Abstracts of Volume XXXVI 2014

Issue No 1, May 2014

Contemporary and Recent Archaeology in Practice

The archaeology of the 20th century has been studied since the 1960s, hut it is only more recently that explicit theoretical and methodological issues have been explored by the wider archaeological profession. This paper explores some of those issues in the contexts of s24 developer-funded archaeology and community archaeology. Ways in which the archaeology of the more recent past may both help and hinder the discipline are considered, together with the relevance of archaeology to society at large .

‘Grass Banks between the Storage Tanks’:
20th-Century Industry on the Hoo Peninsula, Kent

The Hoo Peninsula is situated on the north Kent Coast, bounded by the rivers Thames and Medway. A third of the peninsula is low-lying and includes expansive marshland protected by substantial sea walls. Perceptions of Hoo are often associated with these remote, open areas populated with grazing animals and wild birds. But mention of the Hoo Peninsula can also evoke an entirely different set of images predominantly associated with 20th-century industry. These industries, which were established on Hoo from the mid-19th century, were based onain new technologies and new materials such as cement, chemical explosives, oil refining, communications and power generation. A recent English Heritage multi-disciplinary project has revealed the impact and legacy of these industries on Hoo.

Wearside Pottery: a 20th-Century Potworks in Sunderland

This article summarises the findings from a recent archaeological excavation of the former Wearside Pottery in Sunderland, which provided a valuable opportunity to study the buried remains of a 20th-century potworks. Sunderland has a rich heritage of producing a range of wares lain for the home and export markets, although the town’s numerous potworks became particularly well known for their pink lustrewares. All of these potworks have since been demolished, and the lack of surviving physical remains is in stark contrast to the former importance of the local industry. Established in 1913, the Wearside Pottery was the last potworks to be built in the town, and its ultimate closure in 1957 marked the end of Sunderland’s long tradition of producing pottery. The excavation exposed the foundations of the principal manufacturing areas, including the base of a coal-fired bottle kiln, and enabled the process-flow through at least part of the site to be established. A review of the available documentary material, coupled with the archaeological evidence, has also allowed several stages in the development of the potworks to be identified.

The 20th-Century Revolution in Textile Machines and Processes. Part 2: Textured Yarns and Other Technologies

This is the second of a two-part study on the archaeology and technological development of the machine textile industry in the 20th century. The previous paper, Part 1 (IAR, 35.2), described the changes in two long-established textile technologies: the production of yarns from lain short fibres such as cotton and wool; and the weaving of fabrics. The main part of this paper describes completely new technologies that resulted from the manufacture of new continuous filament yarns. Other technologies are also mentioned.

Legislation and Reality: the Archaeological Evidence for Sanitation and Housing Quality in Urban Workers’ Housing in the Ancoats Area of Manchester between 1800 and 1950

This paper will look at some of the excavated material for British urhan workers’ housing, built and occupied during the period 1800 to 1950 in the Ancoats area of Manchester: Ancoats was notorious amongst contemporary writers and campaigners for its poor quality and overcrowded housing. This archaeological evidence has emerged as a result of developer-funded excavations and represents part of a growing body of data collected since 1990 from within many of the great industrial cities of Britain (Glasgow, London and Manchester), as well as excavations in the numerous smaller industrial manufacturing towns of the UK. In this study particular attention is given to the impact of national legislation, private acts and local by-laws aimed at improving industrialised living conditions and the build quality of 19th-century workers’ housing occupied into the 20th century. Using excavated examples from more than 50 houses within Ancoats, it will be argued that archaeology can provide a distinctive and unique view of urban domestic life in the 19th and first half of the 20th century, whilst demonstrating continuity in occupation patterns during this period. The evidence for urbanised, industrial living also compliments the more extensive archaeological studies of manufacturing industry from the period.

Issue No 2, November 2014

The Rolt Memorial Lecture 2013: the Public Benefit of Industrial Heritage – Taking a Positive View

This paper contains a summary of the 2013 Rolt Memorial Lecture, delivered to the annual conference of the Association for Industrial Archaeology in Dundee on 11 August 2013. The lecture commenced by observing the extent to which Industrial Heritage has progressed in recent decades, noting that it is now embedded in many national institutions in the UK, and has been ‘mainstreamed’ into heritage more generally. However, it now faces several serious challenges, not least the diminishing number and increasing age of activists, together with cuts to the State sector. It is argued, nevertheless, that industrial heritage has more to offer now than ever before and that more effective political engagement is required to ensure that this n is understood by those with power and influence over the historic environment. To illustrate this point, current work on the Industrial Heritage Strategy for Scotland is discussed, together with the potential impact of the UK’s latest industrial World Heritage nomination, the Forth Bridge.

Eric Nordevall II – A Reconstruction of a Paddle Steamer, an Intensive Historical Project

This article presents the reconstruction of the paddle steamer Eric Nordevall that took place between 1995 and 2012 in Forsvik, Sweden. The original steamer was built in 1836 and was specifically designed for traffic on the Gefilta Canal, the mid-Swedish waterway inaugurated in 1832 between Lake Vanern and the east coast. The reconstruction project aimed to produce a design as close as possible to the original, thus representing a historical-intensive research project including the revival of craft skills, such as model carpentry and riveting of pressure chambers. The project has also been important for empowering a local – former industrial – community situated in region with depopulation and loss of employment opportunities. In addition, this article describes the original vessel and her context, which provides an example of the British influence in the early 19th-century industrialisation in Sweden.

Freight-handling Technologies and Industrial Building Design: Freighthouse and Warehouse Facilities of the Chicago Junction Railway 1900-30

Among the first US railway companies to use the electric tractor and elevator in freight-handling buildings, the Chicago Junction Railway (CJR) primarily served industries in the rapidly growing Central Manufacturing District. CJR freight-handling services were initially provided in single-storey, and subsequently multi-storey, brick and mill buildings, using hand trucks, with only limited storage and warehousing space available. Labour cost savings, and changes in the scale and flexibility of freighthouse operations, possible with the electric tractor and elevator, allowed the CJR to meet the demand for increased freight-handling and warehousing capacity by augmenting older facilities with multi-storey, integrated freighthouse and warehouse buildings, latterly built with steel-reinforced concrete.

Revisiting the Iconic: the Excavation of the Reelfitz Pit Engine and the Newcomen Steam Engine in Cumberland, UK

Examples of excavated 18th-century stationary steam engine sites are very rare in Britain. This article records the rescue excavations ahead of road-building works of one such site in 1974-5 at Reelfitz Pit in Little Clifton, Cumberland. The Reelfitz Pit pumping engine was built around 1780 and abandoned in 1781. The remains uncovered show that the site had two external boilers and a narrow engine house with a cylinder on the ground floor. The excavation uncovered three engine parts from within the engine house: the piston flange from the cylinder, the connecting link from the piston rod to the beam and one of the chain links which fitted into the piston head. The current work discusses the site in terms of the development of the West Cumberland coalfield and in the context of the surviving 18th-century Newcomen engines.