North West Europe was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. The legacy of the most radical change in economic history is a crucial element in the continent’s identity. Yet, as a result of modern structural changes, many parts of Europe have de-industrialised, leaving unemployment and physical dereliction. Dealing with such sites is expensive, calling for innovative solutions; a redundant plant is rarely viewed as a heritage resource. As industrial history is a common European heritage and the protection of such sites is such a difficult task, it was felt that it is an issue that could be appropriately tackled through co-operation between member states. To encourage the appreciation, understanding, protection and promotion of this common history as a means of achieving economic growth, the European Network of Industrial Heritage was formerly established under the ERIH Interreg II C project. Within this first ERIH a Master Plan was developed, identifying concrete ideas and activities to promote European Industrial Heritage.


The aim of the five year project, which brings together a dozen authorities, academic institutions, not-for-profit industrial heritage organisations and tourism bodies from three different member states that formed the heart of the Industrial Revolution, is to implement the master plan developed during ERIH I. The underlying objectives are to protect Europe’s industrial heritage sites and use their preservation as a motor for the development of regions that are often suffering from economic decline.

Main actions

ERIH seeks to establish itself as a European brand for industrial heritage. To make this brand visible, ERIH develops a corporate design, including a logo, signage and print products.
The ERIH network intends to encourage the trans-national transfer of knowledge and the development of joint marketing strategies and cross-border initiatives. The project’s main instrument of communication will be the ERIH website, which will act both as a forum for experts to share knowledge and experience and a promotional tool to market industrial heritage to the public. Links to tourist websites and other organisations will help to raise public awareness, attract more visitors and ensure ERIH’s cross-sector integration. The website will also act as a promotional platform for Europe’s industrial heritage and a virtual library for the reports and documents produced during the project. The project will also publish a trans-national leaflet in four languages and promotional brochures for the regional routes.

The Route System

A key element of the project is the establishment of a network of Anchor Points, approx. 60 important industrial heritage sites possessing a well developed tourism infrastructure. For the final selection of the Anchor Points a Seal of Quality will be developed.
The job of the anchor points, which will be distinguished by common external and internal signage to show they are part of the network, is to provide information about industrial heritage and promote the ERIH philosophy. From each of these anchor points ‘regional routes’ will start, linking to smaller industrial heritage sites, so-called Key sites. The creation of the regional routes, which will be piloted in the partner regions, is designed to encourage tourists to visit the regions’ industrial heritage sites, thus stimulating local tourism. Alongside these actions, the project will develop Trans-national Theme Routes showing the historical and industrial links between the different European countries. Unlike the regional routes, the virtual thematic routes will be targeted at encouraging the exchange of information between experts and special interest groups.
ERIH intends that the network will become a pan-European one, integrating partners from across the world. To this end, it will organise seminars and workshops to inform the wider public about the network’s benefits.

Lead Partner: DE Nordrhein-Westfalen Tourismus e.V.
Contact: Dr. Robert Datzer
UK: Essex County Council, Chelmsford
UK: Borough of Telford and Wrekin, Telford
UK: Torfaen County Borough, Torfaen
UK: Field Archaelogy Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester
NL: Stichting Industriecultuur Nederland, Alkmaar
NL: Provincie Noord-Holland Afdeling Zorg, Welzijn en Cultuur, Bureau, Monumenten & Archaeologie, Haarlem
DE: Ministry of Building und Transport NRW, Düsseldorf
DE: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy NRW, Düsseldorf
DE: Projekt Ruhr GmbH, Essen
DE: World Heritage Site Voelklingen Iron Works, Völklingen

Timeline: October 2002 - October 2007