Bristol Industrial
Archaeological Society (BIAS)
BIAS@50 - 1967-2017 - Celebrating half a century of research

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BIAS Bulletin

The Bulletin, published three times a year, provides details of the events organised for members, chairmans report, and write ups of activities. This is written by the bulletin editor Maggie who welcomes any input.

Copies of the Bulletin are circulated to all members.

Chairman's Report Autumn 2016

2017 is rapidly approaching and with it our half-century. We will of course be having a Birthday Party - more details to follow. But this important milestone offers an opportunity for reflection to look back on what has been achieved and to look forward to what we might achieve in the future. The theme of the 2017 programme is therefore: 'reflect on the past while planning for the future'.

Britain in 1967 was a very different place to Britain today. On the heritage front, in 1967 there was a desire to eradicate all that was old and shabby and replace it with a brave new world. A classic example of this was the 'Sack of Bath' in which planners hoped to clear away much, or all, of the lesser Georgian buildings in Bath, leaving just a few set-pieces like the Royal Crescent, and replace the rest with modern tower blocks and flats. In doing that they would have destroyed the character of the city, and though a lot of damage was done, thankfully much was saved. The same was true of industrial heritage. Old industry was being swept away, coal mines had closed or were about to close, the railways had been decimated by the Beeching cuts and most canals were silted up or drained. It was in this environment that BIAS was founded to promote research into the industrial archaeology of the region before valuable evidence was lost. I believe that we can congratulate ourselves on achieving that aim, the volumes of the BIAS Journal being testament to that fact.

Looking back, much has been achieved to save elements of our industrial heritage. Two beacon projects must be the SS Great Britain and the Kennet and Avon Canal. In 1967 the SS Great Britain was a rusting hulk in the Falklands and the Kennet and Avon Canal was largely un-navigable. Today the SS Great Britain is part of the National Historic Fleet welcoming 150,000 visitors a year and the Kennet and Avon Canal is a major 'Heritage Tourism' venue. But these are not the only examples of industrial archaeology to be preserved and there are numerous other projects doing equally sterling work, albeit not so much in the lime light. Projects which come to mind are: the South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group; the Museum of Bath at Work; the Radstock Museum; the Saltford Brass Mill Project (with which I am closely involved); Warmley Brass Mill; the Avon Valley Railway, Underfall Yard, Clifton Rocks Railway and the list goes on. Our programme of talks in 2017 will therefore focus on these success stories and will aim to present the tale of research, conservation and interpretation over the decades. We will seek to highlight the successes, consider the challenges that have been faced and overcome and so help better inform how we should take the BIAS forward into the future.

BIAS is not alone in showing an interest in industrial archaeology. I deliver a programme of lectures on the Avon Valley brass industry to interested groups. I lecture once or twice a month and the range of audiences is illuminating. They include major heritage organisations such as the National Trust, the University of the Third Age, Local history groups, family history groups and other technical groups such as the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers. There is also growing academic interest. I have made links with Bath Spa and Bristol University in recent years and of course we also have Bath University and the University of the West of England in our region, both have which have a strong technology bias. As we take our programme forward my belief is that we should forge links with such allied organisations and aim to work together to consolidate research and interest in our industrial past. To further this aim, we hope to hold our 2017 talks at a range of venues to foster links with allied groups and organisations. Many of our talks will be held at our Keynsham venue, but we also hope to provide talks in other venues to help widen our interest base.

We are also working hard on producing a 2017 Gazetteer of the Industrial Archaeology of the Bristol and Bath Region. The last time such a project was undertaken was in 1987 (30 years ago! - well done Joan Day) and again much has changed. Many of the sites in which we are interested are now scheduled or the buildings listed. This has achieved two outcomes. It provides protection for the buildings and sites and also provides a useful starting point for research as each Heritage England site entry includes a synopsis of the building, the reasons why it is important, the building's key dates and the people involved. In putting together the gazetteer we also have to reflect the changing times. Some sites which in 1987 it seemed might disappear have been saved while others have gone. And new industries have joined the list of sites of interest to the industrial archaeologist. The tobacco and chocolate industries are two which come readily to mind. These were going strong in 1987 but we have since seen their demise and so they join the ranks of industrial heritage. The question has been asked 'what date should we set as a cut-off for something being industrial archaeology?' As I said in my last report from the chair, the three submarines in which I served were built in the 1960s and 70s but are now awaiting disposal and so are consigned to industrial archaeology. I believe that the only criterion is that the topic reflects an industry which once thrived but has now disappeared and its memory is worth recording. Concorde, chocolate and early computers all fit the criteria.

This is an interesting time for industrial archaeology. The emphasis may have changed from recording what is left before it disappears and preserving worthwhile examples of buildings and hardware to revaluating our interpretation of the facts that we have. The scope for research may have changed, but there is much still to be done.

Chairman's Report Summer 2016

Few of you will know me so I thought it worthwhile using by first 'Report from the Chair' to introduce my self and offer you my views on industrial archaeology and the future of BIAS.

My name is Tony Coverdale. I am a chartered engineer with over forty years experience in the marine and nuclear engineering sectors. I am a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineering and also have qualifications in naval architecture, marine engineering and nuclear reactor technology. During my engineering career I have been involved with design, maintenance and operation of large scale machinery. I served in the Royal Navy for twenty five years as a marine engineer specialist in submarines, serving at sea in HM Submarines WARSPITE, CONQUEROR and SPARTAN (it is of note that HMS COURAGEOUS, a sister ship to HMS CONQUEROR, is now a museum ship in Devonport Naval Base and that while sorting through a stack of naval engineering journals donated to the Museum of Bath at Work, Stuart Burroughs and I came across a paper I had written twenty years ago on reactor instrumentation - does that mean I am now Industrial Archaeology?) That said, I am still a practicing consulting engineer and specialise in the control of major accident hazards. I am also very active in the field of STEM in schools (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) seeking to encourage your people into careers in engineering.

So what is my view of industrial archaeology and what is my involvement in that field of study? A text book definition is that Industrial Archaeology is the 'the systematic study of material evidence associated with the industrial past'. A volume which graces my bookshelves is Arthur Raistrick's 1972 book 'Industrial Archaeology - An Historical Survey', the first chapter of which is titled 'What is Industrial Archaeology?' It clearly involves engineering but it is much wider than just engineering. Industrial archaeology must also include study of the architecture of industrial buildings, study of the geography and topography in which industrial buildings are located, study of the movement of materials and goods, study of the people who populated the industry, study of the economic and political landscapes that enabled an industry to flourish and ultimately decline and much, much more.

My first foray into industrial archaeology was whilst at university where in addition to studying textbooks on current engineering practice that were to serve me in the future I also started collecting older engineering volumes, titles such as 'Machinery and Mill Work' and 'The Steam Engine' by Professor Rankine (of Rankine Cycle fame) still gracing my bookshelves.

My current focus of Industrial Archaeological study is Salford Brass Mill, where I am Chairman of the Saltford Brass Mill Project. The mill is a Grade 2* listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. I was originally attracted to the mill by its working waterwheel driving an early dynamo for lighting the building when it was adapted to house a squash court in the 1920s. Indeed we have just replaced the waterwheel sluice gate, last replaced by members of BIAS in 1999; emphasising the need for continuous repair if such buildings are to survive. I have since come to realise that the mill is much more than an example of the application of waterpower. It is the last remaining, mostly intact, relic of what was once a key industry in the economic development of Bristol - the Bristol Brass Industry. The Brass Industry was brought into being by Bristol Merchants, enabled by the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which repealed a number of acts that had restricted Bristol Merchants: trading with West Africa; extracting copper; and manufacturing goods for trade by water powered battery hammers. The industry flourished in the eighteenth century supplying Bristol Merchants engaged in the triangular trade between Bristol, West Africa and the West Indies, and went into serious decline with the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The historic technology present in the mill is a 'common or garden' undershot waterwheel but the industrial archaeology of the mill involves political history, technological development, economics and social history.

So what of the future of Industrial Archaeology in general and BIAS in particular? 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of BIAS. As a society we need to consider not only how we should mark the occasion, but also what we must do to ensure that the society survives for the next 50 years. Looking back to 1967, England had won the world cup the year before and much was happening in the field of industrial archaeology. The Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology (GSIA) had formed in 1964. BIAS followed in 1967. Angus Buchanan and Neil Cossons published 'Industrial Archaeology of the Bristol Region' dedicated to the members of BIAS in 1969. The Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society was founded in 1972 and it was not until 1973 that the national Association for Industrial Archaeology was founded.

