Pontcysyllte Aqueduct And Canal - 'Magnificent Masterpiece Of The Canal Age' - To Be UK's Next Bid For World Heritage Status

11 January 2008

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, among the world’s most renowned and spectacular achievements in aquatic engineering, has been put forward by Culture Secretary James Purnell as the UK’s latest nomination for World Heritage Site status.

If successful, the 200 year old Aqueduct and Canal will join the other 27 UK World Heritage Sites including Stonehenge, the Giant’s Causeway, and the old and new towns of Edinburgh.  UNESCO, who are responsible for the scheme, will now examine the proposal and make a final decision next year.

James Purnell said:

“The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal is truly a masterpiece from the canal age in the UK.  It is also a magnificent example of our living heritage, remaining one of the busiest stretches of canal in the UK, with some 15,000 boat crossings every year.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Minister for Heritage in the Welsh Assembly Government, added:

“I think that by any standard this great aqueduct is an impressive structure and should enjoy the added renown that World Heritage Site status would confer on it.

“I wish this nomination every success and hope that the hard work will be rewarded with a favourable result.  I am pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government, through its historic environment arm, Cadw, its sponsored body the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and Visit Wales, has been able to help the steering group in progressing the bid.”

Notes to Editors

1. For more information on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal please visit the Wrexham County Borough Council website.

Geographical co-ordinates to the nearest second

The centre of the nominated World Heritage Site, at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is at: Latitude: 52˚ 58' 13" N Longitude: 3˚ 5' 11" W.

Textual description of the boundaries of the nominated Property

The Nominated Site’s boundaries have been drawn to include all those areas or attributes that are a direct and tangible expression of its Outstanding Universal Value: the canal and its engineering features together with remains associated with its construction and historical operation. It consists of 11 miles (18 kilometres) of continuous waterway, from Horseshoe Falls near Llangollen to Gledrid Bridge near Rhoswiel. The boundary encompasses the full extent of the construction works of the canal and all its major engineering features together with areas of land relating to important views of and from the key structures.

The Buffer Zone takes in extensive land in the Dee Valley and the Ceiriog Valley. Landscape Planners from the respective Local Authorities have identified a boundary which follows the topographical ridgeline on both sides of the valley. In places where the ridgelines are less distinct, the Buffer Zone is drawn to incorporate all areas which contribute to the visual setting of the Site and features of related historic interest identified in an Industrial Archaeology study. The area of the Nominated Site is 105 hectares. The area of the Site together with the Buffer Zone is 4,145 hectares.

2. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in North Wales, built between 1795 and 1808, is a masterpiece of historic transport development and the greatest work of two outstanding figures in the history of civil engineering: Thomas Telford and William Jessop. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct crossed the Dee Valley by nineteen spans at a height of 126 feet (38.4 metres). Its application of the new technology of cast iron to create the tallest and longest navigable aqueduct in the world was a daring and spectacular achievement. The associated 11-mile (18-kilometre) section of navigable waterway is an outstanding example of advances in canal building in the Industrial Revolution, one of the fundamental turning points of human history. The Site exhibits important international interchanges of values in inland navigation, civil engineering and the application of iron to structural design. The Aqueduct, located in Wrexham County Borough, and most of the 11 mile canal site is in the ownership of British Waterways.

3. The concept of World Heritage Sites is at the core of the World Heritage Convention, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, to which 184 nations belong. Through the Convention, UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of the cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The Convention required the establishment of the World Heritage List, under the management of an inter-governmental World Heritage Committee as a means of recognising that some places, both natural and cultural, are of sufficient importance to be the responsibility of the international community as a whole. As a member of the Convention, States Parties are pledged to care for their World Heritage sites as part of protecting their national heritage.

4. Nominations for inscription on the World Heritage List are made by the appropriate States Parties and are subject to rigorous evaluation by expert advisers to the World Heritage Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for cultural sites and/or the World Conservation Union (IUCN) for natural sites. Decisions on the selection of new World Heritage Sites are taken by the World Heritage Committee at its annual summer meetings. There are currently 851 World Heritage Sites in 141 States Parties. Some 660 are cultural sites, 166 are natural and 25 are mixed.

5. Inclusion in the World Heritage List is essentially honorific and leaves the existing rights and obligations of owners, occupiers and planning authorities unaffected.  A prerequisite for World Heritage Site status is, nevertheless, the existence of effective legal protection and the establishment or firm prospect of management plans agreed with site owners to ensure each site’s conservation and presentation.

6. The UK’s World Heritage Sites are currently:

• Ironbridge Gorge
• Stonehenge, Avebury & Associated Sites
• Durham Castle & Cathedral
• Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
• Castles & Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
• Blenheim Palace
• City of Bath
• Hadrian’s Wall
• Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey & St Margaret’s Church
• Tower of London
• Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey & St Martin’s Church
• Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
• Maritime Greenwich
• Heart of Neolithic Orkney
• The Historic Town of St George  & Related Fortifications, Bermuda
• Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
• Derwent Valley Mills
• Saltaire
• New Lanark
• Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
• Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City
• Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

• Giant’s Causeway
• St Kilda (dual Natural and Cultural site)
• Henderson Island
• Gough and Inaccessible Islands
• Dorset and East Devon Coast

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