Annual Conference

Friday 4th – Sunday 6th October 2024

One day Conference and two half days of visits

Saturday Day rate now available! (see ‘Costs’ below)

The 2024 Annual Conference will be held at:

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Meridian Gate, Bute Terrace, Cardiff CF10 2FL
Tel: 02920 454777
The hotel is 0.2 miles about 7 minutes’ walk from Cardiff Central Railway Station.

On the Saturday there will be sessions by four nationally recognised specialists, with the first three exploring elements of Welsh industrial heritage and the fourth sharing results of a wider survey of 600 publicly accessible industrial sites.

The speakers are: Steph Mastoris, former Head of Museums, National Museum Wales; Dr Peter Wakelin, former Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and now a heritage consultant; Dr David Gwyn, former editor of Industrial Archaeology Review and lead of the Govannon Consultancy; and Dr Paul Belford, CEO of Heritage Innovation.

Their one-hour sessions and the short AGM of the AIA will be streamed live, separated by a 30-minute lunch break, and the afternoon will end with presentations by this year’s Award winners ahead of the Conference Dinner and prize giving.

On the Friday afternoon and Sunday morning there are optional tours.


Friday afternoon 4th October

Optional tours

Choose either TOUR A: National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

Coach departing from the Radisson Blu Hotel in central Cardiff at 13:45, returning 18:15

Opened in 2005 at a cost of £33.5m, the National Waterfront Museum grew out of the much smaller Swansea Industrial & Maritime Museum that was in the old warehouse behind the new building. The museum houses a variety of interactive exhibits, multimedia and historic artefacts that narrate the stories of Welsh coal (steam coal in particular being currently in short supply), tinplate rolling, Robin Goch’s monoplane, and the ‘Made in Wales’ gallery. Pride of place is a working replica of Richard Trevithick’s 4ft 4in gauge Pennydarren locomotive of 1804, which was developed in the Welsh Industrial & Maritime Museum, Cardiff, in the early 1980s.

Our visit coincides with a special exhibition on the RNLI in Wales, celebrating the Lifeboat Institutions’ 200th anniversary.

Outside, by the Marina, is a canal barge weighing machine and a couple of historic vessels in the water.

This is one of several industrial museums in the National Museums of Wales’ portfolio, about which we will hear more on Saturday morning from Steph Mastoris as part of the Conference programme. He was the Waterfront Museum’s first director and rose to become Head of Museums for the national group. On our arrival in the maritime quarter of Swansea we will be welcomed by the curator before exploring the site and exhibits.

Or TOUR B: Industrial tour of the Lower Swansea Valley

Coach departing from the Radisson Blu Hotel in central Cardiff at 13:45, returning 18:45

Due to the availability of abundant local coal reserves, by the 19th century 90% of Britain’s copper smelting capacity could be found within a 20 mile radius of Swansea, using copper ore mined in Cornwall. Large amounts of coal were needed, so it was cheaper to bring the copper ore to the coalfield, with the ore carriers regularly returning to Cornwall with much-needed coal for the mine pumping engines. The impurities in the copper ores resulted in arsenic-rich slagheaps around Swansea and dense clouds laden with sulphuric acid belching from the chimneys, causing significant health risks and polluting the landscape, while making the copper barons rich.

The area reached its heyday by 1870 and Swansea smelted its last copper in 1921. Land reclamation began in the 1960s, since when most of the works and massive slagheaps have been demolished and landscaped. The forest of chimneys is long gone, with just two surviving. Our coach tour takes in three of the sites of the early works, the White Rock Copper Works of 1736, and Hafod Copperworks of 1810 and the Morfa rolling mills of 1828. There are some standing remains, but the bulk of these works were knocked down. White Rock was designated as an Industrial Archaeology Park in the 1980s. Nearby is the steel girder Landore Viaduct of 1889 that carries the railway across the Tawe valley. About five miles further west are the remains of the Quaker-owned Neath Abbey Ironworks, including two 1793 blast furnaces. Initially very successful, the ironworks closed in 1885, but among the elements to survive are the two blast furnaces, an engine works, the ironmaster’ house and vestiges of the water system that powered the blast furnaces.

Friday Evening

19:30   Group Dinner at the Radisson Blu Hotel

Saturday 5th October

09:30   Introduction – Zoe Arthurs, Chair

Our Welsh industrial museums’, Steph Mastoris, former Head of Museums, National Museum Wales

10.30   ‘The Making of an Industrial Landscape: Blaenavon World Heritage Site’, Dr Peter Wakelin, heritage consultant

11:30   Coffee break

12:00   AGM of the Association for Industrial Archaeology

12.30   Sandwich buffet lunch

13:00   ‘Welsh Slate World Heritage Site’, Dr David Gwyn, Govannon Consultancy

14.00   ‘Results of the new Industrial Heritage Survey’, Paul Belford and Zoe Arthurs, Heritage Innovation

15.00   Tea break

15.30   Presentations by AIA Award winners and members contributions

17.30   Session ends

18.00   Bar open

19:00   Annual Dinner and Award giving

Sunday 6th October

Optional tours

Choose either TOUR C: Big Pit, the National Coal Museum of Wales

Coach departing from the Radisson Blu Hotel in central Cardiff at 09:30, returning to Cardiff with drop off at the hotel at about 14:30 and then Cardiff Central Station a few minutes later.

