Towns, cities and landscapes are haunted by the ghosts of networks past. Disused railways, old routeways and quiet canals remain leftovers from the industry and commerce of yesteryear. Too often, these are dismissed as outdated or as the parochial interests of a few. In contrast, this pamphlet argues that the heritage infrastructure of the public realm can play an important part in addressing the challenges of today.

Infrastructural networks shape the way that we think about place. They govern the way that we connect to our physical environment and how places within it connect with one another. The networks of the past comprise a visible and everyday heritage that people can adapt and to which they can respond. Railways, canals, sewers and industrial routeways can be reappraised, repurposed and reused to meet emerging and future needs.

In a world in which financial and material resources are short, this pamphlet examines detailed examples of how communities, businesses and local government have come together to make use of heritage infrastructure, and looks at lessons that they might hold more generally. The recession need not lead to a halt to development: it can prompt us to alter practice and behaviours.