Newsletter-166-December-1984

 

NEWSLETTER 166                                                                                                        December 1984

HADAS DIARY

SATUTDAY December 1                              Christmas Party – An Arabian Night

                                                                                At the Meritage Club, Hendon. There are

        Still places available if anyone would like      to join us. Don’t worry about costume if you haven’t time. Do come – if you have lost your application         form, ring Dorothy Newbury on 203 0950

SATURDAY December 8                              9.30am – 12.30 pm. End of sale at Hillary Press, 75 Church Road, Hendon NW4 (rear of Hendon Times newspaper office.) There are still quite         a few books and other odds and ends left from the minimart – everything at cut price.

1985

Tuesday January 8                                             The hero of Regent’s Park, John Nash by Dr. Ann Saunders.

Tuesday February 9                                          Writing in Roman Britain, evidence from Vindolanda and Bath by Mark Hassall

Tuesday March 5                                               West Heath Excavation by Daphne Lorimer

Tuesday April 2                                                 Aerial Photography by Christopher Stanley

THE DISAPPEARING DOCKLANDS

BILL FIRTH reports on the November lecture

The lecture was given by Dr R J M Carr, Docklands History Survey officer of the Docklands History Group. His subject - the industrial archaeology of London Docklands - is topical following the closure of the docks and their redevelopment, since a great deal of the physical remains of the Port of London is rapidly disappearing. This explains Bob Carr's appointment - it is heartening to know that there is such an awareness of the need to record as much as possible before it disappears. As a specialist and an enthusiast, Dr Carr did not disappoint us.

Essentially he took us on a slide tour of docklands as they are today showing us the points of interest. Ironically, when the docks were operating security demanded that they were surrounded by high walls and there was little to see from the land side. Now they are closed, the walls have come down but unfortunately other features have gone too in this demolition,

There is, however, still much to see, it is a pity that the docklands cover some 20 square miles and are therefore not partic­ularly suitable for exploration on foot, so it is difficult to follow in Dr Carr's trail. He said that he does occasionally organise cycle tours.

The docks, were originally built to relieve congestion on the river where all ships were anchored and the goods trans-shipped to lighters for landing at the customs quays. Some authorities have also suggested that pilfering was rife, but it is now thought that this is a doubtful premise. There is little evidence that the merchants concerned complained of pilfering and even when the docks were built there was a great deal of goods out of the docks by water with considerable possibilities for the illegal acquisition of goods, There is no evidence of much loss then.

Dr Carr reminded us that because of the proximity of Lloyds underwriters, London was also a major shipbuilding centre up to the 1860s when the railways made access to other centres easier,

At that date shipbuilding but not ship repairing - in London declined quite rapidly.

Dr Carr gave us good time for questions and the lively discussion which followed his talk showed the interest which he had generated.

APOLOGETIC POSTSCRIPT: The November Newsletter forgot to say who was the author of the lively report of our first lecture of the 1984-85 season. -It was LILLY LEWY. We thank her very much and apologise for omitting her by-line - she deserved much credit for her excellent reporting job.

MESOLITHIC  STATISTICS

MARGARET MAHER provides a round-up of the 1984 digging season at West Heath.

It seems a good time now that digging is finished for 1984 and the site backfilled to produce a few statistics for the mathematically inclined.

Seventy-four people have been involved with the site this season, nearly one half being new members, including two Institute of Archaeology and five extra mural students. Three non-members came along to discover what archeology was about.

Twenty-one square metres were excavated- and although final figures are not yet available flint artefacts and burnt stone should each reach totals of c.6,000.  Possible stake holes sectioned late in the season have yet to be evaluated. Anyone interested in finds processing or chart drawing whose names I do not already have could give me a ring (907 0333) as a session/s will be arranged for late January onward.

