Since its inception, the cultural routes programme
has been interested in the industrial revolution in Europe. The
textile indeed constituted the laboratory of a new approach to
production both in the field of techniques and working methods and
in that of a new organisation of society.
Starting from an assessment of the methodology
implemented for silk and textiles, the great fields of industrial
production will be examined to draw some the general conclusions
about the birth of a new working topic: "Heritage and Industrial
a great variety of proposals
A cultural route cannot be born a priori. It needs
not only a favourable territorial situation involving elected
officials and project carriers, but also the will to make this
local situation find exemplary value, transposable to other local
situations. Apart from the cities participating in the production
of textiles, mining territories, iron and steel areas and
metallurgy in general, the industrialisation of paper production,
as well as that of the transformation of cork lend themselves to
crossroads approaches requiring an analysis of the conservation of
the site, of tools and techniques, as much as an emphasis on the
characteristics of the society that witnessed them.
At present, there still exists a will to implement
a route of the industrial and mining heritage coming from the group
"Minet" gathering a dozen institutions, English, French, Italian,
Spanish and Irish, from the group "Homes de ferro" (Andorra, Spain
and France) and the "European Iron Trail" (Hungary, Slovakia,
Romania, Germany and Austria). To these proposals were added a
route of industrial ceramics (Portugal) and a route of paper in
Europe (Spanish Catalonia, Finland, Germany, England and Italy).
One could not of course forget the many enterprises from the Grande
Région, whose geographical structure lends itself
particularly well to the establishment of transborder routes
between large basins, set up at the end of the last century.
a basic methodology
Several questions related to development must be
examined, based on work already undertaken by various institutions
on the conservation and reemployment of the industrial
- Industrial heritage and tourism
- How to open to the public the archives of local companies,
which can support regional strategies?
- How to convince contractors that broader participation,
including visits to companies that enable the public to evaluate
directly the operation of a workshop, is essential for the success
of a project related to living heritage?
- How to improve communication among cities and regions, by means
of the portal of the Institute, so that they be mutually informed
about the possibilities of attracting visitors?
- How to integrate cultural activities in the policies of tourism
on heritage (music festivals, folklore...)?
- How to study the socio-economic repercussions of these projects
and how to communicate their results?
- Industrial heritage and regional development
All the areas and cities concerned have in common
the fast decline of their industry, which is at the origin of
significant job losses and of the closing down of buildings of
great architectural value, which have become superfluous. Various
strategies should be debated by the speakers on the topic of
development by means of industrial heritage, by tackling key
- Strategies for the development of heritage must rest on studies
and be supported by policies concerning the safeguarding of
buildings and landscapes, the search for materials and witnesses of
the past and the collection of information on this subject.
- Regional development can use built heritage, archival capital,
factories, education and research centres.
- The very term heritage includes population, collective memory,
the way of life and local culture; this is why positive strategies
increase the confidence and pride of the local population.
- Re-dynamizing industrial areas
We have most elaborate examples resting on the
narrow association of strategies for the conservation of the
heritage and strategies of economic revival. For the textiles, for
example, Manchester and Athens revitalised the old districts
neighbouring the city centre, aiming to create small islands of
creativity by supporting a mixed economy (cultural production,
retail trade, coffee shops and residences).
Another series of questions is thus posed:
- How to associate the revival or partial maintenance of industry
with the conservation of heritage?
- How to maintain technical traditions by transmitting them to
the new generation?
- How to transform recent architectural monuments into familiar
reference points to perpetuate cultural identity?
- How to develop strategies of local partnerships between
planning authorities, local industry, higher education
establishments and the community in order to solve problems
together, to coordinate the initiatives?
Port of Bilbao and museum for contemporary art. Photo MTP
- Industrial innovation
The cities and areas that adopted this point of
view followed a method, which enabled them to grow. They currently
enjoy a revival of traditional industries. For the textiles we
already have the town of Boras, which set up a centre for textile
creation and technology for the Swedish textile and clothing
industry. The town of Saint-Petersburg, in collaboration with the
community of independent states, restructured its textile industry
to seek new markets. The town of Lyon took initiatives to develop
its sector of textile creation and technology. The town of Erevan
created a fashion centre and set up an educational centre to
support companies to stimulate local production and the search for
The conclusions of this meeting and the
examination of this capital question should lead the Council of
Europe to use, on this subject also, the framework of the cultural
routes for the set-up of an exercise of memory relating to the
essential question of the changes in the industrial fabric in the
great Europe and to that of the changes in work forms still
affecting Europeans today.
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