Newsletter-280-July 1994

 

 

ISSUE NO 280

Edited by Peter Pickering                                                                         JULY 1994

DIARY

 

 

 

 

Saturday 9 July

OUTING TO RICHBOROUGH AND BISHOP'S PALACE, MAIDSTONE
- With Tessa Smith and Sheila Woodward
(Details and application form enclosed)

Saturday 16 July

CRICKLEWOOD COMMUNITY FORUM, 10.00am - 4.00pm

St Peter's Church Hall, Cricklewood Lane. HADAS and other local societies will be represented

 

 

Tuesday-Saturday                                                          ISLE OF MAN

9-13 August                                                                     Our group is full up and we have 3 members on the

waiting list, but further names can be added if you wish ring 081-203 0950

Saturday 3 September OUTING TO NEW BUTSER SITE, OLD WINCHESTER HILL & ALTON - With Bill Bass and Vikki O'Connor

Tuesday 4 October            EXCAVATING IN EGYPT

Lecture by Dr Patricia Spencer

Saturday 8 October MINIMART

CORRECTION                                                                                                                                     Peter Pickering

At the end of last month's Newsletter Micky Watkins gave my telephone number as 081-455 2807. I know that is what has appeared in some lists, but it is wrong. My telephone number is 081-445 2807.

MEMBERS' NEWS

Daphne Lorimer, It is with sadness that we report that Daphne's husband, Ian, died very suddenly at the end of May, only a few days before they were both due to go to America for the wedding of their son. Members who spent that happy week in Orkney in 1978 will remember their opening their lovely house to us for lunch; they organised our whole memorable week there.

VISIT TO COUTTS BANK                                                                                                Peter Keeley

At 2.15 on May 18th we met at Charing Cross under the replica Eleanor Cross. With Mary wearing her official guide badge and her Freeman of the

City brooch we felt we could go anywhere! First we toured the area south of the Strand, The Strand is a very ancient roadway between the Tower and Westminster and being above the floodplain was "a good address",

In Villiers Street was the Keeper's Office for the old Hungerford Suspension Bridge; Brunel used the chains from this for the Clifton Suspension Bridge, when Sir John Hawkshaw built the new bridge in to Charing Cross Station in 1864 at the cost of £18,000 or £131 per foot.


Down some steps into the Embankment Gardens is the Watergate where in 1862 the Duke of Buckingham could step into his boat, but is now high and dry. 1868 was the year of the "Great stink" and Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated the new low level sewage system into the Thames Embankment,

We went into Buckingham Street, Duke Street, now John Adam Street, past the RSA and soon we had built up the name George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, Robert Street reminded us that four Scots took a lease on three acres here and redeveloped them; some lovely houses still remain in Adam Street,

Then we went past Carting Lane to the Savoy, the first hotel to have electric lights and lifts, and the Savoy Theatre where Mary gave us a song to remind us of its connection with Gilbert and Sullivan, Under Shell Mex House we learnt that as it had the largest clock-face in London it used to be called "Big Benzine", A plaque on the wall of the Institute of Electrical Engineers recorded that the BBC started here before moving to Portland Place. Behind the bronze statue of Faraday was a foundation stone of massive size recording that Queen Victoria "had laid it with her own hand in 1886", We hoped she had had some help,

Then round the corner and dominated by the Savoy Hotel was a little Chapel, and Churchyard surrounded by cobbled streets. The Savoy Chapel dating back to 1245 was destroyed by fire in 1864. The present replica Tudor Chapel has a beautiful panelled and painted ceiling. It is used and financed by the Queen and you can attend services and maybe rub shoulders with royalty, The cobbled streets were probably laid by John Moslem who bought the quarries in the Channel Islands about this time to pave the streets of London. Over the wall as we left the Churchyard we could just see the tombstone of Thomas Sutton who died in 1839 at the age of 101.

