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Slating the Commons

Valentia Slate Co. in County Kerry, has signed a contract with the British House of Commons to replace a portion of the slate floors. The original floors were laid 160 years ago. The slate is laid in ornate designs on the floors of the building, which are being restored. The slate, a unique purple colour and only found on Valentia Island, is incredibly durable. Certain parts of the building have a massive footfall and the floor has become very worn. The design of the corridors back then was put together by architect Augustus Pugin - (a great friend of Wexford by the way)  -  who specialised in flooring.

Vast amounts of the slate was also used for shelving in the Public Records Office and many railway stations in London. Renowned for its durability and beauty, the slate also has several other uses, including hearthstones, gravestones, counter tops, floor tiles, furniture, and wall capping.

The slate quarry was open from 1816 to 1911, but it closed down then because of a landslide and was reopened by local businessmen 88 years later in 1999.


Very cool; I didn't know that. My primary association with Valentia Island is the fossilised tetrapod footprints, some of the earliest evidence for vertebrate life on land (which I dragged my girlfriend into the middle of nowhere on the north coast of the island to see when we were there on holiday three years ago).
Sorry to say I have never managed to get there myself.
I'd be fonder of the work of Charles Augustus Welbey Pugin if he'd stuck to public buildings and not been responsible for the destruction of so many fine English mediaeval church interiors during the 19th century!

Here in Wexford we are very proud of our connection with Pugin. I often have the opportunity to attend services in one of his own favourites, St. Mary's, Tagoat, which I am ashamed to say, has been allowed to deteriorate under the present parish authority.

One of the windows honours the architect himself. St. Mary's contains more original Pugin features than any of his other Irish churches, including floor tiles, wooden screens, stained glass by Hardman, a set of four brass altar candlesticks designed by Hardman and presented by Pugin when the church was dedicated in 1846, and a marble, brass-inlaid memorial floor slab in the sanctuary.

Edited at 2013-02-18 19:54 (UTC)