The History of Slate

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Slate is a homogenous rock that has a fine grain in which is derived from shale sediment composing of clay or volcanic ash. It’s malleable breakability yet tough qualities allow it to be broken into thin but durable sheets. On record the first ever slate roof was believed to be a private home in North Wales, Wales around 1300 A.D. But for the latter, to source and install a slate roof back then was too expensive and labour intensive and could usually only be found on castles or other militaristic structures.

The Spanish in the 1800’s, created a quarrying process that worked to be efficient enough to produce slate for everyday homes – A game changer in the slate industry. It’s dominance & expertise in this stone still to this day almost 90% of European slate roofing originates from Spain.

Del Carmen Slate on a traditional build home in Killara:

Slate Roofs in America did make an appearance in the 1600’s but the first quarry did not open until 1785. That opening gave access to this great material to general consumers. However, it was not until the second half of the 19th Century that slate inevitably became mass quarried. Vermont is a major producer, quarrying primarily S1 quality stone. In 1850 immigrants from Wales arrived from Fair Haven, Vermont – the hot spot of slate production.

The slate of Vermont and New York is special in its composition.  It comes in a rare variety of colours green, gray, black, purple, and red.  It’s the only region in the world that produces such a wide variety of colours.

Slate peaked in the early 1900s but then declined as asphalt shingles flooded the market by hugely cheaper pricing of the material.  Although a relatively recent interest in historic preservation and historic style has revitalized the material.

Here are a few Heritage based clients that we’ve worked with in the past year;

Reclaimed Slate used on a traditional style house in the western suburbs.

Natural slate harmonises perfectly with modern architecture. Its durability and beauty make this traditional building material the perfect choice for any cutting-edge design.

Its sophistication, resistance and durability give the surface involved a certain prestige, guaranteeing a far longer service life.

Present throughout the history of mankind, natural slate is a classic and irreplaceable element on the roofs. You can see lots of natural slate roofs in houses dating back more than 200 years ago. The photo below is of an old restored church turned into a unique family home.

As you can see the depth of the Slate story is filled with rich history. Depending of whether or not Slate will be the desired roofing material for your new / existing home please do not hesitate to Contact us at Heritage for our expert advice on styles, colours & our range of services we offer.

Also great viewing below!

History of Welsh Slate – https://vimeo.com/291605081

Enjoy & we hope to speak to you soon!

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