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South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 2011

"An IA Miscellany"

Saturday 16 April 2011, hosted by
Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society

Chichester Lecture Theatre, University of Sussex, Brighton

0900-1000 Registration Coffee and tea available
1000 -1015 Welcome Sir Frederick Sowrey
1015-1100 Magnus Volk and his Amazing Railway - Ian Gledhill
11 00-1145 London's Airports: The Inter War Years - John King
1145-1230 The Mills Archive as a Research Resource for the SE - Colin Mitchell
1230-1345 Lunch Break
1345 -1430 The Victorian Working Horse - Peter Darley
1430-1515 The Kent Coalfields - Nick Kelly
1515-1545 Tea/coffee break
1545-1630 Ice Wells Fit for a Metropolis - Malcolm Tucker
1630 Closing Remarks
1700 Dispersal

Synopses and Mini-Biographies

Magnus Volk and his Amazing Railways
Ian Gledhill, Volk's Electric Railway Association
Brighton-born Magnus Volk was a true pioneer of all things electrical, inventing numerous electrical gadgets whose descendants can still be found in use today. However, even he would have been surprised to learn when he created Britain's first electric railway back in 1883 that it would still be running 128 years later. Having begun as something of a novelty demonstration line, Yolk's Electric Railway on Brighton seafront is now recognised as the oldest working electric railway in the world, but it wasn't the only line built in the town by its creator. The Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Railway was surely the most astonishing railway line ever built, and a fascinating (albeit short lived) product of the inventiveness, which Magnus Yolk was to display for the whole of his life. Ian Gledhill began his career as a railway engineer, designing extensions to the London Underground but then chose an alternative career in theatre stage management, as a director, set designer and actor. However his interest in railways never left him, and when in 1995 the Volk's Electric Railway Association was set up to support the world's oldest electric railway Ian was a founder member, and has been the Association's Chairman for the last 13 years. As such he has undertaken extensive research into the history of the line and regularly gives lectures on the subject, and he is often to be found driving the trains as a volunteer.

London's Airports - The Inter War Years
John King, Croydon Airport Society
Civil Aviation began after the Great War when passenger services were inaugurated between Hounslow and Paris. Other services followed, although the first London airport was not very suitable. In 1920 Hounslow gave way to the former military aerodrome at Croydon but it was also far from ideal. Owned and operated by the Air Ministry, it was re-developed in 1928 but it still had a number of deficiencies. Nevertheless it became a focal point of British civil aviation in the 1930s with services to several European and domestic cities. Both Croydon Airport and the principal British airline, Imperial Airways, were very much subsidised by the government. Local authorities could provide airports but there was no interest in the south east. The private sector's involvement in airports, in particular at Heston and Gatwick, was not a success story. Heston was sold by its owner to the state in the late 1930s, while Gatwick only survived after defence companies became established there. Attempts to develop Gravesend also failed. The Southern Railway could also provide airports and in the mid-1930s became interested in building a new London airport at Lullingstone in Kent. When it withdrew in 1938, the Air Ministry took over the project but the war in 1939 effectively killed it. John has a particular interest in airports in the inter-war years and has written and lectured on the subject over many years. He has been a long term supporter of SERlAC and gave a talk on airports in 1987. Following a career working for railway and airline companies he has spent his retirement researching into the history of aviation in the UK and Ireland. He is organiser and editor of the British Aviation Preservation Council "Stopping the Rot" conferences.

The Mills Archive as a Research Resource for the South East
Colin Mitchell, volunteer Mills Archive Trust.
The Mills Archive offers enthusiasts a unique source of information on windmills, watermills, materials, techniques and mills people. The information has been collected by enthusiasts over many years and without the Mills Archive, it could have been thrown into a landfill site or locked away in an inaccessible archive. The Mills Archive is approaching the end of its first decade. In that time its volunteers have brought together nearly fifty major collections comprising more than a million items, of which only 3% has been catalogued. These include some 25,000 scanned images and more than 7,000 reference items. These are catalogued and stored safely and securely but remain accessible to researchers who can search the Archive using the Internet, view most images on line and visit the Archive's premises in Reading to exam the items themselves. For more information see and The Archive (visits by appointment) is to be found at Watlington House, 44 Watlington St, Reading RG 1 4RJ.
Colin is a retired electrical/electronics engineer who has been a volunteer at the Mills Archive for the past seven years. He is not a mills expert but is an industrial heritage enthusiast who leads the Wokingham University of the Third Age (U3A) industrial heritage group and has tutored several U3A summer schools on heritage subjects.

