October 1995 saw the fiftieth East Midlands Industrial Archaeology Conference. The East Midlands IA societies have held EMIACs since 1970, the first being in Leicester with the theme "Industrial Archaeology - A Policy for the Future".
The early EMIACs were organised in turn by the Leicestershire Industrial Archaeological Society (LIHS), the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology (SLHA), the Industrial Archaeology section of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society (DAS), the East Midlands Group of the Railway and Canal Historical Society (RCHS) and the Nottinghamshire Local History Council (NLHC), the last being replaced from 1979 by the Nottinghamshire Industrial Archaeology Society (NIAS). In 1987 the EMIAC secretaries welcomed the Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeology Group (NIAG) to join the five original societies. Specialist groups have organised certain EMIACs - the Tramway Museum Society (TMS) in 1980 and 1983, and the Peak District Mines Historical Society (PDMHS) in 1977 (jointly with DAS) and in 1994, while a meeting in 1976 was organised jointly by SLHA and the British Brick Society (BBS).
There has been only one gap in the twice-yearly pattern of EMIACs, in 1984 - when the Lound Hall Mining Museum was due to organise one and the miners' strike intervened - but this gave an opportunity to attend the first West Midlands Industrial Archaeology Conference in Staffordshire.
EMIAC is the oldest and most continuous of the British regional industrial archaeology conferences. Other groups now exist in the South East (SERIAC), Eastern England (EERIAC), the South West (SWIAC) and the North West (NWIAC), but none has managed two conferences a year for 25 years. The secret of EMIAC's success lies in the interim meetings of sponsoring society secretaries and representatives, who get together twice a year to report on the last EMIAC and to oversee the organisation of future conferences. There is also an EMIAC fund which is passed from one organising society to the next, giving a float to pay deposits for room hire, printing costs and the like. The surplus built up in the EMIAC float has been used to make grants to support small IA projects in the region, such as the restoration of a waterwheel in Lincolnshire and continuing work on the Swannington Incline. Each EMIAC incorporates a business meeting, at which the participating societies report on activities within their own counties or spheres of interest, so we all have an idea of what the other groups are doing, which helps to unify the organisation, while a joint programme of forthcoming events is circulated at each conference.
At EMIAC 50, the various societies had displays of their activities over the 25 years of EMIAC, and of the projects supported by grants from the EMIAC fund. Copies of the brochures for all 50 EMIACs were on display - thanks to Mike Bannister, Brian Dobbie, Marilyn Palmer and Keith Reedman for help in assembling a complete set!
Originally prepared for EMIAC 50, held in Loughborough in October 1975, by Rod Sladen, on behalf of the EMIAC secretaries (with acknowledgments to Marilyn Palmer for the basis of the summary).
A summary list of past conferences is available.