South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 1997
"Themes in Urban Industrial Archaeology"
Saturday 12 April 1997, hosted by GLIAS
Avery Hill Campus, University of Greenwich, Eltham, London SE91000-1030 Registration and Coffee
1030-1035 Welcome Dr Denis Smith, GLIAS Chairman
1035-1120 How Our Cities Grew - Geoffrey Mead, SlAS
1125-1210 Housing the Multitudes: An Archaeology of the Working Class House - Prof David Perrett, GLlAS
1215-1245 Avery Hill, the Norths and the Guano Industry - Francis Ward, Greenwich Local History Centre
1400-1445 Suburban Railways: A Case Study - Dr Edwin Course, SUIAG
1450-1530 Urban Road Transport - Mark Dennison (London Transport Museum)
1555-1640 Workers' Playtime: The Archaeology of Home and Entertainment - Sue Hayton (GLIAS)
1640-1725 A Dying Trade: The Archaeology of the Cemetery - Dr Bob Flanagan, Chairman Friends of Norwood Cemetery
1725-1730 Summing Up and Close of Conference
Synopses of Talks
How Our Cities Grew
Geoffrey Mead, SIAS & University of Sussex
City growth is looked at in relationship to the different ages and styles of the built environment developing from a historic core, and also in the human dispersion within that growth with reference to income and ability to move within city.
Industrial growth is then studied from the aspect of sectors of industry and noting how, with change in time, there is change in industrial emphasis and thus change in the character and economy of the city.
The final part of this scenario is where does industry fit into modern/future city development and which industries will be there in the forthcoming millennium.
Housing the Multitudes
David Perrett, GLIAS
The population of London grew dramatically from the early 1800s and a major social pressure was the provision of housing which for the working classes meant a laissez faire approach. Many philanthropic employers, from Robert Owen (New Lanark) to Colonel Ackroyd (Copley) driven by the needs to attract workers to new industrial areas had shown an enlightened approach to housing their workers. But this was not the case in London, where slums and dens such as Jacobs Island in Bermondsey were commonplace.
In the 1840s two companies were formed to build artisan housings and earn some 5% return on their investment. The dwellings of the first of these, The Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes, built estates of high density. The second Society for the Improvement of the Condition of the Labouring Classes (headed by Lord Shaftesbury), founded 1844, is best known for Prince Albert's Model dwelling House shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition.
The largest companies though did not appear until the 1860s. The Improved Industrial Dwelling Co. of Sidney Waterlow (founded 1863), The Artizans and General (1867) and lastly the Peabody Trust (donation given 1004). The Municipal Authorities especially the Metropolitan Board of Works were required to do little to help the housing problems and were even encouraged to aggravate it! Even following the Artisans Dwelling Act 1875 there was little improvement. It was only following the establishment of the LCC in 1889 could any rational approach to the question be seen.
Smalley G The Life of Sidney Waterlo; Arnold 1909
Burnett JA Social History of Housing 1815-1970; David & Charles 1978
Anon Artizans Centenary 1867-1967; The Company
Connors JE The red cliffs of Stepney: [a history of the buildings erected by the East End Dwellings Co. Ltd. 1885-1949] Connor & Butler 1984
Suburban Railways: A Case Study
Dr Edwin Course, SUIAG
It is fitting that an appreciation of suburban railways should be presented in Eltham, which particularly in the period of its most rapid growth, depended very much on trams and trains. The provision of railway facilities did not automatically produce residential development but it did make it possible. Arguably the 'high summer' of commuting was in the decades between the 1910s and the 1980s. This is not to suggest that there was no rail community before the 1910s or that it has ceased. However, road transport and modern communication techniques have combined to reduce the necessity for rail travel.
Main lines carried some suburban traffic, but particularly from the 1860s now lines were built with suburban traffic in mind. First, the Great Eastern and the Southern companies, lacking the traffic of great industrial areas, sought revenue from London suburban railways. Later the underground companies wishing to feed more traffic onto central lines, thrust out into the country - Metroland became famous. The number of lines will be mentioned but the story of one will presented in more detail. The Bexley Heath Railway of 1895 is a good example of a suburban railway, and what better place to consider it than Eltham?
