Members of Stoke-on-Trent North Constituency Labour Party were told by The Phoenix Trust’s chief executive, David Martin, that heritage tourism could bring prosperity to Kidsgrove.
Addressing a Constituency meeting in Kidsgrove town hall, David said:
“Tourism is one of Britain’s most important industries. The tourist industry has an annual income of £125 billion and employs 2.7 million people. Experts say that each visitor to a tourist attraction spends between £47.50 and £65 in the town where it is situated. Last year, Birmingham had 32.8 million visitors who spent £4.6 billion.
“At the end of the 1980s, Blaenavon in South Wales was a run down former mining town surrounded by industrial wasteland. Heritage based regeneration began there in the 1990s. Blaenavon became a World Heritage Site in 2000 and since then aggressive marketing has made it a major tourist attraction.
“Figures produced by the Welsh Economic Research Unit show that between 2001 and 2011 tourists visiting Blaenavon spent £50 which played a major role in revitalising the local economy. The Welsh Development Agency estimated that visitors spent £6.5 million there in 2011 and believes they will spend more than £7 million this year”
Historically, there is nothing to prevent North Staffordshire’s Industrial Landscape and the Churnet Valley being made a World Heritage Site. Our region has four things that merit World Heritage Site status in their own right. They are:
- Biddulph Grange,
- Chatterley Whitfield Colliery,
- The Wedgwood Institute and
- The Harecastle Tunnels.
David went on to say that over the past few weeks The Phoenix Trust had been discussing with Councillors Margaret Astle, Kyle Robinson, Reg Bailey and Terry Turner ways in which Kidsgrove’s heritage could be used to regenerate the town and the surrounding area.
He said that as a result of these discussions, The Kidsgrove and District Heritage Centre Association has been formed whose aims and objectives include creating a heritage centre and initiating heritage based community regeneration projects.
The Phoenix Trust and The Kidsgrove and District Heritage Centre believe that the Trent and Mersey Canal corridor between the Harecastle Tunnels and Hardings Wood can be used to give Kidsgrove a heritage tourist industry. Kidsgrove already has the basis of a major tourist industry and overseas visitors would come to see:
- The Harecastle Tunnels,
- James Brindley’s grave at Newchapel,
- The site of the Primitive Methodist Camp Meeting at Mow Cop and
- Reginald Mitchell’s birthplace in Butt Lane.
Boat trips could be run through the Harecastle Tunnel and heritage trails are being devised to take visitors to Newcastle and The Potteries.