Southwark News Article #2!

On 14th September, Southwark News published a second article on our remembrance of the 1917 Zeppelin raid on Camberwell.

The article covered the story of the Boyce-Balls family who Jon Pickup and Andrew Pearson, volunteers on the Friends of Burgess Park Zeppelin research project, met recently. They spoke to Greta and Peter, younger siblings of the two brothers killed in the raid. Peter described how their family had crossed the road from their father’s grocers shop to be with the doctor’s wife who was nervous in air raids, on the night of 19th October, 1917. The surgery and surrounding houses were subsequently hit by the Zeppelin bomb.

Southwark News article, 14th September

Read the article in full here.

 

Final volunteers research session

It was fantastic to see more new faces at the volunteer session on Saturday, hosted by Southwark Local History Library & Archive (tucked at the back of the John Harvard Library on Borough High Street).  It’s my favourite of these places. It manages to pack a real concentration of material into a pretty modest space, but always feels welcoming and inclusive.

It  seems there’s a good strong volunteer team on board Zeppelin 1917 now – a nice mix of experts, history fans, & folk who are just plain interested or fancied getting involved out of curiosity. That should help make the October activities all the richer.

Dr Patricia Dark introducing the archives

Dr Patricia Dark introducing the archives

Archivist Dr Patricia Dark gave us a great orientation, pointing out what was where, and what wasn’t (eg. county level stuff like hospitals and schools, held at LMA). Sometimes it’s handy knowing what not to look for. So a great steer on how to make the best of the place. We appreciated the pointers targeting our particular era and subjects too. I’m now intrigued by what “the Pat Brown Papers” may hold – apparently a Peckham walker/writer/photographer whose work was donated to SLHLA.

Lots of Zeppelin discussions and sharing of knowledge going on.  And on the wider social history side, strong interest in the suffragettes (and mention of fearless suffragist Miss Muriel Matters – leafletting the House of Commons in a “VOTES FOR WOMEN” emblazoned airship, pre-WW1). I’m delighted someone’s covering Music Halls & pop culture too.

The photo collection at SLHLA’s undigitised, but meticulously hand captioned, mounted & referenced. Quite a labour of love, and I understand the late and much missed Stephen Humphries was instrumental in its creation. For me, it’s old-fashioned quirkiness is what makes it enjoyable to use. You look up one photo and 5 other connections or ideas jump out at you. It really does feel like unravelling a detective case, and almost every image is haunting or evocative.

Examining a World War 1 poster from the collection

Examining a World War 1 poster from the collection

The microfilm newspaper archive scares me slightly though – I’m definitely going to need to get better at speed-scanning! Came across some bygone local paper titles that I’m hoping may give us a slightly different take on the events of October 1917. Remember Southwark & Bermondsey Recorder, anyone?

There’s drop-in sessions on Saturdays in September. The idea is they’re informal, a chance to meet up over a coffee and/or share research, or help each other out with writing. Everyone’s chosen their topics, so now just remains to get cracking with the actual research…  Happy hunting everyone.

Jon Pickup

Research visit to the War Museum

IWM Centenary logoWhat a wonderful time we are having exploring the history and heritage of WW1 and the Zeppelin Raid on Calmington Rd in 1917! Our third volunteer session was late afternoon on Monday 4th September. The team at the IWM (Imperial War Museum) have been so supportive of the project, they have helped and encouraged us every step of the way. It was an amazing session that really animated the history and showed so many ways we could use the resources and talents of this wonderful Museum.

The session began with a fantastic overview by Alan on the history of both the Zeppelins and the raid. Often with projects like this there is so much information out there that you can get lost in it, but he really simplified the narrative of the raid and the Zeppelins into a precise 20-minute picture of this interesting part of our local history.

LivesLogo

Next, Catherine explained the interactive Lives of the First World War website, with elements of collected history gathered from their collections and elsewhere. The team had already set up files on the victims of the Camberwell raid on the site to help our project. Our aim with this HLF funded project is to deposit anything we can with them for future researchers like ourselves. This will include the audio recorded versions of the animated tour which will link to their research. It is a great way of showing how we are using this project to interpret historical research in a new and inventive ways.

Munitions worker Caroline Rennles

Munitions worker Caroline Rennles on the Lives of the First World War website

Then we moved on to the Explore History centre which is a great space where people can use the collection and all of the digital assets they have to bring to life projects such as Zeppelin 1917. Sarah welcomed the volunteers into this fantastic space and shared many interesting bits of advice on how to use the materials. So many people including myself did not realise this resource exists for the community!

