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World Heritage Site bid for Welsh slate region

Penrhyn

North Wales slate landscape to be nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site status

THE slate landscape of north-west Wales will be the UK’s next preferred nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, Heritage Minister Michael Ellis announced this week.

The area – which runs throughout the county of Gwynedd – is said to have ‘roofed the 19th century world’ as slate from its mines and quarries was exported around the globe.

The landscape was assessed for World Heritage status by a UK panel of experts this summer and will be formally presented to UNESCO next year. It will then be considered by the International Council of Sites and Monuments followed by the World Heritage Committee in 2021.

Should it be approved, the slate landscape of quarries, mines, railways and villages will join the likes of the Grand Canyon National Park, the Great Barrier Reef and the Lake District as a designated World Heritage Site.

The area was the world’s greatest exporter of slate during the mid-19th century, becoming a key part of the social and economic fabric of North Wales. The slate mined from the area had a significant impact on global architecture with the material used on a vast range of buildings – from terraced houses to palaces – all around the world.

If successful, the slate landscape would be the fourth World Heritage Site in Wales, alongside the Blaenavon industrial landscape, the 13-century castles and town walls built in Gwynedd by King Edward I, and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: ‘Gwynedd’s slate landscape 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.’

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