Abstracts of Volume XXVII 2005

Issue No 1, Spring 2005

The chicken or the egg? The relationship between industry and transport in East Anglia

Although in the more industrialised areas of Britain transport improvements were frequently a response to industrial demands, this is not necessarily true of more rural areas where the needs of agriculture remained paramount and the influence of the landowning classes was pre-eminent. A wide range of evidence needs to be collected to get a full picture, and some careful comparison of sources together with field work is needed to avoid over simplistic conclusions. However, some general patterns become clear. Case studies of malting, iron founding and lime burning, together with brief consideration of some 20th century industries, show that though there may be common factors between different industries, overall each industry had different needs, and choice of sites may reflect commercial and geological factors as much as more obvious transport requirements. The role of individual entrepreneurs could also be significant.

Archaeological science and industrial archaeology – manufacturing, landscape and social context

Scientific techniques are not yet routinely used on sites of the industrial period, though they have considerable potential to provide extra information that is not available from conventional excavation or survey, or from documentary sources. Examples of the results obtained from a range of techniques are given.

Farm Buildings and the Industrial Age

Following a review of the nature of research on historic farm buildings during the past third of a century, it is suggested that buildings can be a source of primary historical evidence which complements material derived from written sources, rather than merely illustrating it, and that some of the greatest advances in understanding may arise from inter-disciplinary studies. Links between the development of agrarian and industrial production and society are explored, partly by means of a case study of farming in the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland.

Industrial Archaeology: Past Present and Prospective

Industrial Archaeology has been in business now for over forty years, and a certain amount of stock-taking is appropriate. It has had some considerable achievements to its credit, and I will try to review these briefly, as well as mentioning some of its failures.

The Excavation of Industrial Era Settlements in North-West England

In his classic study, The Making of the English Working-Class, the Marxist historian E.P. Thompson noted ‘The rich lose sight of the poor, or only recognise them when attention is forced to their existence by their appearance as vagrants, mendicants, or delinquents’ (Thompson 1966: 322). The primary international significance of Historic-Period Archaeology lies in its ability to subvert such negative depictions by challenging the dominant historical transcripts that serve to reinforce the brutal inequalities of our modern era. Building upon such an explicitly social perspective, the Alderley Sandhills Project was designed to illuminate the transformative roles of industrialisation and de-industrialisation on working-class rural England. By focussing on a domestic site, we sought to examine how the men, women and children of ordinary rural working households struggled to maintain and improve their conditions of everyday life in the face of the rapid socio-economic revolutions of the late 17th to mid 20th centuries. Drawing from preliminary results, this paper will explore the nature and operation of class mobility within the social world of Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

English Woodlands and the supply of fuel for industry

The perception of post-medieval English woodlands as a dwindling resource, felled to fuel industries whose consumption of charcoal and wood was unsustainable, was widely held in the middle of the 20th century. However, research into woodland and industrial management has shown that for many estates coppicing practices made woods a renewable resource, and that the development of industrial uses of mineral fuel was not only to combat increasing wood prices but also due to the inherent attractions of innovative coal-using processes. It has become clear that at the end of the Middle Ages coppicing was not universal, and that the skills of managing sustainable woodlands developed over the 16th and 17th centuries. Archive and archaeological evidence shows that after a peak in the use of wood-derived fuels at the threshold of the Industrial Revolution, woodland management shifted towards the production of timber, with cutting-cycles longer than those practised for the fuel trades. This paper considers aspects of the archaeology of woodland management: how far woodland products and their industrial destinations can be identified; the physical indicators of former managed woodlands; patterns of change over the post-medieval period, and concludes with a brief consideration of the socio-economic context of the woodland economy.

Understanding the Work Place: Agenda for Industrial Archaeology in Britain

This paper is has its origins in an after dinner retrospective on the mainstream international development of industrial archaeology. It does not therefore attempt to open the can of worms as to the various international definitions of industrial archaeology and industrial heritage and on its relationship to post-medieval archaeology or historical archaeology. Those topics can be debated elsewhere and by more committed advocates. What is offered up are some unashamedly personal thoughts and perspectives on the development of IA over the last 40 years.

The Landscape Archaeology of the Vale of Ffestiniog

Landscape studies of the archaeology of industrialisation have now become an accepted part of the discipline, and the ‘Manchester methodology’ as applied by the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit to the Tameside region has made possible a comprehensive narrative of regional industrialisation that has identified the poorer members of the community as the motors of technical, economic and social change. The following paper outlines the ways in which this methodology has been applied to other areas, particularly the vale of Ffestiniog, in North-west Wales and suggests ways in which the methodology might be developed.

