Birmingham ought to become the city of industrial heritage and needs to start planning now to celebrate the bicentenary of Birmingham steam engine pioneer James Watt in 2019.
Those are two of 20 recommendations outlined in a new Birmingham Heritage Strategy set to be adopted by city councillors next week.
The strategy highlights a key failing in developing an identity for Birmingham and that it should brand itself as the heart of the industrial revolution.
It states: “Many cultural heritage tourism destinations like Bath, York or Barcelona focus on a single aspect of the city’s heritage.
“Birmingham’s heritage is more diffuse and multi-layered and of course multi-cultural.
“If one were to identify a single unique selling point it would be the city’s and region’s contribution to the Industrial Revolution. Birmingham is one of the places where the modern world began, especially in high-quality metal manufactures.”
It talks about exploiting the city’s assets, including the museum collection, archives, the canal network, the Jewellery Quarter and Soho House in the telling of the story.
And it says the bicentenary of Matthew Boulton in 2009, while seens as success in many ways, did not gain national or international recognition and urges better planning for the 200th anniversary of the death of James Watt in 2019.
Called Protecting the Past, Informing the Present, the document ties together all activity around the preservation and promotion of the city’s heritage and its history.
It also states that while Birmingham is great at recognising the big stuff, such as the Staffordshire Hoard, not enough is done to promote history away from the city centre and says that ten district heritage champions should be appointed to push projects and activity in the suburbs.
Birmingham’s Heritage Champion Coun Phil Davis said: “I’m grateful to the various groups and individuals who’ve contributed to the new strategy.
“Cash is tight but there’s a great deal of co-operation and enthusiasm in the city.”