Category Archives: Industrial Archaeology

VM_365 Day 355 Farewell to all that

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Today’s post for Day 355 of the VM_365 project features a series of images behind the scenes at our Friendships and Fallouts, Waterloo to World War One TimeTunnel, which has featured in the last four days of VM_365.

Day 351 took you through the first stage of the Tunnel, exploring Britain at the time of Waterloo, Day 352 took us to the Victorian period and the Crimean War. The industrial era and the age of Inventions in the 19th century featured on Day 353 and we entered World War One on Day 354.

Today’s picture shows how we built the flats that featured in the Time Tunnel and some of the scenes along the way, as well as some of the lighter moments of setting up and running the Time Tunnel experience.

Once again we had great fun at Bradstow School and we hope that we gave an interesting and educational experience to our travellers through time.

It all over now, and it isn’t even Christmas

VM_365 Day 353 Waterloo to WW1 event. Stage 3

VM 353The VM_365 post for Day 353 shows the third two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs in which we trace the changes in British society from the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo to the beginning of World War 1.

Yesterday’s post for Day 352 of the VM_365 project followed the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne, her marriage to Prince Albert, the expansion of the British empire and also took a brief look at the Crimean War.

In today’s image you can see the third two stages of our journey through the TimeTunnel into the Industrial Age. Using our specially constructed chimney, shown on the right, (which includes real smoke) we introduce our visitors to what life might have been like in our Industrial towns as more people were now living in towns than in the rural countryside. Coal was being burnt to produce steam power which in turn allowed more steam powered machinery to be used, leading to higher volumes in manufacturing of all types of goods.

Our visitors then explore where coal comes from and we emphasise that children as young as ten had full time jobs working in coal mines, often for long hours so that they could contribute to the family wage. Our modern day visitors then have an opportunity to pass through our short section of coal mine, avoiding the coal carts running on rails within the tunnel which is shown in the image on the left.

After exiting the coal mine safely (we hope) our visitors are then shown some of the major inventions of the industrial and early modern age which include the car, the zeppelin and the aeroplane; machinery that was later put to use in World War I.

Our visitors are also given a taste of the Boer War where Khaki uniforms and trench warfare are used for the first time. The circumstances of the establishment of Germany and the insecurities that the development of such a potentially powerful state caused among the other countries in Europe are then explained. The creation of new allies and friendships against the threat from the newly formed Germany are briefly introduced as well as a new fallout in the Royal family between Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King George V, King of England, who were first cousins and both grandsons of Queen Victoria.

Tomorrow we will explore the last stage in our Time Tunnel and find out what happened in World War I and where the most important friendships were made………



VM_365 Day 351 Waterloo to WW1 event Stage 1

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The VM_365 post for Day 251 is of the first two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs.

In the Tunnel we trace the changes in British society from the century following the end of the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the early years of World War 1. The journey focuses on friendships and fallouts between nations, population and families.

In the first two stages of the trip through time we have two vignettes where we explain the ideals and the effects of the French revolution and the reaction of the other nations of Europe, which culminated in the confrontation with Napoleon’s Army at Waterloo. The local connections with Wellington’s Army and Thanet’s ports are part of the story told at this point in time and a lighter note is introduced deciding whether the Duke of Wellington lent his name to a form of waterproof boot or to informal running shoes. Anyone heard of the Duke of Trainers?

The second station explores the way of life of most of the people of Britain in the early 19th century,  at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. The majority of the population lived in rural communities or small towns and industry in our region was concentrated on manufacturing of supplies for the Navy such as the production of Gunpowder in the Faversham area. We explore methods for preserving and transporting country produce  in barrels and casks and the innovation of sealing food in cans which transformed the preservation and transport of food in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Canning started as an experiment with the Napoleonic French Army and was taken up with enthusiasm by the British Army. The theme of canned food is taken up again later in the TimeTunnel in the trenches of the Western front.  Bully Beef for Tommy.

The final theme in this pre-industrial era is to point out that the principal sources of power remained that of the muscle power of humans and animals, especially horses. Now is it possible that we were able to get two fully grown horses into the Time Tunnel? Follow the journal posts this week to find out…


VM_365 Day 350 Virtual Museum TimeTunnel for School Event

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Today’s image for Day 349 of the VM_365 project was taken as the Trust set up a Virtual Museum TimeTunnel, ready for four days of workshops for schools to be hosted at Bradstow School in Broadstairs from the 15th to the 18th of June 2015.

The Heritage Lottery funded event ‘Friendships and Fallouts, from Waterloo to World War One’ will see as many as 500 children pass through the workshops and activities in the grounds of the school. The event commemorates both the bicentenery of the battle of Waterloo and the continued marking of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War.