Going down the Strand to Coutts we observed the traffic going into the Savoy on the wrong side of the road, a throw back from the horse drawn cabs which could not turn in the street, and Zimbabwe House with defaced Epstein sculptures at high level,

The Frederick Gibberd and Partners Coutts building opened in 1978 after 20 years of planning hassle is an interesting and effective building. It is dated by the enormous steel bridge beams which hold the roof structure but the garden atrium and circulation space give a modern feel to the offices. The history of the Bank involves more Scots; John Campbell was a goldsmith banker who moved from Edinburgh to the Strand in 1692; the Coutts became involved in 1751, Thomas Coutts' first shop is recreated to show how a goldsmith banker operated, in cramped dark beamed conditions, A banker dealt with all the affairs of a customer, not just finance, and Thomas Coutts had some important friends, notably George III,

Two dioramas gave us an idea of what banking with a family firm was like through the ages. In the boardroom is wonderful Chinese wallpaper given to Thomas Coutts in 1794 by the first ambassador to China, It had been installed at 59 The Strand and moved in 1904 to this site and involved a major conservation exercise to install it in the present room,

Coutts became part of the National Provincial and Union Bank in 1920 and is now part of the National Westminster but retains the character of a personal bank with a Coutts as its Chairman, Sir David Money-Coutts, KCVO.

Many thanks to Mary O'Connell and Barbara Peters, the Coutts, archivist for an excellent tour.


A CAMERA'S EYE VIEW OF WHETSTONE AND NORTH FINCHLEY   Roy Walker

The latest addition to the "Britain in Old Photographs" series is John Heathfield's compilation "Around Whetstone and North Finchley", published in June this year by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, price £7.99, This is available from all good bookshops but if purchased direct from Barnet Museum (where John is the curator) all the profit is retained by the Museum. The photographs are from the Percy Reboul collection but acknowledgement is given to HADAS member Arthur Till for his contribution showing demolition scenes in the Brunswick Park area,

Presenting the history of an area by way of old photographs must be very limiting, For a start, none go back further than 1839, The Society for Photographing Relics of Old London, founded in 1875, may have set the precedent for other like-minded groups or individuals but photography was a rich man's hobby and the resulting collection may be somewhat selective. There is also the problem of how best to use the archive to show how our present day surroundings are the product of changes over the last 150 years, which must surely be one aim of such publications,

In this new selection, a brief history of the area introduces the photographs, which date mainly from the turn of the century, Houses, private and public, are well represented, Transport and recreation, education and the workplace are all encompassed by this illustrated history, John's captions provide not only details of the subject but make

observations about the photographs themselves, You only need to be reminded once of curiosity towards the camera to continue to notice blatant posing, such as the portly policeman outside the Torrington Arms, Individuals are featured, the Vicar of All Saints, Father Henry Miles, and his verger Bill Thatcher; Joseph Baxendale of Pickfords; Mr Pitson, the schoolmaster dismissed in 1896 for drunkenness and incompetence; and the schoolboys and girls themselves. There are even two generations of brick-laying Rebouls

Progressing through the book, which is sectioned into five localities, you can build up a picture of life in what were originally village communities. Cattle in 1900 walk the High Road passing the Blue Anchor, now Payless D.I.Y, Atora Beef suet really did use oxen to pull delivery carts (but only for publicity) and in 1895 a smallholder uses a donkey cart to carry his greengrocery along Nether Street, Photographs of the Whetstone crossroad and the High Street allow a sight of the Whetstone House in its pre Studio Cole existence and there are close-ups of a diamond mullion from the interior and the well (Victorian cistern) in the rear yard, excavated by HADAS. Mr Lawson is shown in his timberyard in 1936 adjacent to a photograph of the Merit Cycle and Motor works, which had previously occupied part of Lawson's site. There was another cycle shop in the High Road and the Black Bull advertises "cyclists and clubs catered for". Other photographs, in passing, reinforce the importance of cycling earlier this century, It is intriguing to look at the history of various sites. The Finchley Roller Skating Rink (1910) rapidly became a cinema, then a lorry depot and finally the Metropolitan Police Garage; the present Torrington Arms is the third on that site and the Priory, an early 18th century, crenellated building, was pulled down in 1939 to build Friern Barnet Town Hall. Of personal interest, as it is where I live, were the half dozen or so photographs of the Russell Lane area including a drawing of Gallants Farm and details of the oldest cottages still standing in the Lane.

