Calvert Clark

ENDERBY WHARF – A confused situation exists on the remaining section of the old gunpowder site – K3 on the Skinner plan. On earlier Morden College plans it is shown in the ownership of ‘Calvert Clark’. This is most likely the distillery company based in Vauxhall who had other investments in the Greenwich area – for example they were one of the proprietors of the Phoenix Gas Company, based in Greenwich as well as Bankside and Vauxhall. In 1838 Enderbys acquired some land from Calvert Clark – and it was, perhaps, this area.

Return to Enderby Wharf

Telegraph Cables – most important laid

A selection of some of the most important cables made by the Company

1850 Brett & Co. 25 Anglo-French. Dover-Calais.
1851 Wilkinson & Weatherby 27 Anglo-French. Dover-Calais.4-core armoured.

1855 Newall & Co 310 & 60 Black Sea. Varna-Balaklava,
Balaklava-Eupatoria Crimean War Cable. Required in haste, so only shore ends Armoured.

1855 Atlantic Telegraph Co.2036 Atlantic. Ireland-Newfoundland. First Atlantic Cable. 1274 nauts laid when the end was lost in deep water. In 1866 the 1865 cable was completed and the new one successfully laid.
1865 Anglo-American Telegraph Co.1214 Atlantic. Ireland towards Newfoundland.As above
1866 Anglo-American Telegraph Co.2538 Atlantic Ireland-Newfoundland. As above
1870 Eastern Telegraph Co.3268 Suez-Aden-Bombay, Linking the Empire.
1870 Eastern Telegraph Co 3180 Cornwall-Gibraltar-Malta Alexandria. As above
1870 Eastern Extension Telegraph Co.2366 Madras-Penang-Singapore. As above
1871 Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. 1596 Singapore-Hong Kong.As above
1874 Brazilian Submarine Telegraph Co 3041 Brazil (Pernambuco) via Madeira & St. Vincent. First cable across the South Atlantic.
1876 Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. 1283 Australia-New Zealand. Extension of Empire Cable links.
1877 Eastern Extension Telegraph Co 853 Rangoon-Penang.
As above
1877 Eastern Telegraph Co 1889 Aden-Bombay. As above
1879 Eastern & South African Telegraph 3852 East coast of Africa. Durban – Delagoe- Mozambique – Zanzibar- Aden. As above
1886 African Direct Telegraph Co 2078 West coast of Africa. Bathurst – Sierra Leone-Accra- Lagos- Brass-Bonny. Cape Town. As above
1889 Eastern & South African Telegraph Co. 1584 Cape Town – Nolloth-Mossamedes. As above
1889 Eastern Telegraph Co.2679 Cables between Cornwall and Cape Town using the islands off the west coast of Africa Boer War Cables
1900 Eastern Telegraph Co.1775 Cables between Cornwall and Cape Town using the islands off the west coast of Africa As above
1901 Eastern Telegraph Co 2431 Cables between Cornwall and Cape Town using the islands off the west coast of Africa. As above
1902 Pacific Cable Board 6482 Pacific ‘All Red’ route Canada to Australia and New Zealand Known as ‘All Red’ route because all receiving and transmitting stations in the chain were on British territory. It contained the largest uninterrupted length of sub-marine cable in the world. Vancouver (Canada)—Fanning Island, 3500 nautical miles in the Pacific Ocean.

1902 Pacific Cable Board 836 Link to Australia from Norfolk Island As above
1902 Pacific Cable Board 519 Link to New Zealand from Norfolk Island As above
1903 Commercial Pacific Cable Co. 5570 West America to American Philippine Islands. This connected America with China.

1912 H.M. Post Office & French Government 23 Dover Straits First important * continuously loaded’ telephone cable.

1921 Cuban American Telephone & Telegraph Co. 310 Florida-Cuba. three telephone cables. Using for the first time a return conductor—’ Coaxial Cables’.

1925 Italcable Co.1337 Spain- Azores. First orders from Italy
1925 Italcable Co. 1203 & 200 Rio de Janeiro-Montevideo-Buenos Aires. As above
1926 Pacific Cable Board. 3467 Vancouver-Fanning Island (Pacific Ocean). Mumetal loaded cable across the longest submarine span.
1929 Italcable Co 1134 Belgium-Portugal. First loaded Italian cable
1937 H.M. Post Office & Dutch Government. 2 x 81 Anglo-Dutch Two ‘Coaxial’ Telephone cables using Paragutta as dielectric
1938 French Government 1350 Mediterranean cable A strategic cable when war was threatened
1947 H.M. Post Office. 200 Anglo-German military cable Telcothene core with submersible repeaters inserted
1947 H.M. Post Office & Dutch Government. 81 Anglo-Dutch Air space core with a diameter of 1.7 inch. Capable of carrying 84 speech channels.
1950 Dutch and Danish Governments 2×142 Holland-Denmark. Solid telcothene core each cable containing two repeaters for telephone working.
1950 Great Northern Telegraph Co 322 England- Denmark Being manufactured. Telcothene core containing repeaters,. High speed telegraph cable.
Beside the three Atlantic cables mentioned (1858, 1865, 1866), others were made in 1869 (French), 1873, 1874 1880, 1894 (high speed due to large conductor) 7900 7905 797Ci 7925 (higher speed by further increasing the size of conductor), 7924 (Permalloy tape, -continuous loading speed
5500 words per minute: four times that of any other Atlantic cable), 7926, 7925 (Mumetal used and by varying the weight of loading-tapered loading—a further increase up to 70-72 times that of any unloaded cable was achieved).

