Welcome to the Industrial Heritage Network SOUTH WEST (IHNSW) page!
Our inaugural meeting took place at the Museum of Bath at Work on the 19th March. Take a look at the agenda here
Our next meeting will be held at the Westonzoyland Pumping Station on the 16th September – watch the space for more details!
The Avon Industrial Buildings Trust (AIBT) was formed in 1980 to promote the conservation of industrial monuments in what was then the County of Avon. It normally works with partners, such as local councils and other heritage organisations, on its projects, and aims to hand over the long term running of the sites to local groups. Past projects include the restoration of the Midford Aqueduct, and its current ones include the conservation of the buildings at the Brandy Bottom Colliery near Pucklechurch (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), and the restoration of Brunel’s Grade 2*-listed swivel bridge at the entrance to Bristol docks.
Since 1999, the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection’s mission has been to tell the story of flight, flight testing and those who served or are related to the site. In 2012, after many years in the HAS on the base, we moved to Old Sarum Airfield to occupy the former Royal Flying Corps-built hangars where the Collection’s current exhibits are on display. Our ethos is for the airframes and cockpits to not be behind a rope and cordon, but for people to get up and inside them and experience aircraft first hand – almost all of them have ground power available for that added touch of realism.
Claverton Pumping Station is a water wheel powered beam pump built in 1812 to supply water from the River Avon to the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath. It was designed and built by the Canals Engineer John Rennie. The height of lift is 48 feet (14.6meters) and the pump worked until 1952 when some gear teeth failed. Restoration started in 1968 by Bath University students and the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust completing in 1977. Today the site is owned by the Canal & River Trust but maintained and operated by a group of dedicated volunteers, and it is regularly opened and run for public demonstrations.
Clifton Rocks Railway was a hydraulic lift service linking Clifton to transport systems in Hotwells. It operated between 1893 and 1934 and is the only cliff railway in the world to have four sets of tracks in a tunnel. The tunnel is a superb example of Victorian engineering with original railway features still in place. During the wartime, it served as a bomb shelter, was used by Imperial Airways barrage balloon squadron and by the BBC for transmitting, entailing building walls on top of tracks. In 2008, local volunteers formed a charitable trust to conserve the railway. Artefacts from both periods found. All funding from donations.
Located in a beautiful village, this fascinating museum is a vintage day out for the whole family to enjoy. Full of motoring memorabilia, the seven galleries are a nostalgic journey through the 20th century. The museum is bulging with great cars, quaint caravans, curiosities, enamel signs and an enchanting toy collection the envy of every child (large or small!). Also, home to BBC TV’s little super hero car, Brum, who can be found here every day.
Dean Heritage Centre is one of Gloucestershire’s leading family attractions. Set amongst five acres of stunning scenery, the centre preserves the unique heritage of the Forest of Dean. There are a wide range of things to discover including a Victorian cottage, a Charcoal Burners Camp, a woodland trail, a craft hut and much more! As the Forest of Dean was a major centre of industry for hundreds of years, Dean Heritage Centre’s displays explore iron mining and production, coal mining, free mining, forestry, transport, charcoal burning, quarrying and other trades and industries. Displays include a beam engine, a waterwheel, wagons, tram rails, tools and photographs of the people who worked in these industries.
We visited Portland Harbour and the breakwater again last year. It is a spectacular example of Victorian engineering which involved four eminent engineers in its construction: James Meadows Rendel, Sir John Coode, John Towlerton Leather and Edward Pease Smith. Along with seven lectures during the winter season, DIAS has four field trips during the summer and although, Dorset is considered an agriculturally based county, DIAS endeavours to keep alive its industrial past. Bridport still has its thriving net and rope industry, the Winfrith Atomic Energy Research Establishment was one of the original installations in the UK’s network and Portland stone quarries need no introduction.
Opened by HRH The Duke of York in 1989 The Helicopter Museum is celebrating its 30th Anniversary and houses a unique collection of rare aircraft, many of which enjoy top benchmark status on the National Aviation Heritage Register. This is the only helicopter collection in the country and the largest of its kind in the World! The Museum has over 90 full size aircraft on display ranging from an impressive Russian gunship to a massive Super Frelon 36 seat helicopter, and from the Queens own helicopters to the veterans of the Vietnam conflict. Also on display is the worlds oldest helicopter, the current world speed record holder and a selection of unusual gyrocopters.
The Gloucestershire Aviation Collection, known as Jet Age Museum, is a registered charity with about 500 members. The organisation has a unique collection of aircraft and artefacts charting the region’s aeronautical heritage. Fundraising activities reached a target of around £300,000 by early 2013, enabling the build of the first phase of the Museum’s permanent home. The organisation is staffed entirely by volunteers giving their time to share a passion for aviation with our visitors or in supporting roles behind the scenes. The long-term project is to provide a new engineering workshop, additional archive, display space, a classroom and audio-visual theatre.
The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust is the charity that saved the Kennet & Avon Canal which runs from Bristol to Reading. Now we work to protect, enhance and promote Britain’s best waterway. Formed in 1962 (having been an association since 1951) The Trust’s volunteers were finally rewarded when HM the Queen re-opened the canal in 1990. As well as owning and demonstrating the historic pumping station at Crofton, the Trust operates trip and hire boats including offering affordable canal holidays to disabled and disadvantaged people and their carers, and a community narrowboat for hire to scouts and similar groups.
