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Dossier : Le patrimoine scientifique

The industrial heritage in Britain – the first fifty years

Keith Falconer


The situation regarding the industrial heritage in Britain is very complex and fluid as it has evolved over a period of fifty years and is still evolving. The industrial heritage has its origins in a “grass roots” movement, it was embraced by government agencies quite early, it led to specialised documentation and management processes and has had a prolific output of popular publications. It also witnessed the creation of numerous industrial museums, is hugely supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is the subject of major regeneration schemes and is being taught in a few universities. As such it is typically British – practice has often preceded theory, popular enthusiasm has prompted academic study, ad hoc designation has been conducted in parallel with contextual evaluation while large sums of private and public money are employed in conserving and re-using the industrial heritage. Since 1973 Britain has also championed the subject internationally - in promoting industrial landscapes as World Heritage Sites and being instrumental in the creation of TICCIH (The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage). Through European Union funded projects it is also very much involved in the study and regeneration of historic industrial sites in Europe.

These thoughts and perspectives on the industrial heritage in Britain are very much from the standpoint of someone working in a quasi-government agency concerned with applied research and the management of the Industrial Archaeology resource and will address five groups of elements:

• the origins of Industrial Archaeology, the development of popular interest in the industrial heritage;

• British involvement in the international industrial heritage;

• the identification and recording (documentation) of historic industrial sites, the dissemination of information about these sites;

• the evaluation, protection, conservation, regeneration and management of historic industrial sites and landscapes;

• the academic development of the subject and the intellectual debate on its future direction.

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1The situation regarding the industrial heritage in Britain is very complex and fluid as it has evolved over a period of fifty years and is still evolving. It has its origins in a ‘grass roots’ movement, it was embraced by government agencies quite early, it has had a prolific output of popular publications, it had something of a false start in the academic world, it is hugely supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is the subject of major regeneration schemes and is now once again being promoted in a few universities. As such it is typically British – practice has often preceded theory, popular enthusiasm has prompted academic study, ad hoc designation has been conducted in parallel with contextual evaluation while large sums of private and public money are employed in conserving and re-using the industrial heritage. Since 1973, Britain has also championed the subject internationally and is still very much involved in its development in Europe.

2These thoughts and perspectives on the development and organisation of the industrial heritage in Britain, the academic evolution of the subject of industrial archaeology and Britain’s contribution to the international industrial heritage movement are very much from the standpoint of someone working in a quasi-government agency concerned with applied research and the management of the IA resource. They would probably be quite different from a purely academic research or teaching perspective.

3To give these thoughts some structure, I shall address five groups of elements:

4• the origins of Industrial Archaeology, the development of popular interest in the industrial heritage;

5• British involvement in the international industrial heritage;

6• the identification and recording (documentation) of historic industrial sites, the dissemination of information about these sites;

7• the evaluation, protection, conservation, regeneration and management of historic industrial sites and landscapes;

8• the academic development of the subject and the intellectual debate on its future direction.

9Much of the detail, behind what follows, can be found in a handful of main publications, in the volumes of Industrial Archaeology Review and in the Transactions of the TICCIH Conferences from 1973-2003. Foremost amongst the retrospective texts is Perspectives on Industrial Archaeology ed Cossons (2000). This is a collection of linked papers on the subject as it was perceived at the end of the 20th century and it contains five crucial essays on the background to the subject. Sir Neil Cosson’s summary introductory essay Perspectives sets the scene for Prof Angus Buchanan to review The origins of industrial archaeology; for Keith Falconer to discuss the Changing perspectives in recording; for Anthony Streeten to review The policy and practice for conservation of the industrial heritage; and for Barrie Trinder to affirm the interest of The twentieth century context in industrial archaeology. These essays are very fully referenced and with is Industrial Archaeology, Principles and Practice, Palmer & Neaverson (1998) provide a comprehensive gateway to the subject in Britain up until the year 2000. Since 2000 there have been several other significant publications and these are referenced in the short bibliography.