The Victorian Working Horse (SERIAC bursary award 2010)
Peter Darley, Camden Railway Heritage Trust
For all its inventiveness as regards new modes of transport, including railways, trams and steamships, Victorian London remained at heart a horse-drawn society, and its dependence on the horse set important limits to social and economic development. Taking all the varied forms of horse-drawn and horseback activity together, British society required about one horse for every 10 people in the late Victorian period. In London there would have been some half a million horses at the turn of the century. Excluding most horseback activity, which was primarily for sport, leisure and ceremony, the Victorian working horse in harness performed a variety of duties, including carriage of goods and people, municipal services, powering machinery, moving outsize loads and national defence. Examples of these are taken from Camden Goods Depot, from Camden and its immediate neighbourhood, and from farther afield. The breeding of horses and their supply to the capital city is described, together with a broad overview of the horse world of London. This will reveal the social and economic environment in which these horses were employed, and the infrastructure and services required to support them. Peter is a freelance civil engineer and economist who has worked in water resources development around the world. He recently founded Camden Railway Heritage Trust and writes and gives talks on the remarkable industrial and transport heritage of the area in and around the former Camden Goods Depot, as well as guiding walks over a heritage trail he created.

The Kent Coalfields
Nick Kelly, SIAS
The discovery of coal near Boulogne led to the probability that coal could exist under Kent. After a number of abortive boreholes, coal was finally located at Shakespeare Cliff west of Dover in 1893. Due to a number of financial, geological, and engineering problems coal was not commercially produced until 1912. The First World War had a dramatic effect on the infant industry; only four collieries would achieve sustained production. These passed to the NCB on 1 January 1947. Maximum production was around two million tons per annum and the mines employed 11,500 men. Apart from the NCB mines there was a short lived drift mine at Cobham near Rochester; this worked a seam of brown coal. The first NCB closure came in 1969 when Chislet closed. The other three collieries closed following the 1984/5 miners strike, Tilmanstone in 1986, Snowdown in 1987 and Betteshanger in 1989. Whilst the industry is now defunct, remains in the form of disused buildings and miners' housing survive. As a child Nick Kelly lived in Kent and saw the industry at its peak. He is a noted researcher in many aspects of industrial archaeology specialising in extractive industries and worldwide transportation systems. On a return visit to Kent in 2009 Nick saw the legacy of regenerating (demolishing) the above ground workings which has led to today' study.

Ice Wells fit for a Metropolis
Malcolm Tucker, GLIAS
When the supply of ice for summer catering and food preservation depended on what could be gathered and stored in winter from lakes, ponds and canals, it remained a luxury of the rich. Importing lake ice from Norway was pioneered in 1822 by William Leftwich, a London 'pastrycook'. Soon he was storing his ice in a huge "egg-shaped" ice well, 82 feet deep, near Regent' s Park. Another of his, deepened to 100 feet in the 1840s, still exists and has been investigated in detail by the speaker. The London Clay proved ideal for excavating large ice wells, typically 34 feet or more in diameter and around 40 feet deep. They were mostly located close to the Regent' s Canal since the ice was imported via the Docks or gathered in cold weather from the canal itself. Various fishmongers entered the wholesale trade, and Carlo Gatti, a cafe proprietor who popularised ice cream, built his first ice well at Battlebridge Basin near King' s Cross around 1857. Investment in mechanical freezing plants from the 1870s onwards curbed the rapid growth of Norwegian ice imports, which plummeted from a peak of 340,000 ' registered' tons in 1899 to zero by 1915. United Carlo Gatti Stevenson & Slaters Ltd. continued manufacturing ice in 3-cwt blocks until c.1980. Malcolm is a civil engineer with long experience of historic engineering structures and industrial archaeology, in which fields he now works as a freelance consultant.