NEW YORK-Jodrell Bank Observatory has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. It has been at the forefront of astronomical research since its inception in 1945 and tracked US and Russian craft during the space race.

The site in Cheshire is part of the University of Manchester. It is dominated by the landmark Lovell Telescope. It joins the ancient Iraqi city of Babylon and other locations that have been added to the prestigious list.

The UN World Heritage Committee is meeting in Azerbaijan until 10 July to decide on the latest sites to be given the honour - awarded to areas considered to be important for the whole of humanity, which will be protected by international treaties.

Scientific research began at Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1945 when the physicist Sir Bernard Lovell came to the University of Manchester. The site pioneered the then new science of radio astronomy, which used radio waves instead of visible light to understand the universe.

The site’s new accolade marks the end of a decade-long bid to gain World Heritage status, following a 2010 application to be included on the UK’s nominations shortlist. Professor Teresa Anderson, director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: “This is wonderful news and a great day in the history of Jodrell Bank.

“It honours the pioneering work of Sir Bernard Lovell and the early scientists here, together with the world-leading research that continues to this day.”

A University of Manchester spokeswoman said the observatory fulfilled the judges’ criteria, which included being “a masterpiece of human creative genius”, due to its scientific achievements.

Jodrell Bank also hosts the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array, an international project to create the world’s largest radio telescope by linking thousands of dishes and receivers across Africa and Australia.