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South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 2000

Saturday 1 April 2000, hosted by SIHG

Chertsey Hall, Chertsey, Surrey

0945-1030 Registration and coffee
1030-1040 Welcome by Prof. Alan Crocker (President SIHG)
1040-1130 Lesser-known Industrial Archaeological Sites in Surrey - Christopher Shepheard
1130-1220 Reigate Stone - Paul Sowan
1220-1400 Lunch
1400-1450 Animal Engines - Ken Major
1450-1540 The Effect of Industry on the Landscape Over the Last 1000 Years - Dr Peter Brandon
1540-1610 Tea
1610-1700 South Coast Seaside Piers - Robin Jones
1700-1715 Closing remarks

1730         Walk around some historic sites in Chertsey, led by John Mills

Synopses of Lectures and Mini-Biographies

Lesser-known Industrial Archaeological Sites in Surrey
Christopher Shepheard
This talk on some little known aspects of Surrey's industrial history deals with those little known and often quirky items, often ignored in mainstream publications, which formed, and indeed still form, part of the county's rich industrial past. For instance, there can be few other land-locked counties which boasted a sea wall and a lighthouse.
Largely gleaned from SIHG's series of district guides to the county, I have attempted to assemble them into an amusing, unlikely and entertaining tour of the county as befits the first talk of the first SERIAC conference of the new millennium on this auspicious 1st. of April.
Thanks must go to the various authors of the district guides without whom this talk would have been impossible, and the sites could well have gone unrecorded. It has been my pleasure to tour the county with them while illustrating this unique series of books.
Christopher Shepheard is a former Chairman of the Surrey Industrial History Group.

Reigate Stone
Paul W Sowan
Building-stone, mineral pigment, or refractory: an enquiry into 'Reigate Stone'
The Upper Greensand outcrop in east Surrey has been extensively exploited by means of underground galleries for building, refractory, and mineral pigment purposes. Stone for these three uses appears identical to visual inspection, and even the divisions between the beds of stone are often invisible in the underground working-faces.
The presentation focuses on the underground archaeology, stratigraphy and petrography of the stone. What is known about the differences between mining and quarrying techniques, and between good building or refractory stone and stone suitable only for use as a pigment (hearthstone, for whitening hearths etc.) is reported.
The current phase of this research is in collaboration with the Historic Royal Palaces, which body is interested in the conservation, and perhaps even replacement of deteriorated Reigate stone at Hampton Court and the Tower of London. Standard stone presenation techniques are inapplicable, as Reigate stone is unique in Britain, being neither sandstone nor limestone.
Receipt of the SERIAC Bursary for 1999 to assist this research is gratefully acknowledged. This has been applied to the scientific examination of stratigraphically controlled stone samples collected in April 1999.
Paul W Sowan is a retired chemistry teacher, who has lived and worked in and around Croydon all his life. In the early 1960s he discovered to his surprise that east Surrey's mines and underground building-stone quarries had attracted very little attention from archaeologists or historians, despite their importance, especially in the Middle Ages. He is now one of a team researching the underground and mineral-based industries of Surrey. Team members have undertaken archival and historical research, studies of extant building fabric, and archaeological and geological investigations and surveying underground.
He is, also, familiar with underground building-stone quarries elsewhere in England and Europe, including Chilmark (Wiltshire), Caen (Lower Normandy), and many others even as far away as the Czech Republic, Poland, and Ukraine.
His other industrial archaeology interests include the civil engineering of transport infrastructure (earthworks and tunnels), limeworks technology, and miscellaneous mining. A current project is to research the history of Iceland's former coal and Iceland spar mines, and the gasworks at Reykjavik!

Animal Engines
J Kenneth Major
This paper covers the way in which men and animals created rotary power. The horse was the principal source of this power and has powered far more pieces of machinery than has been imagined in recent years. One can imagine the labour required of a man to raise a bucket from a deep well. The treadwheel, where a wheel rotates in a vertical plane powered by men or donkeys at the bottom of the wheel, is perhaps the best known example. However, many other wheels, moving in a horizontal plane, served mines and manufacturers.
Farming in the nineteenth century relied heavily on the horse engine. There were hardly any jobs in the farmyard which were not capable of being done by a horse engine. Field work was often assisted by horse power, such as raising the sheaves on to the corn stack or threshing.
This is a fascinating study which should be added to the range of every industrial archaeologist.
J. Kenneth Major is an architect running his own practice in the repair of old buildings, particularly watermills and windmills. He is the author of Fieldwork in Industrial Archaeology.

The effect of industry on the landscape over the last 1000 years
Peter Brandon
Every trace of man's industrial activity, however slight or remote, is visible in the landscape to those who have eyes to see them.
The lecture begins with the earliest natural resource to be exploited - flint - and goes on to discuss another extremely early industry - salt. Early ironmaking by the blooming process in conjunction with the effects of new technology from the Pays de Bray resulted in the Weald becoming a rural workshop. The cloth industry is also considered. Special attention is given to milling in the Tillingbourne Valley, Surrey and to the industrial society created in the Weald of Sussex which left a legacy in the landscape of more mine-pits, marl-pits, saw-pits, stone-pits, brick and tile-pits than anywhere else in England. Lime working and diggings for fuller's earth are examined.
The lecture concludes by drawing attention to wider considerations of industrial activity such as changes in vegetation and settlement patterns, so influencing strongly the overall present character of the landscape of South-East England.
Peter Brandon lectures part-time at the University of Sussex and is a firm supporter of the WEA and the U3A He was formerly Head of the Department of Geography at the University of North London and has written several books on the South-East, including Te South Downs (1998) and The South-East from 1000 AD (1990, with Brian Short)

South Coast Seaside Piers
Robin F Jones
Seaside Piers were a feature of seaside resorts initially for promenading and as structures to allow landing of passengers by pleasure steamers, but they later developed into entertainment venues. The main period for pier construction was between 1870 and 1900 when 50 of the 84 seaside piers were built. However the first pier was constructed at Ryde, Isle of Wight in 1813, and the most recent pier built was at Deal in 1957, both of which will be featured in the lecture.
About 20 Piers are covered in the presentation from Deal, Kent in the east to Swanage, Dorset in the west. Isle of Wight Piers are also featured. The history of piers, their designers, including Eugenius Birch, the designer of 14 piers in Britain, many of them on the South Coast (the West Pier, Brighton, being considered his finest), and the buildings erected for the wide variety of entertainment are also covered. The operation of pleasure paddle steamers is included and the current states of the structures today are mentioned.
Further information can be obtained from the publication Seaside Piers by Simon Adamson, published by Batsford Ltd.
Robin F. Jones is a qualified Mechanical Engineer and has been interested in Seaside Piers for over 15 years. This developed from his interest in paddle steamers which came about with the preservation of the paddle steamer Waverley in 1975. When P.S. Waverley commenced operating from various seaside piers around the coast of Britain, he became interested in these structures and did research into pier construction, historical aspects and the entertainment element of seaside piers. He joined the National Piers Society in 1991, and when the East Sussex Branch of this Society was formed in 1992, he became Branch Secretary organising events for local members and editing the Branch Newsletters. He remained Branch Secretary for 4½ years. He is also Eastern Area Secretary of the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society.
Walk round some historic sites in Chertsey, led by John Mills.