Sue Hayton, GLIAS
As most middle-aged people will remember "Workers' Playtime" was a long running programme on the Light programme. In fact it began in 1941 as a Saturday show and was very quickly increased to three programmes a week. It was a live broadcast from a factory "somewhere in England" and was designed to increase morale in those "fighting" on the Home Front. It features a mixed variety bill and it is surprising that the show lasted until 1964 - very nearly the end of the Light programme itself. The last edition was from a corrugated case manufacturer at Hatfield Heath.
When I started to be interested in Industrial Archaeology some 25 years ago, the idea of looking at "Social Archaeology" was abhorrent to some despite the fact that what workers did in their spare time might be nearly as interesting as what they did in their working lives. Certainly, as we shall see, many of their entertainments involved the use of materials such as concrete and terra cotta and various of the process involved in, say, the film evening involve certain manufacturing processes and who cannot say that brewing is not an important industry?
A Dying Trade: The Archaeology of the Cemetery
Bob Flanagan, Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, London
In Christian countries burial was until relatively recently the only means available for disposal of the dead. In England, with some exceptions such as Jewish, Quaker or other dissenter's burial grounds, notably Bunhill ('Bonehill') Fields in London (established by 1665), most burials had been associated with churches or churchyards, some of which had been in use since the Dark Ages. Hawksmoor's mausoleum for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard (1729 - 45) was a radical departure and is said to be the. first such free.-standing structure to be built in western Europe since classical times. At the other extreme, urban cemeteries appeared in India (South Park Street, Calcutta, 1767) and in Scotland (Calton Hill, Edinburgh) and Ireland (Clifton Graveyard, Belfast) in the early 1770s. These themes of romanticism and functionality were first combined, not in England, but in post-revolutionary Paris where three cemeteries (Montmartre, Montparnasse, and Père Lachaise) were established outside the city walls. PSre Lachaise was the first to open (1804). Segregated burial and ownership of the plot was offered in perpetuity to all who could afford to pay, but 5-year leases for monuments and common graves were available to those who could not.
The Cemetery in England
In nineteenth-century England the growth of industrial centres meant that traditional methods of disposing of the dead could not cope. The first inter-denominational cemetery in England, The Rosary in Norwich, was licensed in 1819 - this survives largely intact together with a chapel and porte-cochere of 1872. The cemetery largely catered for dissenters, but burial was offered to all who could pay. Further cemeteries were founded in Manchester (Chariton Row, 1821; Every Street, 1824), in Liverpool (Low Hill, 1825; St James, 1829, the Anglican response to Low Hill), in Cheltenham (1830), and in Newcastle (Westgate Hill, 1831).
In London the first of the great commercial cemeteries, All Saints, Kensal Green, was opened in 1833. Its buildings (Anglican and non-comformist chapels in consecrated and unconsecrated portions of the cemetery, respectively, and gatehouse/office) were, however, not completed until 1837. The Greek Revival style was followed as in all cemetery buildings until the mid-l830s, including those at Key Hill, Birmingham (1835, in an active sand quarry!); Woodhouse, Leeds (1835); Newcastle General (1836); Fulford, York (1836-7); Nottingham General (1837); Sharrow Vale, Sheffield (1837); Ardwick and Harpurhey (The General Cemetery) (both Manchester, 1837) and Arno's Vale, Bristol (1840).
Back in London, the South Metropolitan Cemetery at what was then the hamlet of Lower Norwood was designed by (Sir) William Tite and opened in 1837. Tite was not only a Director of the company, but also quickly embraced the Gothic sentiments expounded by Charles Barry and Pugin. The architecture at Norwood was Gothic, the first appearance of this style in any general cemetery - sadly all is now lost apart from the entrance gates, boundary railings and catacombs on the site of the Anglican chapel. However, the Gothic style was thenceforth perpetuated in virtually all cemetery buildings from the 1840s [exceptions included Gravesend (1841) and Reading (1842)], and although monuments derived from classical models continued to be erected until the early 1900s, Gothic tombs, Gothic details, and Gothic forms proliferated.
Other commercial cemeteries were founded in London: Highgate (1839) and its twin at Nunhead (1840), Abney Park (1840, established without an Act of Parliament as a successor to Bunhill Fields and unconsecrated throughout), Brompton (1840), and Tower Hamlets (1841), but only Highgate challenged Kensal Green and Norwood as a fashionable burial place for the wealthier residents of London and the South-East. Farther afield, small cemeteries were established at Bideford (1841), Derby (1841), Shrewsbury, Truro (1840), and Winchester, whilst others such as Abbey Cemetery, Bath (1843-4), the General Cemetery, Sheffield (1846), Warstone Lane, Birmingham (1848) and Church Cemetery, Nottingham (1848) were provided specifically for Anglican burial in consecrated ground.
