Hello slate people
In 2012, a consortium leaded by the Gwynedd Council (Wales), presented the formal candidacy of the “Slate Industry of Wales” for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This recognition is given to very special sites of the world which have a cultural and natural heritage with an outstanding value to humanity. Some examples of such sites are the Everglades National and Grand Canyon National parks in the USA, the Old city of Angkor in Cambodia, or Stonehenge, in the UK. On 28th July 2021, the UNESCO finally awarded the status of World Heritage Site to the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales. If you work on the roofing slate business, this decision won´t make you surprised. Wales was the main producer of roofing slate in the world for several centuries. The welsh slate was imported to all over the world, and most important, many welsh quarrymen emigrated to the US and Australia, bringing the art of quarrying and installing slate with them. Welsh quarries were the first to incorporate the mechanization that came along with the Industrial Revolution, starting the modern roofing slate industry. In fact, many of the advances developed during that time are still in use. I read somewhere that roofing slate was “the most Welsh Industry of North Wales”.
The Welsh slate heritage has resisted reasonably well the pass of time, thanks to the efforts of a significant part of the Welsh society, which still maintains the pride of being slate miners, even when the production of welsh slate is nowadays very reduced, compared with the golden times, between the 16th and 19th centuries. The continuous mining activity carved a very distinctive landscape, which now has been recognized. Besides, local actors have been taken advantage of the touristic potential of this landscape, putting in value the industrial, ethnographical and archeological legacy of Wales. Most of this legacy is kept in the National Slate Museum, in Llanberis, at the feet of the impressive Dinorwig quarry, for me the Vatican of the roofing slate followers (if roofing slate were a religion). Other touristic attractions are the Victorian mines close to Blaenau Ffestiniog, which have installed a complex web of hanging nets where you can jump and bounce like in your early days. If you don´t feel like revisiting these days, you can go to the Llechwedd caverns and take a ride in the old mine train. Something apart are the amazing landscapes, with plenty of hiking trails through the Welsh nature that go all over abandoned slate towns. Visiting this new brand UNESCO World heritage site is the best option if you want to spend your holidays among roofing slates and, at the same time, keep your family entertained.
Gwynedd Council: https://www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/en
Price, W. R. and C. L. Ronck (2019). «Quarrying for World Heritage Designation: Slate Tourism in North Wales.» Geoheritage.
Picture attached: a view of the Dinorwig quarry