Last Friday, another Industrial Heritage Network took the first step towards creating robust, peer to peer support for industrial heritage sites and organisations throughout the region. The inaugural meeting of the Industrial Heritage Network South East (IHNSE) took place on a beautiful, sunny day at Amberley Museum. The IHNSE brought together a variety of members and joined the family of Industrial Heritage Networks (IHNs) across England.
Our host for the day, the mainly volunteer run, Amberley Museum, is a fantastic site with a diverse offer and a wide range of industrial collections including history of electricity and power generation, various transport themes, exhibition on how mechanisation and technology affected people and the only museum of road-making in the country.
The museum celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and the IHNSE members heard about its journey over the years. From the museum’s beginnings and the reason for creating it to its current state, and the various projects the museum is involved with. Projects such as a crowdfunded art initiative where steam rollers were used to create the exhibits or a project to widen the museum’s volunteer base by focusing on offering support for dealing with loneliness in the local community.
The members also heard about the journey of the Kent Firefighting Museum, its successes and challenges over the years. The museum is located within the Woodlands Garden Centre which provided the buildings for the museum’s collections. Open seven days a week, it’s free to enter offering different educational activities and events. The museum always looks for ways to generate income including group visits and growing their Friends group membership. The other two key challenges mirror challenges faced by many other industrial heritage sites and organisations across the country – generating interest from young people and resources to deliver collections’ inventory, archiving and finding space for preserving them.
During the interactive part of the meeting, members had a chance to talk to each other and discuss issues they’ve been facing at their sites or within their organisations. The issue of space for large objects have been mentioned, delivering successful volunteer management, using social media, successfully managing your trustees and looking at ways of attracting new audiences.
The Association for Independent Museums recently introduced programme was mentioned – Prospering Boards – which offers support for improving your boards: https://www.aim-museums.co.uk/prospering-boards-new-opportunity-apply/
Elaine Sansom, the Museum Development Officer for the South East region, mentioned an upcoming event organised by the South East Museum Development focusing on supporting better management of trustees and boards. IHNSE members are welcome to sign up:
Members also talked about the concept of well-being and the importance of including it when developing proposals for funding applications. With the new National Lottery outcomes in place, the significance of including more people, from more diverse audiences has been highlighted. ‘A wider range of people will be involved in heritage’ is the mandatory outcome which all applicants must achieve. Ensuring that people’s lives will be improved through access to, or engagement with heritage is also very important and ‘People will have greater well-being’ is also one of the nine National Lottery outcomes.
Elaine mentioned another training event on the 7th November which will focus on the National Lottery Heritage Fund programmes, applications and the best ways of applying for and receiving funding. More information will be available soon, keep your eye out on the training page on the South East Museum Development website: https://southeastmuseums.org/training/
There are many other sector wide issues which can be discussed, and future networks’ meetings will be addressing them. Each network meeting focuses on a specific theme allowing members to share their knowledge and experiences and learn from others.
The bi-annual networks’ meetings are ‘igniters’ for further networking, discussions, and development of ideas. The purpose of the IHNSE, and the other Industrial Heritage Networks (IHNs) across England, is to offer peer to peer support throughout the year by focusing on specific, sector-wide issues.
IHNSE currently has 43 members representing 31 industrial heritage sites and organisations. The full list of member sites and organisations can be viewed on the IHNs website:
IHNSE is one of the 10 regional networks currently in development across England:
- Industrial Heritage Network North East (IHNNE) met for the second time on the 4th April at the Land of Oak & Iron; read about the meeting here. Their next meeting is on the 24th October at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
- Industrial Heritage Network West Midlands met for the second time on the 8th April at the Coffin Works; read about the meeting here. Their next meeting is on the 8th October at the Etruria Industrial Museum.
- Industrial Heritage Network South West (IHNSW) had its inaugural meeting on the 19th March at Museum of Bath at Work; read about the meeting here. Their next meeting is on the 16th September at the Westonzoyland Pumping Station.
- Industrial Heritage Network Cornwall & Devon (IHNCD) had its inaugural meeting on the 28th March at the King Edward Mine Museum; read about the meeting here. Their next meeting is on the 18th September at the SS Freshspring.
- Industrial Heritage Network London (IHNL) had its inaugural meeting on the 3rd May at Crossness Engines; read about the meeting here. Their next meeting will take place at the House Mill in November (date tbc).
- Industrial Heritage Network North West (IHNNW) met again on the 6th June at the National Waterways Museum; read about the meeting here. Their next meeting is on the 27th November at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum.
- Industrial Heritage Network East Midlands (IHNEM) will meet for the first time on the 10th September at the Nottingham Industrial Museum.
- Industrial Heritage Network Yorkshire will meet for the first time on the 27th September at the Leeds Industrial Museum.
- Industrial Heritage Network East of England (details tbc soon).
The IHSO, Joanna Turska, brings industrial heritage sites and organisations together, organises inaugural meetings, facilitates each network’s development and provides tools and resources for networks’ growth including the dedicated IHNs website for promotion, awareness and knowledge sharing:
Do subscribe to the IHNs website to stay in touch and receive the most up to date news and stories from across the industrial heritage sector!
For more information about a network in your region, contact the IHSO on: firstname.lastname@example.org