By Emily Beament, Press Association Heritage Correspondent
An area of Wales which “roofed the 19th century world” is to be put forward to join the likes of Stonehenge and the Grand Canyon as World Heritage sites.
The slate landscape of north-west Wales has been chosen as the UK’s next preferred nomination for World Heritage Site status in 2019, Heritage Minister Michael Ellis has announced.
Slate from the area, which runs throughout the county of Gwynedd, is said to have roofed the 19th century world, with slate mined from the area exported around the globe.
The area was the world’s biggest exporter of slate during the mid 19th century, becoming a key part of the economy and social fabric of North Wales.
It also had an impact on global architecture, with materials used on buildings from terraces to places all around the world.
The landscape of quarries, mines, villages and railways was assessed by experts this summer and will be formally presented to the UN’s cultural body Unesco next year.
It will be considered for approval by the International Council of Sites and Monuments followed by the World Heritage Committee in 2021.
If approved as a World Heritage Site, it will join natural and historic sites around the world ranging from the Lake District to Venice and the Great Barrier Reef.
It would also be the fourth World Heritage Site in Wales, alongside the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward at Gwynedd 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.”
UK Government Minister for Wales, Mims Davies, added: “An accolade such as this not only highlights the immense beauty and history that Wales has to offer but also acts as a catalyst to investment and tourism.
“The status which is globally recognised would help to revive and grow the economy of the slate areas that have had such a significant influence on the communities and heritage of north-west Wales.”
The proposed World Heritage Site includes these areas:
– 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.
The UK has 31 other World Heritage sites and can nominate one per year.
Jodrell Bank Observatory was nominated in January 2018, with a decision set for next summer.