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Major redevelopment of National Slate Museum gains support

The National Lottery Heritage Fund announces over £15m in funding to forge a brighter future for the UK’s industrial past, by investing in eight projects that showcase the breadth of industrial heritage across all four nations.

Amongst the awardees is Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru – National Slate Museum in Llanberis, which has been awarded £412,565 of development funding.* It plans to transform the museum into a world-class visitor attraction at the heart of the Wales Slate Landscape, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2021.

The development funding will enable the museum to progress the plans and apply for a full grant of £9,440,414 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund at a later date.

Opening its doors in 1972, the museum is housed within the Grade I listed Victorian workshops of the historic Dinorwig Quarry, featuring quarrymen’s cottages, working locomotives and a Vivian incline, alongside the UK’s largest working water wheel.

Welsh slate, formed around 500 million years ago, is widely recognised as the finest natural slate in the world. The museum tells the story of how the quarry and the slate industry were vital to thousands of employees and their families, as well as the villages and towns which grew to meet the demand for workers.

The project, led by Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, will conserve and improve the condition of the built heritage, transforming it to become an UNESCO World Heritage site interpretation hub, creating spaces to support traditional skills, learning and wellbeing. UNESCO awarded the slate landscape of northwest Wales World Heritage Site status in2021 in recognition of the region’s role in “roofing the nineteenth-century world“.

Jane Richardson, Chief Executive for Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, said:

“We’re thrilled to have been awarded this funding and we are extremely grateful to The National Heritage Lottery Fund. This will transform, not only our museum, but the way we can tell the story of the world heritage slate landscape of North West Wales. This funding marks a milestone in the museum’s history and will enable us to connect with communities across Wales and the world.

“Through the development of new creative spaces, we will be able to bring the national collection and new exhibitions to North Wales for the first time. We will also create opportunities for people from all backgrounds to enjoy, learn and develop traditional craft skills, increasing employment, wellbeing and better connecting people and communities withour fantastic collections.”

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, added:

“Nearly three years since it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a pivotal time for our Welsh Slate Landscape, so it’s exciting to see plans take shape for Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru – National Slate Museum to be at the heart of telling its story and continuing its industrial legacy.

“We’re pleased to award this funding to enable those plans to be developed and we look forward to seeing how this project can transform the museum for visitors, how people can get involved in shaping their heritage and how communities in Northwest Wales and beyond will benefit.”

Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice, Lesley Griffiths said:

“The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s investment in the redevelopment of Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru – National Slate Museum, alongside funding Welsh Government has provided, is great news. The slate industry is an important part of the communities, landscapes and heritage of the area, which is one of our UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Amgueddfa

The museum tells the stories of the men and women who shaped the landscape of Wales and contributed to global architecture and infrastructure. Today’s funding is part of a wider £19m redevelopment scheme, which aims to enable these stories of the slate industry and landscape to reach a wider audience in North Wales and beyond.

Lechi Cymru has a key role to play in preserving its history and telling its story. I look forward to seeing this exciting redevelopment work progress.”