Blaenavon welcomes ‘World Heritage Learning and Engagement’ technical workshop

Blaenavon, News, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Blaenavon group photo

Gareth Davies, Town Mayor of Blaenavon, hosted the forty participants from all four UK nations and the World Heritage UK President, Chris Blandford, at a civic reception at The Workmen’s Hall as part of a busy programme of activities at the World Heritage Learning and Engagement technical workshop held at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site in South Wales in February. These activities included a discussion on establishing a ‘World Heritage Learning and Engagement Network’, shared experiences amongst delegates of this important field of work with some useful and interesting case studies, hands-on creative workshops and some excellent site visits to the Ironworks and underground at Big Pit.

The varied presentations from the event are now available for sharing:

1 Introduction to Learning and Engagement by Ashleigh Taylor

2 Acting Locally, Thinking Globally by Dr Jamie Davies

3 Partnership with Purpose by David Williams and Dan Oliver

4 Engaging Young People in New Ways by Georgina Greaves

5 Unloved Heritage by Polly Groom

6 Evaluating Learning and Engagement by Ashleigh Taylor


Happy New Year from World Heritage UK! – why not start it with Learning and Engagement at Big Pit, Blaenavon UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Blaenavon, Education, News, Technical Workshop, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Big Pit 2 19 Aug 03_002

Why not start your 2019 off with something to look forward to? Book now for World Heritage UK’s ‘World Heritage Site Learning and Engagement – from cradle to grave’ Technical Workshop on the 19th and 20th February, to be held at Big Pit, Blaenavon. Tickets are available at where you will also find links to the full event programme.

PLUS! – On the morning of the 19th January (10am – 12pm) at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre there will be the first World Heritage Learning and Engagement Network meeting. This is free and open to all colleagues, staff and volunteers who are involved with learning and engagement in World Heritage Sites. It will be an opportunity to share best practice, share ideas, develop new ideas and create cross-site opportunities for World Heritage. Contact for more information on this.

Also watch this space for details of the summer networking meeting and the Autumn annual conference, this year to be held near the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site at Llangollen, in North Wales.

We hope to see you at some of our events – have a great year!


Man Engine kicks off Wales tour at Blaenavon WHS

Arts, Culture, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Man Engine WalesBritain’s largest mechanical puppet to begin 2018 tour at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site

The largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain will start its tour of Wales with an opening ceremony in Blaenavon on Sunday 8 April 2018.

The colossal Man Engine will begin his journey at Big Pit National Coal Museum before parading down to Blaenavon Ironworks accompanied by choirs, brass bands and theatrics as part of his journey across Wales, entitled: Man Engine Cymru: Forging a Nation.

From Blaenavon it will visit Parc Bryn Bach, Cyfarthfa Park and Castle, Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, the National Waterfront Museum Swansea, Swansea City Centre and the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks.

The Welsh tour is a collaboration of the cultural sector in Wales, with Swansea University working in partnership with the Welsh Government’s historic environment service (Cadw), Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, five local authorities (Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Swansea), Head 4 Arts and Golden Tree Productions.

The team behind the Man Engine, Golden Tree Productions, are creating a bespoke visual and aural experience for the Welsh expedition set to include theatrical shows, live music and storytelling to highlight the rich industrial heritage of south Wales.

Visitors will be able to view the event outside the Big Pit Museum and parade through the Gilchrist Thomas Industrial estate.  Tickets to view the main event at the Ironworks can be booked via or through the Blaenavon Box Office 01495 742333.


Awards, Celebration, News, UNESCO

‘World Heritage Youth Ambassadors’ have won the NATIONAL VOLUNTEER GROUP OF THE YEAR  award!

This is one of the top volunteering awards in Wales presented by Welsh Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).  Nominated by Blaenavon Town Council for the work undertaken within the World Heritage Site, and for the work done during the Youth Summit.

The World Heritage Youth Ambassadors is a fully funded HLF project run by the Blaenavon World Heritage Site and led by Torfaen County Borough Council. It is a project that empowers young people aged 13-25 to have a voice and an active role in the management of the World Heritage Site and this has proved highly successful.

This prestigious award is a real testimony not only to the fact the volunteer programme works, but recognizes the hard work and dedication of a small but active bunch of young people who are making a real difference in the World Heritage Site.

 The award will be received on Friday 10th June at a ceremony in Cardiff Castle.

#OurWorldHeritage Photo & Story Contest

Awards, News, Opportunities, Uncategorized, UNESCO

IMG_5235#OurWorldHeritage is a social media campaign where people are invited to share their unique world heritage stories and experiences with UNESCO’s global community.

