Welsh landscape where slate has been quarried for 1,800 years becomes Unesco World Heritage Site

The slate landscape of north-west Wales has joined the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon National Park and Machu Picchu to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The landscape, which runs through Gwynedd, was granted the listing at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday.

Welsh slate is said to have ‘roofed the world’ after being used on the likes of Westminster Hall in London‘, the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia, and Copenhagen City Hall in Denmark. 

It becomes the UK’s 32nd Unesco World Heritage Site and the fourth in Wales, following the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.

The approval follows a decision last week to strip Liverpool of its World Heritage status.

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.

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The slate landscapes of the Snowdonia National Park area supported a thriving mining industry which is said ‘to have roofed the 19th Century world’ when slate from its quarries was in great demand around the globe. Pictured, the quarry circa 1896, and the quarry today

The slate landscape of north-west Wales has joined the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon National Park and Machu Picchu to become a Unesco World Heritage Site

The landscape, which runs through Gwynedd, was granted the listing at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday. Above: The ruins of the stone houses which were built for miners

The landscape, which runs through Gwynedd, was granted the listing at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday. Above: The ruins of the stone houses which were built for miners

The landscape, which runs through Gwynedd, was granted the listing at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday. Above: The ruins of the stone houses which were built for miners 

Slate has been quarried in the area for more than 1,800 years and had been used to build parts of the Roman fort in Segontium in Caernarfon and Edward I's castle in Conwy

Slate has been quarried in the area for more than 1,800 years and had been used to build parts of the Roman fort in Segontium in Caernarfon and Edward I's castle in Conwy

Slate has been quarried in the area for more than 1,800 years and had been used to build parts of the Roman fort in Segontium in Caernarfon and Edward I’s castle in Conwy

‘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.

‘I’d like to thank and congratulate everyone who has worked so hard on this bid – it’s been a real team effort and today’s announcement is a credit to all those involved.’

Slate has been quarried in the area for more than 1,800 years and had been used to build parts of the Roman fort in Segontium in Caernarfon and Edward I’s castle in Conwy.

But it was not until the industrial revolution that demand surged as cities across the world expanded, with slate from the mines at Gwynedd being widely used to roof workers’ homes, public buildings, places of worship and factories. 

By the 1890s the Welsh slate industry employed approximately 17,000 workers and produced almost 500,000 tonnes of slate a year – around a third of all roofing slate used in the world in the late 19th century.

The slate mines now have the same World Heritage status as India's iconic ivory-white marble mausoleum the Taj Mahal (above)

The slate mines now have the same World Heritage status as India's iconic ivory-white marble mausoleum the Taj Mahal (above)

The slate mines now have the same World Heritage status as India’s iconic ivory-white marble mausoleum the Taj Mahal (above)

It was not until the industrial revolution that demand surged as cities across the world expanded, with slate from the mines at Gwynedd being widely used to roof workers' homes, public buildings, places of worship and factories

It was not until the industrial revolution that demand surged as cities across the world expanded, with slate from the mines at Gwynedd being widely used to roof workers' homes, public buildings, places of worship and factories

It was not until the industrial revolution that demand surged as cities across the world expanded, with slate from the mines at Gwynedd being widely used to roof workers’ homes, public buildings, places of worship and factories

By the 1890s the Welsh slate industry employed approximately 17,000 workers and produced almost 500,000 tonnes of slate a year - around a third of all roofing slate used in the world in the late 19th century

By the 1890s the Welsh slate industry employed approximately 17,000 workers and produced almost 500,000 tonnes of slate a year - around a third of all roofing slate used in the world in the late 19th century

By the 1890s the Welsh slate industry employed approximately 17,000 workers and produced almost 500,000 tonnes of slate a year – around a third of all roofing slate used in the world in the late 19th century

Miners having a break by candle light in the slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales in 1946

Miners having a break by candle light in the slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales in 1946

Miners having a break by candle light in the slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales in 1946

In 1898 the slate trade in Wales reached its peak, with 17,000 men producing 485,000 tons of slate

The industry had also had an impact on global architecture, with Welsh slate used on the likes of Westminster Hall in London’s Houses of Parliament, the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia and Copenhagen City Hall, Denmark.

