A landmark conference Industrial Heritage in the Heart of Green Europe was held on 16.11 – 17.11 at Katowice, Poland. The event secured 130 participants from eight countries, including researchers, scientists and officials engaged in monument protection roles and persons actively involved in heritage preservation. Our President, Jaap Nieweg, gave a valuable presentation during a panel session on Industrial Heritage and Fossil Fuels.  Other speakers/participants included representatives of four of our partner organisations from the Working Industrial and Mobile Heritage platform group. After the main working sessions, delegates were able to make a “coal face visit” to an operating coal mine in Silesia. Looking ahead, this mine has the potential to become a museum demonstration mine and thus a source of suitable coal for the rail and industrial heritage sectors.

The conference presentations, exchanges of views and discussions have been distilled into a set of key recommendations to help future preservation of industrial and mobile heritage while also contributing to environmental protection by reducing emissions:

1. Industrial heritage is part of the common identity of the people of Europe. It is a testimony to the dynamic development of European countries.

2. Industrial heritage, as a collective term for immovable and movable heritage, is the basis for identifying the inhabitants of various industrial regions of Europe. It is a testament to meeting citizens’ desires for increasing mobility and the need for efficient manufacturing solutions.

3. Information policy conducted by independent media plays a key role in raising awareness of the need to preserve industrial heritage in Europe.

4. Preserving industrial heritage through its adaptation and reuse is environmentally friendly, saving huge amounts of energy already invested in buildings and structures. It generates significantly less CO2 than is used in the case of demolition and construction of new similar facilities.

5. Coal should be treated as an essential component of Europe’s industrial heritage, driving its development during the industrial revolution. This has already been recognized by the UNESCO inclusion of several coal-related sites and landscapes in Europe.

6. Maintaining our coal-dependent mobile heritage is essential if current and future inhabitants are to understand their history and learn from past patterns. For this reason, it is important to maintain and preserve coal mining capacity in Europe to ensure that the needs of technical museums presenting heritage in motion, such as locomotives, steam engines, steam-powered ships and other historic coal objects, are met.

7. Taking into account the importance of coal in the economic history of Poland and the fact that several mines producing suitable coal are still operating, it is worth considering nominating one of the mines in Poland as a historic mine, the aim of which is to secure future coal supplies for Europe’s industrial heritage.

Fedecrail strongly supports these seven key recommendations and, along with our colleagues from other umbrella bodies, will be working to ensure these are circulated and publicised as widely as possible, not only by our members but also by other bodies throughout Europe (and beyond!).

Peter Ovenstone, Secretary, WIMH Working Industrial & Mobile Heritage Group


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