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Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Greenwich Railway

In the 1830s a number of things happened on Deptford Creek. First, in 1836, the Greenwich Railway was built, with a bridge across the Creek. Between the Creek and Beneke's works was built the Greenwich Railway Gasworks which became in due course, the Deptford and Rotherhithe gas works. Beneke's works was rented by Frank Hills. Frank Hills has already haunted these pages and will, I am afraid, haunt them for rather longer. What Frank Hills did at the Deptford chemical works will be explained later - it involved rather more than the mere purchases of ammoniacal liquor.

This episode on Deptford Creek makes a number of points. First that there was something there which was important to a well connected industrial chemist with international contacts. Secondly, that whatever he was doing there, was something worth while for him to exploit and take back to Germany and, perhaps, elsewhere. He was able to work with a technology developed in the sixteenth century and turn it into something else - Frank Hills, as we will see, developed it further. These two technologies are divided geographically by the Greenwich Railway - the copperas beds on one site, and - something else - on the other.

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