News from A2SN

A2SN 2018  One Day Conference Cancelled

Unfortunately, after some urgent consideration in the last few days, we have had to cancel this year’s A2SN event.

After double checking the financial model we operate by, it was, very unexpectedly, not viable for the venues that were on offer. However, we anticipate that this is an unfortunate blip.

We will be holding an exciting two-day event in Glasgow during 2019.  We will let you know details as soon as the dates are finalised

Please keep checking the website for updates. The trustees of A2SN apologise for any inconvenience caused.




News for 2017

Last conference –  “Interpretations of the Past”

A2SN recently held its 2017 conference “Interpretations of the Past” at Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mill, Cromford, Derbshire.

The range of topics was our best yet and the quality of presentations, excellent. Sarah McLeod CEO of the Arkwright Society presented a super talk on developing the visitor attraction and  running Cromford Mills. Cromford Mills is the home of Sir Richard Arkwright’s first mill complex, birthplace of the modern factory system and internationally recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What happened in Cromford in the 1770’s changed the world we live in.

Julian Ball from Southampton University Library gave us a great overview of their digitisation work. Many delegates learnt a great deal from this presentation as for most of us the process of digitisation tends to be a bit of a “black art” and it was good to see and hear it demystified. A2SN Trustee, John Chillman, who has spent a lifetime working on roofs, gave us an excellent paper entitled “Sheltering the Assets – A brief history of roofs”

Doreen Buxton, an Arkwright Society volunteer looked at the ways that the work of various artists from the early period when the Mill was active had been studied and used to plot where industrial buildings and watercourses had originally been sited.  This had been necessary as after its use as as cotton mill ceased in the 19th century the buildings were used for other industrial processes such as Brewing, Laundry Work and the storage of cheese. Finally in 1922 the Cromford site was used by the Cromford Colour Works which produced colour pigments for dyes and paints. When the Colour Works closed in 1979 many thought that the destruction of the main watercourse, the erection of later buildings and the contamination of the site had denigrated its historical importance and  would mean that demolition was the only option. However The Arkwright Society purchased the site, cleared the modern building and undertook site historical and archaeological research, including the work on contemporary scenes by artists that revealed the true value of the site  The work by the Society led to an upgrading of the listing to Grade I status and it is now part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

Dr Cath Feely of the History Department at the University of Derby and one of her students, Zoe Crew, lead us through an undergraduate archivally based digital exhibition project entitled “Exploring the Slum”. They explained that in early nineteenth-century Britain the unprecedented rapid growth of industrial cities, and concerns about disease and squalor, led to heightened anxieties about possible revolution. The creation of “Exploring the Slum” leads undergraduates to examine the ways in which a variety of ‘social investigators’ attempted to explore, explain and contain urban poverty. The students look at how poverty was depicted by a whole range of officials, social reformers, public health advocates, philanthropists, investigative journalists, authors and artists. Exploring the Slum provides a vehicle for students to explore how the urban ‘slum’ became the battleground for fierce debates about class, gender and national identity, as well as placing their work on an internationally accessible platform via the Internet.

Exploring the Slum was created by students on the Level 6 (3rd year) module ‘Exploring the Slum: The Politics of Poverty in Britain’, taught as part of the History Programme at the University of Derby. The module draws heavily on the excellent range of digital resources available for the study of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century society and culture, including newspapers, pamphlets, statistics and digitised archives. Student groups were given a theme to consider and within that students chose primary sources to write about to highlight that theme. Some students also had the chance to physically go to the archives and work on the original documents. The students also worked together as a team to create an introductory page for each theme to make their exhibition sections coherent.

Abby Mathews from Sutton Archives “Past on Glass” project gave an outstanding outline of this wonderful project which has just gained a second tranche of HLF funding.  She began by telling us how the original material, glass negative plates in envelopes had been saved.

From 1904-1918, 18 High Street, Sutton, South London (then Surrey) was occupied by David Knights-Whittome; ‘Photographer to the King’.  From this small shop, named ‘The Studio, Sutton’, and another premises at 24 Station Road, Epsom, Knights-Whittome produced thousands of photographs of local people, places, events and institutions as well as images of country houses, aristocratic events and the Royal Family during a seminal period in British history.  In 1918, Knights-Whittome abandoned professional photography and moved away from Sutton altogether, eventually taking up a career in local politics in Hertfordshire.  The vast collection of glass plate negatives he had produced during this period were left behind in the cellar of the shop and over time were largely forgotten.

