Celebrations in the Capital of the Slate Industry
People in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the surrounding area will celebrate their slate heritage in a special week-long festival between 14 - 21 July.
Blaenau is recognised as the slate industry’s capital and the remains of the once busy and bustling quarries continue to affect and influence the town, the area and the local economy to this day.
The Slate Festival’s theme is ‘Culture Through Industry’ and it aims to celebrate the rich and varied heritage, which continues to influence and shape the character of the area.
The festival starts with Llechwedd quarry’s siren sounding across the valley. There will then be a procession down one of the old footpaths used by the quarrymen from Llechwedd to Diffwys Square in the middle of the town.
During a short ceremony a new fanfare specially composed for the festival will be performed for the first time. The fanfare has been composed by John Glyn Jones, conductor of the local OakleyBand and the percussionist Dewi Ellis Jones.
The fanfare will be played regularly after the festival in events linked to the bid to gain UNESCO World Heritage Status for the slate landscape of North West Wales.
Gwynedd Council is leading the bid on behalf of a number of partners in order to revive and develop the economy of the slate areas. According to Councillor Ioan Thomas, Cabinet Member for the Economy and Communities, using heritage to boost the economy of areas like Blaenau is an excellent idea.
“The slate industry has had an immense influence on both our communities and their heritage. The Slate Festival is one way of celebrating this as we forge ahead with the ambitious bid to gain World Heritage Status for the benefit of Blaenau Ffestiniog and the other quarrying areas.”
After the festival launch the rest of the day will be given over to bands playing in the Gig Car Gwyllt in the town’s Rugby Club. During the rest of the week a variety of events will be held in various venues in the town from film shows to exhibitions, tours and visits to Cwmorthin, the Pant yr Afon Powerhouse and around the town, a Talwrn (poetry competition) and Quarry Supper, talks and an opportunity to share experiences and memories of the area and the slate industry.”
Ceri Cunnington is Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog’s Development Officer and he is confident that the festival fits comfortably with its work in regenerating the area.
“This festival will undoubtedly show the area at its very best. Everyone who lives here is aware of its quarrying heritage and this will make it so much easier to for us to make the most of the industrial legacy and the continuous work to improve every aspect of life here - perhaps in the same way that the quarries and the quarrymen did so many years ago.”
Further information about the Slate Festival is available on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GwylLechiBro
PHOTOGRAPH: An aerial image of the Ffestiniog area