Britain’s Industrial Heritage draws us to historic sites in our millions every year. There
seems to be no limit to our fascination with working cotton mills, preserved coal mines,
steam railways, and the thousand-and-one other evocative reminders of the country’s
It was not always like this. As recently as the 1960s, at the same time as Dr Beeching was
promising that steam trains would never again run on British railway lines, much of the
country’s rich industrial heritage was simply rotting away.
Canals had been all but
abandoned, hundreds of textile mills across the country stood empty and crumbling, and
abandoned ironworks, corn mills, pumping stations and airfields were all suffering
similarly. Except for a few dedicated enthusiasts, visiting them was not yet really part of
Fifty years on, many of these sites are abandoned no more. Many of them have been
transformed into award-winning museums where we can connect with the working lives
and the living conditions of our ancestors. Through these precious survivals, John
Hannavy weaves the thread of the country’s industrial story.
A century ago, the market for picture postcards of industrial sites was even greater than
it is today. Every industrial town worth its salt would have dozens, if not hundreds of
different postcards on sale, covering every aspect of the working lives of its community.
Several of these colorful and fascinating postcards are used alongside the author’s own
original photography to illustrate the story of working Britain over the last 300 years.
The author focuses on the golden-age of British industry, from the eighteenth to the
twenty-first centuries. Featuring canals, mining, iron and steel, railways, shipbuilding and
shipping, manufacturing, and road transport, and with a comprehensive gazetteer of the
principal sites open to the public, this handy-sized pocket guide is the ideal companion in
exploring the rich heritage of Britain’s glorious industrial past.
John Hannavy is a writer, photographer and photographic historian. Until retirement he was Professor
in Photography and Photographic History at the University of Bolton. This is his 42nd book, following his
earlier works for Halsgrove: Preserved Steam-Powered Machines, Edwardian Mining in Old Postcards
and The Once-Ubiquitous Paddle Steamer.
Imprint: PiXZ Books. ISBN 978 0 85710 093 1, hardback, 210x148mm, 144 pages. Published March 2015.