About the Project

The Industrial Heritage Support Officer (IHSO) project began in September 2012 and is managed by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT). IGMT employs the IHSO officer through a grant from Historic England (HE) via their National Capacity Building Programme. The project is run in partnership with the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and the Association for Industrial Archaeology (AIA). In addition to IGMT, AIM, and AIA, the project steering group also includes Sir Neil Cossons, representatives from Arts Council England, Canal & River Trust, English Heritage, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Trust, Science Museum Group, and a project liaison from Historic England.

Why is the Project needed?

The IHSO project stems from a growing concern, underpinned by the findings of Sir Neil Cossons’ Sustaining England’s Industrial Heritage: A Future for Preserved Industrial Sites in England 2008 report for English Heritage, that publicly accessible industrial heritage sites face an increasingly uncertain future. Many sites are trust owned or operated and are wholly or partly run by volunteers. Common problems include issues of volunteer retention and recruitment, technical skills transfer from an ageing volunteer base, adapting to a radically changing funding and visitor environment, and achieving modern ‘best practice’ conservation, management and visitor presentation standards. The particular nature of industrial heritage attractions, typically combining extensive sites, big and complex historic buildings and additional features such as working machinery, make these challenges especially pressing.

What does the Project aim to do?

The IHSO project aims to:

  • Develop partnerships and promote partnership working through the Industrial Heritage Networks;
  • Continuing to improve capacity during the Post-COVID recovery;
  • Promote best practice in conservation, guidance, and engagement;
  • Gather data on the impact of the project.

You can follow the IHSO project, and the Industrial Heritage Networks, online via these social media links:  twitter (@IHSOengland), facebook (www.facebook.com/IHSOengland/), and instagram (ihso_england).