The TimeTunnel will take children on a journey through the changes that took place in British life in the hundred years from the defeat of Napoleon to the outbreak of a conflict that reached every part of the world.  The TimeTunnel visits  a series of scenes that explore the changes from industrialisation to the great inventions of the early 20th century which created the means to make global conflict possible.  As the journey through the tunnel takes place, the friendships between nations, families, working people and soldiers are investigated and the fallouts that provoked conflict between people and nations are revealed. The journey through the TimeTunnel ends in the battlefields of the Western Front with the fate of all the travellers left undecided.

Journal articles over the next four days will reveal the secrets of the VM TimeTunnel and follow the progress of the event.

VM_365 Day 348 Philpott Mineral Water Company, Ramsgate

VM 348Today’s image for Day 348 of the VM_365 project shows another early 20th century glass soft drink bottle from the Trust’s collection from a local manufacturer.

The bottle is made of olive green glass and was found with its screw cap stopper still intact. The roundel reads ‘Philpott Ramsgate 1911’ with the company logo in the centre.

This bottle was produced for the Philpotts Mineral Water Company who were established in 1850 and operated from 1A Cavendish Street, Ramsgate. Presumably the company drew their water from a draw well, noted on the 19th century 1:500 town map of Ramsgate, and aerated it on site in a similar way to Reeve & Co. Ltd who featured in yesterday’s post for Day 347 of the VM_365 project.

In 1878, Philpotts opened a shop at 16 High Street from which they sold their products.  The census for 1881 indicates that Stephen Philpott, owner of the mineral water company employed 4 men and a boy.  The shop closed in 1905 and the company itself ceased to trade in 1920 when it was taken over by the Ozonic Mineral Water Company, the soft drinks arm of the Tomson and Wotton Brewery.


VM_365 Day 347 Reeves and Co. Ltd, Margate

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Today’s image for Day 347 of the VM_365 project shows a glass soft drinks bottle from the mineral water manufacturers Reeves & Co Ltd who operated between 1849 and 1964 at Margate. This bottle probably dates from around the late 19th century to the early 1900’s and reads ‘Reeve and Co Margate’ in the outer oval and ‘Trade Mark’ in the inner oval.

The Reeve and Co. Mineral Water factory was established within an enclosed yard at Hawley Street in 1849 where they constructed a purpose built facility to draw spring water from the Dane Stream via a well or a culvert which was then carbonated on site. The carbonated water was a popular beverage among holiday makers at Margate.

In the later 19th century Reeve and Co. engaged in a tremendous variety of trades centred around wholesale trade, processing and distribution and also had a retail shop on Hawley Street, the frontage of which can still be seen pronouncing 70 years in operation which dates the shop front to around 1909.

A lively narrative of the operation of the plant was given in the local newspaper, Keble’s Gazette in January 1889 describing how as many as 120 people were kept employed in a range of processes that required very different skills among the staff from fish gutting to cutting and soldering tin cans for storage. The key to Reeve’s business was the procurement, storage, processing and distribution of commodities. It is clear from the description in Keble’s gazette that the factory bridged a gap between the labour intensive trades of the fisheries and agriculture that supported the rural economy, and the intensive division of labour that represented the new industrial manufacturing processes of the later 19th century. In the final passages of the description it is implied that the factory was also fulfilling a social role in providing a continuity of employment in the towns population whose traditional working patterns were diminishing in importance and who were being driven into poverty.

Reeves and Co. Ltd connected the historic import and export functions of Margate as a sea trading port and the seasonal products of the local agriculture and the fisheries with the increasing demand for food in the growing cities, particularly London. Much as London exported its leisure time to the coast, the coastal and agricultural products were sent back along the trade networks to the city, preserved, bottled and tinned.

With the general decline of Britain’s industrial cities and trading networks in the period after World War Two the type of fetching and carrying business Reeve and Co. were engaged in had to compete with increased international imports and declining demand from the failing industrial towns. The niche markets and local networks were no longer sufficient to support it and the company closed in 1964.

VM_365 Day 343 Sailor’s Welfare, Ramsgate Harbour

VM 343Today’s image for Day 343 of the VM_365 project, another in the Our Thanet series, shows a group of 19th century structures at Ramsgate Harbour.  At the left side of the image is Jacob’s Ladder,  the Sailor’s Church is in the centre of the image and the oddlynamed Smack Boy’s Home is on the right side.

Jacob’s Ladder is a flight of ashlar steps that were constructed in 1826, replacing an earlier set of wooden steps that were built in the further to the east in the mid 18th century. The steps were designed by the architect John Shaw an the construction of Jacob’s Ladder in stone  undoubtedly made it easier to access the harbour safely from the cliff top.

The Sailor’s Church and Sailor’s Home was founded with the support of the vicar of Christ Church, which was located  in Vale Square nearby.  In 1863 50 fishing smacks  were registered at Ramsgate harbour and by 1906 there were 168 registered smacks operating from Ramsgate. The crews of the fishing smacks were made up of a skipper with four other crew members, who were often young boys many of whom had come from the workhouse, some of those apprenticed to the vessels were as young as 10 years old. The young crew members became known as smack boys.

