To answer this I can do no better than to quote the following from a booklet produced by the London Borough of Havering:
Why does Romford's heritage matter? Because it improves the quality of life for people now. When we understand the past, the environment becomes more interesting, and more enjoyable for us. We can picture something of what it would have been like to live in Romford in days gone by. We can celebrate the achievements of people who lived before us. We can learn about how our society has developed. This can give us a stronger community feeling today.1
And some more quotations about the importance of history and heritage:
1 Romford Heritage; 10 pages; 1998; London Borough of Havering.
2 Norman Davies, author of The Isles, quoted in BBC History Magazine, Vol 2 no 5 (May 2001), page 18.
3 Prof Arthur Marwick, BBC History Magazine, Vol 2 no 7 (July 2001), page 80.
4 Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography, page 697.
5 Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, Radio Times, 13-19 July 2002, page 38.
6 Joyce Appleby, historian, quoted by Prof David Cannadine in BBC History Magazine, Vol 3 no 7 (June 2002), page 8.
7 Old Russian saying.
8 Michael Wood, historian, writer and presenter, advocating Harperly POW Camp in the BBC television series Restoration.
9 Steel City: A Time Team Special, Channel 4, 22nd March 2004.
10 Sian Busby, The Cruel Mother: A Family Ghost Laid to Rest, page 12.
11 Dr Barry Gray, chair of Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust, speaking on the BBC television programme Restoration, 18 July 2004.
12 Paul Armitage, OFSTED's specialist advisor for history, quoted in BBC History Magazine, Vol 6 no 9 (September 2005), page 86.
13 Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, pp. 195-196.