We are really pleased to have become the newest members of European Routes to Industrial Heritage (ERIH).



It was on the eve of the last millenium that ERIH started. In 1999 the idea was born to implement a European network that would help to support the establishment of industrial heritage as kind of a tourism brand.

What’s behind this idea? Industrial history is a crucial part of Europe’s past since nothing has left its mark as clearly as the two centuries following the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

A swathe of European common ground is waiting to be discovered. First of all the Industrial Age’s living and working conditions were more or less the same, assuming that a miner in the Ruhr district or in the valleys of Wales dug for same coal in a very similar way. They even migrated all across Europe in search of the ‘black gold’. The example illustrates that the peoples of Europe share the same memories of industrial history which are part of the common European identity. Today people in all European countries are looking back to those days that turned into the past, symbolized by thousands of industrial monuments that are cultivated and preserved as witnesses of our technical, social and migration history and as landmarks of a cultural identity of all citizens that has evolved through history. They urgently need our protection since there is no future without past.

During the last two decades the same industrial monuments often turned into symbols for change. They are not only revitalized in a museum context but also are reused to live and work in them. They set the scene to create new as well as classical products and even goods and services of the so called Creative Industries, following the concept of ‘regeneration through heritage’. Not least, the thousands of ‘cathedrals of work’ became most popular as attractions of Europe’s cultural tourism with millions of visitors generating a spirit of change in the old factories. Industrial tourism is not a niche market, but a broad movement inspiring many people.

However, the preservation of old industrial facilities and their presentation as museum is a challenge that requires innovative solutions. This should be fun, not a burden, since we have the chance to transform the industrial areas of the past into vibrant centers of our cities. ERIH as a network seeks to support this by relevant tourist information on Europe’s industrial heritage.


Partners of diverse countries (B, D, GB and NL) joined the ERIH idea and united in successfully applying for funds from the ERIH Interreg II C project for north-western Europe to work out a master plan. This plan, submitted in 2001, illustrates the economic potential of industrial heritage as a tourist brand and presents the possible structure of a pan-European network with anchor points (including their quality standards), regional routes and theme routes.