On a personal level it was amazing to see how everyone is growing in confidence and how the group is getting excited about history and archives. We are really enjoying the way we are finding new skills and knowledge through this project. The newspapers of the time were also amazing which were facilitated by  Vrusksheela, and it was interesting to see how the press at the time reported the raid through the prism of censorship. It was great that we had the newspapers in the lead up and after the raid in October 1917!

PMG.20.10.17

Pall Mall Gazette from IWM collections

On the way out, we saw the Research Room, where you can book to consult the archives and see the collection for real. We’ll be back!

Really looking forward to seeing how these fantastic sessions translate into the exhibition content and the materials for the actors and the animated tour on Saturday 21st of October.

More information on IWM research Resources here.

John Whelan

Volunteer session with the Cuming Museum

Our second session with research volunteers took place at the Wells Way old library on 31st August 2017 and introduced us to the Cuming Collection. It was led by Judy Aitken, curator of the Cuming Museum.Judy introduced us particularly to the WW1 items in the Collection. During WW1, the Cuming curator, Richard Mould, responded to a Ministry of War directive to collect items to commemorate the war from Walworth residents – to reflect all aspects of the war. Quite an enlightened request when one considers it. Continuing after the war, through the 1920s and 1930s, items such as letters, photos, diaries, flags, recruitment records and many other items were collected, together with lots of ammunition (some live!), such as hand grenades, stick bombs and items collected from battlefields. The collection includes parts of Zeppelin shrapnel including from 1917 raid.

As a taster of the Cuming’s photograph collection, we watched some slides including fantastic images from the era.

We had great fun investigating some objects up close, which was a wonderful opportunity for all. Items included things made from bullets, letter openers made from bayonets (?), postcards with elaborate hand stitching.

Letter opener fashioned by a German prisoner of war

Letter opener fashioned by a German prisoner of war

Judy also mentioned Edward Lovett, a collector of unusual items from WW1 at the front.
Consequently the Cuming has a wealth of objects from the era – which is fantastic news for Zeppelin1917!

Gun metal and case approx 5 x 8cm, with brass relief plaque of stags in a forest

Handmade cigarette case

In terms of the Home front – this is also well represented – for example, War flags – which were sold as fundraising drives. It is important to note that Bermondsey Council was the 1st Council to institute Air Raid signals. The actual methods were decided by local Committees (Susan Crisp wondered if Dr Salter was involved as he was a prominent Bermondsey councillor of the era and a massive figure in local history etc).

It has a sculpted / manufactured figure of Christ on the cross

Crucifix made from cartridges and a bullet

You can find many items in Cuming Collection online here.

Sam Tilling

Southwark News Zeppelin 1917 story

Last week, local south London paper Southwark News published our story on plans to remember the raid in October. On page 5, in the Walworth section, they previewed our story of the Boyce-Balls family, who had to be rescued from 101 Albany Road after the bomb hit, and lost two young sons. Members of the family hope to be at our events in October.

BoyceFamily

The Boyce family pictured around 1914

Sonny (standing) and Eddie (on his mother’s lap) both died in the attack, and Leslie (on his father’s knee) was permanently affected.

Read the full article online here.

First Zeppelin volunteer session

A very fascinating introduction to researching archives took place on 22nd August at the Theatre Delicatessen space in the old Wells Way Library. This was the first of several get-togethers for anyone who wants to help research the story of the Zeppelin raid over Burgess Park in October 2017.

Led by Alan Crookham, head of Library and Archives at the National Gallery and Jane Ruddell, historian/archivist from the Mercers’ Company archives, we had a wide-ranging discussion on what type of material is held by different archives, and how to access it. As a complete beginner myself, it was great!

1stSessionComp copy

First volunteer researcher session. Photo: Sam Tilling

We learnt about the different types of archives around the UK, and the sort of material they may have connected to the Zeppelin raid:

  • The National Archives (TNA) – all government departments, plus loads more – use Discovery to search the catalogue, which also includes other UK archives
  • The British Library – national newpaper collection, maps, sounds, plus much more. There’s several different catalogues here or use Explore
  • University archives – many universities hold specialist material in their own archives – for instance, the TUC collection at the Univerity of Warwick. See Archives Hub, or their combined catalogue for published material, or AIM25 for institutions inside the M25 London area
  • National and smaller museums usually have large archive collections, for example the Imperial War Museum, National Gallery and Tate. The IWM is of particular interest to us
  • County/borough archives for local material, including the local authority. Especially relevant here is our own Southawark Local History Library and Archives, and the associated Cuming Collection, who we’ll be meeting with shortly
  • London Metropolitan Archives covers the whole London region, formerly governed by the London County Council and the GLC. London archives have a portal giving direct access to the catalogues at AIM25
  • Many private collections exist, such as London Livery Companies (including the Mercers’ Company), historic houses, etc.
  • Business archives, useful for information about products and inventions, but the smaller ones may have little or no online presence, or arrangements for access

Apparently, many archives have very little that is digitised and easily available online, but many of them have catalogues which can be looked on their websites, so you know where to go to find out the detail. The TNA Discovery site is a great place to start to uncover many of these archives, together with Archives Hub.

