45 industrial heritage sites, centres and lanscapes have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1978.
44 currently hold WHS designation as Dresden Elbe Valley, Germany, was delisted in 2009, having only achieved designation in 2004.
Liverpool Mercantile Maritime City is currently on UNESCO’s danger list.
I am in the process of revising a paper I gave in 2011 on how people’s perceptions of industrial heritage are shaped, using copper as a theme. Starting with a global perspective, I have been counting those that are designated World Heritage Sites. I wanted to share the list for interest. I have included sites related to transportation and communication, urban sites with a substantial representation of historical commerce, and those bearing testimony to pre-modern industry. Those highlighted relate to copper.
I have recently completed consultancy and research work for Swansea University. In addition to undertaking research on digital heritage in Wales and the potential for creating a digital heritage, history and archaeology hub in Swansea (more on this soon), the university commissioned a report that would provide a vision for the heritage‐led regeneration of the Hafod-Morfa copperworks site, an internationally significant industrial landscape in the Lower Swansea Valley. The report was submitted in July and permission has been given to freely distribute it to interested parties.
The purpose of this report is to gather together the threads of the Cu @ Swansea project, a joint venture between Swansea University and the City and County of Swansea launched in January 2011. The Lower Swansea Valley was the site of pioneering post-industrial land reclamation in the 1960s and 70s but now the unique remaining vestiges of Swansea’s global historic copper industry lie in a parlous state.
The heritage-led regeneration of the Hafod-Morfa site, situated on the west bank of the River Tawe, will be a long-term and complex operation. All stakeholders wish its distinctiveness to be revealed through its industrial and natural heritage. This report aims to summarise and evaluate the position of the project as it currently stands while also offering a detailed vision for its future. The report is intended to be a stimulus for debating how the Lower Swansea Valley can become a ‘must see’ destination as well as a new community in its own right.
Discussed in the report are: a summary of the scope of the project so far; an outline of core themes that unify the site e.g. historic pathways, amenity and opportunity and its role as a working landscape; key assets and opportunities; comparative UK industrial heritage sites including a brief reflection on Heartlands in Cornwall as a site of comparative scale and ambition; a projection of the site’s relationships in comparative Welsh, UK and international contexts; conclusion. Continue reading “New report on Swansea copperworks: An industrious future from an industrial past”
Industrial heritage in Cornwall is completely dominated by mining, and most of that is heavily focused on tin mining and china clay extraction as opposed to that of other metals and minerals such as copper, arsenic and so on. Even more neglected is Cornwall’s fishing and fish processing heritage.
The Cornish Quaysude gallery in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, in Falmouth, provides a tantalising glimpse of fish processing and export, specifically that of pilchards (salted and pressed) which took place in St Ives, Mevagissey and Newlyn amongst other fishing centres. Other interesting exhibits can be found in a number of the smaller museums of Cornwall, such as St Ives Museum, Padstow Museum and Fowey Museum.
Penzance no longer has its maritime museum and Newlyn, today home to the largest fishing fleet (in terms of numbers of boats) in the UK, has no centre for its fishing heritage. However this was not the case until relatively recently, and may change in the near future. Villagers in Mousehole, west Cornwall’s most ancient port, is currently looking at integrating some of the region’s fishing and maritime heritage into displays in the project to establish a new community centre (in the derelict sail/net loft which also housed pilchard processing pits on Duck Street). Talk of old pilchards reminded me of the now defunct Old Pilchard Works Museum in Newlyn.
I had occasion to revisit some photographs I took back in Summer 2003 of the Old Pilchard Works in Newlyn when it was open to the public as a working museum. It remains one of the most memorable museum experiences I have had. The working part of the museum allowed visitors to get a feel for an ancient delicacy which the vast majority of Brits and Cornish would probably turn their nose up at. Salted and pressed pilchards, or Cornish sardines. Caught in abundance off the Penwith coast, pilchards landed in Newlyn would be salted and then pressed, then arranged in barrels ready for export to Italy (and sometimes Spain). Think anchovies and their growing status as a trend ingredient in British gastronomy, then think of a more rounded, almost sweeter flavour and you will have an idea of the wonder that is a salted pilchard.
