Industrial heritage sites win Europa Nostra Awards

This year, four applications involving industrial heritage sites have won European Heritage Awards, Europe's most prestigious recognition in the field of cultural heritage.

Two of the winners, both in the category "Conservation and Adaptive Reuse", are ERIH sites:

  • Ignacy Historic Mine in Rybnik, Poland: Decay and demolition of one of the oldest mines in the country after more than 200 years of operation? That was not an option for a group of the site's former miners. So they founded an association, convinced the city council of the need to protect the historic plant and, after almost 20 years of effort, secured its renovation. Today, the former power plant building has been converted into an events centre, visitors can explore the interactive exhibition "Age of Steam" in the Kościuszko engine room and shaft building, and the more than 100-year-old steam engine built by Linke-Hofmann-Werke Breslau is once again in full operation.
  • Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom: The future of the iconic brick building at the Shrewsbury flax mill and maltings had also been in the balance for years. It was the first structure ever to be equipped with a supporting iron frame, thereby marking, along with other industrial monuments in the region, the start of mass production and use of iron and steel. It was not until 2005, after 18 years of decay, that the first restoration work began, with the project being completed in 2022. In 2015, an interactive visitor centre opened, which was expanded in 2022 to include the exhibition "The Mill", which provides an overview of the technical, architectural and social history of the building.

Third prizewinners in the category "Conservation and Reuse" are two unique domed structures in the Sierra Espuña in southeastern Spain. These so-called snow wells have been used as ice factories since the 16th century, storing winter snow for summer ice production. The advent of modern refrigeration rendered them obsolete. Local efforts to halt their decline led to the creation of a master plan in 2019, which has since been implemented step by step. In addition to the restoration of the two snow wells, it also includes the preservation of the surrounding areas where the snow was collected.

The Heritage Champions category recognises Piotr Gerber and his Foundation for the Protection of Silesian Industrial Heritage, which was established in 2007. Its main activity is the safeguarding of selected technical cultural monuments characteristic of Silesia, usually by converting them into museums. Two of the five museums currently being run are ERIH members: the Anchor Point Railway Museum of Silesia in Jaworzyna Śląska and the Walcownia zinc rolling mill in Katowice. The foundation is also active in the field of research and communication of Silesian industrial history, offering workshops and educational events.

We warmly congratulate the award winners and hope that this will attract many new visitors to their sites and activities. The prizes will be awarded on 7 October in Bucharest, Romania. All winning organisations will also have the chance to secure one of the Grand Prix trophies, each worth €10,000, or this year's Public Choice Award. The winner of latter will be publicly voted for online – a great opportunity for the ERIH community to promote one of the four award winners presented above and thus to boost industrial heritage as a whole.

European Heritage Awads / Europa Nostra Awards 2024
Vote for Public Choice Award 2024