Practical techniques Slideshow

Slideshow 3 – Paddle Your Own

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London has a rich history of ship building and I’ve seen some fascinating projects just recently that made me realise I haven’t done enough on the blog regarding boat and ship building. One interesting project worth checking out is called ‘Build the Lenox‘ which aims to recreate a 17thc warship in the Royal Dockyard, Deptford, (which used to be one of London’s largest and most productive dockyards).
A friend of mine has also recently completed a smaller project which is no less interesting. He kindly let me use the pictures he took of the build and supplied some captions for me to make my third slideshow for the blog. Enjoy.

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Hackney London Practical techniques Restoration Slideshow

Bridgewood & Neitzert

Bridgewood & Neitzert Ltd, Violin Repairers, Dealers and Makers, 146 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0JU.
I had such a nice reponse to the first photoset about London makers I made, that I wanted to do another one. I was therefore delighted that Gary Bridgewood of Bridgewood & Neitzert Ltd took me up on my offer to photograph inside his building. My brief visit to the shop in London confirmed to me that this must be one of the most intriguing and skilled crafts still in demand today.
I asked Gary for a few brief lines about the history of how the business came about for my intro on the photoset. His story was so interesting I thought I’d reproduce it fully in the post instead. The business is owned by Gary and his business partner, Tom Neitzert.

Tom and I met whilst students studying at the London College of furniture. We were in an amazing workshop in Henriques street (I think formerly Berniers Street) renamed as one of Jack the Rippers attacks happened here!
We were on the first floor of an old Victorian school building overlooking a primary school with a theatrical company hiring the floor above for prop storage. What was so brilliant about this place was we all had keys and so the workshop was nearly always open until the early hours and often never closed at the weekend. We were a very small group, each year had 4 students and there were 4 years with a total of 10 students. I guess we all thrived on this time and the positive shared knowledge and competition between one another. I flitted between this department, Early Musical bowed string instruments e.g. baroque violins, viola da gambas and lutes and the modern office style building across the road where I learned violin making from William Luff.
Before the end of college I and three others started our own workshop in Dalston at 2 Crossway above an old East end gambling office called Sid Kikki jnr. This was quite an experience, we were on the second floor above a bespoke furniture maker called Kirk, in fact this was smoke screen for his rather more insalubrious activities as a drug dealer and pimp. On a Saturday morning we would be visited by one of Sid Kikki’s associates, a bovver boy called Mark, who collected the rent. We always felt relieved that we could pay the rent!
I shared a workshop with Robert Louis Baille (French), who is now a successful violin maker/dealer working in Seville and Tom shared a workshop with Craig Ryder (South African) who is a very fine bow maker working now in Paris.
We moved from here, our friends Robert and Craig moved to France, to Ilex Works in Northwold Road. Our Landlord, Mr Schwarz, had been in Auschwitz. He used to bring a few dolls house toys which they had somehow saved from this horror which I repaired for him; they were made from Olive wood, extremely hard. We had a good relationship with him, and would carry out repairs to the building for an occasional subsidy to our rent. Sadly this all turned sour when he mortgaged this property to improve his other Covent Garden ones. Strettons Estate Agents came in and very quickly we no longer could afford to stay.
We moved to Stoke Newington Church street after this and have been very fortunate to have a very suitable building for our needs.