Work on the fishing vessels was hard and dangerous work, especially for the smack boys and a number of the vicars of nearby Christ Churchrecognised that the men and boys who crewed the fishing smacks and other vessels sailing from Ramsgate not only needed spiritual guidance but also physical help.

When the Sailor’s Church was eventually opened  in 1878 the church was located on the ground floor and a dormitory above was provided shelter and some comfort to the young apprentices when they came ashore.

As a result of pressure put on the Board of Trade by Reverend Brenan of Christ Church  a three storey purpose built  Smack Boys’ Home was opened in a building next  to the Sailor’s Church in 1881. Ramsgate seems to be unique among Britain’s fishing ports in providing a purpose built refuge for the Smack Boys.

In later years the Smack Boys home was used to house sailors rescued from shipwrecks, which often occurred off the Goodwin Sands. During the First World War over 3000 men were given food, clothing and shelter as well as medical treatment in the home.

It is still possible to visit these unique buildings, Jacob’s Ladder and the Sailor’s Church are both accessible to the public and the Sailor’s Church continues to hold services and also offers teas and coffees during peak seasons.

VM_365 Day 342 Powder Magazine, Ramsgate Harbour

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Today’s image for Day 342 of the VM_365 project shows an oft overlooked stone building, constructed in 1828 to a design by the architect John Shaw and located on the west side of Ramsgate Royal Harbour.

Constructed of Ashlar blocks, with a slate roof, this structure was a purpose built Powder Magazine erected on the south west end of the harbour cross wall. The Powder Magazine had two doors at either end and was designed as a safety measure to hold up to 600 barrels of gunpowder from the various ships that were at anchor in the harbour.

With such combustible contents, powder magazines were designed with thick walls and thin roofs so that in the event of an accidental explosion the blast would be forced upwards through the roof rather than outwards through the walls. This would hopefully minimize the effects of the explosion; including the risk of spreading fires, on the people, wooden ships and other property in the harbour.


VM_365 Day 263 Crampton’s Water Reservoir for Broadstairs

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Today’s post for  VM_365  Day 263 shows the disused reservoir located next to Crampton Tower, Broadstairs which was featured in yesterday’s VM_365 post.

The reservoir formed part of the Broadstairs waterworks built by Thomas Crampton in 1859.  Water was drawn from a deep well sunk into the chalk and was stored in the large reservoir covered by this impressive flint and mortar dome. The reservoir had a capacity of 380000 litres and water was pumped by a gas operated engine to a storage tank at the top of Crampton Tower, where gravity created enough water pressure to supply houses nearby.

The dome of the reservoir measures 8.8 metres (29 ft) in diameter and 5.4 metres (18 ft) high. It is constructed of brick inside and flint and daub on the outside of the dome although the upper part is constructed of brick with a chimney. On top of the chimney is a square ventilation box. Like Crampton’s Tower, the reservoir is Grade II listed and together they form a landmark in Thanet’s urban engineering heritage.

For more information about Thomas Crampton and Crampton Tower, visit Crampton Tower Museum in Broadstairs.

VM_365 Day 262 Broadstairs industrial archaeology landmark

VM 262The image for Day 262 of the VM_365 project is of one of the landmarks of Thanet’s industrial archaeological heritage, Crampton Tower at Broadstairs. The tower stands three stories high (24.38m) and is faced with flint, the ubiquitous building material of the small towns and villages close to the sea in Thanet. The divisions between the stories and the windows and doors are picked out with rough flint dressings and string courses. The tower and reservoir are Grade II listed.

The tower was built  to improve the supply of fresh drinking water to Broadstairs and was designed and largely funded by the English civil engineer Thomas Crampton (1816 – 1888),  a railway engineer of great ability, who among many achievements was responsible for a locomotive design, which enjoyed particular success on the continent.

Crampton was born in Broadstairs, the son of a plumber and architect. His parents managed or owned therapeutic baths at Eldon Place, Broadstairs whose warm showers were notably enjoyed by Charles Dickens. Thomas Crampton had been involved in the construction of the Berlin Water works in 1855 and formed the Broadstairs Water Company in 1859.

In the Broadstairs Water Works designed by Thomas Crampton, water drawn from a deep well sunk into the chalk was stored in a large reservoir holding 380000 litres, which was covered by an impressive flint and mortar dome. A gas operated engine, which possibly survives in the tower floor, pumped the water from the reservoir to a tank at the top of the tower, where gravity created sufficient water pressure to supply houses in the nearby area.

Crampton’s water tower is one of the significant steps in the development of Broadstairs  from a cluster of fishermen’s cottages and boat building yards into a small town with the modern conveniences that were expected by visitors to the area and its growing population in the 19th century.

For more information about Thomas Crampton and Crampton Tower, visit Crampton Tower Museum in Broadstairs.