Introduction to Issue 15
Historic England Regional Directors Emily Gee and Rebecca Barrett introduce Issue 15 of Historic England Research digital magazine. This features some highlights of research from the South East and South West regions and from below the waves off their adjacent coasts, along with an Archive project that is national in scope.
The last issue of Historic England Research focused on our work in Heritage Action Zones (HAZs) and other priority places, urban and rural.
We continue that theme in the first two articles of this issue, looking at two HAZs in the South East, Ramsgate and Gosport.
Geraint Franklin describes the colourful past and rich heritage of Ramsgate as a seaside resort and how a range of complementary research initiatives in the town have informed a wider programme of work in the HAZ carried out in partnership with Thanet District Council and other local partners. This includes expert advice through listing, and to owners of heritage assets alongside the provision of targeted grant-aid. The results of the research are brought together in a beautiful new book Ramsgate: The town and its seaside heritage.
Also on the coast, Gosport has a very different past with the town’s military and naval history contributing much to its present-day character, as Olaf Bayer and Wayne Cocroft explain. Among various new discoveries and reinterpretations, archaeological investigation work has shed new light on the extensive Stokes Bay Lines which were constructed in the 1860s and subsequently substantially levelled in the 1950s.
Continuing the maritime theme in the South East, Antony Firth and Tim Dapling report on research by the Sussex Inshore Fishing and Conservation Authority (IFCA) for Historic England to better understand the connection between ‘fishermen’s fasteners’, features on the seabed that traditionally get snagged in fishing nets, and wreck or aircraft crash sites on the sea floor.
Moving to the South West, a companion article co-authored by Antony Firth explores work with the local IFCA and marine ecologists from the University of Plymouth to examine the relationship between underwater heritage sites and marine habitats in the waters around the Isles of Scilly.
Also in the South West, but back on land, Olaf Bayer with Andy Simmonds and Ken Welsh from Oxford Archaeology tell the story of Emmets Post, a small Early Bronze Age barrow on Dartmoor. The site forms part of a wider archaeological landscape and was excavated in 2014 in advance of china clay quarry expansion.
Lastly in this issue, Tony Presland describes the John Laing Collection held by the Historic England Archive and its remarkable collection of images that record major twentieth century construction projects, particularly those of the post-war era such as the M1 motorway. The scanning of 10,000 images from the collection as part of our ‘Breaking New Ground’ project has captured the attention of the media and highlights the huge potential of the Historic England Archive as a major research resource. Indeed the Laing collection forms the subject of Tony’s PhD.
Director of London and South East Region at Historic England
Emily has worked for Historic England and its predecessors since 2001, before her current role including as Head of Listing and London Planning Director. Emily has published on Victorian and Edwardian housing for working women and on listing, including post-war buildings and diversity.
Director of South West Region at Historic England
Becky is Regional Director for the South West. She took up the role in February 2019, having spent five years looking after the heritage at risk programme in London. Prior to joining Historic England, Becky worked in various planning, heritage and urban design roles in private practice.