It’s easy to participate in UNESCO’s Our World Heritage Photo and Story Contest!

1 Take a photograph of yourself at a UNESCO World Heritage Site

2 Write a brief description of your experience at the site

3 Post your photo on your instagram using #OurWorldHeritage before the 29th February

See also:

UK UNESCO World Heritage Youth Summit 2015, by Jamie Davies

Events, News


The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, inscribed in 2000, hosted the fourth UK UNESCO World Heritage Youth Summit during 20th-22nd October 2015. Blaenavon follows the successful summits held at the World Heritage Sites of the Jurassic Coast (2009), New Lanark (2010) and Maritime Greenwich (2012).

The theme of the 2015 summit was ‘How can we use World Heritage to change the place we live in for the better?.  Over 100 young people aged between 13 and 25 descended upon the World Heritage Site, from all across the UK, with many successful in a competition to represent their local World Heritage Site. Successful students were from Dorset Youth Council (DYCE) representing the Jurassic Coast, students from the Titus Salt School representing Saltaire, as well as young people from the Hereford and Malvern Sea Cadets and the Egypt Centre, Swansea.

The Egypt Centre entry was the winner in the creative artwork based competition. The sphinx made out of recycled materials, and decorated with the flags of the world, was designed to symbolise world heritage, cultural tolerance and peace.

The summit provided an opportunity to celebrate and learn about World Heritage and how culture can change the World. What was most obvious was that it was a fun yet intensive opportunity for young people to develop their personal skills (confidence, team working, social and personal development) through team-building exercises, as well as their knowledge and understanding about World Heritage, through an in-depth experience of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site.

Over the course of the 2 days, there was a packed schedule which included visits to the key attractions and sites of Outstanding Universal Significance within the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape such as Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon Ironworks, a trip on the Blaenavon heritage railway, a guided walk through the industrial landscape (Garn yr-Erw, Dyrne-steel incline, Hill’s tramroad and the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal) and town of Blaenavon.


During the summit, I had the opportunity to discuss the value of the World Heritage inscription with many people from Blaenavon- from the local residents, to the county councillors, the local MP, the steering group, World Heritage managers and youth ambassadors. What was most apparent was their pride in the inscription, 15 years on, and the direct benefits it has produced. It was great to see that they also were open about the challenges about the management of the sites including both man-made and natural threats during the guided walks and a debate on the benefits and challenges of World Heritage inscription. It is clear why Blaenavon is a commonly cited example of a site where World Heritage inscription has not only positive transformed the site physically and economically, but also socially through the new World Heritage identity.  It was truly inspirational.

The keynote speaker was 23 year old Youth Peace Ambassador Rimesh Khanal from Nepal. Rimesh is the founder of Nepal’s Youth’s UNESCO Club and organised the country’s first Youth Peace Festival. He gave an emotional presentation about the devastating effects of the 2015 earthquake, especially their World Heritage Sites and the centrality of the youth in the countries rebuilding. Most poignantly he stated that, if someone comes to his country and asks about its heritage, what can he show them now? Hopefully Rimesh’s presentation made all delegates appreciate and value their heritage even more.

One of the outcomes for the summit, was for the students to become champions for World Heritage. Through a HLF funded World Heritage Ambassadors initiative which is being piloted in Blaenavon, it is hoped the summit will inspire other World Heritage Sites to become part of this and to empower young people just as Blaenavon has successfully done. It was the Blaenavon World Heritage ambassadors who developed all aspects of the youth summit programme and who were central to the management of the summit including leading the youth groups and activities including teambuilding challenges and guiding a tour of the town of Blaenavon. Therefore please get in touch with the Blaenavon team if over World Heritage Sites are interested.

During the summit, I was speaking to a number of stakeholders of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site and stressing that aside from the World Heritage ambassadors initiative, they could provide a voice for young people in World Heritage by allowing a youth representative onto the World Heritage Steering Committee. I also propose that other World Heritage Sites consider this.

Following two World Heritage Youth Summits in England, one in Wales and one in Scotland, I hope the the World Heritage Sites of North Ireland and the overseas territories could consider holding a future summit….

Da iawn Ashleigh a Dan!  Well Done Ashleigh and Dan!

The summit was held under the patronage of UNESCO and sponsorship and support from Torfaen County Borough Council, Torfaen Youth Service, National Museums Wales, Cadw, Monmouthshire County Council, Blaenavon World Heritage Environment Group, Blaenavon Town Council, Blaenavon Town Team, Heritage Lottery Fund.

