From old industry to new

Today I’ve been transcribing notes from my visit to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Cenre (AMRC) near Sheffield, for a forthcoming piece in AIR International magazine. As it name implies, the AMRC is home to really high-tech R&D in manufacturing. Big aerospace names like Rolls-Royce, BAE and Messier-Bugatti-Dowty are all there.

What’s intriguing about the AMRC – quite apart from the work that’s being carried out there, obviously – is the fact that it’s built on part of the site that was the Orgreave colliery and coking plant.

In 1984, police and striking coal miners clashed in the so-called ‘Battle of Orgreave’ – a leitmotif for the Eighties clash between Thatcherism and the trades unions.

Looking out from the AMRC’s balcony over the modern buildings, wind turbine spinning in the breeze, it’s easy to forget that 30 years ago the site was the scene of such a notable incident in recent British history.

For me there’s something symbolic about the AMRC being at Orgreave. From the old order of traditional heavy industries to the advanced metallics, cutting and composites – the changes that have happened in this part of South Yorkshire neatly sum up the ways UK industry has changed.

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