. July 25 if enough members want it. Daphne would like to hear from you if you can come during either week. Please ring her and let her know.

In addition to the full-time weeks, digging continues at West Heath every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday (except on the Saturdays of HADAS outings) throughout the summer.

ROMAN PLANS. It may seem far ahead, but we hope you will note in your diary now the dates of two late autumn weekends when Roman pottery processing is planned. These are the weekends of Nov. 8 and Nov. 15. We have already, through the kind co-operation of John Enderby, booked the Teahouse, Northway, Hampstead Garden Suburb, for these dates, and will let you have a more detailed programme nearer the time.

Page 2

CALLING THE UNDER-18s

HADAS provides a special subscription for members under the age of 18 and a number of youngsters have taken this up. In addition we have several corporate school memberships.

Junior members enjoy the same rights as senior ones, except that if they want to take part in one of our digs under the age of 14 they must for safety reasons be accompanied by an adult relative who is a member. This usually doesn't present problems because many junior members have dads and mums who belong. Apart from that they can take part in outings, lectures, processing sessions, field walks and any of our research projects that interest them.

The Committee has been considering whether in addition to these activities, junior members might like either to help organise or to take part in any special activities for the junior section. If any of our under-18 members have ideas about this will they please let our Hon. Secretary know? Would you for instance be interested in working out a Town Trail based on the history of some part of the Borough? Or making a study of buildings or street names in a particular area? Or is there some other pet project you would like to put forward?

Under the Society's constitution two places are available on the HADAS Committee for junior members -and in the past these have been filled often by members in the 14-17 age-group. For the last year or two however there has been no junior representative on the Committee. If any junior member feels a yen to take part in the administration of the Society will he or she let me know?

CORRECTION

In the report in last month's Newsletter on the current exhibition at Church Farm House Museum it was stated that the building was opened as a Museum in 1955 by the Mayor, Norman Brett-James.

We regret that this was incorrect. Major Brett-James did indeed open the Museum, but he was not the Mayor. Hendon's Mayor who was present was Councillor S.E. Sharpe.

The present Secretary of the Mill Hill & Hendon Historical Society, John Collier, sent us this note on Norman Brett-James, founder-secretary of his Society and a noted local Historian:

"Major Brett-James did indeed exert some influence in Hendon. Under his stimulus this society initiated the movement leading to the preservation of Church Farm House (which is why he was invited to perform the official opening ceremony). The society also devised the Borough coat of arms, initiated the scheme for the Hendon memorial plaques, formed the nucleus of the history of aviation now in the local archives, advised on such matters as street names and assisted the Corporation in making its survey of field paths. With all these pioneer achievements of civic importance Brett-James was identified. But he was never Mayor."

MORE ABOUT MOATS

Back last September, in Newsletter 1O3, we reported on our long-drawn out campaign to have the remains of the moat at the Manor House, East End Road, Finchley, scheduled as of historic interest. Our attempts then appeared to be nearing success. Now, at long Inst, we have a letter from the Department of Environment which says that the moat is definitely scheduled and therefore has some protection if the land around it ever becomes ripe for development.

Page 3

Scheduling - the process used by the authorities for safeguarding land, as distinct from Listing which is used for buildings - is of course much rarer in the London boroughs than Listing. There are however other scheduled areas in the Borough of Barnet - notably some fields at Brockley Hill which are known to contain the sites of Roman pottery kilns. HADAS has now asked the DoE to investigate the possibility of scheduling the remains of another moat at Hadley - a fine moat still filled with water, which is near the 18th green of Old Fold Manor Golf Club. It is periodically dredged and usually produces a rich crop of lost golf balls.

APPEAL FOR WILBERFORCE'S CHURCH

St. Paul's Church, Mill Hill - William Wilberforce's church - is in the news this month. It has launched an appeal for £15,000 to restore the building.

