Journey to Baku (……& the World Heritage Committee)

Early in July this year, we are off to Baku to attend the 2019 World Heritage Committee meeting – because this year, in July, in Baku, the World Heritage Committee will formally consider the nomination of Jodrell Bank for inscription on the World Heritage list.

Photo credit: Ant Holloway

It’s a journey of 2, 500 miles, but will seem short to us, given that we have spent almost 10 years working towards this point.

The first step on the journey was the application, in 2010, for Jodrell Bank Observatory to be included on the UK’s national shortlist for World Heritage site nomination (known as the ‘Tentative List’).

To our delight, in 2011 the application was successful, despite the fact that it was our first engagement with the World Heritage themes and processes.

In the UK, the government (via the Department of Culture, Media, Sport and Digital – DCMS) regularly assesses whether any of the sites on the shortlist are ready to go forward for ‘Nomination’ to UNESCO. In order to be considered, sites have to submit a ‘Technical Assessment’ to the UK’s Assessment Panel. We have done this three times since 2010, and as we went through the process, we learned more and more, not only about the application process, but also about the history and heritage of Jodrell Bank. New images and stories appeared, as well as more and more information about the site itself.

Finally, we were very pleased to hear, in the summer of 2017, that we had been successful and that Jodrell Bank had been selected by the Assessment Panel as the UK’s next candidate for nomination to UNESCO.

The more challenging thing to hear, at this point, was that DCMS and Historic England had decided that the application should be submitted in January 2018, so that the case could be considered in July 2019.

That meant that we had less than 6 months to prepare the huge Nomination Dossier that is required, which includes Comparative Studies of similar sites worldwide, the development of a full Management Plan in collaboration with everyone connected to the site, and the writing of the main nomination document itself.

Six months of very hard work followed. We spent every weekend and evening working on it (thankfully we are married to each other, so were both in the same house). We let ourselves take a day off on Christmas Day and on New Year’s day, but otherwise just worked solidly, (around our dining table…) until we got it done.

We had help from a few lovely people on the way (thank you Henry, Christopher, Karl and Enid) and managed to get our Nomination Dossier finished and beautifully designed (thank you David) and printed in time for the deadline.

A long process of independent assessment followed – including academic reviews of all the documents we prepared by ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), a site visit by an ICOMOS inspector and an interview with an ICOMOS Expert Panel.

And now we are off to Baku in July to find out what they all thought!

Wish us luck!

Teresa Anderson & Tim O’Brien