Abstracts of Volume XIX 1997

The Rolt Memorial Lecture 1995: The Fairbanks of Sheffield: surveyors’ records as a source for the study of regional economic development in the 18th and 19th centuries
by David Crossley

Four generations of the Fairbank family surveying firm left a remarkable record of their work in the Sheffield region in the century after 1750, a period of growth in population and of development of industry, agriculture and transport. The Fairbanks were involved in the development of mills, workshops and factories, the building of houses of many kinds, estate valuation and agricultural enclosure, and the planning of turnpike roads, river and canal work and of the first generation of railway schemes. Their records have survived in unusual quantity, due to preservation and use by 19th-century surveyors. They present a significant source of historical and topographical information, essential for archaeological interpretation of changes in the urban and rural landscapes of the region. Their value encourages the quest for comparable material elsewhere. (16pp)

Floating mills in London: an historical survey
by Josef Sisitka

This short history attempts to correct the accepted but mistaken view that there were only two attempts, one in the 16th and the other in the 18th centuries, to establish floating mills on the Thames. It will also be shown from the Minutes of the Committee for the Navigation of the Thames that further attempts to erect mills were made at the beginning of the 19th century. Beside the fate of these enterprises, the three Royal Patents granted during the 17th and 18th centuries for floating mills will also be examined. Finally a few possible reasons are discussed for the rarity of floating mills in Britain. (10pp)

The excavation of a turf-sided lock at Monkey Marsh, Thatcham, Berks
by P. A. Harding and R. Newman with contributions by J. Hillam and C. Newman

As part of the programme to re-open the full length of the Kennet and Avon Canal, restoration of many of its locks was necessary. At Monkey Marsh lock, this restoration threatened the existence of a turf-sided lock and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Wessex Archeology undertook a programme of archaeological excavation and survey in 1989-90 to record the surviving phases of the structure. This paper presents a report on the archaeological work and integrates the archaeological results with the fragmentary historical record. (18pp)

Brush-Piling: Eighteenth Century Engineering in an American Wilderness
by Philip Lord, Jr (USA)& Chris Salisbury (UK)

Historical research on the Upper Wood Creek Navigation in New York State revealed the use c.1803 of brush-piling, recommended by Abraham Ogden who was aware of its use on river navigations in England. The details provided by Ogden enhance the archaeological record in England, where kid-weirs using the same technique had been known since the late medieval period for the prevention of scouring in rivers. The article concludes by examining archaeological evidence for the existence of kid-weirs on the Trent, in the Somerset Levels and for the sea defences of Romney Marsh in Kent. (12pp)

The Archaeologist as Witness: Matthew Harvey’s Glebeland Works, Walsall
by Richard Hayman

Opportunities to make first-hand records of industry should be grasped whole-heartedly by archaeologists. By taking a saddlery manufacturer in Walsall as an example, this article outlines some of the benefits of documenting working practices. It emphasizes that a first hand knowledge of manufacturing techniques can assist archaeological interpretation, and shows that processes rarely proceed in a ‘text book ‘ manner, usually allowing for empirical adaptations. Process recording can also be used as a critical tool in the understanding of archaeological sites where the techniques employed are now extinct. The article concludes by considering two accounts of the iron trade written in the 18th century, which are compared with the results of process recording in the 20th to offer new insights into industrial archaeology as the archaeology of work. (14pp)

Process Recording at Industrial Sites
by Brian A. Malaws

Industrial processes whether operational or not, particularly those with local applications, should be recorded as an integral part of any field recording project wherever possible. Such records will not only contribute towards a more comprehensive insight into the nature of industries and their sites, when studied alongside the more usual architectural and historical aspects, but will stand as an accurate historical source of information and as an aid to interpreting incomplete, damaged or long defunct sites.

A detailed account is given of the processes carried out at an operational colliery in south Wales, followed by a short discussion addressing the complexities of ‘user friendly’ presentation of such results. (24pp)