My only criticism of this excellent book is that some of the captions could have been longer. In a few cases fuller clarification of locality could have been given. However, although it can be slightly frustrating when


questions raised by the photographs are not answered by the text, it must be remembered that the photographs are the raison d' etre for the book and should stimulate the mind of the reader. It is not a written history and hopefully any reader who wishes to find out more can do so through the many other local history publications or by simply asking John Heathfield, I intend to, especially about the lower photograph on page 33. John, isn't this Whetstone High Street?

A HAPPY FAMILY                                                                                                                  Liz Sagues

In this true story of a Happy Family, the names have been changed - except for the one that really matters, that of Mr and Mrs Baker the Booksellers.

I have a friend with a strong interest in both archaeology and family history, whose father was a distinguished anthropologist. Let's for the sake of continuing Friendship, call him Simon Devil, Browsing through the latest archaeological booklist from Tony and Rosemary Baker, I came across a reference to an offprint produced for the Devil Club from the 1922 transactions of a county archaeological society, at the other end of the country from the Devils' current home, Intrigued, I asked Simon if he knew of the Devil Club, "No," he replied. "I don't think there were Devils in that part of the country, But it isn't a common surname. Perhaps there is a connection, Can you order the reprint for me?"

Oops. Too late. The Baker stock tends to vanish quickly, unless you order the instant the list arrives, but Tony Baker was interested, "I haven't sent off that order yet. I'll look at the offprint and see if it says anything about the Devil Club."

Twenty minutes later he phoned back. He'd contacted a leading figure in the county's archaeological circles ("After 20 years in the business, I know who to ask...") and produced a stream of information. The Devil Club had been started in the mid-18th century by the Reverend Philip Devil, a keen antiquarian and prolific writer on town and county history, He'd come to the county a few years before from the Channel Islands, anglicising his name from the Huguenot Philippe de Ville, The county archaeological society still commemorated him, in an annual dinner and an annual lecture, and the society's current president - name and address provided - was "mad about Devil" and had originally been called de Ville, "You've found my great, great, great, great, great uncle Phillipe!"

I haven't yet heard the outcome of the correspondence between Simon and the county archaeological society president, but the incident has reinforced my enthusiasm for the Bakers. Not only are they excellent booksellers (their lists are hugely tempting, and their service prompt and pleasant); they also take a very special interest in their customers, Of course; they come from Lincoln; Tony was at school with me and his father taught me Scripture and Greek - editor)

Any HADAS members who don't yet buy from them are strongly recommended to make contact. The details are: A,P. and R, Baker Ltd, Booksellers and Publishers, The Leigh House, Church Lane, Wigtown, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, DG8 9HT. Phone 0988 403348, fax 0988 403443,

FINCHLEY BUS GARAGE                                                                                                                       Bill Firth

Another industrial landmark in the borough will be disappearing following the closure of Finchley bus garage in Woodberry Grove.

The depot was first opened by the Metropolitan Electric Tramways Company in 1905, was converted for trolley buses by the London Passenger Transport


Board in 1936 and to buses in 1962. The last buses ran from the garage in December 1993 and the site is to be redeveloped,

One interesting aspect of the depot was the installation of a traverser to give access from the entry road to those in the depot, Originally access to the depot roads was by a 'fantail' of points from the entry road but in 1929 the points were replaced by a traverser.

The traverser consisted of a length of track, long enough to take a tram, mounted on an electrically powered truck which ran on its own rails in a pit along the length of the depot, The tram ran on to this section of track which could then be 'traversed' to any road in the depot.

