Slate mine could be reopened

Claude Smith Collyweston Slater feature - Nigel Smith at work in the Collyweston slate mine'Photo: SM170212-062js ENGEMN00120120217130624
Claude Smith Collyweston Slater feature - Nigel Smith at work in the Collyweston slate mine'Photo: SM170212-062js ENGEMN00120120217130624

A slate firm specialising in heritage projects has applied to reopen a mine and keep traditional skills alive for years to come.

Claude N Smith Ltd wants to extract Collyweston slate from underground for the first time in more than 50 years.

The firm, based in Slate Drift, Collyweston, specialises in the material which was historically used on roofs around the area and the country. It has applied to Northamptonshire County Council to reopen its mine.

Nigel Smith, who runs the firm, said: “We have a 10-year supply of true Collyweston slate (unlike thick Duddington slate) at an extraction rate of 250 tonnes a year, equalling 5,000sqm of slate when laid.

“We have a client interested in purchasing a year’s supply for a prestigious listed building.

“We hope this supply of slate will bring back to life the old traditional skills of Collyweston slating, as well as increasing local employment for the area.

“We would be looking to sell to the Collyweston slating trade come 2018 only, as we believe this product can only be installed by skilled tradesmen. If fitted incorrectly it will not work, nor last the 100 years plus before reslating.

“Failure of this application will certainly mean the end of true Collyweston slate, and the trade will also recede to nothing as is the path we are following today.”

Mr Smith said his firm had planning permission to build a skills centre workshop and offices. The plan is to train apprentices from nearby construction business to ensure a good supply of skilled Collyweston slaters.

“After the 10-year supply has ended on our property we would be seeking further development with other land owners on Slate Drift to seek their slate resources for royalties,” added Mr Smith.