The high spot of the year was of course the thermoluminescence date of 9625 +/-  900 years BP received from Mrs Joan Huxtable of the Research Laboratory for Art and Archaeology, Oxford. Respectability at last:The date, calculated by counting the alpha particles which have accumulated since flint artefacts were burnt, suggests that the site belongs in the early or earlier Mesolithic periods somewhere between 6,600 and 8,600 BC, HADAS was most fortunate that Mrs Huxtable agreed to accept samples for dating, and we are grateful to her for her work on behalf of the site.

I'd like to thank also the many people who assisted in various ways. Mr Craig, area manager for the GLC Department for Recreation and Arts, kindly gave permission to excavate, and Mr. Challen, his deputy Mr. Taylor and the staff of the parks department, Golders Hill Park, have shown continuing interest and offered unfailing help and co-operation throughout the year.

Barry Martin laid out the trench grid before digging commenced and Dan Lampert undertook a partial survey of the bank and initiated the extra mural students into the mysteries of surveying.

Joan Wrigley organised the most important task of all - the teas - very efficiently. It has been said many times this summer: "The archaeology's OK - but the catering's SUPERB!" Her able deputy in this department, Irene Owen, also stepped in to take over the finds recording full time when a bad back forced Laurie Gevell to give up early in the season. Thanks to Laurie's organ­isation and the spacious working conditions of Dave King's Mark II processing hut but there were no problems in the change-over.

Mr Bowman and Howard Boudler gave their time and metal detectors so that we could recover a lost TL monitor, which wasn't really lost at all!

Then there are all the diggers - without whom there could have been no excavation. Ages ranged from 14 (I know) to 75 (I think)' and the youngest, Emma Green, made a very promising start on this, her first, excavation. It is impossible to name everyone individ­ually, but many thanks to all the regulars especially those who

dug late in the season when the weather was a little less idyllic.

We now have permission to continue excavation in 1985 and dates will be announced in the Newsletter in the spring.

Now that the area beside the Leg of Mutton Pond has been cleared of undergrowth, more members of the public visit the site than ever before. Perhaps it is a natural progression - first the
goats and deer, then the bird enclosure, then the archaeologists. Whatever the reason we've met come very interesting people and made some friends among the regulars - including a couple of police horses.

Some people ask extremely pertinent questions, some entertain us, others leave us speechless!  One lady informed her companion that it was all a hoax - that she had seen us burying bones every evening so that we could dig them up each day! Another (who proved to be an even greater attraction than we were for nearly 10 minutes) loudly issued dire warnings about crossing ley lines and prophesied wrath and doom from the Druids if they found out what we were doing. One lady cut us all down to size as, after a brief look over the fence, she remarked dismissively to her husband: "Oh, those silly people are back - they never find any­thing; you know. THEY'VE BEEN HERE FOR YEARS AND THEY'RE STILL LOOKING

More seriously - talking to the public is a pleasure and the interest displayed by people is gratifying. But more volunteers are needed to help with the explanations - perhaps members who

could offer one morning or afternoon per week during the season.Sheila Woodward will be happy to update anyone who feels he or she could help in this way - contact her on 952 _3897.

DIG IN COPTHALL FIELDS

PADDY MUSGROVE comments on a Greater London Archaeological

Service project,

 

Having learned at the November HADAS meeting that the GLAS was that week excavating at Copthall Fields, Rosalind Batchelor and I went there on Friday November 9. We first visited the area close to the eastern boundary where in the 1960s HADAS uncovered sections of a Roman Road, as we understood that this was the features that interested the excavators.

There was no sign of any activity there, but eventually we located a site many hundreds of yards to the west of the line of the Roman road where a large area of grass close to the stadium had been churned into a sea of mud by heavy equipment of some sort. A borough employee working nearby remarked that the diggers "had found nothing except that the ground was too wet" and so they had gone away.

