IronWorks in Cambridge

Helen Weinstein is thrilled to be appointed as the Community Historian for the IronWorks project in Cambridge. This is an important heritage site which is called the IronWorks because it was once a Victorian foundry, important to the development of Cambridge, which was called the Eagle Foundry and moved from Cambridge market place soon after the railway came to Cambridge in 1845 in order to take commercial advantage of the railway, shifting from using the River Cam and wagons for transporting their iron production, to mostly using the railways.  In the 20th century the Eagle Foundry site became the Council Depot, and it is now going to be developed for housing, including 50% council housing, very welcome to the needs of Cambrdge, and will host a new community centre for Petersfield.   Helen's role will be to work with the local community for place finding activities, so that we can together find out the details of the development of the area as a place of residences and work, a place of printing presses and timber yards, brick works and dairies, schools and shops, a huge expansion from the previous fields of Barnwell, which all happened rapidly after the railway station opened.  Helen will also work closely with the Artist in Residence, Hilary Cox Condron to collaborate together on community art activities and artworks.  Helen is also thrilled to be researching and guiding the artworks for the Artists who will be producing permanent artworks inspired by the heritage of the site - namely Jo Chapman who works in Iron; Rodney Harris and Valda who work in brick; Tom Pearman who works as a graphic artist in tiles and glass, amongst other materials.



Helen is an expert in ‘place finding’ and has a broad range of experience of creative place shaping artworks made for media, museums, galleries, schools, colleges, communities. 

Helen has long had an interest in how the IronWorks site was transformed in the Victorian era from rural fields by the coming of the railways to Cambridge in 1845.  The former Depot was first developed as the Eagle Foundry within months of the opening of Cambridge Railway Station. It was a noisy site with workshops making fixings for the railways from shovels to tracks, railings to steam pumps, and even a train locomotive, the Eagle Engine!

For the IronWorks development, Helen Weinstein therefore brings a wealth of expertise for the wider community to engage in the historical research to find out who lived and worked in the area by  doing detective work to connect original maps and photographs, the census and trade directories, newspaper archives and adverts. In the first instance, Helen’s research into the heritage of the area, from industrial architecture to domestic decoration, will help inform and inspire the Artists and the surrounding community to learn together about how the area used to be, to help shape how it may look and feel and be experienced in the future.

Collaborating closely with Hilary Cox Condron, Helen will not only be undertaking new research, but offering participatory sessions with the local community, so that we together co-create tours and blue-plaques and exhibitions - telling the stories of the people who inhabited the streets and buildings - in and around the former Mill Road Depot. The journey of discovery is already being embraced with excitement by the local residents, and Helen looks forward to sharing the story-telling and using this experience of historical place finding in the past and present community to help welcome those newly moving into the IronWorks development.

Helen’s previous public participatory projects have explicitly used digital technology to not only create and grow an audience but for the technology to deliver a deeper engagement with co-creation in the community using interactive and participatory practices.  Helen is presently piloting a variety of Artistic genres and Digital approaches for a project she is directing  called ‘Creating My Cambridge’, produced to inspire a deeper connectivity, appreciating people and celebrating unique places.  You can find out more and explore Cambridge histories, poetry, songs, photography, films, with resources freely available here:


Helen is Director of Historyworks based in Cambridge, thus bringing her knowledge of working across a range of media and public history to engage audiences and encourage participation in the IronWorks artworks and development of the site. Looking to establish a sense of place through a participatory community project for the IronWorks to produce co-created maps and tours, exhibitions and films that enable audiences to explore where they live and engage in creative place shaping and importantly to leave a legacy for future residents and users of the community centre. 

IronWorks in Cambridge