ARCHIVES AND LOCAL STUDIES CENTRE

HADAS members will be pleased to know that a new temporary Local History Librarian, Christopher Eve, has been appointed, following the departure of Stewart Gillies to the Newspaper Library at Colindale last November. The restricted opening hours which have existed since then have now returned to normal, and the Archives and Local Studies Centre is now open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9.30 am - 5,00 pm, Thursday 9.30 am - 7,30pm, and Saturday 9.30 am -5,00 pm (closed for lunch 1,00- 2,00 pm).

11TH RUISLIP LOCAL HISTORY CONFERENCE - 1995

We have been asked by the organising committee of this conference to see if any of our members would be willing to offer a talk lasting say 20 minutes at this conference, If any member would, would he or she please get in touch with Dr T Hillier of 2 Dunster Close, Harefield, Middlesex UB9 6B5 with a very brief account of content (with dates) and any requirement such as an overhead projector or slides.

PLANNING APPLICATIONS IN THE NORTHERN AREA           Bill Bass

The following sites have been noted in the development applications list and may be of archaeological interest:

75 High Street, Barnet

224 High Street, Barnet

17 & 42 Grimsdyke Crescent, Barnet (near to mediaeval kiln site)

An extensive area in Oak Hill Park, East Barnet, adjacent to Church Hill road has been deturfed and excavated for the improvement of water and sewerage facilities. Several members are watching this site, but if anybody sees anything of interest please let us know.

FORTHCOMING EXCAVATION IN THE CITY

The Times reported on 14th Tune that next month, under the direction of Geoffrey Wainwright, work will begin on the site at No 1 Poultry, near the Mansion House, which is famous for the fierce battle between those who wished to save the fine Victorian buildings there and Mr Peter Palumbo. Mr Wainwright is quoted as saying "We expect to find waterlogged Roman and mediaeval deposits to a depth of about 7 metres. There are likely to be the remains of substantial civic buildings with mosaic floors, and high status town houses. Overlying them will be the well preserved remains of mediaeval London, We know that from well documented records". The developers have allowed the archaeologists 44 weeks to dig and record, and they are also paying £2 million for the excavation; the Times reminds us that since the developers got planning permission before 1990 they are under no obligation to permit or finance excavation.


THE ICEMAN                                                                                                                     Peter Pickering

The latest number of "Antiquity" carries a fascinating article about the mummified body found in September 1991 in a high snowfield on the Italian-Austrian border, The man has been dated to about 3200 BC by 14 radio-carbon determinations. He was carrying with him artefacts made of 17 different types of wood and plant material, and there are 8 species of animals among the skins etc used in his clothing. He had a bow, arrows, a quiver, a copper axe, two flint knives, a rucksack, a net, and a marble disc on a leather thong; he was wearing a belt which doubled as a pouch for his fire-making equipment and held up a leather loin-cloth and leggings made of

skin; his coat was made of alternating strips of differently coloured deer­skin; he wore an outer cape, conical cap and shoes of calf-skin filled with grass and held in place by an inner string "sock", There were virtually no traces of food - perhaps he had eaten all he had when he died, Some features are as yet unexplained - his arrows were all unserviceable and his bow unfinished; and he had some freshly broken ribs as well as some healed ones; he seems to have been wearing no textiles. And we can speculate for ever precisely what he was doing so high up the mountains. Perhaps he was a shepherd with a side-line in mending bows and arrows. But one's reaction must be respect for the skills possessed by people 5000 years ago

Even more recently there have been newspaper reports that DNA tests have demonstrated that the Iceman is not a hoax (never seemed likely), that he was a northern European (not surprising), and that 4% of modern Englishmen are descended from him (isn't science wonderful?).

ROMAN TOWN NEAR MALDON

Readers may remember the HADAS outing to Great Burstead and to Maldon in Tune 1989. We visited the site of the new Maldon Southern Relief Road where, the Newsletter records, Roman cremations, Samian and grey ware had been found, as well as evidence suggesting a late Iron Age round house. Recent newspaper reports describe excavation near Maldon of the site of a Roman town, including a Romano-British temple overlying an Iron Age religious building. As usual, we are told that there is not enough money or time for excavation of more than 15% of the site

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