• After 1935 all submarine cables were made at Telcon Works, Greenwich, by Submarine Cables Limited, which is jointly owned by the Company and Siemens Bros.

Bendish Sluice

Bendish marsh is a field behind the area used by the Enderbys – MC5 on the Skinner map and 264 on the tithe map. 1612 a field called ‘Short Bendish’ was in the occupation of Innocent Lanyer with a tenement, yard and wharf. Lanyer was one of a family of court musicians resident in Greenwich

In the 1770s it had been leased by a Thomas and John Jee and in 1843 it was marshland in use by a John Field. Its southern boundary is that of Bendish Sluice and eventually formed the ropewalk. Coles Child began negotiations to lease it in 1855 but in 1856 it was leased to a Mr. MacKenzie. In 1864 it became part of the Telegraph Construction Works.

Bendish Sluice emerges between the two jetties at Enderby’s Wharf. It dates from before 1622 – the date at which the Commissioner’s Minutes start. It seems likely that it is named after someone who was involved – perhaps paid for – the drainage of Greenwich Marsh and therefore, if Bendish could be traced, might give some clues about the actual drainage work.  (note October 2014 – the sluice appears to have been removed by developers)

Dugdale cites an Act of 1546 which, while empowering the levy of a rate for the maintance of ‘New or Combe Marsh’ comments on the neglect of the walls and banks ‘anciently’ made for their protection. Thus in the mid-sixteenth century the government was only able to say that the marshland had been claimed an extremely long time ago – and to make provisions for upkeep. It is a matter of speculation that previous arrangements for maintenance might have broken down following the reformation. I

It is also a matter of speculation that the name ‘Bendish’ dates from the Tudor period and not from an earlier period. Members of the Bendish family were certainly prominent in Tudor times – one was an ambassador, who endowed Queen’s College Cambridge, and a later Bendish was to marry Cromwell’s granddaughter. However, it has not been possible to pin down any one member with an interest in either drainage or in Greenwich. It should be noted one field is known as Bendish Marsh and it may be that, if the ownership of this plot could be traced, that a Bendish could be identified.

steps and sluice
The sluice emerges from under the steps

In the mid-seventeenth century Sir William Hooker, of Crooms Hill, married Susannah Bendish, daughter of Thomas Bendish of Steeple Bumstead, Essex.

It should be noted however that the name Bendish, in connection with marsh drainage, can also be seen at Barton Bendish in Cambridgeshire – a village surrounded by sluices and drainage ditches.

In 2002 Groundwork said “Bendish Sluice. The historic sluice that emerges via a decaying timber-surrounded outfall chamber dates from the drainage of Greenwich marsh, possibly by Dutch Engineers prior to the 17th century. Within the industrial land bordering
Amylum U.K. Ltd’s site is a remnant uncovered section of the sluice of ecological importance, although the area is currently stagnant. A redundant sluice control valve on the footpath was removed by Greenwich Council in 2000. Proposed works (Groundwork): Refurbishment of the sluice outlet (programmed for 2003, subject to EA and PLA approval), and possible restoration of open water and marsh land within industrial site

Return to Enderby Wharf

Beale – site details

Beale leased a section of the Greenwich riverside. This is part of section K2 on the Skinner plan (page 1) and 150 on the tithe map – shown as ‘foundry and yard’.

In 1860 James Thomas Pomeroy is listed on the site with a ‘chimney shaft and wharf’ – he is described as a ‘founder’. However, mysteriously, three years later this is described as a ‘cement works’ with ‘kilns, boiler new engine house and plant, chimney , wharf, tunnel, etc.’

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Beale – notes on exhausters, Choreutoscope, census info etc.

(note from Engineering)

THE Bryan Donkin Company’s principal business today is with the Gas Industry and reference has already been made to the supply of gas valves from 1847 onwards. Early rotary exhausters, such as the one patented by Joshua Beale of Greenwich in 1848. Only an improvement on Ramella’s design it suffered from the disadvantage that there was great friction between slides of The speed of the guiding segments on a 38 exhauster running at 60 r.p.m being as high as 600 ft: per minute. The segments had to run in circular grooves machined in, the end plates of the machines. In 1866 John Beale patented (N0 1402) an improved type of exhauster of which the Bryan Donkin Company obtained sole manufacturing rights in l870. They made about 100 of these in which the friction was reduced by about 20 by using rings instead of segments and letting only an auxiliary blade slide to take up idler. In 1877 the same John Beale patented No. 2419 a greatly improved type, in which the friction was only 30-40 of that in the original. Shortly afterwards Mr.Beale retired and the Bryan Donkin Company purchased his business outright. The rings, and segments for guiding were entirely abolished in this design and a simple block brought to the centre, was substituted. In the example quoted above, the velocity of the slide of the guide block became under 60 instead of 600 ft. per minute. The block also had a much greater wearing surface than the segments. There is still sufficient interest in this long-lived type for the 1877 patent to remain in current use within the company. The cylinders of these exhausters are bored with the horizontal axis a little longer than the vertical. This is an improvement over the true circle as it gives an Incurve swept, by a slide of constant; length: and was employed originally by Franchot about 1860. An amusing result of this eccentric boring is that on more than one occasion maintenance fitters have rectified this ovality under the impression that it was due to wear. They then found, the circular bore useless and a new shell had to be supplied.
The great advantage of these exhausters over other types was the small number of working parts. More than 600 exhausters of the various Beale types-were at work by 1897, many of them driven by steam engines supplied by the Bryan Donkin Company. Nearly, 100 had been exported. With examples in each of the continents. The company also made some 3- and 4-bladed exhausters, the 3-blade type at the Old Kent Road Works of the South Metropolitan Gas Company, dating back to as early as 1873. Other early achievement was the installation of boosters at Beckton Gas Works in 1880 which pumped the gas through 4 ft. mains a distance of 8-10 miles to London. This pioneer installation was one of the very first examples of gas boosting in this country prior to the present century. There 8 exhausters of the Beale 1866 pattern each of 225,000 cu. ft.-per hour at a pressure of 48 w.g. They were driven by four steam engines connected to a common condensing plant.


