First steps towards a great partnership – inaugural meeting of the Industrial Heritage Network South West (IHNSW)

Brilliant venue, interesting discussions and many happy faces – it was a great day yesterday at the Museum of Bath at Work!

Industrial Heritage Network South West (IHNSW) is one of the 11 regional networks currently in development across England.

Our inaugural meeting in Bath brought together many varied industrial heritage sites and organisations from all over the South West region but not including Cornwall & Devon – their inaugural meeting will take place at the King Edward Mine Museum next Thursday. The South West region covers a huge area which is why it has been split for logistical reasons to help members get to meetings easier. However, both networks will work closely together and members will be free to attend each other’s meetings in the future.

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Stuart Burroughs telling us all about the Museum of Bath at Work story
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Andrew Blayney describing the Underfall Yard’s transition from a funded project to a stand-alone business

As with the other networks’ inaugural meetings, the agenda for the day included an update from the IHSO (Industrial Heritage Support Officer), a talk from our host, a presentation from one of the members – yesterday we heard from Andrew Blayney at the Underfall Yard Trust who talked to us about transitioning from an HLF funded project to a stand-alone one – interactive group session, site tour, some discussions and plenty of networking.

The schedule was tight and there were many areas to cover. Everyone had a lot to share and discuss as a group but unfortunately there is only so much that is possible to address and go over in one day. Therefore, the bi-annual meetings are ‘instigators’ for further networking, discussions, and development of ideas. The purpose of the IHNSW, and the other Industrial Heritage Networks (IHNs) across England, is to offer peer to peer support throughout the year.

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Some hands on demonstrations during the tour of the museum
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Members enjoying the tour of the Museum of Bath at Work

Just some of the topics covered during the meeting included ensuring health and safety whilst displaying and interpreting large, often working, objects, limited space within a museum, looking for new funding opportunities, reaching and gaining new audiences and maintaining momentum gained through Heritage Lottery Funding. Future meetings will be organised around a specific theme looking at addressing current, pressing issues in more detail.

Members also talked about learning how to use social media effectively in order to grow their visitor numbers, engage volunteers and through this, increase their income. The IHSO mentioned that the next meeting of the West Midlands network will focus specifically on social media under the theme of ‘Don’t fear it, embrace it! The power of social media to promote and engage.’ This is a subject which is relevant to many members in various regions and the insights gained during the upcoming West Midlands meeting will be shared throughout the IHNs across England.

The IHNSW currently has 55 members representing 43 industrial heritage sites and organisations. The full list of member sites and organisations can be viewed on the IHNs website:

https://industrialheritagenetworks.com/ihn-south-west/

Another new network’s inaugural meeting, Industrial Heritage Network Cornwall & Devon (IHNCD), is next Thursday the 28th March followed by second meetings of the North East network on the 4th April at the Land of Oak & Iron, and the West Midlands network at the Coffin Works on the 8th April.

The inaugural meeting of the London network will take place on the 3rd May at Crossness Engines and the inaugural meeting of the South East network will be held at Amberley Museum on the 30th May.

The networks which are currently being developed include North West and Yorkshire with their inaugural meetings planned for June with East Midlands and East of England set to be established by July.

The IHSO, Joanna Turska, brings industrial heritage sites and organisations together, organises inaugural meetings, facilitates each network’s development and provides tools and resources for networks’ growth including the dedicated IHNs website for promotion, awareness and knowledge sharing:

https://industrialheritagenetworks.com/

Do subscribe to the IHNs website to stay in touch, and receive the most up to date news and stories from across the industrial heritage sector!

For more information about a network in your region, contact the IHSO on: joanna.turska@ironbridge.org.uk

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