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This Cheshire landmark is now a UNESCO World Heritage site

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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If you hadn’t heard of Jodrell Bank Observatory, here’s your chance to catch up.

For a small collection of countries, the UK has a pretty impressive array of world-famous attractions for tourists to visit. Some are banner names: Buckingham Palace, Oxford University, Big Ben. Others are hidden gems: the best B&B in the world, secret little craggy islands and the rolling hills of the Peak District.

While Manchester is definitely not a well-kept secret for international travellers, there’s still pockets surrounding the ‘capital of the north’ that remain undiscovered for the world at large. Take the Cheshire Jodrell Bank Observatory, owned by the University of Manchester. It’s not exactly a household name but it’s played a pivotal part in space exploration over the years. 

It’s home to the Lovell Telescope, once the largest in the world when it was completed in 1957 (it’s now third on that list). Jodrell Bank was also responsible for tracking US and Russian space crafts during the space race of the 20th century; the Lovell Telescope followed the first Soviet craft to make a ‘soft’ landing on the moon in 1966 and printed the first grainy pictures from the surface.

Now Jodrell Bank’s contributions to science and history are being recognised – it’s been announced that the observatory is being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. This means the site is being globally acclaimed as an area of either cultural, scientific, historical or other significance and will be protected by a boatload of international treaties.

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“This is wonderful news and a great day in the history of Jodrell Bank,” said Professor Theresa Anderson, director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.

“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.”

The award comes after nine years of campaigning for the inclusion of Jodrell Bank to be recognised by UNESCO, alongside the 31 other UK landmarks that have already received the nod, like Saltaire in Bradford, Durham Cathedral and Kew Gardens. As for the world stage, the Cheshire site now joins the likes of the Taj Mahal and Vatican City. Solid company… 

The decision will doubtless add more weight to current campaign ‘Power Up the North’, that’s seen media and politicians come together to demand the Westminster government commits to directing investment and resources into northern regions – and value the potential that’s there. 

Anything that shines on the light on the parts of the UK we can be proud of is a winner in our book… 

Images: Getty

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Moya Lothian-McLean

Moya Lothian-McLean is a freelance writer with an excessive amount of opinions. She tweets @moya_lm.

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