Abstracts of Volume XX 1998

The archaeological excavation of wooden waggonway remains at Lambton D Pit, Sunderland
by Ian Ayris, John Nolan and Andrew Durkin

The timber waggonway tracks at the site of the former Lambton or Bournmoor D Pit at Fencehouses, near Sunderland are the best preserved and most substantial early wooden railway remains yet to be uncovered in this country. The archaeological excavation of the site exposed over 150 metres of in situ timber, allowing an in-depth analysis of the construction of wooden railways, and the study of individual features, including points and check rails. The related discovery of a brick rail-head platform and the masonry and brick remains of a colliery building also allowed the waggonway complex to be placed within its functional context. Observations from a number of leading figures in the research of early coal transport in the Great Northern Coalfield have been combined with the archaeological record of this highly significant site to provide a detailed description of the wooden waggonway and its relationship to the late 18th and early 19th century colliery.

The introduction of edge-runner incorporating mills in the British gunpowder industry
by Glenys Crocker and K.R. Fairclough

In Britain, pestle mills had been largely replaced by edge runners for the incorporation of gunpowder by 1772, when they were in general made illegal by Act of Parliament. The earliest known evidence has until recently placed the beginning of this change at c.1720 in mills which supplied private markets. New documentary evidence indicates that the new technology was adopted earlier by powder makers under contract to the government in time of war. This new evidence, in particular inventories of Sir Polycarpus Wharton’s powdermills at Sewardstone in Essex, significantly moves forward our knowledge of gunpowder technology in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Its implications are discussed and transcripts of the Sewardstone inventories are given in an appendix.

The influence of William Fairbairn on Robert Stephenson’s bridge designs: four bridges in north-east England
by R.W. Rennison

Cast iron has been used in Great Britain as a bridge-building material from 1779 but the limitations as to its use, especially for railway purposes, led to its being combined with wrought iron in several forms. Trussed and box girders, both using these two materials together, were used to form beams of spans greater than were possible with cast iron alone and the experimentation and testing procedures instituted for the construction of the Britannia bridge led to the development of large-scale tubular girders. Later, wrought-iron box girders gave way to plate girders. Of the engineers involved in iron bridge construction, the parts played by Robert Stephenson and William Fairbairn were of great significance and the former came to be involved – if not in a major role – in the building of four iron bridges in north-east England, at Stockton, Gateshead and Sunderland.

John Farey, Jr, technical author and draughtsman: his contribution to Rees’s Cyclopaedia
by A.P. Woolrich

This paper deals with a little understood facet of early 19th century technology, the production of technical drawings for publication. The main subject of the paper is John Farey Jr (1791-1851) who, together with members of his family, produced drawings and technical articles for the encyclopaedias produced by Abraham Rees and others, which are used extensively by historians of technology. The author discusses the difficulties inherent in using illustrations of this sort as a source.

The Silver End Model Village for Crittall Manufacturing Co Ltd
by Tony Crosby

The village of Silver End in Essex is a fairly well-known model village and as such is frequently used as an example, bring referred to for specific characteristics of some of its architecture, i.e. the International Modern style. However, it does tend to be studied only superficially and is not, therefore, fully understood and appreciated. This paper sets Silver End in a number of broader contexts, starting with a summary of the development of the Crittall Manufacturing Co Ltd which built the village for its workforce. Its own development is dealt with in the context of other housing development, contemporary architecture, the thinking on employee welfare, and the total concept and vision of the village, in order to present a fuller evaluation. This paper will also demonstrate the relevance of industrial archaeology to the study of 20th century industrial activity.

Twentieth century industry: obsolescence and change. A case study: the ICI coal to oil plant and its varied uses
by F.A. Kirk

This paper describes the background, development and operating evolution of an early stage of development of the petrochemical industry. The technical challenges faced in the conversion of coal into petrol are outlined together with some of the solutions that were devised. In the post-war years, changing economic circumstances encouraged the manufacture of other products. The plant closed in 1994 and ICI have been exemplary in arranging recording of the remains of the plant, deposition of records and the placing of artefacts in museum collections.

Lodz textile mills: indigenous culture or functional imperatives?
by Ray Riley

Summary: While recognising the importance of functional constraints in textile mill construction, an attempt is made to establish the extent to which modifications have been made, arguably the result of indigenous culture, in the case of mills in Lodz, Poland. Using a sample of 57 mills, the analysis is arranged by selected functional imperatives: building technology, vertical movement and lighting. Local culture undoubtedly plays a significant role in mill structure, but even so is subservient to functional imperatives.

Easton & Anderson and the water supply of Antwerp (Belgium)
by W. Van Craenenbroeck

Investigation into the origin and establishment of the Antwerp Waterworks Company Limited (AWW), revealed that the engineering firm of Easton & Anderson (E&A), of London and Erith, which had purchased the concession for supplying water to the City of Antwerp, were able to interest water companies in London and southern England in investing in the new business. Through their engineers, the influence of E&A lasted until the expiration of the Antwerp concession in 1930. Faced with problems with the quality of the raw water source, they had to work out specific treatment techniques. From 1881 to 1885, Bischof’s spongy iron filter was used in combination with sand filters. This application proved unsuccessful, so that Anderson developed his revolving purifier, the operation of which was also based on the action of iron on water. These ‘revolvers’ were used for the Antwerp supply from 1885 until 1914. The process subsequently became widely used at other sites all over the world. E&A also supplied the heavy pumping machinery to AWW, consisting of two screw pumps, four rotative beam engines, a steam-driven Appold centrifugal pump, a triple expansion engine and all the plunger pumps. The author describes the above-mentioned treatment techniques and pumping machinery, and expands on the English character of the former Antwerp water supply company.