What is our geographic boundary? The City of Bristol? The Avon Valley? Industry does not respect county boundaries, as observed by the Bristol Brass Company which operated mills in what is now Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire and brought in ores from the Mendip, Devon and Cornwall. This begs the question what is our region and what is our relationship with societies in neighbouring regions?

My thoughts are that if we are to continue to fulfil the objectives of the society we must be outward looking, seeking to make, maintain and develop links with groups and organisations with similar interests to our own, both within our region and outside our region, and within the membership of BIAS and outside the membership of BIAS,. An embryonic idea is that we embark upon an year long event with a working title of 'Avon 50'. We have long talked about producing a gazetteer of industrial heritage sites in the Avon region. 'Avon 50' would see BIAS engaging, or re-engaging, with the wide range of industrial archaeology related projects throughout the region and taking stock of the knowledge and evidence that remains. The event would be two way. We should produce promotional material which we should encourage related organisations to display to make their members and visitors aware of the wider network of which they are a part and in return we should collate a synopsis of what exists in our region and published that information in a coherent format for the benefit of future industrial archaeologists.

Thank you for allowing me to share my early thoughts with you and I look forward to meeting with you in the coming months and years and working with you to celebrate BIAS at 50 and beyond.

We were delighted to hear that Edward John Cannock has left the society 250 in his will - which is very generous.

We were also delighted to hear that Keith Hickman was congratulated on his article about the Great Eastern in the Journal by the Library of Birmingham who have added it to their collection of articles relating to Boulton and Watt. Reference B&W/H/37 on online catalog http://calmview.birmingham.gov.uk

Chairman's Report Spring 2016

Committee business since my last report has followed the pattern of previous meetings during the year in that 'BIAS Futures' has taken centre stage. Core activities have not, however, been neglected and I can report some significant advances on the conservation front.

The main project partners on the 'Brunel's Other Bridge' project - BIAS. AIBT and CHIS - each agreed to put up 1000 as match funding to support a further grant from Historic England (HE), this time to determine the soundness of the foundations of the bridge and the amount of wrought iron plate that needs to be replaced. In addition, they have financed consultancy work on replacement of the hydraulics that once turned the bridge. This work, nearing completion at the time of writing, should enable us to provide the best possible estimates for a future HLF bid to restore the structure to operational condition. Escalating cost was one of the main reasons for failure to progress the previous Bristol City Council scheme and the HLF have indicated that they need to be assured that this will not be repeated before they allow us to restart the application process.

The conservation of documents is also another of our aims and I'm pleased to report on two recent deposits at the Bristol Record Office. The first was of 12 medium size boxes of engineers' purchasing documents from the Fry/Cadbury factory in Keynsham and accompanying photographs. These were salvaged and cared for by Eric Miles. These records - comprehensive apart from details of the locomotive that Eric is restoring at Bitton - will prove an invaluable source for historians of this important 20th century factory. The other deposit was a miscellany of 'Bristol' items relocated from Stuart Burrough's museum in Bath which included images of the Floating Harbour and documents relating to Hanham Mills, the St Philips Ironworks and Hobhouse's shipbuilding business. I feel that we should make a major effort to deposit any records and images that we have salvaged or made as we approach our 50th anniversary. The above and other recent deposits were much appreciated by the record offices in Bristol, Bath and Gloucester.

The AGM papers are included with this Bulletin and you will see that this year we will make use of our customary post-AGM slot for a presentation on the 'BIAS Futures' project that has been our major focus over the past year. I will introduce our proposals and an action plan at this time and we will prepare a detailed report after this for those who are not able to attend the AGM. In the past we embedded the minutes of the previous AGM in the bulletin, often with the result that few have them to hand when asked to approve them as a true record! You will now find them as an insert. We have also included a proxy form for those who not attend the meeting, so please send this to me if you wish to contribute this way. You will also see the nomination form for election to office. In the past we have taken nominations at the meeting but now feel that you should have a little more time to think about and consult with others about this important task. Most of your committee are willing to stand for re-election but we could do with additional committee members and, in particular, nominations for the chair (standing down) and vice-chair (currently vacant).

