On a bright Saturday in September we met at Ironbridge with a group from the Historical Metallurgy Society and the Ironbridge Young Archaeologists Club.We aimed to explore why people preserve and study industrial slag and engage with a new generation of enthusiasts for industrial archaeology.
The plan was to get some young and some ‘forever young’ enthusiasts together in the same room, to see whether we could inspire the next generation to care about industrial slag. We are certainly not the first people to suggest that enthusiasm and interest is best inspired through direct experience. However, we have been amazed by how excited people can get about our ‘unloved’ objects when they get to see them up close. This workshop was no exception and the whole team was exclaiming the beauty of the slag handling collections and taking beautiful photographs. The YAC wrote their own imagined labels which contained stories of ongoing space travel and terrifying volcanoes.
Following this they got a short guide to identifying slag and were able to put their skills to the test on a small collection from an archaeological dig which had just been brought in. They also engaged in a Q&A with a long time collector of industrial slag who had just donated his personal collection to the National Slag Collection. We heard tales of packed garages and fighting horizontal rain to find and preserve the perfect piece of slag. The team were also drawn to stories of how deposits of industrial slag continues to shape our landscape.
Finally the two groups of enthusiasts worked together to create new labels which went on show at the Science Museum Late at 30th September reaching a crowd of 4700 people!!!