Slate products

Welsh slates may well be the best in the world as they are easy to split yet very strong. These qualities mean that they are particularly suitable for roofs (water and ice don't affect them at all), billiard and laboratory tables and electrical switchboards (slate doesn't burn or conduct electricity). In Tudor times, slates from the Penrhyn Quarry at nearby Bethesda were used to roof the newly restored cathedral at St Asaph near Rhyl. Hundreds of years later, the slates are still there despite the worst ravages of the weather.

Slates are also used to make all kinds of beautiful decorative objects – sundials, candlesticks, bookends and a host of others. You can buy gifts such as these in the Museum shop.

But what about the rock not used to make the best slates? In the past, quarrying a ton of slate could yield as much as twenty tons of waste. But today everything is used – as bricks and tiles for houses, to build roads, and – in the form of very fine powder – in toiletries such as make-up and talcum powder. The slate industry might be closer to you than you think!