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Blaenau Ffestiniog

(4.3/5 based on 5,000+ reviews for 9 attractions)
Things to do: adventure, fun & games, nightlife
Blaenau Ffestiniog is a historic mining town in Gwynedd, Wales. It has a population of 4,875 according to the 2011 census, including the attached village of Llan Ffestiniog, which makes it the third largest town in Gwynedd unitary authority, behind Bangor and Caernarfon. After reaching 12,000 at the peak of the slate industry, the population fell due to a decrease in the demand for slate. Blaenau Ffestiniog at one time was the second largest town in North Wales, behind Wrexham. Today, the town relies heavily on tourists, who come to see the many attractions within and around the town such as the Ffestiniog Railway and the Llechwedd Slate Caverns.HistoryEarly history (before 1750)Before the slate industry developed, the area now known as Blaenau Ffestiniog was a farming region, with scattered farms working the uplands below the cliffs of Dolgaregddu and Nyth-y-Gigfran. A few of these historic farmhouses survive at Cwm Bowydd, Gelli, Pen y Bryn and Cefn Bychan. Much of the land was owned by large estates.The slate industry arrives (1750–1850)The town of Blaenau Ffestiniog was created to support workers in the local slate mines. In its heyday it was the largest town in Merioneth. In the 1760s men from the long established Cilgwyn quarry near Nantlle started quarrying in Ceunant y Diphwys to the north east of the present town. This valley had for a number of years been known for its slate beds and had been worked on a very small scale. The exact location of this original quarry has been obliterated by subsequent mining activity, but it is likely that it was on or near the site of the Diphwys Casson Quarry. Led by Methusalem Jones, eight Cilgwyn men formed a partnership and took a lease on Gelli Farm where they established their quarry. In 1800, William Turner and William Casson, quarry managers from the Lake District, bought out the lease and significantly expanded production.
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