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Aspiring to be on the T List!

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Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 5 Aug 2008 12:34 | Edited by: Solivagant 
(I raise this subject here as being the nearest relevant one but Els may care to start a new Forum and transfer it to that)

I think it might be interesting to build up a list of sites around the world which are aspiring to get on their respective country's Tentative lists. Given the size of those lists and the geological timescale within which UNESCO is allowing them to be brought forward you might think that there was little merit in working to get yet more sites added. But numerous Web pages show that, around the world, there are groups of people working to get their locality recognised. No doubt this is more transparent and bottom up in those countries generally considered "Democratic" - In the UK, for instance, sites don't just "appear" on the T list as a result of Government diktat (though how e.g. China operates we can but guess). They get there as the result of a long period of development and lobbying. One suspects that the mere activity of developing a proposal, even if it might be many years before it could come to fruition, if ever, has some positive benefits. It enables government departments and politicians to "appear" to be doing something worthwhile and it will help drive the development of relevant strategies such as for tourism and environmental protection. And, at the end of it all lies the holy grail of inscription and, with it, all those tourist dollars and a listing alongside the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids!

These aspiring sites should be of interest to us in showing what might be "hidden gems" or alternatively what dross lies beyond a country's current T List! I list below a number of sites in UK which I am aware have initiated some activity to get onto our T List (there may be more). My immediate reactions are
a. that what distinguishes a number of them is their lack of distinction (though no worse than some sites already listed from other countries?) and I don't see much "Top 50 Missing" material amongst them -but hope springs eternal in the breast of a local mayor, politician or history society. And some of them do appear to have a spark of originality! But all that optimism?
b. How much inaccuracy there is in the reporting about the system - you wonder really whether some of these sites really understand what they are getting into (and also whether their citizens understand the upcoming costs of developing a proposal)!
I would be very interested to see a similar list from other countries.

The only 2 "rules" I would suggest are that sites should
a. not be on the current T List
b. have some Web link to document the intention/desire

We could limit the lists to those where some significant activity is ongoing in order to exclude those where someone was just kite flying but I suggest that for the moment we just see what emerges!


Birmingham Jewellery quarter tage-status-will-not-happen-overnight-65233-20734653/


Loch Ness'cou ld_double'.html

Jodrell Bank

Salisbury eritage_status.php



London Docklands (as part of serial Slave route) 01.html

Norwich DPOnline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED16%20Jul%202007%2019%3A48%3A34%3A667



Holyhead Breakwater t-as-campaign-team-go-on-the-attack-over-a-friend-in-need&method=full&objectid=183324 37&siteid=50082-name_page.html

Bury St Edmonds

Somerset Levels

Charles Rennie Macintosh's Glasgow (Hill House + Glasgow School of Art)


Author Xeres
#2 | Posted: 5 Aug 2008 16:28 | Edited by: Xeres 

Author meltwaterfalls
#3 | Posted: 6 Aug 2008 05:01 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
I am sure I have come across more, but most of the ones I instantly thought of were in the UK list above.

The only other one I know of that was working on it was Zlin in the Czech Republic. I remember speaking to a friend from Zlin about this issue and the population on the whole were not particularly supportive of it, they didn't like the idea of UNESCO interference in local events.

In realtion to the UK list;

I am a little biased on the Portsmouth propossal as it is my home town, of the rest Jodrell Bank and the Macintosh building's seem interesting.
The London Docklands serial slave trade site looks like it has UNESCO backing so could be a contender. The rest just seem standard fare.

I do like York and think that had the UK put it forward with the first batches of sites it would have got onto the list fairly early on, but now it would just be another old European City with a big cathedral.

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 6 Aug 2008 05:05 
Ans here is the list of 35 sites which applied in the USA for inclusion on its 2008 revised T List (ultimately only 14 got "accepted")

Author paul
#5 | Posted: 6 Aug 2008 05:56 
I quite like Jodrell Bank!

I lived in York for three years so I am also biased. The cathedral, especially the stained glass, the city walls with the intact barbicans and the Cliffords Tower with its motte, definitely make it special! Also the urban continuity angle is valid. I would judge it better than many "old cities" on the list. Perhaps its best chance would be to propose a "chocolate route" or something.

I started travelling in Asia before I had an interest in architecture or history, so I had seen many temples and mosques before I started visiting Cathedrals, and I think that they are some of the most inspiring buildings anywhere - "inspring" is my most important metric on a site.

