Where is Slate Found in the UK?
Slate is found in Wales and the North-West of England. More specifically, you will find the majority of UK slate mines in Cornwall (famously Delabole quarry) and in the Lake District in Cumbria.
- Penrhyn Quarry
- Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry
- Delabole Quarry
- Mill Hill Quarry
- Kirkby Quarry
- Broughton Moor Quarry
- Elterwater Quarry
- Tilberthwaite Valley Quarry
- Honister Slate Mine Quarry
Slate and its UK Locations
The slate industry is worldwide, with 90% of Europe’s natural slate used for roofing originating in Spain. The US also possesses important producing regions, with the state of New York being home to The Slate Valley area, being one of the places in the world where coloured slate (which is not grey or blue) is obtained.
Today, however, we’re putting the spotlight on the slate industry closer to home, here in the UK. Major slate mining regions exist in areas of the UK. Let’s take a closer look at these quarries and what kinds of slate are mined here.
North Wales – Penrhyn Quarry
The Welsh slate industry has an extensive history. It began in the Roman period, when slate was used to roof the fort at Segontium, now Caernarfon. The first large-scale slate mining in North Wales began with the opening of Penrhyn Quarry in 1782 (back then known as Cae Braich y Cafn quarry). However, the first reference to slate extraction from Penrhyn is from back in 1570, when it was mentioned in a Welsh poem.
In the 19th century, along with Dinorwic Quarry, Penrhyn Quarry dominated the Welsh slate industry. They were the world’s largest quarries. The main pit of Penrhyn Quarry is nearly one mile long and 370 metres deep, it was worked by nearly 3,000 quarrymen. It still remains Britain’s largest slate quarry today, but its workforce is now nearer 200, and was superseded in size by slate quarries in China, Spain and the US.
At UK Slate, we stock slate from Penrhyn Quarry, including:
Welsh Heather Blue – This beautiful slate comes in heather blue or purple, and its striking colour is incredibly rare in the industry.
Welsh Plum Slate Aggregate – These slate aggregates are a purple heather colour with tones of blue and green running through to create a stunning backdrop to plant or garden features.
North Wales – Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry
Cwt y Bugail Quarry is located above Ffestiniog in North Wales. It first worked as a trial pit around 1840 and produces dark blue grey slate. Today it is an open cast quarry, whereas slate was originally mined in deep caverns and pillars. In fact, during World War II the quarry was used to store art treasures from the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery for safe keeping.
At UK Slate, we stock this stunning dark blue grey slate:
Welsh Dark Blue Grey – This slate is used by architects worldwide, it is renowned for its stunning looks, reliability and ease to work with and is regarded as one of the finest slates in the world.
Cumbria – Kirkby, Broughton Moor, Elterwater, Tilberthwaite Valley and Honister Slate Mine
Parts of Cumbria have significant history with the slate industry, dating back 400 years. The industry exploded in the 18th and 19th century in response to the demand for slate roofing as a result of the industrial revolution, and the growth of towns in Northern England.
Today the slate industry in Cumbria is just a fraction of what it was, but it is still active at Kirkby, Broughton Moor, Elterwater, Tilberthwaite Valley and Honister Slate Mine.
At UK Slate, we stock slate mined in Cumbria, including:
Westmorland Green – Quarried for over 400 years, this slate provides an exquisite finish to a home. It is quintessentially British with its distinctive green colour which is created from the metamorphosed volcanic ash of the Borrowdale Volcanic group of mountains in the heart of the Lake District.
Burlington Blue Grey – These slates were formed during the Silurian Period, over 330 million years ago. It creates striking and eye-catching roofscapes with its beautiful colour.
Cornwall – Delabole Quarry & Mill Hill Quarry
Delabole Quarry is one of the largest slate quarries in England and has operated since the 15th century, making it the oldest working quarry in England. It was once the deepest man-made pit in the world until open cast mines were made in America and Australia. Once worked by over 1,000 people, today the work of that many can be done with just a few machines and five quarrymen.
Mill Hill Quarry has existed for around 400 years and produces a range of building stone, flooring material and aggregates. During the reign of Elizabeth I, slate quarries in Cornwall were of considerable importance, delivering slate ‘throughout the realm and even exporting it by sea to Brittany and the Netherlands’.
UK Slate can supply from both quarries, contact us for more information.
The UK truly is a wonderful source of beautiful slates for all sorts of applications. From Cumbrian slate to Welsh slate, Brazilian slate to Spanish slate, we stock a vast range of different kinds of slate to suit your needs. Contact us today for more information about any of our slate roof tiles.