This page is added to give prospective members an idea of some of the subjects covered by our meetings.  See the diary page for the current programme of meetings.

Thursday 3rd September 2015

Gunton Mill - 40 years of NIAS involvement with this historic Mill

NIAS has been involved with Gunton Mill in many ways over the past 40 years. From obtaining recognition of its importance and several restorations due to weather, to understanding the history and working of the mill and restoration work on the water wheels and machinery to enable the mill to run  again.

Saturday 5th September  3.30pm

Gunton Mill - Members Visit

A chance for members to visit the mill after its recent restoration, and socialise with some of the volunteers who keep the mill operating on open days.  Light Refreshments will be available  (but toilet accomodation is limited)

Afterwards those who wish can join us for a meal at Banningham Crown  (5.30 for 6) where we have made a provisional booking as a group.

Thursday  1st October

The Association for Industrial Archaeology by John Jones

NIAS is a member of the AIA, but just what is it and what does it do. John is Treasurer of AIA and he is going to tell us about some of the many aspects of the AIA, not least what individual members can get out of the organisation and its annual conference.

Thursday 5th November

From 1846 - the Story of Pank's by Peter Pank

Peter Pank has worked almost all his life in the family firm.  Over the years Pank's took over a number of other engineering companies in Norwich.

Thursday 3rd December

Annual General Meeting

After what we hope will be a short meeting refreshments, a chance to socialise and maybe a quiz or something similar.

Thursday 7th January 2016

Members night. - Our popular night, often one of the best of the year.

Short presentations from members on any IA related topic (and often some off topic as well). 5 to 20 minutes please. Contributions welcome from all members. If possible let the chairman know so he can book you a slot, otherwise we will do the best to fit you in on the night.

Thursday 4th February 2016

The Barton House Railway.  by Peter Bower

This railway originated from the 3 1/2"  gauge loco that his great-grandfather bought c. 1920 and has developed  so that BHR is now in its 52nd year.

Thursday 3rd March 2016

North Walsham and Dilham Canal 1825-2025 by Ivan Cane

Ivan Cane takes us through the story of Norfolk's only locked canal, looking at its history, construction, working life and demise.  Then he

will look at the current restoration achievements, challenges and proposals for the coming decade.  This unique Norfolk industrial artifact represents one of the later canals built in the country, and the only one engineered by John Millington.  Ivan Cane is the East Anglian Waterways Association's Archivist for the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Records.

Thursday 7th April 2016

Other Peoples Rubbish - Mick Crask

Mick gave us an insight to his bottle collecting activities in 2015 members night.  Following further work in Kings Lynn and Diss he has agreed to give us a talk; not just about the finds from the 1880s, but also the trials and tribulations of excavation in the urban context.

Thursday 5th May

The development of Great Yarmouth as a holiday resort - Ann Dunning

As Great Yarmouth developed its resort so grand hotels and houses were planned, and some built.  Attractions for visitors such as the aquarium, circus, and fun fair followed to entertain the 1000's of visitors brought to the resorts three railway stations  operated by competing railway companies.

Saturday 14th May, 1pm, Lacon’s Brewery, Main Cross Road (beach end)

A guided walk round some of Great Yarmouth’s historic resort.

We start at Lacon’s Brewery to see the impressive museum of Lacon’s material the new brewery has put together. This is a special opening by the Head Brewer, so please arrive in good time.

This meeting involves walking at least 3km., and will require care in some areas, sensible footwear essential. There will be a tea break & toilet stops. Afterwards those who wish may join us for a meal.

Saturday 11th June 2016East of England Regional Industrial Archaeological Conference

For details see pdf file

Thursday 8th September - a week later to avoid bank holiday

Behind Closed Doors

Note: please check venue closer to date it may be moved, if not on email or internet check with Mary Fewster.

A look at some of the unexpected businesses and other enterprises that operated in Norwich and Norfolk, often unnoticed in the street scene.

The records kept by the Society show us just what unexpected things could be found behind closed doors.

Thursday 6th October

Under the Parsons Nose - Chris Armstrong

Benjamin Armstrong was Vicar of Dereham for 38 years in the mid to late 19th century. His dairy has been published, the latest volume being edited by Chris Armstrong.   It provides an intriguing picture of market town life in the mid Victorian era. Armstrong was also a regular traveller to the continent and recorded his (not always complimentary) views on continental manners. His father’s London connections meant that he was presented to Queen Victoria and attended events such as the funeral of Wellington, all of which are described in the diary.

