Great Britain

UK hails naming of slate landscape in Wales as World Heritage

LONDON, July 28 (Xinhua) -- The British government on Wednesday welcomed the recognition of the slate landscape in northwest Wales by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, which it said will help preserve the legacy and history in those communities.

The former slate mining region has become Britain's 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Site and the fourth in Wales, having been granted the accolade on Wednesday at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Fuzhou, capital of east China's Fujian province and online.

The British government's 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."

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said the announcement recognised 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, as Welsh slate can be found all over the world.

"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," he added.

The slate landscape of northwest Wales, which runs through Gwynedd, became the world leader for the production and export of slate in the 1800s.

Slate has been quarried in the area for over 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. However it wasn't 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 industry had a huge impact on global architecture with Welsh slate used on a number of buildings, terraces and palaces across the globe including Westminster Hall in London's Houses of Parliament, the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Australia and Copenhagen City Hall, Denmark. In 1830, half the buildings in New York had roofs made of Welsh slate.

Earlier this month, English city of Bath, originally inscribed on the Word Heritage List in 1987, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for a second time as part of the Great Spas of Europe, along with 11 other European spa towns.

However, Liverpool lost its World Heritage status last week when the UNESCO committee meeting ruled that development has threatened the value of its waterfront.

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