AIA E-News Bulletin for January 2021

Welcome to the Association for Industrial Archaeology’s regular e-news bulletin. Read on for updates on what the AIA have been doing recently, and other industrial archaeology news from the UK and beyond. If you have a story you think the AIA should feature in a future bulletin please get in touch by emailing:

Return of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Industrial Heritage

After a hiatus due to other Parliamentary business, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Industrial Heritage (APPG IH) held an Extraordinary General Meeting, via Zoom, in November 2020. The main item on the agenda was the election of a new chair. The previous chair, Nick Thomas-Symonds has had to step down as chair due to his new role as Shadow Home Secretary. Nick had been chair since February 2016 and had overseen a programme of work leading to the publication of the Report on the Challenges Facing the Industrial Heritage Sector in May 2018, and a summit held in London in July 2019. Nick brought much commitment, ideas and energy to the Group and will be missed.

The meeting elected and welcomed a new chair, Stephanie Peacock, Labour MP for Barnsley (East). Stephanie studied and then taught History before becoming an MP in 2017. Her constituency includes Worsbrough Mill and the historic village of Elsecar, where there has been recent upgrading and listing of 16 historic sites. Following her election as Chair of the APPG IH, Stephanie posted her reaction on her website, saying ‘Our industrial heritage should be accessible to everyone. As the MP for Barnsley East, and now as the chair of the APPG on Industrial Heritage, I will continue to work with colleagues across Parliament, heritage organisations and voluntary groups to ensure that this is the case, both now and for future generations.’ Stephanie plans to hold her first meeting of the Group in the New Year when top of her agenda will be the impact of Covid-19 on the sector’s sites and museums, and how to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.

AIA Young Members Board

In December the newly-established AIA Young Members Board (YMB) launched its dedicated social media accounts. The aim of these is to engage and disseminate the board’s activities with a younger demographic and to establish an online presence to encourage younger people to join the Association. Content will include a mixture of updates about the activity of the YMB and the AIA, highlighting opportunities for younger individuals to engage with Industrial Archaeology and Heritage. The YMB will also run a series of social media campaigns tailored to increasing engagement with younger audiences; the first of these is the ’12 Days of Christmas’ campaign, which will showcase 12 Industrial sites from around the globe.

New AIA Community Engagement Award launched

Working with the new Young Members Board, the AIA has launched an exiting new annual award to recognise and encourage successful community engagement in industrial archaeology and heritage projects. Winners will receive a prize of £500, with the opportunity to bid for a further £500 to fund follow-up work. Winners will also have the opportunity to promote their projects at the annual AIA conference and through its publications. Nominations need to be submitted by January 31st.

AIA Restoration Grants

The Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust has achieved a major milestone in their long-term plan to restore this waterway with the impending re-watering of the canal basin at Wappenshall. Volunteers have been working for two years to remove more than 1,400 cubic metres of infill to achieve this. This work is part of a project to restore the wharf and its Grade II-listed warehouse, to create a café and visitor centre focussing on the work of Thomas Telford. The project has received a £20,000 Restoration Grant from AIA, and is due to be complete by the end of 2021.

The AIA Restoration Grant scheme has supported more than 70 projects over the past 12 years with grants totalling almost £800,000. Read more about it on our website: The Association for Industrial Archaeology | Giving our past a future (

Planning News – Textile Mill Conversions in Dundee and Bradford

There is news of plans to reuse two important redundant textile mills. In Dundee permission has been given for converting part of the Lower Dens Works into 24, mostly 2-bedroom, apartments. Built in 1828 it was originally a flax warehouse, part of Baxter Brothers’ Dens Works, said to be the largest linen mill in the world. Adjacent mill buildings within the Lower Dens Works complex have previously been developed into serviced apartments and a hotel.

Meanwhile, in Bradford a decision is awaited on an application to develop the Grade II-listed, six-storey Barkerend Mills. The plans would see 117 flats created in the two main mill buildings on the site – Barkerend Mill and North Mill. Worsted mills were first built on this site in 1815, although they were later extended and replaced. Barkerend Mill, the largest building on the site, was built in the 1870s. Mill work stopped in the 1990s, and the buildings have since been used for storage. A major fire, in 1987, damaged much of the North Mill building and in 2007 another fire left that building without a roof. A decision on the application is expected in early 2021.

Residential redevelopment of former Horlicks Factory, Slough

Work has commenced on redevelopment of the Horlicks Factory in Slough, following the granting of planning consent for 1,300 houses in 2019. The factory was built in 1908 to manufacture the patented malted drink, which was sold as a solution to ‘night starvation’. Production ceased on the site in 2018 and the handsome iron-framed and brick-faced building, well known to passengers on the Paddington railway line, was refused listing despite including numerous innovations in food processing and hygiene. The plant included huge vacuum pens for low temperature boiling to preserve food quality. Baths were provided to enable workers to have a bath before beginning work.The factory was extended in 1929 including a new Art Deco boardroom. Developer Berkeley Homes have pledged to retain the look of the original building, including the iconic chimney and the front elevation, as seen from the railway. Much of the rest of the original building has already been demolished.

Rewley Road swing bridge to be restored

Rewley Road Swing Bridge. Image courtesy of the Oxford Preservation Trust

The Rewley Road Swing Bridge carried a railway over part of the River Thames in Oxford. It was constructed to designs by Robert Stephenson around 1850 and is believed to be the earliest moving railway bridge in Britain to retain its original mechanism. It has been out of use for over 35 years and, after spending nearly a decade on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, this Scheduled Monument is to be restored, thanks to the efforts of the Oxford Preservation Trust, who have raised over £900,000 for the project. 

Taylor’s Bell Foundry receives major Lottery grant

The project to save Britain’s last bellfoundry, Taylor’s in Loughborough, has taken a major step forward with the announcement of a £3.45m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF). The money will contribute to a £5m fund for urgent repairs to buildings and equipment, as well as a training and education programme.

National recognition for Hemingfield Colliery, Yorkshire

Hemingfield Colliery, South Yorkshire. Image courtesy of Alun Bull, Historic England.

Hemingfield Colliery is one of a number of industrial sites that have been given national protection as part of a raft of new and updated listings by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England. These new designations are the result of new research carried out as part of the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone. Hemingfield Colliery was built in the 1850s as part of the Earl Fitzwilliam’s model industrial settlement at Elsecar. It is now owned and looked after by local volunteer group, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery. The AIA awarded the group a conservation grant for repairs to the roof of the winding house in 2015. The colliery is now a scheduled ancient monument, with the former pump house cottage next to the site listed Grade II*. Other designations include the former Elsecar Ironworks site (now a Scheduled Ancient Monument) including the former rolling mill and casting house (both listed Grade II*) and the former Elsecar Workshops (now the Elsecar Heritage Centre) which have been upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*. 

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