Author Solivagant
#6 | Posted: 6 Aug 2008 13:53 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I note from the link provided by Xeres that the Canadian "Aspiring list" (ie those which failed to get on the 2004 T List) includes "Victoria's Chinatown National Historic Site of Canada"
But nothing at all from Vancouver!

Then, concidentally, I received this link e988f105d
showing that Vancouver's Chinatown wants to get inscribed! Although I have been to both Vancouver and Victoria I must admit that only the former's Chinatown registered in my memory!

PS No comment from anyone about Blackpool??!!!!! The article was quite interesting and, the more I thought about it the more I warmed to the idea! I worked on Coney island NYC for 2 months one summer too many years ago. In those far off early 60's days it was quite atmospheric but, as stated, it lacked the "Seaside Boarding House" aspect being only a day trip location. But in any case a number of the "original" features got burnt down some years later. The article makes quite a good case, I think, for Blackpool's pre-eminance Worldwide when it comes to a late 19th and first half of 20th century "working class" Seaside Resort - and why shouldn't such a site be inscribed?

Author meltwaterfalls
#7 | Posted: 6 Aug 2008 17:28 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
I rember the Blackpool proposal getting some coverage on the BBC website a few years back. After initially laughing it off I actually started to think about it and I thought there may be something worthwhile to it. Leisure activities on the list are almost always very aristocratic i.e. hunting lodges, villas. so a site that repressented the masses would be very welcome and illustrative of the 19th and 20th centuries. Increased lesuire time of the working classes would be something that I think deserves a place on the list.
I personally would favour Brighton, purley because it is a place I really enjoy visiting, but Blackpool would probably be the stronger candidate.

Author rowan
#8 | Posted: 6 Aug 2008 23:10 
We've just started to discuss attempting to have Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected area listed:

It's the biggest NPA in Laos and the best tiger habitat in Indochina. Currently Lao PDR has no natural sites on the tentative list. I'd be interested to know what people think, but at time of writing visitors cannot go to the NPA. We hope it will open soon (by mid-2009, maybe sooner). We're currently planning a visitors' centre.

Author Solivagant
#9 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 03:49 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Hi Rowan,
Good to hear from you and get some "first hand" information from/about Laos and its WHS plans.

The "Connections" section of this site has established that there are 9 "Tiger Habitat" sites on the list (If we have missed any please let us know!). 2 of these are SE Asian in Thailand - though probably neither (??) was inscribed primarily because of the Tigers. Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary was inscribed in 1991 and Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex was inscribed in 2005. The fact that this latter was only 3 years ago is probably irrelevant, since gaining WHS status seems to be an up to 10 year project (I note that the Laotian T List dates back to 1992 so are they preparing a new list of cultural sites as well?). There was also the Sumatran site inscribed in 2004 though perhaps that is too far away for direct comparison? In pure comparative terms neither Thai site sounds as good for Tiger as Nam Et-Phou (How many are there left in each site from your knowledge?) so that one great thing going for it (as well as being the first Laotian National site)!
Clearly everything possible should be done to preserve the Tiger habitats but is gaining WHS status the best or even an early step for achieving this? I don't know the statistics but many natural WHS seem to have previously gained World Biosphere Reserve status first - though neither of the 2 Thai sites did. I don't fully understand the respective merits of the 2 schemes though undoubtedly the WHS scheme is more prestigious - but does it really provide any better habitat protection/management? And, is it possible that its high profile might even have the opposite effect in the long term?

Perhaps us cynical Westerners, whose countries already have a lot of WHS, undervalue the impact on a developing country of the "honour" etc of inscription. I am somewhat amazed at the patriotic fervour recently engendered by the relatively "run of the mill" inscription of Melaka/Georgetown (let alone the more specialised case of Preah Vihear!). UNESCO are undoubtedly conscious of the power of inscription and do everything they can in terms of "rationing" the honour to bolster this. So it might well be that inscription of Nam Et-Phou would have very positive effects on the habitat. More tourists yes but also governmental kudos and local jobs from preserving the tigers and also more International money? But I look at India -Manas has not been a good example. Has its inscription actually achieved anything?

Author paul
#10 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 04:37 
Are there enough interesting historic fun fairs to make a worthwhile serial proposal? Luna Park in Melbourne would be a candidate and Solivagant as suggested Coney Island.

