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South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 2001

Saturday 31 March 2001, hosted by SIAS

Christ's Hospital, Horsham, Sussex

0945-1030 Registration and Coffee: Displays open
1030-1040 Welcome by Air Marshal Sir Frederick Sowrey (President of SIAS)
1040-1130 Restoration Work on some Hampshire Sites - John Silman
1130-1220 The Building and Establishment of Christ's Hospital - Nick Plumley
1220-1400 Lunch in the Big School: Displays open
                Guided Tours around the School Buildings
                Museum open for visits
1400-1450 London Exhibitions: Structure and Heritage - Denis Smith
1450-1540 The History of Gas Lighting - Christopher Sugg
1540-1610 Tea: displays open
1610-1700 The Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills - Professor Alan Crocker
1700-1710 Closing remarks - John Blackwell, (Chairman of SIAS)

                Delegates are free to walk around the various buildings on the site.

Summaries of Talks

Restoration Work on some Hampshire Sites
John Silman
This talk will give some idea of the scope and complexity of the work carried out by the volunteer workers of SUIAG. This band of like-minded individuals are not only interested in the academic field but are also very happy to "get their hands dirty" as well.
The work covered includes the restoration of a small steam operated brewhouse, the recovery of several sets of water pumping equipment, the saving of a rare sewage pump and restoration of water mills to working order.
John Silman is very much an amateur industrial archaeologist being neither an engineer, not an academic, perhaps an enthusiast would be a better description. Born on a 1000 acre mixed farm in North Hampshire and going to school mainly in Southampton, he joined the merchant navy at 17 with the Union Castle Line on the "Capetown Castle" subsequently volunteered for the RAF at 18 and becoming an RAF "sailor", serving for five years on high speed rescue launches, all on the South Coast and mainly from RAF Thorney Island. The rest of his working life was spent in the motor trade selling everything from 3-wheeled trucks to 8-wheeled waste disposal vehicles and even a period serving funeral directors with hearses and limousines. He is an ex-Chairman of SUIAG and is currently Vice-president of the Industrial Archaeology Group and Chairman of the Hampshire Mills group.

The Building and Establishment of Christ's Hospital
Nick Plumley
Christ'' Hospital was founded in 1553 by King Edward VI within the monastic building of Grey Friars in Newgate Street in London. After the Great Fire the school was substantially rebuilt with much influence by Wren and Hawksmoor with the inclusion of the Royal Mathematical School for the training of future sailors. A school for the younger children was founded in Hertford shortly after the Great Fire and was subsequently used for the girls school. By the end of the nineteenth century the shortcomings of the Newgate Street site were becoming apparent and the decision was made to move to a new site and an estate of 1200 acres was bought near Horsham. The architects for the new school were Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell and the scheme was built in red brick and incorporated the Big School, Dining Hall, Chapel and Court Room arranged around the Quadrangle with teaching blocks on each side of the Big School and boarding houses extending along the east west axis at each side. The original building works was carried out by the family firm of James Longley and Co. of Crawley, the firm still operating.

London Exhibitions: Structure and Heritage
Denis Smith
London has been the venue for several major exhibitions from 1851 to 2000. Buildings to house these exhibitions have demonstrated structural ingenuity and have exploited new materials. In addition they have left us a heritage of infrastructure which includes roads, railway stations, a Thames bridge, two river piers, sports stadia and a concert hall.
Denis Smith is the Chairman and founder member of GLIAS, is the immediate Past President of the Newcomen Society and a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers Panel for Historical Engineering Works. He has just completed a book on Civil Engineering: London and the Thames Valley to be published in the Autumn.

The History of Gas Lighting
Christopher Sugg
In order to place the History of Gas Lighting in context it is necessary to include at least some of the history of lighting in general. Because of the Sugg family involvement with gas and gas lighting and its links with London. The talk falls naturally into three sections the development of the means of lighting, the story of early street lighting before gas and the age of gas as viewed from one of the foremost companies of the time.

The Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills
Alan Crocker
This year's SERIAC is taking place a few days before the scheduled opening to the public, for the first time, of the site of the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey, which is an industrial monument of major national and international importance. Therefore, when approached about speaking at the meeting, it seemed appropriate that I should talk about the history of the Waltham Abbey site, the surviving structures and machinery and the creation of a visitor attraction based on the manufacture of gunpowder, modern explosives and propellants.
Gunpowder was first made at Waltham Abbey in the 1660s and it was only in 1787 that the mills were purchased by the Crown. From then on, the Royal Gunpowder Mills became the most important powder works in Britain and was at the forefront of technological developments internationally. During the latter half of the nineteenth century the new chemical explosives, nitroglycerine and nitrocellulose, and the new propellant cordite, which is a mixture of these were developed and there are substantial remains of this activity at the site. During the twentieth century, Waltham Abbey was responsible for research and development of high explosives including Tetryl, TNT and RDX, which was used in the bouncing bombs.
The site was closed in 1991 and was decontaminated by the Ministry of Defence, which also provided funds to safeguard its future in perpetuity A Heritage Lottery Fund grant was also obtained to restore and interpret the site and to open it to the public. The site occupies 71 hectares, about 50 hectares of which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and 34 hectares an SSSI There are over 300 structures, including 231 listed buildings, one of which is Grade 1, and an elaborate interconnected system of waterways.
Imaginative exhibitions, films, interactive computer displays etc. have been developed in several of the historic buildings and visitors will be free to explore much of the site unguided. However, unfortunately because of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, the public opening of the site has been postponed.
Alan Crocker is President of SlHG and the Surrey Archaeological Society. In 1985, together with his wife Glenys and a colleague Phil Philo, he established the Gunpowder Mills Study group and was its Chairman until 2000, when it was reformed as the Gunpowder and Explosives History group. He is a founder member of the Board of the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills Co. Ltd. His other specialised interests in IA include paper mills and water turbines. He is a part time professor of Physics at the University of Surrey where he carries out theoretical research on the fracture of polycrystalline materials, particularly steel at low temperatures.