The pilchard presses resemble book presses and there is something timeless about seeing military rows of fish lined up and piled up ready to have their life extended to at least a year through this processing. Barrels were marked with various marks according to the importer, one of them being ‘Cigno Bianco’ or White Swan as you can see in one of the photographs of a box of ‘salacche inglese’ –in future that would probably read ‘salacche cornovagliese’. Part of the museum experience was having the chance to do ‘brass rubbings’ of the copper stencils that marked the boxes and barrels. To my sadness, I can no longer find the one I did but I do remember it was of the Cigno Bianco mark. The museum also introduced visitors to traditional fish processing and the particular relationship between the Cornish and Breton fishing industries, especially those of West Penwith and the region of Concarneau.
As you will hear in this video, from Terry Tonkin who worked here, they were a particular delicacy of the Italian dish, spaghetti alla puttanesca. So prized were the Cornish salted pilchard that they were considered superior to the usual Italian acciughe or anchovy. This dish is a classic of southern Italy, particularly the south-eastern region of Puglia (Apulia) and parts of Sicily. It’s a brazen dish (possibly accounting for its unashamed name, ‘whore-like spaghetti’) made with fresh tart tomatoes, salty black olives, anchovies or other salted fish and capers. It’s time of year is from harvest time at the end of summer to Christmas when these preserved delights are made and put in store for the winter.
Some time in 2005-6 the museum closed, for various reasons, mainly financial, but also because the demand for salted pilchards began to decline. As the Managing Director Nick Howell said in a statement regarding the circumstances of the closure, no amount of good publicity from TV chefs such as Keith Floyd and Rick Stein could persuade the British public to embrace this delicacy. The privately run museum was subsidised by the business which had also just begun to use traditional Breton canning methods to preserve Cornish pilchards and mackerel (in olive oil). You’ll be hard pushed to find a salted pilchard in Cornwall at the moment but thankfully you can still buy Pilchard Works canned fish all over the country. I hope we see salted pilchards in British and Cornish cuisine in the future.
In this post I outline some of my ideas for better education in industrial history, archaeology and heritage. There are currently no dedicated Masters-level programmes in industrial heritage/history/archaeology and I wanted to find out why (with no agenda either way as to whether or not they ought to exist as specialist programmes). In the first half I discuss English Heritage’s major study on Industrial Heritage at Risk as it has important implications for education. In the second I share my findings after a brief and informal survey of industrial heritage courses taught at postgraduate level, and discuss how the two could come together to improve levels of the knowledge and understanding of heritage practitioners, scholars and public.
My conclusions are given at the end and are at present ideas and thoughts based on my observations and experience. I hope to develop some of these based on more rigorous research. If you would like to contribute ideas of your own please leave a comment.
Industrial Heritage at Risk
Industrial Heritage at Risk was a major project undertaken by English Heritage in 2011 to quantify and assess the condition of England’s industrial heritage, particularly in the light of the considerable development seen at brownfield sites over the last two decades.
Overwhelmingly the public think that it is as important to preserve our industrial heritage as other types of heritage such as castles and country houses (80%).
(From survey of 2000 respondents conducted by English Heritage as part of the Industrial Heritage at Risk project)
Some of the findings that stood out for me are:
4% of listed buildings and 4% of scheduled monuments are industrial.
The average estimated conservation deficit (cost of repair in excess of the end value) of industrial buildings at risk is twice that of non-industrial buildings at risk.
Approximately 40% of industrial buildings at risk are capable of beneficial use, compared to 44% of non-industrial buildings at risk.
Only 40% of listed industrial buildings at risk could be put to sustainable and economic new uses. The remainder are reliant on voluntary effort, public funding and philanthropy to survive.
Lead, tin, copper and coal mines are the industrial sites most at risk on Register.
52% would like more opportunity to give their opinion about which industrial sites they think should be protected, while 44% are interested in getting involved with helping to protect the industrial heritage in their local area.
Younger people are less interested in industrial heritage than those aged 55 and over.
English Heritage has pledged to undertake a number of measures to help ensure the future viability of industrial heritage sites and areas. These mainly concern offering advice, encouraging local groups to take on industrial sites and providing handbooks and guides. English Heritage obviously does not have the resources to be more hands-on with its assistance and it is right that organisations and groups in the localities in which industrial sites are based should take some responsibility for them if they are the same people who are worried about their future survival.
English or British industrial heritage?