Author Solivagant
#11 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 05:21 | Edited by: Solivagant 
There was a suggestion earlier (from whom I cannot remember) that we consider the criteria for Serial sites. No one has picked this up but a lot of the Top 50 missing suggestions have featured ever lengthening "serial site" lists.

Am I alone in not seeing merit in this?

Does anyone know the UNESCO policy documents which discuss this matter?
I would have thought that a serial site needs to be pretty directly linked rather than just being a list of similar sites. At some level or another all "similar" sites can be linked to the same imperatives which led to their creation. So, to use my favourite example, all Gothic cathedrals could be a serial site representing that Architectural style and the society/beliefs/technology which developed it - merely to suggest it I think shows that the reasoning would be pretty thin.
But don't all historic "fun fairs" (or more widely "Mass Holiday Resorts") reflect the same social developments, level of technology etc?

Bringing a lot of similar sites together has the merit of not having to decide between their respective merits and may create a breadth of coverage which demonstrates the overall movement more clearly but i think it is a bit too easy and in any case is not the way the "system works".

In another world it might be better if UNESCO agreed that historic mass holiday resorts could have "Universal Value" and opened the way for all candidates to "apply" if their preserved remains and management regimes were appropriate. The focus of World Heritage would move to the "subject" rather than to the "site". This CAN be done, as the series of documents by IUCN/ICOMOS on "Filling the Gaps" shows - in effect a list of "subjects" has been created and a process to add new subjects could be developed (eg using a recent suggestion - Missile sites!!??)
But, as my earlier post on this argued, ge=0#msg396
at the moment UNESCO is pursuing a policy of mixing "the Best of the Best" with "Representative" sites. I think Blackpool would probably argue on the basis of the former but should easily get in on the latter if it gets its "Inscription Act" together, is not trumped by somewhere which is quicker off the mark and, of course, can convince ICOMOS/WHC that "Mass Holiday Resorts" are a worthwhile WHS subject!

Author m_m
#12 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 06:19 
i remember before when i made a research paper for school on chinese world heritage sites... and there was this media-related website (i remember it was people's daily) wherein there were lots of potential sites all over china trying to register as part of china's tentative list... then an official said that there was a "world heritage fever" going on, with mayors and officials trying to get their hometowns and local sites noticed... the main motivation more than protection i believe is the revenue to be generated when the place is put on the tourist map... i remember reading tombs, ancient cities, the water canals of zhejiang and karst topography as part of those potential nominees... interestingly, all of these have been incorporated in the most recent tentative list submitted by china...

Author Solivagant
#13 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 06:38 | Edited by: Solivagant 

Author Xeres
#14 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 06:41 
Blackpool probably has enough significance by itself to make a good WHS. My understanding was that, one of the reasons why serial sites were made was the old saying our whole is greater then the some of our parts. The individual sites were not important enough to be inscribed by themselves, but once combined combined with other sites (E.G. the Santiago de Compestela Routes) they were significant enough. So among other reasons mentioned above, I don't think it would work to have a Serial site with all old fun fairs. Every thing on the WHS list can be combined with something else, we'd have a pretty small list if instead of the Taj Mahal and Humayun's Tomb, we had "Mughal Tombs", or if there was just one "European Castles" site.

most sites would probably rather be inscribed by themselves, as having a serial site would decrease tourism, as some people would go to the other parts inscribed. Thus, some Serial sites (such as Mudejar Architecture of Aragon) were extended to be Serial, after originating individual.

Author paul
#15 | Posted: 7 Aug 2008 08:25 
I think I suggested the discussion on serial sites, it is an issue which has relevance on many of the recent topics and can be used as a test for the whole concept of a "world heritage list" and its future.

As for fun fairs - this type of location - along with things such as sports stadia and theatres are incredibly difficult to preserve - they are often "out of date" but in central locations which makes them prime targets for redevelopment. Local authorities and even national authorities often find it difficult to put this kind of heritage in to context - these sites are, after all, not the Great Wall of China. Is Luna park worth preserving, is it important enough? I don't know. It is a great place to visit!

Blackpool on the other hand is not just a fun park but the first and greatest town purely dedicated to working class recreation. Unfortunately many significant buildings have been lost when the working class went elsewhere. If Blackpool had been inscribed in the seventies perhaps the hordes of blue guide carrying culture tourists could have saved them while the lads were getting drunk in Firenze!

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