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Meridi a n Cuttin g s Issue No. 001

June 2012

The newsletter of the East, North and South London branches of The Inland Waterways Association

Campaigning for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the Inland Waterways



elcome to your new, amalgamated newsletter for the North & East London and South London branches of the IWA - previously known as ‘North East ‘a Lea’ and ‘Southside News’ respectively - I hope you approve of the new name ‘Meridian Cuttings’ because a combined name wouldn’t fit on the cover! I have received lots of contributions for this edition but, owing to space constraints, some are having to be held over until September. I hope you will continue to send in your news items, interesting walks, visits or holidays you have undertaken and photographs, comments and letters - it’s your newsletter, so it’s up to you if you want it to continue.

You will be aware of the recent increases in the cost of postage and, although we have changed to another printing company, it would reduce costs further if you would agree to receiving the newsletter electronically. All the issues of Southside News published since 2008 are available on line at https:// Please give this matter your serious consideration. Any member who is willing to make the change should send an email (quoting also your name and membership number) to There are a number of pleas for volunteers and helpers within the pages of Meridian Cuttings and I should like to reiterate them here and add an invitation from both North & East London and South London branches for volunteers to join their Committees - you don’t have to take on a specific task, just come along to the meetings with a pen and paper, air your views and help influence the future of your local waterways, the IWA and C & RT - everyone’s to enjoy. Ed


Page No.

Welcome from the Editor A View from The Chair: London Region Chairman Paul Strudwick South London Branch Chairman Alan Eggby South London Sales Welcome to all new members Help needed Olympic Market Floats to London Socials: North & East London South London Big Waterways Clean Up Thames Tunnel Towpath Walks Walk and Arm’s Length River Lea Guided Walk: Enfield Lock to Ponders End by Dr Michael Essex-Lopresti Committee Members and Representatives Latest News: Canal Information Centre in Camden Town Canalside Jubilee on the Basingstoke Canal

2 3 3 4 5 5 6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 15 16 16

Front cover photograph: Thalassa, a 47m barque which spent 4 weeks in March training skippers in the art of navigating the Port of London for the Sail Royal Greenwich 2012 event. Photo: R. Squires The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of The Inland Waterways Association or of the London Region or its branches. They are, however, published as being of interest to our members and readers. The IWA accepts no liability for any matter within this magazine, including adverts. Editor: Christine L Smith, 41 Jubilee Avenue, Twickenham, TW2 6JA. Tel: 020 8255 1581 or Mob: 07774 890 750. Email: Published by the IWA, N & E and South London Branches at Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453


A View from the Chair From the Region Chair Person Paul Strudwick I have been your Region Chairman for nearly a year now. A lot has happened in that time and I have enjoyed getting round to meet you all at branch meetings. We are nearly at the launch of the Canal & River Trust which, at the time of writing, is expected at the end of June or early in July. We have run a successful campaign to keep Commercial Road Lock and hence a safe passage for boats going to and from the Lee during the Olympics. We have also made a number of donations including two of £500 - one to the Wendover Arm Trust and the other to the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. Some people have said to me “ isn’t IWA redundant now that the C & RT has been formed and are going to run the waterways”. They have even suggested that IWA has become BW and hence C & RT’s lapdog. My answer is always NO. We are hopefully looking at the end of the beginning of our long campaign for a national waterways trust but there is a long way to go. The presence of boats makes navigable waterways distinctive and attractive to a wide range of users. We believe that effective maintenance of our waterways for navigation is fundamental to encouraging leisure use by the widest range of people, including users of both the waterspace and the bankside. Navigation requires the maintenance of navigable depth to set standards, both for safe passage of boats and to promote the establishment and conservation of aquatic life, together with the maintenance of a stable bank and towpath so that all users can benefit from safe access to the waterways. WE will continue to campaign to maintain and improve access to all waterways. London Region is a large area and we have a number of campaigns going on. A few examples might give you an idea of what we are doing. To the West of London we have a continuous campaign to ensure the Slough arm is dredged to allow broad beam boats to get to Slough. In the North we continue to support the Wendover trust raise money to continue the restoration of the Arm. Particularly important this year as they have had to cancel their main fundraising event due to the Diamond Jubilee. Out in the east we continue to maintain and run IWA’s only waterway, the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. This is a continuing demand on volunteers’ time but allows us to show how a charity can run a canal. Finally in Central London we are supporting BW (C & RT) in manning Commercial Road Lock during the Olympic Period. We need more help for this, and all our campaigns, so if you can spare a few hours a month please get in touch with your branch chairman or with me. Finally I understand that LOCOG has suddenly realised that they have spent loads of money making the waterways in and around the Olympic Park smart but there will be no boats on them. As we all know you need boats to make waterways attractive. So someone has come up with the idea of allowing a few boats to moor in the area. Security means the owners cannot stay on their boat - they are just for show. But at least you can get into the Olympic Park for free. Paul Region Chairperson

