English Heritage has launched a project to find out how much of the country's industrial heritage is at risk of neglect, decay or even demolition and to raise the debate about what needs saving and how.
It plans to reveal the results of this research, including what the public think, in October this year at the launch of its Heritage at Risk register.
Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: "Places like Ironbridge Gorge, Caphouse Colliery and the Great Western Railway are some of England's best known and best loved landmarks.
“But everywhere we look there are textile mills, coal mines, canals, railways, warehouses, brick works, potteries, breweries, gas works, wind and watermills, ports, docks and harbours - and other remains of the Industrial Revolution, that great era spanning from 1750 to World War One when Britain led the world.
"But much of this heritage is now at risk and the current economic climate isn't helping. Owners are finding it hard to look after their buildings as well as their businesses. Developers are cautious about taking on vacant industrial buildings and public bodies and regeneration agencies are less able to support schemes for re-use. There are no easy answers but we're determined to see what can be done to help. Our industrial past is too important to ignore."
English Heritage aims to get owners, developers, local people, voluntary bodies, academics, professionals and politicians involved in debating the future of industrial heritage before it is too late.
In October it will reveal how much of the listed or scheduled industrial heritage is at risk and what the threats are, and will propose possible ways forward.
It is inviting members of the public to visit their website for more information and to post photographs and comment on favourite industrial buildings on a Flickr group run in association with the Council for British Archaeology and the Association for Industrial Archaeology.
31 March 2011