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

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Tony Coverdale
Tony at the Saltford Brass Mill

BIAS Chairman's Reports- A view from the Chair

Tony Coverdale February 2017

2017, fifty-not-out, and so we enter our half-centenary year. Plans are in hand to mark the occasion with a series of celebrations and events, the first being a talk by Sir Neil Cossons reflecting on our society's past. Sir Neil's industrial archaeological credentials are exceptional. He was director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust from 1971, was director of the National Maritime Museum from 1983, was director of the Science Museum from 1986 and was chairman of English Heritage from 2000 to 2007. But of most importance to us, Sir Neil started his career in Bristol where he was Curator of Technology at Bristol City Museum from 1964 and was the first secretary of BIAS from 1967. I am tempted to draw an analogy with events in the early eighteenth century. Abraham Darby also started his career in Bristol being the founding 'active man' in the Bristol Brass Company and also moved on to Ironbridge, applying the skills he learned in Bristol to a new technology and so was born coke smelting enabling the mass production of cast brass and cast iron. The rest, one might say, is Industrial Archaeology. Sir Neil's talk will be delivered in the Green Park Railway Station on the 9th March, which is a very appropriate venue. Sir Neil reports that he was part of a debate on the station's future, chaired by Kenneth Hudson, in 1964! The station is a classic example of a monument to its industrial past which, after restoration, has found a new life in the modern city.

The year's festivities will continue with a Birthday Party to be held at the Radstock Museum on the 28th May, which will include a cake, appropriately decorated. This again is an appropriate venue, the museum's theme being the Somersetshire coal industry. In 1967, the year BIAS was founded, much evidence remained of industrial activity in the area. But in the past 50 years, almost all visible evidence of the coal industry has been eradicated and it falls to museums such as Radstock and societies such as BIAS to record its memory and pass on that memory to future generations. We hope to hear from the museum about their plans for the future, in particular how they aspire to revitalise the museum's image in the modern climate of heritage venues. Without prior knowledge of the industry, the name Radstock would be dismissed by most; hence the significance of the museum may be lost. But the museum has adopted a new title, 'Somerset Coal Life at Radstock Museum', which seeks to encourage a new audience to explore the industrial heritage of their region.

I mentioned in our last Bulletin that a small team of us are in the process of writing a new Gazetteer of industrial archaeological sites in our region. We have produced a first draft and are about to format the book. The Gazetteer will describe over 400 sites arranged under the themes: food and drink; mining and quarrying; transport; manufacturing; and utilities. We hope that the book will be available mid-year.

On a happy note, I would like to offer our congratulations on your behalf to Maggie and Mike who were married in December. Reading Maggie's article later in the Bulletin about the happy event, I am intrigued to find out more about Mike's musical cake knife and wonder if he will let us to use it again in May to cut our Birthday Cake. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear Maggie on the Radio. I was traveling home from a business trip to Maidenhead and came across a programme on Radio 4 called Open Country, Underground Bristol which included an interview with Maggie in the Clifton Rocks Railway. See if you can catch it on I Player. Well done Maggie and our very best wishes go out to Maggie and Mike.

On a sad note, we learned about the loss of Gill Sheppard in early January. Gill was for many years the BIAS Membership Secretary. I worked with Gill and Geoff as members of the Saltford Brass Mill Project where they were stalwart members of the Old Guard. Gill and Geoff were very active in the mill, Gill invariably busying herself in the mill's gardens while Geoff investigated the layout and operation of the mill. It was with Geoff that we reassessed the likely layout of the battery hammers and rolling mill from the visible evidence and remains. This has provided a sure foundation for the replica machinery produced in recent years to aid interpretation of the mill to visitors and researchers. Both Gill and Geoff are sorely missed.

Tony Coverdale November 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.

Tony Coverdale July 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.

Mike Bone February 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.

Mike Bone October 2015

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.

Mike Bone 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.

Mike Bone Feb 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.

Mike Bone Nov 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.

Mike Bone 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

Mike Bone 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:

i) to produce a BIAS publication for the Bristol City Council area, followed by one or more for those of the other unitary councils in 'old Avon' and

ii) to feed data into Bristol's 'Knowyourplace' website so that IA sites are taken into account early in the planning process. Please help with this project!

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.

Mike Bone 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.