Hackney London People Slideshow

Goodbye to W.H.Clark

W H Clark originally opened as H.M.Presland & Sons in 1797. It became W H Clark in the 1890s and has traded as Daniel Lewis & Sons Ltd – The One Stop Metal Shop since 2002. The shop will be leaving Hackney Road this summer and I wanted to photograph the premises before that event.
W H Clark was originally opened as ‘H.M.Presland & Sons’ in 1797. it became W H Clark in the 1890’s and has traded as ‘Daniel Lewis & Sons Ltd – The One Stop Metal Shop’ since 2002. This picture shows the premises as it now stands at 493-497 Hackney Road. If you want to visit this shop, do it quickly, it will be closing this summer.
Part of the original shop-front sign that would have stretched across the whole frontage.
The colourful sight that greets you on entering the premises. I love the ordered way that so many varied items are presented. You can tell the shop has grown organically over the years, changing to suit the needs of the stock presentation. David told me that up until the 60’s, it was commonplace that a driver would turn up on a bare-chassis lorry, then proceed to order doors, seats, rear panels, windows, everything he needed to drive off and complete the build to his custom requirements. Amazing.
This Queens Royal Crest was hanging outside Garrard’s (Crown Jewellers) in Regent st. London and when Garrard’s closed, David purchased several of them. This is the largest of the selection and it’s made of fibreglass.
Going down the hallway you get an odd sense of daylight. The space seems to be ready to open out again. Here you enter a covered courtyard. A new modern roof covers an area where before there was an open street. Some of the larger metal-cutting jobs are done here.
Some of the large cutting blades from a circular saw.
This part of the premises holds the longer lengths of metal. Sheet and tubular metal has now taken over as the main business. The racks on the left of the picture date back earlier and would have held lots of wooden ‘fellowes’, (quadrant parts of the main circular part of a cart wheel) and also wooden spoke parts. W H Clark specialised in producing wooden wheels for carts and carriages, and this area would have been stacked high with wheels at various stages of production.
Turning left and entering that part of the former street, you are greeted with an amazing sight. A wonderful old road topped with cobblestones and further in, granite sets over bricks. This is a street that dates back to Roman times. You have to imagine this part of the premises without the roof and shelves. This was an open street, with carts and horses trundling in and out, delivering all sorts of cargo, to and from the address. It’s worth noting that horses were always used by the company and last used to do deliveries around London until 1918, just after the war. W H Clark started using commercial motor vehicles then, and coincidentally those also had wooden wheels with rubber tyres, until about 1929. David pointed out depressions in the granite sets on the floor. Over years and years, where the horses had been rested and tied, their hooves had worn shallow craters as they scraped back and forth.
Turning and looking right into the corner. A beautiful disorganised mess. Underneath this pile are some large flagstones, one of which David said he lifted one day and revealed a small stream which continues to run under the street.
Here David showed me one of the many wonderful remnants. A sack of turned spindles, which to me look like the sort of spindles that would have supported a plinth around the top of a piece of period furniture. There must be thousands in the sack and some guy stood there, turning them by hand on his lathe.
Part of the original metal sign from the shopfront. This is the ‘493’, from ‘493-497 Hackney Road’.
Into the bowels of the place. I can’t even tell you how many small rooms there are like this. Stuffed to the rafters with screws, nails, hinges, every type of hardware you’ve ever seen.
On a shelf, original paper packs of nails, never even opened.
I like the fact that someone bothered to paint some decent typography for these stock shelf numbers.
Back in the central space, we’re looking up at the first floor.
You enter the first floor space via a wooden ladder. This is pretty amazing. I already felt like I was in some Dickensian world, but heading up here, I can almost feel the guys running around with orders.
The view back down the steps.
A lot of these shelves have already started to be emptied for the move, but they still show the diversity of the stock that W H Clark held. A lot of these components are for horse carriages. Special bolts, window hinges, a lot of other items I don’t recognise.
Another corner of this first room. On the lower right is a threading machine. This would cut a thread on a bolt, such as the one held in it now. The power for the machines would have come via pulleys, which would have in turn been powered via a steam furnace. Behind this room, there was a Vulcanized Rubber Tyre fitting machine for placing solid rubber tyres on ash and elm carriage & cart wheels.
A ‘Mustad’ horse nails box, now containing small rivets. When I asked David about his stocks of nails, he replied he had ‘some sizes of Cut Nails, Horse Shoe Nails, Wagon Wheel Nails & Carriage Rivets… Mustad Nails, Clasp Nails, Twisted Bright Wire Nails and the usual everyday Round Wire Nails, Ovals, Floor Brads, Annular Ring Nails, Panel Pins, Blued Tacks…’. And I suspect that was just the start!
I gingerly walked out over the modern roof, (with David’s guidance) and took a shot looking back at the first floor doors from the outside. Where I am standing now, would have meant I would have been hovering 15ft in the air over a street, if we went back 150 years.
Looking from the outside into the second, farthest room.
And looking back toward the main courtyard space. If you look at the doors, you can see the swingarm that would have swung out and allowed people to lift goods up from the street and in through the doors.
Inside the second room.
Another shot of the stock shelves. Pretty much all these shelves in the premises have been built as needed. A lot are made of ply, sandwiched in galvanised panels, so they are incredibly strong and well-made.
Walking back down the steps, we go through the modern shop area and go up some wooden steps into the office area.
‘You can’t make a craquelure finish like on those panels’, said David. This comes from burning coal and the earlier years when everyone smoked in the office.
An old pencil sharpener from the 50’s sits on the wall. It works superbly of course, unlike a lot of the plastic crap we are sold these days.
A wonderful photograph hangs on the wall of the office, circa 1880-1890, and shows W H Clark as it looked back then. The railway bridge is still there today, but it doesn’t have steam trains puffing across it any more. Next to W H Clark you can see the Chandler & Wiltshire Brewery, now no longer there.
Another view into a corner of the office. W H Clark used to supply the GWR (Great Western Railway), and in turn the GWR supplied W H Clark with wooden panels which they lined their train carriages with. These panels now line the main office.
Looking out from the next door room over the roof toward the workshop rooms.
The sight gladdened my heart. This is a presentation case made by ‘GKN’- Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, a leading manufacturer in the Midlands, of fasteners such as screws, bolts and the like. This case was built to show their products for the Festival of Britain in the summer of 1951. Funnily enough, my father worked as a sales manager for that firm. He died when he was much too young, but he would have chuckled to see me poring over this case, whilst visiting this wonderful Hackney business, W H Clark.