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The TICCIH charter for the identification and protection of the industrial heritage



The earliest periods of human history are defined by the archaeological evidence for fundamental changes in the ways in which people made objects, and the importance of conserving and studying the evidence of these changes is universally accepted.

At the end of the 18th century, a change began that was just as profound as that between the Neolithic and Iron Ages, with developments in the social, technical and economic circumstances of manufacturing great enough to be called a revolution. The Industrial Revolution was the beginning of a historical phenomenon that has affected an ever-greater part of the human population, as well as all the other occupants of our planet, and that continues to the present day.

The material evidence of these profound changes is of universal human value, and the importance of the study and conservation of this evidence must be recognised. 

The delegates assembled for the 2003 TICCIH Congress in Russia wish therefore to assert that the buildings and structures built for industrial activities, the processes and tools used within them and the towns and landscapes in which they are located, along with all their tangible and intangible manifestations, are of fundamental importance. They should be studied, their history should be taught, their meaning and significance probed and made clear for everyone, and the most significant and characteristic examples should be identified, protected and maintained as evidence for the use and benefit of today and of the future. 1The Charter should acknowledge previous relevant charters such as Venice (1964) and Burra (1994) and the Council of European Recommendation R(90) 20.

1.      Definition of industrial heritage

The industrial heritage consists of the remains of the industrial culture which is of historical, technological, social, architectural or scientific value. Industrial archaeology is a method of studying all the evidence, material and immaterial, of documents, artefacts, stratigraphy and structures, human settlements and natural and urban landscapes2For convenience, ‘sites’ will be taken to mean landscapes, complexes, buildings, structures and machines unless these terms are used in a more specific way., created for or by industrial processes. It makes use of whatever methods are most suitable to increase understanding of the industrial past and present. The historical period of principal interest to this study extends forward from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the eighteenth century up to and including the present day. It draws on the study of work and working techniques encompassed by the history of technology, as well as examining its older roots which may be characterized as proto-industrial.

2.      Values of industrial heritage

i. The industrial heritage is the evidence of activities which had and continue to have profound historical consequences. This evidence is of enormous value in helping us to understand our world and how it has arisen.

ii. While consisting of mainly of physical material, the industrial heritage is ultimately important as evidence of man’s ingenuity, a fundamental aspect of human behavior.

iii. The industrial heritage is an asset and an economic resource. Continuing to adapt and use this resource avoids wasting energy in demolishing and re-building, reduces encroachments on natural and agricultural land and diminishes movements of population.

iv. Industrial heritage can have an important role in the economic regeneration of decayed or declining areas. The continuity that re-use implies may provide psychological stability for communities facing the sudden end a long-standing sources of employment.

v. Industry continues to be vital to modern prosperity, and it is important that there is a public understanding of its value, both historically and today.

3.      The importance of identification, recording and research

i. Recording is a fundamental part of the study of industrial heritage. A full record of the physical features and condition of a site should be made and placed in a public archive before any intervention is made. Much information can be gained if recording is carried out before a process or site has ceased operation. Records should include written descriptions, drawings, photographs and video film of moving objects, and references to supporting documentation. Peoples’ memories are a unique and irreplaceable resource which should also be recorded whenever they are available.

ii. Archaeological investigation of historic industrial sites is a fundamental technique for their study. Such excavations should be carried out to the same high standards as those of other historical or cultural periods.

iii. Surveys of geographical areas and of particular industrial typologies should be carried out to identify the extent of the industrial heritage. Using this information, inventories should be created of all the sites that have been identified. They should be devised to be easily searchable and should be freely accessible to the public. Computerization and on-line access are valuable objectives.

iv. Programmes of historical research are needed to support policies for the protection of the industrial heritage. Because of the interdependency of many industrial activities, international studies can help identify sites and types of sites of world importance.

v. The criteria for assessing industrial buildings should be defined and published to achieve general public acceptance of reasonable and consistent standards. Reinforced by appropriate research, these criteria should be used to identify the most important existing landscapes, sites, settlements, buildings, structures, machines and processes.

vi. Those sites and structures that are identified as important deserve to be protected by legal measures that are sufficiently strong to ensure the conservation of their significance. Common criteria should be developed that permit international comparison. The World Heritage List of UNESCO should reflect the tremendous impact that industrialization has had on human culture.

vii. The value of significant sites should be defined and guidelines for future interventions established. Any legal, administrative and financial measures that are necessary to maintain their value should be put in place.

viii. Sites that are at risk should be identified so that appropriate measures can be taken to reduce that risk and facilitate suitable schemes for repairing or re-using them.

