Penrhyn slate quarry, one of several in north-west Wales that form part of the World Heritage Site status nomination. Photograph: RCAHMW/PA

Welsh slate landscape in bid for World Heritage Site status

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 31.10.2018
Slate mining area in Gwynedd nominated by UK government
The slate landscape of north-west Wales is to be nominated for Unesco World Heritage Site status, the UK government’s heritage minister, Michael Ellis, announced this week.

The area covers the county of Gwynedd and includes numerous quarries and mines. The region became the greatest exporter of slate in the world during the mid-19th century, providing material for use in buildings around the globe.

The landscape was nominated after undergoing a full evaluation by a panel of UK experts earlier this year. The bid will be formally presented to Unesco next year and considered by the International Council of Sites and Monuments and the World Heritage Committee in 2021.

Ellis said: “The slate landscape of north-west Wales is hugely important. Its vast quarries and mines have not only shaped the countryside of the region but also countless buildings across the UK and the world.

“This is a crucial milestone on the road to becoming a World Heritage site and the global recognition that brings. While the Unesco nomination process is very thorough, I believe this unique landscape would be a worthy addition to the list.”  

Dafydd Roberts, the keeper of the National Slate Museum at Llanberis, said: “The slate industry isn’t just about the slate heaps, quarries and mines but also about the railways and sheds, stately homes of the owners and chapels, the harbours and the communities. All of these can be seen here in Gwynedd today.

"The slate industry is one of the oldest industries in Wales that remain in existence and continues to have a global influence, and that is a huge part of the story that we are trying to tell here in the slate museum.”
If successful, the slate landscape would be the fourth World Heritage Site in Wales, joining the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the castles and town walls of King Edward at Gwynedd and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

The UK government can nominate one site per year for World Heritage status. A bid to inscribe Jodrell Bank Observatory at Manchester University is currently under consideration by the Unesco committee.