The term ‘Industrial Archaeology’ can conjure up in people's minds an image of dirt, dereliction, grime and physical, hard work. That might have been true in the past when working conditions were not the same as today but no-one should be put off by the image.
Industrial history also embraces family history, local history and social history. It is part of our heritage and our everyday surroundings. Its remains are often very distinctive and help to define our surroundings in towns, villages and in the open countryside.
The remains of past industries are often easy to see. Large mills, maltings and engineering workshops are buildings still to be seen, mainly in our towns. Distinctive tower windmills punctuate our countryside. Many other buildings are of much smaller scale and a great many are hidden by changes which have taken place over the years.
As industrial archaeologists we are interested not only in the buildings but also in the lives of the people who built and worked within them, the processes that went on inside, the products that came out of their doors.
It's not just buildings we care about but also less obvious structures such as limekilns, windpumps and water towers; landscapes, particularly those altered by man in mines and quarries; and transport, the roads, railways and canals that helped to develop industry and its processes and provided for the needs of the workers and their families.
We take a very wide view of the term 'industry'. Perhaps employment might be a better term, as we also take an interest in defence structures and airfields, town and village planning, and agriculture.
Our role is to research this fascinating and varied history, to understand it and its role in shaping our county, the country, and, sometimes, its wider international effect. What we understand we are better able to promote, to use, to educate and to lobby to protect.