Lea Valley Heritage Alliance (LVHA) is an organisation based in Chingford that upholds the industrial heritage of the area, promotes local sites such as museums and living history projects, and champions business investment in the Lea Valley. The Lea Valley already contains several sites of special scientific interest and an area of outstanding natural beauty but is also home to over 100 world-firsts industrial achievements, the highest concentration in a single location anywhere in the world. For this reason, LVHA’s long-term objective is to have the area added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on the basis that its breadth of industrial inventions and innovations have made an outstanding universal contribution to humanity. This contribution includes the first British airplane, the first electric light bulbs used in houses & public buildings, the diode valve (which paved the way for just about everything electronic), the first beer that could be transported and the first sale of petrol.
The World Heritage list contains 1,073 locations across 167 United Nations’ member states. Nominations for inclusion on the List are made by the UK Government, from a tentative list that it complies during the period between UNESCO reviews. The next review is due no earlier than 2019 and LVHA is keen to be considered on the Government’s tentative list. To this end, LVHA members last week met in Westminster with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, as well as local MP for Chingford & Woodford Green, Iain Duncan Smith. The meeting was to raise awareness of Lea Valley’s credentials as part of the assessment process for potential sites. Given the ultimate accolade of World Heritage status, the assessment process is vigorous with numerous applications from sites across the UK. However, the unique history of the Lea Valley and contribution it has made to the advancement of mankind should place it in good stead.
Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP said:
“Having visited sites that form part of Lea Valleys’ diverse industrial heritage, I am determined to support the Heritage Association’s aspiration in wanting to attain global recognition. To see Lea Valley recognised around the world as such a vital part of the UK’S industrial revolution that so changed the way we live, would be a significant achievement. The purpose is that future generations of children will learn of the historical importance of our area and as they do their lives will be enriched.”
Mr Lindsay Collier, LVHA Chairman, said:
“Getting Lea Valley onto the UNESCO World Heritage List would be an amazing achievement that recognises the area’s unique and important industrial heritage. Many people have heard of Silicon Valley but may not know Lea Valley is of equivalent importance, in terms of the number of inventions that began here and went on to change the world.”