The Slate Landscape of North-West Wales, which includes Penrhyn Quarry and Port Penrhyn in Bangor, has been nominated for World Heritage site status.
The area – which runs throughout the county of Gwynedd – is said to have “roofed the 19th century world” as slate from its mines was exported around the globe.
The landscape was assessed for World Heritage Status by a UK panel of experts this summer and it will be formally presented to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) next year.
It will then be considered by the International Council of Sites and Monuments followed by the World Heritage Committee in 2021. Should it be approved, the Slate Landscape will join the likes of Grand Canyon National Park, The Great Barrier Reef and the Lake District as a designated World Heritage Site.
The site was the world’s greatest exporter of slate during the mid 19th century, becoming a key part of the social and economic fabric of North Wales. The slate mined from the area also had a significant impact on global architecture with its materials used on a vast range of buildings, from terraces to palaces all around the world.
If inscribed it would 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.
Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP, Liz Saville Roberts, said: “Gwynedd’s natural and industrial heritage is undoubtedly worthy of receiving UNESCO World Heritage site status.
“Slate was both literally and metaphorically the bedrock of communities in north Wales – this is about preserving the economy and culture of the past and ensuring our heritage plays a role in Wales’s future.
“Gwynedd Council has done an amazing job in putting together a bid and I congratulate them for their work.”
Lord Dafydd Wigley, who chaired the campaign to the nomination for the Slate Landscape, said: “This is an exciting project, if it gets accepted by the UNESCO committee, it will be of direct economic benefits to the slate communities and the adjacent areas.
“We shall now redouble our efforts to make it happen.”
Councillor Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd Council’s Economic Development Cabinet Member, said: “We are delighted with today’s news. The area was the world’s greatest slate exporter during the mid-19th century, and we believe that Gwynedd’s key role in what was such an important global industry is something to be celebrated and promoted.
“As well as offering economic opportunities for Gwynedd, the World Heritage Site bid can help us conserve important historical features.
“The old quarries – and the labour of those who worked there – still influences how places look all around the world today. It’s amazing to see terraced houses, royal palaces and everything in between the world over covered with slate from Gwynedd.”
Welsh Slate was exported around the world from Porth Penrhyn in Bangor