Railways as World Heritage sites

Coulls, Anthony, Divall, Colin and Lee, Robert (1999) Railways as World Heritage sites. Technical Report. ICOMOS, Paris, France, 29p. ICOMOS Thematic studies, Railways. [Book]


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Abstract (in English)

Railways are among the most important of industrial locations worthy of designation as World Heritage sites. The designation of a carefully selected number of outstanding sites would bring to greater prominence the many ways in which railways have contributed — and in many cases continue to contribute — to the social, economic, political, cultural, and technical evolution of almost every country around the globe. This survey does not pretend to identify those railway locations that are worthy of designation. It seeks only to provide a little of the general background that is needed to appreciate the true historical significance of railways, and to demonstrate the applicability of the usual criteria for World Heritage Sites to the particular case of railways. Not all railways worthy of World Heritage status need be designated in their own right. Railways have always been built as a means to some other end, and it would be fitting if this fact were reflected by the inclusion of railways as integral parts of locations designated as World Heritage sites partly or chiefly for other reasons. This has, of course, already happened in one or two instances: for example, the routes of several early railways fall within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. Again, complexes of important warehouses and other goods facilities at points along a route might be included within other kinds of designated sites, where appropriate, in order to demonstrate the railways' interaction with industry and other modes of transport. Nevertheless, railways enjoy a distinctive enough identity as a kind of socio-technical system for them to be worthy of designation in their own right. Their long history has produced a rich heritage fully the equal of any other aspect of modern society. Continued usage is surely the most fitting recognition that the present generation can accord the achievements of the railways' past. Yet the continued relevance of railways to contemporary society in many parts of the world means that certain aspects of their heritage is at risk from unsympathetic modernization and renewal. The designation of outstanding railway locations as World Heritage Sites can help to ensure a future whereby the achievements of the past are recognised and appreciated as an integral part of the continuing evolution of railways into the next century.

Item Type: Book (Technical Report)
Coulls, Anthony
Divall, Colin
Lee, Robert
Languages: English
Keywords: railways; underground railways; World Cultural Heritage; definitions; criteria; case studies
Subjects: A. THEORETICAL AND GENERAL ASPECTS > 02. Concept and definition
H. HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 16. Industrial and technical heritage
H. HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 28. World Heritage
P. GEOGRAPHIC AREAS > 01. Americas
P. GEOGRAPHIC AREAS > 04. Asia and Pacific islands
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Moscow Underground, Russia; Semmering Railway, Austria; Baltimore & Ohio Railway, United States of America; Great Zig Zag, Australia; Darjeeling Himalayan Railway; Liverpool & Manchester Railway, United Kingdom; Shinkansen, Japan
UNESCO WHC Number: 1998; 944
National Committee: ICOMOS International
ICOMOS Special Collection: ICOMOS Thematic studies
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: Railways
Number of Pages: 29
Depositing User: ICOMOS DocCentre
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2023 14:23
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2024 11:57
URI: https://openarchive.icomos.org/id/eprint/3043

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