Upcoming Events

Keep informed about heritage issues and projects across the Commonwealth by joining us online at our next online talk. We do not charge a fee to host these talks but if you would like to make a donation it would be greatly appreciated.

Previous Talks

‘Railways at the dawn of the Commonwealth.’, with Oliver Betts is the second talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023). Railways in Britain were reaching their zenith as the Commonwealth of Nations took shape. During the previous century Britain's railway industry had spread across its Empire and into […]
‘Railways and the Raj.’, with Christian Wolmar is the first talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023). India joined the railway age late: the first line was not completed until 1853 but, by 1929, 41,000 miles of track served the country. However, the creation of this vast network […]
‘Da train fo Bo...’, with Helen Ashby and Steve Davies is the sixth and final talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023). Construction of the Sierra Leone Railway was begun in 1896 by the British Colonial Government. Running directly from West to East for some 227 ½ miles, […]
‘Leeds Engines of Empire’, with John McGoldrick is the fifth talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023). The city of Leeds is perhaps not as well-known as it should be as an industrial powerhouse. A major engine of the city’s prosperity was the railway locomotive building sector. Exports […]
‘Refurbishment of the old Railway Bridges at Rail Corridor Singapore’, with Wong Kia Fu is the fourth talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023). In 2011, the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line ceased operations at the Tanjong Pager and Bukit Timah stations and the land was […]
‘The Barbados Trailway Project:21st century transformation of a colonial era railway in the Caribbean ’, with Tara Inniss is the third talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023). The Barbados Railway was operational from 1881-1937. Like many colonial era railways established throughout Britain's empire in the nineteenth century […]
‘Kranji : Singapore’s War Cemetery & Memorial’, with Athanasios Tsakonas is the seventh talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Cemeteries and Burial Grounds across the Commonwealth’. Completed is 1957, the Kranji War Cemetery and Memorial in Singapore is a masterwork of modernist architecture. Designed by Colin St Clair Oakes, a former Rome scholar […]
'St John's cemetery Parramatta: Improvement and social aspiration preserved in stone' with Professor Harold Mytum is the sixth talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum's Series on 'Cemeteries and Burial Grounds across the Commonwealth'. The talk will set the establishment and development of St John's cemetery - the oldest surviving British burial ground in mainland Australia […]
'Grave Encounters at the Cape of Good Hope' with Antonia Malan is the fifth talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum's Series on 'Cemeteries and Burial Grounds across the Commonwealth'. The story of graves in Green Point in Cape Town illustrates a number of past and ongoing issues around historical events and heritage management in a […]
Norfolk Island and Port Arthur are two of eleven outstanding heritage places across Australia that make up the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. Collectively they are representative of the global phenomenon of the forced migration of convicts. Separated by a geographic distance of 2400km, the two sites are inextricably linked by the people who […]
Mr Ainsley Henriques’ CD talk is the third in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum's Series on 'Cemeteries and Burial Grounds across the Commonwealth'. Mr Henriques’ talk will begin with the capture of Jamaica and the approval in 1656 by Cromwell to allow Jews to settle in Port Royal. He will then cover the 1692 earthquake which […]
Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones' talk is the second in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum's Series on 'Cemeteries and Burial Grounds across the Commonwealth'. Over a thousand old British cemeteries lie in the Indian subcontinent, reminders of our shared colonial history. Some, like the Calcutta cemeteries are extremely grand, others are simple sites where graves have lost their inscriptions. […]

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Our International Launch

The evening attracted a full house, including High Commissioners from many Commonwealth countries, members of both houses of parliament, and leading architects and conservationists.

After warmly welcoming everyone, His Excellency George Brandis QC, the High Commissioner for Australia, spoke eloquently about the importance of working together across the Commonwealth to preserve our past and define our future. He stressed that ‘our family of nations share not only an architectural past, but a common future for the built environment’.

Our founding patron, Sir Rodney Williams, the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, a passionate believer in Commonwealth values, then gave the inaugural address: ‘we are the guardians of a unique heritage for those that come after us,’ he said. ‘Much is vulnerable, and we need to pass it on to future generations in a better state than we found it. Understanding this legacy, and the buildings and places that bear witness to it, is a crucial part of our individual identity and collective sense of belonging’.

Sir Rodney highlighted the challenges faced by small island states – climate change, hurricanes, fire, neglect, dereliction and inadequate resources. He welcomed the access to specialist expertise that the CHF could offer.

We were fortunate to have Yasmeen Lari, one of our most eminent International Advisory Committee members at the launch. Yasmeen was in London to collect the prestigious Jane Drew Prize for Women in Architecture. She told the audience about the pioneering work the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan had been doing in Karachi to promote the co-ordinated restoration and repair of shared heritage buildings where there is keen interest in setting up a local chapter of the CHF.

Chair of the CHF, Philip Davies explained that our shared built heritage had been crafted by local people over many generations. It is a key aspect of the national identity of many Commonwealth nations and the links that bind us together. ‘Each’, he said, is part of an extended family of nations whose lives, histories and futures are all deeply intertwined.’

Philip took the opportunity to announce a partnership with Oxford Brookes University and Texas A&M University to help countries prepare registers of heritage at risk starting with a pilot project in Barbados. This will involve working with local heritage bodies to train young people and volunteers in specialist techniques, which in turn will build local skills, employment opportunities and resilience.

The CHF can make a real difference.

Photos by David Madden @ www.dmphoto.co.uk

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