Thursday 3rd November

The History of Fork-Lift Trucks - Jeff Stirrat

This is a talk on the much overlooked workhorse of commercial and industrial life.

Thursday 5th January 2017

Members Night - Short talks from members

Our ever popular evening when members are encouraged to give short presentations (No longer than 20 minutes) on a topic loosely related to Industrial history or archaeology.  If members can let the Chairman know in advance it helps with planning the evening, or take pot luck and turn up on the night and we will try to slot you in.

Thursday 2nd February

Taking Boats Uphill - Staunches and Stanches - Ivan Cane

This talk covers staunches, stanches, half locks, flash locks, turf locks and river locks. At the end of the talk we will all know what each of these are, suffice to say that they are all ways that boats went uphill whilst rivers were kept deep enough for navigation.  Ivan's talks are excellent, often illustrated with rare images.

Thursday 2nd March

Prosperity and Poverty in the Textile Industry in Eighteenth Century Norwich - Jean Smith

The talk will look at the 'great and good' such as the Harveys who did well out of the trade, as well as the workers who were often exploited and suffered real poverty in times of depression.

Thursday 6th April

Market to Market - Mary Fewster

How were goods transported to and from market in the pre lorry age.

Thursday 4th May 2017

Understanding Norfolk Brick and Lime Kilns

Saturday 13th May 2017

A day in the Wells next Sea Area,

10.30am - Peterstone Brickworks; 1.30pm Meet at St Nicholas Church, Wells for a guided walk around the Town.

More details in the newsletter

Please let the Chairman know you intend to come.

Saturday 3rd June - 9.30am for 10am start

EERIAC Meeting, Esses -

The Annual meeting of the East Anglian Industrial Archaeology Societies -

The programme includes talks on Courtaulds in Essex, Essex Industrial Villages; visits to the Warner Textile Archive and Silver End 20th century factory village. More details with newsletter.

Thursday 7th |September 2017

Caleys before Mackintoshes - "from mineral water to chocolate with added cider" - by Philip Tolley   -   A special talk for Heritage Week

A J Caley started a mineral water business in his London Street Chemists shop in 1863, he soon expanded into premises in Bedford Street, and moved to Chapelfield in 1880. In 1883 Cocoa production started, followed by Chocolate in 1886. The firms expanded in many ways, including taking over a major Norfolk cidermaker and developing milk chocolate made the Swiss way. Under new owners in 1919 expansion took place, but recession and debt led to the 1933 sale to Mackintosh's. With new discoveries, and illustrated by rare photographs and advertisements and the speakers personal knowledge this talk gives a fascinating insight to a family business.

Friday 8th September

A repeat of the 7th September talk for ticket holders and members with guests

Thursday 5th October 2017

Memories of Berney Arms and Breydon Water and thier industries - Sheila Hutchinson

Sheila was born and brought up in the area, and her talk includes her personal memories and family photographs.

Thursday 2nd November 2017

"Floods in  Norfolk - A personal view" - John Ash

Thursday 7th December 2017

The Society AGM and Social

Thursday 6th September, 7.30 at St Martin at Palace Church, Norwich.

 Power to the People by Philip Tolley

 This talk looks at the development of the gas and electricity industry in Norfolk with a special look at the expansion of the service across East and Central Norfolk.

The talk includes many archive images. Not just about buildings and plant, the talk also looks at the customer complaints about Norwich's gas supply, and the expansion of electricity to rural areas, the marketing and charging regimes.

Thursday 1st November, 7.30

Norwich a City Built on Wool by Joy Evitt, Chair of the Costume & Textile Association and Author and Vice President of the C&TA  Helen Hoyte MBE

Joy and Helen are members of the Norwich Costume & Textile Association and will be talking to us about the development of Norwich textiles from its earliest days. At the end of the talk there will be an opportunity to look closely at some examples of the textiles made in Norwich

Thursday 6th December, 7.30

Society AGM - Followed by a Presentation on a topic of interest.

