Porto: ERIH Annual Conference with Atlantic Feel

Lively discussions and presentations addressing the issue of „Industrial Heritage: The International Story"

How do we illustrate the pan-European dimension of industrial heritage? To discuss this question about 60 participants gathered at the ERIH annual conference 2016. The programme started with the presentation of the just published ERIH brochure „Industrial Heritage: The International Story", followed by case studies with a multi-national focus. Further issues included organizational structures of ERIH on a national level and the network’s contribution to the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018. The host city Porto boasted exciting visits, bright summer days and Atlantic feel.

The new ERIH brochure, presented by Peter Wakelin on behalf of the author Barrie Trinder, characterizes the industrialization of Europe as a multi-facetted cross-border process. The brochure’s professional approach primarily addresses industrial heritage sites, but is also of interest for a broader audience.

The series of best-practice case studies was opened by Gérald Colleaux, Programme Manager at the Directorate-General for Education and Culture, European Commission. His brief portrait of the "European Heritage Label" investigated how the EU seeks to uncover the common yet diverse cultural heritage of Europe at selected sites of outstanding historical significance. Walter Hauser, head of LVR Industrial Museum, spoke about a successful student exchange scheme between the industrial museums in Cromford, England, and the Cromford Textile Mill in Ratingen near Düsseldorf, which he claimed to be a model co-operation for other ERIH sites.

Multiple countries, as stated by Ernst Miglbauer of Invent-Büro OÖ, are also involved in the revitalization of a former railway, the Fen-Rail, being transformed into the Vennbahn Cycle Route along the German-Belgian-Luxembourgish borders, thus connecting several towns with a significant industrial history. Harry van Royen of Projectvereniging Erfgoed Rupel addressed the challenges of documenting the almost vanished Belgian brick and tile industry including its impact on other European countries. In the end, Karel Malik of Dolní oblast Vítkovice introduced the participants to the pan-European interconnections of the new ERIH Anchor Point Vítkovice in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Three lively panel discussions were scheduled for the afternoon. The first of it shared experiences with the implementation of ERIH on a national level. Innovative proposals resulted from a workshop focusing on recommendable activities for ERIH members during the next funding period 2017 to 2021. A whole range of good ideas came out of brainstorming sessions investigating a shared performance of ERIH in the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018. More details will be announced soon.

The guided tours that accompanied the conference were manifold as usual and covered also the surroundings of Porto, including Guimarães, the country’s first capital and the cradle of the Portuguese nation. Visits to a hat-making site, a cutlery factory, a fish processing plant, a national railway museum and the oldest textile mill in the country are proof enough that the region is deeply rooted in industrial history. Porto itself, with its historical center, appointed a World Heritage Site back in 1996, with its nearby beaches and the fantastic weather, showed a most charming side.

ERIH President Prof Dr Meinrad Maria Grewenig expressed his appreciation to the conference organizers and hosts and warmly invited all participants to join the ERIH annual conference 2017, probably to be held in Copenhagen from 20 to 22 September 2017.


The presentations on the conference
Photos of the conference