Understanding the way different archives classify their material is important in getting to grips with what they contain. Page 11 of the powerpoint from the night (see link below) has a useful example from the National Gallery. These archival classification systems are designed to preserve the context of the item in the collection, as well as the item itself, so you can see its relationship to other items.

The catalogue numbers or ‘shelfmarks’ referring to particular documents in a collection are vital to record during a visit, so you can go back and ask for the document again, or you can pass on details to other researchers. It’s really important to record the catalogue reference for everything you find useful, and even for things which may not seem so useful at the time.

Top Tips for getting the most out of your visit:

  • Define your topic clearly before you start
  • Find out which are the relevant archives, and what sort of documents you could expect to find
  • Check the description of their holdings or collections
  • Search the catalogues online as far as possible before visiting – even order the items to be viewed in the archive online before visiting
  • Check what documents are needed in order to register for a reader pass and take them alng on your visit
  • Phone ahead for clarification, if need be
  • Plan your visit – opening times, document delivery times (may be up to several days after ordering!), restrictions on access, photography/photocopying arrangements and cost
  • Take a camera (most archives now allow photos for own research purposes)
  • Take a pencil (no rubber!) not a pen, magnifying glass, laptop

Consider and ask the archivist about copyright, before publishing any item by any means.

Check out the Powerpoint from the night here:

We’re still looking for volunteers, so check the contact details here and come along to the next session on 31st August 2017!

 

St George’s War Memorial

Friends of Burgess Park and the Walworth Society are supporting the application by Historic England to have the World War One war memorial outside St Georges Church listed as having special architectural and historic interest. Some people may be surprised that this wasn’t already done. You can see more information on the bronze sculpture by Danish artist Arild Rosenkrantz on our page on St Georges Church.

Although born in Denmark, Rosenkrantz grew up from the age of three in Scotland and settled in London at twenty eight. He had a strong interest in mysticism and spirituality, and worked mainly in stained glass and painting. He studied and worked in Rome, Paris and New York, and also worked in Switzerland for Rudolf Steiner.

Bronze Sculpture of Christ holding a crown of thorns

© Jon Pickup

The memorial was unveiled on Sunday 19th September 1920 by Camberwell Mayor John George Spradbrow, and Reverend PM Herbert, Vicar of St George’s church. The funds for the memorial were raised by local parishioners.

The listing should give it a degree of protection, which would be useful, considering that it’s already been stolen for scrap and recovered once, and considering that the other memorial to war in the area has also disappeared. There had been a plaque to the memory of the 10 people killed in the Zeppelin raid in Calmington Road, until the buildings were demolished for the formation of the park.

WarMemorial

© Susan Crisp

A memorial stone was recently placed in Chumleigh Gardens, in recognition of all the lives lost during the first world war in the Camberwell area.

 

We intend to commemorate the centenary of the Zeppelin raid in October this year – watch this space.

Stop Press!!

We heard on 3rd July 2017 that the War Memorial has now been given grade 2 listed status. The reasons for the listing are given as

  • Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the
    sacrifices they made in the First World War;
  • Design: as an attractive and emotive sculpture of Christ by Danish artist Arild Rosenkrantz;
  • Group value: with the Grade II-listed St George’s Church.

The  memorial is now officially known as the Burgess Park War Memorial.

Trafalgar Avenue bridge

Yes – there is still a bridge taking Trafalgar Avenue over the route of the former Grand Surrey Canal! It was news to this author that the slight rise in the road where it crosses the park disguises a modern concrete replacement bridge, not merely a pile of demolished buildings.

Early Glimpse

A first glimpse of the bridge appears in 2016

It’s not quite clear (maybe someone can explain) why an expensive bridge was built, although the canal had been filled in in 1970.

Unfortunately, bridges need inspecting periodically, and when that time came around last year, it proved to be a bigger task than at first envisaged.

Typically for the development of the park, it was discovered that the void beneath the bridge had been used to dispose of all kinds of waste, including asbestos.

Works have therefore taken quite some time, and the whole space beneath has been excavated in order to build permanent inspection chambers, so that in future, the job will be a bit easier.

Cleared space beneath 2 bays of the bridge

Under-bridge area cleared – visualise a canal now?!

The brick tower next to the bridge above is a ventilation chamber for the 132kV London electricity ring-main, cables for which were laid under the park as it was being developed in the 60s or 70s.