Whilst all of the English cemeteries discussed thus far made some provision for working-class burials they were primarily aimed at middle- and upper-class clients. The poor had to make the best of what was available, be it an overcrowded churchyard or simple burial yard. One of the largest of this latter group was Victoria Park Cemetery in Bethnal Green (1845); when it was closed and converted into a park in the early 1890s, some 300,000 bodies had been interred in its 11 acres, almost all in common graves. This and other examples of exploitation in sanitary practice together with continuing concerns over cholera, for example, helped prompt the first Public Health Act (1848) which laid the foundation for all subsequent public health measures up to and beyond the First World War and began the legislative process that established public cemeteries throughout Britain. The Metropolitan Interments Act (1850) extended the provisions of the Public Health Act to London as far as burials were concerned, but the only practical consequence was the purchase by the state of Brompton Cemetery.
The Metropolitan Burial Act (1852) followed and vestries were empowered to form Burial Boards and create cemeteries or make other provision to bury the parish dead. In 1853 these arrangements were extended to the rest of England and Wales, in 1855 to Scotland, and in 1856 to Ireland with especial provision for Roman Catholics as well as Anglicans and nonconformists. A further Act of 1857 consolidated changes made to the 1852 Act. These burial acts established in essence the system of public interment that is still with us today, a national system of public cemeteries without a national bureaucracy. Burial Board cemeteries were soon opened in London (1854: Lambeth, St Marylebone, St Pancras, Westminster; 1855: Kensington, Paddington, Putney; 1856: Camberwell, City of London, Greenwich, Tottenham, Woolwich). Elsewhere the Burial Acts stimulated the establishment of cemeteries up and down the land, in agrarian parishes as well as in urban centres. But some towns and cities had already taken the initiative. In Exeter, for example, Bartholomew Street Cemetery was opened with public money in 1836-7, whilst Leeds Town Council opened Beckett Street Cemetery (Burmantofts) together with three other cemeteries in 1845.
There was one last major commercial fling. Incorporated in 1852, the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company bought 2,000 acres of heathland at Brookwood near Woking, but nevertheless aimed to serve the metropolis. The company's architect was again William Tite. The cemetery was connected to London by rail and possessed successive terminals near to Waterloo Station and its own stations and chapels in the cemetery at Brookwood. Facilities for dissenters and Anglicans were duplicated in London, on the funeral train and at Brookwood. The funeral train ran until it was destroyed in the Second World War. The stations in the cemetery have also been destroyed, but the funerary chapels survive (the nonconformist chapel has been mutilated and is now inaccessible). The cemetery is still the largest in Britain (450 acres).
Cremation in England
Cremation in its modem sense was a Victorian innovation. An important influence was the experience of those who had lived in India, but the immediate precedents were France and Italy. Sir Henry Thompson, surgeon to Queen Victoria, founded the Cremation Society of England in 1874. James Nasmyth was an early supporter. Land was purchased at St John's, Woking from the London Necropolis Company in 1878. A crematory financed by subscription containing a coke-fired cremation furnace designed by Giorini was erected by 1879. The first human cremation at Woking took place on 26 March 1885 - by 1900 1,824 cremations had been performed, mostly of members of the aristocracy. Human cremation was at last recognised by Act of Parliament in 1902.
The buildings at Woking were altered in ca. 1888 when a Gothic chapel was added. Francis Charles Hastings, 8th Duke of Bedford, was the principal subscriber; he also built a private chapel and crematorium to the south of the existing crematorium. In 1890 a piece of ground was set aside for the interment of ashes, each such interment being marked by a miniature memorial. In 1903 a marble and brass catafalque was installed in the chapel as a memorial to Richard Frederick Crawshaw. Sometime between 1910 and 1926 the Duke's crematorium/chapel was adapted for use as a columbarium which is said to be the earliest such building in the country.
Although the original Woking cremators have gone, the other buildings survive and form a unique assemblage. Architecturally, however, the finest British crematorium is probably Golders Green (1902). Other early crematoria include Manchester (1892), Glasgow (1896), Liverpool (1896), Kingston·upon~ Hull (1901, the first municipal crematorium), Darlington (1901), City of London (1902), Leicester (1902), Birmingham (1903), Bradford (1905) and Sheffield (1905). Many early crematoria were designed to look like churches with flues disguised as campaniles. At Norwood in London, a crematorium was installed next to Tite's Dissenters' Chapel, at that time (1915) one of the few such installations in the London area. This building has been demolished, but funerary urns associated with a columbarium survive in a modern building.