Heritage minister Caroline Dinenage said: ‘Unesco World Heritage Status is a huge achievement and testament to the importance this region played in the industrial revolution and Wales’ slate mining heritage. 

‘I welcome the prospect of increased investment, jobs and a better understanding of this stunning part of the UK.’

Previously backing the Welsh bid, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the region as ‘an area of remarkable uniqueness and breath-taking beauty’. 

Archaeologist Dr David Gwyn, who was part of the bid team, said: ‘The slate industry is an iconic feature of north Wales, and of the Welsh nation as a whole, and has been of overwhelming importance in shaping our social and economic landscape.’

The City of Bath – originally inscribed on the Word Heritage List in 1987 – has also been awarded a dual designation as part of the Great Spas of Europe.

Heritage minister Caroline Dinenage said: 'Unesco World Heritage Status is a huge achievement and testament to the importance this region played in the industrial revolution and Wales' slate mining heritage

Heritage minister Caroline Dinenage said: 'Unesco World Heritage Status is a huge achievement and testament to the importance this region played in the industrial revolution and Wales' slate mining heritage

Heritage minister Caroline Dinenage said: ‘Unesco World Heritage Status is a huge achievement and testament to the importance this region played in the industrial revolution and Wales’ slate mining heritage

Archaeologist Dr David Gwyn, who was part of the bid team, said: 'The slate industry is an iconic feature of north Wales, and of the Welsh nation as a whole, and has been of overwhelming importance in shaping our social and economic landscape'

Archaeologist Dr David Gwyn, who was part of the bid team, said: 'The slate industry is an iconic feature of north Wales, and of the Welsh nation as a whole, and has been of overwhelming importance in shaping our social and economic landscape'

Archaeologist Dr David Gwyn, who was part of the bid team, said: ‘The slate industry is an iconic feature of north Wales, and of the Welsh nation as a whole, and has been of overwhelming importance in shaping our social and economic landscape’

A view of the north-west Wales slate landscape following the announcement that it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status

A view of the north-west Wales slate landscape following the announcement that it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status

A view of the north-west Wales slate landscape following the announcement that it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status

Britain's own 'Machu Picchu' of former slate mines has joined the Incan wonder as a World Heritage Site

Britain's own 'Machu Picchu' of former slate mines has joined the Incan wonder as a World Heritage Site

Britain’s own ‘Machu Picchu’ of former slate mines has joined the Incan wonder as a World Heritage Site

A transnational nomination, Bath, along with 11 other European spa towns including Baden-Baden in Germany and Vichy in France, has been added to the Unesco World Heritage List for the second time.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: ‘We are pleased to see both the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales and the city of Bath being recognised in the Unesco World Heritage List.

‘Beautiful Bath thoroughly deserves its rare double World Heritage Site listing. From its Roman remains to its stunning Georgian architecture, Bath is a city which has captivated residents and visitors for centuries. 

‘Being inscribed, along with ten other European Spa Towns, as a joint World Heritage Site demonstrates Bath’s importance as one of the earliest and most significant ‘Great Spas’ and we are delighted to have worked alongside international colleagues to make Bath’s joint inscription a reality.’ 

Today’s announcement comes after Liverpool’s Labour leaders blasted Unesco’s decision to strip the city of its own World Heritage status.

The city was named on the list in 2004 but was placed on Unesco’s ‘danger list’ afterthe £5billion Liverpool Waters project to restore the northern docks was approved, with a proposed new £500million football ground for Everton on the docks causing further concerns.

And following a secret ballot in Fuzhou, the World Heritage Committee – made up of representatives of 21 countries and led by Xi Jinping’s deputy education minister Tian Xuejun – the ‘Unescocrats’ voted to remove the site from the list, with Guatemala and China rumoured to have voted for, and Norway against, the city’s removal. 

Earlier this week, it also emerged that Stonehenge could lost its UNESCO status amid concern about the Government’s £1.7billion plan to build a tunnel underneath it.   

Link hienalouca.com

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