newsletter-486-September-2011

 

For the academic year 2011/2012 HADAS is again running its course called LOOKING AT FINDS – A PRACTICAL COURSE IN POST-EXCAVATION STUDIES. The course will tutored by Jacqui Pearce BA FSA MIfA and will be held on Wednesday evenings starting 28 September, from 18.30 – 20.00 hrs at Avenue House. See details below.

Christmas 2011

A date for your diary. HADAS is planning a buffet lunch at Avenue House on Sun 4th Dec. Details later. HADAS DIARY

Tues. 11th Oct. 2011, Silchester: the revelation of an Iron Age and Roman city, Dr John Creighton

(University of Reading).

Tues. 8th Nov. 2011, The Thames Discovery Programme, Nathalie Cohen, (TDP Team Leader)

Sun. 4th Dec. 2011, Christmas Event, buffet, at Avenue House, TBA.

Tues. 10th Jan. 2012, The Merchant Taylors’ Dinner from the 18th-century, Dr Anne Saunders Tues. 14th Feb. 2012, The Medieval Cellars of Winchelsea, Richard Comotto

Tues. 13th March 2012, It's All in the Bones, Jelena Bekvalac, (curator of human osteology, MOL) Tues. 10th April 2012, Conservation Techniques in Stone Masonry, Stephen Critchley.

Tues. 8th May 2012, Bumps, Bombs and Birds: the history and archaeology of RSPB reserves, Robin Standring, (RSPB Reserves Archaeologist).

Lectures are held at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley, N3 3QE, and start promptly at 8 pm, with coffee/tea and biscuits afterwards. Non-members: £1. Buses 82, 125, 143, 326 & 460 pass nearby and Finchley Central station (Northern Line), is a short walk away.


LOOKING AT FINDS – A PRACTICAL COURSE IN POST-EXCAVATION STUDIES.

Following on from the success of previous award-winning courses, HADAS will be continuing to explore the treasures hidden in the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC). The aim is to give instruction in identifying, recording and understanding different categories of finds from archaeological excavations in London that, for various reasons, were never fully written up, with a view to publication in a relevant journal. This year we will be starting to look at sites excavated by the Guildhall Museum in the early years after the Second World War and focusing on a wide range of finds, from pottery to clay pipes, glass and building material, examining them in their wider context and so learning more about the people who used and discarded them.

A 22-week course in post-excavation analysis to be held at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley
Wednesday evenings, 6.30–8.30 pm, starting on 28 September 2011.

Course fee: £275 for 22 sessions. To book, contact Don Cooper (020 8440 4350, or email: chairman@hadas.org.uk) or Jacqui Pearce (jacquipearce126@hotmail.com Tel: 020 8203 4506).

Please make cheques payable to HADAS and send to Don Cooper, 59 Potters Road, Barnet, EN5 5HS.

HADAS VISIT TO UPNOR CASTLE AND CHATHAM DOCKYARD, 31 JULY, 2011.

Upnor Castle, by Jean Bayne

Upnor, a tiny, charming village on the Kent coast, has a cobbled main street, weather-boarded houses, old-style shop fronts and an impressive medieval castle. It was described by Stuart as a ‘Tudor des res’ : a hidden gem, in fact, as very few of us had ever heard of it.

Situated on the banks of the River Medway, the castle was built in 1559 at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I in order to protect the fleet when it was moored in the river ‘in ordinary’, or out of commission. The original buildings were less extensive, consisting of the water bastion or platform and a residential block with two towers. Great guns could be mounted on the bastion and on top of the main building. Later, in 1599, the gatehouse, moat and drawbridge were added and the north and south towers were reconstructed and strengthened. Also, a courtyard wall was added to provide defence from the landward side. On the seaward side, a timber palisade and ditch with flankers (fortified positions for firing) were put in place, the bastion raised and a higher parapet added.

Even in 1601 it was not completely finished, but its appearance was much like today. As a visitor, it felt well- preserved and substantial. Moreover, its small rooms, differing levels and twisty stairways gave it a human dimension and scale: it is easy to imagine people living and working there.

In 1623 the garrison consisted of 29 people: a captain, a master gunner, seven gunners and twenty soldiers. Eighteen guns were mounted there, with, surprisingly, 34 longbows. But the castle was in great need of repair and intensive maintenance. It is notable that during the Civil War it was only used as a prison for Royalist officers.

