Unknown Locations

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This page includes the photos in my grandfather's collection where I have so far been unable to identify the location.

Unknown Location 1

This photo shows some of the difficulties facing the cable-layers. They have dug down and found an enormous pipe in the way. It is presumably either a sewer or a water main. Whatever it is, they have had to dig under it to install the cables. The pipe has been stabilised using a large chain hitched around a baulk of timber.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 2

This photo illustrates how the excavations for cables were finished off. Cables were laid in the concrete channels, backfilled with gravel, and the whole thing covered with mild steel plates for strength. My grandfather is standing in the middle of the photo wearing his ever-present gold pocket-watch and looking rather miserable for some reason.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 3

This photo shows a group of men laying a power cable across a river - presumably The Thames but not in the city judging by the trees in the background. They are using a punt which is being pulled with a rope or cable from the opposite bank. It is an interesting study with the men lighting cigarettes - possibly posed but maybe the photographer just caught them at a quiet moment.

The punt has a sign on it saying 'Geo. Keale - 4 Glebe Road'. Checks on Ancestry.com showed the name Keale to be fairly uncommon with the only instance of a George Keale in the 1911 census living in Staines or Egham - interestingly at 6 Glebe Road. He is described as a 'deal porter' or timber merchant. Maybe the family changed trade later in life - or maybe they were commissioned to make a punt for this purpose. I think the photo was most likely to have been taken at Staines or Egham.

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Installing a cable across a river with a punt [1]

Here is an enlargement of the sign on the punt.

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Enlargement of sign on punt in previous image [1]

Unknown Location 4

This looks like a relatively affluent neighbourhood with a wide, tree-lined street in the background. Unfortunately, the photo is not clear enough to make out the street name. The workman in the foreground appears to be black. If so he is the only black worker in this set of photos.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 5

In the next two photos cables being laid over some kind of bridge - possibly a 'cut and cover' railway line going under the road. If so this would have required very careful work to dig down into the carriageway without causing damage to the metal structures exposed. Like in other photos it shows the cables being laid in concrete-lined trenches and covered with mild steel plates. There is a branch of the Midland Bank centre rear of the first photo and a cafe of some kind on the right in the second.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 6

I am annoyed that I have been unable to track down the location of the next photo as there are quite a few clues available. Looking at a magnified version of the image you can make out the name of Day & Son's restaurant on the right; further in the background an advert for Lilley & Skinner's Boots & Shoes. There is an advert for Allsop's Ales on top of the building in the far distance and another advert for Nestlé Milk (chocolate?).

I found a Directory entry for a 'Henry Day & Son Dining Room' at Rathbone Street in 1895 but that street is too narrow. There was a Lilley and Skinner in Goswell Road but the whole area has been redeveloped and there are no matching landmarks.

There are a surprising number of people on the street including a group of rather annoyed-looking gentlemen wearing bowler hats on the left.

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Cable laying at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 7

This photo shows excavations in front of two named shops but despite this I have been unable to confirm the location. The first is Easton & Son, and the one behind it is Ashford's Laundry. In 1930 there was a lift manufacturing company called R. Easton & Son based at 28-30 Southwark Bridge Road and there was an Ashford's Laundry in Bermondsey. It could be either of these or somewhere quite different.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 8

There are no real clues to this location, but the cable laying has caused utter chaos. Trenches have been dug and strengthened in readiness for cable-laying, but this has not yet started.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 9

There is a clear sign in the top right corner of this photo showing it is outside the West Central Office of the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company. This company had been founded as South MET in 1887 and renamed on 28 July 1888. They were operating an AC system by 1889 and had generating stations at five locations in London. One was at Acton Lane, Willesden very close to where I spent the first 18 years of my life. In 1920 the company joined 9 others to form the London Electricity Joint Committee and opposed schemes proposed by the Electricity Commissioners for London. The Company was also known as METESCO. It had offices in Tower Street which is just off Shaftesbury Avenue where other works recorded on this site are shown but there has been a lot of redevelopment there and I am unable to match the location with modern views.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 10

A wide street with imposing buildings. I think the blurry object visible just beyond the end of the trench must be a bus or tram in motion. A posed shot looking close to the completion of work and with backfilling in progress. The cables are laid quite shallowly compared to at some of the other sites shown in the photos. It looks like the footpath is made of cobblestones. Some interesting old cars are in view and there is a lady standing at the rear of one of them for some reason. Perhaps it is a cab, and she is about to get into it? There is a handcart on the extreme left of the photo.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 11

Although I have marked this as at an unknown location, it somewhere along the Thames Embankment - possibly near to Cleopatra's Needle. The man nearest the camera is sieving the rubble - presumably to use as covering for the cables.

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Excavations at an unknown site [1]

Unknown Location 12

I have included this photo as it shows an old-fashioned 'General' bus on route 1A going towards Willesden. I think this must be an open-top bus. The presence of the policeman makes me wonder whether it had run into the pile of soil at the side of the road.

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Bus and policeman alongside excavations at an unknown site [1]

This is the final page of the website.