Monday, 25 April 2016

Industrial Archaeology

Throughout my life I have always been aware of the changes that have been imposed upon the landscape in this country since the industrial revolution. I have always had a a curious side to me that has sought to hunt out disused railway lines and roads, old quarries and mines, lime kilns, derelict watermills, old farms, barns and much more. I have also always been interested in vintage machinery which always looked fascinating without all the safety guards that now cover up all the cogs, wheels and drive belts. Perhaps I should have been an industrial archaeologist - I'd never though about that before now.

It may just be a sense of nostalgia but recently I have been acutely aware of just how much of our countryside changed as industry has developed and altered the course of our urban and rural history. Over the past half a year or so there have been significant changes to our mining and manufacturing industries with the closure of the last deep coal mine and several steel works closing or facing closure. There has been a huge shift over years away from the hard manufacturing that changed much of our countryside with the advent of railways, canals, coal mining and agricultural improvements. For the environment and the quality of our air it may well be good news, but I feel a loss of many things that built up close communities and the sense of what made this country and countryside what it is today.

Modern industry seems so uncreative when compared to that of Victorian times. On my drive to work I pass huge box like warehouses and acres of land awaiting a perfectly flat floor of concrete. We just do things so differently now and I wonder how industrial archaeologists will view us in a hundred years time? What can be deduced from a flat bed of concrete? It just isn't as interesting.

Of course we have to move on as a developed country. What I feel I am missing is the fact that so many jobs nowadays seem far removed from being outdoors and, like mine, are just office based and require hours stuck in front of a computer screen. I know I could change things but somehow my journey as yet has't taken me that way. 

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