Stretching back as far as the Roman times, slate mining has been a core part of the region for so many years. Its hey day saw a workforce of 17000 working the quarries and mines and the biggest mine in the world was located here in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Along with great anecdotes of The National Gallery in London re-locating all of its 2000 works of art to the mines during WW11 for protection, the history of these places is fascintaing. If exploring the slate industry in North Wales is something of interest, then you’ll want to visit these places:
The most notible place to visit when it comes to the slate industry. Set in the original quarry workshops, the museum re-creates the slate industry showing how the community lived and worked; ‘…it is as though the quarrymen and engineers put down their tools and left the courtyard for home just hours ago…’. Free admission, there is plenty to do and see and the Llanberis lake railway is just around the corner.
There are a number of different tours on offer here. From taking you deep into the mountain via a steep cable railway, you will travel 500ft underground and find yourself 160 years back in time learning all about the history of how it worked. The Quarry Explorer takes you in 4×4 trucks up 1400ft above sea level to the top of the man-made landscape created by the mining industry.
A much smaller affair to the above and if you have smaller childern this is perfect, you can even take a push chair through most of the tour. It is self guided and very open compared to alot of the undergroud experiences. It is a great example of how a smaller mine would have worked. There is also a Farm Parc at the site along with a cafe and so lots to do once you are there.
They were originally the main producers of school writing slates until the introduction of paper. When they had to diversify, they turned to items such as slate electrical panels and fire places. It is a self guided tour of the workshops these days. It is a different approach giving an insight to other uses of slate other than roof tiles and a modern look at how they work the materials.