Wilberforce, the great campaigner against slavery, retired to Highwood Hill towards the end of his life in 1825 and bought a property of 140 acres called Hendon Park (the site to-day is marked by a blue plaque). He was a leading Evangelical, and his new home was some distance from the perish church of Hendon so with the help of the Bishop of London, Bishop Blomfield, he obtained permission to build a Proprietary Chapel on the Ridgeway at Mill Hill - much to the disgust of the Rev. Theodore Williams, the notorious and quarrelsome vicar of Hendon who saw his pew-rentals diminishing. It was to be a century in fact before St. Paul's was allowed to have a parish of its own in 1926.

Church building in the early 19 c nicknamed "Commissioners Gothic" - was akin to jerry-building: the operative consideration was economy in all things. In Wilberforce's church, designed by Samuel Hood Page, the brickwork was cheap, with rendered cement: the galleries were supported by cast-iron columns. The church was built on the site of a gravel pit, given by Sir Charles Flower, a Lord Mayor of London who lived at Belmont. (Flower Lane, Mill Hill, is named after him.) The building was supported on brick arches in the gravel pit to bring it level with the road. The church cost £3,547.2s.0d., paid by Wilberforce himself who was then in financial difficulties.

St. Paul's to-day has to pay the price of these economies. There is damp on all the internal walls due to the poor quality of the brick. The exposed position of the building - on a clear day it is said that you can see Windsor Castle from the roof-top - adds to the problems. An estimate of £35,000 has been put forward for damp-proofing the walls and redecorating.

To this the Diocese will contribute £20,000, but the St. Paul's Appeal Committee hopes to raise the other £15,000 locally.

Donations can be sent to the Appeal Treasurer, Charles Surrey, at 3, Weymouth Avenue, N.W.7. A short history of the Church (on which these paragraphs are based) has been prepared by the archivist, Howard Mallatratt. This is obtainable, price 10p, at the church.

WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS

HADAS is happy to greet a number of new members who have joined us this year, and to wish them a happy membership of the Society. They are:-

Mrs. Barrie, Hendon; Miss Bay, Barnet; Ann Gillian Bond, Hendon; Vanessa Bond Finchley; Miss Bumstead, Finchley; Mrs. Canter and family, Edgware; N. P. Chandler, Hampstead; Mr. & Mrs. Cousins, North Finchley; Molly Creighton, Mill Hill; Patricia Dearing, Mill H111; Gordon Garrad, Colindale; Mr. & Mrs. Gower, N.W.9. Mr. & Mrs. Hackett and Bryan and Kirstie, Garden Suburb; Sylvia Harris, Hampstead; Irene Henderson, N.W.9; Margaret Hunt, Kensington; Peter Keeley, Mill Hill; Cynthia King, North Finchley; Anne Lawson, Garden Suburb; Peter Loos, Marylebone; Jacqui Pearce, Hendon; H. Phillips, Hampstead; Hans Porges, Finchley; Kay Susan Rider, Hendon; Miss. R. Walters, North Finchley; Mrs., Mr. E. S. and Mr. P. G. Ward, Southgate; and Louise Yeoell.

Page 4

RAIN DID NOT STOP PLAY

Maurice Cantor reports on the June outing into Warwickshire.

The weather forecast was daunting and the sheets of rain that fell from the skies were proof enough of the fore-bodings, but with true HADAS grit our intrepid party set off for the backwaters of Warwickshire. Dr. Eric Grant, who ably led the group, made some slight alterations to the itinerary as he felt that as there was a distinct possibility that we would all sink without trace into the waterlogged clay of The Midlands, so he decided to cut out the visit to the Fillongley, Motte & Bailey. Apart from this, he managed to keep to his original schedule.

Our first stop was at the Hawkesbury canal junction, the confluence of the Coventry, Oxford and Ashby canals. Armed with detailed plans of the area, which tended to get pretty soggy in the downpour, we were acquainted with the history and lay-out of the land and told of the importance of the junction to the commerce of the area, when canals were in their golden era. The canal was opened in 1769, linking Coventry with the Trent and Mersey canals to the west, Oxford to the south and Hull to the east. The area was a thriving coalfield and brick making was also an important industry. Coal mines were opened all along the canals. When one seam was worked out, another shaft was sunk a few hundred yards further along the canal, and one can find a pattern of coalheads straddling the canal all along the bank. Coal and bricks were sent down to Banbury and Oxford, while finished goods could be sent from Coventry to the Mersey. A feature of the junction was a steam pumping house built at Hawkesbury for pumping water out of the mines into the canals. The industrial archaeologists were delighted to find in 1963 the original Newcomen pumping engine dated 1725 still intact and, as this was the only engine of its type and era in existence, it was removed to the birthplace of the Newcomen engine at Dartmouth and can now be seen in the grounds of Dartmouth Park.

We went on through the lanes of the old mining countryside, through the industrial hamlets of the area, the derelict mining villages with their exotic names like Bermuda, California, Piccadilly, the towns that developed from these villages, such as Stockinford, Bedworth. All the time Dr. Grant supplied us with a fund of interesting anecdotes of the localities through which we were passing, such as in the early history of Bedworth, when the town had a notorious reputation of being a place of drunkeness and crime and was known as "Black Bedworth". A new rector came to Bedworth, a former naval chaplain, the Canon Henry Belairs. It appears the only way he could win over the respect of the tough miners of the town was by challenging the toughest of them to a fist-fight every Saturday. As he managed to win all the bouts he fought, the miners grudgingly gave him their respect. The last story, however, was the best, for as we were driving slowly through a derelict mining village, surrounded on each side by ancient tips, right off the beaten track, a local came up to Dr. Grant to offer directions to get back to the main road as he was sure we had lost our way. You can imagine the look of incredulity on the man's face when told we knew exactly where we were and where we were going!

Next stop was Griff House Hotel, the home of Mary Evans, better known as the novelist, George Eliot, where her father was Steward to the Arbury estate.

Page 5

As it was still teeming, the hotel proprietor took pity on us and we spent a comfortable hour in the hotel lounges with our packed lunches.

Our fortunes were indeed changing as, at last, the rain had stopped and the sun broke through just in time for the highlight of our trip, Arbury Hall.

The "Cheverel Manor" which appears in many of George Eliot's novels is indeed Arbury Hall and Sir Christopher Cheverel was drawn from Arbury Hall's owner, Sir Roger Newdigate. It was Sir Roger who transformed the early Elizabethan house into a Gothic one in the later 18th century and Arbury Hall and Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill at Twickenham were the first major buildings in England to feature in the Gothic revival of the day. The house has a stable building attached with a central porch designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and the house itself is filled with the most exquisite furniture, fireplaces, paintings, glass-ware and porcelain.

The Newdigate family have lived in the house since the middle of the 16th century and their direct descendents still live there today. We were a little perplexed when we found portraits of the family in the early 19th century containing a double-barrelled name, "Newdigate-Newdegate". Of course Dr. Grant had the explanation; it appeared that one side of the family spelt the name with an 'i' in the middle, whereas the other side of the family spelt it with an 'e'. To avoid a major family feud, an admirable compromise was reached. In the best British tradition, the family decided to make the name double-barrelled, with the 'e' and the 'i', which pleased everybody.

The sun, which had shone for us for most of the afternoon, brought out the beauty of the informal gardens surrounding the house and most of us walked the many paths which brought us to one delight after another.

The day was rapidly drawing to a close and after our set tea in the stable building and a quick look round the early sewing machine, bicycle and motorcycle collection, it was back to the coach for our last stop, the Church of St. Mary at Astley. The church dates back to 1343; it looks for all the world like a cathedral in miniature with most interesting 17th century wall panels. We were treated to an extra bonus as, in celebration of the centenary of the death of George Eliot, delightful floral tableaux were displayed portraying imaginative scenes taken from her works.

