This article has been submitted by leading food and travel journalist, Angela Youngman.
The heritage experience, based near Blaenau Festiniog in Snowdonia, saw off tough competition from all over the UK to be named as a finalist in the ‘innovation’ category for its compelling digital re-telling of the Victorian slate industry of North Wales.
The Deep Mine Tour was launched in March 2016 and brings to life the harsh reality of life underground, mining and cutting slate. Clever use of cutting edge technology including augmented reality, light projections, video, 3D audio and special effects have been used to bring to life the working conditions of the men and boys who produced the slate which roofed so much of the world. This is an industry which has dominated the area since the Industrial Revolution. At its peak, the Welsh slate industry employed 17,000 men. By the end of the nineteenth century, the miners were extracting half a million tonnes of slate per year. It was an industrial success which came at a price. Miners died or were injured, and endured incredible working conditions. It is this story which is brought to life in the new attraction.
Many of Llechwedd’s guides, who accompany visitors on the tour, have worked in the slate industry, while other have family connections stretching back generations. The result is very thoughtful and compelling storytelling.
The Llechwedd Deep Mine experience is complemented by the Quarry Explorer – an off road 4 x4 adventure which takes explorers high up into the man-made slate mountains that tower above the mine. This extreme landscape has never before been accessible to the public.
The Museums & Heritage Awards recognize best practice within the world of museums, galleries, cultural and heritage visitor attractions. Llechwedd has been judged against hundreds of entries to be named as a finalist.
The award winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London on 17 May.