The Big Pit mine in Blaenavon had closed in February 1980 but in 1983 it re-opened to visitors as an independent museum, with underground tours led by miners. Built on a hillside, the pit drains naturally via adits at the lower levels, so they are not reliant on pumping to keep the galleries dry. In 2001 it was taken into the family of Welsh national museums and received an injection of £7.2m to conserve the buildings and produce new interpretation, reopening in 2004. At its heart is the underground tour, the best in the UK, a 50-minute experience led by orange overall-clad miners. But there are also exhibitions in the colliery surface buildings including the Pithead Baths and in the Mining Galleries, with a new exhibition this year about the 1984-5 miners’ strike. Our underground tour is booked for 11.00 and at 12.30 the museum’s Coal Curator, Ceri Richards, will give us a talk about the restoration of the headgear, which had been aided by a £20,000 AIA Restoration Grant in 2019.

A packed lunch will be provided.

The highlight of our visit will be a 300ft descent by mine cage for an underground tour, but because the ground is uneven stout footwear is essential. Ceiling heights vary, some low enough to require visitors to stoop. The museum provides visitors with the same equipment the miners use – hard hat, miner’s cap lamp and belt battery, as well as ‘self rescuer’ breathing gear – but we also recommend warm clothing.

The surface buildings are linked by steep paths and flights of steps.

Or, TOUR D: Blaenavon Ironworks

Coach departing from the Radisson Blu Hotel in central Cardiff at 09:30, returning to Cardiff with drop off at the hotel at about 14:30 and then Cardiff Central Station a few minutes later.

This 1789 ironworks relied on the minerals of the nearby Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons, now a National Park) which was rich in coal, limestone and iron ore. The coke-fired furnaces tower over the workers’ housing right in the middle of the works. The terraces line three sides of a square which originally had the main chimney in the centre – hence the name Stack Square – though the chimney has long gone. The furnaces made pig iron using steam to power the blast, and a hundred years later Sidney Gilchrist Thomas pioneered the process here which removed phosphorus from the melt to make high quality steel.

In December 2000 the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was designated a World Heritage Site, with the Blaenavon Ironworks and Big Pit as two of the components. An iconic corporate identity was developed for the WHS, an example of which is top left. Dr Peter Wakelin, one of our speakers on Saturday, was instrumental in conserving the blast furnaces and the adjacent workers’ housing in Stack Square under the banner of Cadw, and later he became the Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

A packed lunch will be provided.


The Conference package comprising:

  • Friday evening 3-course buffet dinner (drinks at own expense)
  • Saturday AIA annual conference (as shown above)
  • Drinks reception
  • Annual dinner, 3 courses with wines

£220 per person, 10% discount for AIA members

The Friday optional visits:

  • Either Tour A or Tour B (as shown above)

£40 per person, 10% discount for AIA members

The Sunday optional visits:

  • Either Tour C or Tour D (as shown above) including packed lunch

£55 per person (includes lunch), 10% discount for AIA members

Saturday Day Rate:

  • Attendance in person on the Saturday (as shown above) 09:30 – 17:30 only

£90 for non-members, 10% discount for AIA members

Saturday online-only option:

  • Attendance via Zoom for the Saturday conference (as shown above) 09:30 – 17:30

£30 for non-members, £15 for AIA members

Note: ‘AIA members’ includes members of our Affiliated Societies

Free places

Thanks to the Patrick Nott bursary, there will be five free places for the entire event from Friday to Sunday, including the conference package, the study visits, accommodation and up to £100 for travel expenses. Applications by email should be sent to the Conference Secretary at by 4th September 2024 at the latest

AGM only

Members wishing to attend only the AGM, either in person or online, may do so at no charge, contact the Conference Administrator at least 7 days in advance for details:  Only fully paid up AIA members may vote at the AGM.


Overnight accommodation is not included in the Conference Package, but rooms have been reserved at the Conference hotel on a first-come first-served basis at a discounted rate of:

£125.00 per person per night, bed & breakfast, single

£67.50 per person per night, bed & breakfast, sharing

Contact the hotel directly to make your reservations quoting reference: MB0000492192

By email:

By phone: 02920 454777  Mon – Fri 09:00 – 17:00

Make clear at the time of reservation that you are a delegate at the AIA Annual Conference to get the Conference rate.


If you have access to an internet connected computer and use email please make your booking online here:  Online Booking Form

Bookings for attendance in person and for the tours will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Book as soon as possible and by 4th September 2024 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available.

Please reserve your accommodation, if required, at the Conference hotel by the same date to be eligible for the discounted Conference Rate.

For online-only attendance booking may be made up to 1st October 2024

Bookings can be made definite only when the booking information and payment are received and accepted in writing/email by the secretary. The Conference terms and conditions apply.

All monies will be held  in a customer protection account until the conference is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.


At the present time (27 June 2024) we are having problems with our payment system. Please make your booking using the online form or on paper as normal. We will send an invoice as soon as possible for the full amount which will include details of how to pay by debit/credit card, electronic transfer or cheque.

Details of how to pay will be shown on your invoice.

Download a printable version of the above including a form to send by post and the Terms & Conditions

Enquiries about Conference should be directed to:

5th – 7th July 2024 AIA Summer Tour

The North East of England

This tour is now sold out.

Details can be seen at:

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Recordings of the 2023 Conference Friday, Saturday & Sunday Morning Sessions are now available. Subscribe to the Association’s YouTube page to get notification of new additions:

The Tour Notes and Gazetteers for earlier Conferences are available to members through the Past Conferences page.

27th January 2024 One day CPD Skills Workshop

Conservation of Archtectural and Structural Cast and Wrought Iron