Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions

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Write a Testimonial Few good words, go a long way, thanks! Extended workshops and sweated labour were important new departures in production. Technical and industrial change had a variable impact upon the division of labour, skills, and employment in different regions Berg, Many of these aspects of early industrial society had material ex- pressions and can be investigated using archaeological techniques. The question inevitably arises, however, what can archaeology add to con- ventional historical interpretations? In this section I offer some preliminary thoughts on possible future research areas for the social archaeology of industrialisation.

Apart from widespread technical and organisational advances, the industrial age had two major discontinuities that distinguished if from preceding periods. The first of these was a huge increase in population. The population of England and Wales trebled in the four generations from to , rising from c.

Second, the rise of industrial society went hand-in-hand with the rapid expan- sion of towns and cities, as workers were drawn to urban centres from surrounding rural areas by new opportunities for employment. This demographic growth had a distinctly regional dimension. Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield also grew appreciably.


In there were just 15 towns in England and Wales with over 20, inhabitants. By this number had risen to 63 Prest, The massing of the population in manufacturing towns and cities is a critically important feature of the industrial revolution, and should be central to any analysis of the period. Many of these new towns and cities shared similar physical characteristics, in the form of factories, towering smokestacks, canals, railways, and densely packed back-to back housing.

However, the rapid growth, and differences in the types of manufacturing activity that were being carried out in different re- gions also ensured a measure of diversity. The architecture of the new industrial towns both influenced, but at same time reflected their wider hinterlands. This brings me to my first suggested area for investigation by industrial archaeologists, the contribution that industries have made to the shaping of local and regional identities.

Hundreds of men and women, lads and girls, were hurrying to the mills. All wore clogs on their feet and it was just the click of iron-shod clogs on pavement that produced the din. The noise died down. James and Hills, , cited in Girouard, The pre-modern economy was based upon highly distinctive re- gional industries, such as that witnessed by Mrs Mary Brown in above , in the Lancashire cotton-spinning town of Burnley.

These in- dustries had a specific geographical location, and lacked the overall national integration of 20th century industrial production. The industrial revolution should be viewed as the transformation of several distinct regional economies Price, Experiencing Industry 45 one region and another, and some regions, such as the north east of England, witnessed several shifts in regional specialisation. The most frequently cited examples of specialised economic regions in England include: r Southern Lancashire, parts of Derbyshire, and Cheshire cotton r West Riding of Yorkshire wool r Shropshire iron r Staffordshire Potteries ceramics r Birmingham and Warwickshire metalworking r Tyneside coal, iron, salt, glass r Cornwall copper, tin-mining and smelting from Prest, A great deal of effort was made by landowners and industrialists in the second half of the 18th century to overcome the natural barriers to trade and communication that separated these regions.

By the first quarter of the 19th century the construction of 20, miles of turn- pikes road, 2, miles of navigable river, miles of canal, and c. Was the impetus for industrial growth a local, or a nationally driven phenomenon? At one level it was undoubtedly local. The early economic development of a region depended to a large extent upon the influence of individuals and upon highly localised factors, such as the availability of natural resources, or the creation of an efficient transport infrastruc- ture. A convincing argument has been made that the change from a domestic to a factory system of production in the woollen industry of the West Riding of Yorkshire that occurred between c.

Economic devel- opment and growth in Gloucestershire in the period and was similarly locally driven Rollison, — So how can develop- ments on a national scale be explained? The economic region would, therefore, seem to be an appropriate subject for investigation by industrial archaeologists.

Only by compar- ing and contrasting regional differences in industrial structures and remains, both above and below ground, can the complex interplay of economic and social factors that shaped British industrial growth be truly revealed. If a region shows evidence of retarded industrial development, what factors inhibited its growth?

Industrial ar- chaeology has the ability to throw new light upon such issues, and can bring new evidence to the debate.

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As important, if not more so, than this last point, is the contri- bution that can be made by local and regional industrial histories to a modern-day sense of place and local distinctiveness. Many of the former industrial regions that have been identified above are once again un- dergoing transformation as part of 21st century regeneration schemes. Under these circumstances industrial archaeology can provide positive reinforcement to communities in the form of narratives that highlight the skill and resilience of former populations, as well as addressing such sensitive issues as social inclusion see Symonds ; and in press.

Technological and industrial change had a variable impact upon the division of labour, and the growth of skills in each of the distinct topographical and economic regions. We can therefore expect highly lo- calised patterns of work and technology to have emerged, a fact that has been acknowledged by leading economic historians see Hudson, One way that differences in economic organisation and working practices can be seen is in the architectural form of buildings. The sem- inal work of Thomas A. This approach exposes the sheer variety of places, which were sometimes purpose built, but were often merely an extension of the home, where goods were made and finished.

Major differences in the organisation and scale of pro- duction are also highlighted.

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Further insights may be gained into the social aspects of tech- nology, by examining the role that machines played in the struggle for control between factory owners and workers. By incorporating the skills of workers into mechanical devices capitalists were able to con- trol and regulate production, and thereby remove their reliance upon skilled individuals Lubar, In the woollen industry of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the mechanisation of working practices re- duced skilled and semi-autonomous artisans to casual wage-labourers. The knock-on effect of this change was the deskilling and routinization of work, increased gendered divisions of labour, chronic unemployment, and the imposition of harsh systems of work-discipline upon all Gre- gory Was the de-skilling of the workforce an inevitable consequence of the industrial revolution?

We have already seen that in many cases it was the organisation of work that changed as a result of industriali- sation, but how did innovation occur? And how were traditional craft skills maintained, safeguarded, or transmitted between members of a community or workforce?

Berg and Bruland, The commonly accepted evolutionary succession of major British industries since the 18th century runs as follows: cotton to coal, to steel, to engineering and shipbuilding, to motor vehicles, to electri- cal goods, to pharmaceutical and petro-chemical products. Lloyd-Jones and Lewis, It has also obscured the process of technological change by implying that innova- tion was necessarily linear and always homegrown within the British Isles.

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The peculiar inventive genius of the British, as suggested by many histories of the industrial revolution, may be questioned in relation to innovations in a number of industries with European counterparts, in- cluding Italian glass makers and jewellers, Flemish weavers and pot- ters, and German, French, and Walloon iron and steel makers. In the case of iron and steel making, I have already referred to the event in, , when the Quaker Abraham Darby first smelted iron with coke at Coalbrookdale, in Shropshire.

The use of coal in the form of coke as a fuel for blast furnaces, in place of the more customary charcoal, is rightly regarded as a significant advance in the history of metallurgy, and enabled a massive increase in national production rates to take place. However, the background to this innovation is rarely discussed. Little emphasis is placed upon the fact that Darby first became familiar with the use of coke in malting in the lateth century, while serving an apprenticeship to a Birmingham malt mill maker, or even more sig- nificantly, that he gained experience in using coal, and possibly coke, to smelt copper, by emulating the working practices of the metalworkers of Aachen, while working as a member of the Bristol Wire Co.

A similar time lag, of at least a gener- ation, intervened before crucible steel, a refined form of blister steel developed by Benjamin Huntsman in South Yorkshire in the s, was widely accepted and used by the cutlers of Sheffield. Inherent con- servatism was an important factor that impeded the adoption of new technologies in many sectors of industry, and merits further detailed investigation by industrial archaeologists.

Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions
Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions
Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions
Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions
Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions

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