David de Haan

Hon. Secretary

My personal involvement in the AIA started in 2008 when the Association was seeking a new Liaison Officer. Two years later I became the Hon Secretary, and in time the Sales Officer as well.

My interest in industrial archaeology started around Bath as a student in the late 1960s exploring abandoned canals and railways near the Dundas Aqueduct. It got even better when I was paid, from 1970, as an exhibition designer at the Science Museum in London, which brought me into handling contact with many of the iconic items linked to the great names and industries of the last three centuries. While there I attended an inaugural meeting at Imperial College in 1973 when Tom Rolt, Neil Cossons and John Smith persuaded an audience of interested parties to join the AIA – which I did. The College had a History of Technology course where I took a Masters degree, nipping out from my office desk to attend lectures, and met fellow student Pat Miles (who nearly 50 years later became my wife).

An even more enjoyable job started in 1978 when I moved to Ironbridge to become the Curator of the Elton Collection (the iconography and supporting research library on the industrial revolution). Under Stuart Smith and Neil Cossons the AIA was effectively run from there in those days. Soon my role expanded to be the Senior Curator of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, rising to Deputy Director, and finally Programme Director of the Ironbridge Institute in 2000, running the Heritage Management and Museum Management programmes. I retired from Ironbridge in 2012 after 34 years there.

For the last 25 years I have advised English Heritage on the history of the Iron Bridge – some AIA members may remember the BBC2 Timewatch programme in 2001 when we built a half-scale replica of the Bridge, and my Rolt Memorial Lecture in Cardiff in 2003 – culminating in the Conservation Plan in 2011 which underpinned the recent £3.6m restoration project.