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Learning About

Blaenau Ffestiniog


The North Wales Slate Industry

Slates have been quarried in Wales since the Roman period, although the first written record of this dates back to the C14. Slates were produced on a major scale in Wales for the first time in 1782, in the Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda and by the C19, Wales was the largest supplier of slates in the world and most of these slates were sourced from north west Wales.

The location of the main slate quarries depended on the supply of water and location of the railways. Narrow gauge railways became common in quarrying areas, in order to connect the quarries with the docks and the main railway lines and also in order to carry slates from inside the quarries.

North Wales slates were sold to international markets during the C19, but the market slumped following the First World War, regaining slightly in the inter-war period before almost completely collapsing after the Second World War, as the price of slate increased and the required craftsmanship to produce slates became too expensive to maintain.

Ynysypandy Slate Mill

Ynysypandy Slate Mill (© Jan Davies)