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Wales has a significant stake in industrial heritage. The slate industry is an iconic feature of North Wales, and of the Welsh nation as a whole, and has been of overwhelming importance in shaping the social and economic landscape. Its products represent one of the most geographically widespread building materials from a single source to be found in every continent. Welsh slate ‘roofed the nineteenth century world’.
It was not only slate that was exported. Gwynedd slate quarries also exported their own personnel, skills, knowledge and technology to quarries all over the world and in turn, learnt from them and their industries, The narrow-gauge railways were a crucial part of the industry’s transport system and success and their designs and engineering were copied world-wide.
In June 2010, on behalf of a range of stakeholders, Gwynedd Council successfully presented an application to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in Westminster for the industry to be included on the UK's list of tentative World Heritage Sites to be submitted to UNESCO. The UK's tentative list was formally presented to UNESCO in January 2012.
The process of developing a full application for the nomination of a location as a World Heritage Site is known to be extremely long and arduous, and is potentially costly and even then, only 50% of the applications submitted UNESCO are likely to be successful.