The following note attributes ‘wheel of life’ to Beale of Greenwich. It is though now that this is actually a different Mr. Beale (Lionel)


The most effective early device for this purpose was the Ross Wheel of Life designed for use in the Optical ‘Lantern, and patented in 1871. The disc bearing the figures is caused to revolve slowly; the opaque disc has one sector removed and travels at such a speed as to make one revolution while the transparent disc moves one stage. Thus in two figures are seen through the opening in the opaque disc. Its revolution promptly cuts them out of sight, and by the time the opening comes back to the same place the next pair of figures (in slightly different attitudes) are found to occupy the same vertical line.
This arrangement is practically a substitution of a one-slot disc for a four-slot one as used by Plateau in the instrument last described. The result of this arrangement is that the lantern screen is full of figures all in motion and in various phases of the same action; but this multiplicity of images is confusing, and attempts were made to show only one figure on the screen at a time.
Beale, of Greenwich, devised a method whereby a face could be shown in motion by means of a series of sixteen pictures illuminated by intermittent flashes. A painting of a human bust was made on a. screen, the face being replaced by a hole, behind which could be brought sixteen views of a face in the various stages of a grimace or smile by means of the revolution of a disc on the circumference of which they were painted. A sixteen-holed shutter worked by gearing admitted a flash of light, to illuminate the painting for a moment as each face arrived in its proper position, the light being cut off during a quick change to the next expression. By means of an ingenious contrivance which allowed only every alternate opening in the shutter to act, and was adjustable to show first one ‘ series of eight and then another, the resultant grimace was varied in a most amusing way. This arrangement the motion of the handle repeats these actions with sufficient rapidity to throw an apparently permanent and moving figure on the screen.
A somewhat-similar arrangement to Beale’s Rotary Choreutoscope was patented in the United States by A B. Brown in the year 1869 (No. 93,594). This specification is mainly of interest by reason of the construction employed in the intermittent mechanism. It forms a very close approach indeed to the modern cinematograph with Maltese Cross motion; a star-wheel and pin being used to drive the design wheel periodically, while a two- sector shutter is shown geared to eclipse the light during the change of picture. From this point it would be comparatively easy, by describing no more than two machines, to bridge the gap of twenty years which still remains to be traversed ere the first machine of distinctly modern type appears. Mr. Heyl, in the year after Brown’s United States patent, exhibited a somewhat similar apparatus, employing photographic images; but consideration of his machine must be deferred until the next chapter, for many elementary forms of apparatus remain to be described before the subject of chrono-photography is discussed. Of the simpler diagram apparatus, however, the plienakistoscopic, or disc-and-slot machines, are practically exhausted, except so far as their principles may recur in some form of photographic device, and it is necessary now to consider the cylindrical apparatus (directly derived from the Phenakistoscope), popularly introduced about 1860, and subsequently called the Zoolrope, or Wheel of Life, the latter term being a name also applied to a previously described lantern slide. Desvignes patented the Zoetrope, though not naming it, in 1860.
The year 1860, however, saw a patent (No. 64,117) issued in the United States to William E. Lincoln, of Providence, however, needed a full-sized painting for every effect, and was not of the ordinary magic-lantern nature; the separate pictures not being projected, but only illuminated intermittently. A single and therefore larger figure than that given by the Wheel of Life was subsequently projected on the screen by the same inventor, whose ” Dancing Skeleton ” was a great success. A disc was used, rotating in front of a lantern condenser; but this disc, instead of being formed of glass, was of thin sheet metal, the figures of a skeleton in various attitudes being cut out, stencil fashion, round the margin. These necessarily brilliant white figures were projected on the screen in the usual way by an objective, the light being cut off by an interrupter (geared from the axle of the disc) during the period of change.
Mr. Beale also constructed this instrument with the stencil figures on a long slip. Performing the necessary eclipses by a rising and falling shutter, the whole arrangement being called by him the Choreutoscope. An improved form of this device was patented by Hughes (1884), and is applicable to any ordinary optical lantern. Turning the handle revolves a disc, a pin on which raises the shutter and so interrupts the light ‘ Teeth on the disc then come into play, shifting the long slide one stage, and so soon as it comes to rest the shutter drops and exposes the picture.

Beale’s Bicycle
The Mark Hall Cycle Museum , Harlow – have details of the machine

Census Info
Josh Taylor Beale 1794-1866
Children: John, Mary, Hannah

1871 Census
John Beale at Conduit House, East Greenwich
(Conduit House was on the site of the old Granada Cinema, now The Plaza)

John Beale married to Amelia Cunningham in 1866
1845 John Beaele, Leaches Alley – Kew Walk and Kings Arms
Joseph Taylor Beale in Woolwich Road

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In 1786 a John Beale patented an ‘umbrella with joints, flat springs, and tops, worm springs and bolts, slip bolts, screws, slip rivets, cross stop and square slips’. I do not know who John Beale was but perhaps he was a forerunner of two later Beales – Joshua Taylor and his son John. With an impressive record of inventions Joshua had moved to Greenwich from the east end of London in the 1830s and opened one the earliest engineering firms on Greenwich Marsh – now known as the Greenwich Peninsula, home of the Millennium Dome. There were many other engineers like Joshua Beale in the early nineteenth century – busily turning their skills to a very wide range of applications. His work in Greenwich has been very much overshadowed by more famous names – Penn, in particular – but his contribution is not something that should be overlooked.

