ABOUT THE CHS
In the past the Society has arranged a regular series of exclusive visits to interesting buildings and constructions. These visits give a behind the scenes insight into fascinating buildings and refurbishment projects.
Often details of works not open to the public can be viewed and discussed. Visits have included the Albert Memorial; the rebuilding of York Minster after the fire; the Palm House at Kew Gardens; Brighton Pavilion; the 1830 Terminus of The Liverpool to Manchester Railway; Peterbrough Cathedral nave roof and painted ceiling; Kew Palace; Dr Johnson’s House; the Globe Theatre; St Paul’s Cathedral; Waltham Abbey Royal gunpowder mills; St George’s Catholic Cathedral, Southwark, George Myer’s house, Imperial War Museum, The Roman Baths in Bath, St James’s Palace and The Tate Modern.
The Society depends to a great extent on members reporting opportunites for visits, and we urgently require someone to volunteer to coordinate and organise this aspect of the society's activities. Because of their very nature, visits are often arranged at short notice.
SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES
The Society is actively engaged in promoting and convening seminars, symposia and conferences on themes relating to construction history and associated subjects such as building archaeology, repair and conservation, modern building techniques and architectural history. These are often arranged in association with other institutions and societies.
Example of recent events: Joint seminar with the Fortress Society, held at the Chatham Royal School of Military Engineering. ‘Vernacular Buildings and the Building Industry’ held in Oxford in association with University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education and The Vernacular Architecture Group. Joint Symposium with the Society of Architectural Historians ‘The Place of Technology in Architectural History’, Craft skills training in the construction industry, with particular reference to traditional crafts, technical days on stone roofing and chimneys, both jointly with the SPAB. We have also examined famous bridge failures and witnessed the influence of Irish construction workers on the British building industry.
Topics for future events include: Plastics in the building industry. The history of scaffolding and other temporary works. Mills in the Stroud area and the 2nd International congress in Cambridge on Construction History.
The Society’s Annual Lecture is given by a distinguished personage on a significant issue associated with construction history. The lecture is combined with the Society’s AGM.
PRESERVING HISTORY FOR TODAY
We live and work in, use and visit buildings created in the recent and more distant past. We view them as examples of design styles but there is more to them than just appearance. How were they built and why?
- What techniques did their builders employ?
- What materials were used?
- How much did they cost?
- What lessons can be learnt from them?
Unfortunately we know all too little about these questions because the original plans and methods of building and costs have often been lost. Refurbishment and remodeling projects would find these records of great practical value. Past techniques and materials can be applied in modern projects. But if the records do not exist, we cannot learn from them.
And what of today’s buildings and construction projects? They too will one day become part of history. Will our successors ask the same questions, and similarly be unable to answer.
The Construction History Society exists to focus the attention of the construction industry and associated professions on the importance of preserving the records of our built environment so that they are available to future historians, planners and craftsmen. As a member, you can help with this valuable task.
Today we are building for tomorrow. We should also record what we are doing and why.