Taths logoTools and Trades History Society

Historic England

In this issue, I want to tell you about something a bit different. Not titles from the distant past, but current works, with colour photos!
Historic England is the current name for the body that looks after listed buildings. It has the usual complicated history that you'd expect; suffice it to say that you may know it better as English Heritage  or the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. As part of its remit to record and explain our historic buildings, Historic England produce a wide range of publications. Their "Informed Conservation" series are brief, illustrated guide books, a bit like the well known Shire Albums, well researched by specialists. If a title goes out of print, rather than let it disappear, Historic England will sometimes make a pdf version available as a free download. I think that's a good policy – the research and production costs have been paid for, and the information is still worth having. 
There are at least four such booklets that cover areas of interest to TATHS members, available for download.  I can't include photos, for copyright reasons, but you can definitely help yourself to some legitimate pdfs from the Historic England website. 
Behind the Veneer: South Shoreditch - The furniture trade and its buildings
This guide describes and depicts the area of London which was the centre of the furniture trade from the eighteenth century through to the 1980s. Although it concentrates on the buildings, it also makes it clear how the trade was organised, as a network of specialist trades, in separate buildings and in the homes of outworkers, so that "the real assembly line ran through the streets." A chapter describes how the area depended on the nearby presence of supporting trades – it becomes clear how so many of the famous London plane makers were within a few minutes walk of many of their best customers. Readers of the Rees' book on Christopher Gabriel will recognise Horwood's map and many of the streets illustrated. 
Download it here: 
Built to Last? The buildings of the Northamptonshire boot and shoe industry
This booklet does not just document the buildings. It also gives a summary of how the trade was organised, how a boot was constructed and has a good range of historic illustrations of boot and shoe makers at work. 
Download it here: 
One Great Workshop: The buildings of the Sheffield metal trades
Here is a summary of the origins and development of the steel trades, in the area which had such natural advantages at the start that it was able to dominate the world.
The cementation method of steel making is explained, as is the crucible process. A variety of workplaces are illustrated, from an outworker's backyard shed through to some of the bigger factories. Many readers will recognise Abbeydale Hamlet, Wortley Top Forge and Kelham Island.  As in the other titles, there are some thoughtful notes on the problem of how to retain historic premises and find new uses for them – a matter of concern to many TATHS members. 
Download it here: 
The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter: An introduction and guide
Again, we see the organisation of a trade embodied in the premises in which it was carried out, from adapted dwelling houses, through small workshops to medium sized factories. There are some great illustrations and a guided walk through the quarter, which includes several excellent museums where you can get an insight into vanished working lives. 
Download it here:
Andy Tuckwell

 If you would like to make a donation to TATHS click on the donate button   DONATE   Thank you.