Why I volunteer: Philip Jones - Museums Association

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Why I volunteer: Philip Jones

Blists Hill Blast Furnaces and Ironworks, Ironbridge
Interview by John Holt
“I try to bring to life the buildings and the static machinery so that visitors see beyond the building and the equipment and begin to understand 19th-century working life and conditions.

I was a sea-going engineer in the Merchant Navy and subsequently worked in steel works, brick and concrete works and commissioned industrial boilers. For the last 25 years of my working life, I was involved in foundries, metal preparation and granite cutting. I roamed the world giving technical support to my company’s products.

On retiring, I began studying local history and this year completed the Oxford advanced diploma in local history. At present, I am doing an Open University short course in heritage studies.

One of my projects was a catastrophic boiler explosion in Bilston in 1862. The only surviving example of this type of boiler was at Blists Hill Ironworks and the engineer allowed me to look around. He later suggested that I might like to act as guide.
I’ve met such interesting people – but I’m often surprised at how little visitors know about our industrial past, which makes it even more rewarding to provide this history lesson for them.”

For further information, contact volunteering@ironbridge.org.uk

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