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  1. ITV Report

Slate mine to reopen after 40 years

Photo: ITV News Anglia

A mine that lay dormant for four decades is to be reopened to help cope with a shortage of slate.

The Collyweston slate mines in Northamptonshire closed back in the 1960s.

Now though there's a shortage and Northamptonshire County Council's approved planning - to start the process again.

A slate firm specialising in heritage projects wanted to keep the traditional skills alive for years to come.

The mine in Northamptonshire Credit: ITV News Anglia
Nigel's father also worked in the mines Credit: Nigel Smith

"To get this mine, and application to get this mine working again, approved, is just massive not only just for us, but for the whole Collyweston slating industry, you know, to get slate back out there and being used and hopefully, the skill, we can revitalise again. My dad started the business fifty years ago and his grandfather was a Collyweston slater as well, so it goes back in history. This is all Collyweston slate log and, what they did years ago, was to dig out the seam of sand that was underneath this seam of log and prop it up with piers as you can see, tie some rope around the piers, pull the piers down and the log would fall to the ground and it would be then broke up into manageable pieces and carted up to the surface."

– Nigel Smith, Claude N Smith Ltd
Miners will use machinery rather than hand when work starts again Credit: Spiegl Press

Over the next ten years about 2,000 tonnes of Collyweston slate will come out of the mines. That equates to about 200 tonnes every year where it wil then be placed top of listed building across our region.

Collyweston parish council objected to the reopening of the mine - with concerns about more traffic and dust, but the County Council aproved the decision this week.