Skip to main content Skip to navigation

New Warwick book tells human tale behind decline of industrial cities

A&P abandoned shipyard, GatesheadThe stories behind the warehouses, mills and factories left abandoned in cities that were once heartlands of heavy industry are the subject of a new University of Warwick book.

Urban sociologist Dr Alice Mah has explored the history and communities of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK, Niagara Falls in the US and Canada and Ivanovo in Russia.

Her book, Industrial Ruination, Community and Place: Landscapes and Legacies of Urban Decline, looks at how these derelict sites remain connected with the urban landscapes that surround them.

Dr Mah said: “I chose these three sites because they were all once the main cities in their industries and had fascinating stories to tell. For Newcastle, the industry was shipbuilding and you walk around that city and you can feel there is a still a strong legacy there. Ivanovo was once one of the biggest producers of textiles, and Niagara is particularly interesting. It is thought of as a honeymoon destination and a tourist site, but it is less well known for its chemical factories and as a site of environmental contamination.”

Dr Mah visited each city and carried out more than 80 interviews with residents, workers, former workers, trade unionists, city officials, urban planners, and community activists.

She took all of the photographs that feature in the book, showing derelict industrial sites including abandoned shipyards along Walker Riverside in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, contaminated chemical brownfields in Niagara Falls, and semi-abandoned textile factories in Ivanovo.

Dr Mah said: “By focusing on people and places that have been left behind in the knowledge and service economy, this book challenges dominant models of post-industrial change. My research highlights the complex social realities for people who live in and with industrial ruination and the importance of the imagination for shaping urban futures.”


Listen to an interview with Dr Mah about her book


The book is available from Amazon


A selection of pictures from the book are available:


Angel of the North, Gateshead

Abandoned shipyard, Newcastle


Buffalo industrial corridor

Niagara 2


Ivanovo 1

Ivanovo 2

Ivanovo 3

Notes to editors

To arrange an interview with Dr Mah, please contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Press and Communications Manager, University of Warwick,, 02476 150868, 07931 557834