Blaenau’s slate industry is all but gone but its heritage has been preserved to help project its image into the future. So, if you’re visiting Blaenau to experience one of the many adventures, such as the Downhill Biking, or if you’re riding a train or walking the mountains, there is no mistaking Blaenau for anything but the Victorian slate capital of the world.
The town centre has been revamped, with a great deal of European money, and in pride of place are the 4 giant slate splitters’ chisels. Each is made from 15,000 roofing slates laid at an angle of 30⁰ - that’s the angle at which the slate beds go into the mountains.
Walking between the giant chisels, each 7 ½ metres tall, you cross the road to the River of Slate. It’s a pavement mosaic with a river running down the middle and on either side are the names of the 350 slate quarries in Wales. Each quarry has its name chiselled into a block of slate which is the same colour as the slate it produced. I never realised there were so many colourful shades of slate.
In this film called Codi Cerrig, the artist Howard Bowcott explains the inspiration behind the designs and their significance.