From South London Branch Chairman Alan Eggby At the South London Branch Annual General Meeting in March Libby Bradshaw and I were re elected to the committee. Once the AGM business had been completed, our new Region Chairman, Paul Strudwick, gave an address and slide show. Attendances at social meetings have still been on the low side. Alan Furber has announced that he is moving to Northamptonshire and has resigned from the Committee. Dorothy Robbie, who is our Treasurer and Minutes Secretary, will also not be standing for re election next March, so this brings an urgent need for some new members to join the Committee. If you can spare a couple of hours every two months - in a London pub with some friendly, like-minded people - do please get in touch! Alan South London Branch Chairman -3-

South London Sales The winter months are a quiet time for sales and other activities but the sales stock was taken to the open days at the London Transport Museum Depot at Acton in March. We also took some stock and the Waterways Game to Streatham Kite Day, on Streatham Common, in April. By the time this newsletter appears it will also have been to the Rickmansworth Festival. The Branch also ran the South Towpath Information Stand at Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice and Eric Garland had a small sales stand on Warwick Crescent, for which we thank him. The stand is booked in for a number of events during the Summer, which are listed below. We always need help at the events we attend, it is neither strenuous nor onerous and always good fun, so if you are nearby and can spare an hour or so we would welcome you - please contact me for full details. Christmas cards and 2013 IWA Calendars will be available from August at all events and branch socials. IWA Sales, Waterways Game and Publicity Stand 2012 Planned Events Dates

30th June 7th/8th July 21st July 28th July 26th August 2nd September 8th/9th September 15th/16th September 15th September TBC

Fairy Hall Park, Eltham Kingston River Festival Coldharbour, Eltham Grove Park Eltham August Bank Holiday Angel Canal Festival, Islington Thames Festival Lambeth Country Show, Brockwell Park, Herne Hill Great River Race, finish at Ham Brixton Windmill Alan Eggby

Although it was foggy that morning, I did not expect to see the Woolwich Ferry that far off course! Roger Squires, March 2012

John Ross with Elizabeth Rose, winner of the Marcus Boudier Trophy for the best decorated boat in the pageant, at Canalway Cavalcade during the May Day Bank Holiday


Welcome to all new members Mr P & Mrs S Stern Mr M & Mrs V Clarke Mr I Shacklock & Family Mr D Pinto Ms J Loeb Mr C Middlemiss Mr J Batty & Ms K Chester Mr R & Mrs R Bischoff Mr P & Mrs N Dann Mr A & Mrs E Church Mr M Britnell


Ms K Miller & Mr M Cox Mr R Fryer Mrs S Beedell Mr D & Mrs P Halford Mr W & Mrs W Nash Mr J O’Farrell Mr R & Mrs A Dungan Mr R & Mrs M Preece Mr J & Mrs J Jones Mr N E Smith


Help Needed! Can you spare a few hours during the Olympic period? We need more volunteers to help boats through Commercial Road Lock. Interested? Contact Paul at or phone 07885240291

ANGELIC HELPERS NEEDED! Would you like to get more involved with the Angel Canal Festival? Are you free for a few hours on 2nd September? Contact Beryl Windsor: 01212448439 or 07973504212 or email


North & East London Socials North and East London Branch Socials, combined with London Region, are held as follows: Time:

19:00 for 19:30


The Pirate Castle Gilbeys Wharf Oval Road London NW1 7EA

Contact for details:

