Sir Neil Cossons
Right In the same Bath
Steel Works, steam hammers, developed by James Nasmyth in 1842 and now powered by compressed air, are operated by a team of three – a 'first hand' or 'cod', a 'hammer driver'
and a 'furnace man'. Photo: English Heritage eft Iron tools ready for use at Bath Steel Works, Sheffield. Photo: English Heritage heritage tourism. The ERIH initiative has established a pan-European network of 60 ‘anchor sites’, recognised as places that illustrate some key aspect of industrial archaeology; these are linked to smaller industrial heritage sites, so-called ‘key sites’, to form regional or thematic routes illustrating, for example, the silk industry or the mining industry of a region, so that selfguided tourists can decide how far into the detail they wish to go.
If the mind boggles at the idea of tourism based on ‘textile manufacturing’ or the ‘service and leisure industry’, or ‘transport and communication’, you might just be underestimating the appeal of relict mines, mills and machines:
like family history or battlefield tours, people seem to relate much more closely to the recent past and to that past that touches on the memories of the living.
In a recent BBC poll, listeners to a Radio 4 programme decided that conserving Chatterley Whitfield coal mine was more deserving of taxpayers’ money than buying Poussin’s Seven Sacrament paintings; and Scottish voters put Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange, Midlothian, home to the Scottish Mining Museum, at the top of a Treasured Places poll run by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, beating more famous landmarks, such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, Rosslyn Chapel and the Neolithic village of Skara Brae. All this suggests that Sir Neil Cossons, with his passionate advocacy of industrial archaeology and his love of railways, is more in tune with the popular zeitgeist than one might guess.
ca ir Neil Cossons After reading Geography at Liverpool University, Neil Cossons pursued a curatorial career in museums from 1961, being appointed Deputy Director of the City of Liverpool Museums, then first Director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (1971), Director of the National Maritime Museum Greenwich (1983) and of the Science Museum (1986 to 2000). Having served as an English Heritage Commissioner from 1989 to 1995, he served as Chairman from 2000 to 2007. Created an OBE in 1982, he was knighted in 1994. Having been involved in industrial archaeology throughout his career, he is a founder member of the Association for Industrial Archaeology and founder of TICCIH (The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage).