This Saturday the Blood and Sand make the short trip down to East London to take on Blackheath. Only the 1st XV have a fixture this week - Club do not run a second team.
Among the districts of Blackheath is Westcombe Park, the original home of the club of that name. We played them in National 3 South in 05/06 and for two seasons of National 2 as was - though they had moved out of the borough and settled in Orpington. They are of course not the only club to have moved out of the borough. Woolwich Arsenal FC moved North of the river looking for a larger gate.
Westcombe means the West side of the valley - and there is indeed an Eastcombe Avenue on the other side. The grand house is Woodlands House. It was originally built in 1774 for John Julius Angerstein. John Julius had been born in St Petersburg and was reputed to be the bastard child of one of the Russian Empresses - Anna, Catherine the Great or Elizabeth. John Julius worked as an underwriter eventually rising to be president of Lloyds. He also invested in railways, the Angerstein Line still runs from Carlton to a wharf, mainly carrying aggregates. However, he made much of his money from estates in Grenada, worked as all Caribbean estates were by slaves - though he was also a patron of the "The Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor" which gave alms to the destitute and provided passage to Halifax in Canada and later to Sierra Leone in Africa.
However, his passion was art and most of his money went into an art collection, which included works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Hogarth and others. On his death, the 38 works from his collection were bought by the Government and formed the basis of the National Gallery.
The house passed to his son, who served as local MP, and grandson. In the 1890s it passed to Sir Alfred Yarrow, the shipbuilder. Yarrow established a yard in Poplar and then moved to first the Isle of Dogs, before moving to Glasgow in 1906. Yarrow specialised in small fast steam ships and were known for innovative work on boiler design. Nigel Gresley also used the boiler design in an experimental locomotive intended to be even faster than the Mallard - but in rail use it proved temperamental. The Yarrow yard was nationalised as part of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and is now part of BAE - still building warships.
One of Yarrow's engineers was Frederick Duckham, who patented a new governor. He settled in Blackheath and married Mary McDougall, sister of the mill owner. His elder son Alexander Duckham also worked at Yarrow before being encouraged to found his own firm, the eponymous oil company. Alexander's brother Arthur was a chemist who developed the process of gassification of coal. He was knighted for his work on munitions.He later became president of the Institute of Chemical Engineers and Deputy President of the Federation of British Industry - now the CBI.
Blakheath are currently fourth in the league, just five points behind neighbours Old Elthamians. They have lost their last two games, although those were to Rosslyn Park and Ampthill, currently second and third. They will be desperate to get back to winning ways, and of course Shanners always wants to beat his old club. This is round three and with Town beating Gown but Club winning at Volac Park this is the decider, can we steal the bragging rights.
Updated 18:20 - 31 Jan 2019 by Marcus Streets