Liverpool appoints heritage chief following city’s loss of UNESCO status

Liverpool City Council has created a new role as “the first step in on the road to reminding people that Liverpool is a city which takes heritage seriously”.
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Liverpool has appointed a Head of Heritage Preservation and Development following UNESCO’s recent decision to strip the city of World Heritage status.

The new role has been created to ‘manage, curate and promote’ the historic assets of Liverpool.

St George’s Hall managing director Alan Smith, 59, assumes the post and will also be the city’s official historian.

The council announced Smith will act as a champion for the city’s heritage sector in the “first major move” since the city lost World Heritage status in July.

More than £1 billion has been invested in Liverpool’s historic buildings over the past 15 years, according to the council and the former World Heritage area has “never been in better condition”.

What is the role?

Liverpool City Council said Smith’s goal will be to support the preservation, protection, improvement and enhancement of all of the council’s heritage assets and historic parks.

His primary focus will be on the stewardship of Grade I listed St George’s Hall, the Town Hall and Croxteth Hall.

Smith will curate an events, engagement and education programme to showcase and celebrate the city’s heritage to audiences of all ages.

Alan Smith, Liverpool’s first Head of Heritage Preservation and Development. Image: Liverpool City CouncilAlan Smith, Liverpool’s first Head of Heritage Preservation and Development. Image: Liverpool City Council
Alan Smith, Liverpool’s first Head of Heritage Preservation and Development. Image: Liverpool City Council

He will also lead a team to devise a new arts strategy for the city’s collections, along with a new fundraising strategy.

Smith, who has been involved in the operations and management of St George’s Hall for over a decade, grew up in Tuebrook in Liverpool and said he is “beyond thrilled” with the role.

Reaction to Head of Heritage role

Smith said: “Liverpool is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Europe.

“Our heritage is a truly fascinating journey and it has bequeathed us a treasure trove of stories of human endeavour – of unimaginable suffering, world-defining discoveries and unparalleled creativity – and it is my honour to help plot out how we celebrate and showcase this epic story, using the many wonderful assets the council and our partners have in our collections.

“In this post-Brexit, post-World Heritage, post-Covid world, there are many challenges facing Liverpool but I’m confident all our partners and communities can work together to rise to them and use our heritage to play a key role in redefining Liverpool’s future.”

Councillor Harry Doyle, Cabinet member for Culture and Tourism, said: “The council is facing difficult economic choices, but Alan has displayed a flair for bringing partners together and to attract funding to enhance people’s understanding of our artistic and historic collections.

“Of course, the loss of World Heritage status was something the city was keen to avoid but our architecture, assets and story remain as rich and vital as before.

“This role is the first step in on the road to reminding people that Liverpool is a city which takes heritage seriously, which invests in its heritage and understands what it represents for our city’s identity, and what that means to the rest of the UK and the world.”