Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

WELSHMEN could be forgiven pangs of pride last week when one of the valleys, Blaenavon, was declared a world heritage site by Unesco. No more shall the boyos of toil feel abandoned to the ravages of Thatcherism; from now on their mines and their little houses will rate alongside the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal on the tourist trail.

Yet what exactly does it mean? That homeowners will be pursued by Unesco for putting in the wrong sort of windows, and new factories refused planning permission? I put the question to CADW, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage and the main driver behind the application for world-heritage-site status. `Good question. I've no idea,' said a spokeswoman, Hannah Thomas. `But it's a great status symbol. It gives the area kudos.'

Whether kudos is what Blaenavon really needs, when the deaths of its coal and steel industries have led the population to collapse from 25,000 to 6,000, is another matter. A reading of Britain's nomination to Unesco suggests that the accolade is unlikely to lead to much in the way of new industrial investment. …

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