Glories of industry to get UN listing

AT FIRST glance, the landscape of the former tin mining areas of Cornwall, marked by engine houses, chapels and miners' institutes, sits uneasily with the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Stonehenge.

But the scarred countryside of west Cornwall could soon join the three internationally renowned wonders as a UN-recognised World Heritage Site. The definitive list of 32 places the British government wants upgraded to World Heritage status is published next month - and the nation's industrial heritage is the dominant theme.

Apart from the Lake District, Charles Darwin's home in Kent and Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, whose merits are both aesthetic and cultural, there are several applications whose qualities are less immediately obvious. The Cornish mining industry is one, the London-Bristol railway another. Also pressing for inclusion are the Blaenavon industrial landscape in South Wales; the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire; the Forth rail bridge, the first major steel bridge; the Ancoats, Castlefield and Worsley areas of Manchester, and Liverpool's commercial centre, for its pre-eminence in 19th century transatlantic trade.

The reason for the newly-placed emphasis is simple. Unesco, the cultural arm of the United Nations, has made it clear that it is fed up with being asked to give the prestigious status to cathedrals and historic city centres in western nations, which it believes has created an "imbalance" of heritage sites in the US, Canada and Europe, leading to an over-emphasis on western cultural values.

As a result, the British shortlist contains just four cultural and landscape sites compared to 16 sites reflecting the UK's industrialisation and global influence.

"It's fair to say that you might have to make a bit of a jump before you realise where the Government is coming from," said a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the selection process. "But Unesco has made it clear that an endless procession of cathedrals won't get very far. They want specimens of different types of heritage."

The consultation period for the tentative list finishes at the end of October and the final list will be drawn up on 12 November at a meeting chaired by English Heritage. By July next year, Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, must decide which site will be recommended to Unesco. Although it takes Unesco 18 months to make a decision, proposals are almost always accepted. However, the full list of 32 sites will remain with Unesco for up to 10 years, during which time, the Government is able to select one other site from the list each year.

There is no prize money in World Heritage status, just prestige, extra planning protection against developers and the chance the site will be mentioned in guidebooks across the globe. Saltaire in West Yorkshire, left off the original list but hoping for late inclusion, estimated World Heritage status was worth pounds 2m a year.

The Bristol Temple Meads rail terminus, Swindon railway works, Maidenhead river bridge and the Paddington terminus and hotel form the basis of the application for the Paddington-Bristol line, built by I K Brunel in the 1840s and included as "the most complete early railway in the world". The Government believes it meets the Unesco cultural criteria of representing "a masterpiece of human creative genius".

Railtrack is "very surprised" by the nomination. "Given the problems the line has had we can understand why passengers might thing it was a strange suggestion, but we didn't put it forward," said a spokeswoman. The company also expressed concern that World Heritage status would make it harder to carry out essential repairs.

The Ancoats, Castlefield and Worsley areas of Manchester and Salford are included for their role in the history of transport in Britain, including the opening of the Bridgwater Canal in 1765, which inspired nine decades of canal building, and the opening in 1830 of the first mainline railway in England, the Liverpool to Manchester railway. It meets three out of the six cultural criteria laid down by Unesco, including that of being a "unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation".

The vital role played by the textile mills of the Derwent Valley in the industrial revolution is cited as "an outstanding example of an area illustrating a significant stage in human history", according to the Government. "Unesco accepts a wide spectrum of proposals, including gritty and industrial sites," said a spokeswoman for English Heritage. "The sites were chosen to show Britain's worldwide influence."

The Cornish mining industry, with its villages and chapels, is put forward for its contribution to England's cultural history while the remains of coal mines and iron works that comprise the Blaenavon industrial landscape in the Gwent uplands of South Wales are included for their "virtuosity in civil engineering". The area had the largest ironworks in the world in the early 19th Century and the Government will argue the landscape played a "major part in creating the modern world".

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week