Nenthead Lead Mines Under New Stewardship

Nenthead Mines Conservation Society, a volunteer-led charity, has made a successful application to Cumbria County Council for a community asset transfer (where a building or land is transferred from public ownership to a community, voluntary or social enterprise group). The council worked closely with the society in the lead-up to the formal handover in October. The transfer follows several years in which the society acted as custodians and caretakers of the site on behalf of the council.

The transfer means that the site is now in the hands of a community group that is best placed to drive forward the conservation, management and future of the site. Nenthead Mines Conservation Society is working alongside partners including the Environment Agency and the Coal Authority, along with local groups to effectively manage and maintain the site for the benefit of the local community and for visitors. The Nenthead Mines area is a nationally significant industrial heritage site. Parts of the area are classed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the majority of the land is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) by Historic England, which provides protection against the land being redeveloped for other purposes.

Claire Driver, Cumbria County Councillor for Alston and East Fellside, said: “This is fantastic news for the society, who have been such passionate and enthusiastic caretakers of this site for a long time. To formally transfer the site to them is a milestone for the local community and the site is now in the hands of those who know best how to manage and maintain this nationally significant landscape. I am very pleased to know that the future of this important community asset is now assured, and I’d like to thank everyone involved behind the scenes to make this happen.”

Peter Jackson, Chairman of the Nenthead Mines Conservation Society Trustees, said: “Our members have put a great deal of time and resources into managing the Mines over the last few years. We are proud to be taking over the responsibility for caring for this fabulous historic site.”

Industrial Heritage Volunteer Working During the Pandemic: The North West IHN Meeting, November 2020

The second online Industrial Heritage Network meeting was held on 20th November 2020 by the North West IHN group.  15 people joined that meeting. Shane Gould of Historic England talked about current developments relating to Industrial Heritage. The current IHSO, Mike Nevell, then brought everyone up-to-date with the project and some of the impacts of COVID-19.

Mike noted that in October, 10 industrial heritage organisations in North West England received £1.21 million from the Cultural Recovery Fund. This was split into £0.41m from Arts Council England and £0.8m from Historic England. The grants were to support a variety of industrial heritage sites including the British Commercial Vehicle Museum, Catalyst, Leigh Building Preservation Trust, and the Ribble Steam Railway.

Members then discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has  impacted their work from volunteering to maintenance and visitor numbers. Only 50% of protected industrial heritage sites in England open to the public were able to re-open their doors after the first pandemic. More than 50 sites decided in July and August not to open at all during 2020. Most of these were smaller, largely volunteer-run, industrial heritage sites.

In general IHN NW members recorded no drop-off in volunteer numbers and enthusiasm, despite the first lockdown and continuing restrictions across much of the North West. Tim Kirker of the Calderdale Industrial Museum noted that although the museum was closed in the first lockdown, volunteers were keen to return once it re-opened. Anthony Pilling of the Heritage Trust for the North West also noted a strong desire by volunteers to continue to help, even during lockdown and even though some of their sites remained closed after July. Tony Nixon of Bancroft Mills also observed that whilst they were unable to open to the public after the first lockdown the entirely volunteer-run museum has continued to function with strong volunteer support. Andrew Fielding of ECOSAL commented that virtual meetings were a very useful way of staying in contact with volunteers and that such meetings were not only financially beneficial, but also reached a wider audience.

Finally, Mike Nevell noted that during the first lockdown the UK Government had issued guidelines for safe COVID-19 working by volunteers and that Historic England had issued specific guidance on adapting heritage sites for safe COVID-19 working. There is a link to the latter on the IHSO website site.

Second England COVID-19 Lockdown – Some Key Heritage Website Links

The UK Government has announced (31 October 2020) a second lockdown for England to run for four weeks from 5 November to 2 December inclusive. Museums, galleries, and and all non-essential retail venues will be required to close during this period. At the end of the period, England will return to a regional approach of Tier restrictions, based upon the latest data.

A second lockdown in England will place extra strain on the Industrial Heritage sector. Only 50% of the c. 600 protected industrial heritage monuments and museums accessible to the public in England were able to open their doors after the first lock down ended in July. Even before the second lockdown was announced many sites were already closing for their normal winter maintenance period, whilst others had chosen not to re-open until spring 2021. However, that leaves a large number of industrial heritage sites and museums that would normally be open in the autumn and winter facing another closure. Furthermore, the continued restrictions on group meetings is also putting strain on the activities, fieldwork, and research of industrial archaeology and industrial heritage volunteer groups and societies.

