UK’s industrial heritage under threat
In 20 years almost half of the nation’s industrial artefacts and sites could stop working or be forced to close due to lack of skills
3 May 2012
The UK’s industrial heritage is under threat as traditional skills to maintain and operate these artefacts are being lost, according to a new policy statement from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Committee John Wood said:
“The UK’s industrial heritage is often overlooked, but these artefacts are not just revealing physical links to our great industrial history – from the Industrial Revolution through to the present day - but potentially profitable projects that can generate wealth and jobs to local areas.
“The country’s industrial heritage is now under serious threat. The majority of these artefacts are maintained and operated by a voluntary and a largely ageing workforce with scarce resources.
“This means there are limited resources to transfer skills as well as to meet increasingly stringent health and safety legislation.
“We need to take action now to help transfer skills, so that vital techniques and practices to maintain these precious links to our industrial history aren’t lost forever.”
According to the policy statement in about 20 years about half of the nation’s industrial artefacts and sites may stop working or be forced to close due to lack of key skills needed to maintain them.
In 2010 the British heritage sector, including the country’s industrial heritage, contributed over £7.4 billion to the economy and provided more than 190,000 full-time jobs.
The Institution’s ‘Saving Britain’s Industrial Heritage’ policy statement recommends that:
- The industrial heritage sector works together to share best practice. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers would be willing, as an intermediary, to facilitate in the connectivity between societies, either in general or by specialism or issue if requested.
- National organisations act to provide advice and guidance to all industrial heritage societies on how to maintain and preserve artefacts/sites and establish best-practice guidelines. It is in the national interest that these artefacts and sites are maintained, and these organisations are best placed to help establish core values.
- The Department of Culture Media and Sport encourages the relevant national bodies to recognise the importance and potential value of the nation’s industrial heritage.
- The Institution’s membership, where possible, be encouraged to help in the preservation and maintenance of industrial heritage artefacts and sites. The academic and engineering industrial knowledge of the Institution’s 100,000 members is a valuable asset which could assist local organisations in preserving industrial heritage for the future.
To read the full policy statement visit www.imeche.org/knowledge/policy/education/policy/IndustrialHeritage
(With thanks to the IME)
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