Jodrell Bank Observatory, situated near Holmes Chapel, has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The observatory becomes the 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Site in the UK and joins the prestigious list alongside international sites including Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.
Jodrell Bank, owned by the University of Manchester, is famous as the home of the Lovell Telescope.
The telescope is the world’s third largest steerable radio telescope and was completed in 1957.
Its dish was the largest of its kind anywhere in the world up until 1973, and the remarkable structure was the catalyst for the construction of many other large scale satellite dishes.
The Lovell Telescope’s first act was to track the Soviet Union’s Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite.
Today, Jodrell Bank Observatory operates the UK’s national e-MERLIN radio telescope and hosts the global headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
SKA is a project that will build the world’s largest telescope, comprised of a network of instruments sited in South Africa and Australia.
The addition of Jodrell Bank to the UNESCO World Heritage List is a recognition of the outstanding scientific heritage it holds.
Its pioneering role in the development of radio astronomy and its work in tracking spacecraft in the early space race, as well as its research into quasars, pulsars and gravitational lenses, have all contributed to making the site so significant globally.
The site provides evidence of every stage of the history of radio astronomy, from its emergence as a new science in the 1940s through to the present day.
The UK’s heritage minister Rebecca Pow said: “I am delighted that Jodrell Bank has become the UK’s 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“The research completed here has transformed our understanding of the universe and it is right that this is recognised.”
Teresa Anderson, director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: “This is wonderful news and a great day in the history of Jodrell Bank.
“It honours the pioneering work of Sir Bernard Lovell and the early scientists here, together with the world leading research that continues to this day.”
Prof Anderson added: “Receiving this recognition will help us tell their story and the story of the communities connected to the site both across the UK and worldwide.”
In 2017 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) increased the Observatory’s recognition in the National Heritage List for England.
The Mark II Telescope joined the Lovell Telescope in being listed at Grade I, the highest form of protection, with a further five buildings listed at Grade II.
Together, these listings recognised the pivotal role played by the observatory in the development of the science of radio astronomy, revolutionising our understanding of the universe.
The decision to add Jodrell Bank Observatory to the UNESCO World Heritage List was taken at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK:
- Blaenavon Industrial Landscape (2000)
- Blenheim Palace (1987)
- Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church (1988)
- Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (1986)
- City of Bath (1987)
- Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (2006)
- Derwent Valley Mills (2001)
- Durham Castle and Cathedral (1986)
- Frontiers of the Roman Empire (1987,2005,2008)
- Gorham’s Cave Complex (2016)
- Heart of Neolithic Orkney (1999)
- Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda (2000)
- Ironbridge Gorge (1986)
- Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (2004)
- Maritime Greenwich (1997)
- New Lanark (2001)
- Old and New Towns of Edinburgh (1995)
- Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church (1987)
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal (2009)
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003)
- Saltaire (2001)
- Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (1986)
- Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey (1986)
- The English Lake District (2017)
- The Forth Bridge (2015)
- Tower of London (1988)
- Dorset and East Devon Coast (2001)
- Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast (1986)
- Gough and Inaccessible Islands (1995,2004)
- Henderson Island (1988)
- St Kilda (1986,2004, 2005)