The ABC of a heritage adviser

This New Year began for me with a new opportunity. I relinquished my role as a heritage volunteer to become a heritage adviser, covering Lizie Thomson’s maternity leave. I would like to share a few thoughts on my first months in post.

Brindley Place, Birmingham Brindley Place, Birmingham

My first few weeks already feel like the distant past. That new starter’s whirlwind of faces, systems, induction and H&S training is coloured with a sense of trepidation at all the unknowns that needed to be conquered.

The fog of mystery has begun to clear. With the guidance and support of my colleagues I have woven my way through Gateway, My Map, EAs, WIPs, WDBs, the ZQs and ZXs of SAP, and LBCs among others. It isn’t all an acronym soup, I’ve learned about functional location numbers too. I now feel sure I have absorbed the lexical particularities of locks and ladders and have a better feel for the historic bricks and mortar of the job.

I think most people who work with the Trust will agree that the best days are those that see us out and about on the waterways. I enjoy discussing design options with engineering colleagues or seeing what’s been done by our service and operations teams to safeguard the historic fabric of our infrastructure. It’s not always as solid or straightforward as one might think.

Every day is so varied and interesting

I can now better appreciate the scale of the Canal & River Trust challenge. It’s clearly routine to many people, but remains impressive. The planning, the designing, the environmental concerns and the legal and financial challenges that need to be tackled to deliver our annual programme of work is remarkable. There can’t be that many work places where every day is so varied and interesting.

A restoration and repair open dayThe bottom of a lock can be a pretty inhospitable place to work. The skill of our construction teams in maintaining the gates, locks, aqueducts and bridges is poetry and persistence in motion. I have enjoyed working with colleagues in the planning and estate teams, interacting with contractors on site, along towpaths and in their site huts.

Whether in office meetings or during canal side conversations about the use of traditional materials and modern tools, a regular exchange of views and sharing of knowledge ensures we achieve the best heritage outcomes possible.

I have found most everyone keen to ensure the valuable historic assets that are in our stewardship receive the best possible care. It’s a privilege to be in a position to contribute to that objective, even for a short length of time.

Like life and work anywhere, I’ve had a few ups and downs but life at the Trust is varied, interesting and usually on the level. My professional journey with the Trust will, I am sure, continue to provide many opportunities to learn, develop and make a small contribution to a large and worthwhile cause. I am looking forward to getting out and about more in the months ahead; to seeing the latest Works Information Packages - that’s WIPs for short - turn into reality.

Last date edited: 3 May 2016

About this blog

Heritage team

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.

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