The most significant event for Upnor Castle occurred in its final days as a defensive structure. This was the Dutch raid in the River Medway in 1667. Following a successful sea battle, the English were taken by surprise when the Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway, burning many anchored ships and capturing HMS Royal Charles. The English managed to muster extra guns while the Dutch were at anchor and pounded their ships when they resumed their assault. The Dutch were unable to progress and put out to sea. Upnor Castle had defended well but the burnt out hulks of ships were a humiliation for the English navy. ‘A Dreadful Spectacle’ was John Evelyn’s pronouncement. Pepys concluded that Upnor had lacked munitions rather than bravery: ‘I do not see that Upnor Castle hath received any hurt by them though they played long against it and they themselves shot till they had hardly a gun left upon the carriages, so badly provided they were’.

The incident was the castle’s death knell as a fortress. New defensive structures were hastily constructed along the Medway and Upnor was reduced in importance. In 1668 it became a store for gunpowder shipped from the Tower of London wharf. In 1691, it stored 5,206 barrels and other munitions to supply the navy. The castle was modified to take the increased weight and altered to reflect its new function. For example, the gun platforms on the roof were taken down. In 1718 barracks were built: one of the first ever purpose-built ones, which housed two officers and 64 soldiers. The Magazine continued for many years until it closed in 1827, and by 1840 there was no gunpowder left. It became an Ordnance Laboratory and by 1945 it was officially designated as a museum.

The finest view of the castle is from the river as it clearly shows the shape of the building, with its turreted façade, decorative roundel windows and the triangular water bastion overhanging the river with stumps of an old palisade visible at low tide.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Part 1, by Vicki Baldwin

We arrived at the Visitor Entrance at approximately 11.45am, passing buildings marked ‘PUMPMAKERS’, ‘CAPSTAN MAKERS’, and ‘COAK AND TREE NAIL MAKERS’ and after a short wait ARP Warden Irene boarded our coach to give us a guided tour of the Dockyard.

The River Medway was first used by the Royal Navy in 1547. As it was difficult to navigate, it was considered to be a safe berth for the Navy and a small dockyard was developed. Another important factor was the absence of Teredo navalis, a boring worm that destroyed ships’ hulls. In 1586 The Sunne was the first warship built at Chatham and the Dockyard was busy building, refitting and repairing the ships that would face the Spanish Armada in 1588. The first submarine built there was the C17 in 1907.

The changing needs of the Royal Navy are reflected in the history of the Dockyard until its closure in 1984. The site was then split into three with the smallest and most historic part set aside to become The Historic Dockyard. Not all the buildings are accessible to the public but those that are open house various exhibitions and collections with a connection to the Dockyard and maritime history. No. 1 Smithery, where anchors and chains were forged, now houses exhibitions, some temporary, in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum and The National Maritime Museum. Originally working conditions in the Smithery were so hot in summer that men passed out and so cold in winter that handling the iron could take the skin off the hands. The workers were each allowed 8 pints of strong beer a day.

Across Museum Square and opposite No. 1 Smithery are the boatsheds and covered slips. No.3 Slip (The Big Space) was built in 1838 using timbers from old warships. At the time it was thought to be the largest wide span timber structure in Europe. In 1904, no longer used for ship building, it was filled in and a mezzanine floor added for storing ships’ boats. Its roof is spectacular whether viewed from inside or out (see photo).

Nos. 4, 5, and 6 were constructed mainly from cast iron in 1848, and No.4 houses a collection of lifeboats and No. 6 is leased to railway enthusiasts.

No. 7, built in 1855 from cast and wrought iron, has an early example of a metal trussed roof and was used for building submarines from 1907 until 1966. The last submarine built there was HMS Ocelot which was launched in 1962. Alongside the covered slips are three ships, HMS Gannet, HMS Ocelot herself and HMS Cavalier. HMS Gannet was built in 1878 a Victorian, dual-powered (sail and steam) gunboat. When she was decommissioned in 1895 her boiler and engine were removed, she was renamed HMS President and became a training ship. She was towed to the Hamble where she remained after the school was closed in 1968. In 1987 she was purchased by the Dockyard. The third ship, HMS Cavalier, forms part of a memorial to the destroyers sunk in World War II.