In 1988, before the building  was demolished, the photographic legacy of this remarkable man was discovered by a member of the public and removed to the Sutton archive service.  The collection, of over 10,000 glass plate negatives,  had remained undocumented and unseen by the public for close to 100 years.  In 2014, a Heritage Lottery Fund grant enabled work on this important and endangered archive to begin and today around half of the collection has been conserved, digitised and catalogued.  A second award was granted in the summer of 2016 which will hopefully see the completion of this vital work.  Currently, work is ongoing to save, conserve and digitise the remaining glass plates which represent a lost generation of men, women and children with connection to Sutton, Epsom and the surrounding areas.  As the collection is revealed plate by plate the true historical importance of the collection to the borough is only now being revealed. The commitment shown by Abby and the Past on Glass team Archive is superb. Their activities have included loads of community outreach, volunteers working in conservation and school children on placement doing the same and even making films about the project. We were also given a flavour of the project’s blog


Dr Stephen Caunce opened the second day with a call to industrial historians to protect the past.  He spoke passionately of the preserved cotton mills and other industrial museums which were either closed or in danger of being closed because of government cuts to local authority funding.  A wake up call to us all.

Mary Smedley, a trustee of Belper North Mill Trust and a noted local historian, spoke of the industrial heritage of the Belper area. Not only was Belper a centre of the cotton industry but had been a nail making town before that. From 1776, when Jedediah Strutt built his first mill (South Mill) on the site, until the early 1990s when the English Sewing Cotton Company finally closed down the modern spinning operations in East Mill, cotton spinning was carried out on the site of Belper’s Strutt Mills; a span of over two hundred years. Strutt’s original North Mill, completed in 1786, was a timber-framed structure, at a time when fire was a major hazard for early cotton factories.  The original North Mill burned down in 1803, without insurance.  Jedediah Strutt’s son William Strutt was directly involved in designing the replacement mill, which is now home to a museum today. He pioneered a number of innovative techniques including using a ‘fire-proof’ iron-frame, instead of timber. This became a blueprint for future mill construction and in addition was a template for modern skyscraper engineering.

Rob Shorland-Ball presented an excellent paper on Cauldwell’s Mill at Rowsley, just up the valley from the World Heritage Site.  Cauldwell’s Mill is a roller flour mill and a part of the roller mill revolution. It is a unique, grade II* listed historic roller flour mill.  The present mill was built in 1874 by John Caudwell and run as a family business for over a century, though 40 years ago it was purchased by a charitable trust and is now operated by them.  Rob was able to give delegates a clear understanding of the roller flour milling process and its evolution.

Delegates were also taken to visit “The Arkwright Experience” which has been developed for the Arkwright Society. We were able to meet Sir Richard Arkwright himself in the stunning “Arkwright Experience” as CGI technology brought the great man to life. We listened, standing in the dark shell of his original mill to “him” tell of his inventions, money and espionage. Most delegates agreed with the Arkwright Society’s advertising phrase, that this is  “…a must for any visitor to the area.”

Trevor Griffin explored The Butterley Gangroad project which was initiated in 2012 and was led by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society (DAS) with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. DAS provided the overall governance for the project and a group of local residents and people interested in old railways, did the research and fieldwork.

The Butterley Gangroad sometimes known as the Crich Railway which used Iron flange rails held to gauge by stone blocks  was first used in 1793 by Benjamin Outram & Co. to bring limestone down from the mines and later quarries near Crich to the Cromford Canal at Bullbridge. From there the stone was either sold as burnt lime or transported by canal boat to the Butterley Works near Ripley where it was used in making iron products. The railway may have been the first substantial one where Outram developed his ideas that were subsequently adopted throughout Britain. It was a one of the first railways in the East Midlands, maybe the world, where a“steam locomotive” operated successfully. 

The landscape of the area is difficult for railways and the line ran steeply downhill and had sharp curves. At Fritchley the gangroad had both an embankment and a tunnel constructed by the “cut and cover” method. The project engaged Wessex Archaeology to undertake a full study of the tunnel at Fritchley to determine if the tunnel infrastructure was as old as the original railway.On completion of this work a submission was made to Guinness World Records resulting in this railway tunnel being officially recognised as the oldest in the world.

Dr Roy Edwards and Keith Harcourt, co-chairs of A2SN finished the conference by describing an AHRC funded project they had been working on entitled “John I. Thornycroft and Company and the Great War”.  The project explored the archives of the Thornycroft Company held by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, Southampton Record Office and the Classic Boat Museum on the Isle of Wight.

The Thornycroft Company in the early 1900s were world leaders in the building of fast motor boats and their Coastal Motor Boats had a major part to play during and after the war.  The company also built road lorries, supplying 5000 of the J Type, specifically designed to War Office specifications,  during the war.  Sir John I. Thornycroft’s daughter Blanche, was also discovered to have been the first woman admitted to associate membership of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects in April 1919.  Blanche had worked with Sir John and after the war continued on her own account testing and designing the lines and shapes of boat hulls at the Testing Tank Sir John had built in Bembridge.

A2SN found that Cromford Mill  is a very good venue for a conference. The railway station is in walking distance and there are a range of hotels nearby including a brand new Premier Inn in Matlock that we used, One delegate had the luxury of  a 4 poster bed at the Greyhound in Cromford!   The catering was onsite, flexible and not expensive.

Next conference –  “Interpretations of the Past”

21 & 22 April 2017


Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mills, Mill Lane, Cromford, Matlock
Derbyshire, DE4 3RQ

Front Cromford

Click here for a full size pdf 

This A2SN conference will be hosted by The Arkwright Society at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Derwent Valley Mills; the scene of major developments in the first industrial revolution.
This conference sets out to explore our understandings of the past and the methods by which we interpret them to a modern audience in educational and community contexts. As ever at A2SN conferences we will be bringing together a wide range of specialisms and interests as we seek to expand collaboration between enthusiasts, archivists, museum professionals and academics. The event aims to prompt an awareness of the diverse activities of these groups and to begin a dialogue which leads to co-operation in preserving and using archives and artefacts.
Please put the date in your diary.




Last conference –  “Shipping the Goods in more ways than one – and more” – 9 & 10 September 2016 – National Waterways Museum and Archive, Ellesmere Port 

This really exciting A2SN Conference was held on 9th and 10th September, 2016 at the National Waterways Museum and Archive, Ellesmere Port.  It explored  some of the stories behind archives and artefacts at this wonderful repository, as well as the more general narratives behind historic freight and our usual mix of other topics.

Papers included Museums and Archives: Belligerent bedfellows or cooperative colleagues”, John Benson and Margaret Harrison, “LNWR Coal Tank No 1054 – Research, Writing, Overhaul & Archaeological Dig,” by Pete Skellon, Bahamas Locomotive Society,    “The role of Bills of Lading in evidencing maritime and especially coastal trade”, John Scott, “From a drawing in the NWA archives to the Mahmoudie Canal, Egypt, via the River Shannon.” Brian Goggin,  “Exploring changes in freight at Lancashire ports via TNA” –  Jonathan Pepler”,   “Improving records through a study of their background based on artefacts and records at Ellesmere Port” –  Joseph Boughey, and  “Graces Guide – Objectives, Methods and Management”, Andrew Tweedie, Editor

We were blessed with wonderful weather which added to everyone’s enjoyment of this superb site.


National Waterways Museum. Photo Steve F. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license


Exploring Archives – A2SN in Reading

Hayley Du-Buisson, Heritage Lottery Fund Libaries and Archives Trainee with Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council gives her view of the workshop which she attended with her colleague Sophie Kembury

Sophie and I went on a trip to Reading for The Archives and Artefacts Study Network (A2SN) conference entitled ‘Exploring Archives’. A2SN was established by Keith Harcourt and Roy Edwards, as a network for like-minded people to share information, for the benefit of research and engagement.

The conference was spread across two days and held at different venues.

Day One 

The first day was held at the Museum of English Rural Life or what is affectionately known as MERL. The Museum is currently undergoing a major redevelopment and will not be fully open to the public until 2016, but the Library and Archive are still available for public use.


Guy Baxter – ‘Museum of English Rural Life, Refurbishing Collections’

Our first talk of the conference was given by Guy Baxter, who is one of the Archivists for the University of Reading and MERL.

He explained how MERL is a University Museum, which also houses the University of Reading’s Special Collection. MERL’S collection of objects, books and archives provides a comprehensive history of food, farming and the countryside.

The Grade II Listed building that houses the collection, is known as Palmer House. It was originally the home of Sir Alfred Palmer and his family, who were involved with Huntley and Palmers Biscuits. The conference took place in the former bedroom of Palmer. Before MERL took over the building, it was also a hall of residence for the University of Reading.

