World Heritage Site Status: What it means

What is a World Heritage Site?

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance.

UNESCO World Heritage inscription means that Jodrell Bank Observatory is now recognised by UNESCO’s international community as an area of Outstanding Universal Value.

Why Jodrell Bank Observatory?

Jodrell Bank fulfils the following judgement criteria for World Heritage Site status:

  • A masterpiece of human creative genius related to its scientific and technical achievements
  • Represents an important interchange of human values over a span of time and on a global scale
  • An outstanding example of a technological ensemble which illustrates a significant stage in human history
  • Directly and tangibly associated with events and ideas of outstanding universal significance.

How did this happen?

The road to World Heritage Site status has been long and this award marks the culmination of years of hard work led by Professors Tim O’Brien and Teresa Anderson.

  • 2010: Application for Jodrell Bank Observatory to be included on the UK’s shortlist for World Heritage Site nomination
  • 2011: Inclusion on the UK’s ‘Tentative List’
  • 2011 – 2015: A detailed Technical Assessment produced and submitted to the UK’s Assessment Panel
  • 2015 – 2016: A Conservation Management Plan created
  • 2017: Nomination Dossier submitted
  • 2018: Jodrell Bank Observatory chosen as the UK’s nomination for World Heritage site status in 2019
  • 2019: UNESCO Committee review and World Heritage Site status awarded

What does this mean?

Jodrell Bank is the 32nd site in the UK to receive this award and joins just over 1,100 sites internationally.

World Heritage Site status is an enormous accolade for both the region and the UK as a whole, enhancing global recognition for Jodrell Bank, and offering a wealth of new benefits and opportunities.

World Heritage Site designation enshrines the unique heritage of Jodrell Bank for the future, and ensures that the physical heritage of the site will be managed, protected and conserved according to the standards required, addressing risks and safeguarding its care and maintenance for future generations.

The status also provides a context through which to further engage people with Jodrell Bank’s transformational and pioneering history, allowing us to tell the inspirational human stories behind the site’s incredible science.

The development of our First Light project has been concurrent with the World Heritage Site process and will be fundamental to extending understanding of and engagement with the heritage of Jodrell Bank. The project will provide the means through which to reveal, interpret and explain our story, so that a wider range of people can understand and appreciate the unique turning point that occurred here at Jodrell Bank with the emergence of radio astronomy.

Investment in the First Light project by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport is testament to the significance of our site to the nation, but also the values upheld by our site as a place of continuing human endeavour.

We look forward to the many benefits of World Heritage Site status and the positive impact this will have on our communities, both locally and across the globe. World Heritage Site status helps to instil a sense of pride and can act as a catalyst for future events, projects and deeper community engagement.