Community engagement with Archaeology and the historic environment for phase 1 of HS2 in the Midlands
England (West Midlands)
HS2 is a major high speed rail infrastructure project involving a diverse multi-disciplinary chain of organisations and contractors. During the early works phase of the project in the West Midlands, Touch TD worked alongside WSP Cultural Heritage and Archaeology unit, who are a significant early works contractor helping to undertake the archaeology and built heritage works components. This included archaeological evaluation, recording and investigation, assessment, analysis, archiving and dissemination.
Touch TD was specifically brought in to conduct initial desk-based research, project devising, and delivery in community engagement as related to archaeology and heritage sites and landscapes along the HS2 North route.
Who we worked with
WSP, HS2, Birmingham Museums & Galleries and a host of other heritage and community organisations along the HS2 route in the Midlands.
What we did
Touch TD conducted a suite of activities centred around the built heritage, intangible cultural heritage, and historic environment elements, that were being investigated during phase 1 of the HS2 infrastructure project in the Midlands. Touch TD delivered a diverse range of actions prominent amongst these were the following;
- Informed and built on the back of the Historic Environment Research and Delivery Strategy (HERDS) – an evolution of existing and recent approaches to the design and delivery of historic environment works associated with major infrastructure projects – Touch TD conceived and drafted 4 substantial project plans for community engagement based around the excavations along the HS2 route in the West Midlands
- Responding to the archaeological excavations at Park Street (a 19th century burial ground covering a significant time period in Birmingham’s history), where WSP was responsible for oversight of this major excavation – Following the excavations and with the support of local heritage interest groups, we helped to facilitate the dissemination of a range of stories and narratives unearthed around the people who lived and died at a time of rapid population and industry growth in this nerve centre of radical politics and municipal activism and improvement.
- In collaboration with Thinktank Museum, Birmingham, WSP and Touch TD devised and co-hosted two significant stakeholder workshops for a wide gathering of West Midlands based heritage organisations and specialists. The workshops were generated to share ideas and project concepts that flowed out of the early works archaeology and historic environment actions in the region.
a) Delivery of four community engagement project plans, helping to contribute towards a broader understanding and connection to the local historic environment
b) Creation and delivery of 3 events stemming from the archaeology works, hosted in regional museums as part of the national ‘Heritage Open Days’ annual programme.
c) Strengthening and revitalising of regional archaeology and historic environment networks.