English Heritage is embarking on a project to find out how much of South Yorkshire’s industrial heritage is at risk.
Much of it is in danger of neglect, decay or even demolition – and a debate about what needs saving and how, is now being raised.
It will reveal the results of its Industrial Heritage At Risk research, including what the public think, in October this year at the launch of the annual English Heritage Heritage At Risk Register.
The region was a cradle of the Industrial Revolution.
South Yorkshire’s astonishing legacy includes metal trades buildings like Joel’s Forge, Well Meadow Street – which dates to the 1840s – and the 18th century Shepherd Wheel, a former water-powered grinding workshop, both in Sheffield, along with historic iron works at Wortley Low Forge, Barnsley.
Neil Redfern, Planning Team Leader with English Heritage, said: “The period from 1750 to the First World War shaped the region’s place in the world and laid the foundations of the modern age in which new forms of industry have emerged.
“But much of this industrial heritage is now at risk and the current economic climate isn’t helping.
“Owners are finding it hard to look after the needs of their buildings as well as their businesses.
“Developers are cautious about taking on vacant industrial buildings, and both public bodies and regeneration agencies are less able to support schemes for re-use.
“There are no easy answers, but we’re determined to see what can be done to help.
“Our industrial past is too important to ignore.”
English Heritage wants landowners, developers, local people, voluntary bodies, academics, professionals and politicians involved in debating the future of industrial heritage before it is too late.
In October, it will reveal how much of our listed or scheduled industrial heritage is at risk and what the threats are and will propose possible ways forward.
The public are being urged to visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/industrial-heritage-at-risk for more information.
Those interested can post photographs and comment on favourite industrial buildings on a Flickr group run in association with the Council for British Archaeology and the Association for Industrial Archaeology.