Ollie Douglas, the Assistant Curator of MERL, took us on a tour of the building and explained the vision for the redevelopment. The project ‘Our Country Lives’, aims to transform the views of rural heritage for a new generation.


Ollie explained how the work is being carried out around many of MERL’s largest items. As the collection contains large, farming machinery, it has been impossible to move them without incurring huge costs.


The keynote speaker of the conference, Dr Jonathan Brown, also gave a talk about MERL’s extensive archive and research, before taking us on a tour of the facilities. He is an Honorary Fellow of MERL and an expert on their engineering and photographic collections. In 2008, he was funded by the Museum Association’s Monument Fellowship to pass on his expertise and to improve access and use of the collections.


Other talks on the first day included:

  • Brian Goggin – ‘Steam, the Shannon and the Great British Breakfast: Digital and Online Archives’

With a background in economics, not history, Brian has become an expert on Irish Waterways and is currently researching steamers on the River Shannon. Brian does much of his research online and encourages Archives to make their collections accessible.

  • Keith Harcourt – ‘International Intermodal Containers – What, Where, When, Why and How?’

Keith is a transport historian, co-founder of A2SN and has much to do with the Historical Model Railway Society. His research into containers, highlighted how 90% are now built in China.

  • Catherine Taylor – ‘The Rothschild Archive and its Use in the Garden and the Wider Waddesdon Estate’

Catherine is lucky enough to work on the Waddesdon Estate near Aylesbury. The Manor was built in the style of a French Chateau and sits on beautiful grounds. The Rothschild family built, decorated and furnished Waddesdon in a decadent style, as a way to entertain. The Archives are held in a purpose-built facility on the estate, where there was once a dairy farm.

  • Dr Helen Blackman – ‘Exmoor Society Archiving Project – Setting up a volunteer run catalogue’

The Exmoor Society are a charity, who work to protect and enhance the beautiful landscape of Exmoor. They brought in Dr Helen Blackman to write a collections policy and to help establish their Archive. After a couple of years, Helen will hand over to volunteers from the group, who will continue to manage the collection.

There was also a talk by Elizabeth Trout – ‘A Virtual Tour of the Mills Archive Trust. Water, Wind etc’. The archive was established in 2002, as people were worried about the fate of milling documents. Originally, there were only 4 collections, but this has now increased to 178!

In the early evening, after our conference meal, Elizabeth kindly offered to take us to the Mills Archive, which is housed in the beautiful Watlington House. The Grade II listed building is owned by a charitable trust, who aim to help other charities and local community groups, by allowing full use of their facilities.


Day Two

The second day of the conference was held at the University of Reading, which was also open that day for prospective students. Seeing the students buzzing around brought back many memories for me, even though I went to Lancaster University. I remember it being an exciting, yet nerve-wracking time!

Our first talk of the day was by Dr Michele Blagg – ‘Gold Refining in London’. She discussed how London was the centre of the financial world in the 1800s and the families that were involved. The Rothschild family were dominant in London and it was interesting to learn how gold refining secrets were passed down through the generations.


Other talks included:

  • Hugh Feldman – ‘Researching US Post Office Department Records’

Hugh began his interest in postal history through stamp collecting. His enthusiasm continued and led to his work about the London postal service being published. His current research has led to the discovery of letters from American steamboats, with their stamps displaying the name of the sailing vessel that they were posted from.

  • Dr Wendy Freer – ‘Women and Children on the Cut’

Wendy’s talk focused on families who lived and worked on canal boats. Travelling made it impossible for the children to go to school. Missions and school boats were established for basic education, but many saw this as an interference to their way of life. As the work on the canals ‘dried up’, many of the workers went into service or factory work. It must have been difficult adapting from travelling, to staying in one place.

  • Ian Montgomery – ‘Public Record Office of Northern Ireland – Business Records in PRONI’

Based in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, PRONI has numerous business records relating to the textile industry (mostly linen) and for companies such as Harland and Wolff. It also houses a number of public records, but they are predominantly 20th century (creation of Northern Ireland 1921).

  • Robert Davison – ‘The Work of the British Transport Police History Group’

Robert worked for the British Transport Police for a number of years and is now part of the History Group, who are preserving the history of railway, dock and canal policing. They are busy trying to gather material and bringing it together to make a workable collection.

