What is Heritage?

Ask most people what heritage is and they conjure up images of romantic mediaeval churches and castles in Europe, or historic Perth buildings such as the Barracks Arch or His Majesty’s Theatre.   These images, along with family heirlooms such as photographs, personal letters and documents, combine to give a personal heritage which is cherished, appreciated and often shared with others.

Communities too have a collective heritage which can include buildings, parks, farms, landscapes, archives and collections of objects gathered by citizens.   These all combine to give a unique cultural identity to the people who live in a particular area.

The past is all around us.   Everywhere has a history and everywhere has a heritage.   Even in relatively new cities such as Perth, we live our lives against a rich backdrop formed by historic buildings, landscapes and other physical survivals of our past.   But when is something old enough to become a heritage item?

Answer: There is no age qualification that defines a heritage place, nor is there a measure of the value it gives individuals or communities.

Because they clearly define the skyline of Perth and give it a unique silhouette, buildings such as the Bankwest Tower and Central Park, although comparatively new, along with modern architectural icons such as the Bell Tower, have already become part of Perth’s heritage.

A broad definition of heritage is:

Those things from the past which are valued enough today to save for the people of tomorrow.

The Old Court House - the oldest standing building in the city centre

The Old Court House - the oldest standing building in the city centre