Mike Bone June 2013

My third term as BIAS Chair could not have had an unhappier start than hearing of the sudden passing of Geoff Sheppard, who I was much looking forward to working with as my Vice Chair. Geoff will be greatly missed - in the meantime Ken Andrews, a former BIAS Chair and senior committee member has kindly agreed to deputise for me, as needed, until we elect his successor at the next AGM.

Geoff would have been delighted with the success of the recent regional conference in Keynsham that he had helped to plan and was to have chaired. A number of messages of appreciation were received from south-west colleagues and those who had come from much further afield. The programme, the quality of the speakers, venue, catering and attention to detail on the day were all commended and the conference team should take great credit for their efforts.

Moving on to Committee business, the reports and discussion at our last AGM provided me with a ready list of major agenda items and we have agreed to deal with one 'big issue' per meeting, in addition, of course, to routine BIAS business. Our first task was the conference and we then focused on the future of the BIAS website at our second meeting. In addition to expressing our appreciation for Maggie Shapland's sterling efforts, we have agreed to improve the presentation of the site and to make secure provision for its future management and maintenance. The key to having an even better BIAS website is however CONTENT and this is where we need new and regular contributions from you - too much has been left to Maggie in the past, so please think hard about this and get in touch with Maggie with your news items, reports, photos and opinions on IA issues of the day. No IT expertise needed - Maggie will deal with the technology.

Our next 'big issue' is relationships and collaboration with other societies, Avon Industrial Buildings Trust in particular, and we will invite some of their members to this meeting. There are currently a number of challenges for BIAS to face - but much to gain for the IA of our area if we focus properly, take some brave decisions and engage more of the experience and expertise of the society. Geoff was always strong on this message.

Stuart Burroughs March 2013

The world of Industrial Museums in changing and against the background of cuts in funding from local, regional and national organisations, the independent museum sector is flourishing in the BIAS area. The advantages of small organisations with short lines of communication, thrift and nimbleness have been added to by their ability to work together in difficult times. Better communication and working between Radstock Museum, The Museum of Bath at Work and the Saltford Brass Mill is evidence of this. While the larger, and particularly local authority funded, museums are finding things less easy, the independent museums - for whom life has never been comfortable- are prospering.

Stuart Burroughs November 2012

The question of 'authenticity' is a moot point in the field of restoration or conservation and in particular when restoring structure or machinery how, after a long life of alteration and adaption, you present it. This could be for commercial or domestic use and in the case of structures and buildings which, in order to pay for their maintenance and continuance, have to charge admission and promote themselves as attractions, the question becomes even more problematic. Since the first industrial sites and structures were opened as attractions-admitting the public-industrial archaeologists have pondered on the matter.

Take for example the case of the SS Great Britain. After its use as a passenger and parcels vessel it passed through a number of other commercial uses, finishing its commercial life as a static store in the Falkland Islands. When the vessel was returned to Bristol, the decision was taken to present the ship as it would have been during its first incarnation - as an innovative steamship with scant reference to its later uses in the interpretation or presentation at the attraction. This was done in part for reasons of convenience and in order to maximise its commercial potential along with the honourable intention to present a 19th century manufacturing marvel. There is, needless to say, no sin in this. Would paying visitors be interested in visiting a hull partly 'restored' -if that is the word- to show it as it was just prior to its return to Bristol, half derelict, stranded in the Falklands? Probably not.

The restoration proceeded - and continues to do so-with the intention of showing the vessel, in dry dock, as if ready for its maiden voyage. This may seem like an arcane and nit-picking point of view but in the process of 'restoration' much of the structure of the vessel which reflected its subsequent use was removed permanently and an idealised view of the ship's heyday presented. To be sure the SS Great Britain is a fine example of a successful compromise between realistic presentation and commercial requirement, as a safe and enjoyable environment but it reveals the extent to which historical authenticity or the presentation of the whole story, often needs to be secondary to the need to encourage the public to visit. The public who will to give up time and money, to ensure the financial stability of the organisations in whose care, these structures rest. The example of preserved railway lines is common example where such compromises exist.

Should we quibble about this? Probably not but it is worth consideration when any restoration is about to be presented to the public there should be appropriate interpretation to explain what compromises have been made so visitors have a very clear and complete idea of what they are looking at.

Stuart Burroughs August 2012

Restore Recycle Rebuild?

