The Slate Landscape of Northwest WalesBritain has several sites on the List. Some are world famous and iconic such as the Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster and Stonehenge. This year a new British site was added, and, although not as famous as the ones just mentioned, it too deserves a place on the List. The site is the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales. Slate is a rock widely used for roofing, and Welsh slate was in great demand in the 19th century. It was sold all over the world, from North America to Australia, from Germany to Africa. The Welsh proudly claim that “Welsh slate roofed the world”. The UNESCO site includes not just the mines and quarries, but also the towns where the miners lived, the railways that transported the slate and the harbours from where it was shipped abroad. The site represents the whole process of mining during a very specific historical period, that of the Industrial Revolution.
Sites of the Industrial RevolutionIt is interesting that an additional 8 of the 28 British cultural World Heritage Sites are related to the Industrial Revolution. One is another mining landscape and three are early industrial areas. Two more are structures made possible by the new building techniques of the industrial age: one is an aqueduct, and the other is an iron bridge that is considered a symbol of Scotland: Forth Bridge. The last two industrial sites – New Lanark and Saltaire – are particularly interesting. It must be remembered that 19th century factory workers lived hard lives: they did dangerous jobs, worked long hours, earned little, and often lived in slums. It was not so in New Lanark and Saltaire. These were model industrial towns: the factories owners there built decent housing, hospitals, schools, gymnasiums, and libraries for their workers. They represent the first attempts to reconcile the new factory life with decent, humane conditions. In sum, all these sites highlight the importance of Britain as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution that transformed the world.
A Lost SiteIf there was much celebration in Britain for the new British site included on the UNESCO List, there was also dismay for one that was removed: the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City. This is a rare occurrence, but it can happen if the site is damaged by war, natural disasters, pollution, or uncontrolled urbanization. It is the latter which is responsible for the loss of the British site’s designation. Liverpool was a major port in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the city and its docks still maintained the traces of that age. (Again, we can see the connection to the Industrial Revolution.) According to UNESCO, the site is being damaged by the construction, right next to the historical harbour, of skyscrapers, shopping centres and a football stadium. These developments, says UNESCO, ruin the “outstanding universal value” and “authenticity and integrity” of the site. A reminder that our heritage is not just something that needs to be celebrated, but also protected for future generations.
USEFUL LINKS 1) Here is the official United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO webpage for the Slate Landscape of Northern Wales: https://unesco.org.uk/the-slate-landscape-of-northwest-wales/ 2) Read about Saltaire and New Lanark here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1028 http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/429 3) Find out more about the other British World Heritage Sites here: https://unesco.org.uk/world-heritage-sites/ 4) Why was Liverpool stripped of its World Heritage status? Read about it in this article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/25/liverpools-three-graces-must-be-blushing-with-shame-about-their-shoddy-treatment 5) Would you like to read about World Heritage Sites of other countries? Here is the complete list: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/
COMPREHENSION 1 1) Read the article and cross out the WRONG alternative (two answers are correct and one is incorrect). 1. According to UNESCO, the sites on the World Heritage List are all___ (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons)
- sources of life and inspiration.
- masterpieces of human creative genius.
- of outstanding importance.
- is growing longer every year.
- includes both natural and cultural sites.
- was completed in 1978.
- in 2021.
- because ‘Welsh slate roofed the world.’
- because of the importance of Welsh mining in the 19th century.
- areas of exceptional natural beauty.
- many different places associated with 19th century mining.
- more than just the mines and quarries.
- Britain was the first industrial nation in the world.
- British factories were all model industrial towns.
- industrialization produced new, groundbreaking landmarks, such as iron bridges.
- living conditions were very different from normal industrial towns.
- the factory owners cared for their workers.
- workers worked long hours and lived in slums.
- pollution and natural disasters.
- uncontrolled urbanization.
- modern buildings spoiling the historical harbour.
- did not increase the number of its World Heritage Sites.
- increased the number of its World Heritage Sites.
- was shocked by UNESCO’s decision on Liverpool’s World Heritage Site status.
- to promote peace.
- to promote education, science and culture.
- to protect world heritage sites.
- threatened by the construction of a dam.
- built in the 1960s.
- saved by an international rescue mission.
- led to the creation of the World Heritage.
- made Abu Simbel the first World Heritage site.
- taught the importance of preserving places of outstanding value.
- it must be nominated by the World Heritage Committee.
- it must pass the examination of international experts.
- it must pass the vote of the World Heritage Committee.
- to protect World Heritage sites.
- to promote cultural exchange.
- tourists visit its World Heritage sites.
DEBATE 7) Pair up with one of your classmates and look at the proposition below; one of you will argue in favour of it and one of you against it. Proposition: Cultural Sites are more important than Natural Sites.