Last year at this time I indicated in my pre-AGM report that I would be standing down but, lacking a successor, have continued in post for a further year. I regret that I will not do so again. It has been a privilege to serve for a third term as your chair and I cannot thank members and committee colleagues enough for the support that I have been given over the years. BIAS is in good shape but is in need of fresh impetus to take it towards and beyond its 50th anniversary in 2017. I will be pleased to share thoughts on this at the AGM and look forward to seeing you there.

Chairman's Report Autumn 2015/Spring 2016

Unlike the competitors and their coaches over a busy summer of sporting events who frequently avoided the awkward questions in interviews by saying that they thought only of their next race/match/innings/round of golf, BIAS Committee continues to focus on a more-distant future. In my last report I mentioned our SWOT exercise and this has now been followed up by a wide-ranging analysis and discussion of the way ahead at a meeting dedicated to this one agenda item. As is the way of such meetings, the range of opinion and ideas was impressively wide but we are now at the point where we can prepare an action plan which will guide us towards our 50th anniversary in 2017.

Your emails during this process have been much appreciated and it is clear many of you wish to see a wider participation of BIAS members in the end product - we will organise an event to achieve this. However, like the sportsmen and women mentioned above we also concentrate on the immediate needs of our society. We are currently drafting a briefing document to advise our speakers on the visual and acoustic facilities and challenges at the Legion and are planning to add, literally in this case, a little colour to our publications. The Avon Industrial Heritage Partnership has had its second meeting - at the Underfall Yard in Bristol - and is beginning to open up promising opportunities for networking and volunteering. Work on the Brunel Bridge continues apace with a second appearance in Bristol's Doors Open Day which saw an impressive increase in visitor numbers over last year and BOB will also play a part in the Docks Heritage Weekend in early October with a couple of walks from the yard to the bridge. We continue to support South Gloucestershire Council's extension of 'Knowyourplace' as the project gathers pace and have been invited to a meeting called by Councillor Anthony Negus (Bristol's Heritage Champion) to explore ideas for a new heritage forum for the city.

If I may end with an appeal, the electrification of the GWR line has emphasised the need for BIAS to beef up its responses to planning applications in the unitary authorities that constitute our territory. We already cover much that happens in Bristol through membership of this council's Conservation Advisory Panel but urgently need volunteers to monitor applications (they are noted in the local papers and the documents can be viewed on the councils' planning websites) and to advise on a BIAS response in B&NES, South Gloucestershire and N. Somerset Councils. Please contact me if you feel that you can help in some way.

Chairman's Report August 2015

It seems a long time since mid-February when I compiled my last report in advance of the last AGM. Much has happened in the meantime. We managed to complete our winter lectures at the Legion, overcoming problems with the acoustics, a computer failure and a short-notice change of speaker on the way, and we are now well into an attractive programme of summer visits. The AGM saw the retirement of Angus Buchanan, our first president, and the appointment of Geoff Wallis as his successor, as well as the publication of another substantial issue of our journal.

Away from Keynsham, the programme of investigations on 'Brunel's Other Bridge' in Bristol, financed in the main by English Heritage, was completed in good time before the end of the financial year and was the subject of an excellent presentation and display at the regional IA conference held this year at Tiverton. The first meeting of the Avon Industrial Forum (now a 'Partnership' rather than 'Forum' at the suggestion the group) was very positive and we have been invited to the Underfall Yard for the second. When one recalls that we had to find replacements for the key committee posts of treasurer, secretary and membership secretary at the previous AGM, it is to the great credit of their replacements and the 'old hands' to have overseen such an achievement.

The first of our post-AGM committee meetings attempted an ambitious agenda. As regards our core activities, I'd welcome members' comments on two issues: i) the print quality of the last journal - some members of the editorial team were critical of this- and ii) the acoustics at the Legion and our attempts to overcome difficulties of hearing. We are committed to this venue until the next AGM, but are exploring possible alternatives such as the new Fry Club on the old Cadbury's site.

We also agreed to consider the following policy areas over the next year: the BIAS gazetteer, the one area where we failed to make any progress last year; future liaison with the four unitary authorities in old Avon County; a possible research agenda for BIAS and, finally, how to celebrate the 50th anniversary of BIAS in 2017. As always, your views and ideas on these will be welcome and with email are easy to send to me.