In Bath much debate has surrounded the recent closure of the Victoria suspension bridge, a river crossing bridge of 1836 linking the Upper and Lower Bristol Roads in Bath. The bridge was declared unsafe after a routine inspection and for a time not only was the bridge out of use but the towpath and even the river itself whilst the structure was fully investigated. In due course the deck of the bridge was supported and restricted use is now possible. The Victoria Bridge was designed by and built for James Dredge a local brewer in 1836. Almost certainly Messrs Stothert supplied the ironwork for a bridge design intended for quick and economic erection using short wrought iron bars, linked together and suspended from Bath Stone piers to support the cast iron deck. The reason for its construction, near to Dredge's brewery may have been connected with his contract to supply beer to the construction site of the Great Western Railway, passing through nearby Twerton at the time. The design of the bridge was revolutionary enough and others were built - many of which fell down- in other parts of the world. The Bath bridge is the first.

The results of the recent inspection revealed that not only were the iron elements in the structure struggling to take the existing loads but the expected footfall across the bridge when the nearby Western Riverside residential development is complete, would make use of the structure, as it stands, impossible.

A number of options were presented before Bath & North East Somerset given that the retention of the river crossing here was a priority. These included replacement of the bridge - which is a listed structure-with an entirely new footbridge, retention of the bridge out of use and replacement of the original bridge with a replica but using modern steels to take the expected loads with from the new housing development. The final option may be the most likely and it does raise a number of questions regarding the industrial heritage and issues of adaptive reuse. If the original structure is to be replaced (or at least the iron elements of it) what distinguishes it from a fabrication? Would should our response be if original buildings are knocked down and entirely new walls are put up, using material unavailable when the originals were conceived? Needless to say we live in pragmatic times and the determination of those involved to propose the original is replicated is something that we should welcome. However this is a something we must watch if we are not to have many iconic structures swept away to be replaced by complete replicas.

Geoff Sheppard March 2012

Much publicity has been given in the national press in recent months to the Government's intention to "reform the planning system in England to make it less complex and more accessible, and to promote sustainable development." A Draft National Planning Policy Framework was published in July 2011, with the consultation period closing on 17th October.

With the presumption being "designed to help turn the planning system round - from one focussed on barriers to one that prioritises opportunities", opponents of the proposals have suggested that they are a developer's charter and that the countryside will be concreted over. Interestingly, The Draft contains a section which should be of much interest to us, and which I quote in full:-

"Historic environment
The framework reaffirms protections for the historic environment and heritage. Development causing substantial harm or loss to an important heritage asset remains prohibited, unless in wholly exceptional circumstances. Similar protections should be given to unofficial sites of archaeological interest if it can be demonstrated they are of substantial significance. Local councils are encouraged to set out how they will protect and improve heritage most at risk through neglect or decay, for the enjoyment for communities now and in the future. They should have up to date evidence about the historic environment in their areas and use it to assess the significance of heritage assets and contribution they make to the environment."

We have become aware in recent years of instances where developments have been permitted in circumstances which would seem to contravene the above advice. I am discussing with our representatives on local government bodies how we could strengthen our input in such situations, but it is often difficult for them to gain sufficient background information on a particular building in the time available to them. I would ask all members to be vigilant when a development is proposed and to alert us if they feel that something significant is likely to be adversely affected.

Stuart Burroughs 2006


For all those with an interest in the history of Bristol as a working city the plans for the future of Bristol Industrial Museum will be being watched with interest. The museum has a collection of industrial material of regional and national importance built up from the 1960s. You will be aware that the plan is, as part of the redevelopment of Bristol's Harbourside, for the Industrial Museum to become the Museum of Bristol, whilst the Bristol City Museum becomes the Museum for Bristol. BIAS has been keeping a close eye on these developments as we would hope that, in the grand scheme to present the story of the development of Bristol, the fine collections of industrial material are given due regard. No one would argue that a regional centre such as Bristol deserves a good museum of its own history, and the plans for the Museum of Bristol are impressive. What we must hope is that the development of Bristol as a working city, from trading to manufacturing, to street cleaning or paper bag making, is given appropriate attention in this new development and the grittier and mundane aspects of Bristol's history are displayed. BIAS has a long history of not only providing services for its members but applying pressure and asking awkward questions ofdevelopers and local authorities. We should, if possible hope to apply pressure at Bristol to ensure the collections of industrial material relevant to Bristol are retained and displayed as well as all the other material.
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