English Heritage is only mandated to oversee historic sites within the political unit of England and as such the Industrial Heritage at Risk report does not make connections with sites elsewhere. This is a point of frustration because so much of English industrial heritage is intimately linked with that of Wales and Scotland, notably in coal and metals, and textiles. Comparable research data does not exist (at least publicly) for EH’s sister bodies in Wales (Cadw and RCAHMW–but see Cadw Buildings at Risk document), Scotland (Historic Scotland–but see Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland) and Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Environment Agency).
Industrial heritage without borders
The history of industrialisation in Britain is a story without borders. Businesses, entrepreneurs and scientists paid scant notice to national or regional identity within the UK when making profits and pioneering new technologies. The rapid success of British businesses engaged in mass industry relied on fast networks that first globalised these isles and then rapidly globalised much of the planet by its domination of maritime trade and nascent empire building. This is much more evident in the thousands of business archives held in public, private and corporate collections than perhaps in the vestiges of industrial heritage sites.
My current project to reconstruct historic supply chain information of the copper industry from business archive collections and museum collections aims to better integrate the information we have from documentation with that of archaeological and built remains. It is a material-driven approach that intends to provide a context for the quantifiable inputs and outputs that is the traditional fayre of economic and industrial historians. Teaching industrial history using this approach may well attract a wider range of students and learners who are increasingly interested in the cultural impact of economic change both locally and globally.
Industry and regional identity
However industries were undeniably regionally specific because of their locations near raw materials, as hubs in national and international transport infrastructures, and the development of specialist factory workforces that percolated down the generations, often defining entire places, whether hard rock mining in Cornwall or cotton manufacture in Lancashire. Copperopolis (Swansea), Tinopolis (Llanelli), Jutopolis (Dundee), Cottonopolis (Manchester)… are epithets that are testament to the huge impact of regionally-specific industry on perceptions of place. The capacity for industry to bestow regional distinctiveness on a locality has strongly influenced the way in which many sites and areas have been interpreted, much more so than the global story and connectedness of which it was once part.
What about education?
The Industrial Heritage at Risk project has identified the need for better educational resources and to this end has provided a set of teacher’s kits to help teach school children about industrial sites in their area. The topic range is broad and I am particularly glad that the creators of these packs urge teachers to address issues of why we preserve industrial heritage sites and their value to society. We don’t know how much having debate like this will affect the views of children when they become adults but I am pleased that attempts are being made to de-adultify industrial heritage. Of all the fields of history and heritage, the interest in industry has been the preserve of (mainly male) enthusiasts, economic historians and historians of science and technology. And the average age profile of these groups is currently much higher than other sectors such as art and social history. But I digress.
Having set some of the scene of industrial heritage in the UK today I want to continue by exploring how industrial history and heritage is taught. While the English Heritage Teacher’s Kits go a long way to providing high quality resources for schools I am naturally led to question the level of knowledge and understanding of teachers, trainers and lecturers themselves, and where you might go as a prospective learner to ‘up-skill’ in the area of industrial heritage. There are four main areas I would like to investigate:
Key Stage 5 (A-level / Baccalaureate etc)
Tertiary / Higher Education (Diplomas, First Degrees, Vocational)
Postgraduate Taught courses
Adult Learning / Continuing Professional Development / Lifelong Learning courses
Postgraduate education in industrial heritage/history/archaeology
It is at postgraduate level (Masters level) that many students have the opportunity to pursue the advanced study of a subject and it is at this level that my exploration of the current state of industrial heritage education begins. This follows an email enquiry to a number of mailing lists, followed up by correspondence, about where people have taken industrial heritage courses and what forms they have taken.
I was keen to find out why there are currently no dedicated taught Masters courses in industrial heritage/history/archaeology in UK universities. My underlying motive is to find out how collaborative resources created through research, particularly those from heritage-led knowledge exchange initiatives (e.g. Welsh Copper Project) could be developed into modules, courses and entire programmes whether taught through distance learning, traditional lecture and class sessions, work-based training and blended learning (combining any of these).
My enquiry received over 35 responses via email and a few via Twitter. Responses came from those teaching industrial heritage/history/archaeology, or who had taught it in the past, and from those who had taken courses. A small number of responses came from the USA and I have included these for comparative purposes, although my main interest is in what is happening here in the UK.