It is essential that we keep on top of our core activities and review major projects and policy but equally important that we look at strategy going into the more-distant future. To this end, Geoff Wallis got this debate off to a good start with a SWOT exercise (i.e. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats ) which will be followed up in early September at a special two-hour committee meeting dedicated to this. It was very helpful to have the responses of members who attended the last AGM that I could contact by email to the two questions that Geoff put to us in preparation for this task. Put very briefly, there was a surprising consensus across the replies - i) the age profile of the membership and its effect on BIAS activities was identified as the most serious threat to the future of the society and ii) threats to the known and little-known industrial heritage was seen as the most important local issue that we should address.

Finally, digitisation of the first ten issues of BIAS Journal proved a very successful exercise and we would like to continue with issues 11-20 (1979-1988). We received no objections from past authors and editors when we announced the first stage of this initiative but I would be grateful if readers of this report could let me know of problems regarding the next ten issues. It would also be helpful if they could mention this to any authors that they know who from outside BIAS. The contents and contributors to these issues are listed on the BIAS website. We intend to do this when a very busy Maggie Shapland has time available.

Chairman's Report February 2015

As we draw closer to the end of another 'BIAS year' - the AGM papers are included in this bulletin - it is pleasing to report on good progress on most of our current initiatives. The volunteers on 'Brunel's other Bridge' (BOB) took a break during the winter months leaving the site clear for investigative work financed by the English Heritage grant that BIAS and our partners 'salvaged' so successfully. The exhibition at the Central Library did much to raise awareness of this project and we have also secured a programme slot in the next regional IA conference to further publicise the work. We now await our engineers' reports and recommendations and need to make good use of this data to prepare a bid to the Heritage Lottery fund for the restoration and reuse of the bridge.

Another important achievement has involved our website where Maggie has now made available the text of the first 10 BIAS Journals, completed her work on The Ports of the Bristol Channel and also finished Work in Bristol (1883), the latter accomplished with many thanks to Bristol City Reference Library for the loan of the book and to the Museum of Bath at Work for scanning it. These initiatives will be of great value to researchers who have access to a computer and we are again in debt to Maggie for all of her hard work and expertise in this respect.

By the time of our AGM, the inaugural meeting of the Avon Industrial Heritage forum should have taken place and we will know whether other IA groups in old Avon County share the enthusiasm of BIAS and AIBT for the sort of partnership working that has been so successful on the BOB project. We have, however, been less successful with our Bristol gazetteer project and it is clear that we need to change the way that we gather information on the sites identified on our website before we prepare this for publication. Looking forward, I suggest that there are two important areas that we will need to address as soon as possible -succession planning and how we react to the changing environment in which BIAS operates. We need to secure the future leadership of BIAS with the appointment of our next chair and also to identify a vice chair who will assist this person and takeover. As regards the second area, things are changing rapidly as a consequence of austerity policies and reorganisation of local and national heritage services. If economy is now in sustained recovery, this will bring fresh pressure to bear on some of our surviving industrial buildings and' brown- field' sites. Your views on how we address these issues at the AGM (or by email to me beforehand) will be most welcome.

Chairman's Report November 2014

I'm afraid that I must start another report on a sad note after the passing of Ken Andrews, the second vice chairman that we have lost in the 18 months since I returned to this office. Ken's contribution to our society was both long and influential. He first appears in the list of members that we used to publish in the journals in 1975, was on the committee in 1978 and was chairman by 1980. After a break, he returned to office in the late 1990s as our bulletin editor, prior to Geoff Sheppard's taking on this job. Ken began his final stint on committee in 2010 and generously agreed to be my vice-chair after the sudden death of Geoff Sheppard in 2012. He was also active as a museum volunteer in Bristol and Bath and in research and publishing his findings. He wrote one of our early BIAS Walks and its successor, The Brunel Walk, which features in the recent BIAS Histories series. He and some other BIAS members joined the local history course at the new Bath Spa University and work on his dissertation reached a wider readership with the appearance of Mr Bowler of Bath: Victorian Entrepreneur and Engineer in 1998. He was later to cooperate with Stuart Burroughs on the history of another Bath enterprise, Stothert & Pitt: Cranemakers to the World, which was published in 2003. He served the society very well and I would like to record my personal thanks for his kindness, willingness to help, even when unwell in his last years, and for his common-sense approach to management issues.

