The Thrill of the Dark

Working with our strategic partners, the University of Illinois and in collaboration with Stockholm University, the Ironbridge Centre for Heritage, University of Birmingham welcomed 120 delegates from 26 countries for its three day conference – The Thrill of the Dark: Heritages of Fear Fascination and Fantasy. 


The event interrogated the concept of ‘dark heritage’ with the help from – amongst others - anthropologists, architects, archaeologists, ethnologists, geographers and scholars from literature and languages. Papers ranged from discussing living in Cairo’s ‘city of the dead’, understanding the ghosts of Nazi soldiers in the tunnels of Jersey, the place of Chinese funerary objects in museums to the commodification of Jack the Ripper, tourists at Chernobyl and the seedy nightlife of Las Vegas. Professor Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool opened the conference presenting ‘On the Ruins of Empire: Dark Tourism and Penal Heritage in the Francophone World’. 



We were delighted to support the Steel House Lane Lock Up, a city centre prison facility still in use as late as 2016 but soon to be Birmingham’s police museum. Talks from the staff coupled with a Balti dinner made for a social occasion during the conference and colleagues at the city’s Coffin Works also offered delegates a unique experience.


The conference is the second event organised by the three universities and a follow-up conference is already being planned along with the publication of selected papers