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World Heritage status sought for Great Western

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ENGLISH HERITAGE will launch a campaign this summer to have Brunel's Great Western Railway between London and Bristol classed as a World Heritage Site.

It wants the railway to be recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an archetype of modern transport infrastructure.

The move also aims to capitalise on Brunel bicentenary celebrations.

'England was the cradle of the industrial age. We're making the case that there should be a discrete list [of World Heritage Sites] that reflects this, ' said English Heritage chairman Sir Neil Cossons.

'Of the first generation of inter-city railway lines, the Great Western is still substantially complete, unlike the London to Birmingham line, which was signifi cantly knocked about in the 1960s, ' he said.

Cossons described the line as a collection of 'pearls on a string.

'What Brunel created wasn't just an outstanding work of engineering but a work of great architectural design. It is a spectacular statement of Brunel's creative range and power - the epitome of 19th century industrial prowess.' All the major structures on the Great Western route between London and Bristol already have Grade I or II* Listed status.

Gaining World Heritage status from UNESCO would give no extra protection to structures, said English Heritage head of industrial archaeology Keith Falconer.

'It would simply unify what is currently a disparate collection of sites along the route.'

INFOPLUS The Brunel Bicentenary conference is on 6 and 7 July. www. brunelevents. co. uk

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