Our industrial heritage - is the legacy at risk?

In July English Heritage launched its 2007 Buildings at Risk register and highlighted the nation's most costly and problematic buildings at risk. In doing so it illustrated that many of the nationally significant Grade I and II* listed historic buildings identified as being at risk, each suffering from a 'conservation deficit' and in need of £1 million or more of subsidy to secure their future, are important legacies from our industrial past. These include Chatterley Whitfield Colliery in Stoke on Trent (conservation deficit - £25m), Soho Foundry in Sandwell (conservation deficit £5m), Crossness Pumping Station in Bexley (conservation deficit £3m) and Tynemouth Station in North Tyneside (conservation deficit £2m).

The immense value of the industrial heritage in the UK and abroad, is increasingly being recognised within the conservation sector and t he issue of finding new and sustainable uses for the survivors of our industrial past, is becoming more and more important within historic towns and cities, particularly when it is linked with economic and social regeneration.

Industrial buildings, compared to other buildings, present enormous challenges as they are very often difficult and costly to restore and sometimes impossible to find viable new uses for. Consequently they tend not to encourage developers to invest in them. Nevertheless there are examples of good practice from the UK and mainland Europe and it will be these success stories which will be highlighted at this year's EHTF Annual Conference and AGM in Newcastle upon Tyne on 17 -19 October.

The Conference will focus on how to maximise the value of industrial heritage in historic towns and cities, namely how our industrial past can contribute to economic and social regeneration and turn history into a valuable asset. Speakers from across the UK and mainland Europe will demonstrate with case studies how the built heritage of our collective industrial past can be successfully restored and reused in a sustainable way and in doing so contribute again to the wellbeing of the nation.

Newcastle upon Tyne is a very appropriate place to host the Conference as the City and its people were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Most notably were the father and son partnership of George & Robert Stephenson for the development of the railway industry and Sir William Armstrong (later Lord) an inspired inventor and subsequent manufacturer of ships and munitions whose legacy is still evident in and around the City. Newcastle and the wider North East region has a very rich inheritance of industrial heritage and a great deal of recent experience in the restoration, regeneration and reuse of important industrial buildings. I encourage you to attend the Conference and look forward to welcoming you to Newcastle upon Tyne.

Tony Wyatt
Vice Chair

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