At the beginning of January 2021, a third national lockdown across Britain was announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This saw all industrial archaeology and heritage sites closed again and many staff put back into furlough.
Nevertheless, the IHSO project has continued its online roll-out of regional meetings with zoom seminars for the Cornwall and Devon, North East, and South West Industrial Heritage Networks being held in January, February, and March. These meetings have highlighted that many industrial heritage sites, societies, and groups have continued to adapt to lockdown by providing online meetings for volunteers, online talks and tours, and improving website resources for teachers and the public.
In terms of Government support in England, 131 industrial archaeology and heritage sites and museums have now received funding worth over £34m from the first Round of the Cultural Heritage Recovery Fund. As the sector looks to re-open from April as the pandemic eases, Historic England have issued further advice on the impact of Relative Humidity in heritage properties and the Council for British Archaeology have revised their guidance for archaeology societies.
The wet winter has reminded many industrial site owners of the perils of having an industrial site by running water, with several water mills flooded over the winter. The increasing difficulty of securing appropriate coal supplies to run steam locomotives and stationary steam engines has been highlighted by recent research by the Heritage Railway Association.
Finally, Jonathan Lloyd retired as the UK representative for the European Route of Industrial Heritage in February. He has been replaced by Mike Nevell (your IHSO officer!) in England, John Rodger in Wales, and Mark Watson in Scotland.