Shane Kelleher confirmed as Industrial Heritage Support Officer

Shane Kelleher

AIA Council Member Shane Kelleher has recently been confirmed as the Industrial Heritage Support Officer (IHSO) for England. Shane had previously been on secondment as IHSO from his role as Archaeology and Monuments Officer at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust following the resignation of his predecessor in July 2016. His secondment has now been extended until the end of the project’s current funding in March 2020.

The AIA is a key partner in the IHSO project, which is funded through HE’s National Capacity Building Programme, and commenced in September 2012. The project is managed by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) in partnership with the AIA and the Association for Independent Museums (AIM), who along with Sir Neil Cossons, the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH), the Association for British Transport and Engineering Museums (ABTEM) and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, form the steering group for the project.

The England-wide IHSO project was originally developed due to a pressing concern that many publicly accessible industrial heritage sites were facing an uncertain future and that smaller volunteer groups in particular needed access to a source of focussed professional help beyond what was already available. So far the project has provided advice and support to over 130 organisations/groups through its information ‘clearing house’ service; has delivered training to over 250 organisations via 30 plus events through bespoke training events or in partnership with other organisations; supported and reinforced existing networks such as ERIH, the AIA, the Heritage Alliance, ABTEM, and the Maritime Heritage Trust; and a formal partnership has been set up with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. In addition to supporting existing networks, the IHSO project has also developed, facilitated and organised a number of regional industrial heritage support networks. Shane notes that the regional networks have been ‘invaluable in helping build resilience within the sector through peer to peer support, targeted training, and shared expertise. The project supports networks across the north of England, the West Midlands, Cornwall, and Hampshire, and a key aspiration for the current funding period is to complete the geographic coverage meaning that each region of England has an industrial heritage network’.

Heckington Windmill, Lincolnshire currently in the middle of a substantial HLF-funded regeneration project

The IHSO also acts as an advocate for the sector at various fora including HE’s Industry and Infrastructure Network meetings; the HLF’s Industry Maritime and Transport Group meetings; and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Industrial Heritage meetings. In addition, an AIM ‘Success Guide’ for industrial heritage sites is currently in production and will form a key part of the role the project has in promoting best practice amongst industrial heritage groups.

Recently the project’s website has been redeveloped and given a fresh new user-friendly design and aims to keep organisations involved in running and managing industrial heritage sites informed regarding latest funding, training and support opportunities through blog posts and an information hub. The project also uses social media as an effective tool for sharing information, liaising with industrial heritage groups across the country, and for promoting the work of the project. The Twitter account, @IHSOengland, also has a regular hashtag feature ‘industrial heritage site of the day’, and the IHSO is also working closely with the team behind http://www.gooseygoo.co.uk to develop a resource hub which would be a central location for a comprehensive range of resources tailored towards those caring for and managing industrial heritage. Shane says that the England-wide brief of the project means that ‘embracing and using social media and other online resources, such as the Industrial Heritage Support website, file sharing services, and email discussion lists, is extremely important for raising awareness of the project amongst industrial heritage groups, sharing information, and developing and maintaining networks’.

To find out more about the IHSO project visit https://industrialheritagesupport.wordpress.com, see the Twitter (@IHSOengland) or Facebook (Industrial Heritage Support) profiles, or contact Shane Kelleher, the Industrial Heritage Support Officer, on 01952 435970 or shane.kelleher@ironbridge.org.uk

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