There are some differences from the first lockdown so its important to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations. You can read the November UK Government guidance here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november?s=0

The latest UK Government Coronovirus Advice can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

For further updates on the impact of the Second Lockdown on the wider heritage sector see the Heritage Alliance website here:

The UK Government also announced the following financial support measures for the second lockdown:

  • workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2500 a month.
  • the flexibility of the current Coronovirus Job Retention Scheme will be retained to allow employees to continue to work where they can.
  • employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible and because more businesses will need to close, they will now be asked to pay just National Insurance and Pensions contributions for their staff during the month of November.
  • the Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after the Job Retention Scheme ends.

Arts Council Announce Further £75million of Cultural Recovery Grants

On 23 Oct Arts Council England announced the awarding of a further £75 million in grants from the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. This investment will go to 35 of the country’s leading cultural organisations and venues. These grants are worth between £1 and £3 million, with just over £8m going to organisations looking after industrial heritage sites.

Four organisations who look after industrial heritage sites will receive grants in this latest round. These are:

  • the Birmingham Museums Trust (which runs the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and Sarehole Mill) (£1.87m);
  • the Black Country Living Museum Trust (a 26 acre site) (£2.55m);
  • the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (which encompasses 10 museum sites and 35 listed buildings and is at the heart of the World Heritage Site) (£1.86m);
  • and the London Transport Museum (with sites at Covenant Garden and Acton) (£1.75m).

A second round of grants over £1 million and the recipients of the £270 million loans package will be announced in the coming weeks. For further details follow this link:

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/culture-recovery-fund-further-investment-75-million

BIAG Industrial Archaeology Twitter Conference, 15 Sept 2020

The Berkshire Industrial Archaeology Group are holding a twitter conference on Tuesday 15 September 2020. This is part of the Heritage Open Day online events for 2020. This trail blazing event for local industrial archaeology groups, and HOD, starts at 4pm and runs to 7pm with seven papers on topics ranging from what is Industrial Archaeology to Berkshire’s Gas Industry. Our own Industrial Heritage Support Officer, Dr Mike Nevell, will be tweeting about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Industrial Heritage site. #BIAG20

The Programme is as follows:

  • 16.00 – I like it – tell me more: Getting into Industrial Archaeology– Jo
  • 16.15 – Saving a Revolution: Industrial Heritage and the Impact of COVID-19 – Mike
  • 16.45 – Surviving the Wrecking Ball: Industrial Buildings in Berkshire – Jo
  • 17.15 – Funiculars: The Ups and Downs of a leisure Transport Phenomenon – Victoria
  • 17.45 – Berkshire’s Gas Industry – Jo
  • 18.15 – Reading Cemetery: The Industrialisation of Death – John
  • 18.45 – The Conservation of Industrial Written Heritage – Jo

Full details here:
http://biag.org.uk/heritage-open-day-biag-twitter-conference-15-sep/

Historic England Industrial Heritage Webinars Now Online

The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, run by the Canal and River Trust.

Over the summer of 2020 Historic England ran two industrial heritage training webinars. If you missed the two industrial heritage webinars run by Historic England earlier in thee summer no need to fret! Both are now available to listen to online, along with a host of other subjects.

The first of webinar provided an initial overview of Historic England’s developing Industrial Heritage Strategy from Shane Gould (Head of Industrial Heritage Strategy, Historic England). Norman Redhead (Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service), described the work of a local authority archaeological officer in the identification, assessment and recording of industrial heritage sites through the planning process, as well as the assessment of public benefit regarding such sites. Finally, Dr Joanne O’Hara, (Somerset West and Taunton Council) considered the role of enforcement powers in tackling industrial listed buildings at risk drawing on a case study in Somerset.

In the second industrial heritage webinar Shane Gould considered in greater depth the topics and issues addressed by Historic England’s developing Industrial Heritage Strategy. These include planning & conservation, reuse, industrial sites as heritage attractions, knowledge & skills and research, whilst our own IHSO England officer, Dr Michael Nevell, provided an overview of the Industrial Heritage Support project.

Follow this link to hear both webinars: https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/training-skills/online-training/webinars/

New Culture Recovery Funds Launched

Headstocks at Blistshill, Ironbridge, July 2020

As part of the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to support cultural, arts, and heritage organisations, two major funding programmes for museums, heritage sites, and heritage organisations were launched on 29th July 2020.

1) Arts Council England – Cultural Recovery Fund
A grant fund of £500million is available to support museums which were financially sustainable before Covid-19 but are now at imminent risk of failure. The aim is to ensure that, by March 2021, successful applicants are either fully or partially reopened, or operating on a sustainable, cost efficient basis, so that they are able to reopen at a later date.
All Accredited museums and those working towards accreditation are eligible to apply. Museums can apply for a minimum of £50,000 to a maximum of £3million of funding to be spent in the period October 2020 to March 2021; no match funding is required.
Round one opens 10th August 2020 and closes for applications 12pm 21st August 2020. Round two opens 21st August 2020 and closes for applications 12pm 4th September 2020. Arts Council England expect to allocate 75% of the funding in the first round. The grants will fund costs incurred during the period October 2020 to March 2021 that enable a museum to: remain open, reopen, or partially reopen; costs to allow reduction of activity to preserve the museum; and costs to ensure value for money of a museum’s financial sustainability. For further details see here:

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding

2) Historic England in partnership with National Lottery Heritage Fund – Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
A grant fund of £88million is available to help heritage organisations or businesses cover operating costs, assess and adapt their business models, and become financially viable. This may include the costs of reopening, operating, hibernation, mothballing, or recovery costs. An additional £4 million is being used to top up other support schemes for the sector.

