From Industry to Industrial Heritage

'We're not going to alter the place, or paint it. We're very keen to keep the place as it was.'

(Hugh Richard Jones, one of the founders of the National Slate Museum).


Many people associate museums with white walls, paintings, objects behind glass and a quiet atmosphere. This wasn’t what industrial museums were about. In earlier years, machines and objects had been transported to buildings miles away to be put on display. By the 1970s, telling the story of that particular industry in its original location became more popular. There was a real desire to preserve the character and atmosphere of these old workplaces and to give the visitors a sense of how things used to be.

Sometimes it’s all in the timing. Right people, right place, right time. This is what happened at the National Slate Museum. Dinorwig Quarry closed unexpectedly in August 1969 and everything to do with the works was to be sold. Seeing everything tagged and numbered for the auction – the engines, the machines, even the chamber pot - nearly broke the heart of Hugh Richard Jones, the quarry’s Chief Engineer.

'…what frightened me most was to see them up on the big waterwheel…they were going to burn it as scrap. I got the chance to stop them doing that, and talked to the auctioneer and the receiver and they closed the whole lot up and got the ‘vultures’ out of there.'


Opening the doors of the Gilfach Ddu workshops as a museum for the very first time and the work of interpreting an industry begins.


Getting the heart of the workshops going again – the largest waterwheel on the UK mainland.

Adding to our collections: the Smith Rodley excavator.


Successful bid for money from the Heritage Lottery Fund – major changes on the horizon!


Renovating the incline – the only incline of its kind in working order in the UK.

Shop and café open on site.


Open doors at Fron Haul – a chance for people to find out about the quarrymen’s homelife, still one of our most popular attraction.


Free admission – for everyone! Since the Welsh Government introduced free admission to our national museums, we have welcomed over 1.5 million visitors to the National Slate Museum.


Celebrating the twinning of Slate Valley Museum, Granville, USA with the National Slate Museum.