This is my first report since our last AGM and I aim to continue to use this space to keep members informed of committee business and current issues that affect our society. Time spent on various committees over the years – some might say or think too much time! – has brought home to me that discussions and outcomes of meetings have a limited value if they are not passed on to the members without whom these societies would not exist. Also, meetings are enriched by feedback or opinions from members, so please make these reports part of a dialogue by passing on your views to me or my colleagues.
My last column finished by stressing the need to rebuild the committee owing to the retirement of officers who had given long and valuable service to BIAS and I am delighted to refer you to BIAS Business in this issue where you will see that we have now filled the key roles of treasurer and secretary. David Clarke, a newcomer to the area, has bravely taken over on finance and his experience will benefit us greatly here. We did not appoint a secretary at our AGM but Stuart Burroughs has now agreed to take on this role to keep us ‘up and running’ in this respect. Members will know of Stuart’s major contribution as BIAS chair in recent years and his offer to take on this job deserves both applause and gratitude. My only concern as regards our succession plan is the absence of a vice chair. This is an important post, not for workload if the chair does his job properly, but as preparation for leadership of the society when the chair retires – in this case, in less than a year’s time.
At the first meeting of our new committee in early May we focused on the change of personnel and our agenda for the coming year. We agreed that implementation of the outcomes of last year’s discussions should take up most of the time that was available after the day-to-day running of the society had been attended to. The Gazetteer is mentioned elsewhere in this bulletin and is in need of your help, so please assist us in moving this one forward. I’m convinced that partnership working will be essential in meeting the needs of IA and industrial heritage in our area over the coming years and BIAS and AIBT have now agreed a constitution and terms of reference for an ‘umbrella body’ or steering group called Avon Industrial Heritage. At our next meeting we will plan the first meeting to take this initiative forward.
As regards strictly BIAS business, we wish to start the ‘digitisation’ programme as soon as possible and begin by putting the earliest BIAS Journals online together with some related source material. Dr Ray Wilson of the Gloucestershire IA Society has offered to assist us and BIAS members can sample the benefits of his work in this respect by visiting their website. As the BIAS material has been in the public domain for some time I have been advised that there should be few problems in making it available in this form. I do, however, wish to make our intentions clear to the contributors to past journals and to respect any objections that they might have in respect of creating digital versions of text or illustrations. Some authors will no longer be with us, so I would ask all members who have access to a computer to visit the BIAS website, select ‘Journal’ and check the contents listed for the first ten issues. If you were a contributor to issues 1-10, please contact me ASAP if you have any problem with this initiative. It would also be helpful if current BIAS members could contact any of the authors (or their relatives if they are no longer alive) who will not be able to see this message – I’m sure you will know some of the early contributors (or have their contact details) if they were never members of BIAS or have long since resigned their membership. Please also contact me if you see any other problems that might arise with this project.
In the meantime, enjoy the summer and the BIAS visits – not forgetting a stroll to ‘Brunel’s Other Bridge’ which will be included in Bristol’s impressive ‘Doors Open Day’ on 13 September, next