Where courses are/have been taught and taken
I am including responses from those who have taken courses in the past that are now defunct (marked ceased). This list is response-driven and is not an exhaustive search for industrial heritage modules within other programmes.
MA Historical Archaeology, Sheffield, 1997, taught by David Crossley. Included industrial heritage, ceased
MA Heritage Management, Ironbridge Institute (University of Birmingham), 1989-current (distance learning option since 2004)
MA Historic Environment Conservation, Ironbridge Institute, 2005-current
MS and PhD, Industrial Heritage and Archaeology, Michigan Tech University, Prof. Patrick Martin
MA Archaeology, University of Nevada, Reno, led by Dr Don Hardesty, American mining archaeology
Department of the History of Science and Technology, John Hopkins University
MA Industrial Archaeology, Ironbridge Institute, 1985-6, taught by Barrie Trinder and late Michael Stratton, ceased 2007/8 (est. 1981), relaunched by Roger White 2001, last modules taught 2005/7, ceased
MA Industrial Heritage, Ironbridge Institute, 1994-1999, ceased
MA Archaeology of Buildings, University of York, one module Industrial Buildings
MA Historical Archaeology, University of York taught by John Schofield, John Finch, Kate Giles
MA Historical Archaeology, University of Leicester (distance learning option)
MLitt Lead Mining industry in North Pennines, Newcastle University
Undergraduate course in Industrial Archaeology, Newcastle University, 1990s/early 2000s taught by Stafford Linsey, ceased after retirement
MSc Mining and Industrial Heritage Management, Camborne School of Mines (University of Exeter), taught by Tony Brooks, head of Mining, ceased after retirement
MSc Heritage Science and Professional Archaeology, Queen’s University Belfast
Ordinary Degree Industrial Archaeology module for English, History, Geography, Geology and other subjects, College of Higher Education, Liverpool, validated by Lancaster University, 1980s
Industrial Archaeology topics taught at Bristol University
Why did people choose to take a course or programme in industrial heritage/history/archaeology?
Course near to where student lived
Had already done first degree at same institution
Ability to do degree part time while working in cognate profession (commercial archaeology)
To aid career prospects or prior to undertaking PhD
Inherent / personal interest in subject
To formalise existing research undertaken privately
What people like about learning and teaching industrial heritage.
Inclusion of work placement
Practical surveying techniques
Learnt applied skills for use in architecture
Course based on an industrial site
Using industrial site visits and projects to teach broader issues of sustainability, conservation practice
Skills-based learning including desk-based and field work, photography, surveying, documentary study
Wealth of material on British industry 1650-1939 materials and practices
Interpretation of sites and monuments including conservation of buildings and artefacts
What people did not like about learning and teaching industrial heritage.
No introduction of new ideas
Disinterested lecturers. End of course malaise
Dwindling student numbers making it financially unviable
Too much emphasis on museums
Can be conservative
Courses are expensive to run
Career opportunities limited in UK
Cost cuts and need to take on more students lowering standards
Recruitment low because career prospects poor/cannot see benefits
Industrial sites need to engage with community’s history as much as technology
Other issues arising
Vocational courses like Heritage Management recruit better, into 20s and 30s FTE. Teach industrial heritage as part of that
Disciplinary differences in the US: industrial history thought in History of Science and Tech programmes or Science, Technology and Society (STS) programmes
Heritage is considered ‘public history’ in US
History of science has emphasis on written record rather than material culture—industrial archaeology offers this pathway (but not a major field in US)
Many courses heavily relient on subject specialism of tutor/lecturer, when they retire or leave course does not continue
There remains a disparity between what is required by archaeological profession and what is taught in universities
Growth of historical and contemporary archaeology as a field of study on a par with prehistory
Conclusions: Is industrial heritage education at risk?
