Adapting to New Communication Forms in the Age of COVID-19: London IHN meeting, October 2020

As announced in the summer of 2020, the Industrial Heritage Network meetings have gone online. The first online meeting was held on 25th October 2020 by the IHN London group.  18 people joined that meeting and the current IHSO, Michael Nevell, brought everyone up-to-date with the project and some of the impacts of COVID-19. Shane Gould of Historic England and Helen O’Hara of London Museum Development talked about current developments relating to Industrial Heritage and resources available to London-based groups.

Mike noted that in October, 18 industrial heritage organisations in London & the South East received £4.67 million from the Cultural Recovery Fund. This was split into £1.32m from Arts Council England and £3.35m from Historic England. The grants were to support a variety of industrial heritage sites including the Kent & East Sussex Railway, London Transport Museum, and Waltham Abbey. Members then discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has  impacted their work from volunteering to maintenance and visitor numbers. 

One of the themes to emerge from the two hour meeting was the role of new online communication and interaction, this being the first IHN to meet online via the ZOOM platform. As part of this discussion, Oliver Pearcy from the London Museum of Water and Steam noted that they had been using an online booking system for visitors post-lockdown. Martin Wicks from the Kempton Steam Museum reported that they had been using an Instagram account to reach out and engage with members of the public. And Mary Mills of the Greenwich Industrial Historical Group noted that they had used a variety of online forms of communication during lockdown which had produced a good response from members and non-members. There was also some debate about the value of online meetings versus in person, experiential, meetings, many people noting that the two serve slightly different purposes and audiences.

With that in mind, the next IHN London meeting, online, will be in 2021. Hopefully an in-person meeting with remote access, will follow later in 2021.

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