Libby Bradshaw Tel: 020 8874 2787 or email

The next social will be: Tuesday 19th June

‘The Canal & River Trust’ by John Edmonds

Socials are scheduled on the 3rd Tuesday of the month from January to June and from September to December

The new London Thames skyline: Shard London Bridge (previously known as London Bridge Tower, and also known as the Shard of Glass, 32 London Bridge, and The Shard) Photo: jpg/_46992006_shard6.jpg

Ex Metropolitan Water Board pumping station Photo: M Essex-Lopresti See Dr Essex-Lopresti’s fascinating guided walk from Enfield Lock to Ponders End on page 12.


South London Socials Our programme of social meetings continued with Alan Furber presenting an excellent DVD about the Canal du Midi and the walled city of Carcassonne on 8th February which was well-attended. After the AGM on 14th March, Regional Chairman Paul Strudwick gave a slide show of his various boating trips. One of our regulars, Roger Squires, took us round Amsterdam and nearby villages on 18th April with a fascinating look, not only at the canals, but also the architecture and the unique pumping station at Cruquius. Steve Miles was the speaker on 16th May with a talk on the narrow boat Raymond, the last wooden narrow boat to be built. He outlined the history of its working life and the various owners and families up to its participation in the last long distance narrow boat operation to the “Jam ‘Ole” at Southall in 1970. Steve is the Chairman of the Friends of Raymond, formed in 1996 to rescue this historic craft, which by then had deteriorated badly. It was so bad, in fact, that restoration turned out to be almost total and very little of the original craft remains. It is now paired with the motor Nutfield, so look out for them at the various rallies on the Grand Union and elsewhere. The current programme of meetings is listed below. The June meeting will be the last before the summer break. We will resume in September and as always may I make the usual plea for more members to support these meetings. We either pay speakers or donate to the societies they represent, in addition to paying for the room. I try to compile a varied programme of speakers but am always amenable to suggestions. The meetings are arranged for your benefit, so please come along! In view of the difficulty of booking a suitable venue in the busy pre-Christmas period, it is likely that a New Year dinner will be arranged for Friday 18th January 2013. This will be confirmed in due course. There will be no social meeting in December. Unless otherwise indicated, the following South London Branch Social Events will take place at 7.30 for 8.00 p.m. at:

The Primary Room The United Reformed Church Hall Addiscombe Grove Croydon CR0 5LP

There is good parking adjacent to the hall and excellent transport links via East Croydon train and tram stations.

Admission to the talks is free to all, members or non members, but a contribution towards room hire is requested.

13th June 23rd June

‘Limehouse and East London’ by Jeremy Batch ‘Wharfs, Creeks and Jetties’ Cruise aboard PS Kingswear Castle. Departs Chatham Historic Dockyard 11:00 returns 17:00. Group price (no concessions) £20 per person for group of 20+ (normal price £30). Bookings to Alan Eggby, telephone 020 8764 8194

There are no socials during July and August

12th September 10th October 14th November 18th January

‘Manchester Ship Canal’ by Richard Thomas ‘More Travels with my Canoe’ by Roger Wilkinson ‘Wey and Arun Canal’ by John Talbot New Year Dinner, details TBC

For more information about South London’s Social Calendar, please contact Alan Smith, telephone 020 8255 1581, mobile 07774 890 750 or email


The attention of the world will be on London this summer, and the city’s waterways will be centre stage. The Olympic Park and venues are intersected by a network of rivers and canals, many of which have been neglected and poorly accessed. Inspired by London 2012, the Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 has already made a big impact on these spaces, engaging local communities in making lasting improvements to their waterways for both people and wildlife. Campaign coordinator Ben Fenton said: “The response to the BWCU2012 has been phenomenal, hundreds of local people have come out to get their hands dirty and help enhance the waterways. We have had people from all walks of life, and all have them have come ready to get stuck in, and with a positive attitude. I would like to thank them all for their continued support of the campaign and look forward to working with them into the future.” A huge 1842 volunteer hours have been clocked up in the campaign’s first 32 events, with over 614 volunteers working to remove 912 bags of litter from our waterways, plant 80 trees and 5 wildflower meadows. With less than 75 days to go until the London 2012 Games, we need your support to keep up the momentum!

Clean ups with a twist

The Big Waterways Clean Up has pioneered a new active style of canal clean-ups - by canoe! Small groups have taken part in free canoe based clean-ups on the Regent’s Canal and the Lea Navigation, helping to collect litter from those hard to reach places, with support from local canoe clubs. Needless to say, these events have been popular and the next planned sessions are already full up. However, three more of these special days will be arranged, so stay posted for details.

Waterway weeding

East London’s waterways are prone to weeds, particularly the non-native invasive floating pennywort, which can be a problem in summer months, reducing light and oxygen flow in the water and generally making life difficult for wildlife. Fortunately, pennywort is easy and safe to remove and makes for fun, satisfying work. join us on one of our pennywort removal events and help make a difference to East London’s waterways in time for London 2012 and long into the future. Join us on: May 26 on the River Lea June 17 from a narrowboat!

Capture the Olympic waterways!

We are looking for your best images of the waterways of the London 2012 Host Boroughs. Think nature, London 2012, sport and people enjoying their rivers and canals. The winner will receive a £50 Amazon voucher, and 15 selected entries will be featured in an exhibition at Millers House Cafe, Wednesday July 4th for one month. Enter your image by 30th June! For more information, please contact Ben Fenton: 07920 0230 970/

Training future waterway leaders

The Big Waterways Clean Up aims to produce a sustainable legacy for the communities of East London, enabling on-going stewardship of their waterways. Thames21 is offering free training to individuals and groups to provide the skills and confidence to lead volunteer waterway improvement activities. For more information, or to book a place on a training course, contact Julia Makin: 07827 240 457


Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 is a London 2012 -inspired, partnership campaign to improve the East London’s waterways by July 2012. Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 partnership The Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 is a partnership campaign delivered by environmental charity Thames21 under the aegis of the London Waterways Commission, with the support of Environment Agency, British Waterways, London 2012 Changing Places programme, Greater London Authority, London Legacy Development Corporation, Port of London Authority, London Councils, City of London Corporation, and the Inland Waterways Association.

Cleaning up - by canoe! Photo: LOCOG

Cleaning up the Thames Foreshore Photo: Jenna Foxton

Thames Tunnel London’s sewage problem is getting out of hand. The system which was invented during the late 19th century is now way over capacity, with as little as 2mm of rainfall causing overflows and spillages into the river. The scale of the problem is huge, and as the population of London grows, the problem is only going to get worse. One proposed, but controversial, solution is to install a tunnel the width of three double decker buses, underneath the bed of the Thames and allow all of the sewage overflows to run 25KM downstream. Here it will meet up with the already under construction Lee Tunnel at Abbey Mills, from which it will be pumped to Beckton for treatment. Opposition parties argue that the quality of life around construction sites will be greatly affected, however what they fail to realise is that if nothing is done about the problem, the habitats of thousands of species will become increasingly threatened. The Thames is the lifeblood of London and a clean Thames makes for a more prosperous city. To see just how dire the situation is and why we need to act now go to: London’s proposed ‘Supersewer’ essential for economic growth - see http://www.thamestunnelconsultation. London Tideway Improvements - Exhibition in the Upper Waiting Hall, Houses of Parliament, week commencing Monday 25th June. This exhibition on the Thames Tunnel has been kindly sponsored by Nick Raynsford, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, to highlight the work done in cleaning up the Tidal Thames -9-

Towpath Walks Do you like walking the Towpath? Are you interested in the history of the Canals? Towpath Walks Group is looking for volunteers to guide small parties of walkers on short walks along the towpath of the Regent’s Canal (and elsewhere). This introduces newcomes to the pleasant world of waterways - which most outsiders don’t realise is here! It is also a good way of recruiting new members to the IWA and an excellent method of raising funds for IWA branches in London Region. “I don’t know much about the Regent’s Canal” - no problem at all - we’ll brief you If you’d like to give this a try please contact Roger Wilkinson or Peter Finch - we look forward to hearing from you Contact details:

Peter Finch Email:

Telephone: 020 8969 9941

Roger Wilkinson Email:

