From its very beginning, industrialisation has crossed borders - it was never a purely national phenomenon. Since the mid-18th century new technologies and methods of production spread rapidly across Europe. Manufacturers built their factories in different countries and generated massive profits, and thousands of workers migrated to the emerging industrial areas. Trade unions fought successfully for workers rights which became embedded in the European welfare state of today. It was on these foundations that modern Europe was established, characterised by its great economic prosperity and its high standards of social and medical care.
Every town, every industrial monument, and every workers' estate was, and still is, part of this process that started in Europe and subsequently spread across the world. But most visitors are still unaware of this. The closely connected network of European industrial regions that continue to inspire and strengthen each other is something that is rarely presented today at most industrial monuments and attractions.
This must change! The ERIH network uncovers the European dimension of industrialisation, offering a hands-on experience of our collective European history. The aim is that every ERIH site will in future give visitors an insight into the various European links and interconnections. ERIH is supported in this by the European Commission's framework programme 'Creative Europe' which acknowledges the network's contribution to the conservation and presentation of European industrial heritage. This funding has enabled the production of this brochure which aims to encourage ERIH sites to present the European dimension of industrialisation to their visitors. Like the ERIH theme routes, the brochure outlines the history of the various industrial sectors, thus creating an exciting European narrative. Of course this is not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, it seeks to encourage its readers to focus particularly on the transnational aspects of European industrial heritage and provide ideas for including the international story in the sites’ presentations.
The timing is ideal since the EU has declared 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage. It will celebrate both: our common cultural roots and the cultural diversity of the continent, and both come together in the European industrial heritage, the specific cultural legacy of a Europe of regions.
This brochure is a first step in presenting this complex subject and we look forward to receiving amendments and ideas to continue telling this exciting story.
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