Restoring Dreadnought

To mark the start of restoration of the Dreadnought the Archive Display Cases in the basement of Stockwell Street Library contain two sets of archival records:

The first shows architects’ plans from April and September 1993 to create an Administration and Conference Centre; the April scheme suggests a hall in the NW corner of the Dreadnought (damaged by bombing in WWII), the September scheme a hall in an extension to the Stephen Lawrence Building.

Neither scheme was adopted as the ORNC became available and it was decided to make the Dreadnought into the University Library instead. The second case contains photographs of the restoration work which didn’t begin until August 19th 1997.

Below are more images from the same collection, along with descriptions and images by Dannatt, Johnson Architects showing the final plans and end results.





Plays at Avery Hill College

Here are some of the photos of the plays the archive has found from the 1940’s to the 60’s.

The Devil to Pay, performed 24th November 1946
Iphigenia in Tauris, performed 30th November and 1st December 1956
The Coventry Nativity, performed 12th and 13th December 1952
The School of Scandal, performed 25th and 26th November 1955
The Critic or A Tragedy Rehearsed, performed 25th and 26th November 1960
The Well of the Saints, performed 30th November and 1st December 1951
Noah, performed 29th and 30th November 1957
The Women Have Their Way, performed 27th and 28th November 1959

More photographs can be seen on display near the Green Room at Avery Hill Campus Library.

Nature Study Workbook, 1907-1909

Following on from our last blog, the latest project the Archive has been digitising is our collection of student workbooks and albums, we’ve found one that links to our last post on the botanical works of Henry Trimen’s A Handbook of the Flora of Ceylon and had to share it. This blog looks at one student, Lena Pike who attended Avery Hill College in 1907-09 and her Nature Study workbook.

Nature Study was the only science subject studied at Avery Hill College, with biology being optional in schools for girls at the time. This is a really fascinating document to look at as it shows Pike’s observations as she writes her analysis in great detail and her illustrations look like they could have been taken out of Trimens’ handbook. There is even what is now over a century old flower pressing of a Pansy and some Ferns, which was extremely delicate to digitise.

Illustration of a Pansy
Analysis of a Pansy
Flower Pressings from a Pansy
Tulip Illustration
Buds Illustration
Description of Buds











Description of a Scilla
Scilla Illustration







Holly Illustration
Orange Illustration
Fern Pressings

In an essay on why Nature Study was included in the schools’ curriculum, Pike wrote that “the class minds are greatly broadened, their knowledge is widened, and they are able to appreciate the beauties of nature. A child will be mystified at the wonders of nature.” She goes on to talk about the experiments and observations and how teaching this in schools would mean that children can learn about the protection nature gives to all living things as well as the economic benefit of nature as she notes the different aspects of a tree.

Nature Study Laboratory in the former stables

First Digitisation of the Year

The archive has just finished digitising one of our rare book collections using our new digital camera.

Here are some of the images taken from Henry Trimen’s A Handbook of the Flora of Ceylon. It was considered to be one of the most comprehensive floras available of a tropical area.

This is one of the rare books that the archive holds as it is a complete collection, as many botanical books at this time had the pages taken out to resell at a more profitable price than the book. However, we don’t recommend doing this.


Plate I - Acrotrema Lyratum. From the Dilleniacea family . The common name is Arnott's Acrotrema
Plate I – Acrotrema Lyratum.
From the Dilleniacea family
Plate III - Wormia Triouetra Part of the Dilleniaceae family.
Plate III – Wormia Triouetra
Part of the Dilleniaceae family
Plate VI - Aeeria Gardneri
Plate VI – Aeeria Gardneri
Plate X - Dipterocarpus Zeylanicus Part of the Dipterocarpaceae family
Plate X – Dipterocarpus Zeylanicus
Part of the Dipterocarpaceae family
Plate XV - Stemonoporus Affinis
Plate XV – Stemonoporus Affinis
Place XVII - Hibiscus Angulosus
Place XVII – Hibiscus Angulosus
Plate XXXI - Pericopsis Mooniana Part of the Fabaceae family.
Plate XXXI – Pericopsis Mooniana.
Part of the Fabaceae family
Plate XXXIII - Cassia Auriculata
Plate XXXIII – Cassia Auriculata
Plate XLII - Trichosanthes Integrifolia
Plate XLII – Trichosanthes Integrifolia
Plate LX - Orchrosia Bobonica Part of the Apocynaceae family
Plate LX – Orchrosia Bobonica.
Part of the Apocynaceae family
Plate LXXI - Barleria Arnottiana Part of the Acanthaceae family.
Plate LXXI – Barleria Arnottiana.
Part of the Acanthaceae family
Plate XC - Cymbidium Ensifolium
Plate XC – Cymbidium Ensifolium
Plate LXVI - Ipomoea Jucunda
Plate LXVI – Ipomoea Jucunda
Plate LXXXI - Balanophora Thwaitesii
Plate LXXXI – Balanophora Thwaitesii

Autumn Term Exhibitions from the University Archive

Archive Exhibitions currently on display around campus.


125 years at the Mansion (Studio Corridor- AH-Mansion Site)

The North family and their new home 1891


  • Avery Hill House before its conversion 1889-91


Avery Hill College time-line: Every decade 1900-2000


  • The College horse-drawn omnibus in Eltham High Street 1911


Uni Life (AH-Mansion Library)

Student life and leisure from the 20th century


  • An unidentified hall of residence; not Southwood, possibly Dartford


Southwood Centenary (AH-Grey Ground Floor)

Centenary of the completion of Southwood Halls


  • Original LCC plans of the new halls of residence completed 1916


‘Three Cruisers’ (AH-Common Room vestibule)

Naval disaster, and the loss of our first student, James Atkins, in WWI


  • Chatham Dockyard Historical Society WWI Centenary exhibition.


Polytechnic Magazine (Stockwell St. Library Basement)

First published 1916—Extracts from the war years.


  • List of ‘The Fallen’ from Woolwich Polytechnic Magazine, Vol.1 No.1


World War One Centenary: Battle of the Somme

A hundred years since the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916 we remember those members of the University who lost their lives in action or from wounds during arguably the worst battle known to man.

Ralph Ernest ADAMS, Student of the Polytechnic Secondary School 1906-1910

Rifleman 1/5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)

Killed-in-Action on July 1st 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

WP_SS_1909-1910_Adams R.E.

Avery Hill May Queens

The idea of a May Queen was re-introduced by John Ruskin and William Morris at Whitelands College for Women, now part of Roehampton University.

The first photographic evidence of its introduction at Avery Hill is from 1909.

Innocent mind and May Day in girl and boy, Most, O maid’s child thy choice and worthy the winning.

From Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Lilly Evans 1909


Margaret Emler 1910

Notice the trains on the first two May Queens were made from curtains. Their length and richness suggests that they may have been the original curtains from the Drawing Room, Dining Room, Breakfast Room, or Boudoir of the Mansion.

AH_P_1_125Miss M. Twist 1911

AH_P_1_130Chrystabel Shorney 1912, with Maids of Honour

Quasquicentennial 1985

1985 saw a major step towards the present University of Greenwich when Thames Polytechnic ‘merged’ with Avery Hill Teacher Training College.

Avery Hill College was opened in 1906, as a non-denominational college for the training of women teachers, in the former mansion of the late Colonel J. T. North a.k.a. ‘The Nitrate King’. Eighty years later it was absorbed into the Polytechnic system, as were many other similar colleges at the time.

To give a taste of the College’s extensive archive in Avery Hill Library here are the covers from our sadly incomplete collection of the college prospectus.





























(Note, College evacuated to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire)