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(Above left)The old gentleman in the centre is Richard Norton senior, whose son Dick is talked about in the article below. He is pictured with his son George Lees Norton and family: wife Jessie, daughters Doris and Nora. George and Jessie were my maternal grandparents, Doris is my mother. (Above right) My mother Doris driving a toy tractor. I wonder if this was a premonition that one day she'd be travelling in a minivan with me and 4 goats.

The following information from Pat O'Driscoll, England.

Barge building - once a most important trade in Greenwich - has been in decline since the beginning of the century. It will soon be too late to find out anything very much about it, unless people's memories are jogged.

One firm which survived until relatively recently was on the area which is now to be the site of the Millennium 'Eco-village'. Pat O'Driscoll has sent some information about Norton's and anyone else who remembers the works - or any other barge builders - is urged to get in touch. Pat says;

"Dick Norton's yard was on the foreshore between Dorman Long's and Pear Tree Wharf ... the first jetty down-river from the end of River Way is Redpath Brown's , which was taken over by the Thames Barrier Yacht Club .. there used to be a steam crane on this jetty ..... the next jetty down, Dorman Long's, no longer exists. It was in a bad state of repair and was removed several years ago. .. the old clubhouse of the Greenwich Yacht Club was a little upstream of this jetty .. the club has moved to what used to be Redpath Brown's canteen ...Norton's did not have a wharf as such, and operated on the foreshore, where there was a set of barge blocks running parallel to the shore. He had a couple of old lighters too, which were used to moor craft alongside and sometime a craft would moor at the end of Dorman's jetty while awaiting a berth. There was a little wicket gate in the corrugated iron fence at the landward end of Dorman's jetty and here was a tap for water for a steam crane, and a heap of coal. I understand that Norton also let out a few moorings. The odd yacht barge also would lie here, with people on board - Venta was one such. ...Norton's had two sheds the other side of the corrugated iron fence. One was for storing tools, nuts, and bolts, paint, etc. The other was Fred's living quarters. Fred (the watchman) was Dick's last employee.

Topsail, Journal of the Society for Sailing Barge Research had just published an article by John Glenn, who was frequently aboard the ketch barge, Ethel Edith, when she was laid up at Norton's in 1934. ...

The Gaselee Wharf Guide of 1954 going upstream gives .. 'Esso Angerstein's (spirit and kerosene), Peartree Wharf, owners G.J.Palmer & Sons, Barge and Tug Repairs, Norton's, Charlton (foreshore) barge repairers, Dorman Long (Bridge Dept,), Dorman Jetty, Dorman Long & Co. Ltd. 'phone GRE 0921, bridge constructional engineers, Greenwich Yacht Club, Redpath Brown's Steel structural engineers (no mention of a jetty!), 'phone GRE 2671; Pilot's Causeway.

The 1936 Thames Navigator's Pocket Companion, under 'Bugsby's Reach for the south shore' shows proceeding upstream from the Angerstein branch railway 'Christie's Wharf and Jetty, British Petroleum Wharf, Angerstein's Wharf (Southern Railway); Anglo-American Oil Wharf; Pear Tree Wharf, Norton's Wharf, Dorman Long's Store, Wharf and Jetty, Riverside Works and Wharf, Redpath Brown, Bugsby's Stairs and Causeway."


Photograph of barges off Norton's with grateful thanks to Pat O'Driscoll.