I write for the benefit of any other HADAS members who have been

unsuccessfully searching Copthall Fields for signs archaeological

In the light of Paddy's report, BRIGID GRAFTON GREEN adds:

The GLAS is the professional body-(described by Ted Sammes in the June 1983 HADAS Newsletter) set up by the GLC to do rescue arch­aeology in the outer London boroughs. It came into being on April 1 1983, since when it has been keeping an eye on some sites in our borough. This is, we believe, the first dig that the GLAS hsmounted Barnet: it is certainly the first of which the unit has informed us,

 

It told us, on October. 31 that it would be digging on Copthall Fields from November 5 to 9 and HADAS members would be welcome to go along. If any members accepted that invitation and we passed it on to as many people possible in the few days' notice available - it sounds, from Paddy's description, as if it must have been something of a disappointment.

We shudder slightly at Paddy's graphic phrase describing the aftermath of the dig it's a churned-up "sea of mud", and we hope that the authorities of the London Borough of Barnet appreciated beforehand what was coming to them. Having ourselves spent many years building a friendly and helpful relationship with those same authorities we have a niggling doubt at the back of our minds about whether leaving a "sea of mud" behind is the best way to win friends and influence people.

Later the GLAS confirmed what Paddy had been told their workers had given up the dig because they realised it was hopeless.


 

THE FOURPENNY PESTS

NELL PENNY'S researches into Poor Law records - on which she is preparing a booklet for Barnet. Libraries service ­have brought to light some verminous facts.

At one time or another English farmers have waged war against beasts and birds which they have seen, or thought they have seen, destroying their crops and attacking their stock. In 1566 an Act of Parliament authorised church wardens of parishes to pay for the slaughter of foxes, polecats, weasels, stoats, otters, hedgehogs, rats, mice, moles; hawks, buzzards, ospreys, jays, ravens and even kingfishers.

Hendon church wardens paid for corpses from 1712 to 1833, save for a handful of years. They began with paying 2s6d for the deaths of "eight hedghoggs" and ended with £ 7s 4d paid for the corpses of 57 hedgehogs and nine polecats, and these two animals were almost the only vermin offered to the church wardens.

Hedgehogs were worth 4d each and so were polecats for most of the time. At the end of the period polecats were valued at 9d each. Hedgehogs were supposed to milk cows in the fields during summer nights, but it is difficult to see what other damage they were thought to do. Nevertheless over two thousand perished for the sake of the fourpences. Polecats, less numerous than hedge­hogs, are carnivores they could have been accused of eating eggs and killing chickens and rabbits.

In 1754 154 hedgehogs and 125 polecats were slaughtered and paid for. It is not possible to be sure who collected the money, -In 1728 A stonecutter employed on parish church repairs got 6s8d for hedgehogs and polecats; but the majority of the hunters must have been day labourers looking for beer money or something extra for their families.

Many labourers would have liked to kill a fox - the 2s6d paid for this animal was a great deal of money in 1732. There were only three such payments made and none after 1750. Perhaps the hunting gentry discouraged the unsportsmanlike shooting of foxes. 1758 saw the most pathetic record - 9d paid for four dozen sparrows.

SUTTON HOC 1984

ANN TREWICK had the chance to dig at Sutton Hoo for several weekends during the early part of this year and for three weeks during her summer holiday. Here, she describes the dig and its aims,

Although I had seen the treasures from the ship burial at the British Museum, I had no idea of the extent of the grave-group. There were originally at least 16 barrows, of which nine may be intact, and moreover there is the possibility of more boat burials, although probably none with the degree of wealth found in mound 1.

However, apart from the grave group, there is also evidence for possible occupation of the site and surrounding area from Neolithic times onwards.


 

The initial year's excavations have aimed at mapping the extent of human disturbance in and around the grave-group site.

With this end in view a number of trenches were opened in the fields on the periphery of the site. Mound 2 was also opened, to explore the extent of the excavation carried out by Basil Brown in 1938.

