Since then, Honister Slate Mine has become a highly successful enterprise. It is once more producing slate in significant volumes, it is preserving and applying age old skills such as docking, riving and dressing, and it has given rise to an extremely popular visitor attraction. These are all achievements of which Mark Weir is very proud:
“The closure of Honister Slate Mine was like the right arm being missing from the valley,” says Mark.
“Restoring the mine and reviving the local industry has been a very positive and rewarding process. Being born and brought up in Borrowdale, we wanted to create real jobs for local people; people who feel privileged to keep traditional skills alive and be proud of where they came from.”
And if you have never seen slate riven this film showing the old techniques being used today is a joy.
Period footage of the quary in 1926
To my mind this shows how with imagination traditional industries can be revitalised, mixed sympatheticaly with a tourism/heritage package and bring life and work to communities. I guess this one works particularly well having been initiated from people who have family history in the mine and really understand it’s place in Westmorland culture. How wonderful it would be to see this model replicated with cutlery in Sheffield, pottery in Stoke, boatbuilding in Faversham etc.