A generation or so after it closed, Claude N Smith have re-opened a slate mine in the Northamptonshire village of Collyweston.
Abandoned in the 1960s as frosty mornings became sporadic and unreliable, resulting in difficulties in splitting the stone, the mine is now viable once again due to advances made by Sheffield Hallam University and Natural England. Working together they have developed a method of using modern freezer technology as a reliable method for splitting to create the thin Collyweston slate sheets.
In recent years the lack of 'new' material has resulted in many historic buildings having to resort to using reclaimed Collyweston slate for their roof repairs. It is hoped that this new mine will produce a steady source of Collyweston slate to meet the demands, with Kings College, Cambridge hoping to be the first to benefit.
To reach the new slate source miners had to remove over 100m of rock but are now ready to start producing Collyweston slate once again.
Apart from being a good news story for the roofing industry, this new venture will breathe new life into a 600 year old industry.