In Wapping Joshua Taylor Beale was described as a cabinet maker and took out a patent for ‘improvements’ to the design of a rotary steam engine – he was to take out several more over the next few years. Soon he had moved to a bigger works in Chapel Lane, Whitechapel with a new partner, George Porter. The next patent was for a means of heating inflammable liquids without any risk of them catching fire. This was a very important process for manufacturers who wanted to work with coal tar – heating over an open flame is a very dangerous thing to do. In the east end of London there were also many sugar refiners and there was a great need for ways to boil sugar safely – this process would be very useful to them too. Beale was already buying waste tar from the local gas works in partnership with a local tobacco merchant, Mr.Beningfield. He began to make special oil lamps which used ‘substances not usually burnt in such vessels’. He described this substance as -mineral naphtha’ – oil derived from coal tar. He also devised new lamps which could burn gas, and they became very successful.

In the early 1830s Beale moved to Greenwich where he rented a riverside site from the Enderby Brothers. This is shown on maps as ‘Beale’s Foundry’ – today very roughly, it would represent the western end of the Alcatel Factory site, and include the area of their boiler house and chimney

In Greenwich Beale lived in Conduit House on Trafalgar Road at the bottom of Vanburgh Hill – the site of the old Granada Cinema, now flats. He may have been in the area for some time previous to this because of a report that in 1816 a ‘Mr Bell’ used coal tar for his garden paths in Blackheath. This comment comes from Francis Maceroni (more of him later) who was a friend of Beale and both of them had an interest in coal tar – and the printer may easily have confused ‘Bell’ for ‘Beale’. Perhaps, somewhere in a Blackheath garden, are the remains of the first tarred footpaths ever laid!

Beale continued with his work on steam engines in Greenwich and in the 1840s began to use them in road vehicles. In this venture he was joined by another Mr Beningfield – John, who was the ‘steward of the Ramsgate steamer’. In the early 1840s at least two cars were made at Beale’s Greenwich works and they were the not the only experimental road transport which trundled round the roads of North Kent in the nineteenth century. From the 1820s onwards some Kentish roads were – well, almost – buzzing with newly invented vehicles. Most of them were steam powered and were developed as the same time as railway locomotives but they were lighter and smaller and, perhaps, more sophisticated.

In 1841 Colonel Francis Maceroni set up the ‘Common Road Steam Conveyance Company’.. This body aimed to commission a steam vehicle to Maceroni’s patents. They asked Joshua Beale to build the vehicle which he did with the held of his brother, Benjamin, who undertook the drawings. At about same time as Maceroni commissed this carriage from Beale another, Greenwich and Deptford based, entrepreneur, Frank Hills, seems to have been doing much the same.. It may be that Beale was manufacturered one or both of the two vehicles which Hills commissioned since one contemporary description is of a visit to a Greenwich factory where ‘two steam carriages were almost complete’ .

Hills, Beale and Maceroni began to undertake demonstration trips around the Kentish countryside.
On a Wednesday in July 1840 a party of seventeen went in Maceroni’s carriage from East Greenwich through Lewisham to Bromley .. Coming back to Greenwich they turned off onto the Dover Road and went up Blackheath Hill – at 12 miles per hour ”in gallant style’. They continued across Blackheath and up Shooters Hill and as they needed water they stopped at The Bull. Inevitably, water was not all they took on there – the report says ‘the men were regaled and eulogised the scientific engineer’. Frank Hills carriage went rather further – Windsor, Brighton, Hastings – although there was a need to stop every eight miles to take on water.

This activity on Kentish roads had stopped by the end of 1841. Maceroni told the ‘Common Road Steam Conveyance Company’ that he would charge £800 each for the carriages made by Beale – but because of the changes necessary to the design he charged Maceroni an extra £300 per vehicle. The money was not paid and Beale impounded the carriages. No more was heard of any of them.

As time went by Beale became more and more involved in making equipment for the early gas industry. He tried to make gas cookers – at a time when such things were quite unheard of. In the 1830s another gas equipment manufacturer, Thomas Barlow, had set up an all-gas house in Colebrooke Row, Islington. Beale clearly took a great deal of interest in this and Barlow accused him of sending spies to look round the kitchen door to examine these cookers and see what was going on. Beale also patented a propeller for boats and a means of preventing ‘encrusting’ in boilers by the addition of human urine and soda.

Most importantly Beale patented the principle of a piece of equipment called an ‘exhauster’ and the idea was later improved by his son John. Exhausters could be used in the gas works to draw the gas through the pipes like a pump. Although the principle had been first described in Tudor times it was Joshua Beale who turned it into a working reality. In a paper to the Society of Engineers in 1864, Mr. A. M. Wilson remarked that ‘Beale’s exhauster was brought out originally as a rotary steam engine, although in this capacity it has never been, very extensively employed’.

One local customer was the South Metropolitan Gas Company based in the Old Kent Road who bought an exhauster from Beale in 1854. This was designed to ‘pass 40,000 cubic feet (of gas) per hour’ and included ‘an 8 h.-p. engine, and a boiler ….. if a second-hand engine can not be obtained to answer the same purpose’.

