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Craig McHughIt was good to meet Craig McHugh and talk with him about his career and his new job with Bradford Metropolitan District Council. 28-year-old Craig has been in post since June, and has already been spending time in the Village to find out about his new patch. Until he applied for this post, he had never been to Saltaire, but his first visit here made a strong impression on him.  As a historian by training, he got a buzz from coming to this industrial landscape which is preserved just as it was when it was first built.  He describes it as “vibrant and energising”.

Working in a small location is not new to Craig.  He was born and brought up in Cottingham, near Hull, which he says describes itself as “the largest village in Yorkshire”.  From there he went to Leicester University to do a History Degree, followed by a Masters Degree at the Ironbridge Institute. Here was his second chance to work intensively in a small location, at the Ironbridge World Heritage Site.  His course was very practical, giving him a sound background in Heritage Management. And his thesis was very relevant to his present job as it evaluated the textile mill museums of the Derwent Valley, which stretches from Matlock down to Derby, where the integrated production methods used so successfully by Sir Titus in Saltaire originated.

Craig qualified in 2003, and for the next two and a half years  remained in the West Midlands in the museums  sector, extending his skills to devise new ways of surveying visitor needs and interests  and  developing new online exhibitions to meet them. In what he calls a “sideways move”, he returned to Yorkshire to become a Museum Collections Assistant at the National Coal Mining Museum in 2006, where he worked with an enthusiastic team of curators to develop new skills in the research and exhibition world.  He knew nothing about coal mining when he took the job, so he’s used to steep learning curves! The Saltaire experience is already proving to be very different from Ironbridge, where Government money provided the basis for developing the site.  Here in Saltaire he is struck by the fact that the revival and regeneration is successful because it is commercially driven. He is delighted to have joined a successful team looking after Bradford District's 5,800 historic Listed Buildings and 57 Conservation Areas. However, he is acutely aware that there is great pressure and competition for limited public money. He has already been involved with a group of highly motivated residents, Council officers and consultants dedicated to winning Heritage Lottery funding for Roberts Park.

He sees the next priority for the Council as being to provide a Management Plan Review for Saltaire, which must be carried out every six years.  This time it has to take account of statutory changes concerning World Heritage Sites, and a Department of Culture report on maximising the benefit of World Heritage status for all.  In addition to concerns about residents, Craig has to take account of visitor’s needs, and will be working on an interpretation strategy to ensure that the Village is more available to visitors to ensure that they keep coming and keep returning.

Roger Clarke


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