Applications open across England on 30th July 2020 and close on Monday 17th August 2020. There will be one round with applicants being notified by the end of September. Those eligible are: not for profit organisations managing heritage sites, venues or attractions; local authorities, universities, and other public sector bodies managing heritage sites, venues or attractions; private owners of heritage sites, venues or attractions which are normally open to the public 28 days a year or more; heritage businesses including conservators, contractors, specialists, and suppliers; and organisations that manage culturally significant assets or collections.

Organisations can apply for a minimum of £10,000 to a maximum of £3million. Grants must be spent by the end of March 2021 and the deadline for applications is 12pm on the 17th August. Further details here:

https://historicengland.org.uk/coronavirus/funding/recovery/

Museum Development Network: Supporting Your Industrial Heritage Museum

All the roughly 600 preserved industrial heritage sites usually open to the public in England were closed on 23rd March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant number are now starting to re-open, or are preparing to re-open, from heritage railways and pumping houses, to wind and water mills. Now is a good time to remind industrial heritage site owners, and those running such sites, of the free support on offer from the Museum Development network.

This is a well-established network of regional museum support groups funded by the Arts Council and local authorities, for non-national museums. Each has its own dedicated team of advisors, and these regional museum support networks offer a range of services from grants and case studies, to events lists and training: on making your museum ready for COVID-19 return for instance. Links to the relevant regional websites are below:

Museum Develpment East Midlands: https://mdem.org.uk/news/

Museum Development North East: https://museumdevelopmentne.org.uk/

Museum Development North West: https://museumdevelopmentnorthwest.wordpress.com/

Museum Development Yorkshire: https://www.museumdevelopmentyorkshire.org.uk/

Share Museums East: http://www.sharemuseumseast.org.uk/

South East Museum Development: https://southeastmuseums.org/

South Museum Development: https://southwestmuseums.org.uk/

Supporting London Museums: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/supporting-london-museums

West Midlands Museum Development: https://mdwm.org.uk/

The Long Warehouse, Ironbridge, March 2020.

Historic England Guidance on Re-Opening (Industrial) Heritage Sites

The headstocks at the Lancashire Mining Museum

On the 24th June 2020 the UK Government issued advice on re-opening the Visitor Economy from the 4th July as the COVID-19 epidemic eases. This includes advice on how safe working can be implemented whilst maintaining social distancing (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy).

With a few notable exceptions, such as some water-powered and wind-powered flour mills, all the 600 plus protected industrial heritage sites in England traditionally open to the public were closed on the 23rd March this year. After more than three months sites as diverse as the Amberley Museum, Blue Bell Railway, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and the Lancashire Mining Museum are preparing to re-open over the summer.

The Blue Bell Railway

If you are amongst the thousands of heritage sites in England preparing to reopen a heritage location to the public, including those with retail and wider visitor attractions, or you are preparing to go back to work at a historic site, Historic England has prepared this page which may be useful. Here you will find sections on:

  • guidance from the Government and other sector bodies;
  • pubs and restaurants within historic sites;
  • retail within historic buildings;
  • working safely as a heritage professional at heritage locations;
  • places of worship;
  • historic parks and gardens;
  • and industrial heritage sites

This advice should help owners and staff of historic sites, especially at the hundreds of volunteer-run industrial heritage sites in England, think through the considerations for reopening or returning to work. Please note that the considerations listed are not exhaustive and it should be also noted that they do NOT add additional requirements to the Government guidance or legislation.

Amberley Museum Receives Emergency Support Funding

South East Industrial Heritage Network member Amberley Museum (based in a former chalk quarry in Sussex) received some good news at the end of April with confirmation that it has received emergency funding from Arts Council England to meet its core costs for three months.

The museum was the venue of the inaugural South East Industrial Heritage Network meeting in July 2019. The site encompasses 36 acres and over 40 exhibits, including de Witt lime kilns (complete with railway and locomotives), as well as transport and craft galleries, and the ‘Connected Earth’ telecommunications exhibition gallery.

The limekilns at Amberley Museum

However, Amberley Museum still need help in securing the long-term future of the industrial museum and have a launched a fund raising campaign, like many other IHN members. Find out more below:

https://www.amberleymuseum.co.uk/news/help-amberley-museum-to-open-again-after-covid-19