In the field excavations pottery has been found, dating probably from Neolithic to iron Age, Also three skeletons were uncovered, two of which have been removed for dating. It is hoped they may be Saxon. Evidenoe for ditches and palisades has also been found,

Plentiful amounts of burnt flint/stone occurred in several trenches and there was also some evidence for hearths. Some beautiful arrowheads have turned up as well as worked flint and flint flakes. Much work still remains to be done on the finds and on dating, before a picture of the Sequence of events can be built up.

I spent a lot of my time in an anti-glider ditch, excavated right across the site during the last war (how COULD they do it). It was a trench 100m in length - on a misty day I could hardly see the other end. Quite a contrast to the one-metre-square trenches of West Heath this year.

A lot of time has been spent trying to sort out changes of colour in the extremely sandy soil and to interpret these. Most of the changes in the anti-glider ditch seemed to me to be due to rabbit action and bracken root disturbances. The bracken has caused quite severe problems of soil disturbance with its probing roots and is giving much cause for concern on a site that is supposed to be protected. Within days of being mown down the young shoots were raising their heads again,

Another very interesting sight was ploughmarks nearly half a metre below modern ground surface in one trench. They were so clear they could be excavated like a series of very shallow parallel ditches.

Various "bodies" are sponsoring the dig, including the BM, the National Maritime Museum, the Society of Antiquaries, Suffolk County Council, the BBC and the University of Birmingham, whose field archaeological unit is responsible for the excavation, under Martin Carver, the director. I'm most grateful to him for letting me have the chance to dig on such a fascinating site.

The excavation is being regularly reported in the Bulletin of the Sutton Hoc, Society and it is possible to go on to its mailing list (write to the society at Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge, Suffolk),

I really enjoyed working at Sutton Hoo - sometimes in the hot sun in the anti-glider ditch and sometimes among buzzing mosquitoes in a ditch among the pine trees. I hope to do some field walking there during the winter and to take part in the excavations again next year.

n 

CLAUDE GRAHAME-WHITE AT HENDON

In July members of HADAS, the Croydon Airport society the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society took part in a combined visit to Hendon Aerodrome. Two American enthusiasts also joined the group and so did DAVID GEORGE of the Manchester Region Industrial Archaeology Society. Mr George has kindly sent this report of the visit.

Much of the aerodrome and factory, founded by aviation pioneer Claude Grahame-White and taken over by the Air Ministry in 1925, is now occupied by the Grahame Park Estate and the RAF Museum.

 But the roundabout near the main RAF gate marks the site .of Louis Paulhan's shed, used by him for the first London to Manchester air race in 1910.

The first building visited was the hotel built in 1917 for VIPs in black and white half-timbered style. This is a three-storey building and now serves as the officers' mess. Inside is much light oak wood panelling and in the ladies' lounge are timber posts, beams and a stone fireplace. The entrance hall exhibits a number of Grahame-White plaques and illustrations of the Fairey Hendon night bomber, etc.

Also surviving are the gates, gatekeeper's house and 1915 company office with portico and roundels plus G,W. insignia. Of the factory - perhaps one of the earliest purpose-built aeroplane. works extant - about eight single-storey workshops remain. They have slate and glass roofs, partly fabric covered, and were the woodwork, dope and fabric shops.

In front of the works blocks overlooking what remains of the aerodrome and hangars is the original control tower and flight office. These are faced in pebble dash but not as yet listed buildings. Below the tower there is an upper balcony or roof grandstand. —Inside is Grahame-White's observation lounge with the monogram C.G.W. in iron letters above the fireplace.  French windows open out to a covered balcony with balustrade used by distinguished visitors at the air pageants.

Another important survival though somewhat derelict, is the tall four-bay corrugated iron assembly hangar with admin. offices at the end opposite the doors and an internal balcony giving access to further rooms/offices, on which is painted THE GRAHAME-WHITE COMPANY LIMITED in large white letters. At the opposite end is an extension supported by a four-section Belfast roof truss part resting on and part bracketed to the side walls. Of the former flying school sheds or their later replacements on the same line as the hangar six bays split in two halves, painted green, exist.

