letters on the Cadet Place wall


Birkbeck College & University College London
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Dear Mary,
I am delighted at your confessions. It seems that you have used the notes which I sent you in just the manner I hoped might follow. So often, the best intentions seem to lose momentum. This is often the case with schools, where teachers just do not have the time to spare for ‘workshops*out of hours, or find that earth science is a kind of luxury in a crowded timetable. They have my sympathy.
If there is pressure from re-development plans for those lanes and the surviving walls, I suggest that you contact TARMAC who I think operate the stone ballast complex that was once MOWLEM, and alert them to the historic significance of their site. MOWLEM too may still have interest, and certainly ought to have the history on record. It could be that they could actually enhance what survives. I once tried to persuade our North London paving firms. Murphy, and McNicholas, to provide worn kerbstones ( they show textures beautifully ) to create a geological wall of granites in a local park. They didn’t respond ! But the idea is one to try. Kerbs and cobbles could balance up the limestones and sandstones of your lanes. Incidentally, the manager of the motor repair unit at the dead end of Banning Street was quite tickled at the stone of his gate when I explained what I was doing. He remembered his ‘A’ level Geography, so he is already converted to seeing people peering at his gates. He might even support any scheme to focus upon the stone of the Riverside Walk ( with diversions). I was intrigued by your mentioning the Durham Coalfield. recognise Pelton and Derwent for certain. Pelton is associated with the water-wheels often used in mines- the Pelton Wheel. There may others. The history fo the development would be well worth documenting
All of this is most cheering; what is sad is that we have discovered our Common Ground just at the time that we are preparing to leave London for Somerset, to live at Watchet

I will be in Wales where I shall be working on the preparations for this conference -‘ in April next year, looking at the vernacular architecture of Wales. We are fortunate in having the backing of the National Assembly in Cardiff and will have the blessing of a Minister of State at the opening ceremony. All of this is on the premise that buildings in the countryside are an integral part of the Welsh landscape. They grow out of the outcrops, and create a pattern and a colour texture which has to be conserved at all costs against new and ‘foreign’ materials and urban style houses out of place. Of course, it also fulfils the magic target areas of sustainability that word which is pressed as much upon Greenwich as Glamorgan. Ourr trump card if we press for what you hope for the Peninsula must lie in the new awareness which you can bring to those who live on Pelton Street, and the eye-opening experience for boo boys and girls in local schools. Geology or the softer option, “Earth Science” without the hazards or expense of field work in those Dorset quarries; the realsiation that the white stone of the Naval Hospital is one and the same as those blocks in the walls of the 1-anes. It also triggers the thoughts of how the stone came to Greenwich from 1670 onwards. Please keep in touch with how thing develop. If necessary, I could try to synchronise my visits to London ( I sti ll have to teach briefly at the Architectural Association , and at City & Guilds, Kennington Park Rd). It might be possible to meet you and your society, preferably for a walk in 2002. As it happens, I am working on ballast walls in Cardiff for the Conference, the fruits of the coal export trade, and also on the ballast walls of Battersea Park, where we hope to win over Wandsworth to realising the treasures which they have in their Borough. I enclose some further Wall Games to help the process along,

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