Heritage Digital Academy Launched

Following the success of the Heritage Digital project, the National Lottery Heritage Fund ‘Digital Skills for Heritage’ funding stream is now supporting the new Heritage Digital Academy. Dot Project has joined the Heritage Alliance, Charity Digital, Naomi Korn, and Media Trust to further the consortium’s vision of growing the heritage sector’s skills and increasing the adoption of digital through this new initiative. 

Heritage Digital Academy will provide all types of heritage organisations with the tools they need to make effective use of digital within strategic and operational planning. Over the next 12-months (2021-2022), heritage organisations will have the opportunity to work with each other and expert trainers in a number of different training cohorts, modules, events, and webinars focusing on the biggest organisational challenges shared by the sector.

Applications for the first cohorts of the Heritage Digital Academy are now open. These cohorts give you access to four modules based on some of the sectors biggest challenges. With expert trainers, live and pre-recorded sessions and private forums, you’ll also be able to continue learning in a way that suits you best and alongside like minded heritage professionals.

To learn more and keep up-to-date with Heritage Digital Academy or to sign up follow this link: https://heritage-digital.org/ 

Heritage Digital Academy

Crofton Beam Engines Boiler Repair Appeal

Crofton Beam Engines is one of a handful of sites in England which still runs its stationary beam engines on steam and still performs its original function in its original location. Built over 200 years ago it keeps the top levels of the Kennet and Avon Canal supplied with water.

The two engines and engine house are maintained by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and run by dedicated volunteers bringing a wide range of skills to keep Crofton steaming. Although entry charges meet many of their day-to-day costs, the Charity needs to fundraise to meet the cost of major repairs and projects.

The boiler at Crofton is inspected annually to make sure that it is safe to operate. A full survey was undertaken in May 2021 to identify all the work likely to be needed to enable the boiler to continue in operation for the next ten years. If the Charity is to keep the engines in steam during 2022 and beyond, then essential maintenance is needed on the boiler this winter. This will cost around £30,000 and should secure the future of the boiler for a decade. With the impact of COVID still being felt, the charity has launched an appeal to help raise these funds.

For details on how to donate follow the link here: https://www.croftonbeamengines.org/boiler-appeal-2021/

Crofton Beam Engines

Whitchurch Silk Mill ‘Keep the Wheel Turning’ Appeal

Whitchurch Silk Mill has launched a Crowdfunder appeal for £6,000 for urgent and unexpected repairs to the waterwheel that powers the site. The mill is the last example in the country of a silk mill that is still producing silk using historic machines and training highly skilled weavers to use these pieces of living history. Built in 1813, it is Britain’s oldest working silk mill and each year is visited by thousands of people who discover its role in the nation’s industrial silk revolution. 

Last restored in 2014, the eighteen months of COVID lockdown and inactivity has hastened the deterioration of many of the wooden parts of the cast-iron waterwheel. The ‘starts’ which attach the planks to the iron frame need replacing, as do the ‘floats’ which make up the paddles. Replacing the timber is a significant undertaking as each piece had to be specifically cut to fit the old wheel – no socket is identical, so each of the 90 oak starts has to be individually shaped. Similarly, each float (paddle) has to be modified to accommodate the drop-in ceiling height over time. It will also be necessary to replace the bronze bearing which supports the end of the axle of the wheel and allows it to turn freely. 

The waterwheel provides a vital insight into water power and the industrial heritage of Whitchurch, the River Test, and Hampshire. It powers the historic machines used to weave the silk fabric. To ‘keep the wheel turning’ follow this link to donate:


The water-powered Whitchurch Silk Mill

Over 90 Industrial Heritage Sites Open for Heritage Open Days 2021

The 2021 Heritage Open Days season runs from the 10th to the 19th September and this year sees the return of live visits. Billed as England’s largest festival of history and culture, every September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate this rich legacy from the past. With around 5,500 events, it’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are FREE to explore.

