Noun, (pl. legacies) an amount of money or property left to someone in a will. Something left or handed down by a predecessor. (1)
For assignment 2 it is the second half of this definition that I will be focussing on. Workington is town that thrived – for around a century - on steel-making. For reasons associated with the chemical purity of local iron had a range of blast furnaces for iron production, and some of the earliest Bessemer converters. And yet, for an incomer such as myself almost nothing obvious remains. Most of the buildings have been demolished, or absorbed into other enterprises, I have no father or uncles to tell me about the working conditions, no aunts to tell me about the effect of soot and dust on laundry and no place in the remaining working mens clubs wand pubs where steelworkers past and present can talk about work and old times. All I have are books, old photos and the few remaining physical clues, real, nostalgic or faux. Oddly, there is not even an industrial museum to capture this history – which means I will need to travel to Sheffield to photograph Workington’s last remaining Bessemer converter.
In the exploratory vein of my later Landscape projects this assignment will be an exploration of those remaining physical clues to the legacy of iron mining in Workington in particular, and to west Cumbria more generally.
For anyone interested in the history of steel manufacture in Workington you could do a lot worse than start here: http://www.banklands.com/
1: Oxford Dictionary of English; Soanes,C and Stevenson,A; Oxford University Press e-book, 2010