Institutional Buildings in worker settlements

This article seeks to compare workers’ settlements in both Britain and mainland Europe in order to evaluate what distinctive features may be located in such townships, particularly with regard to institutional buildings and features. The religious and educational buildings of the settlements are considered to see where the respective state, employer or employee was the primary influence in the establishment of such institutions in the worker community. The degree of self-interest or philanthropy displayed by the employers in such communities is considered. Finally, pointers are given for the general evaluation of such factors in surviving worker townships.

Space, Society and the Textile Mill

The factory system of production, epitomised by the textile mill, remains a pivotal concept in our ideal of the industrial revolution. It was a symbol of the increasing separation of the place of production from the domestic setting and therefore a reflection of wider social and cultural change associated with transformations to the ways in which people worked. However, existing archaeological studies of the textile factory have largely ignored the social dimensions of production, concentrating instead on the mill as a physical structure and the technologies and processes housed within it. This paper, based on initial research undertaken as part of doctoral research within the Department of Archaeology, University of York, seeks to establish an understanding of the mill as a workplace, using archaeological evidence to investigate the social dimensions of production, with particular attention paid to the ways in which the mill building helped establish, reproduce and maintain labour relations. Initial analysis suggests that the internal spatial layout of the mill played an important role in establishing and maintaining a hierarchical and supervised workforce, and this provides evidence supporting organisational and microeconomic accounts of the factory system of production.

Industrialisation, Ownership, and the Manchester Methodology: The Role of the Contemporary Social Structure During Industrialisation, 1600-1900

This paper summarises some of the results of a continuing long-term landscape study into the history and archaeology of modern Tameside as a response to a widespread call for archaeology to make a distinctive theoretical contribution to the study of the era of industrialisation. Whilst there are many modern studies of the industrial development of the cities and towns of England, there are comparatively few by archaeologists dealing with the rural fringes where the contrast between pre-industrial and industrial society were often most dramatic.

Industrial Heritage and National Identity – Sharing Data, the Importance of Context and Strategic Priorities

In the medium term, the research priorities for industrial heritage must include monitoring accurately the threat to the extant industrial heritage both in the UK and abroad. To achieve this, sharing data will be vital not only for the appropriate management of and response to threat, but also in ensuring reliable comparison and context. In particular, it should now be possible to know whether or not a threatened industrial monument is unique not only in a local or regional context, but also nationally and internationally. This should be good news not only for the exceptional well-known monuments for which protection is already assured, but may also provide a lifeline for the ordinary once very common more representative industrial sites, many of which now face extinction.

The Country House: technology and society

English country houses and their estates often contain the physical remains of technological innovations which have survived because of the lack of subsequent modernisation. These have has great potential in helping to understand social change and development because of the major role of such estates played in rural society until the First World War, but there has been no national quantification of this archaeological resource This paper suggests some of the research questions that a comprehensive study of country house technology could illuminate, including the social use of space and changing interactions between the social groups who inhabited that space. It is suggested that understanding the technological inertia displayed on many estates might help to explain the motivations of those who were at the forefront of innovation.

Welcome to the Cheap Seats: Cinemas, Sex and Landscape

Richard Newman suggests in The Historical Archaeology of Britain that ‘we are probably too close to the twentieth century’s cultural detritus to be able to focus clearly on the nature of its archaeology’ (Newman 2001, 8). But what happens when the archaeology forms part of or is intimately connected with that cultural detritus? By drawing on surveys undertaken by the author at two early cinemas in West Yorkshire and outlining recent work by others in related fields, this paper seeks to demonstrate how such buildings might be considered and to suggest how such consideration could contribute towards a research agenda for an ‘archaeology of entertainment’.

The Notions of Production and Consumption in Industrial Archaeology: Towards Research Agenda

Employing a framework of production and consumption, the paper sets out to identify weaknesses within Industrial Archaeology and to point towards a research agenda. Some 340 publications in The Journal of Industrial Archaeology, Industrial Archaeology and Industrial Archaeology Review are compared with the Standard Industrial Classification, revealing a notably skewed pattern in favour of 4 industrial groups – metallic mining and processing, non-metallic mining and processing, textiles, and food and drink. These groups were found to account for 59% of all articles in the 19 industrial groups. 10 industrial groups attracting the most publications are selected for analysis, which indicates that the discipline is weak on 20th century industries with large plants, and on industries employing modern, sophisticated technology. Much greater emphasis on the twentieth century is urged. It is demonstrated that when consumption is disaggregated into its four components, Industrial Archaeology is in fact strong on intermediate manufacturing markets and on intermediate distributive markets, that is, transport. It is argued that weaknesses in wholesaling, retailing, final (domestic) markets and final service markets are more apparent than real.

Dirty Old Town? Industrial Archaeology and the Urban Historic Environment

British Industrialization was accompanied by a huge increase in population and the rapid and unplanned expansion of many towns and cities. New types of workplace and new forms of domestic settlement were created to facilitate the growth of manufacturing activity and new types of housing were built to accommodate workers and their families as the 19th century progressed. This paper offers some personal thoughts on the recording of industrial archaeology in the urban historic environment.