Originally formed as the Dowty Railway Preservation Society, the “NGR” is an independent non-profit making organisation running a 2’ narrow gauge railway within the site of the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway complex at Toddington. The railway operates on most weekends throughout the summer, and also on Wednesdays in August. The railway has just over 0.5 mile of track, serviced by 4 steam engines and 2 diesel locomotives. It also restores, maintains and runs a variety of rolling stock, and houses a collection of local railway memorabilia. The track is controlled by an operational ex Midland Railway signal box, transferred from Gloucester in the 1980s.
Radstock Museum is located in a Grade II listed former Market Hall. The displays represent the industrial and social history of the Somerset Coalfield where coal has been worked for many centuries growing significantly during the 19th century to reach its peak in the early 20th century. Artefacts and other items, many donated by local people, are at the heart of the collection. Also on display are models and memorabilia from the S&D and GWR railway lines which ran through Radstock, and other significant local industries such as printing, iron foundries, as well as a miner’s cottage, school and Co-Op shop of the period.
Saltford Brass Mill is a Grade II* listed building and scheduled monument located on the River Avon mid-way between Bath and Bristol. The site is connected to Kelston Weir by a leat which supplies four watercourses, each of which supported a waterwheel driving either a set of battery hammers or a set of rolls. The mill was operational as a brass mill from 1721 to 1925. Following attempts to redevelop the site, the mill was listed Grade II* in 1975 and scheduled in 1986. The mill is maintained and opened to public by a voluntary organisation – the Saltford Brass Mill Project.
Trowbridge Museum tells the story of the development of the town from its Saxon origins to the present day and how the local woollen trade turned Trowbridge from being a small market town into an industrial powerhouse, and the largest town in Wiltshire in the C19th. The Museum includes static examples of machinery, such as looms, spinning mules, teasel gigs and one of only 5 spinning jennies – all connected with the technological development and industrialization of the woollen trade in the C18th and C19th. The Museum is currently closed for a major HLF funded expansion and development project.
Located at the picturesque western end of Bristol’s historic Floating Harbour, the Underfall Yard is a working boatyard that welcomes visitors. There is an ever-changing landscape of boats to enjoy thanks to the traditional and modern maritime businesses that call the yard home. The Visitor Centre explores the fascinating story of the large-scale Georgian engineering that created the Harbour and remains essential to water management, and the Yard’s 1907 hydraulic pumps and accumulator are demonstrated on Wednesdays and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Guided tours explore the explore the site and include visits to the Victorian workshop and Sluice Room.
The Water Supply Museum is integrated into the still operational pumping station. Opened in 1989 it features the 1856 Turbine House which is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, together with the 1857 reaction turbine pump, manufactured by D. Cook & Co. The museum is one of Wessex Water’s nine education centres and is open to groups by appointment. It has been a long supporter of Dorset’s Architectural Heritage Week. During the ‘steam period’, 1869 to 1958 six steam engines saw service. The last to be installed, a 1934 Hathom Davey triple expansion engine, was donated to The Internal Fire Museum of Power in 2017.
The WSSRT is a charitable company with three broad objectives: preserving, interpreting and curating all heritage assets owned by the Trust; restoring, displaying and operating heritage carriages owned by the Trust on the West Somerset Railway; managing the museums at Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor. The Trust was awarded a Heritage Lottery grant to encourage and engage with visitors through interpretation about the impact of the railway in Somerset, and the West Somerset Railway corridor in particular. The Trust also engages with the next generation through the STEM subjects, as well as history, geography and economics.
The Westonzoyland Pumping Station is the earliest land drainage pumping station on the Somerset Levels. An Act of Parliament of 1830 allowed the establishment of a steam pump to drain the Weston Level, the area of land to the southwest of the Sowey Island on which Westonzoyland sits. The original building houses the replacement steam engine of 1861 and the site is host to a collection of working engines, once powering some of Somerset’s industries. There is also a short narrow-gauge railway, running on days when the engines are in steam. The site is entirely run by voluntary support.
As well as its award-winning prehistoric gallery ‘Gold from the time of Stonehenge’ the Museum has galleries devoted to Devizes. These feature items used or manufactured by the industries and trades of the town and stories of local firms. The Museum has an extensive Archive and Library with much of industrial interest and has a large reserve agricultural collection, formerly displayed at Avebury Great Barn and Lackham. The Collections can be searched through the museum website. The Society’s Industrial Archaeology Committee organises an annual conference and acts as a focus for IA matters in the County.
Yeovil Railway Centre (BA22 9UU) is situated adjacent to Yeovil Junction Station on London Waterloo to Exeter main line. The two major pieces of historical interest (Grade II listed) are: Transfer Shed built in 1864 by Great Western Railway to facilitate the transfer of goods from Broad Gauge wagons (7ft 0¼) to Standard (or Narrow) gauge (4ft 8½). Only three Transfer Sheds still exist – all of different designs. Now in use as our Visitor Centre; and the Turntable – installed by Southern Railway in 1947. Still in use when main line steam engines are on site and demonstrated during open days.