Telephone: 020 8458 9476

IWA with London Walks Programme 2012 All dates are Sundays Start time for all walks is 2.30 p.m. Normal charge: £9, Concessionary and Student rate: £7 Date               Route                      



3 June Regent’s Canal: Mile End – Limehouse 17 June Regent’s Canal: Islington –Mile End 24 June Regent’s Canal: Little Venice –Camden 1 July Paddington Basin, Little Venice, Paddington Branch GU 15 July Regent’s Canal: Islington – Mile End 5 August Kensal Green Cemetery- Grand Union-Little Venice 19 August Regent’s Canal: Mile End – Limehouse 2 September Paddington Branch GU—Kensal Green – Alperton 16 September Regent’s Canal: Little Venice – Camden 7 October Grand Union Canal: Uxbridge – West Drayton 21 October The Olympics, Three Mills & Bow Back Rivers 4 November Regent’s Canal: King’s Cross—Hitchcock’s Hackney 18 Nov Regent’s Canal: Kings Cross – Camden 2 December Regent’s Canal: Mile End – Limehouse

Start (Tube Station) Mile End Angel Warwick Avenue Edgware Road (Circle) Angel Kensal Green Mile End Kensal Green Warwick Avenue Uxbridge Bromley-by-Bow Kings Cross (taxi rank) Kings Cross (taxi rank) Mile End

For more information please contact Roger or Peter, as above

- 10 -


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- 11 -

River Lea GuidedWalk Enfield Lock to Ponders End by Michael Essex-Lopresti About five years ago Transport for London launched a ‘Walking Weekend’ and sponsored one guided tour in each of the 32 London Boroughs. I was asked to prepare a walk in Enfield and decided to investigate the River Lee Navigation running near the eastern boundary of the Borough and found it extraordinarily interesting. These notes are intended for anybody wishing to undertake the walk and to identify the features standing alongside the waterway. Enfield Lock Station is on the Liverpool Street to Cambridge line. Turn right outside the station, walk about ½ mile along Ordnance Road and cross Mollinson Avenue to the River Lee Navigation by the Greyhound Inn. The 121 bus crosses the Navigation on a new bridge. Alight at the Greyhound just before the bridge. The River Lea has ancient history. The first Act of Parliament in the UK to improve a river for navigation was the 1424 River Lee Act, as the river was required for carrying grain and malt to the City breweries in East London. Further Acts 1571, 1577 and 1766 to improve navigation from Hertford to the Thames produced in effect a new canal (Navigation) dug alongside the river to straighten it and by-pass loops so of the 28 miles from Hertford to Bow, now only 5 miles are on the River Lea. Standing on the towing path by the bridge it will be seen that, to the left, the Navigation swings to the right about 400 yards upstream. Here it communicates with the River Lea on the east so the land opposite is an island. As the River (not the Navigation) is the boundary between the Borough of Enfield and Essex the island is in Enfield. Walk to the right towards Enfield Lock. On the opposite side of the Navigation is a row of old houses, Government Row. In 1804 the Board of Ordnance instructed Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers to establish a small arms factory on the site of the Enfield Gunpowder Mills to make muskets, swords and bayonets. In 1816 barrel production was moved from Lewisham to Enfield where the River Lea provided water power for machinery and transport for supplies and weapons. Until 1861 power was provided by 2 x 18ft waterwheels driven by the River. “Government Row” was built for the small arms factory workers. Enfield Lock is about 11 miles from Bow Locks. The first locks in the country with opening gates at either end of a chamber was built on the River Lea at Waltham Abbey in 1577. This is recorded in a poem by William Vallens written in 1589:

Royal Small Arms Factory

Pumping station feeding King George Reservoirs

‘Among them all a new device they see; Newly made, a waterwork; the lock through which the boats of Ware do pass with malt. This lock contains two double doors of wood, Within the same a cistern all of plank; Which only fills when boats come there to pass By opening of these mighty doors; With sleight and strange devise - 12 -

