By training a late prehistoric and Roman landscape specialist (which is what my PhD was on), my professional background is in developer-funded and community archaeology. In the early 1990s I began working on a series of archaeology and history books for Tameside Council in Greater Manchester, and industrial archaeology was the dominant feature of this largely urban landscape. Wandering around textile mills, hat factories, engineering works, and colliery pumping engine sites in the mid-1990s I caught the industrial archaeology bug. In 1997 I joined the AIA and have been actively involved with Council ever since 1999.
My interest in both industrial buildings and the causes and impact of industrialisation developed out of this work, and I was deeply honoured to receive, jointly, the AIA’s Industrial Archaeology Research Award in 2000. I developed these interests further as both an archaeology unit director and a senior lecturer at first Manchester University and then latterly at Salford University, writing and publishing extensively. The import role of volunteers, local groups, and societies in exploring the past was one of the great features that attracted me to industrial archaeology (I have run three major community archaeology projects) and to support the work of both the AIA and the Council for British Archaeology (as Chair of my local CBA regional group and as a national CBA Trustee). I was editor of the Associations’ journal, Industrial Archaeology Review, from 2009 to 2017, and was fortunate enough to be Chair of the Association from 2017 to 2020. I’m currently chair of the Association’s Research Grants Awards, designed to actively encourage industrial archaeology by supporting new fieldwork. I’ve also helped organise and run three AIA annual conferences: Manchester, Preston and Chester – the latter where our hosts, the University of Chester, memorably demolished the bar and lounge we had been using for the weekend events during the rest of the conference! These conferences involved lots of liaison with local groups and local industrial archaeology volunteers, and plenty of industrial archaeology fieldwork.
The opportunity to be the Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, based at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, came up at the end of 2019, and with great timing I arrived at Ironbridge between floods and the start of the COVID pandemic in March 2020. In the last two years. although working mainly online, I’ve been able to expand the Industrial Heritage Networks and to promote volunteer involvement in industrial heritage. I’ve remained an Honorary Research Fellow in Industrial Archaeology at the University of Salford, and actively involved with the Manchester Regional Industrial Archaeology Society. I’ve also continued to teach on adult education courses, and to research and write about industrial archaeology, since there’s no point in doing research or fieldwork without the widest possible communication.
I took over as IA News editor in 2022.