The Funeral and Funerary Monuments
In funerals as in most things fashion and money are important. The 'Victorian way of death' has come to symbolise extravagance and ostentation, but this is a simplistic view. The vast majority of 19th century burials were in common graves with many paid for by the parish ('pauper's graves'). Sometimes simple monuments were provided and the grieving families often went hungry to pay for them. Sadly these simple monuments are usually the first to go in 'improvement' schemes. On the other hand, middle- and upper-class burials in private graves, be they earth graves, brick-lined vaults, catacombs, or mausolea, provided income for many in addition to the officiating and the cemetery owner. As well as the more obvious funereal trades such as undertaking, carpentry and monumental masonry, sometimes architects, sculptors, photographers and manufacturers of funeral draperies, mourning cards and other ephemera and even market gardeners also had a part to play in the grand design.
Although nineteenth-century cemeteries are usually dubbed 'Victorian', many of those whose work helped create and sustain the Industrial Revolution in Georgian and later times, for example, were themselves laid to rest in the cemeteries which were one result of this revolution. Perhaps surprisingly original funerary monuments often survive intact on their graves when tangible evidence of their industrial and domestic premises is scant. Inscriptions often provide valuable information. Funerary monuments may also be of interest in their own right, sometimes because they are 'designer' monuments, and sometimes because of the materials used to construct them. Wooden monuments have a limited life, but many cast- and even some wrought-iron monuments survive in cemeteries throughout Britain.
Bronze is normally used for ornamentation, but is attractive to thieves. Monuments made from pure zinc are known from North America. Even intact, well maintained monuments are easily lost, however. At Norwood, for example, original monuments to Richard Henry Brunton (1841-1901, responsible for initiating the industrialization of Japan), Sir William Cubitt (1785-1861, Grade II listed!), George Myers 1803-1875, 'Pugin's builder'), Frederick Nettlefold (1833 - 1913), Alexander Parkes (1813-1890, 'Parkesine'), Augustus Siebe (1788-1872, the 'closed' diving helmet) and William Simms (1793-1860, of Troughton & Simms) have been deliberately demolished in the last 15 years.
There are some 600,000 deaths per annum in the UK. Cremation is becoming less popular and the pressure to re-use existing burial grounds will increase especially in Metropolitan areas. There has been little provision for new burial ground in Greater London since the 1880s, for example. The historic nature of many Victorian cemeteries and other burial grounds is now more widely appreciated - we will never see their like again. However, decay is inevitable, and vandalism, theft and indeed the wholesale clearance of monuments to allow for new burials continue to cause concern. Funeral directors, cemeteries and crematoria are being/have been bought up by multinational companies with profit in mind. At the very least the issues surrounding grave re-use (conservation v. demolition) deserve full debate, and if demolition is to take place, full and proper records must be kept. These important tasks cannot be left to vested interests such as burial authorities.
Chris Brooks, John Clarke, JS Curl, Brent Elliott, Brian Fenner, Julian Litten.
Barnard, Sylvia M To Prove I'm Not Forgot: Living and Dying in a Victorian City. Manchester University Press, 1990.
Brooks, Chris. Mortal Remains - The History and Present State of the Victorian and Edwardian Cemetery. Wheaton. 1989 (a classic work, ironically itself remaindered a few years ago).
Clarke, John M. The Brookwood Necropolis Railway. (Edition 3). Oakwood Press, 1995.
Fenner, Bryan G. The History of Woking Crematorium. Address to the Cremation Society Conference, 1985.
Meller, Hugh. London Cemeteries - An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer (Edition 3). Scolar Press, 1994.
National Federation of Cemetery Friends. Notes on Saving Cemeteries (Edition 3). 1997.
A small excess of funds has accumulated from earlier conferences and the Organising Committee has decided that this money can be disbursed in the form of Bursaries. These bursaries are intended to support and enhance Industrial Archaeology in the SERIAC region namely Greater London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The nature of that support is flexible e.g. supporting fieldwork, publication of material, enhancing the public understanding of IA etc. Applicants do not have to live in the SERIAC area but the work proposed must centre in the region.
The first bursary will be up to £250.