Abstracts of Volume XXXIV 2012

Issue No 1, Spring 2012

The Rolt Memorial Lecture 2011
Dams and Damages: Controversies Over Waterpower in Lowell

The Pawtucket Dam in Lowell is a key site in the interpretation of the city’s industrial heritage and a potent symbol of corporate determination to alter the natural environment for textile production and profit. It is both a certified National Landmark and the most dramatic feature of a National Park, the first one to he located in an American industrial city. Without a great dam at Pawtucket Falls, Lowell would never have become a renowned example of manufacturing prowess and attractive urban design. Every dam built across the Merrimack River since 1825 at that site has been controversial. They have blocked fish migrations, overflowed farmland, backed water into the wheelpits of upstream mills, halted log drives, and made floods more destructive. The existing Pawtucket Dam of 1847 and 1875 is now the focus of a heated debate between preservationists and a hydroelectric power company that wants to alter it.

An Introduction to The Archaeology of the Glass Industry: The Monuments Protection Programme Step I Report

This article presents an overview of the archaeology of the glass industry in Britain from the Roman period to the 20th century. It is based upon work undertaken in 1992-3 for the English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme (MPP) and revised later in that decade, with additions to take account of the developer-funded archaeological work undertaken in recent years. It concentrates on the development of technology in the charcoal- and coal-fired glass industries and contains descriptions of sites and terminology.

Three and a Half Centuries of Bottle Manufacture

This paper looks at the development of the bottle glass industry in England. The production of bottles is considered from both a typological perspective and through the chemical composition of the glass used. Samples of bottles and bottle production debris from many different production sites have been analysed to determine their chemical composition. The changes in the social organisation of the industry are discussed in relation to the changing materials and technologies employed in bottle production.

Glass Recipes and the Output from a 19th-century Glass Works: Examples from Percival, Vickers & Co. Ltd, Manchester

Excavations by Oxford Archaeology North in 2003 revealed extensive structural remains of the former Percival, Vickers and Co. Ltd glass works, one of the principal 19th-century glass manufactories in Manchester. A detailed account of the excavated remains, focusing on the significant developments in furnace design inherent in the exposed structures, has already been published in volume 29.1 (2007) of the Review. However, an in-depth analysis of the 187kg of glass fragments recovered from the excavation was omitted, and this shortcoming is addressed in the present paper. Scientific analysis of the glass compositions revealed that a variety of recipes were used, and these related closely to the different ways that glass was being worked on site, as evidenced by the various types of waste. A relatively small but nevertheless significant number of vessel fragments were also recovered, allowing the output of the glass works to be characterised for the first time.

Issue No 2, Autumn 2012

Industrial Transformation: An Olympic Theme?

This article is based on a lecture given in Oxford in 2009 and was first intended as a contribution to the 300th anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen engine in 2012, but has been revised following the attention given to Britain’s industrial transformation in the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. The discovery and diffusion of new technologies pervades human history, yet ‘industrialisation’ is thought to be an 18th-century phenomenon. This paper will argue that it was the invention of technologies which speeded up the actual process of work itself which led to massive social change, rather than those which resulted in higher levels of production whilst not changing the actual methods of working. It will consider the contribution that industrial archaeologists have made to a greater understanding of the nature of the so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’ as well as considering how this phenomenon was viewed both at home and abroad.

Ynyspenllwch: Three Centuries of Tin Making in South Wales

This paper reviews three centuries of tin making at Ynyspenllwch. As the first tin works in Glamorgan, established in the 17th century, and one of the oldest in South Wales, the development of the site from 1647 down to its closure in the early 20th century is an instructive example of the power requirements and output for this type of metalworking complex. The study takes the form of a landscape and historical assessment of the site, supported by detailed analysis of the main wheel pit.

‘A Steppingstone of Civilization’: the Hojack Swing Bridge and the Negotiation of Social Power in Monroe County, Western New York State

This paper examines the Hojack Swing Bridge, a 1905 railroad swing bridge in western New York State, and its role in the creation of and mediation between structures of power in the region. We first discuss the general design and mechanics of swing bridges, the history of the Hojack railroad in the region, and the effect of the railroad on industrial development in the area. We then demonstrate how the very location and design of the Hojack Swing Bridge was not only the result of geographical considerations, but also the result of competition and compromise between the railroad company and other interests. We close with a brief discussion of the bridge today and its recent demolition as a reflection of this ongoing competition in the present.

Concrete Filler-Joist Floors and the Development of Lancashire Cotton Spinning Mills

The concrete filler-joist floor was a form of fireproof flooring developed in the second half of the 19th century that came to be used quite extensively in industrial and commercial buildings. Iron, later steel, joists embedded in concrete provided a crude form of reinforcing. This form of flooring came to be adopted in Lancashire cotton spinning mills from the late 1870s, but there has been some confusion over the issue, which this paper seeks to clarify. The Bolton architect J. J. Bradshaw was the first known user. Some mill architects followed this lead, but others preferred forms of brick-arch flooring. Filler-joist floors ceased to be used, both generally and in Lancashire cotton mills, after around 1909 as other forms of reinforced flooring became available. Spinning mill construction moved towards the freestanding steel frame, although reinforced concrete framing was not adopted in Lancashire. Lancashire architects have been seen as conservative. However, it is argued that this was not necessarily a bad thing, and that they were willing to use new methods where these were seen as advantageous.