Established in 1994, Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days and has since grown into the country’s largest community heritage festival. Further details here: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/

There are over 90 industrial heritage sites in England offering activities from lectures and walking tours to food events and virtual experiences, or you could just walk around industrial sites that have not been open, in some cases, for 18 months. Industrial Heritage sites opening for this year’s Heritage Open Days include 21 watermills, 18 windmills, 13 textile sites, ten railway sites, eight metal working sites, and five pumping stations. These tend to be smaller industrial sites that are largely volunteer led.

So now is your opportunity to visit the world’s largest tidal mill at Home Mill in London, the only eight-sailed windmill at Heckington in Lincolnshire, take a behind the scenes tour of the workshops at the Stephenson Railway Museum in North Shields, gaze at the huge horizontal steam engine that once powered the Leigh Spinners cotton spinning mill in Leigh, Greater Manchester, or explore the buildings and machinery of the Westonzoyland Pumping Station at Bridgwater in Somerset. Or explore one of the many other industrial heritage sites available this year.

Shipshape Network Added to Industrial Heritage Networks

Since its launch in 2010, the Shipshape Network has connected historic vessel owners, skilled craftsmen, businesses, heritage organisations, training bodies and maritime enthusiasts. At the heart of the Network is the National Directory of Skills & Services which provides an online database of practitioners who have worked on boat projects of all types and size, whilst the Crew Bank and Job pages offer free advertising space for both paid and voluntary opportunities across the sector. 

Featuring more than 100 external maritime projects from across the UK, the Network also provides a dedicated web space and social media coverage to promote their activities and achievements. More details by following this link: https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/shipshape-network

The Network is divided into eight zones, encouraging local organisations and individual vessel projects to work together. Within each zone, Shipshape Hubs are being nominated by NHS-UK to act as local ambassadors who can champion their area, whilst having the infrastructure and capacity to offer support and guidance to other nearby organisations. Our current Shipshape Network Hubs include: ss Great Britain TrustLynher Rive Barge CICWindermere Jetty Museum; and the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

September 2021 COVID Update Reminder for IH Sites Ahead of Heritage Open Days

Over the summer of 2021 many of the COVID restrictions introduced last year have been lifted or altered. Below are some of the key points for those running industrial archaeology and industrial heritage sites in England to bear in mind, ahead of this year’s Heritage Open days (10-19 September: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/). Full details can be found on the UK Government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Test & Trace No Longer a Requirement

Although no longer a legal requirement in England, businesses are encouraged to display QR codes for visitors to check in using the NHS COVID app, to support Test and Trace.

Live Events 

All restrictions on live events have been removed, including restrictions on the number of attendees. There is no requirement for table service, nor restrictions on singing or dancing.


The NHS COVID Pass on the NHS app demonstrates a person’s Covid-status. The UK Government is planning that, by the end of September when all over-18s have had the chance to be double-jabbed, full vaccination will be the condition of entry to venues where large crowds gather.


The UK Government recommends a gradual return to the workplace over the summer and into autumn. Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and workers and customers who feel unwell must not attend the setting. Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and visitors to clean their hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly.


In cafes the requirements for table service and distancing between tables have been lifted.  

COVID restrictions and requirements are subject to change, so remember to check regularly the relevant sections of the UK Government’s Coronvirus webpages for the most up-to-date advice: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

IHN East Midlands Launched & Members Directory Now Live

The inaugural meeting of the Industrial Heritage Network East Midlands group took place online on the 30th July 2021. 18 people joined the meeting, representing 10 industrial heritage sites from across the region.

The current IHSO, Mike Nevell, introduced the project and talked about some of the impacts of COVID-19 since March 2020, and Shane Gould of Historic England discussed some of the wider recent strategic developments relating to Industrial Heritage. IHN East Midlands members then discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has  impacted their work from volunteering to maintenance and visitor numbers.  Several East Midlands industrial heritage sites have received Cultural Recovery Fund monies, whilst others have received financial support from several local authorities. Volunteer support amongst those attending the meeting had remained strong. However, it was noted that not all East Midlands industrial heritage sites had re-opened by the end of July 2021.

