THE SLATE landscape of North-West Wales has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it the fourth World Heritage Site in Wales.
The new World Heritage Site is a serial property in six parts, including spectacular quarry landscapes such as Penrhyn, Dinorwig, the Nantlle Valley and Ffestiniog.
It also includes the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, Penrhyn Castle and the famous Ffestiniog and Talyllyn Railways, built to transport the slate from quarry to markets around the world and both later transformed through the dedication of volunteers into heritage railways.
Led by Gwynedd Council, the inscription is the culmination of over 15 years of hard work by partners, including Cadw, to record, safeguard and recognise the living legacy of the slate landscape of Gwynedd.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said: “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.”
Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, Leader Gwynedd Council, said: “Gwynedd Council is extremely proud to be the lead body for the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales.
“The legacy of the quarries remains extremely evident around us from the striking landscape, the industrial buildings and steam railways to our villages and towns.
“Not only is the influence of the quarrying industry visible, but its heritage is still heard strongly in the language, traditions and rich histories of these areas.
“Our aim is to celebrate this heritage and landscape and recognise their historic and industrial importance to humankind – in order to create opportunities for the future.”
Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cabinet Member for the Economy and Community, Gwynedd Council, said: “By celebrating our history, we want to regenerate our communities and create exciting opportunities for the benefit of the communities and businesses of Gwynedd and Northwest Wales in the future.
“Today we celebrate what has happened in the past and start on a new journey to protect our outstanding slate landscape and ensure a lasting legacy for our economy and communities in the future.”
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said: This is such fantastic news for the area and Wales.
“Working on and submitting the bid has been a real team effort, and I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved. This news has made all the hard work worthwhile!
“Gaining World Heritage Site Status is an excellent celebration of the pride in our slate communities and a driver for future regeneration.”
The Shadow Minister for North Wales, Darren Millar MS, said: “This is not just wonderful news for Gwynedd, but the whole of North Wales too. The decision will help attract visitors, boost investment, and create jobs in the region and adds yet another feather to Wales’s cap as a significant cultural exporter on the world stage.
“North Wales’s rich cultural heritage is something to celebrate, and it is important that both the Welsh and UK Governments work together to promote and protect it.”
Plaid Cymru’s Spokesperson for Culture, Heledd Fychan MS, said: “This is fantastic news.
“Achieving this prestigious status is a boost – a boost to pride in our Welsh heritage and a boost to Wales’s place on the international stage.
“This is about preserving and protecting our heritage so that it plays a role in Wales’s future.
“Slate was the bedrock of communities in north Wales for centuries.
“Formally recognising the slate industry’s contribution to north Wales is not only a fitting tribute to the labour of thousands of workers over many generations, who cut slate by hand in often life-threatening conditions for very little return, but it will also ensure that future generations from around the world are allowed to learn and understand the historical, industrial, economic, and cultural impact the slate industry made to Wales and beyond.
“Our thanks to Gwynedd Council and partner organisations for their many years of hard work that has turned this ambitious project into a reality.”