So our journey to Warwickshire ended. A shaft of light had been thrown on apart of the world few of us had ever thought about, but the sights and impressions of the journey will long be etched in our memories. We are all indebted to Dr. Grant, who worked so hard to make the day so interesting. Thanks also to Tessa Smith for doing the "admin" so efficiently.

COALBROOKDALE IN LONDON

A note from Bill Firth.

Those who attended the April lecture on the Ironbridge Gorge Museum will recall that Mr. Lawley mentioned a nwnber of Coalbrookdale artefacts in London.

In connection with the 200th anniversary of the bridge the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) has researched the whereabouts of these artefacts and the following list of the more important (reproduced thanks to GLIAS) may be of interest to members.

Macclesfield Bridge, Regents Park (opposite Avenue Road, NW8)

- otherwise known as "Blow-up Bridge" on account of the explosion of a gunpowder barge underneath it in October 1874. The brick arch bridge rests on cast iron columns clearly marked Coalbrookdale. The bridge was originally erected in 1812-16.

Great Exhibition Gates (1850)

- now marking the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens opposite Exhibition Road, SW7.

Page 6

Victoria Gates. Kew Gardens (Kew Road, opposite Lichfield Road)

- marked Coalbrookdale on lock plates.

Bandstand. Greenwich Park. Great Cross Avenue, SE1O (ca 189O)

- Coalbrookdale ironwork.

Water Carrier Statue at foot of Blackfriars Bridge, EC1.

- Designed for the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountains Association; 1861.

Eagle Slaver Statue outside Bethnal Green Museum, Cambridge Heath Road, E2.

- The bowman, who has lost his bow, was originally inside a "cage" decorated with eagles.

Abbev Mills Sewage Pumping Station, Abbey Lane, West Ham, E5.

- Beam engine by the Lilleshall Company, 1895.

Lamp Standards; Outside the Russell Hotel, Russell Square, WC1. Outside the City of London School for Boys, Victoria Embankment, Blackfriars, EC1. In Trafalgar Square, WC2 - on traffic island at top of Whitehall.

The Gamble Room (restaurant) Victoria and Albert Museum.

- Tile pavement and other ceramics by Maw and Company.

Many late Victorian pubs had an abundance of tiles, mosaic and architectural faience made by Maw and Company. One known surviving example (1896) is the Old Tiger's Head, 351 Lee High Road, Lee Green, SE12.

CHURCH TERRACE REPORTS No. 6 – FARTHINGS

Continuing the series, Edward Sammes deals this month with the humble, but defunct, farthing. This report should be read bearing in mind what has already been written on Jettons and Galley Halfpence (Reports 4 and 5). The farthing, or fourthling, has a long history, which ended in 1956 when the farthing of our present monarch, bearing on its reverse side a wren, was withdrawn, a victim of inflation.

During the Middle Ages there was no official base metal coinage and until 1279 there were no silver farthings. This issue was made in the reign of Edward I, together with halfpennies. This in theory brought to an end the system of the Saxon and Norman kings, whereby these two denominations were made by halving or quartering the silver penny. The arms of the cross on the reverse side of the coin was a useful guide. However, this practice gave rise to fraud, pieces being cut off the quarters and smelted down and perhaps even being divided into five sections! The introduction of the long cross penny in 1247 by Henry III made this practice, and that of trimming the circumference, more difficult.

Throughout the Medieval period and into the 17th century, too few silver farthings were issued. Illegal private 'tokens' finally caused James I to sanction the striking of base metal farthings in 1613. These were not made by the normal Mints, but their production was granted to Lord Harrington. The profit from these tokens, which do not bear a royal head, was divided 25% to Harrington and the remainder to James I.

Page 7

Charles I continued this system, by which time the patent was held by the Duchess of Richmond and Sir Francis Crane. In 1625, this exclusive right was granted to them for a period of 17 years in exchange for which they would pay the King 100 marks annually.

