Aqueduct named as World Heritage Site
Sunday 28 June 2009
A 200-year-old aqueduct in North Wales has been named as Britain's newest World Heritage Site.
Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal, near Llangollen, was added to the prestigious list by officials at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) meeting in Seville, Spain, this weekend.
Pontcysyllte, built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1795 and 1805, is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.
Heritage lovers have campaigned for more than six years to have the aqueduct recognised alongside the world's best known cultural and historical sites.
Dr Dawn Roberts, economic development manager for Wrexham Council, said World Heritage status is a "badge of honour" for Pontcysyllte.
She said: "We are absolutely over the moon. We have been working on this for so long and it means so much to those of us that are from this area.
"To have our aqueduct and our canal named as a World Heritage site is amazing. There is so much local pride and a lot of celebrations going on."
The aqueduct is regarded as one of Telford's greatest civil engineering achievements.
He designed a cast iron trough for the canal and laid it along the top of 18 stone piers to carry the waterway 126ft above the River Dee.
It joins the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and Stonehenge on the World Heritage list.
Dr Roberts added: "World Heritage status does not bring with it any prize or money, it is more of a badge of honour.
"It is an awesome sight and one of those sites in the world we feel people must visit."
Around 16,000 canal boats cross the aqueduct each year. Pontcysyllte was Britain's only nomination at the 33rd session of Unesco's World Heritage Committee.
The list currently features around 900 properties deemed to have "outstanding universal value" for humanity.
Rhodri Morgan, Wales's first minister, said: "World Heritage nomination for Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal is the cherry on the cake for Wales's historic transport and industrial environment."
Alun Ffred Jones, the Welsh Assembly's minister for heritage said: "The Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal is a magnificent example of Wales's heritage in action.
"Having World Heritage status for this site will not only boost the economic and tourism potential of north-east Wales, but also deliver world-wide recognition for the built heritage of the area and ensure the Aqueduct's protection and conservation for future generations.
Barbara Follett, UK minister for culture and tourism, said: "I am sure that its inscription as a World Heritage Site will provide a well-deserved boost to the area."
Julie Sharman, general manager for British Waterways Wales and Border Counties, said World Heritage status would bring "increased economic prosperity to local communities".
Councillor Aled Roberts, leader of Wrexham County Council, said: "Pontcysyllte aqueduct is a major part of our heritage and regarded very fondly by local residents."
Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal is the third Unesco World Heritage site in Wales. The other two are Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.
Pontcysyllte is the 28th World Heritage inscribed site in the UK.
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