BSAP Celebration in House of Commons
All images © Teesside University
On Tuesday 15th February 2011, the British Steel Archive Project held its final celebration event in the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons. Joan (Project Manager), Jenny (Community Engagement Manager) and Simon (Archivist) were all there to tell people about the project and its achievements.
Kindly sponsored by Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, the event was well supported. About 45 people attended from across the Heritage & Education sectors, from Archives and Museums, Professional Associations, Central and Local Government and some of the funding organsations which supported the project such as Tata Steel (Corus), Community Union, Teesside Archives and Teesside University.
Tom Blenkinsop MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland opened the event with a personal welcome to everyone and a reminder of how important iron and steelmaking has been for the people of Teesside, including one of his own ancestors who came to the region to work in the industry. Tom talked about the recent 'Save Our Steel' campaign to save the Blast Furnace at Redcar and how he had met many men and women around the region who had worked in the industry. He emphasised the need to protect records like these so that future generations could learn more about the people who made the industry great.
Councillor Charlie Rooney (Middlesbrough BC), in his capacity as Chair of the Joint Archives Committee for Teesside Archives, spoke of the benefits the project had brought to Teesside Archives, such as the electronic catalogue facility and the volunteering programme. These benefits will help Teesside Archives offer an enhanced service to the four boroughs of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Redcar & Cleveland in the future, as well as reaching a much wider audience through the internet.
Lord Sawyer of Darlington, Chancellor of Teesside University, said a few words about how important it was to have access to records about working conditions and working lives and how he had enjoyed learning more about what had been found in the British Steel Collection during the project. He mentioned the artwork of Viva Talbot, who produced woodblock prints of industrial scenes in the 1930s.
The Vice Chancellor of Teesside University, Professor Graham Henderson CBE, emphasised the importance of the partnership between Teesside Archives and Teesside University. The Project Team had not only worked together to protect and enhance access to an significant industrial archive, but also had raised awareness about the important heritage of Teesside. The University had itself recently celebrated its 80th anniversary and was very proud of its origins as Constantine College, created to provide locally-based technical education to support the iron & steel industries.
Project Manager, Dr Joan Heggie, then gave an illustrated presentation about the achievements overall, emphasising the sustainability and impact of the project via the electronic cataloguing system, the volunteer programme and the educational resources and talked of the vision for the future. Using examples of the types of documents and materials found in the British Steel Collection, such as diaries, reports, photographs, engineering plans and drawings, Joan demonstrated how these could be made relevant to modern audiences and how they also could be used to connect communities around the world to Teesside's industrial heritage.