On the 27th of September the Forum welcomed its guest speaker Mike Bowers from Boston Spa. Mike is a retired school teacher whose lifelong interest has been the history of industry and he titled his talk Industrial Archaeology.
The basis of his talk was a selection of his slide collection taken over the last fifty years most of which featured scenes from his native Derbyshire where much of the early developments of the Industrial Revolution took place.
The first source of power was water which was exploited by the ancient Egyptians and featured in the Domesday Book and Mike’s slides featured derelict water wheels of various designs.
The textile industry began in the weavers’ cottages and the first factory as we would understand it was built by Richard Arkwright in Cromford, Derbyshire. Although Arkwright employed child labour he was a relatively benevolent employer compared with some of his contemporaries;
Arkwright provided housing for his workers and schools for their children. Early factories had armed guards to protect them from groups such as the Luddites who saw the machines taking away their jobs.
Mike’s presentation moved on to the iron industry in Shropshire and Sheffield before concentrating on the development of transport, particularly canals and wagon systems powered by fixed engines.
After questions and comments from the Forum members Mike Earle thanked Mike Bowers for a fascinating talk.