Heritage artefacts and buildings worldwide are under threat, with a rising number of countries seeing their heritage elements fall into disrepair due to a lack of skilled maintenance teams.
Recently, the Tasmanian government was dismayed to discover its large and valuable heritage architecture sector was falling into disrepair, with workers trained in the maintenance of these historic properties aging without passing on their unique skill set.
It is now becoming apparent that the same issue is arising in the UK, with almost half of the country’s industrial artefact sites also under threat due to the country’s lack of skilled workers.
A recent policy statement from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) outlays the threat that this holds for the UK industry. John Wood, chairman of the IME’s Engineering Heritage Committee explained that a loss of the industrial architecture and functioning artefacts would mean a loss to the country’s cultural heritage.
“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,” says Wood. “The country’s industrial heritage is now under serious threat.”
These industrial sites include Bowes Railway in the northeast, the Enfield Electricity Works in London and Friston Post Mill in the east of England.
Without skilled workers readily available, these sites are falling into disrepair, taking with them industrial history.
To combat this growing problem, the IME’s ‘saving Britain’s Industrial Heritage’ sector is taking action. In its policy statement, the organisation recommends a number of options, including specialist training for industry workers, national advice and guidance for the preservation of the artefacts and a recognition of the importance of the nation’s industrial heritage by bodies such as the Department of Culture Media and Sport.
Not only would the loss of these industrial sites mean a cultural loss to the UK, but an industrial loss for the world, especially for those who have developed modern technologies from the basic foundations laid out by these industrial forefathers.
The foundation of industry developments worldwide is at risk, and it is up to the modern industry to take on the challenge of re-learning traditional skills in order to maintain the culture of this sector.