Follow the road over the Navigation. The gates on the corner are the entrance to the British Waterways depot. A brief visit to the site of the Royal Small Arms Factory is worthwhile. A path on the left behind the lockhouse leads over another bridge which crosses a branch of the River Lea to James Lee Square on the left. James Paris Lee (1831-1904) who was born in Hawick, Scotland, was a major rifle designer and his box magazine was first fitted to a barrel developed by William Metford in 1888. The Lee-Metford rifle was manufactured at Enfield until 1895, when it was superseded by the Lee-Enfield Magazine Rifle Mark 1. The .303 Short Magazine Lee Enfield, introduced in 1902, became the standard British Infantry weapon in WW1 & WW2. The Bren gun and Sten gun used in WW2 also developed here. The Royal Small Arms Factory closed in 1988 and an extensive residential development ‘Enfield Island Village’, was built. On the right is Small Arms Basin. The internal network of canals and wharfs off the Lee Navigation were designed by Colonel John By. In 1826 Col By was sent to Canada to advise on a canal to bypass St Lawrence River to Kingston. His 124-mile Rideau Canal opened in 1832 and the settlement for canal workers was named Bytown in his honour When, in 1854, Queen Victoria visited the Rideau Canal she thought ‘Bytown’ was an inappropriate name for a growing city and she suggested that a local Indian name should be chosen. The territory was that of the Ottawa Indians. Today Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Return to below the lock. Until recently the “Riflemans’ Arms” stood by the River Lea but has been demolished. The towing path is now on the east bank of the Navigation. The House opposite was built for the Surveyor in 1792 and is now occupied by British Waterways. There is a mooring for boats not displaying a licence, awaiting payment or destruction. The ‘by-wash’ to take excess water from above the lock joins a stream which forms a decorative waterway through the Canal Superintendent’s garden. . The dry dock can be filled with water from this stream. Continue along the towing path. A bridge crossing the canal was a Branch line from the Northern & Eastern Railway (later Eastern Counties Railway) to the Royal Small Arms Factory but is now a footpath. The railway along the Lea Valley opened in 1840 and in 1855 Ordnance Factory Station (Now Enfield Lock station.) was opened. Turkey Brook enters the Navigation from the west but is navigable for only a few yards. It used to continue to the River Lea but the old course is now used as an overflow channel. There is a sluice under the towing path. On the left is King George’s Reservoir built in 1910. There are three reservoirs covering 1,233 acres and holding 8,100 million gallons of water and these are filled from the River Lea by a pumping station which stands at the northern end of the reservoirs. The red brick Grade 2 Listed building can be seen looking eastwards over the fields. In 1909 W. B. Bryan, Metropolitan Water Board, attended a lecture at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers by H. A. Humphrey on his Humphrey Gas Pump. This unique pump had no moving parts. An explosion of a gas/air mixture forced a column of water into a water tower which fed the reservoirs. Impressed, he ordered five pumps to raise up to 180 Million Gallons of water a day from the River Lea into the reservoirs. A gas plant and a gas holder were built beside the pumping station. A problem arose when natural gas was introduced so in 1970 electric pumps were installed. Three of the Humphrey gas pumps remain and the water towers are still there but need preservation. From here to Ponders End the King George Reservoirs occupy the eastern side of the Navigation. They were built on the course of the River Lea which was diverted to a new course on the east side of the reservoirs. The buildings and sites mentioned between Turkey Brook and Ponders End are all on the west of the Navigation on the side opposite the towing path. To the left of Turkey Brook is a power station. At the end of the 19th century electric trams were replacing horse-trams so in 1903 Metropolitan Electric Tramways Company built Brimsdown Electric Power Station beside the Lee where coal could be supplied by barge (until 1924). It supplied a growing number of industries, including in 1904 the Edison Swan Electric Company. Brimsdown ‘B’ was added in 1925. The CEGB took over in 1948 but as electricity generation moved to oil and nuclear power stations Brimsdown was demolished in October 1979. The site was bought by Enfield Energy Centre Ltd in November 2000 and a new 400 megawatt power station built, powered by natural gas. The station, which has a contract to receive approximately 275 billion cubic feet of gas over 15 years, supplies local industries, domestic consumers and the National Grid. On the site, behind the power station, British Oxygen Industrial Gases began making vacuum flasks and “Sparklets” for soda siphons in 1902. - 13 -

