The AH Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain cycling event finishes in the World Heritage Site city of Bath later today, and as well as a guaranteed early finish for Team AH (big cycling fans that we are!), we’re also reminded of our own excursions around the UK over the last few months.

Although we’ve not made it into Scotland just yet, work continues apace across the much of the rest of the UK. Regionally, Greater London and Cornwall seem to top the bill although we still can’t put our finger on why, when you get one project in a certain area, another seems to quickly follow. Chaos theory perhaps…

One thing we find continually is the learning curve working nationally engenders. Our recent work in Greater London for example has been across a number of the suburbs – Greenwich, Charlton, Lewisham, Catford and Brockley, as well as more centrally with a site in historic Southwark. Each site came with its own specific set of challenges, due in part to their varied locations and in part to the variety of works proposed, which offered Conservation Area & Listed Building issues as well as some insights into some exceptional archaeological potential – particularly true in Southwark with our site adjacent to the former major Roman road of Watling Street. We’d recommend an excellent monograph produced by the Museum of London Archaeology Service (now MOLA) which reports on excavations on Great Dover Street, very close to our site, available here

Amongst the subject matter we’ve been sifting through, the exponential expansion of the London Suburbs in the later 19th century has become clear, reflecting the desire of the wealthier to move away from the centre of the city and out into the leafier areas of Lewisham and other parts of what was then still Kent. Of interest also has been the changing face of the streetscape, both in the centre of the city with some iconic buildings being constructed in recent years (the Gherkin, the Shard etc), and the changes in the Georgian and Victorian terraces of the suburbs, often the result of bomb damage during the Blitz – offers a good insight into this, particularly in conjunction with comparisons between pre-War and 1950s OS maps.

From the very beginnings of each new project at AH, and the journey it takes us on, we increasingly recognise the wealth of knowledge out there and the importance of maintaining all of our heritage resources, and good easy access to them.  They, like the whole of the heritage industry, rely on the support of both professionals and the public at large.