Welsh slate mines join Grand Canyon, Taj Mahal and Great Wall of China as UNESCO World Heritage Sites

July 28, 2021

An area of northwest Wales famed for its slate mines has been awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.

The mines become the UK's 32nd heritage site and the fourth in Wales - and join the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China among 1,149 sites globally.

Welsh slate has been used on roofs since Roman times, with the sprawling quarry sites drawing thousands of tourists every year.

The landscape, which runs through Gwynedd, became the world leader for the rock in the 1800s.

Buildings that used Welsh slate include London's Westminster Hall, Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building, and Copenhagen City Hall.

The Welsh slate industry employed about 17,000 workers in the 1890s and produced almost 500,000 tonnes a year.

Wales' first minister, Mark Drakeford, told Sky News the designation wasn't a foregone conclusion and came after a decade of hard work by local people and authorities.

As thunder rumbled in the background in Llanberis, he said: "The gods are celebrating what has been achieved here in North Wales."

Mr Drakeford added in a statement that the accolade recognised the region's "significant contribution... to the cultural and industrial heritage not only of Wales, but of the wider world".

He said it would help preserve that legacy and aid future regeneration.

UK government heritage minister Caroline Dinenage called it "a huge achievement" and also welcomed the chance for "increased investment, jobs and a better understanding of this stunning part of the UK".

Wales' other heritage sites are Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.

UNESCO has also given Bath - already a heritage site - a dual designation as one of the Great Spas of Europe, joining 10 other towns including Baden-Baden in Germany and Vichy in France.

It comes just a week after the city of Liverpool had its heritage status revoked.

The decision followed concerns that the new £500m Everton football stadium and other nearby developments posed a risk to the waterfront area.

The projects were said to have caused "irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property".

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