Please take this as formal notice of the AGM. Agendas and other papers will be emailed shortly before the meeting and copies available on the night. If any member wishes advance copies would they please contact the Secretary.

After the meeting we hold a social event so contributions  of snack type food or drinks are welcome to add to coffee and biscuits.

Thursday 3rd January 2019 at 7.30

Members night - always popular, always interesting

 - 5mins to 20 mins presentations from Society Members - Please let the Chairman know so space for you can be reserved, or turn up and take your turn if space available.

Saturday 2nd February 2019 at 2pm

New Mills - Site Visit -  Meet at New Mills.

A chance for members to visit New Mills and see the machinery inside.  Please note this is a members only visit.

Thursday 7th February at 7.30

A Transport themed evening of members contributions.

Contributions from Mary Fewster on Car Journeys in Norfolk 1900 - 1910,  Bev with a film on Steam Car activity in Norfolk, James Oxley Brennan on Motoring ephemera in his collection and Carol Haines will show some images of some more unusual things to look out for along the roads, e.g. county bridge stones, military boundary markers.

Thursday 7th March at 7.30

What was the extent of and what were the influences on industrial activity in nineteenth-century Norfolk and its market towns? by Adrian O’Dell

Thursday 4th April at 7.30

History of Sugar & The Construction of Cantley Sugar Factory in 1912 by Alex Mason

Alex has spent 40 years working in the sugar industry. The talk is in two parts, the first is the history of sugar generally and the UK beet sugar industry in particular. The second part is a pictorial account of the Cantley factory construction in 1912.

Thursday 2nd May at 7.30

The British Xylonite Company – the first 50 years by Richard Truswell

The talk will cover the origins of Parkesine (1862), Xylonite (1868) and Celluloid. The British Xylonite Company, Homerton (1877), Brantham before the arrival of the British Xylonite Company, The choice of Brooklands Farm and the move to Brantham (1887)Life for employees relocating from Homerton to Brantham, The Xylonite manufacturing process and the associated services, Xylonite products,  and Company expansion

Thursday 19th September.  2pm and 7.30pm     (note venue and need to book the 2pm talk)

Norfolk’s fixed defences against invasion in the two World Wars by member and author Christopher Bird.

Christopher Bird started his research of Norfolk’s wartime defences in the early 1990s, publishing his book, "Silent Sentinels: The Story of Norfolk's Fixed Defences in the Twentieth Century" in 1999.

In both World Wars Norfolk was an invasion target. Hundreds of structures were constructed to defend us, along the coast and along defence lines inland.

Thursday 3rd October

The Shoe Trade by  Barbara Miller.

Norwich was famous for its shoe trade, and the area called Norwich over the Water was filled with shoe factories , large and small.

Thursday 7th November  -

The R34 -  Basil Abbott

The R34 was Britain's first Airship to cross the Atlantic. It finished it's return journey at Pulham.  Basil has carried out extensive research on this airship and  the epic journey across the Atlantic,.

Thursday 5th December

Society AGM   followed by a presentation by James Oxley-Brennan on some recent ephemera he has aquired

James's contributions always provide a fascinating insight into some of the commercial activities of Norfolk through looking at original documents.

Thursday 2nd January 2020

Members Short Presentations

This is the chance for members to make short presentations - no longer than 20 minutes - on anything remotely related to industrial history.

(Please book slots with the chairman, if you need more than 20 minutes (please check, warn him how long you need, and note your presentation may need to be scheduled another time}

Thursday 6th February

Broadland Staithes and associated industrial sites  -  Professor Tom Williamson

There is an ongoing project to identify public staithes in Broadland and how they were used. There will be the possibility of members being involved in this work.

Thursday 5th March

The Marriott’s Way Project by Sophie Cabot.

This project is seeking to encourage public use of the former railways line from Norwich to Melton Constable. Part of this involves identifying and understanding  historic features along the route

Zoom Meeting   Thursday 16th June 7.30pm

The Industrial History of a Norwich Street - Philip Tolley

Zoom Meeting Thursday 7th July 7.30pm

  -  The Great Yarmouth Herring Fishery  -  Mary Fewster

Social Meeting Thursday 4th August

 – Social event At the Wheel of Fortune, Alpington from 5pm. NR14 7NL

A fish and chip van calls at the pub from about 5.30pm to 6pm so join us for a fish supper and a chat with fellow members. The pub has an outside area with seating if the weather is good. Full details will be sent later.

