When I left school, and before I went to University one of the many things I realised was that all the subjects I had been taught in the classroom as entirely separate subjects – certainly in the Humanities- were in fact connected in a way which made them all part of a greater one. History, Geography (human and physical), English Literature, Economics and the even the science subjects, all seemed to share so much it seemed in adequate to consider them as entirely distinct. Similarly at University the teaching of history seemed to distinguish between Economic History, Labour History, Womens History, Landscape History which are complimentary.
When Industrial Archaeology and the study of industry and commerce was identified as a separate field of study there was an understandable need, at the outset, to distinguish it from all other sorts of archaeology and historical studies. For example those earliest exponents and writers – whilst championing the multi-disciplinary character of the ‘informed amateur industrial archaeologist’-sought to define the subject apart from say, economic history. In the same way landscape historians such as W G Hoskins sought to distinguish their definition of the ‘New Local History’ from that of antiquarians.
Surely, at heart what we in BIAS – and in all societies of industrial history- are in essence Local Historians. We are determined to define the difference of commercial activity in our geographically defined patch from other areas in this country, by researching and presenting and writing and arguing. We take into account all aspects of the landscape and its people when we do this. We are not historians of technology alone but of the people, the place, the geology, the natural history, the economics even the climate.
The subject of industrial archaeology and research is a part of a larger subject and whilst we specialise in the commercial character of our research it is the locality that covers all.