John Beale redesigned the system and patented it in the 1860s – by which time he had taken over the business from his father. He was determined to make it successful. It has been said that when a fire at the Greenwich works destroyed much of the factory he had a marquee erected on the marshes so that he could continue to demonstrate his exhausters to better advantage.

In the 1920s the South Metropolitan Gas Company’s house magazine ‘Co-partnership Journal’ reported on ‘an old resident of Greenwich, when asked about Mr. Beale’s work, replied “Yes, I knew the man. He invented a machine for blowing people’s gas meters round, and it proved to be such a fine thing that the gas companies have stuck to it ever since.”

Beale’s patents for the exhauster it were taken over by Bryan Donkin and Company and became a major part of their output. In 1903 Donkin left London for Chesterfield where they continued to pioneer new developments in gas industry machinery. John Beale stayed in Greenwich and continued, like his father, to invent a very wide range of devices. He became interested in bicycles. In 1878 he patented the ‘facile’ bicycle. Up until then the machines which are commonly known today as ‘penny farthings’ were called ‘ordinaries’. There had been several attempts to make them safer and Beale’s machine was one of these. It was called ‘The Facile’ and was advertised as ‘suitable for young and athletic and the elderly’ – but they could still tip you up so that you became ‘a cropper’. In essence ‘The Facile’ had pedals pivoted onto the end of low-set levers rather than cranked pedals. It was manufactured and marketed by Ellis and Co. who were based in 47 Farringdon Road in the City of London. As part of the publicity drive they organised the South London Facile Club and in 1880 W. Snook won a 24-hour road race – going from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on a 42-inch front wheel.

An author of 1899 said that ‘Mr Beale of Greenwich’ developed the ‘choeutoscope – a device for producing moving pictures which was one of the forerunners of cinema projection. This invention has since been attributed by historians of the subject to Professor Lionel Beale of Kings College – although it is possible that there was a connection between the two.

John Beale died in 1899. Before his death he had built Heathview in Westcombe Park Road where it is said that you can still see in the flower beds the remains of the test track for his bicycles. The site of the foundry is now within the area of the Alcatel factory and probably covered by their boiler house. The Alcatel site – home of the foundation of the submarine cable industry – may hold many relics of interest to the industrial archaeologist but it is a busy working factory and whatever remains it may have of Joshua Beale and son are likely to be inaccessible in the foreseeable future.

Return to Beale Foundry

Woolwich Road


The area immediately south of the Woolwich Road was, and is, partly owned by the Hatcliffe Estate Charity. It is now the site of the Flamstead and Caletock Estates. The Caletock Estates was built by the Greater London Council in the late 1970s on the site of roads of terraced houses with the same (made up) names. In the 1880s the eastern part of the area from Woolwich Road and covering the Tunnel Avenue area was an explosives factory belonging to Dyer and Robson, and this site is later marked as ‘Martini Henry’.

The Skinner Plan shows sites along the Woolwich Road, marked as ‘Poor of Greenwich’ occupied by Elizabeth Sheersby and Mary Evans  probably let as tenements (PG1 & 2) with a large site owned by the Northampton Charity to the rear occupied by John Land  (NC1) and two eastern sites owned by Thomas Ward occupied William Willbee (TW1 &2).

By the time the Tithe plan was drawn up in the 1840s things had changed considerably.  The corner site of Woolwich Road and Blackwall Lane (PG1 on Skinner – todays Flamstead Estate) is covered in buildings and is described as owned by the Feoffees of the Hatcliffe Estate and ‘formerly  a garden occupied by Poor People. Now Buildings’.  Next to it – the area described as PG2 on Skinner and now the southern portion of the Caletock Estate was also owned by Hatcliffe in the 1840s and occupied as a market garden by a John Wilson.  The Northampton Charity area (largely the portion covered by the north western part of the Caletock Estate)  remained in that ownerships and leased as grazing land by Thomas Wheatley.  The eastern portion, now regarded as one plot, was also owned by Northampton and let to Wheatley.

By the 1890s housing covered much of this area.   That now covered by the Flamstead Estate appears to have been built in conjunction with the, still extant,  roads on the west side of Blackwall Lane – Conley Street and Commerell Street which ran across Blackwall Lane to include Hatcliffe Street, a portion of which still remains. To the rear and east of them were built Glenister Road, Davern Street, Caletock Street, Lenthorpe Road, Armitage Road, Collerston Road and Selcroft Road – and these names appear to have no meaning and it is assumed they reflect some random interest of the builders.    The firework factory was to the rear of and entered from a house sited roughly at the top of today’s Glenforth Street.

By the time of the First World War and the building of Tunnel Avenue more streets were added to the east – Glenforth, Fingal, Marlton and Chilver Streets. Behind them, and fronting on to Tunnel Avenue the British Oxygen works was built – the site now covered by new terraced housing.

Return to East Greenwich

Two vanished Greenwich Pubs


By Mary Mills

The thousands who drive north through the Blackwall Tunnel every day probably never give a second glance to a building to their left – a shop selling electrical and motor spares. Curiously, among the signs on the outside is one more familiar on the front of a pub – a Whitbread jug. whitbread sign on ranburnThis sign had also escaped the attention of the shop assistants since – when I asked to take a photograph of the premises – they were unaware that their workplace was an old pub! But more of that later.

There were a number of pubs on Greenwich Marsh, which have closed and disappeared since housing was demolished and factories closed. One of them was on the riverside – but its final closure was in Second World War bombing. I imagine that if it had not been destroyed in the war, today, like other riverside pubs, it would be a popular venue and crowded out all the time! Its site is, however, now part of a local factory. This was the Sea Witch.

I had become interested in the Sea Witch while researching the development of the riverside and its industries near the Dome site. To my surprise I found that it was not an old, ‘traditional’ pub at all, but built in the Victorian era – and I also became fascinated by the name – why Sea Witch? While I am not sure I have found the answer to that question, the attempt to find out has led me to some interesting conclusions.

This part of the Greenwich riverside was owned by the Blackheath-based charity, Morden College. The College – in fact an almshouse and old people’s home – was founded in the late seventeenth century by Sir John Morden. The residents still live in the elegant building Wren-designed for Sir John on the south west corner of Blackheath. In order to fund the charity Sir John endowed it with land. Most of this land is in Greenwich but other places where Morden had, or has, an interest, include Chatham and Chislehurst. Since the College was set up land has been sold, and bought, so that there have been some changes. In the early part of the nineteenth century the College’s trustees took a decision to develop the western riverside area of Greenwich Marsh for industry. In the late 1830s parcels of land were let out to industrialists who had a remit to build wharves, houses and to sub-let where appropriate. One of these developers was a Charles Thomas Holcombe.

I do not know very much about Charles Holcombe. He seems to have had considerable land holdings in south London – including New Cross. He might be the Charles Holcombe who was married in Deptford in 1820. What I do know is that by 1838 he was sufficiently rich to buy Valentine’s House in Essex. The ‘Valentine’s’ estate is now a large public park near llford and Holcombe’s great house is now standing semi-derelict while Redbridge Council tries to find a use for it. Holcombe also sometimes gave an address in the Paddington area, in Porchester Terrace. He first became involved in Greenwich Marsh as a partner in a tar distillery owned by a John Bryan and when Bryan became bankrupt he took over the site himself. In 1846 he is listed in trade directories as a tar manufacturer – but I doubt that this entirely reflects what his actual source of income and business really was.

Sea Witch shown on Mr. Holcombe’s site c.1865.

The directory entry gives an address in the City of London and ‘Morden Wharf’ – one of the earliest indications of that name for a part of the Greenwich riverside. Morden College leased the area, then known as ‘The Great Pitts’, to Holcombe in 1841. Within a few years he had built a chemical works and houses there. It is a matter of speculation as to whether the term ‘house’ might refer to a pub or not. However there is no indication that the Sea Witch was built as early as the 1840s but a pub stood somewhere nearby at ‘the corner of Morden Place, near Morden Wharf’. This was called the Morden Castle and was advertised for sale in 1849 as an ‘Ale and Stout House’. There is no other information about the Morden Castle and it could have been the Sea Witch under a different name, or an entirely different establishment.

Isea witchn 1850 it was reported to Morden College that a pub had been built on Mr Holcombe’s land – soon to be followed by a chapel and more houses. In 1852 Morden College passed a great deal of this area from Holcombe to James Soames – and this almost certainly included the area around the pub. James Soames was the active partner in Wilkie and Soames Thames Soap Works. They were to stay on this site until taken over and closed by Unilever in the twentieth century. The site is today occupied by Amylum, the business still known locally by its old name of Tunnel Glucose. The pub itself seems to have been retained by Holcombe, although this is not entirely clear. Sea Witch therefore seems to have been built as part of a development of houses and factories on the Greenwich riverfront. It stood on the riverbank at the end of Morden Wharf Road – once also known as Sea Witch Lane – which runs from Blackwall Lane down into the area of the Amylum glucose refinery. Amylum have closed the end of the road and it is no longer possible to use it to access the river – a large padlocked steel gate now blocks the way. The site of the pub appears to be that of the laboratory block, and the patterns of windows eerily echo the front of the pub as shown in the only known photograph of it. A plan, which dates from 1879, shows that at one time it had a garden on the riverside with the still existing river- side path between it and the pub itself. It may be also that some parts of the property were on both sides of Morden Wharf Road. At the back of the pub were a ‘pot house’ and a ‘wash house’. At that time it seems to have been a tied house for Gurney Hanbury of Camberwell but the 1937 photographs show it as a Whitbread House. An ‘ancient lights’ sign on the front must have been to guarantee the river view.

The 1937 photograph has some other more telling signs. There is a gas street light outside the pub – something which would be very welcome on what is an almost totally unlit path today, but its main purpose was to light the causeway here. Alongside the pub is shown the Cement Market Company’s gate to Hollick’s Wharf – and Jabez Hollick was one of Holcombe’s tenants in the early 1850s. Further on is the gate to Morden Wharf. It certainly looks to be, even for that period, a very down- market boozer indeed. The figure in front, replete with cap and white muffler, hardly helps the scene. 1937 looks more like 1907 to me! Further research led me to speculate on the name Sea Witch. If you type ‘Sea Witch’ into the internet you will almost certainly pick up ‘Project Sea Witch’ in America ( This describes a project to rebuild the famous American Clipper Ship designed by John W. Griffiths and launched by Smith and Dimon for William Aspinwall in New York in 1846. Sea Witch was a very dramatic and important ship. She was built to a revolutionary design in order to be a ‘World Beater’. She was 907 tons and her figurehead was a Chinese dragon, her hull was painted black and all her spars were ‘bright work’ (scraped and varnished wood). On her first trip in December 1846 she sailed from New York to Hong Kong in 104 days, and in 1847 from Whampoa to New York in 77 days – the fastest passage on record. It is very clear to see that she would have been in the news in 1850 at the time the Greenwich pub was named. It is heartening to see that the designers of her replica have every intention of bringing their new ship to ‘historic Thames river’ to pay their respects, at least, to the Cutty Sark.