4.      Legal protection

I. The industrial heritage should be seen as an integral part of the cultural heritage in general. Nevertheless, the arrangements for its legal protection should take into account the special nature of the industrial heritage. It should be capable of protecting plant and machinery, below-ground elements, standing structures, complexes and ensembles of buildings, and industrial landscapes. Areas of industrial waste should be considered for their potential archaeological as well as ecological value.

II. Programmes for the conservation of the industrial heritage should be integrated into policies for economic development and into regional and national planning.

III. Procedures should be established for responding quickly to the closure of important industrial sites to prevent the removal or destruction of significant elements. Authorities should be able to intervene when necessary to protect important threatened sites.

IV. The most important sites should be fully protected and no alterations allowed that compromise their historical integrity or the authenticity of their fabric. Adaptation and re-use may be an appropriate and a cost-effective way of ensuring the survival of industrial buildings, and should be encouraged by appropriate legal controls, technical advice, tax incentives and grants.

V. Industrial communities which are threatened by rapid structural change should be supported by government departments. Potential threats to the industrial heritage from such changes should be anticipated and plans prepared to avoid the need for emergency actions.

VI. Government should have specialist advisory bodies that can give independent advice on questions relating to the conservation of industrial heritage, and their opinions should be sought on all important cases.

VII. Associations and societies of volunteers have an important role in identifying sites,  promoting public participation in industrial conservation and disseminating information and research, and as such are indispensable actors in the theatre of industrial heritage.

5.      Maintenance and conservation

I. More than any other class of cultural property, the conservation of the industrial heritage depends on the preservation of functional integrity, and interventions to an industrial site should aim to maintain this as much as possible. The value of an industrial site may be greatly reduced if in situ machinery or components are removed, or when subsidiary elements which form part of a whole site are destroyed.

II. The conservation of industrial sites requires a thorough knowledge of the purpose or purposes to which they were put, and of the various industrial processes which may have taken place there. These may have changed markedly over time, but all former uses should be examined and assessed.

III. Preservation in situ should always be the first assumption. Dismantling and relocating a building or structure are only acceptable when the destruction of the site is required by overwhelming economic or social needs.

IV. The rehabilitation and possible adaptation of an industrial site to ensure its conservation through a new use are usually acceptable except in the case of sites of especial historical significance. New uses should be sought which respect the significant material and maintain original patterns of circulation and activity, and are compatible as much as possible with the original or principal use.

V. Interventions should be reversible and have a minimal impact. Any unavoidable changes should be documented and significant elements that are removed should be recorded and stored safely. Many industrial processes confer a patina that is integral to the integrity and interest of the site.

VI. Reconstruction, or returning to a previous known state, is an exceptional intervention and only appropriate if it benefits the integrity of the whole site, or in the case of the destruction of a major site by violence.

VII. The human skills involved in many old or obsolete industrial processes are a critically important resource whose loss may be irreplaceable. They need to be carefully recorded and transmitted to younger generations.

6.      Education and training

I. Specialist professional training in the methodological, theoretical and historical aspects of industrial heritage should be taught at technical and tertiary levels.

II. Specific educational material about the industrial past and its heritage should be produced for the use of teachers at primary and secondary level schools.

III. Preservation of documentary records, company archives, building plans, as well as sample specimens of industrial products should be encouraged.

IV. International co-operation is a particularly appropriate approach to the conservation of the industrial heritage through coordinated initiatives and sharing resources. Common criteria for selection and international inventories and databases should be developed.

7.      Presentation and interpretation

I. Public interest and affection for the industrial heritage, and appreciation for its value, are the surest ways to ensure its conservation. It should be encouraged through television programmes, publication of books and leaflets, exhibitions, by improving access to important sites and by promoting tourism to industrial areas.

II. Specialist industrial and technical museums and conserved industrial sites are both important means of protecting and interpreting the industrial heritage.

III. Public authorities should adopt an active approach to explaining the value and importance of old industrial sites and their meaning to a wide audience.

IV. Regional and international routes of industrial heritage can highlight the continual transfer of industrial technology between different communities.

TICCIH is the world organization for industrial heritage. Its purpose is to promote preservation, conservation, investigation, documentation, research and interpretation of the archaeology and the cultural heritage of industry. TICCIH is ICOMOS’ adviser on industrial heritage.



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