From 1930, the RAF added new stores, a barrack block, etc, in Georgian brink style. Grahame-White's buildings were used as part of an operational air base up to the 1950s, but it is believed they are all now to be surrendered and would become available as possible extensions to the RAF Museum

POSTSCRIPT: HADAS member PAUL WERNICK, who took part in the visit, has kindly donated an excellent set of slides of the old and not­ so-old buildings to the society. Bill Firth hopes to have a chance to show them to members - possibly after an AGM. Thank you very much, Mr Wernick.


London Centre of Communication

LAMAS held its 19th local History Conference at the Museum of London on November 17.The theme was the history of transport and communications in the capital, and it was taken up by the speakers and in the displays put on, by many local societies.

Michael Robbins set the scene with a comprehensive survey of sources for the study of every aspect of transport history. After lunch specialist lectures covered civil aviation (by Douglas

Clue of the Croydon Airport Society) transport in medieval
London (John Clarke, one of the Museum of London's leading medievalists) and the 18th-19th century port of London (Chris Ellmers also from the museum).

Many thanks to VICTOR JONES and BILL FIRTH who manned the HADAS stand and were respectively responsible for book sales and for mounting a display about Hendon Aerodrome, One forthcoming event publicised at that conference vies a Historical Association forum on the subject of Archive Services in Danger, to be held on Saturday December 8 at the Historical Association headquarters, 59a Kennington Park Road, SEll.

"The proposed abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils threatens the archive services of these authorities," says the association. "The Greater London Record Office over the years has developed a comprehensive service for London as a whole. Since 1974 the metropolitan county archive services have been involved in the rescue and conservation of records of historical significances. Some of these services too are developing work with schools and local history societies and pioneering exciting computer projects relating to records management and the improvement of information services for users." All this is now at risk.

The forum (a £4 ticket, obtainable from the HA, includes the cost of lunch and tea) begins at ll.l5am and ends about 4pm. Speakers will outline the present work of the threatened archive services and will answer questions, then representatives of the archive users will have their say, and a general discussion will follow. It should be a lively occasion.

SITES TO WATCH

Planning application lists for the last five weeks don't contain details of any new sites which look as if they might be of any archaeological interest although one or two sites that have already been mentioned in past Newsletters crop up again with amended or more detailed information.

However, planning approval has been given recently for development on several sites which we had noted at the application stage. This means work may start fairly soon, so if you notice signs of activity please let either John Enderby (203 2630) or Christine Arnott (455 2751) know. The approved sites are:

Elizabeth Allen School site, Wood Street, Barnet: 20 two-person almshouses

Land adjoining 4 Parsons Crescent, Edgware: detached house

4 Farrington Cottages, Moon Lane, Barnet: semi-detached house

Land at Glengall Road, opposite Cramer Road, Edgware: primary school

Old Fold Manor, Old Fold Lane, Hadley: clubhouse, landscaping, etc.


LAST OF THE LINE...

 

BILL FIRTH provides some industrial archaeology news flashes.

An item in a recent planning application list is: Cricklewood Station - erection of a new ticket office to replace existing." Replacement is presumably a planner's euphemism for demolition. It means that a rather charming little building - and the last significant Midland Railway building in the borough will be disappearing. At least HADAS has a good photographic record of this site.

Another planning application mentions the-redevelopment of Carlton Forge on the Edgware Road. This is all that remains of the locomotive depot serving Brent Yard, where the engines from the coal trains dealt with in the yard were maintained. At present, "redevelopment" suggests that this building will remain'. .again, HADAS has a good photographic record.

As many members in the south west of the borough will know, there was a seriousfire on the Cricklewood Trading Estate at the end of August. One of the early Handley-Page factories was destroyed. Fire is an ever-present hazard to our monuments (not only industrial ones, of course). One of the famous aviation hangars at Croydon was lost by fire earlier this year.

