In 2013 I wrote about an area which I had called “Forgotten Snowdonia” in the middle of the Snowdonia National Park around the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, a slate quarrying centre. This was deliberately excluded from the Park when it was set up almost 70 years ago in order to allow the development of new light industry to replace the decimated slate industry.
In 2010 the town council fought for the boundary that turns the place into an island within the National Park to be scrapped. Despite the Snowdonia National Park Authority voting to back the inclusion “in principle”, the Welsh Government decided not to proceed with the proposed boundary variation as at that time it was not seen as best value for the expenditure that may have been needed to see it through.
- Penrhyn Slate Quarry and Bethesda, and the Ogwen Valley to Port Penrhyn
- Dinorwig Slate Quarry Mountain Landscape
- Nantlle Valley Slate Quarry Landscape
- Gorseddau and Prince of Wales Slate Quarries, Railways and Mill
- Ffestiniog: its Slate Mines and Quarries, ‘city of slates’ and railway to Porthmadog
- Bryneglwys Slate Quarry, Abergynolwyn village and the Talyllyn Railway
- Aberllefenni Slate Quarry
In what they felt was an appropriate alternative to the boundary variation in 2011 they embarked on a plan to secure UNESCO World Heritage Status for the North Wales slate industry which would include amongst other locations, parts of Blaenau Ffestiniog. I said at the time that the entire process of being selected for World Heritage Status can take between five and ten years and even then may not be successful, by which time I am sure that the original proposal to vary the boundary of the Park could have been completed and possibly at considerably less cost.
My estimate of the timescale involved was not far out because now in late 2018 the slate landscape around Gwynedd will be the UK’s preferred nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Status and will be presented to UNESCO in 2019 with a decision due in 2021.
If successful, the landscape would be the fourth world heritage site in Wales, joining the Blaenavon industrial landscape, the 13th-century castles and town walls built in Gwynedd by King Edward I, and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Almost ten years after the alternative to changing the National Park boundary was embarked upon lets hope the submission is approved as the area is certainly long overdue recognition for it’s contribution as the world’s greatest exporter of slate during the mid 19th century, becoming a key part of the social and economic fabric of North-West Wales.
If you wish to see more images of the slate quarries around Blaenau Ffestiniog take a look at the “Forgotten Snowdonia” article.