Recap of the ERIH National Meeting in Wales

41 participants attended the ERIH National Meeting in Wales on 11 January. One of the topics discussed was the resumption of the "Valleys that changed the World" Regional Route project, which had been delayed by the pandemic. In this context, attention was also drawn to the importance of the ERIH network for the region's many industrial monuments and museums. Raising more political awareness of ERIH and, where possible, increasing the involvement of Visit Wales and other Welsh Government agencies was a further objective of the meeting.

Talks are already underway, as demonstrated by the participation of the Welsh Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden. ERIH board member John Rodgers and Ruth Taylor-Davies, National Representative for Wales, presented previous efforts to implement the regional route "Valleys that changed the World". The potential of ERIH in supporting its members was the subject of the lecture "Industrial heritage - the power of networking" by ERIH Vice-President Dr Adam Hajduga.

Also speaking were Stephen Barlow, Head of Engagement at the National Lottery's Heritage Fund Wales, and Steph Mastoris, Head of Museums at Amgueddfa Cymru, a charity that incorporates seven national museums and a collections centre based in different regions of Wales, including the ERIH Anchor Points National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, World Heritage Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon and National Slate Museum World Heritage Site in Llanberis.

A number of five-minute project updates provided specific examples of local industrial monuments. The following sites were presented in detail:

  • Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery in Merthyr Tydfil, the castle-like mansion of former iron master William Crawshay II. (Anna Baker, The Cyfarthfa Foundation)
  • Hafod-Morfa Copperworks in Swansea (Paul Rees, Friends of Hafod Morfa Copperworks)
  • Blaenau Gwent, a county between Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenavon with mining remains, quarries and an ironworks (Alyson Tippings, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, and Janet Karn, Blaenau Gwent Heritage Forum)
  • ERIH member Rhondda Heritage Park in Rhondda (Darren Macey, Managing Director).

The book "Coal, Beer and Chartism: The World of Zephaniah and Joan Williams" was the subject of another five-minute lecture, given by Les James, one of the two authors and a member of the Six Points publishing house. Its focus is the Chartist political reform movement, also dubbed Britain's first independent labour movement.