Article 4 of the World Heritage Convention states that each State Party has ‘the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage’(UNESCO 1972); it is through Outreach and Education that this ‘transmission’ is undertaken.

Article 27 enshrines the Educational duties of WHSs, as it states that ‘The States Parties to this Convention shall endeavour by all appropriate means, and in particular by educational and information programmes, to strengthen appreciation and respect by their peoples of the cultural and natural heritage’ (UNESCO 1972)

The Convention expands on this further by stressing the social value of World Heritage Sites (WHS), as Article 5a demands that heritage becomes ‘a function in the life of the community’ (UNESCO 1972).

It is important to remind WHSs and partners, that Education and Outreach is a duty and obligation. This is a timely reminder as many World Heritage Sites in the UK are undergoing a period of change through restructuring and the rewriting of their Management Plans.  There is no doubt that this summit provided an important reminder of this!

For more information:

Ashleigh Taylor (Project Manager) and Dan Oliver (Youth Ambassadors) – Blaenavon World Heritage Centre

Blaenavon World Heritage Ambassadors Video

Blaenavon World Heritage Ambassadors Project

Blaenavon World Heritage Ambassadors Facebook page- with pictures from the summit

About Jamie Davies

I am based at the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham, undertaking an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) Studentship with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT), on Education at World Heritage Sites- with Ironbridge as my case study. I am now in my second year.

I am one of four CDA studentships working together with Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage as a case study, each focussed on different aspects of Communicating Outstanding Universal Value: within tourism, communities, education and in the context of Industrial heritage.

Given my PhD research into the pedagogical approaches of communicating Outstanding Universal Value, the summit activities allowed me to undertake informal observational study into the varying pedagogy and interpretation of the World Heritage Site. From guided walks by experts (managers and ex-miners) and youth ambassadors, first person costumed interpretation, hands on and experiential activities, and debates.  I hope to write more about this in the future.

My research question is ‘how are World Heritage values communicated within the learning process’.
My research aims are:
Research Aim 1: To what extent are World Heritage values embedded in the formal learning process (school visits and workshops at the site)?

Research Aim 2: Does being World Heritage change the educational experience?

Research Aim 3: How is the World Heritage concept and UNESCO processed by the visiting schools and colleges?

Research Aim 4: What may be the implications for World Heritage Sites and Education globally?

Jamie Davies

October 2015

2015 UNESCO UK World Heritage Youth Summit Conference: ‘How can we use World Heritage to change the place we live in for the better?”


2015 UNESCO UK World Heritage Youth Summit Conference: ‘How can we use World Heritage to change the place we live in for the better?”

Youth Summit Logo

20th-22nd October 2015, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, South Wales.

The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site is proud to host the 2015 UNESCO World Heritage Youth Summit in October 2015. The event promises to be a unique Summit with young people coming from across the country to celebrate and learn about World Heritage and how culture can change the World.

The Summit will see many of Britain’s World Heritage Sites represented by young people aged between 13 and 17 (25 in special education). Young people who wish to attend must form a group of 4 and enter the nationwide creative competition exploring their local or nearest World Heritage Site, answering the question “How can we use World Heritage to change the place we live in for the better?” The top group from each area will win the opportunity to attend the Summit for 3 days free of charge.

The theme of the 2015 UNESCO World Heritage Youth Summit is “How can we use World Heritage to change the place we live in for the better?”. Understanding World Heritage can help us become aware of our own roots, and of our cultural and social identity, which can help us to create meaningful and lasting social innovation and change, building peace in the minds of men and women. The aims of the Summit are for youth-delegates to:

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of their World Heritage Sites
  • Become champions for World Heritage and change for the better
  • Learn new skills to empower young people to have an active voice
  • Identify ways in which young people can use World Heritage to create a society that reflects the ambitions of a peaceful society.

During the Summit young people will share their experiences and enthusiasm for their local World Heritage Sites and their ambitions for the future of the World they live in. There will be an exciting programme where the successful young people will visit key attractions within Blaenavon Industrial Landscape such as Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon Ironworks, , Blaenavon World Heritage Centre and explore the industrial landscape

The Youth Summit follows similar events held in 2010 and 2012 at the Jurassic Coast and Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Sites. This event is being held under the patronage of UNESCO.

For more information and to find out how to be part of this exciting opportunity please visit our website

This is an example of a poster that will be going to schools around the country:Poster A4-teal-print