Chatham Dockyard Air raid shelter, by June Porges

In the foyer of the Smithery, we met up with ARP warden Irene, our guide from the earlier bus tour. She led us on a short walk to one of the many air raid shelters on the site and the only one currently open to the public, though another is being cleared.

This shelter is in front of the Officers’ Terrace, a row of 4-storey houses built around 1720. It was used by officers and their families, though others could use it with permission of an officer. It can hold up to 70 people and is about the same size as a Northern Line carriage. The construction is of corrugated iron and is totally covered by earth. Access is by a concrete staircase at right angles to the main area, and with an emergency escape by a vertical ladder at the opposite end. It differs in several ways from the “other ranks” shelters, with a concrete floor, rather than earth, electric light instead of candles, and a telephone. The toilet was a metal bucket behind a curtain.

The dockyard was not seriously bomb damaged during the war, supposedly because the Germans hoped to use it as a safe haven when they invaded.

An alternative option, by Don Cooper

A number of members, having previously visited the dockyard, or just wishing to chill out on a sunny Sunday afternoon, decided to take the 21/2 hour cruise on the Kingswear Castle. The Kingswear Castle is one of the last steam-driven paddle vessels operating in the UK. It was built in 1924 and now offers pleasure cruises on the River Medway and the Thames. We cruised down the Medway, past Upnor Castle and Kingsnorth Power Station with one of the longest jetties in Europe, all the way to Oakham Ness. The sun was shining, there was that lovely coal smell from the engine, the river was full of small boats and interesting sights. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


HADAS 50th Anniversary Party and Wanted —Your Memories!                                                                                    Jo Nelhams

One of the largest HADAS gatherings for some time took place on Sunday August 7th at Avenue House to celebrate 50 years of the society. It was a great pleasure to see some longstanding members who, for various reasons, can no longer attend events on a regular basis.

Besides a very enjoyable spread of food and drink with a lot of talking and laughing, a recording of the very first lecture was heard, given by our founder Themistocles Constantinedes.

We would like to collect HADAS memories for present and future members to enjoy. It would be nice to hear present members' recollections of any outings or digs, or about former members who are no longer with us. At the party, a number of people penned amusing and interesting memories. If you have anything to offer, please send them to Jo Nelhams (Hon Secretary), at the address at the end of this newsletter.

Local History News from the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society                                            John Hinshelwood

The next LAMAS Local History Workshop is on 15 October, 2011, and will be led by John Hanson author of Getting the Best from the 1911 Census. This is the latest in the series of workshops started in March 2010 to explore how to create a nineteenth-century parish history from the online census reports. The workshops, held twice each year, are provided to motivate and assist individuals from affiliated societies to undertake their own research projects. Details and an application form for the forthcoming workshop are on the LAMAS website (www.lamas.org.uk/) on the Local History Committee pages. Alternatively contact John Hinshelwood (see below) with your name, address and phone number, and email if you have one. John would welcome suggestions for future workshops from individuals or affiliated societies.

The next LAMAS Local History Conference will be on 19 November 2011, with the theme Sporting London covering sport from mediaeval times to the present day. The conference will once again be held at the Museum of London and affiliated societies will be invited to apply for a stall to display and sell their publications. During the conference the winners will be announced of the 2011 LAMAS Local History Publications Awards. The conference programme is available on the website at www.lamas.org.uk, the cost is £8 for LAMAS members, purchased in advance, and £10 for non-members; any unsold tickets will be £10 on the day to everyone. Tickets are available from the website, or by postal application to: The Secretary, LAMAS Local History Committee, c/o 9 Umfreville Road, London, N4 1RY. Contact: johnhinshelwood@btinternet.com

The following article appeared in Hampstead Scientific Society's newsletter of August 2011. The author is Doug Daniels, who is that Society's president, a celebrated amateur astronomer and resident of Finchley. As computers continue to impact on archaeology, Stewart Wild thought that the content of this amusing essay would be of interest and relevance to members of HADAS, so he asked Mr Daniels if he would allow his thoughts to be recycled for the HADAS Newsletter. Mr Daniels has kindly agreed.

TO 'Go To' or NOT TO 'Go To' THAT IS THE QUESTION, by Doug Daniels

Of course I'm biased. I belong to a generation that inhabited a world long before computers were commonplace. In my heyday there were not even such things as electronic calculators, and 'windows' were panes of glass that you looked through. The best calculating aids we had were slide rules and a book of log tables – oh yes, and a set of tables drummed into our brains at the age of six plus, so thoroughly, that if you ask us to multiply 9x8, the answer 72 is delivered instantly without even having to think about it!

