‘Wales has a long history of slate mining, which has transformed much of the area’s landscape. At the height of the industry, the region of North West Wales was one of the most important slate mining areas in the world…’
During the 19th Century, the Welsh slate industry employed 17,000 men, producing half a million tons of slate per year. Welsh slate was known for its high quality and was shipped throughout the world. A large percentage of this came from the world’s largest slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Other prominent mines involved were located in the towns of Bethesda, Penrhyn and Llanberis.
The landscape of North West Wales in these areas is largely defined by its slate mining history. Slate mining continues today, albeit on a much smaller scale. Driving through Gwynedd, it’s impossible not to come across an old mine or slate caverns. Many have been converted into tourist attractions or museums, such as the world-class activity centres, Zip World, in Blaenau and Llechwedd Caverns in Llanfair.
For those of us lucky enough to live and work in the Gwynedd, we’re used to existing in the midst of North Wales’ slate landscape. However, we’re thrilled that the unusual but amazing landscape has been submitted for recognition by UNESCO. We want to share our home with people from all over the globe. Come to learn about the history of slate mining and stay for the warmth of the Welsh people (and a random Scot or two…), the castles, the coast, the beach towns, and mountains, and, of course, Welsh cuisine, craft beer, cider and gin. You won’t be disappointed.
Other UK bids for 2021
In addition to the bid from North Wales’ slate landscape, there are two other UK nominations. These are the gorgeous Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, and the historic Tower of London.
If awarded UNESCO status, Gwynedd’s slate landscape will be the UK’s 33rd World Heritage site. Wales currently has three other sites with the status. Two of them are also in North Wales. These are the Pontcysyllte aqueduct across the River Dee in the Vale of Llangollen, North Wales, the castles of King Edward in Caernarvon, Harlech, Beaumaris and Conwy. The third site is industrial landscape of Blaenavon in Torfaen, Monmouthshire, South Wales.