The trouble is that I am not really sure that the pub was named after this ship – however famous she was. For there was another 5ea Witch – a British vessel built locally at almost the same date. This Sea Witch was built at Blackwall Yard – almost within sight of the pub. I am afraid that since she was not nearly so famous, it is not nearly to easy to find information about her – let alone the pictures and web sites dedicated to her American cousin. She was only 410 tons but had a much longer life. The American ship was wrecked off Havana in 1856 while ‘our’ Sea Witch lasted until 1882 when she was hulked. Like the American ship she was fast and in 1848 had returned to London from Woosung in 115 days – the fastest time that year and a record which stood for the next five years. There is another similarity between the two ships in that they followed the same trade. Both were built as ‘opium clippers’ – that is, built to take opium to China and return with tea, silk and other commodities. The trade is well known and a number of books and a recent film have described it – one of the least reputable ways in which a lot of money was made in the nineteenth century. In an earlier article on the Blakeley Ordnance Works on Greenwich Marsh I described how Blakeley had been financed by members of the China House of Dent – one of the most prominent of the opium traders, many of which family lived in Blackheath, Lee and Bromley. The British Sea Witch was built for a Mr Braine. He was another very rich man living in one of the villas in Regent’s Park. I am not surprised to learn that he was at that time Chairman of the China House of Dent. If the pub was called after the British clipper. Sea Witch, then what was Mr Holcombe’s interest in the ship? Is it perhaps one of the reasons that he was rich enough to buy Valentine’s Park at a relatively young age?

Of course all of this is pure speculation. It is just as likely that Mr Holcombe, the brewer, or someone entirely different liked the name Sea Witch and had picked it up from a fairy story, or a picture – or any one of a number of other reasons.

There is just one other thing. I started this article talking about another pub. That was the one that stands alongside the Blackwall Tunnel approach road and is now an electrical shop. It was called ‘Star in the East’. I do not know who built it, and I doubt the present building is the original, anyway. The pub was certainly there in 1865 when it was advertised for sale as a ‘Public House and Spirit Stores’. In 1898 the landlord was fined when the court heard a number of conflicting stories concerning an Ellen Pope who had drunk too much gin and bitters. The magistrate had accepted the police version that the landlord had served a drunken person. Was the Star in the East anything to do with Sea Witch? I do not know but I thought you might like to know that another ship was built at Blackwall Yard soon after Sea Witch, also for the opium trade in 1850. She was called Star in the East – of course!

Return to Morden Wharf

Tunnel Avenue Cleansing Station



The structure, erected on pile and beam foundations is on one level and the facing brickwork of “Sevenoaks” stocks imparts a pleasing warm effect to the whole exterior elevation.  A feature of the building is the provision of three entrances, one each for the laundry, the baths, and the treatment room, to enable all services to function simultaneously with the minimum of congestion and confusion. Floors are of solid concrete overlaid with “Semtex” P.V.C. tiling which again gives a bright but warm appearance to the interior avails to entrance hall, corridor, waiting rooms, bathrooms, W.Cs., children’s department and staff cloaks are all finished in cement glazing with egg-shell oil paint to all ceilings and the remaining walls.

All rooms concerned with the treatment of patients or handling of laundry are furnished with fluorescent lighting giving excellent working visibility.  With the exception of bathrooms where additional electrical heaters have been installed, all heating is by thermostatically controlled gas-fired boilers equipped with electric time switches for automatic operation.


This is supplied by an Ideal Boiler having a capacity of 142,000 B.T.Us per hour working on an indirect system tunnel avenue coverincorporating a 200-gallon calorifier and storage cylinder.


Room temperatures are maintained by radiators of the hospital type supplied by an Ideal Boiler of a capacity of 118,000 B.T.Us per hour.


A “Controlled Flame” gas-fired boiler of a capacity of 200 lbs per hour provides steam at a pressure of 60 lbs. per sq. in. for the “Ritchie Decoudun” ironer, which is electrically driven.  This boiler is of such size that if the necessity arises, steam sufficient for two ironing machines could be supplied.


On arrival at the Centre the laundry is sorted, checked and pre-rinsed, being washed in one of the three “Bendix” commercial-type washing.  The time allocated for the washing of laundry is obviously dependent condition of the articles to be laundered.  After washing, water is extracted from the laundry in the “Bendix” extractor and from there the articles are transferred to the “Bendix” tumbler dryer which thereby renders all but the thickest or very materials ready for ironing.


The electrically driven “Ritchie Decoudun” steam-heated ironing with its continuously revolving roller permits uninterrupted working added advantage of delivering the articles back to the operator on the Steam consumption is at the rate of approximately 60/65 lbs per hour at of 60 lbs. per sq. in. with the condensate being returned to the boiler.  Subsequent to ironing, the laundry is conveyed to the airing room obviates the necessity for outside drying.  To this end, some heating primary circuit has been introduced with an electric fan to provide air flow.


Low, dropped-side baths have been provided and sited to enable it to operate from both sides without restriction—a very necessary precaution when dealing with the elderly. In addition to the normal background space heaters, electric heaters have been provided in the bathrooms in order that a constant temperature may be maintained.  From the very pleasant waiting rooms the patients are conducted to the bath where after bathing they receive some minor foot treatment and for this special task footbaths have been installed.

