Jodrell Bank put forward for World Heritage status

The world's earliest radio astronomy observatory has been nominated for World Heritage status.

Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 4:45 pm
Jodrell Bank Observatory, part of the University of Manchester

Jodrell Bank Observatory, part of the University of Manchester, has been put forward as the UK's nomination for designation as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2019, Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said.

The observatory in Cheshire, founded in 1945, is home to the Grade I listed Lovell Telescope and pioneered the exploration of the universe using radio waves.

It has played a central role in transforming human understanding of the universe, and is a site of global importance, Mr Ellis said.

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If designated, Jodrell Bank would join the likes of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon in the US as sites with outstanding value to the world.

The UK already has 31 cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List, ranging from the Tower of London and Blenheim Palace to the Giant's Causeway and Stonehenge.

Last year, the Lake District was added to the list.

Jodrell Bank is the only site worldwide that includes evidence of every stage of the post-1945 development of radio astronomy.

Alongside the Lovell Telescope, it also includes the Grade I listed Mark II Telescope and the Park Royal building, which was the control room for the Transit Telescope that detected radio waves from the Andromeda galaxy, confirming the universe extends beyond our own galaxy.

Mr Ellis said: "Jodrell Bank played a central role in transforming our understanding of the Universe and is therefore a site of global importance.

"The nomination process for Unesco is rightly thorough but I believe Jodrell Bank deserves to be recognised.

"The diverse heritage of the UK is world renowned and the observatory would be a worthy addition to our list of World Heritage Sites."

Professor Tim O'Brien, associate director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, said: "Jodrell Bank really is an iconic site and institution, not just here in the northwest of England but to people around the world.

"It is the one remaining site, worldwide which has been a working observatory from the very first days of radio astronomy to the present day.

"It's important that we protect its rich heritage as we celebrate its current and future work."

The nomination will be formally assessed by the International Council of Sites and Monuments before the World Heritage Committee decides whether to designate it.