ERIH UK Chapter Meeting, 25th October 2017, Verdant Works, Dundee, Scotland

Verdant Works in Dundee Scotland, was the venue for the ERIH UK meeting on 25th October. Built originally as a flax mill in the 1830s, Verdant later switched to processing jute which continued until 1889 after which a variety of uses followed. In 1991 the site was bought by Dundee Heritage Trust and it opened as a museum five years later presenting the stories of Dundee’s industrial textile heritage. Verdant Works has been an ERIH Anchor Point since 2000. The meeting was well attended with delegates from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland who were welcomed to Verdant by Gill Poulter, Heritage and Exhibitions Director of Dundee Heritage Trust.

The programme for the morning session started with a presentation by Ruth Taylor-Davies about the South Wales Route of Industrial Heritage (The Valleys that Changed the World). Ruth described how this ERIH Regional Route had been revived and updated in 2015 thanks to funding from Visit Wales and support of Torfaen County Borough Council. The Route has been effective in presenting in an attractive and co-ordinated way the story of the coal mining and iron producing history of South Wales. The Route has also been successful in encouraging sites and attractions to work together to share good practice and engage in joint promotional activity. Ruth’s well-received presentation was followed by an open discussion about the opportunities and potential to create routes of industrial heritage in Scotland.

This was followed by a presentation about Crowdfunding by Paul Jennings of Dundee Heritage Trust who led the recent and successful crowdfunding initiative for the RSS Discovery Conservation Project. As well as describing the ups and downs of the funding appeal, Paul offered useful and practical tips about how to organise and run a successful crowdfunding appeal.

The final presentation of the morning was given by Shane Kelleher, Historic England’s Industrial Heritage Support Officer who is based in the Ironbridge Gorge Museums. Shane outlined the aims of his role and the variety of work that he is involved in, including, advice, support, lobbying, signposting, training, networking and much more. Shane is keen to strengthen his links with the governmental agencies involved in industrial heritage in the other home nations with a view to sharing best practice. 

After lunch, Jonathan Lloyd gave an update on recent and proposed ERIH activity both in the UK and Europe-wide. This included news that ERIH has been successful in securing funding from the EC Creative Europe Programme for 3 years from October 2017. This will enable ERIH to further develop and expand its activities and will help fund a special event to mark 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The event to be held on May 1st 2018 will be called “Work it Out” and it will take place simultaneously at ERIH sites across Europe.  The funding will also enable ERIH to run a site twinning initiative which will fund staff exchanges between ERIH member sites as a way of sharing ideas and best practice.

The day ended with a guided walking tour of historic industrial Dundee, led by Mark Watson from Historic Environment Scotland, and a guided tour of Verdant Works. On the day before the ERIH-UK meeting Mark also kindly led a fascinating tour around HES’s Stanley Mills site near Perth for delegates who had travelled to Scotland the day before the ERIH-UK meeting.

Jonathan Lloyd, ERIH Coordinator UK & Ireland

Ruth Taylor-Davies' presentation "The Valleys that Changed the World"
Shane Kelleher's presentation "Industrial Heritage Support Officer Project"
"Work it Out" - The ERIH event celebrating the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018