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South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 1995

"Hot Stuff
Uses of Heat and Heating"

Saturday 8 April 1995, hosted by SIAS

De la Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, East Sussex

1000 Registration & Coffee; Displays
1030 Welcome and Opening Remarks by the Conference Chairman Air Marshal Sir Frederick Sowrey
1040 Oast Houses - Gwen Jones
1125 Lime Kilns - Paul Sowan
1210 Electrical Heating - John Norris
1230 Lunch Break; Displays and Building Tours
1330 Fireless Steam Locomotives - Nick Kelly
1425 Gas from Cradle to Grave - Brian and Nigel Sturt
1510 Ice Houses - Ron Martin
1550 Closing Remarks
1600 Exhibition Open, Tours
1730 Close of Conference


Air Marshal Sir Frederick Sowrey is the President of the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society.
Gwen Jones has written about the history of Oast Houses.
Paul Sowan is happier to be down a hole than on the surface talking about a subject he knows well.
John Norris is well known for his work at Amberley Museum.
Nick Kelly is a member of the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society and is a mine of information about unusual aspects of transport.
The Sturts, father and son, got their hands dirty when town gas was manufactured and so have some first hand experience of heating and gas manufacture.
Ron Martin, General Secretary of the SIAS, is better known for mathematical tile spotting! Ice Houses were not just holes in the ground as he has found out.

Abstracts of Presentations:

Oast Houses
Gwen Jones
Farm buildings document agricultural history. The survey of oast houses began in earnest in 1981 because the conversion of farm buildings was increasingly taking place without any prior record of the evidence embodied in them having been made.
While the pace of change was rapid Oast Houses were recorded "thematically" in isolation. Since the rate of conversion slackened owing to the recession, an effort has been made to record all the farmstead buildings so that Oast Houses can be seen in the context of the full farm economy. Conversion is again increasing and whole farmsteads are now frequently redeveloped. The work of recording is again urgent.
Gwen Jones has an Honours degree in French and has worked in both field and building archaeology since 1976. She is a part time tutor for the Centre for Continuing Education at Sussex University. She is currently the editor of the Sussex Archaeological Collections and has published articles on both field and building archaeology in this journal and the Journal of Historic Farm Buildings. Mrs Jones has also written a book on the history of Oast Houses. Her interest in the subject began in 1976 when she was involved in a Field Archaeology survey of the parish of Ewhurst. During this survey it became apparent that no one was doing anything about Oast Houses.

Lime Kilns
Paul Sowan
A good lump of quicklime, four or five inches across (straight from the kiln, from which it would have been drawn cool enough to handle) performs quite spectacularly when dropped into a convenient puddle of water. It swells and gives off clouds of steam, splits and flies about, and ultimately is reduced to a heap of very fine powder. Before the Health and Safety at Work Act, pupils on visits to the then active Dorking Greystone Lime Company Ltd's works at Betchworth, Surrey, were encouraged to try this demonstration for themselves by the works manager, without injury! Many Science teachers have attempted with their classes, to produce equally effective quicklime by putting smaller bits of chalk over Bunsen flames. making them as hot as possible for as long as feasible - with disappointing results. The art of producing good quicklime (and a bit of the physical chemistry involved) will be explained, as will the mysteries of overburned and deadburned lime, and the influence of all these considerations on lime kiln design. Finally. those attending the Conference, and looking forward to completing IRIS forms for lime kilns, will be urged to keep an eye open for the elusive 'coal chutes' the top of which. at first sight, may look like standard mixed feed vertical draw kilns, indicating an altogether more sophisticated design following the Brockham, Briggs, Aalborg, or similar patents.
Paul Sowan has taught science in secondary schools in Croydon from 1963. He graduated in geology (but had always intended to become a science teacher, and was at first, in his spare time, researching the palaeontology of chalk fossils, which started to become complicated as it became necessary to obtain and have translated German, Polish and other research papers. He was drawn to the lime works at Betchworth initially by the fossils, and by the splendid orchid flora. He fell into underground studies by accident, and then discovered Betchworth and adjoining parishes had hearthstone mines and firestone quarries, often under the floors of the associated Limeworks. He was given the entire company archive, from 1865-1963, after the lime company's winding up. The most important part of this is now in the Surrey Record Office. He has been researching into lime burning, lime hydrating, and stone mining and quarrying ever since.

Heating by Gas: From Cradle to Grave
Nigel Sturt
Little thought is given by consumers to the considerable effect gas heating, in its many forms, has had on their well being. From birth to death gas heating affects the lives of a large proportion of the population. This afternoon's brief talk relates to some of the broader aspects of domestic gas heating. Initially the industry was lighting orientated, little use being made of gas as a fuel. The advent of the electricity industry and consequent loss of the lighting monopoly persuaded the gas industry to diversify and exploit the most flexible of fuels, gas. These events and the development of domestic gas appliances are briefly described, including the effects of the increasing rivalry with electricity, of the period up to the beginning of the second World War.

