Slate has been used as a building material for well over 600 years,
and has been quarried continuously since the early 17th century,
when Carew in his survey of Cornwall wrote 'in substance thin, in
colour fair, in lasting long and generally carrieth good regard'.
machinery exhibit at Delabole Slate's headquarters
the reign of Elizabeth I, the five quarries that existed within
the vicinity of the present pit assumed considerable importance,
delivering slate 'throughout the realm, and even exporting it by
sea to Brittany and the Netherlands'.
1841, the five quarries formed themselves into a single controlled
unit, and the Old Delabole Slate Company was formed, becoming the
present Limited liability company in 1898.
George Vi on a visit to the Delabole Slate Quarry
Old Delabole Slate Company had a long and chequered history before
finally being liquidated in 1977 by the company's bankers.
this, the quarry moved into corporate hands but this era was short
lived and in June 1999 a management buy-out returned the quarry
to local ownership.
Slate Quarry as it looks today
Delabole Slate Company Ltd is now, once again, a private Cornish
slate quarry probably started in Medieval Times," says George Hamilton,
the Managing Director of The Delabole Slate Company. "The village
grew up around the industry. The quarry itself is about half a mile
long and a quarter of a mile across. The quarry is around 400 feet
Slate is still shipped all over the United Kingdom
the years the slate from Delabole has been shipped all over the
world. Now business is mainly contained within the UK with a lot
of slate remaining in the south west.
mining for slate in Delabole has changed over the years.
is not like it used to be," smiles George. "There would be lots
of men with digging tools using dynamite too. It is all fairly quiet
now and more environmentally friendly. We only have about five people
in the actual quarry. What they do is drill down a vertical hole,
then they put in two little horizontal holes to join up. Then they
pass wire through the holes and join it up. And cut it out that
finished product - the slate can be found in many gardens
Delabole Slate Company has many plans for the future. George Hamilton
is hoping that in the next few years the area will have its own
many old pictures and artefacts the centre would be able to tell
more about the fascinating story of slate from Delabole and the
men who mined for it.
Wesley Mills, Delabole's old meter reader
Chris Hore is the village webmaster
Visit the Gaia Energy
Centre in Delabole