Roofing the World
At the height of the Industrial Revolution, the slate quarries of Wales famously ‘roofed the world’. By the late 19th century Welsh slate quarries were producing 485,000 tons of slate each year, which were shipped to every corner of the globe. Dinorwic had 18th-century origins, and by 1870 it had become one of the largest slate quarries in the world; the other was at Penrhyn near Bethesda. The museum is situated at the former engineering headquarters of the Dinorwic Quarry.
Built by the wealthy Assheton Smith family who owned land in the area, the quarry buildings were designed around a central courtyard in the style of a monastery or fort. At its height, the quarry employed over 3000 men. The drama of their everyday experiences forms the backbone of the various museum displays on show, including the multimedia 3-D presentation To Steal a Mountain. The original workshops have been restored to appear as if the workers have just downed tools for the day. Skilled craftsmen demonstrate how the slates were split and dressed by hand before being hauled off to port via the Padarn Railway. The Dinorwic Quarry is also home to Britain’s largest working waterwheel, with a diameter of over 50 feet (15 metres).
In 2011 the Slate Industry of North Wales was successfully included on the UK Tentative List (short list) of 11 potential sites for UNESCO World Heritage Site status – the only site in Wales. The nomination is currently being developed and the process is likely to take between 4 and 10 years to complete.
An Audio Trail and Itinerary have been created for this site. To download them, please see here
National Slate Museum
- Accessible by Public Transport
- Info Point
- Buggy Access
- Good Walks Nearby
- Children's Facilities
- Family Walk
- Picnic Area
- Wheelchair Access
Easter-End of October: 10.00 am - 5.00 pm, daily
Beginning of November-Easter: 10.00 am - 4.00 pm, closed Saturdays.
Turn off A4086 in Llanberis into Padarn Country Park - Follow Brown and White signs
Nearest train station is Bangor - 8 miles
Nearest bus stop is between Electric Mountain and Snowdon Mountain Railway
There is a cycle track along the old railway on the south western side of Llyn Padarn.
Wheelchair access to most parts of the museum. Disabled toilets
Full Grid Reference SH585604
OS Landranger map: 115
National Slate Museum
- 02920 573700
- National Slate Museum, Llanberis, LL55 4TY