As slate was transported to countries all over the world, the agricultural landscape of Wales was transformed alongside communities who lived there – schools, shops and entire towns were built, establishing livelihoods for those who worked in the quarry mines, for over 200 years. In July 2021, the slate landscape of North-West Wales was awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sitting alongside other accomplishments such as The Great Wall of China and The Grand Canyon.
Much like these impressive man-made achievements, the slate mines of North Wales carry a deeper and more nuanced history about Wales’ position as a colonial subject and beneficiary of the wealth generated by the British Empire through slate production which should be revealed alongside celebrations of this new status.
In partnership with the Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library of Wales, exhibitors across the UK can access short archival films, features and contemporary documentaries highlighting the history of slate mining in Wales. We’re creating discussion around its impact on local communities, connections to slavery and wider colonial projects led by the British empire, looking deeper into mining and miners’ rights around the world today.