NEIGHBOURLY NEWS

Now on show at Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, is a collection of the latest items to be donated to the Hampstead Museum, run by Christopher and Diana Wade. The exhibits include a map of Hampstead a century ago, showing the improvements planned to link Fitzjohn's Avenue to the High Street, and another dating from the 1930s drawn on his return home by an Australian visitor. There are also lots of photographs, paintings and other memorabilia. The exhibition continues until December 21 and Burgh. House is open from noon to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

BY NO MEANS INACTIVE

TED SAMMES, from distant Maidenhead, reports on his current activities.

People often ask me what else I am doing nowadays in addition to being chairman of the Maidenhead & District Archaeological & Historical Society (which I find to be an active, almost full-time job).

In recent months I have been working with the Boxmoor (Herts) Residents Association. The group was celebrating its 21st anniversary this year and among the many items in a display at St John's Hall, Boxmoor, were copies of about 60 photographs of people and places in the area taken by my late father during the years 1900-1915.

I was amazed at the interest expressed by people-attending the exhibition, held on Saturday October 20. Jeremy Clynes drove me down to the place where I lived until my parents moved back to Hendon in December 1931. I suspect that as a result of this interest a lot more will evolve, probably in the shape of a joint publication.


And, on another subject, Ted continues: When, earlier this year, Philip Venning became the secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings I was in the throes of preparing a talk on wind and watermills. On talking to him it seemed wise to join that section of the society which specialised in such things.

To date I can say that I have found it very useful and when on November 17 I attended a day meeting on watermills at Holborn Library I was very pleased with the range of subjects.. They ranged from a talk on the Norfolk Windmills Trust, which also looks after watermills in that area, to the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills - This latter subject is very topical because of the work being undertaken by Phil Philo, of Gunnersbury Museum, on the Hounslow area mills. Some members also gave short talks, the day ending with a talk on the restoration of Crowdy Mill; Devon, by Martin Watts,

HOW ABOUT A BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS?

Autumn is a peak publishing time so that bookshops can catch the Christmas trade. Here are details of just two recent publications which might help with Christmas present problems;

Post-medieval Pottery 1650-1800 The latest in the Shire Archaeology-series, by Jo Draper. The book covers a wide field: there are chapters on local and fine earthenwares, on slipware, Delft and stoneware and on cream ware and porcelain, as well as a further-reading list and a note on museums which have good collections. It is plentifully illustrated with photographs and costs £1.95 - and don't forget you can buy this and other Shire publications through HADAS: send your order to Joyce Slatter, 5 Sentinel House, Sentinel Square, NW4 2EN, with an extra 25p for postage.

The Royal Palaces of Enfield By Ian K. Jones and Ivy W. Drayton,

this is Research Report No 4 of the Enfield Archaeological Society and costs £3.50, plus 50p postage and packing, from Geoffrey Gillam, 23 Merton Road, Enfield.

Enfield rejoiced in two royal palaces, Elsyng Palace (demolished in the 17th century), which stood near Forty Hall, and Enfield Palace, opposite Enfield town market place and demolished in 1937-38.

Elsyng was largely rebuilt in brick in the 15th century on the site of an earlier timber-framed building. It was here that Lambert Simnel - one of several unsuccessful pretenders to Henry VII's throne- ended his days as a servant - He had once been "crowned" in Dublin as Edward VI. Here, too, the real Edward VI heard the news of his accession to his father's,throne, and his sister Elizabeth lived for a while as a girl.

The site was excavated in the 1960s by the Enfield Archaeological Society and much documentary work has been done by the Edmonton Hundred Historical Society. The results of both pieces of research are included.

Queen Elizabeth I lived at Enfield Palace also for a while before her succession - it was for her that the already ancient manor house was substantially rebuilt.

This booklet of 62 A4-size pages is beautifully produced by Alan Sutton Publishing and is illustrated with maps, line reproductions and photographs.

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