Hear more from Robert as he talks about his role as volunteer heritage assistant.
As an Ancient and Medieval History Student at the University of Birmingham, I had the exciting opportunity in my second year to do a work placement to gain experience in the heritage field. Fortunately, I was granted a placement working with the Canal and River Trust Heritage Team for the West Midlands, and have been volunteering there one day a week since October. Sadly, my placement has now come to an end, giving me the opportunity to reflect on my experience.
During my time at the Trust I have conducted several important research projects into our canal heritage. Working either at my desk in Cambrian Hous,e or in the Birmingham archives, I’ve delved into the history of the Birmingham Canal Network and discovered much about our local canal heritage. My first major project was working as part of the War and Waterways campaign for Armistice Day where I produced blog posts on Troops and Transport, and War Memorials. I have just completed the exciting opportunity of producing my own Heritage Assessment on the Stirchley Two-Storey Pillbox, a rare and intriguing structure located on the side of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal that I hope will be listed by Historic England as it is worthy of preservation.
I was also able to get outside and explore stretches of our canals on numerous site visits to assess the significance of the canals heritage and how they could be developed in line with contemporary Birmingham. This was an interesting and important opportunity as sustainable development is a significant part of heritage work and it is vital to incorporate symbols of our history into the construction of a modern world.
Although having little prior interest in the canals I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working alongside them and gained a greater appreciation of these features and the access they provide to the natural environment that I will be sure to continue using in the future.
Volunteer Heritage Assistant, West Midlands
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.See more blogs from Heritage team