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Industrial archaeology tutor retires after 38 years

Joan Day, recently retired tutor in industrial archaeology

Joan Day, recently retired tutor in industrial archaeology

8 April 2008

An expert on the history of local industries who tutored at the University of Bristol for 38 years has retired at the age of 80.

Joan Day, a housewife with no technical training, attended the University’s first series of lectures on industrial archaeology in 1964 and was inspired to carry out her own research. She found elderly residents who remembered their work at the Keynsham and Saltford brass mills, scoured record offices and reference libraries and investigated the techniques of brass. Her inquiries into the development of the industry took her all over England and to parts of Europe. In 1970, Joan and her late husband, Roy, took over responsibility for the University’s industrial archaeology course.

Joan and Roy were instrumental in setting up and running the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society and were important contributors to its journal.

Joan also wrote two books – Bristol Brass: The History of the Industry and A Guide to the Industrial Heritage of Avon. From the 1980s, Joan and Roy were involved in the campaign to prevent the development of the structure of Saltford Brass Mill, later joining the group working to conserve the building and open it to the public.

Maggie Shapland, one of Joan’s students, said: “I first started going to her lectures in 2002, and have been down a stone mine, heard about mill restoration, clock restoration, beer and cider manufacture, Bristol paddle steamers, ochre mines, Roman roads, canals, mining, eel trapping, the Brabazon, Brunel’s Paddington, Concorde, millstones, tar distillation, balloon history and John Cowlin – among other things!”

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