AGM meeting Thursday 13th October  7.30 pm ,

An in person meeting at Eaton Church Hall, Eaton, Norwich

As well as the usual reports and elections there will be a discussion on the way forward for the Society


Zoom Meeting

Thursday 5th January 2023  7.30pm

The First Chinese Railway and its Ipswich Connections - John Jones


Zoom Meeting

Thursday 2nd February 2023  7.30pm

The Craft of the Bookbinder in Norwich - Beverly Woolner

Member Beverley Woolner spent his working life as a bookbinder. A craft that encompasses many skills as well as a detailed knowledge of the printing trade. Over the last 60 years printing has been transformed from hot metal to digital processes.


Zoom Meeting

Thursday 2nd March 7.30pm

River Tay Rail Bridge disaster  -  Bill Jagger

Bill Jagger will present a talk on Sir Thomas Bouche – a man most infamously remembered for the River Tay Rail Bridge disaster in Scotland on the 18th December 1879. An event which led to 75 deaths, shook the Victorian Establishment and overshadowed his success as an engineer.


In person meeting

Thursday 6th April 7.15   Diamond Centre in School Lane, Sprowston NR7 8TR - St. Quintin Room

Members Night and Social Gathering.

Short presentations from members (20 mins max please) Book your slot. In the past this has always been one of our most popular meetings. We hope there will also be time for socialising afterwards.


In person meeting

Thursday 4th May 7.15   Diamond Centre in School Lane, Sprowston NR7 8TR  -  St. Quintin Room

The Tramways and Trams of old Norwich  -  Frances & Michael Holmes

Frances & Michael Holmes will present findings from their research into the tramways and trams of old Norwich, collated into a new book: “The Days of the Norwich Trams: 1900-1935. Transforming Streets, Transforming Lives”, published by Bittern Books


EERIAC (Essex IA Society)

10th June 2023 – venue TBC

This year’s EERIAC will be hosted by the Essex IA Society.  The meeting is likely to be based on Chelmsford Museum and its industrial collections.



6th July 2023 – venue Wheel of Fortune P H, Alpington

Social event At the Wheel of Fortune, Alpington from 5.30pm. NR14 7NL

A fish and chip van calls at the pub from about 5.30pm to 7ish so join us for a fish supper and a chat with fellow members. The pub has an outside area with seating if the weather is good.  This is a repeat of the very successful fish and chip supper social evening we had last year when 29 members made their way.


Saturday 12th August 2023 – 10am prompt


We meet at 10am for a guided walk round former RAF Barnham. See map below - NOT RAF Barnham Camp

This site (now called Gorse Industrial Estate) was one of Britain’s first two atomic bomb storage sites.


In the afternoon we have a chance to visit an exhibition on the Industrious Rivers Project in Thetford Museum (admission charge), the Burrell Museum  (donation) and Dads Army museum will be open (donation) as well. If there is sufficient demand we could arrange a meal on the way back to Norwich.


7th September 2023 7,30

Boat Building in Thorpe


5th October 2023 7.30

The Recovery and Restoration of the Wherry Maud.


Thursday 2nd November - 7.30  Meeting on Zoom

“Creating and Accelerating Sustainable Practices across the Global Space Industry” by

Julie Black, Missions and Capabilities Delivery Director for Discovery and Sustainability at the UK Space Agency.


Thursday 7th December 7.30  Meeting at the Diamond Centre (details below)

Society Annual General Meeting. If the meeting is short there will be

This will be followed by a chance to socialise over coffee and nibbles


4 th January 2024 – Online Talk via Zoom TM

“R. H. Greaves - a man who built bridges.” by Bill Jagger. A story of building

reinforced concrete bridges in the south-east of the USA, from 1914 to 1920.


1 st February 2024 – Online Talk via Zoom TM

“The Water Towers of East Anglia” by Ferrers Young, representing

The Water-Tower Appreciation Society


7 th March 2024 – Online Talk via Zoom TM

“My Life in Printing” Part Two – a continuation of the life-experiences and

life-long learning of our very own Bev Woolner.