The main conclusions reached by this survey of opinion are:
After the heyday of dedicated industrial heritage/archaeology programmes in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly those offered by the Ironbridge Institute and the University of Leicester, the subject is now taught mainly through historical archaeology and heritage management modules and programmes
The offering of industrial heritage/history/archaeology courses is more heavily dependent on research expertise present in a department or institution whereby replacement is not necessary sought once a person leaves or retires, than other subject areas
Changes in professional needs and aspirations of prospective students have changed the nature of postgraduate taught programmes towards teaching broader-based skills in archaeology, heritage and historic environment
There is a divide between those who learn industrial heritage through history of science and technology programmes (documentary based study) and archaeology programmes (site and landscape based study)
Industrial heritage/history/archaeology is still a minority subject in spite of a clear public interest in the subject indicated by English Heritage’s Industrial Heritage at Risk research and a general increase in participation in humanities programmes
There is a lack of research interest in industrial heritage/history/archaeology within universities as a direct result of its absence in many postgraduate curricula
The growth in knowledge exchange/knowledge transfer/community participation projects is generating unprecedented amounts of high-quality publicly-circulating research that can be repurposed to provide teaching and learning materials beyond the life of the project
The increasing number of high-profile industrial heritage sites provide ready opportunity for academic collaboration not just for public engagement but for course development
There is a lack of intellectual engagement with the subject area contributing to a near absence of theory and ideology applied
The decline in interest in industrial heritage as a subject of study or research seems to parallel the decline in economic history
Course development for a new industrial heritage needs to embrace documentary and archaeological aspects, particularly business archives and site-specific or desk-based field study
The subject has the potential to fulfil several employability needs for students including research, analytical and scientific techniques
There is huge potential for studying industrial heritage/history/archaeology as part of global history as several industrial case-studies are international by their very nature (e.g. global copper industry)
There is huge potential for studying industrial heritage/history/archaeology with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.
On 9 November I will be participating in the Historical Metallurgy Society‘s Research in Progress meeting in Sheffield. The day promises to be extremely varied where experimental archaeologists, historians, scientists and others will be getting together to share various aspects of their work. Subjects will range from the excavation of a medieval smithy in Oxfordshire to the lead and copper ‘isotope signatures’ of North American native copper.
My contribution to the day will focus on recent work I have been conducting on the business archives relating to major copper concerns that operated smelting and refining works in Swansea. These copper archives add essential information and colour to a broad picture historians have been building up of the global copper industry, predominantly in the 18th and 19th centuries, since the 1950s. However many of these histories have been reliant on runs of statistics from mining and geological journals, import and export information from mercantile shipping records and occasionally, official records government records and occasionally, correspondence and letter collections of prominent figures such as Thomas Williams of Anglesey and the Vivians.
Business archives are found in many county and special collections all over the country. Their content often relates to more than one firm and more than just local activity. For example, the Grenfell Collection held by the Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University, comprises records relating to their head quarters at 27 Upper Thames Street, London and many of their dealings abroad, including with Spain, in addition to important detail about their major smelting works at Upper and Middle Bank in Swansea.
My Research in Progress paper aims to give an outline and a few examples of the way in which these archives can be used and linked together to reconstruct the elements of the historic global copper industry that remain obscured in mainstream histories that have not delved into these records in any great detail.
Having had the opportunity to work on various industrial heritage projects over the years and now focusing both my research and professional work in this area, I am publishing what I consider to be five key areas that should be addressed as part of any industrial heritage project. They are particularly aimed at groups and organisations that want to think about promoting their site or collections beyond the locality and beyond immediate interest groups and traditional audiences. They are also aimed at any knowledge exchange collaboration or project that wish to raise awareness of a particular historic industry and its impact on people and societies.
It makes reference to examples based on Welsh copper industrial heritage as that is the project on which I have most recently worked. The Top 5 was originally written in July 2010.
You may freely make use of this guide provided you ensure full attribution is made to me, Tehmina Goskar, and its source on this website.
Shortly after the exhibition’s opening I gave a paper at the informal workshop, also organised by the project, on 14-15 July. The workshop title took its name from the project with the aim of bringing research into various aspects of the historic industry up to date. There was particular emphasis on examples of the global impact of the Welsh copper industry, particularly that centred in the Lower Swansea Valley. I hope to make abstracts of the papers available in the research section of the (still in development) Welsh Copper website soon.
My paper examined the current place that the copper industry occupies in our local and global heritage and then went on to make a preliminary analysis of two of the project’s major outcomes, Copper Day and the exhibition. The aim here was to set a benchmark for understanding how our knowledge-transfer initiatives worked in practice. This will then form the basis to a longer-term project to gauge professional and public perceptions of the historic copper industry with a view to conducting a survey over the next 12 months. I intend to publish this paper in an expanded form and am currently looking for appropriate journals or editorial collaborations. Continue reading “Turning History into Heritage: Shaping Perceptions of Copper’s Past”