As vice-chair, Ken took part in last year's discussions on a number of policy issues and plans and, I'm sure, would applaud our recent efforts to move things forward. One of the highlights in late summer was the public launch (as part of Bristol's 'Doors Open Day') of the Brunel's Other Bridge' project (BOB for short) with our partners from the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust and the Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society. The BOB team were there to welcome visitors for the whole of the day but over 40 were to arrive in the afternoon as part of a guided walk from the SS Great Britain that highlighted the great engineer's other important contributions to improving the Floating Harbour. We were fortunate to be accompanied by the SSGB's 'Mr Brunel' who proved a popular and knowledgeable companion. At the start of my current term as BIAS chair, I felt that we needed to raise the profile and public awareness of our society and BOB has certainly done this for us. Hard work on and off site has attracted the attention of the media with TV and local radio interviews by Mary Stacey. A recent presentation by three BOB engineers was hosted by the local groups of the institutions of mechanical, structural and civil engineers at Bristol University and attracted an audience of over 100, many of them the younger men and women that we often say we lack in our ranks. We have also finally accessed the English Heritage grant that survived the failure of the Sustrans project and a comprehensive programme of investigative work is now underway with the help of our engineers Mann Williams of Bath.

BOB has taken up a lot of time of late but your committee have also been active on other fronts, working to turn ideas developed last year into achievements. Digitisation has commenced with Maggie Shapland putting up the Bristol entries from the compendium The Ports of the Bristol Channel (1893) on our website and those for Bath will soon follow. No objections have been made in response to the announcement in the last bulletin of plans to make early BIAS Journals available in this way, so we can start on this when time is available. Progress has been less positive on the Bristol Gazetteer so we have agreed to buy in some help with this project. The inaugural meeting of the proposed Avon Industrial Heritage forum will be held next spring. BIAS will sponsor this and our Hon. Secretary Stuart Burroughs has generously agreed to host and organise this meeting.A lot has been happening, thanks to your ongoing support as BIAS members and the efforts of past stalwarts such as Ken Andrews, with whom we started this report.

Chairman's Report July 2014

This is my first report since our last AGM and I aim to continue to use this space to keep members informed of committee business and current issues that affect our society. Time spent on various committees over the years - some might say or think too much time! - has brought home to me that discussions and outcomes of meetings have a limited value if they are not passed on to the members without whom these societies would not exist. Also, meetings are enriched by feedback or opinions from members, so please make these reports part of a dialogue by passing on your views to me or my colleagues.

My last column finished by stressing the need to rebuild the committee owing to the retirement of officers who had given long and valuable service to BIAS and I am delighted to refer you to BIAS Business in this issue where you will see that we have now filled the key roles of treasurer and secretary. David Clarke, a newcomer to the area, has bravely taken over on finance and his experience will benefit us greatly here. We did not appoint a secretary at our AGM but Stuart Burroughs has now agreed to take on this role to keep us 'up and running' in this respect. Members will know of Stuart's major contribution as BIAS chair in recent years and his offer to take on this job deserves both applause and gratitude. My only concern as regards our succession plan is the absence of a vice chair. This is an important post, not for workload if the chair does his job properly, but as preparation for leadership of the society when the chair retires - in this case, in less than a year's time.

At the first meeting of our new committee in early May we focused on the change of personnel and our agenda for the coming year. We agreed that implementation of the outcomes of last year's discussions should take up most of the time that was available after the day-to-day running of the society had been attended to. The Gazetteer is mentioned elsewhere in this bulletin and is in need of your help, so please assist us in moving this one forward. I'm convinced that partnership working will be essential in meeting the needs of IA and industrial heritage in our area over the coming years and BIAS and AIBT have now agreed a constitution and terms of reference for an 'umbrella body' or steering group called Avon Industrial Heritage. At our next meeting we will plan the first meeting to take this initiative forward.