Today it seems everything has to have a computer attached to it otherwise it is just not worth considering. Astronomical telescopes are no exception.

I recently spent an interesting yet frustrating few hours with a good friend who had just taken delivery of one of those small computerised 'Go-To' telescopes. Apparently it was able to automatically find upwards of 5,000 celestial objects all by itself and was designed to make "finding celestial objects easy for the beginner". Some mistake surely!

After inserting a handful of batteries, we switched it on. It asked us to enter the date and time; we complied. A message was spelled out on the handset warning of the dangers of looking at the Sun, spelled out at such an incredibly slow speed that I was already beginning to feel my arteries hardening. Why for heavens sake? We have already told the wretched computer the date and that the time is 23.00 hrs UT – if it's that damn clever it should know that the sun is below the horizon!

It then asks us if we would like 'a tour of the solar system?' No we would not – we just want to look at the Moon! It proceeds to do it anyway. Motors hummed, the telescope swung wildly up and down and round and round, finally coming to rest pointing down towards the ground, presumably attempting to home in on the Sun to justify its earlier warning.

After several abortive attempts to encourage it to point to the Moon my patience had run out and I switched it off, unclamped it and pointed it at the Moon manually. But even that was not so easy as the wretched device uses a built-in diagonal and has no finder. I would hate to try to point it at something really faint – you would just have to rely on its computerised functions to do this, and judging by our earlier attempts it could take all night to find the Andromeda Galaxy. OK, perhaps I'm being too quick to judge and it will take some time to become thoroughly acquainted with its little foibles; hopefully before its batteries go flat.

But I still maintain that such a device could lead to enormous frustration for a real beginner. It's only a 70mm refractor for heavens sake! A simple alt-azimuth mount on a tripod would allow you to point it at the Moon and get an instant result without spending hours reading the instruction manual and then trying to identify certain stars to set its position.

An absolute beginner would probably not be familiar with these stars anyway. Before even attempting to use a 'Go-To' telescope it would be better to spend a few months getting acquainted with the night sky with a simply mounted telescope or a good pair of binoculars and a star map.

And while I am having a rant on the subject of unnecessary computers and telescopes, I strongly object to fitting computers to antiques. I recently visited the old Royal Greenwich Observatory and was appalled to discover that they had 'computerised' the historic 28-inch refractor. Using this wizard 'strap-on' electronic gizmo meant that it only took them about ten minutes to locate the Moon – a task that could have been accomplished manually in about thirty seconds by just squinting through the finder. I thought that computers were supposed to make life easier. Some mistake surely!

It's the same at Mill Hill Observatory. The 18/24-inch Radcliffe refractor, a magnificent example of Victorian engineering constructed by Sir Howard Grubb, is now draped with cables and electronics and thoroughly 'computerised'. I'm sorry but I just do not agree with this. I understand that students need to learn how to manage a computerised telescope but attempting to modify an ancient instrument is the wrong route to take.

To see all this electronic paraphernalia attached to the works of traditional makers such as Grubb and Cooke is,
to quote our esteemed heir to the throne: "Like seeing a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old friend."


Computers and brass fittings do not blend comfortably. If you must teach on a computerised instrument, and of course today you probably must, use one that is specifically built for that purpose, don't desecrate the works of historic telescope makers.

OK, rant over. I shall now return to my cave, light a fire by rubbing two sticks together, suck the marrow out of the bones of a woolly rhinoceros and pay tribute to old King Ludd.

The Archaeology of Prehistoric Europe

This course, arranged by the Mill Hill Archaeological Study Society, will introduce the cultures that inhabited Europe from the introduction of metal to the beginnings of history with the arrival of the Greeks and Romans. Tutor: Scott McCracken. Venue: Hartley Hall, Lawrence Room, Flower Lane, NW7. Beginning Friday 30th September, 2011. Time: 10:00 – 12:00 hrs. Cost: £130 for 20 classes. Enrol at the first meeting. If you are new to the society’s meetings please contact the secretary: Peter Nicholson 'M 020 8959 4757.

Free film screening at the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley, Sunday 18 September

Did you know that the first ever public film screening in Britain happened in Barnet in 1896? Did you also know that two of Britain's most important film pioneers, Birt Acres and Robert Paul, were working in Barnet in the 1890s and early 1900s?

Whether you're an authority on film history or know nothing at all, come along to The Phoenix in East Finchley on Sunday 18 September, at 2.00 pm to see a free screening of early 20th Century films showcasing Barnet as the birthplace of British cinema and including the work of Acres, Paul and British & Colonial. The films will be introduced by Phoenix trustee and film historian Gerry Turvey and the screening will be followed by a discussion with Gerry Turvey and fellow film historian Ian Christie.

Booking is essential, so call the Box Office to reserve your seat on 020 8444 6789. For more information visit http://www.phoenixcinema.co.uk/education/heritage/from-the-archives/

Follow the Phoenix Storybook featuring people's memories and thoughts about the cinema: http://www.phoenixcinema.co.uk/education/heritage/phoenix-storybook/

Membership Renewals - Stephen Brunning

A number of members have not renewed their membership subs which became due on 1st April. If this applies to you, a letter with a renewal form on the back is enclosed with this Newsletter. If you do not receive these and have not sent off your cheque yet, please get in touch with me by 1st October. My contact details are above. Thank you.

ERIC MORGAN’S MONTHLY ROUND-UP OF EVENTS

Some early September events were listed in the August Newsletter

Heritage Open Days 2011 will be 8-11 September with many openings: http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/

Sat 10th Sept (Not the 15th as stated in the last Newsletter) Barnet & District LHS coach outing to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Details from Pat Alison: 'M 01707 85843 or email patron37@sky.com Sat 10th

Sept, 10.00-17.30 ‘Following finds – from site to store’ a meeting on aspects of archaeological finds in memory
of Penny MacConnoran, Weston Theatre, Museum of London. A varied programme of speakers including Jon

Cotton, Marit Gaimster, Francis Grew, Gus Milne, Jacqui Pearce, and others. To register visit Museum of London site: http://www/museumoflondonarchaeology.org.uk/News/FollowingFinds.htm or telephone booking option. Registration is £10, including tea and coffee.

Mon 12th Sept, 3.00 pm (tea at 2.30 pm), Barnet & District LHS, Church House, Wood St, Barnet, Beatrix Potter, by Pamela Wright.

Tues 13 Sept, 8.00 pm, Amateur Geological Society, The Parlour, St Margaret’s Church, Victoria Ave, N3 Amber, by Dr Chris Duffin (Geological Society & Geologists’ Association).

Wed 14 Sept, 7.45 pm, Hornsey Historical Society, Union Church Hall, junction Ferme Park Rd/Weston Park, N8, History of London’s Underground Railway, by Peter McMahan. Visitors £2.

Fri 16 Sept, 8.00 pm, Enfield Archaeological Society, Jubilee Hall, Parson’s Lane, junc. Chase Side, Enfield, Life in the Imperial War Museum, by Steve Turner (IWM) visitors £1, refreshments 7.30 pm.

Sat & Sun 17/18th Sept. London Open House Weekend.

Free access to hundreds of buildings. Details at www.londonopenhouse.org/

including: Bruce Castle, Forty Hall and Markfield Beam Engine, Markfield Rd, Tottenham, N15 (www.mbeam.org/)

Sat. only, Old St Andrews Church, Church Lane, Kingsbury, NW9.

Sun only, Myddelton House, Bullsmoor Lane, Enfield, E A Bowles House and Gardens open, 10.00 - 4.00 pm.

Wed 28 Sept, 7.45 pm, Friern Barnet & Dist. LHS, St John’s Church Hall, Friern Barnet Lane, N20, The History of the the Travelling Funfair, by Mel Hooper. Visitors £2.

Thurs 29 Sept, 8.00 pm, Finchley Society, Martin School, High Road, East Finchley, N2 (NB change of venue) Slides of Yesteryear and Planning Issues: East Finchley, by Derek Warren. Visitors £2.

~~~~~~

THANKS TO ALL OUR CONTRIBUTORS:

Vicki Baldwin, Jean Bayne, Don Cooper, Doug Daniels, John Hinshelwood, Eric Morgan, Jim Nelhams, Jo Nelhams, Peter Nicholson, June Porges and Stewart Wild.

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