The origins and development of Industrial Archaeology

10Once Michael Rix popularised the term Industrial Archaeology in the mid 1950s in his adult education courses it soon came into general usage and the subject was championed by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), the umbrella non-governmental national body for archaeology. In 1959 the first national conference on Industrial Archaeology was convened by the CBA and resulted in a call for a government sponsored national survey of industrial monuments to identify and assess historic industrial sites worthy of protection. The CBA had, in fact, sought to write a handbook on Industrial Archaeology as early as 1958 but it was not until 1963 that Kenneth Hudson, an industrial journalist, took over the project and Industrial Archaeology: An Introduction was published by John Baker.

11The Industrial Monuments Survey may have been conceived at the 1959 conference but its gestation period was to last thirty-eight months before the appointment, in 1963, of Rex Wailes, a retired mechanical engineer, as consultant to the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments (then part of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works). In the intervening period the wanton demolition of the monumental Arch fronting Euston Station in London had caused a furore in the conservation world and the Ministry had consulted more vigorously over the mechanics of protecting historic industrial sites. It decided that the existing general legislation was suitably flexible to embrace such sites and this decision has steered the designation ever since – there has been no attempt to introduce customised codes of protection for historic industrial sites. Though largely funded by the Ministry the Survey was managed by the CBA and that body sought to involve its constituent archaeological societies in the exercise of identifying and documenting industrial sites. It therefore distributed thousands of record cards, designed by its newly formed Research Committee on Industrial Archaeology but as we shall see these were of only qualified value to the Survey. More significantly Rex Wailes’s encouragement of local enthusiast groups built up a network of fledgling regional industrial archaeological societies. Their work was greatly to inform the Survey in later years and they continue today as the backbone of the subject. Indeed amongst the members of these groups were most of the authors of the plethora of thematic and regional books that appeared under the banner of industrial archaeology in the 1960s and 1970s (see below).

12In 1967 the CBA formed an Advisory Panel on Industrial Monuments to make recommendations for the safe-guarding or recording of the more important monuments identified by the Survey. This caused a change in gear in industrial archaeology by bringing not only the Ministries concerned with protection but also the official recording agencies – the Royal Commissions the Historical Monuments – into the picture. With the retirement of Rex Wailes in 1971, the opportunity was taken to establish the Survey on a full-time basis based at the University of Bath. Over the next few years the Panel considered hundreds of sites presented both regionally and in thematic lists. It made recommendations for protection under the Ancient Monuments and the Listed Buildings codes, for preservation in museums and for recording by the Royal Commissions.

13The Industrial Monuments Survey throughout the 1970s remained the main conduit for industrial sites being considered for protection and despite its considerable impact it remained a very small-scale operation. In 1980 however an event was to change the national statutory designation context dramatically and co-incidentally render the existing practices of the Survey obsolete. This was the demolition the façade of the Firestone Building in west London in advance of the Secretary of State’s efforts to protect it. The Government’s response was to initiate an accelerated Re-Survey of Historic Buildings increasing the effective field investigator staff from six to eighty! The emphasis was on area by area survey embracing all types of buildings including industrial ones and thus thousands of historic industrial sites were protected by this means. The role of the Industrial Monuments Survey immediately changed to that of briefing and advising on this exercise and the following year it was absorbed into the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England to advise and manage the documentation of industrial sites.

14The late 1960s and the 1970s had witnessed a huge rise in the popular and media interest in industrial archaeology with the output of a wide range of books and television programmes. The early recognition and lead given by the CBA had generated a network of local IA Societies and nurtured the development of the subject expressed by numerous local and regional conferences. These culminated in the late sixties in a series of conferences at the University of Bath and from 1971 by national conferences at Bradford, Glasgow and the Isle of Man. Delegates at these conferences agreed to form a national society and the Association for Industrial Archaeology was formally constituted in 1973. The popular interest in the subject was also expressed by the creation of several industrial museums around the country of which the Ironbridge Gorge Museum and Beamish Museum were the most notable. Somewhat later, English Heritage itself, was created in 1984 as a ‘non-departmental public body’ (NDPB) to replace the Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings and it continued the ‘official’ championing on the industrial heritage with the creation of an Advisory Panel on Industrial Archaeology.

Britain’s place in global industrial heritage

15It can be argued that, just as Britain is perceived to have pioneered the industrial revolution and have bequeathed industrialisation to the world two centuries ago, so, in the last half century, there is a similar perception that this country has pioneered and given the subject of industrial archaeology to the world. Both these perceptions of course display a typical British smugness and are a gross over-simplification but there are some grains of truth in them. There is a strong case that formative pioneer initiatives in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s were equally formative for the IA movement universally.

16The ‘Bath Conferences’ mentioned above had attracted an international attendance and these international delegates took home a very British perception of the subject with an emphasis on the history of technology and a pre-occupation with hardware and building structure. In 1973 the newly-opened Ironbridge Gorge Museum hosted the First International Conference on the Conservation of Industrial Monuments (FICCIM) and revealingly, most of the overseas delegates were from northern Europe and North America. The success of FICCIM at Ironbridge led to further international conferences in the seventies – SICCIM in 1976 at Bochum and TICCIM 1978 in Sweden. Note the continuing presence of the word ‘monument’ in these titles. The next decade witnessed the steadily widening of the sphere of interest with a Council of Europe symposium on the management of the industrial heritage concluding with a resolution recognising the value of the industrial heritage. It also saw the formalising and blossoming of TICCIH (The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage) with, significantly, the word ‘Heritage’ replacing ‘Monuments’ in the title. The TICCIH Bulletin which was originally produced out of Ironbridge and was rather Anglo-centric is now produced in Barcelona and the bulletin with the journal Patrimoine de l’industrie which is produced in Paris report on industrial heritage issues from all around the world.

17Britain has participated fully in the expansion of interest in the industrial heritage in Europe contributing to the Council of Europe’s ‘Common Inheritance’ workshops in Paris and Strasbourg and to many of the European Commission’s cultural and development programmes. These include a Raphael-funded project on Airports of the Thirties, Interreg projects to develop a European Route of Industrial Heritage and regenerate industrial military sites and a Culture 2000 project Working Heritage examining the regeneration of historic industrial districts.

18Arguably, the most significant advance in the international recognition of the subject has been the inscription of industrial sites as World Heritage Sites in their own right and the UK has participated fully in this recognition. In 1986 the Ironbridge Gorge was inscribed and with this nomination Britain was a pioneer, seeking recognition for an extensive industrial landscape rather than a single site. This emphasis on themed landscapes was to be maintained in the UK Tentative List of World Heritage Sites published in 1999 which heeded the prompting of the World Heritage Convention to widen the range of sites and responded to the Convention’s singling out the industrial heritage for particular attention. Thus no less than eleven of the 21 UK mainland sites promoted in the List are industrial – seven in England and two each in Scotland and Wales. The English selection of industrial sites was co-ordinated by English Heritage’s Industrial Archaeology Panel when over a hundred suggestions were narrowed down to just seven. It was in the Panel’s deliberations that the emphasis was on themes illustrating the unique British contribution to world industrialization was developed and subsequently this emphasis was articulated in the Tentative list.

19The first of these was the nomination of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape in Wales claiming that the Blaenavon landscape presented a large number of individual monuments of outstanding value within the context of a rich and continuous relict landscape, powerfully evocative of the Industrial Revolution. The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was inscribed in 2000 and the following year the World Heritage Committee inscribed three linked textile industry landscapes nomination bids from the UK – Derwent Valley Mills, New Lanark and Saltaire. In 2004 Liverpool’s maritime legacy was also inscribed, the nomination for Cornish Mining is currently being considered and further nomination bids are being prepared including those on pioneer transport embracing Manchester and the Great Western Railway.

Recording, Documentation and Dissemination

20Essential to the identification and protection of historic industrial sites was their documentation and understanding. Once again in typical British fashion this has been achieved by a variety of means - by the national recording agencies, by recording under the provisions of the Planning legislation and by recording by enthusiasts. When Industrial Archaeology emerged as a recognised subject in the late 1950s it was building on an interest in the history of technology, and its manifestation in remains of past industry, that spanned much of the preceding century. This was witnessed between the wars by the foundation of numerous special interest societies such as the Newcomen Society (the national society for the study of the history of technology) and the Wind & Watermill Section of Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. This period also spawned a series of surveys conducted privately by enthusiasts and some of these surveys have bequeathed a legacy of irreplaceable material in the relevant National Monuments Records. The Second World War, with its unprecedented threat to all historic buildings by aerial bombing, witnessed the creation of National Buildings Records in Scotland and England. Though not specifically concerned with industrial buildings these initiatives, especially in the case of northern Victorian cities in England, provided some coverage and were to continue to photograph buildings threatened by demolition for a further four decades. In this early period, inspired by Eric De Mare’s evocative photographs in J M Richard’s seminal volume The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings which had appeared in 1958, further photographic essays were published such as Quentin Hughes’s Seaport in 1964 and Aubrey Wilson & Joseph McKeown’s London’s Industrial Heritage in 1967.

21Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the identification of historic industrial sites in Britain was greatly aided by the commercial publication of three series of books on industrial archaeology – David & Charles and Batsford’s regional guides and Longman’s thematic studies. These books with their aggregated gazetteers provide one of the most comprehensive listings of industrial sites nationally and some of the volumes contain early, if rather rudimentary, examples of detailed recording. These supplemented the information being gathered by the CBA standard record card which were designed to be filled in by voluntary field workers with details of the nature and location of industrial monuments. These cards came to form the National Record of Industrial Monuments which was administered by Angus Buchanan at the University of Bath from 1965 onwards. The NRIM grew slowly but steadily throughout its first ten years, eventually comprising some 8000 entries, but by the time it was transferred to the NMR in 1981 the trickle of cards had dried up and it now is archived as a closed record.

22In the post war era there had been some official recording of historic industrial sites. In 1977, the Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey was formed at the University of Strathclyde but unlike the original Industrial Monuments Survey whose work was restricted to identification and assessment, SIAS, was also able to undertake recording. By 1985, when SIAS was transferred to the Scottish Royal Commission, extensive thematic surveys had been completed on several subjects including the heavy ceramics industry, windmills, wind pumps and suspension bridges. The Scottish Royal Commission for many years had recorded a range of monuments which reflected the early industrial development of that country. A representative selection, amassed from over thirty years work, was eventually published in 1986 as Monuments of Industry. In Wales the significance of the industrial heritage had also long been recognised and the Royal Commission had included mills, roads and bridges, harbours and ferries and early mining sites in pre-War inventories such as that on Anglesey in 1937. By the 1970s, when more staff resources were available, intensive programmes were set in hand to record canals and tramroads in South Wales some of which were threatened by large-scale redevelopment.

23The range of recording of industrial sites now being undertaken is so wide that a comprehensive survey is impractical here and reference should be made to relevant books in the bibliography. Much of the recording work done in the 1980s and 1990s had its basis in the provisions of the Town & Country Planning Acts, whereby anyone who receives Consent for significant alteration or demolition of a listed Historic Building was obliged to give the Royal Commissions notice to record the building. Their response varied with the significance of the site, the adequacy of existing records and the historical questions that its interpretation may illuminate. It ranged from a few record photographs to a full analytical record based on detailed electronic survey. The Commissions were uniquely placed to provide a national overview of these threats and while the procedures were routine responses to outside triggers, it proved possible to produce national syntheses of aggregated material. Thus, the integrated results of emergency recording work on textile mills in England led to seven articles being published in a volume of Industrial Archaeology Review specifically devoted to this subject.

24Now Archaeological Units, and freelance recording businesses, are increasingly undertaking developer funded recording of industrial sites under the provisions of the Planning Policy Guidance notes 15 and 16 which require a record prior to development. The amount of work now being produced by these independent agencies emulates that of the official bodies themselves but is essentially complementary as the former tend to record individual local sites in great detail while the latter can provide a national context for this work. On the archaeological side the work of the national archaeological field survey teams in all three countries has proved to be no less seminal. In England for example, the landscape surveys in four National Park have greatly enhanced our understanding of the extent of non-ferrous metal mining in these areas and have crucially informed their management plans. The survey of the Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey informed a programme of protection for most of the vast site and prompted a country-wide survey of the archaeology of the whole of the government explosives manufacturing industry which resulted in the book Dangerous Energy.

