Inaugural meeting of the Industrial Heritage Network South East (IHNSE) – beginning of another great partnership

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.

Amberley talk
Brian Johnson, Chairman of Amberley Museum Trust, talking to us about the museum’s past, present and future

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.

Kent Firefighting talk
Howard Myers from Kent Firefighting Museum talking about the museum’s successes and challenges

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.

Members engaging in discussions about their roles, and their sites’ and organisations’ current issues and challenges 

The Association for Independent Museums recently introduced programme was mentioned – Prospering Boards – which offers support for improving your boards:

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:

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:

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:


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