Along with Penrhyn and Dinorwic, Blaenau Ffestiniog was one of the major slate-producing towns in the world
Visitors today will discover a proliferation of sites within easy reach of each other that testify to this great legacy. Head first to the heritage centre near the station for the Ffestiniog Railway, where this great story unfolds. The heritage and history of Blaenau Ffestiniog is unmissable, especially now that a town trail has been dedicated to celebrating it. You can follow the trail around the town and learn about the history and the local sayings as you go along. Pick up a book from a local shop to help you along, or download it from the website.
In Blaenau Ffestiniog the slate was nearly always removed from underground. Local men worked long, hard hours in one of the many mines that dotted the hillside above the town: mines such as Oakeley, Llechwedd, Maenofferen, Diffwys, Votty and Bowydd and Graig Ddu. Heaps of slate rubble testify to the scale of slate mining in the area, and the years of heavy toil involved in its extraction. A visit to the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, with its underground railway winding through tunnels and caverns, is a must-see for anyone interested in the cultural and industrial heritage of this famous town.
No trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog would be complete without a ride on the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway. Opened in 1836 to transport local slate to the quayside at Porthmadog, the line is lovingly maintained by steam enthusiasts to this day.
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 Welsh site. The process is likely to take between 4 and 10 years to complete.