25The dramatic contraction of the coal industry from the late 1980s onwards presented an overwhelming problem for all three Commissions. Not only were collieries being closed at an alarming rate, but their voluminous records were disappearing just as fast. Led by the Welsh Commission a rescue bid was mounted to find appropriate homes for at least some of the records, while aerial survey programmes of all operating collieries were supplemented by rapid field surveys of threatened collieries and their associated landscapes. The Welsh Commission was particularly concerned with an industry that had so long dominated the Welsh economy. It was decided that a comprehensive record, including details of operation, should be made of one colliery and the mine selected for detailed study was Taff Merthyr Colliery, a pit sunk in the 1920s and thus epitomising the heyday of the Welsh industry. All this recording resulted in three publications – the RCHME’s Images of Industry: Coal presenting a snapshot of the industry in the early 1990s, English Heritage’s Colliery Landscapes: an aerial survey of the deep-mined coal industry in England and RCAHMW’s Collieries of Wales: Engineering and Architecture published in 1997.

26The issues raised by recording the coal industry led onto the recording of other relatively modern large sites. Twentieth century sites thus began to take a more prominent position in survey programmes and the Scottish experience provides an exemplar. The heavy industries on which Scotland’s industrial prosperity had been based, were in severe decline since peaking early in the century and by the early 1990s Scotland faced the almost total eradication of many of its traditional industries such as steel making, deep coal mining, heavy ceramics and cotton. Many of the latest developments of these industries were comparatively recent and because of their scale, complexity and speed of closure were not amenable to traditional recording methods and required rapid survey techniques involving photographs, annotated site sketches married to copies of the industries’ working drawings. Keeping in step, the NMRS acquired several very significant collections of industrial material including the very large collection of designs of gasworks from Scottish Gas and the drawings and photographs of the international construction firm William Arrol & Co.

27The recording of sites is not undertaken in a vacuum and its contribution to the enhanced understanding of historical processes is an essential element of this work. For example, in Wales the survey work on canals and tramways in the South Wales valleys caused a complete revision of the accepted wisdom of their development. It revealed the huge extent of the horse-drawn railway network – at an aggregate 1300 miles some four times the previously accepted figure – showed that many of the railway structures associated with the locomotive era in England had been pioneered in Wales several decades earlier. It also revealed the extensive use of canals as a water-power resource and highlighted the work of a group of important, but little known, Welsh artisan-engineers. The results of these surveys led to a series of publications on the archaeology of transport and early industrial landscapes.

28The 1990s also witnessed very significant developments in recording outside the Royal Commissions. The Association for Industrial Archaeology as part of its overall leadership of the subject created an annual award scheme for recording with separate entry categories reflecting differences in resources. Every year this award attracts a wide variety of entries ranging from student dissertations and surveys by local industrial archaeology groups to very detailed recording exercises by professional survey teams. The entrants are encouraged to deposit a copy of their work in the relevant National Monuments Record much to the benefit of the latter. In recent years many of these entries have emanated from the Archaeological Units. At the beginning of the 1990s the AIA sought to enhance the industrial content of the Sites & Monuments Records located in each administrative county as the SMRs have a crucial role in the planning system. It therefore created a new database – IRIS (Index Record for Industrial Sites) with a recording form, word list and handbook so that the product could be easily computerised. The initiative was under-resourced and though providing valuable additional material to some SMRs its coverage has been patchy and has not quite achieved its original aims. The AIA also publishes small regional guides to the industrial sites focussed on the venue of its annual conference.

29Techniques for the recording of historic industrial sites have progressed enormously since the tentative beginnings in the 1960s. Technology, such as electronic survey allied to GPS and CAD techniques, has revolutionised field survey and the subsequent presentation of illustrations. In a relatively short field campaign it is now possible to electronically capture thousands of survey points in three dimensions to produce 3D modeled images on computer screen a short time later. English Heritage staff have used these techniques to great effect in recording sites as diverse as upland mining landscapes, textile mills complexes, and Cornish beam engines. Interpretation and transcription from air photographs allows the identification and mapping of sites long since razed to the ground as so dramatically demonstrated in the Scottish Commission’s Forts, Farms and Furnaces.

30These scientific advances have been matched by greater appreciation of the need to record the role of people and processes in any record of industrial sites. This wider recording agenda, which makes use of videos, copying of working drawings and comprehensive photography, is manifested in all three countries with an emphasis on recording existing industries at work. This is especially focussed on those industries which are likely to undergo drastic change or contraction and hence Hunterston A nuclear power station in Ayrshire was comprehensively photographed while still operating. Similarly in England a detailed process record was made of South Crofty, the last deep tin mine in Europe and its dressing mill at Wheal Jane. The photographic elements were expanded in coverage to produce Images of Cornish Tin an essay on a disappearing way of life. At the other end of the industrial scale, teams from English Heritage have been recording the operation of workshops in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, in Sheffield’s cutlery trade and in Northamptonshire’s boot and shoe industry. Many of the images captured in these surveys show craft processes little changed for centuries.

31The increasing professionalism in field recording has been matched by greatly increased professionalism in the accession, curation and retrieval of those records. Electronic databases allow much more comprehensive documentation and retrieval of information and in Scotland and England new archive stores for the National Monuments Records are among the most advanced in the world. The NMRC at Swindon, for example, holds some 14 million items in two huge air-conditioned archive stores with access via acclimatisation suites and teams of archivists are cataloguing the historic collections. Thus irreplaceable deposits of industrial material, such as the George Watkins Collection of photographs and records of steam engines, are for the first time properly safeguarded for posterity and their content easily accessed. All this work would be of little value if it remained hidden away in archives – its dissemination is crucial if our understanding of the industrial heritage is to inform its conservation, management and enjoyment. Thus the intention that the NMR’s two major internet initiatives – Images of England and Viewfinder – should contain many thousand historic photographs of the industrial heritage.

Management and Regeneration

32Responsibility for advising on the protection and management of the industrial heritage lies with English Heritage, Historic Scotland and CADW in Wales. Each of these bodies has developed their own techniques for identifying and assessing sites meriting protection but until this year, at least, they operated under similar legislative regimes for designating sites. At the time of writing there are still essentially two codes of protection – Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings and they both can apply to historic industrial sites. Ancient Monuments are generally, but not exclusively, sites or structures which are not in use, while Historic Buildings usually have a use or are capable of re-use. Therefore industrial sites such as ruined engine houses or blast furnaces are scheduled as Ancient Monuments while railway stations, textile mills and factories are listed as Historic Buildings. The latter may be graded Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II according to their perceived significance, Ancient Monument are all simply of national significance. Industrial sites tend to sit astride these codes and canal sites, for example, may be listed or scheduled. Each code operates differently in the Planning system. Permission to alter demolish an Ancient Monument must be agreed with central government or its agent while for Grade II Historic Buildings permission must be sought initially from local authorities while the higher grades are referred to central government. There is now a move in England to simplify the situation and have just one code of designation and a single consent procedure for planning purposes1.

33In 1992 English Heritage developed a component of its Monument Protection Programme specifically focused on industrial sites involving a procedure of separate Step Reports undertaken by expert consultants. These characterise a particular industry at Step 1 and, after a public consultation exercise (Step 2) and rapid field survey, short-list sites for consideration at Step 3. The Step 3 field files, when aggregated across the 22 industries that have reached this stage, indeed comprise a significant archive of historic industrial sites. The recommendations made at Step 4, and their implementation in further Steps, provide heritage managers with a continuing framework for assessing the significance of sites for recording as well as for protection. This procedure was well suited to archaeological sites - typically the landscape remains of non-ferrous mining or of primary industry such as charcoal blast furnaces - but proved less effective with other industries. Manufacturing industries such as the textile or engineering industries were much more problematic a need was therefore identified for rapid, more broad-brush assessments of individual industries and nationally outstanding distinctive industrial areas and for agreed strategies for dealing with them. These strategies would comprise two parts – a section dealing with understanding and quantifying the resource and a section proposing a strategy for managing the resource reviewing all the present designations within the industry and the adequacy of the existing portfolio of preserved sites.

34Sustainable management of industrial sites tends to be expensive and capital works often require external funding. The national agencies have struggled to grant aid the conservation of industrial buildings for many years but in the last ten years the situation has been revolutionised by the advent of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Over the last ten years the HLF has supported more that 700 industrial projects with funds totaling more than 630 million Euros. The grants vary from 35 million Euros to complete the restoration of the Kennet & Avon Canal to 70,000 Euros for minor cataloguing projects. HLF funds cannot be applied to private developments and Government support for such schemes is provided by English Partnerships and the Regional Development Agencies. With the regeneration of large industrial sites and indeed of whole industrial districts now very much on the agenda the role of these agencies is crucial. The success of the regeneration projects such as the Albert Docks in Liverpool, Saltaire Mill and Swindon Railway Works have encouraged many further funding partnerships between public and private developers and details of many of these can be found in Stratton ed Industrial Buildings, Conservation and Regeneration.

The study of the industrial heritage

35There have been several attempts over the last thirty years to introduce industrial archaeology into under-graduate teaching but with a few notable exceptions such as Leicester and Manchester these have not been very successful. Both these latter universities conduct student training in excavation techniques and have active programmes of post-graduate research. In the 1980s the post-graduate vocational courses run at the Ironbridge Institute in association with the University of Birmingham were the springboard for many of the professionals now engaged in the subject. Although the emphasis of the course has changed to heritage management, Ironbridge with its associated archaeological unit and magnificent library on the history of technology remains a major focus for industrial archaeological study. Now other universities such as the University of Bath are actively developing post-graduate courses dealing with the conservation of the industrial heritage. In doing so there is a desire to foster international collaboration between academic institutions, especially in the area of post-graduate training where courses such as those on the conservation of the industrial heritage are already being developed.

36In the last decade British academics have participated fully in the debates on the relationship between industrial archaeology and historical archaeology as Britain is well placed to bridge the gap in approaches between the New World and Europe. There is currently lively discussion and no measure of agreement as to the future direction of the subject. Essays in two of the most recent books Barker & Cranstone eds (2004) and Casella & Symonds eds (2005) display the divergence of views held by those who advocate industrial archaeology, those who prefer the term historical archaeology and those who extol post-medieval archaeology. In different forms such issues have troubled the study of the industrial heritage ever since its inception fifty years ago and the present author, having seen fashions come and go, is content to leave the debate to those with more impassioned beliefs.

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• Britain’s Industrial Heritage – General Works

Buchanan R A, Industrial Archaeology in Britain, Harmondsworth, 1973

Cossons N, The BP Book of Industrial Archaeology, David & Charles, 1975

Falconer K, Guide to England’s Industrial Heritage, Batsford London 1980

Palmer M & Neaverson P, Industry in the Landscape 1700-1900, Routledge, London, 1994

Palmer, M & Neaverson P, ed Managing the Industrial Heritage, Leicester, University of Leicester, 1995

Stratton M, ed Industrial Buildings – Conservation and Regeneration, Spon, London, 2000

• Origins and Theory of Industrial Archaeology

Barker D & Cranstone D, eds The Archaeology of Industrialization, Maney, 2004

Casella E & Symonds J, eds Industrial Archaeology, Future Directions, Springer, New York, 2005

Cossons N, ed Perspectives on Industrial Archaeology, Science Museum, London, 2000

Palmer M & Neaverson P, Industrial Archaeology, Principles and Practice, Routledge London, 1998

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1 Further discussion of the present situation as applied to industrial sites can be found in Streeten’s essay in Cosson’s Perspectives and in Palmer, M & Neaverson, P eds Managing the Industrial Heritage in the essays by Cherry on Protecting Industrial Building : the role of listing and by Stocker, Industrial Archaeology and the Monuments Protection Programme in England. Information on the proposed single ‘Register of Historical Assets’ awaits publication.
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Keith Falconer, « The industrial heritage in Britain – the first fifty years »La revue pour l’histoire du CNRS [En ligne], 14 | 2006, mis en ligne le 03 mai 2008, consulté le 29 février 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Keith Falconer

Keith Falconer was appointed Survey officer for Industrial Monuments in 1971 having read Geography for four years at Edinburgh University followed by three years post-graduate research at the University of Hull on the demise and regeneration of canals. The Industrial Monuments Survey which was based at the University of Bath was absorbed into the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1981 and in 1986 Keith Falconer was appointed Head of Industrial Archaeology and transferred to the RCHME Regional Office at Salisbury as Head of Office. Since merger with English Heritage in 1999 he has been Head of Industrial Archaeology in the new English Heritage. In 1980 he wrote Guide to England’s Industrial Heritage, co-authored Swindon: the Legacy of a Railway Town in 1995 and has written numerous articles on, amongst other subjects, the development of textile mills, the regeneration of historic industrial sites and IK Brunel’s work on the Great Western Railway.

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