Mr Manwaring writes on early days at East Greenwich Gasworks

  • Along with other gas works belonging to South Met. Gas Co. East Greenwich had a social and sports club ‘The Institute’  for the workforce.  Here one of the managers, Mr. Manwaring, writes about the opening of a new building and reminisces on the building of the works in the 1880s.


old instiitute at east greenwich
The Institute/Social club at East Greenwich Gasworks

NOW that we are nearing the completion of our handsome and commodious institute it may be interesting to recall the fact that the East Greenwich Station was probably one of the first to  possess one:  On my transfer from West.Greenwich, nearly twenty-five years ago, I found a fully-fledged Club in existence, called the ‘George Livesey Institute,’ and worked by a band of energetic men, not many of whom are with us to-day.
Our land at East Greenwich was, in those days, the happy dumping-ground for gipsies, and our two policemen had their energies severely taxed impounding the straying cattle. Mr. T’ysoe used to be in a constant state of warfare, trying to protect the company’s property, and on one occasion he was holding a heated argument as to the right of meum et tuum, when one of the gipsiesn who was armed with a. heavy bar of iron, raised it to strike, and, but for the presence of mind of one of our men in seizing the bar, Mr. Tysoe would in all probability have failed to take any further interest in the proceedings.
What changes have taken place during these years. Then we had not commenced to make gas; No. 1 retort house was being built, and not a ton of coal had been shot for gas-making purposes; now we carbonise in the winter 14,000 tons per week. Then we employed 77 men; now over 1,400.   At first the wages paid were under £100 per week; now they are over £2,600. These figures, coupled with the fact that the other stations have not fallen off in consequence of our increase, show conclusively what gigantic strides our company has made in the make and sale of gas.
May I take this opportunity of urging all who are working at this station to join heartily in making our new Institute one of the most successful, and thus show our appreciation of the kindness of our Directors in giving us a place where we can focus the activities of our various clubs, and enjoy, we hope, many happy evenings of  healthy recreation and amusement.

H. H Manwaring

6 thoughts on “Mr Manwaring writes on early days at East Greenwich Gasworks”

  1. Mary..

    Thought I should point out a significant error in the ‘wages’ line at the end of this piece, plus a strange URL of some kind that has crept in to and possibly corrupted the next sentence.

    I would correct myself but don’t know the proper figure!

    Best wishes..

    1. thanks – I have removed the url – not sure how that got there at all. I am not sure what the other thing is and perhaps I can’t see it for looking. His grammar is a bit strange and he means total wages paid, I think.

  2. That’s really interesting, whereabouts on the Peninsula was the social club? I assume that providing those sort of facilities was one of the features of the company – at Bell Green (Lower Sydenham) there is the rather attractive Livesey Memorial Hall, which I did a post on a few weeks ago, that started its life as a sports and social club for the gas company.

    1. Yes, thanks – and Bell Green may be the only survivor. I think the club at Greenwich was rebuilt and moved at some stage but at one point it was right by the Grenfell Street gate, which (I think) must have been slightly south of the point at which Millennium Way goes down to the Dome and Station/turns right. (You know, where there is a security barrier at night to stop innocent local people meeting friends at the station because they think you might intercept some group you have never heard of playing at the Dome)
      South Met. had an institute at all its works. The Old Kent Road one was on the Canal Bridge and still there in the 1960s but I don’t know about the others. Bell Green was of course a different company – South Suburban – but Livesey was Chair there too.

  3. Hi Mary,
    My father worked for the Gas Board at Sydenham for 40 years and because of this my sister and I attended many Xmas parties for employees children at the Livesey Hall at Sydenham including a very nice present! This was probably in the early to mid 50’s. I believe the Hall is still in existence but presumably now has no connection with British Gas.

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