Ice Houses
Ron Martin
Ice and snow have been collected and used for thousands of years in many parts of the world. Ice houses were introduced in Britain during the 17th century and later became very fashionable. By the mid-19th century most large houses had their own ice houses which were filled with ice collected from the estate lakes. In Sussex there are records of nearly 100 of which 58 are still extant The ice would be used in kitchens for making cold confections and for cooling drinks but not for storing food. The transport of ice began in 1805 when a shipload was sent from America to Martinique. The first shipment to Britain was from Norway in 1822 and from America in 1842. The commercial ice trade became big business but this trade gradually diminished and ceased by World War I, being superseded by mechanically produced ice.

Electrical Heating
John Norris
In the early years of the electricity supply industry, electricity was used mainly for lighting. The poor 'load factor' that resulted from generating only during the hours of darkness was one of the factors that led to the search for daytime loads and the development of appliances using electricity to produce heat. By the 1890s most of the appliances that in modem form are in use today - space heaters, water boilers, irons, cookers, kettles etc. - had 'arrived', even though their use was limited to the wealthy few. Gradually electricity reached more and more homes and tariff changes in the 1920s encouraged the use of electricity for cooking and heating, assisted by the promotional efforts of the British Electrical Development Association. By the 1930s, water heating by electricity was a cost-effective option and began to be widely promoted. Electric space heating was still largely confined to individual fires and heaters and in the immediate post-war period these cheap-to-buy, direct acting appliances became something of a nuisance to the supply industry, encouraging an increase in demand for electricity, particularly at peak times, when generating capacity and fuel availability were not always available to meet it. The development of storage heaters and off-peak tariffs in the 1960s reduced the problem and enabled the electricity supply industry to compete with other fuels in meeting the growing public aspirations for central heating.
John Norris uses examples from the Milne Electrical Collection at Amberley Museum to illustrate these points.
He was for some years an engineer in the Chief Engineer's Department of Seeboard before moving sideways in 1981 to take over Seeboard's Milne Museum at Tonbridge from its creator, Bob Gordon. In 1989 the decision was taken to relocate the Milne Collection at Amberley Museum and John took early retirement from Seeboard and transferred to the staff at Amberley to oversee this task.

Fireless Steam on Rails and Underwater!
Nick Kelly
The idea of a fireless steam locomotive had its origins at the beginning of the 19th century. Richard Trevithick proposed putting iron bars in a stationary furnace then placing them inside tubes that ran through a heavily lagged reservoir. The stored heat in the bars would be used to generate steam in the reservoir. Indeed he built a model of such a locomotive in 1802, but like so many of his ideas he failed to develop it further.
It was not until the 1860s and the advent of the underground railway in London that a pressing need for such a locomotive became apparent. John Fowler in conjunction with Robert Stephenson & Co. built a 2-4-0 locomotive with a special firebrick firebox which was supposed to retain heat. The locomotive, known as 'Fowler's Ghost' was a failure.
The first truly fireless locomotive was built in the USA. The 4 ton 0-4-0 locomotive was tried from East New York in 1873. Its reservoir was 10' X 3'4" and had a maximum pressure of 180 psi. Similar locomotives were built and used in New Orleans, the 300 gallon reservoir being charged to 200 psi. Further locomotives were built in France from 1875.
The Croydon - Norwood tramways used the first fireless locomotives to be used in this country. For various reasons they were unsuccessful and were returned to Germany by 1886. The earliest industrial fireless locomotives were used by the Kent paper industry at the Empire paper mills in Greenhithe in 1907. This was only scrapped in 1971.
Robert Stephenson Hawthorns built 17 fireless locomotives between 1916 and 1959. W.G. Bagnall of Stafford built 14 locomotives between 1924 and 1957, the first being built or Edward Lloyd's (later Bowaters) paper mill at Sittingbourne.
The first fireless submarine was built in 1878/9 by Cochrane of Birkenhead. It had a life of only a year before being lost off Rhyl in 1880. The Barrow shipbuilding yard built several boats to the designs of the Swedish armaments magnate Thorston Nordenfelt, based on the ideas of the Reverend George W. Garrett. He was commissioned into the Ottoman Navy when it became impossible to find a Turkish crew willing to sail in such a revolutionary vessel. The Turkish boats had very poor trim when submerged and were eventually abandoned. The Imperial German Navy tried three boats but found them more successful as surface vessels than as submarines.
While the fireless railway locomotive was an outstandingly successful machine the fireless submarine was quite the reverse. As weapons of war they were far more dangerous to the crew than they would be to the enemy!
Locomotives continued to be developed and manufactured until the end of the 1950s. The last two steam locomotives to be withdrawn from service in this country went in 1992. Both of them were fireless.
Abroad, in the former East Germany, development continued right up to the late 1980s early 1990s when 25 large 0-6-0 locomotives were built. It is likely that these locomotives will be the last large order to be built in Europe.