There was also a talk by Antony Penrose – ‘Creating and Running the Lee Miller Archive’. Antony Penrose is the son of Lee Miller, who was known for being a model and photographer. His father, Roland Penrose, was a Surrealist artist and the biographer of Pablo Picasso. With such interesting parents, Antony has dedicated a large part of his life to researching his parents and their artist friends. He actually started his working life as a dairy farmer, but is now a lecturer, author, photographer and the co-founder of the Lee Miller Archive.


The Lee Miller Archive began when letters, photographs and other documents were found in the attic of the farmhouse where Lee died in 1977.

Lee Miller was born in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1907. She became a successful fashion model in the 1920s and later established herself as a photographer. With the outbreak of the Second World War, she became a war correspondent for Vogue and covered events such as the Blitz, the liberation of Paris and concentration camps.

Her photographs are often cited as being the most credible images of the war, as she was not on the payroll of the Army. However, the horrors of war had a lasting effect on Lee and it is believed that she suffered from post-traumatic stress.

Antony explained how his mother never spoke of her experiences and that he had to learn stories from other people. Apparently a colleague found Lee destroying a large number of negatives and there are apparent gaps in the collection where the images have been too horrible to share. Antony explained how his mother just wanted to save enough evidence to show what happened, but could not bare the sight of some of her images.

The Archive is funded by tours of the farmhouse where the family lived, use of photographs, lectures and exhibitions. The next exhibition will be:

As you can see, the A2SN conference varied in content and style. Sophie and I were made to feel welcome and we picked up many useful contacts.

 A2SN “Exploring the Project Based Economy” at Ironbridge

By Dr David Turner

The 29th and 30th of May saw the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (Coalbrook, Shropshire) play host to the A2SN workshop ‘Exploring the Project-based Economy: Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, 1650-1900.’ What a wonderful event it was, with speakers and delegates coming from a host of locations and from many and varied backgrounds. There was resounding agreement that with such a diversity of delegates in attendance that the workshop was a testament to A2SN’s unique and rapidly developing ability to bring together volunteer-led societies, academics, archivists and museum professionals with an interest business history. Indeed, for the first time ever A2SN welcomed some guests from across the Atlantic Ocean. One of these was Professor Albert Churella from Kennesaw State University, Georgia, who was sponsored by his university to attend and is noted for having recently published The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume 1: Building an Empire, 1846-1917 (available from the University of Pennsylvania Press).

Kevin Tennent addresses the delegates

The keynote on the first day was given by Dr Kevin Tennent of The York Management School. He suggested that when enthusiasts and academics come together the exchange of ideas, viewpoints and information can greatly aid in advancing our knowledge of business history. Enthusiasts’ commendably dogged approach to researching subjects, that may occasionally seem esoteric, give the business historian a rich vein of evidence that can be put to academic use. The relationship is two-way though, and the business historian can help give the curious enthusiast a new, perhaps dispassionate understanding of their topic of interest. In essence, Kevin’s keynote summed up the spirit and the purpose of A2SN – to bring individuals interested in business history together.

The first panel session of the day was about business networks. Helen Bates’s (University of Leicester) subject was John, Second Duke of Montagu’s instigation and development of commercial enterprises between 1720 and 1750. He was responsible for the expansion of the iron ore industry in Furness and had links to other companies in the iron industry and ironmasters around the nation. John Scott of the Postal History Society then talked about the impact of the postal reforms in 1839-40, which included a reduction in the cost of post. This made mailing for commercial purposes viable for the first time, but it also led to the development of the phenomenon of junk mail.
The final session of day one featured Stephen Murfitt (University of York) who looked at the patent system and English railway technology during the Industrial Revolution. He revealed how Britain’s patent system was one of the oldest in the world, which meant that by the 1770s if you submitted a patent it had to be quite detailed to be approved . This was a system where detailed technical knowledge was vitally important. The final speaker of the day was Shane Kelleher, who is Museum Archaeologist at the host organisation of the workshop, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. The Ironbridge Gorge was for him a ‘project based landscape.’ In the eighteenth century, under the stewardship of four generations of the Darbys, the industrial landscape of area developed, with their ironworks business developing many features that can be found in modern industrial concerns.The theme of networks continued in the second session. Ivor Lewis of the Historical Model Railway Society talked about the importance of networking in the Industrial revolution (1750-1850), and how in the period problem solving was the was the cause of communication between likeminded pople. Personal status did not enter into it. He was followed by Carolyn Dougherty (University of York) who spoke on the development of engineering networks in the early railway era. Amongst her many interesting statements was that George Stephenson was behind the curve in terms of his general engineering knowledge, but his image was reinforced by his protégés so as to bolster their own standing.

