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What Do We Mean by 'Industrial' Heritage?

The period definition for the Industrial Heritage at Risk project is 1750 to the present day with the primary focus being from the Industrial Revolution through to the onset of the First World War (also known as World War I, WWI or WW1) in 1914. This has been selected as a period in which this country was a world leader in industrialisation.

The Iron Bridge Gorge, Telford
The Iron Bridge Gorge, Telford is a World Heritage Site that includes 35 historic industrial sites, which recognises the pioneering role this area played in the development of industrialisation

Britain was the first industrial nation and the location of many pioneering industries including iron and textile manufacture, the introduction of the steam engine, and the construction of canals and railways.

This led to enormous social and economic change, the growth of towns and cities, especially in the Midlands and north of England, which laid the foundations for the modern world. 

The types of industrial sites that are being explored as part of this project are:

  • Mines and quarries - coal, lead, tin, copper, stone, etc
  • Processing and manufacture - metal industries, textile mills, glassworks, potteries, factories of all kinds, chemical production, and food and drink production (including wind and watermills)
  • Power and utilities - gas works, electricity production sites, and water and sewage works
  • Transport and communications - roads, bridges,  canals  and waterways, railways, ports, docks and harbours

These sites will be located in both rural and urban areas, and range from large-scale factories to the more humble craft-based workshops, which made a significant contribution to total manufacturing output during the period. 

It will also include a range of rural sites, such as wind and watermills, maltings and oast houses. Those associated with armament, munitions and explosives manufacture fall within the definition, whereas defensive sites are omitted.

Industrial sites that pre-date 1750 (Prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, Medieval) are excluded from the exercise for practical logistical reasons, together with the wider 18th and 19th century industrial landscape of settlement (including workers housing), recreational and institutional facilities, commercial activities and farms.

It should be noted that the focus of the project is exclusively on England.

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