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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
Expert's trip to US slate museum
Welsh Slate Museum (pic from the NMGW)
The Welsh Slate Museum has informal links with the US
Strengthening the links between the slate quarrying areas of Wales and America is the aim of a fact-finding trip which starts on Wednesday.

Dr Dafydd Roberts, from the Welsh Slate Museum in Llanberis, is heading to the US to the Slate Valley Museum in the Granville area of New York State.

Dr Roberts said that many slate mines in north America were established by Welsh migrants.

He said it was the first such trip made by a Welsh museums representative.

"The aim is firstly for me to learn more about the slate quarrying areas in north America, especially in Granville," he said.

We share a similar mission and strong connection that is both human and geological
Mary Lou Willits, Slate Valley Museum

"There are several slate quarrying areas in North America, and most were established by Welsh emigrants. Granville is one of the most well-known and there are still many people with Welsh roots.

"People in north America are aware of their roots and like to find out more about their links and heritage.

"From 1870 onwards, literally hundreds of people left north Wales for the states - we need to discover more about what happened to them."

There have been informal links between the two museums for around five years, and staff from Granville have visited the Llanberis site, which is part of the National Museums and Galleries of Wales.

Slate Valley Museum director Mary Lou Willits said they were "honoured and excited" by the visit.

Dr Dafydd Roberts (pic from the NMGW)
Dr Roberts said he was excited about the visit

"While the Welsh Slate Museum is much larger than our museum, we still share a similar mission and strong connection that is both human and geological," she said.

"I think he will inspire us as we enter a new decade of interpreting the history of the American slate industry."

Dr Roberts, who said he was always open to tips and ideas, added that the American museum seemed "rather similar" to the Welsh Slate Museum.

"They too seem to be well-rooted in the community, and have links with past and present slate quarrying - the industry is not dead in north America, and it is not dead here either," he said.

"They have got a plan of development and want to talk about how we raised our visitor numbers from 40,000 a year to 120,000 in the last 10 years."

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