Karin Dannehl

Day 2 kicked off with as session on domestic cooling pots and canal management. Karin Dannehl (University of Wolverhampton) discussed the management of Hollow Ware distribution in the early eighteenth century. For the Wolverhampton producers Bristol, London, Liverpool and Gainsborough were satellite markets, but other producers had dominance over the trade in other regions. Indeed, there was competition from Newcastle, Prescott, Ruabon and Neath. After her Lucy Lead, who works at the Wedgeood archive, presented on ‘early canal development from a land perspective’. While canals were built for private benefit, to sell them to investors they had to be promoted as having public benefits. Finally, Grahame Boyes of the Railway and Canal Historical Society discussed the business of Peak Forest Canal. It is notable that this canal entered quarrying business directly and marketed its own output; an interesting and possibly unique business model for a canal at the time.

In the second session of the day Alison Kay, Assistant Archivist at the National Railway Museum, talked on the life of Timothy Hackworth and his archive which is held at the museum. Hackworth was one of the pioneer locomotive builders of the early nineteenth century and was born only four years after George Stephenson. However, his career and work have been somewhat overshadowed by that of the Stephensons, despite his acolytes continuing to defend him after his death. Elizabeth Marsh (University of York) then talked about Joseph Dodds, the disgrace of a Pioneer of the Cleveland Iron Trade. Dodds had a very colourful career, rising to become a master of the iron industry. He was active politically, campaigning for the Liberals, and was involved in over forty public organisations. But in 1889 the dream fell apart and he fled from charges of embezzlement and fraud.

Diane Deblois and Robert Harris

Our final session of the workshop started with James Wilson (University of Glasgow) who described the Portsmouth block mills. Blocks were used in pulleys, principally in battleship rigging, and the navy developed a pioneering mill in the late-eighteenth century that used all-metal machine tools to mass produce them. At the mill the navy developed something that looked a little like modern project management to improve the operation’s efficiency, and there were production volume and cost goals. The workshop’s last speakers were Diane Deblois & Robert Harris who came all the way from United States and represented the Ephemera Society of America. They presented on the first transatlantic telegraph cable that opened in 1865 (earlier attempts had failed) and argued that it was more important to businesses in the United States than those of Britain as it allowed them to tap global markets without needing an empire.

The A2SN workshop on the 29th and 30th of May was a huge success, its purpose was more than fulfilled. By bringing volunteer-led societies, academics, archivists and museum professionals together, ideas were stimulated, knowledge was exchanged, collections were discovered and our knowledge of business history was advanced. No doubt future workshops will have the same positive outcomes and should not be missed!

A2SN wants to extend its warmest thanks to Dr Matt Thompson, Senior Curator, at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust for providing a wonderful venue and absolutely terrific support.

 A2SN “Exploring the Project Based Economy” at Ironbridge


Helen Bates, pictured above, a PhD Candidate on an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award based at  Boughton House, Northamptonshire & University of Leicester wrote the following for her supervisor, after she had spoken at the Ironbridge conference.

The Project Based Economy conference was a special conference for me.  It was the first conference I had spoken at which had invited me to participate, based purely on the content of my abstract. Although I have presented papers at other conferences, I generally knew the conference organisers who had invited me to speak due to my involvement in a particular project which was relevant to the theme of their conference. 

I delivered a paper on the commercial enterprises of the 2nd Duke of Montagu as applicable to the conference theme of ‘project based economy’.  The paper was well received and I fielded a number of questions after I delivered the presentation and also throughout the weekend.  Many people were also interested in the concept of a Collaborative Doctoral Award and I discussed this with a number of delegates.  The conference was packed full of interesting and relevant papers and they all were delivered in a very accessible and interesting way which said something about the quality of the speakers.  There are many university conferences that I have attended where the presentations are so dull or are delivered using language which is so academic that it is difficult to keep track of what the point of the paper is.   This conference made a refreshing change!

The Archives and Study Network brings together ‘enthusiasts’ generally connected to the heritage voluntary sector with academics or those working in archives and museums.  It was an ideal environment to meet other like minded individuals and there were plenty of interesting discussions all weekend about how we could work together to share our knowledge and particularly how this could be achieved through digital means.  I left the conference feeling  that I had made many links and really widened my networks.  The conference has also inspired me to think about getting involved in A2SN in a more formal way.