Wales Slate Wins World Heritage Status

Wales’ slate landscape in Snowdonia has just achieved World Heritage status by UNESCO. It is the largest site in the UK to have won World Heritage status and was crowned 21st by the World Heritage Committee. The landscape is home to the largest slate quarry in the world, named The Penryhn Quarry.

Wales’ slate has been shipped across the world and is said to have ‘roofed the 19th Century world.’ The Penryhn quarry is in Bethesda in North Wales and is nearly 1 mile long and 1,200 feet deep. Slate has been quarried in North Wales for over 1,800 years and became a leading supplier during the Industrial Revolution. At one point, the slate industry produced a staggering 485,000 tones of slate per year with fewer than 17,000 employees. Go on a small group tour around Wales to visit the breath-taking landscape and learn about Welsh history.

wales heritage

Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, responded to the announcement.

“Today’s announcement recognises the significant contribution this part of North Wales has made to the cultural and industrial heritage not only of Wales but of the wider world. Welsh slate can be found all over the world.

“The quarrying and mining of slate has left a unique legacy in Gwynedd, which the communities are rightly proud of. This worldwide recognition today by Unesco will help preserve that legacy and history in those communities for generations to come and help them with future regeneration.”

The quarry will join the likes of the Great Wall of China, India’s Taj Mahal and America’s Grand Canyon as places for ‘outstanding universal value.’ The slate landscape has appeared in its fair share of Hollywood movies as well. You may recognise the scenes from Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Clash of the Titans.

During World War Two, the quarry was used to hide some of the UK’s most treasured paintings from the Nazi’s. Winston Churchill instructed workers to hide the paintings in the caves and cellars in Manod Quarry in Gwynedd. This storage space is at the heart of the mountain and is almost impregnable to bombing.

Furthermore, the Glan Rhonwy quarry was used to store captured German nerve gas and was later used to dispose of old bombs and grenades. The Glan Rhonwy quarry is the size of two football pitches and carries a lot of history.

There is a power station hidden in the hills of the landscape. Dinorwig power station is considered one of the most innovative engineering projects globally and first began in 1984. The hydroelectricity plant contains 16km of underground tunnels below Elidir mountain in Snowdonia. It is one of the largest hydropower stations in Europe, and every second, each turbine receives enough water to make 15 million cups of tea.

Wales’ slate landscape is brimming with history, imagination, and magnificent achievements.

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