During a trip back to my native North-East of England last week, I revisited a place I’ve not been to since school – Beamish open air museum in County Durham. This is an Edwardian recreation of an early 1900’s town (they tell me it’s stuck in 1913 – the museum, not Durham natives)!
Not only was it a chance for my little one to see ‘the good old days’ and taste some proper discipline in the local school, Beamish also reminded me of the Great British innovations dating back to the 1800’s, including the likes of Stephenson et al, as we literally forged our way in the World as part of the first and second industrial revolutions. This era is remembered fondly for obvious reasons (perhaps not safety or environmental performance), but the planners and engineers of the age still have our respect today thanks to their grand vision and commitment to try, try and try again (at Tideway we are looking for our 21st Century Bazalgette)!
So what you may ask, well it got me thinking! With Article 50 now formally submitted, regardless of your persuasion (no politics here), things are going to change. Most experts now agree that UK PLC will need to upskill, invest, innovate and export our way to sustainable economic growth by realising the full potential of the 4th industrial revolution.
For budding innovators, I remember reading a paper written by (my then CEO) Andrew Wolstenholme at Crossrail ‘Never waste a good crisis’
I’m not sure this is the first time this phrase has ever been used (apparently it has been attributed to a certain Winston Churchill during post World War 2 reunification effort that led to formation of the United Nations (UN)), however in the ‘good old days’ of 2012 when Andrew Wolstenholme challenged academics and industry to ‘innovate18‘, I was fortunate to find myself in the thick of the action and this paper may well be the basis of all good things you see today @ i3P.
In 100 years time, projects such as Tideway and Crossrail may feature in the virtual docklands museum, not as cutting edge exhibitions of engineering (fantastic archaeology and tunnelling exhibition on right now), but as relics for our great great grandchildren to reminisce of what it was like in 2017 (cars were stuck to the road and needed a driver?!)
Here at the Great Think, supporting i3P, we have a unique opportunity to reclaim the visionary culture of our master designers, architects, engineers, construction trades and crafts to wow our descendants in 2120 and beyond. It may well be a once in a generation chance, so with Brexit on the horizon and change in the air, we probably shouldn’t waste a good crisis!