As before, to facilitate and encourage their use, the patentees were forced to sell 21 shillings worth of farthing tokens for 20 shillings sterling. Counterfeiting of these coins was rife and in 1635/6 a new grant was made, this time to Lord Maltravers and Sir Francis Crane for a term of 21 years. These new tokens were the so-called "rose farthings" which carried a Tudor rose and crown instead of the harp and crown previously used.

Two such rose farthings were found in the excavation, one well preserved and a second badly corroded and cracked across the centre. Officially these coins could always be changed for silver coin of the realm and were only to be used for the payment of small sums to those willing to accept them.

In April 1643, the House of Commons ordered a Mr. Playter to cease striking these tokens and all stocks and tools were seized. Striking of farthings was soon resumed, but under Parliamentary control. Production possibly ceased in December 1644. Various tokens, not necessarily issued by tradesmen, were issued during the periods of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate.

During the early years of Charles II, there was still a shortage of small change, but an announcement in the London Gazette dated 25th July 1672 ordered that in future "no person should make, coin or otherwise use any other farthings or tokens except such as should be coined in His Majesty's Mint".

Difficulties were experienced in working the copper and for a period blanks were imported from Sweden. These farthings bore the head of the Monarch on the obverse and Britannia on the reverse.

One such farthing was found in trench D4. It was badly corroded but identifiable.

Owing to the forgeries appearing, some farthings were later struck in tin with a copper plug to make counterfeiting difficult.

The farthing, when finally withdrawn in 1956, had spanned from 1279 as a separate coin. In base metals it spanned 17 reigns, the coin in base metal, which had the longest existence.

The study of the farthing issues of the Stuarts is very complicated. For more detailed reading, Peck's "English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins" should be consulted.

Page 8

For further reading: -

North J.J. - English Hammered Coinage. Vol.2. Spink & Sons Ltd. 1960.

Peck. - English, Copper, Tin & Bronze Coins 1558-1958. British Museum. 1970.

Seaby H.A. - Standard Catalogue of British Coins - England & The United Kingdom 11th edition 1972.

Sealy D.L.F. - Farewell to Farthings - Two articles in Coins & Medals, 1966, Vol. 3, pages 564-570 and 620-623.

THE TUNNEL-TIGER'S TALE

Percy Reboul's transcript of a tape recording.

I was born in 1901 at Stepney. My father was a tunnel miner too, and when he worked on the Oakleigh Park and Wood Green tunnels we moved to Muswell Hill. I went to Cromwell Road School and left at 14.

My first job was with my father. He was working on the Post office Tube Railway which runs from Paddington to Mount Pleasant and that was my first time underground. My grandfather was also a tunnel miner and he was what they call the 'walking ganger' or the 'walking boss' on the Oakleigh Park and Wood Green tunnel and my father worked with him as a leading miner.

I started off as a tea boy for about a year and gradually went down the tunnels with my father driving a little cart pulling out the muck as the miners got it out. In those days we did about 5 feet of tunnel a day. We worked two 12-hour shifts, one on day and one on night - 6.30 in the morning or 6.30 at night - six days a week. We worked a week of days and a week of nights. Pay was a guinea a shift but when I first started I got 15/- a week.

The work is as dangerous and as hard as coal mining although they work in a smaller space. Average tunnels are 12ft 3in: the first one that was done was 10 feet on the old City and South London - what they called the 'tuppeny tube'. I worked on enlarging that original tunnel.

In my early days there was no protective clothing. In some places, if you were in bad ground and had to have compressed air put in (to keep back the water) you could be working in a temperature of 80-90F but come outside the airlock and it would be freezing. You come out every 8 hours if you are working in compressed air. We worked by candle light. The candles were put in a metal holder with a spike, which you stuck in the ground. The gang would be given a packet of candles as they went down and you lit as many as was necessary to see the job. Many times you had to walk to work. My father walked from Muswell Hill to Hackney Wick every day just to get to work. He would get up about 4 a.m. There was no transport then as there is today.