Other topics discussed included the continued restoration of several sites (such as Wingfield Station), and growing problems from climate change, Strutts Mill on the River Derwent, for instance, having been recently flooded.

The next IHN East Midlands meeting will be in early 2022, and at some stage in person. A dedicate members directory page for the IHN East Midlands is now live, elsewhere on this website. If you would like to join the IHN East Midlands, add details to the members directory page, or highlight forthcoming events, please email the IHSO.

Murgatroyd Brine Pump Open Days 18th & 19th September 2021

IHN North West Member, Middlewich Heritage, is organising two open days on 18th & 19th September at the Murgatroyd Brine Pump. As a Scheduled Monument, Murgatroyd’s brine shaft is the last of its kind. Sunk in 1889 using traditional methods – hand dug and timber lined – it is now the only surviving wild brine extraction shaft in Cheshire.

After abandonment in the 1970s and following decades of neglect the brine pump has now been restored with monies from Historic England, the National Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Association for Industrial Archaeology. It will be open to the public for the first time in September, so why not visit the last remnant of salt making in Middlewich.

More details on the site here: http://www.middlewich-heritage.org.uk

SS Freshspring Free Family Open Day 30th August 2021

IHN Cornwall & Devon member SS Freshspring is inviting the public on board for their family open day on Monday 30th August (Bank Holiday Monday) from 11.30am-4pm. The ship, moored along Landivisiau Walk, Bideford quay, will be open to the public for free with a range of children’s activities, entertainment and celebrations to mark the ship’s 75th anniversary. This event is suitable for all ages and there is no charge for entry.

During the day there will be free tours of the ship (learning all about her rich heritage), children’s activities (including rope making and knot tying), as well as a special visit from local children’s author, Anthony Burt, reading his book The Wish Fish which is based upon the Freshspring ship. These interactive reading workshops will last approximately 15 minutes and will take place at 12pm, 2pm and 3.30pm and attendees will receive a free signed copy of the book. Steam engine rides will be running along the quay for both children and adults to enjoy (with a small contribution going towards the charity). There will also be aerial act performances throughout the day.

Local charity, Way of the Wharves, who research and present the history of the wharves and surrounding area of East the Water, Bideford, will also be joining the SS Freshspring to share knowledge of the rich maritime history in North Devon.

Becca Craft, Public Engagement Officer at the Freshspring Trust says, “We are so pleased to be opening over the bank holiday weekend and can’t wait to welcome you on board for our family open day, celebrating our 75th anniversary event. We have lots planned for the day, so please pop along and see us. I always say that we are quite possibly Bideford’s best kept secret and most are unaware of SS Freshspring’s rich history, including how our chairman bought her 8 years ago for £1!”

Due to covid-19 there will still be limited numbers on board and all health and safety instructions will be given to visitors prior to boarding the ship. As well as this event, SS Freshspring is open every Sunday throughout summer (free to visit).

Digital Fundraising Advice from Charity Digital

With face-to-face fundraising events cancelled over the past 18 months, many not-for-profit organisations have turned to digital fundraising. Charity Digital’s latest e-newsletter looks at some of the strategies available to charities (and indeed other groups) for such fundraising activities.

One new innovation is Zoom’s donations button. The donations button, which is integrated into the video calling software through an app called Donations by Pledge, allows charities to turn Zoom meetings into virtual fundraisers. The app is free for all charities to use and doesn’t take a percentage of the donations. This means you can use all the money raised to deliver your charitable activities. The Pledge website says the only fees are standard credit card fees (2.9%+.30) and a $5 (£3.58) a month disbursement fee.

As Zoom has become a popular way to keep in touch during the pandemic for many industrial heritage sites this might be an easy way into virtual fundraising, since the new app gives supporters a quick and easy way to donate online. More details, and other digital fundraising strategies, can be found here: https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/how-to-fundraise-on-zoom-9056?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Digital%20Fundraising%20Newsletter

Charity Digital