Death and Commemoration

The study of graveyards and memorial monuments in Britain in the early modern and modern periods is underdeveloped. Despite the many (maybe thousands) of graveyard survey and recording projects that have been undertaken, wide-ranging historical research questions have barely begun to be addressed. This paper identifies a number of possible directions for academic research, clustering around the three areas of demographic, family and social structure; the production and expression of identity and changing beliefs about the living and the dead. It is suggested that the full potential of graveyard studies has not yet been exploited for a variety of reasons. First, the essentially local remit and interest of most projects has not encouraged any orientation towards ambitious historical questions; second, the absence of any standardised way of recording graveyards and any way of monitoring the work that has been done; and third; the failure of post-medieval archaeologists to develop many extensive or imaginative research programmes.

Domestic Industry in Britain during the 18th and 19th Centuries: Field Evidence and the Research Agenda

This paper considers how fieldwork evidence can be used to investigate key themes that arise in the historiography of domestic industry, particularly with regard to the insights that can be obtained into the regional nature of Britain’s industrialisation. The focus is on articulating and explaining the variations that have been reported in the design characteristics of domestic workshops; on judging the impact that the rise of domestic industry had on the formation of rural and urban settlement, both in quantitative and qualitative terms; and on assessing the variation in accommodation standards that domestic workers and their families experienced. Work already undertaken in relation to each of these themes is discussed, drawing illustrations from various parts of the country, and further research possibilities are suggested. Emphasis is placed on the insights that can be derived by linking field and documentary evidence and by undertaking contextualised investigation, not only in relation to historiographical discussion, but also through comparative analysis within and between industrial regions.

Talking Sport or Talking Balls? Realising the Value of Sports Heritage

Sport is an integral part of British culture and an important aspect of modern life, yet it hardly seems to figure in the nation’s heritage equation. Our sporting heritage is part of the wider cultural landscape; it has associations that mean a great deal to people of all ages, and it contributes strongly to the overall quality of life. So why is it not more visible on the historic environment agenda? This paper argues that sports heritage is a legitimate subject for research. It takes as its focus the results of a recent pilot study on historic sports places in Manchester and what sports heritage means to the people of that city. Understanding what sports heritage has to offer helps to identify where sport and heritage interests can work together to enhance the value of places and improve the quality of life for communities and society as a whole. Research in this area offers new opportunities to work across the social and cultural spectrum in meeting the government’s objectives for regeneration, education and healthy living.

Issue No 2, Autumn 2005

Familiarity Breeding Contempt? – understanding and conserving outworking buildings and landscapes

Outworking was widespread across England, its mundane buildings and landscapes often very functional in nature, yet they represent an important inheritance. Their recentness and familiarity may however militate against them, resulting in patchy and inconsistent protection and curation. Appreciating the nature of outworking is dependant upon the quality of such extant buildings and landscapes, but this poses problems for formal protection, especially where research has been modest. Our understanding and conservation of these assets is investigated by considering outworking in the East Midlands as a case study. Framework-knitting, lace and the boot and shoe industries were important economic staples in this region during the 19th-century, resulting in the expansion of many cities, towns and villages where outworking housing, workshops and masters’ houses were essential elements of production.

The Development of the Chilworth gunpowder works, Surrey, from the mid-nineteenth century

This paper describes the results of the recent archaeological survey of the Chilworth gunpowder works carried out by English Heritage. Although there has been intensive documentary research into the earlier history of the works, the later development of the factory is comparatively little known. Its transformation in the late 19th century from a family-owned concern to a limited company, with strong international links, reflects important themes not only in the development of explosives manufacture but also for other late-Victorian industries that were dependent on capital investment and technological innovation. A surprising postscript to the history of the factory was the reuse of many of its buildings by a small community known as ‘Tin Town’ and its later use as part of a Second World War anti-invasion stop line.

Rainton Bridge South Waggonway

The waggonways of the north-east of England represented one of the earliest widespread forms of early railway technology; they were in time to evolve into the modern railway as it was adopted world-wide. However, there has been comparatively little opportunity to carry out detailed archaeological examination of specific sites. Recently, Pre-Construct Archaeology Limited has been able to record the remains of an 18th century waggonway at Rainton Bridge South, Houghton-le-Spring, which has added significantly to understanding of how these systems evolved and how their archaeology survives.

Landscape with Writers: Engineering and the Industrial Landscape in English Literature

It is somewhat surprising to discover the extent to which novelists, poets, diarists, and essayists were, during the last three centuries, drawn to industrial topics in their writing, which even addresses environmental issues. However, it is perhaps not so surprising given the scale of the economic and social changes during a period of unprecedented technological development. The subject provides the writer with a rich source of characters, plot-situations, and both fictional and real industrial landscapes. Examples can be found in the most unlikely places.