As regards strictly BIAS business, we wish to start the 'digitisation' programme as soon as possible and begin by putting the earliest BIAS Journals online together with some related source material. Dr Ray Wilson of the Gloucestershire IA Society has offered to assist us and BIAS members can sample the benefits of his work in this respect by visiting their website. As the BIAS material has been in the public domain for some time I have been advised that there should be few problems in making it available in this form. I do, however, wish to make our intentions clear to the contributors to past journals and to respect any objections that they might have in respect of creating digital versions of text or illustrations. Some authors will no longer be with us, so I would ask all members who have access to a computer to visit the BIAS website, select 'Journal' and check the contents listed for the first ten issues. If you were a contributor to issues 1-10, please contact me ASAP if you have any problem with this initiative. It would also be helpful if current BIAS members could contact any of the authors (or their relatives if they are no longer alive) who will not be able to see this message - I'm sure you will know some of the early contributors (or have their contact details) if they were never members of BIAS or have long since resigned their membership. Please also contact me if you see any other problems that might arise with this project.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer and the BIAS visits - not forgetting a stroll to 'Brunel's Other Bridge' which will be included in Bristol's impressive 'Doors Open Day' on 13 September, next

Chairman's Report March 2014

In my last report before our AGM I am pleased to update you on the 'big issues' that committee identified as our main agenda items at the start of our year in office.

The small group of BIAS & AIBT members that was set up to discuss relationships with other IA groups in our area has now completed its work. I will speak more fully on this at the AGM but in summary can report that the two bodies have now agreed to set up a steering group (Avon Industrial Heritage?) to promote and support IA/IH in our region and will now sound out other local groups to see whether they wish to join us and work together more closely. With its large membership, excellent Bulletin and Journal, BIAS clearly has an important role to play in this new body. The benefits of partnership working are well illustrated by our ongoing links with our Newcomen colleagues and the conservation of Brunel's Swivel Bridge in cooperation with AIBT and CHIS (i.e. the Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society). The 'Brunel's Other Bridge' project has already awakened much-needed fresh interest in the work of our respective groups.

The re-launch of the BIAS Gazetteer is mentioned elsewhere in this bulletin. The aim is twofold:

Arguably, our last meeting attempted to tackle the most important 'big issue' on our list - succession planning for our committee and its officers. In addition to the sad loss of Geoff Sheppard and Gill's subsequent retirement as membership secretary on health grounds, we are about to lose Graham Vincent (secretary) and William Pummell (treasurer), both of whom have wanted to retire for some time. We have attempted to identify replacements but urgently need members to come forward before or at the AGM as we cannot continue to function properly without a core team. Offers of help, even for a limited period of time, will be most welcome.

Our last committee before the AGM meets on 3 April, next, when we will discuss BIAS publications and 'digitisation' with, perhaps, an initial glance at a research agenda for the society. Any comments, views and ideas will, as always, be welcome before we meet.

Chairman's Report November 2013

As mentioned in my last report, I intend to use this space to update BIAS members on committee business - in particular our efforts to make progress on the issues raised at our last AGM. Our last committee meeting focused on closer relationships and collaboration with other local IA groups and we welcomed Martin Leathwood and Marilyn Adams of the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust (AIBT) as our guests for this main agenda item. Discussion was excellent, the outcome very positive - as one colleague put it, 'partnership was the key in today's climate'. It was decided to set up a small steering group (Martin, Marilyn, Mike Taylor & myself) to come up with detailed proposals for the future and to make progress reports to AIBT Council and BIAS Committee. We aim to focus initially on AIBT/BIAS and then consider relationships with 'single site' groups, such as the Saltford Brass Mill Project, and to complete our work by the next BIAS AGM on 24 April 2014. Any comments/views on this issue will be much appreciated - please 'phone or email me.

Our next 'big issue' is the gazetteer and Ken Kemp has agreed to join us as our guest for this one.

Space is limited for these reports but I'd like to conclude with a brief comment on our summer programme. We certainly experienced some varied weather - a cold, wet night to hear about plans for the future of at the Underfall Yard in late June followed by a sweltering evening on the streets and path ways of St Philips to view the IA of the new development zone some two weeks later. I thought that the afternoon session at the Brooks Dye Works in August was exactly the sort of activity that we should do more of, given the opportunity. The tour of the site provided both an excellent introduction to an industry that is rarely considered in the IA literature, a chance to hear about the plans of the developer and the architect and, most importantly, to put our questions and responses to their proposals. This sort of exchange is surely the best way to approach the often-conflicting agendas of interested parties.

As regards our future programmes, I'd be grateful if you could forward your email address/'phone no. to Maggie if you have not already done so. I had to contact members recently about a change of venue and this information proved invaluable. We do, however, keep our website up to date - so please check this, if you can, before coming to your next BIAS meeting.


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