The Derwent Valley Mills in Derbyshire, Saltaire in West Yorkshire, New Lanark in South Lanarkshire and the Devon/Dorset Coast have been given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, Arts Minister Baroness Blackstone has announced.
"I am delighted that all four nominations made by the Government have received international recognition as sites of outstanding universal value," Baroness Blackstone said. "The three cultural sites are outstanding examples of our industrial heritage, illustrating the tremendous contribution Britain made to the industrialisation of the world during the 18th and 19th centuries."
The Derwent Valley embraces the historic textile areas of Cromford, Belper, Milford, Darley Abbey and Derby: places which saw the pioneering development of the textile factory system.
Innovations in the harnessing of power, the marshalling and housing of the labour force and, above all, developments in the scale and structure of manufacturing buildings were copied worldwide.
The River Derwent, from its source in the Peak District to its confluence with the River Trent south of Derby, powered successive generations of pioneer textile mills through the 18th and 19th centuries, creating a cultural landscape of international significance.
The lower valley from Cromford to Derby witnessed the two seminal events in British textile history - the introduction of water-powered silk throwing and the application of water power to cotton spinning.
Saltaire, named after its creator Titus Salt and the River Aire on whose banks it is located, is the finest example in England of an integrated textile mill with its associated housing and public buildings. It represents the culmination of a process that began in the Derwent Valley a century before.
Here the Factory System reached its apogee as regards the integration of processes and transport, the utilisation of steam power, and the provision of housing and social amenities, all dignified by unified architectural treatment.
The area has survived little changed from the period of the early industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Founded in 1785 by the enterprising Glasgow banker David Dale as a new industrial settlement on the banks of the River Clyde, it was built to exploit the water power offered by the Falls of Clyde with the mills in operation from 1786 to 1968.
Dale’s son-in-law Robert Owen became manager in 1800 and, under his enlightened management, New Lanark was to achieve lasting international fame as a model community.
The Dorset and East Devon Coast is an exceptional example of a natural geological site.
From Orcombe Point in Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage, there is a superb and almost unbroken series of exposures of sedimentary rocks from the Triassic through to the Cretaceous, laid down over a period of 180 million years.
The geology and geomorphology of these rock formations has created a coastline of exceptional natural beauty, and a variety of sea-cliff, shingle and lagoon habitats of recognised international importance.
This site has long been a source of scientifically important fossils which have played a very important part in the development of palaeontology and the understanding of the evolution of life on earth. Despite over 200 years of study, fossils new to science continue to be founds as the cliffs naturally erode.
The UK’s four sites were among 49 proposed by 32 countries currently being considered by the Committee at its annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland. This announcement brings the total of the UK’s World Heritage Sites to 24.
The list in full:
1986 Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast
1986 Durham Castle and Cathedral
1986 Ironbridge Gorge
1986 Studley Royal Park, including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
1986 Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
1986 Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
1986 St. Kilda
1987 Blenheim Palace
1987 City of Bath
1987 Hadrian's Wall
1987 Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Saint Margaret's Church
1988 Henderson Island
1988 Tower of London
1988 Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine's Abbey and St. Martin's Church
1995 Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
1995 Gough Island Wildlife Reserve
1997 Maritime Greenwich
1999 Heart of Neolithic Orkney
2000 Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda
2000 Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
2001 Dorset and East Devon Coast
2001 Derwent Valley Mills
2001 New Lanark