Ivy Conduit House was constructed in 1538-40,
as part of a new system to provide
Hampton Court Palace with water.
South East Regional
Surrey Industrial History Group
at Holy Cross Preparatory School, Kingston upon Thames
1000-1005 Welcome Bob Bryson, SIHG Chairman
1005-1050 Southern Industrial History: a Different Perspective Dr Geoffrey Mead, SIAS
1050-1100 Comfort Break
1100-1145 Iron Production in the Eighteenth Century Weald Jeremy Hodgkinson, WIRG
1145-1230 Papermaking - History and Development Phil Crockett, BAPH
1230-1400 Lunch Break (with opportunity to view the Ivy Conduit House in the school grounds)
1400-1445 What happened at Merstham? - A Square Mile of Industrial Archaeology in East Surrey Paul Sowan, Sub Brit
1445-1530 Ten Green Bottles - the Demise of the Gasholder? Malcolm Tucker, GLIAS
1530-1600 Tea Break
1600-1645 Researching Berkshire’s Watermills and their Industries Sheila Viner, SERIAC Bursary Holder
1645-1700 Closing remarks
Reports of the Talks
SERIAC 2016 was held in the sumptuous surroundings of Holy Cross Preparatory School, off Kingston Hill, hosted by Surrey Industrial History Group.
The welcome was by Bob Bryson, chairman of SIHG, and the first presentation was by Dr Geoffrey Mead of the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society entitled Southern Industrial History: a different perspective. Dr Mead outlined the progress of industry through southern England with flint mining in Devon in the Stone Age, iron smelting in the Iron Age, brick and tile manufacture in the Roman era, pottery in the Mediaeval period, then glass making. The sixteenth century brought silk weaving by immigrants, string manufacture for hop cultivation and metal work for arms manufacture. The growth of the leisure industry brought piers and fishing and better roads as the rich of the South East needed to get to the seaside! Heavy industry was represented by electrical machine manufacture and the locomotive works at Brighton. The twentieth century brought the shopping industry and the twenty first the knowledge industry at universities. Mention was also made of the now defunct copperas industry of Portslade. (Copperas is a green vitriol used mainly for dyeing.)
Next, Jeremy Hodgkinson of the Wealden Iron Research Group spoke about iron production in the eighteenth century Weald. One highlight was the description of water-wheel powered bellows for seventeenth century furnaces, whose power output was measured in puffs per minute - 12 ppm was a good average. The wheel had to turn slower than for a corn mill. Another was the revelation that cannons produced during the Dutch Wars were sold to the Dutch.
The last presentation of the morning was from Phil Crockett of the British Association of Paper Historians entitled Papermaking - history and development. It is an industry of which the theory has changed little over many centuries, but the mechanisation of the process and the increase in quantity has changed out of all proportion.
We were encouraged to visit the Ivy (or Bush) Conduit House in the grounds of the school. The three conduit houses of Coombe were part of the water supply to Hampton Court Palace, built around the 1520s and not switched off until 1876. The three springs harnessed by the conduit houses lay on land owned by Merton Priory. A very useful booklet about the water supply was on sale. The building that now houses the school was probably built as the home of the father of the author John Galsworthy.
After lunch, Paul Sowan of Subterranea Britannica took us through his closely-typed handout What happened at Merstham: a square mile of industrial archaeology in East Surrey. The area has been much altered by roads and railways exploiting the Merstham Gap, a dip in the South Downs allowing a way through for mineral traffic from the south.
Next, Malcolm Tucker of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society gave a presentation entitled Ten Green Bottles - the demise of the gasholder? Gasholders were in use from 1813 to 2014 and their development revealed a fascinating variety of types. Many classic examples were lost before it was appreciated that they were worth saving.
The final presentation was by Sheila Miles Viner entitled Researching Berkshire’s Watermills and their Industries. Sheila had been awarded a bursary by SERIAC for her research. She has studied over 180 sites, the oldest being a Roman vertical wheel and a Saxon horizontal wheel. She scampered through the most significant, most notably one at Eton that was converted to supply a fountain at Windsor Castle, and Shenfield Mill on the River Kennet that was owned by Kate Bush.
The above accounts are by Peter Cousins of the Wandle Industrial Museum, with thanks.