During the following half-hour they are provided with a cup of hot tea with biscuits and an opportunity to sit whilst waiting for transport home.  In this room, designed mainly for the treatment of verminous persons standing basins have been installed, again in order that treatment can be conducted from either side without restriction and, further, two electric dryers are available.

This new cleansing and bathing centre is to provide for the logical development of services for the elderly citizens of Greenwich which were commenced on a modest scale in September, 1954. In that year about 5,000 articles from aged, infirm and incontinent persons were being laundered per annum and a few carefully selected patients were bathed either in their own homes or at the old premises.  There was, at that time one ordinary domestic washing machine in use and laundry and bathing duties were being performed by one lady attendant.

By 1960, such was the expansion that over 30,000 articles were laundered and nearly 2,000 baths were given in that year.   The staff had been increased to the equivalent of four full-time attendants who were by then using four large capacity domestic washing machines.tunnel avenue laundry 2

Recent census figures indicate that there are now nearly 12,000 citizens in Greenwich over the age of 65. They constitute over 13% of the populace—a rise of over 3% in the space of 10 years. Present population trends suggest that by 1977 one citizen in five in this borough will be of pensionable age. It had, therefore, long been apparent that increased facilities were needed.  At last permission was given by the Government to build a new centre and this building has been designed specifically to cater for the cleansing needs of the elderly. Opportunity has been taken also to provide modern facilities for the cleansing of schoolchildren and for the treatment of scabies and verminous conditions. It is hoped that the facilities now provided will meet in the future the increased needs of an ageing population for certain basic services which, although perhaps lacking in glamour, are necessary for the well-being and indeed the self respect of those citizens who become handicapped or neglected in advanced years. These services are part of the wider concept of prevention of illness and promotion of health in this particular field and will supplement the already extensive home visiting of the elderly which is undertaken by the Women Health Officers and also the work of the Old People’s Welfare Association on which are co-opted most of the voluntary agencies concerned with the welfare of the aged.  It may be of interest to note that home visits by the Women Public Health Officers to the old people during the last year totalled 5,700 and the number of old people on the register in the Health Department who have been found to require regular visiting and supervision is now over 1,200 and is increasing every week

It is felt that, apart from the laundering and bathing facilities provided in this building, the mere contact with the outside world which a visit to this centre will give is of inestimable benefit to elderly home-bound citizens. An attempt has been made to make the centre friendly and bright and it is hoped that the old folk who make use of it will look forward to their regular visits as much as they did to the outdated building where so much valuable and pioneer work in this new sphere was performed.

Hatcliffe Charity

Hatcliffe Charity

The Hatcliffe Charity owns a Greenwich almshouse in Tuskar Street and has property holdings in the area with which to fund it. The exact identity of the founder, William Hatcliffe, is not clear but he seems to have been a courtier probably from Lincolnshire or East Anglia. Money was distributed to the poor of Greenwich by the charity for 250 years before the construction of the Tuskar Street almshouses in 1857.

The charity owned a portion of land along the Woolwich Road – and indeed still owns some of the shops east of the Ship and Billett.  Records of land deals before the 1980s have not survived but it appears that much of this land has been passed to the public authorities for building during the previous century.  This includes and episode in the 1970s when land was sold to a property speculator and subsequently compulsorily purchased.

1852 KM Hatcliffe rentals0001  – notice of properties available for letting. Kentish Mercury 1852

Breakdown ownership on tithe map

Notes from Mercers Company minutes

19/10/1877 some swaps with Hatcliffe charity

12/5/1880 lease to Smith and Gale. Armitage, Glenforth Roads, etc being laid out and passed to Hatcliffe

Notes on a number of different Hatcliffes:

“The family is of ancient lineage, taking its name from the estate of   Hatcliffe. The Hatcliffes were lords of the manor for many generations, becoming most prominent in the 15th and 16th centuries. William Hatteclyffe (1416-1480) was the member of the family who rose highest in office. In 1471 he was employed in the negotiations with James III of Scotland. In July 1476 William was ambassador to Christien of Denmark.

In 1518 another William Hateclyffe died in 1495 was appointed Under Treasurer of Ireland.  Another William Hatcliffe appears as Mayor of Grimsby,   He also sat for the borough in Parliament in 1525 ,  1529.

EFFIGY OF WILLIAM HATCLYF  William Hatclyf of Hatcliffe and Thoresway (d.1551) The stone in the floor of the vestry of Hatcliffe church shows the effigy of both William and his wife Anne. This left Thomas as the heir. Since he was still a minor he was declared a ward of the Queen,. He became one of the wealthiest magnates of the county.

TO BE MR. W.H.’ OR NOT TO BE MR. W.H.’  In September 1568 Thomas’s son and heir was born.  He was christened William on September 6 at St Mary’s Church, South Kelsey. Of this William much has been written. Dr. Leslie Hotson, in his book, “Mr. W.H.’ has investigated into the mystery of who the W.H. was mentioned in Thorpe’s dedication to Shakespeare’s sonnets. He has come to the conclusion that he was in fact William Hatcliffe son of Thomas and Judith. As a fellow-commoner of Jesus College, Cambridge, he ranked with the nobility.  On November 4 1586, at the age of 18 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn. It was here that he was to meet and become a friend of Shakespeare.

His  cousin – yet another William Hatcliffe – was Avener Royal, that is chief officer of King James`s Stables, in charge of provender.

A George Hatcliffe is buried in St.Mary’s Church, Lewisham