Of course, an imaginative administration might have thought about the posibility of restoring some water to the area, in some sort of memorial to the days of the canal. However, a brick-built inspection chamber is going in and the whole are will be backfilled and restored to grass.

Glass bottle

Archaeological find

 

Did you spot the ubiquitous R Whites lemonade bottle in the image above? Somehow recovered intact, despite the heavy earth-movers, these can be found all over the park, wherever a hole is dug.

 

 

Wooden hump-back bridge over canal

1830 view of what was probably the first Trafalgar bridge, looking west. Glengall wharf and the Peckham branch are behind the artist/extreme left. St Georges church in the background

 

Glengall Wharf Canal Wall – Update 1

GWG

You may have seen our blog 2 years ago on this historic bit of Surrey Canal infrastructure. The only remaining section of canal bank, which marked the junction of the Camberwell branch (1810) with the Peckham branch (1830) of the Grand Surrey Canal, has probably stood in this position, if not this state, for 120-150 years.

However, although still absolutely solid, the surface is beginning to crumble and become unsightly, especially for the new flats opposite, and the council have been determined to replace it. Work started at the beginning of 2017 on a like-for-like replacement (rather than suburban bypass-style concrete block planters), as far as funds and practicality allow. The top end of Surrey Canal walk has been closed whilst this happens.

Cobbles before removal, garden pergola built on top

Cobbles of the former council refuse yard forming a beautiful basis for the garden. Pre-works test pit in the foreground

First up was the removal of a two metre-wide strip of the beautifully worn cobbles on the top surface, which now forms the ground level for the  Glengall Wharf community garden.

The work has been majorly distruptive for the garden, involving the removal of a fine old self-seeded plum tree and many garden structures. However, it was arranged to take place in winter, outside the growing season, to at least minimise this.

These cobbles, known as granite setts, have been taken up with a JCB and as far as possible preserved for replacement when the wall work is complete. It was thought that they’d been set solidly in concrete, but they’ve mostly come away cleanly, minus a few breakages.

Plum tree chopped down and rubble for cobbles

Plum tree removed and cobbles being taken up

 

Stacks

Granite setts being sorted and stacked for storage and reuse

Around the end of January, work started on excavating beneath the garden surface and removing soil from behind the wall. Here things got interesting for the contractors, as they discovered the foundations of the rubbish chutes, visible in the photo beneath, and on our previous blog

Girders

Bases of rubbish chutes, buried in concrete beneath the cobbles. Probably cut down at the closure of the yard and formation of Burgess Park

68a

Sailing barges moored up next to steel girder refuse chutes

Now, it’s a case of tearing down the old wall and carting it away.

teardown

Note the girder, impossible to remove from the concrete, to be cut back

One or two interesting finds were made:

Earthenware

Stash of earthenware mineral water bottles, various manufacturers. All previously broken, unfortunately!

It also became clear that a previous wall had existed further back than the concrete wall, judging by the foundations uncovered:foundations

Work is due to finish in March, so watch this space for updates. Please do go and see the works for yourself, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment here!

Marking Places

Art in the Park premises in the Park, with tulips

Art in the Park, based here in Burgess Park, have launched a new project to find out from those old enough to remember, more about some of the places which used to exist in and around the Park, and permanently mark them. They’ve already had some fascinating visits and talks, and have collected some great recordings of local memories.

Check out the project – called A Place to Remember – and see if you can contribute or learn more. Or develop your artistic side and contribute ideas for Markers for these places!

So far they’ve worked on 4 places in the Walworth area – two of these were or still are in the Park – North Camberwell Radical Club and the New Peckham Mosque, formerly St Mark’s church, Camberwell. There’re some fantastic interviews on the website and images to check out.

B/W image of two former victorian house frontages with arched double dooorway in one

North Camberwell Radical Club

The Radical club ran for around 100 years and was on the northern edge of the park near the lake, fronting onto Albany Road. Art in the Park are organising open sessions for people to contribute to the design for a marker for the Radical club on Tuesday 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th November 2016 from 11-1pm at the Art in the Park studio.

Art In the Park are still open to suggestions for other markers in the Park. Do check out the Marking Places page, and contact them to see how you can share ideas and get involved, or come along  on Tuesday 17th, 24th, 31st  January, 7th, 21st, 28th February 2017 to Waterside Care Home, 40 Sumner Road, SE15.

Suggestions so far include:

  • The Cold Storage Depot that used to sit across the Old Kent Road entrance.
  • The corner of then Calmington Road and Albany Rd, remembering people killed and injured in the First World War Zeppelin Raid  – replacing a previous plaque placed in 1927
  • Gilros Sheepskin Factory
  • The Bible Factory
  • The Foundry
  • R Whites factories
  • Bus Depot