Enfield Rolling Mills was established at Millmarsh Lane in 1924 to process copper brought in barges and this continued until 1974. In 1970 this was the largest British manufacturer of brass, copper, phosphor bronze, zinc and aluminium. A new footbridge crosses the canal beside Mossop Creek. In 1922 Johnson Matthey, Gold Merchants, bought Mossop & Co. at Brimsdown to deal in auto-catalysts, heavy duty diesel catalysts and pollution control systems, components for fuel cells and technologies for chemical processes, fine chemicals, chemical catalysts, pharmaceutical ingredients, marketing, refining, and fabrication of precious metals. Further along is a British Waterways transhipment depot which until recently transferred cargoes between the road and the canal. The faded notice reads “Warning – 9ft headroom” The extensive red brick buildings upstream of the mill stream was the Ediswan factory. In 1860 Sir Joseph Swan invented the carbon filament electric light bulb, later adopting tungsten filament which began production here, not realising that the American Thomas Edison had patented it. Instead of resorting to legal action they joined forces and in 1886 an old jute factory was taken over by Edison Swan United Electric Light Co. It began producing 5,000 ‘Ediswan’ lamps a day and although initially the company generated its own electricity from 1904 it was supplied by Brimsdown power station. In 1904 a research team here, led by Dr Ambrose Fleming, invented the thermionic valve which revolutionised wireless and in 1916 Ediswan Co. set up Britain’s first radio valve factory in buildings alongside the Lee. The start of BBC radio broadcasting in 1922 caused a huge demand for wireless sets. On 2 November 1936 Alexandra Palace started the world’s first high definition television transmissions and we are told that the control room alone used over 500 valves. In the same year the Ediswan engineers established the world’s first cathode-ray tube factory for television sets here and in 1964 started producing colour television tubes. The factory closed in 1984. Wright’s Mill Stream In 1086 Domesday Book recorded some 40 water mills on the River Lea from Hertford to the Thames. One of them is Wrights Flour Mill which was powered with a branch from the River Lea. It is Enfield’s oldest industrial building, bought by the Wright family in 1867 who partly rebuilt and extended it in 1880. In 1909 the mill was converted to electric power. It now supplies flour to bakers in greater London and also packets of bread mix for supermarkets. The large red brick building was built as a Metropolitan Water Board pumping station and is now converted to a night club Ponders End Lock. The River Lee Navigation continues to be classified as a commercial waterway and eighteen locks between Hertford and Bow drop the water level ±112 ft. Several locks, including Ponders End, were converted to power operation to speed the traffic. Leave the towing path and turn right to cross the tail of the lock. The River Lea and mill stream can be seen on the right where they flow under the road to join the Navigation by the site of the Visteon factory. A White Lead Works opened here in 1893 and in 1915 Ponders End Shell Works, a huge munitions plant, opened here; it closed in 1919. In 1963 the site taken over by Ford for production of components for cars but in 1997 a new company Visteon Automotive Systems separated from Ford making car dashboards for Ford, Jaguar, Aston Martin, GM, Renault, Honda and Nissan cars. The UK subsidiary had never been profitable and the US parent company was unable to continue to support the British operation and insolvency led to the closure of all three Visteon UK factories and 565 workers were made redundant. Workers occupied the plants in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Enfield and after several weeks of protest Ford and Visteon jointly agreed to improve the severance packages. Continue along the road towards the footbridge. Just beyond the Visteon factory is Thomas Morson & Son Ltd, established at Ponders End since 1901, making a range of pharmaceutical products including Chloroform and Morphine. In 1914-18 war it was required to produce large quantities of poison gas – perhaps chlorine. Merck Sharp and Dohme subsequently acquired the pharmaceutical firm. On the right near the footbridge is the entrance to Wrights Flour Mill; they do not accept visitors as the mill is very busy producing flour for London bakeries. Cross the footbridge over Mollinson Avenue and the railway to Ponders End railway station and the 191 bus stop in Alma Road. Michael Essex-Lopresti - 14 -

Committee Members

Role North & East London Chairman

Deputy Chairman

South London

Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road Wanstead, London E12 5EJ Tel: 020 8530 0425 / 07802 518094 Email:

Alan Eggby 137 Strathyre Avenue London SW16 4RH Tel: 020 8764 8194 Email: Libby Bradshaw Ground Floor Flat, 61 West Side, Wandsworth Common, London SW18 2ED Tel: 020 8874 2787 Email:



Roger Squires 46 Elephant Lane Rotherhithe, London SE16 4JD Tel: 020 7232 0987 Email:

Lesley Pryde 2 Hepworth Road Streatham, London SW16 5DQ Tel: 020 8679 9866 / 07787 372408 Email:


Ian Israel 32 Walfield Avenue London N20 0PR Tel: 020 8446 1823 Email:

Dorothy Robbie 23 Porcupine Close Mottingham, London SE9 3AE Tel: 020 8857 6367 Email:

Jenny Nunes 63 Salisbury Road Barnet, Herts Tel: 020 8440 8962 Email:

Alan Smith 41 Jubilee Avenue Twickenham TW2 6JA Tel: 020 8255 1581 Email:

Social Secretary

Publicity Officer & Newsletter Editor

Membership Secretary

Committee Members

Christine Smith 41 Jubilee Avenue Twickenham TW2 6JA Tel: 020 8255 1581 / 07774 890 750 Email: Alex Nunes (contact details as above)

Jane Davey 30 Siddons Road, Croydon CR0 4JR Tel: 020 8680 2213

Roger Wilkinson 2 Lytton Close, N2 0RH Tel: 020 8458 9476 Email: roger9796\


Sally Naylor 21 Pitchford Street, Stratford, E15 4RZ Tel: 020 8519 7481 Email: Ex-Officio as Region Chairman


Paul Strudwick 40 Fifth Avenue Chelmsford CM1 4HD Tel: 01245 358342 / 07885 240291 Email: Planning & Navigation Committee Wandle Valley developments Deptford Creek developments

Eric Garland Libby Bradshaw Eric Garland

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Latest News: Canal Information Centre in Camden Town

The IWA has joined forces with the Friends of Regent’s Canal to promote the revival of the Canal Information Centre at the Lock Keeper’s Cottage in Camden Town. This centre has been neglected in recent years, since it has become tucked away at the back of a rather crowded Starbucks coffee house, and the signage and publicity for this centre leaves a lot to be desired. However, things changed suddenly when Starbucks applied for permission to refurbish this Grade II Listed Building, and the local communities feared that this would have resulted in a serious downgrading of the information centre. A campaign is now underway to revive the centre, and to put it back on the map, to educate visitors and local people about the history and current operation of the canal. The IWA has expressed support for this campaign, because this is the only surviving canal information centre in London following the closure of “Jena”, the Paddington Information Boat. We are now helping to identify the type of information that would benefit visitors, we are examining suitable means of producing, storing and disseminating that information, and we are looking for volunteers to help to support the centre. Volunteers are needed to help to run or visit the centre at core hours, to keep events information up-to-date and to help to compile and review the detailed historical information. This coincides with a build-up of events to commemorate the bicentenary of the canal construction (1812 to 1820). If you have any suggestions or questions then please contact or visit Ian Shacklock

Canalside Jubilee The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society is organising a three day event from Saturday 2nd to Monday 4th June which will be held at Frimley Lodge Park, alongside the Basingstoke Canal. The event will celebrated the 21 years since the Royal re-opening of the Basingstoke Canal and Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. A number of boats are expected to attend the event, water conditions permitting. In addition to the craft marquee there will be a variety of stands and stalls, live entertainment on stage in the main arena, fun activities for children, boat trips and a beer tent, plus a permanent miniature railway. The grass site provides ample parking, toilets and a permanent cafe in the pavilion, plus further refreshments in the outside area. Entry is free. The show will run from 12 noon to 5:00 pm each day. For more information go to or contact Verna Smith on 01252 517622 The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee. Registered in England no. 612245. Registered as a charity no. 212342. Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, Buckinghamshire HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453 Printed by - 16 -

Meridan Cuts Draft Newsletter 01  

The newsletter for N&E and South London branches of The Inland Waterways Association