The miners were generally fit men. I've never had a serious illness. You were not allowed to work in compressed air if you had a cold. You had to go before a doctor before you went into the tunnel and the doctor would say "not today" and you had to go home. You could take cigarettes into work and occasionally they might take a bottle of beer.

On tunnelling you have 8 men in the gang: one leading miner, three miners and four back-fillers who load the muck into skips which are pushed on rails out of the pit. I was an Inspector on part of the Central Line tunnels and one of my jobs was to check the line and level of the tunnels. This was done by two plumb lines fitted up by the civil engineers. One line is on the face of the tunnel and one back about 20 feet. You line up the two and a good miner never goes wrong.

Page 9

About 1934/35, I worked for Charles Brand on the Finsbury Park to Cockfosters Piccadilly Line underground tunnel. We were paid a guinea a shift. The tunnel runs from Finsbury Park through Wood Green end runs into the open at Arnos Grove. I was leading miner at Wood Green. Just beyond the station is what they call a cross-over road where the train changes direction. It's a telescope tunnel which gets gradually bigger starting at 12 feet then through 14 feet and 16 feet until it gets to 27 feet.

I was an Inspector on the Liverpool Street to Newbury Park on the Central Line. I was employed by the Consulting Engineers and we were down 70 feet in the London clay which was good ground. I had to make out a report every night on the nature of the ground or strata.

As a rule you don't find things in tunnels. I spent 16 years tunnel mining for the Cities of Westminster and London building and maintaining sewers. We were doing a tunnel at Fenchurch Street/Mincing Lane when all of a sudden I came across a wall. It was all chalk. The Chief Engineer came down and said I was to knock a hole through it which I did. It was about 18 inches thick. We shone our torches through and it was full of Roman pottery, different kinds or pots. The Archaeologist came down and the guvnor said to me "Don't break them. I'll get the contractors to send you down some baskets". We had 10 baskets full of pots and when we knocked off work the guvnor said "Have you got all those pots out Fred?" I said "Some of them are broke, it's no good saving them". He said "Where have you left them?" I said "Down there". He said "God, don't leave them down there, go down and watch them. They will send a lorry round". When the lorry came it had four Police escorts to take them round to the Guildhall. They are in the British Museum now.

There was a lot of Roman stuff. I was doing a job in London Wall once and the engineer said "Be very careful when you go down there, Fred". (I was sinking a pit to start tunnelling). "You might come across the gate of London. We're expecting to find them just here. If you do find it - stop!" I never did.

The Mersey Tunnel.

Tunnel miners are proud of the Mersey tunnel it being the largest underwater tunnel in the world: 44 feet in diameter. For a start we dug 3 ordinary tunnels right through - a bottom one to take surplus water coming through crevices in the rocks. At one point we were only 3 ft below the bed of the river. We built the first 100 'rings' by hand, no machinery. My father was in charge of that. He was the ganger. My father, my 2 brothers and myself each had a gang - 24 people to the gang. A lot of them were Irish (being Liverpool) and we were picked men. I was on the top of the tunnel bolting on a metal segment when the spanner slipped and I fell face-first on the rock below. We had 3 or 4 people killed. The Labour Exchange sent 30 men to the shaft, every shift every day, in case anyone regular didn't turn up for work.

Tunnel-Tigers are a particular breed of men. It's in the blood. My father was classed as the finest clay miner in London although he did say he thought I was better. You're all a happy gang together, laughing and singing as you work. Now they have a transistor radio. Today it's all mechanical work - a lot easier. I've come home on a morning with my flannel shirt so soaked in sweat that you can wring it out. Most miners wore flannel shirts for warmth and for soaking up the sweet. We were more content in the old days.


Comments