UNESCO and Other World Heritages Sites
What is the World Heritage List?
The World Heritage List includes all the sites that UNESCO has agreed are of outstanding universal value to humanity. The World Heritage List has three aspects. It includes monuments and groups of buildings and sites which are considered as cultural heritage. It includes areas of landscape which are considered as natural heritage. It includes sites which are considered to combine cultural and natural heritage.
What is meant by the term World Heritage Site?
A site considered by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to be of OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE to HUMANITY and which has been included on the World Heritage List.
What are the criteria for selecting World Heritage Sites?
The Operational Guidelines include the following six criteria to be applied to the selection of cultural heritage, monuments, groups of buildings and sites that may be considered part of the World heritage:
Cultural sites nominated should:
- represent a masterpiece of human creative genius, or:
- exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design, or:
- bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared, or:
- be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history, or:
- be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or land use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change, or:
- be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance (the Committee considers that this criterion should justify inclusion in the List only in exceptional circumstances and in conjunction with other criteria, cultural or natural)
Who decides which sites should be put on the World Heritage List?
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Outstanding Universal Value, called “the World Heritage Committee”. This committee has been established within the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation known as UNESCO.
How do sites get onto the list?
A country that has signed the World Heritage Convention becomes a State Party and pledges to conserve the cultural and natural heritage within its borders for present and future generations. The United Kingdom signed the convention in 1984. A State Party can nominate sites which they think have outstanding universal value within their state or country. When a State Party decides to nominate a site it must do so by completing a nomination form. The State Party must outline why the site is important enough to be included on the World Heritage List by using selection criteria decided on by the World Heritage Committee and also demonstrate that the site is properly protected and managed. In the case of the nomination of the Derwent Valley Mills Site, part of the nomination portfolio, the historical section, called the Derwent Valley Mills and their Communities, is available on line and in print. The management plan for the World Heritage Site is also available on line.
Why were the Derwent Valley Mills inscribed on the World Heritage List?
The Derwent Valley Mills were inscribed on the World Heritage List because the site met two of the criteria established by UNESCO.
Which criteria did the Derwent Valley Mills meet?
Derwent Valley Mills satisfied two of the criteria, as follows: Criterion (ii) The site should exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design.
The nominated site relates to developments in technology in the eighteenth century that introduced the mechanically powered factory system within the textile industry. It began with the construction of the Silk Mill in Derby in the early 1720s for the brothers John and Thomas Lombe, which housed machinery for manufacturing silk thread, based on an Italian design. The scale, output and numbers of workers employed were without precedent.However, it was not until Richard Arkwright constructed a water-powered cotton spinning mill at Cromford in 1771, and a second larger mill in 1776-77 using power from a tributary of the river Derwent to operate his machinery, that the ‘Arkwright System’ was truly established. Arkwright’s mills were so efficient and profitable that they were replicated hundreds of times before the end of the Industrial Revolution.Factory production came to dominate the manufacturing economy, not only of Britain, but also of much of the world for the next two centuries.
Criterion (iv) The site should be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape, which illustrates a significant stage in human history. A large proportion of the textile mills of the Derwent valley, including some of the earliest examples known to have been built in the world, are still standing. Apart from the buildings themselves, important elements of the supporting infrastructure have survived, including the engineering structures which carried the water power systems from the river Derwent and its tributaries, and the transport infrastructure including toll roads, tramways and canals. The listing of Cromford Mill, Masson Mills, Darley Abbey Mills and North Mill, Belper, as Grade I or II*, together with the inclusion of five industrial sites in the Schedule of Ancient Monuments, is recognition that they were already formally acknowledged as being of national importance.
Furthermore, the factory settlements that were constructed at Cromford, Belper, Milford and Darley Abbey are almost completely preserved including in Cromford and Milford, the factory masters’ own residences, in Darley Abbey the managers’ houses and village school and church and notably in Belper and Cromford, farms and estate buildings. The settlements’special architectural and historic interest was already recognised through their designation as Conservation Areas.
The overall result is an ensemble of buildings, structures and settlements, all grouped within a distinctive landscape that is dominated by the river that attracted the initial investment in the area. The integrity of the scene remains evocative of the period in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when, in this hitherto obscure Derbyshire valley, the factory system was born.
To ﬁnd out more about UNESCO and World Heritage visit one of these addresses.
UNESCO World Heritage Centre
Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet)
The World Heritage Process in 10 steps
The process for adding a site to the World Heritage list involves a number of steps. At the beginning of this process countries commit themselves to World Heritage conservation by becoming States Parties to the Convention and then nominating sites for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The steps below show the nomination process.
1. A country becomes a State Party by signing the World Heritage Convention and pledging to protect their cultural and natural heritage. The United Kingdom joined in 1984
2. A State Party prepares a tentative list of cultural and natural heritage sites on its territory that it considers to be of outstanding universal value
3. A State Party selects sites from its tentative list for nomination to the World Heritage List
4. The completed submission is sent to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
5. To see part of the nomination document for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site visit www.derwentvalleymills.org.
6. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre checks that the nomination is complete and sends it to IUCN* and/or ICOMOS* for evaluation.(*see note)
7. Experts visit the nominated sites to evaluate their protection and management
8. ICOMOS and/or IUCN evaluate the nominations using the cultural and natural heritage criteria
9. ICOMOS and/or IUCN make an evaluation report
10. The seven members of the World Heritage Bureau review the nominations and evaluations and make recommendations to the Committee
11. The final decision is made by the 21 member World Heritage Committee:inscribed – deferred – rejected
IUCN is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature now known as the World Conservation Union. It is a non-governmental organisation.
ICOMOS is the International Council on Monuments and Sites. It is a non-governmental organisation. Both these organisations were instrumental in the preparation of the World Heritage Convention.
The United Kingdom and the Convention
The United Kingdom ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1984. The drawing up of a United Kingdom list of potential nominations for submission to the World Heritage Committee is officially the responsibility of the Department for Culture Media and Sport. The Department consults with various national agencies with responsibility for heritage with respect to the cultural sites in England, English Heritage being the principal one.
There are 33 Sites on the World Heritage List for the United Kingdom.
- Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
- Durham Castle and Cathedral
- Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast
- Ironbridge Gorge
- St Kilda
- Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
- Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
- Blenheim Palace
- City of Bath and Great Spa Towns of Europe
- Frontiers of the Roman Empire
- Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret’s Church
- Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church
- Henderson Island
- Tower of London
- Gough and Inaccessible Islands
- Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
- Maritime Greenwich
- Heart of Neolithic Orkney
- Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
- Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda
- Derwent Valley Mills
- Dorset and East Devon Coast
- New Lanark
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
- Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (delisted by UNESCO in July 2021)
- Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal
- Forth Bridge
- Gorham’s Cave Complex, Gibralter
- The Lake District
- Jodrell Bank Observatory
- The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales
The Derwent Valley Mills is the only site located within the East Midlands Region.