Re-imagining the Future of Industrial Heritage Pt 2: Decommissing the 20th Century Project

A study being led by Keele University researchers since 2020 has been looking at a new role for local communities in decommissioning large industrial facilities. The research project, entitled ‘Decommissioning the Twentieth Century’, is being led by Keele University historian Dr Ben Anderson. Working alongside local stakeholders, the project is exploring the role of local people in what happens to our vast twentieth-century energy infrastructure as we undergo a rapid economic transformation.

Headstocks, Chatterley Whitfield, Stoke

The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), brings together communities connected to three sites – Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Stoke, Fawley Power station near Southampton, and West Burton Power station near Gainsborough. These sites are the past, present, and future of decommissioning, and each provides crucial experience, expertise and knowledge about the possibilities, pitfalls and opportunities for community ownership of decommissioning processes and their outcomes.

The project has been working with a range of community partners, artists, and other local groups to co-produce a set of reflections and creative outputs from a series of the workshops, the latest of which was held at the Spodeworks Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent in June 2022. The vision of the research project is to seek a means by which local people and communities might be involved in decommissioning right from – and even before – the start, so that these sites become places for their communities. These discussions will help to inform the final stage of the project – a suggested strategy for professionals, heritage organisations, and politicians on what the new engaged decommissioning process could look like.

More about the project can be found here:

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