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Honister Slate Mine
Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Cumbria
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1833
era  Georgian  |  category  Mining/Quarrying  |  reference  NY225135
The impressively named Buttermere and Westmorland Green Slate Company has the distinction of operating the only remaining working slate mine in England.
These days, Honister Mine is a network of quarry and mine sites located at Honister Pass. As well as providing slate for the construction and home improvement industries, it operates as a tourist attraction.
Slate quarrying, i.e., open excavation, may well have been carried out in the Honister area of Borrowdale since Roman times. However, the first recorded mention dates from the early 1700s. Quarrying was being carried out on a significant scale by the 1750s.
From 1833, operations came under the supervision of entrepreneur Sam Wright. He introduced underground mining to supplement the quarrying. The sawing of slate was introduced after 1856. Packhorses and sleds were used to transport the slate down the precarious scree slopes
Following the creation of the Buttermere and Westmorland Green Slate Company Limited in 1879, inclines were constructed to make it easier to transport the slate.
After 1892, Honister Hause (on the south side of the B5289 through Honister Pass) became the centre of operations. It was linked to the quarries by road, tramway, aerial ropeway (installed 1928), plus inclines within the mountains (constructed 1930s). The slate workers lived at Honister or in the mines during the week, going home at weekends. The company built some houses for workers at Borrowdale.
The mineral Actinolite was found at Honister Slate Quarry (NY217138). Hematite was found at the Honister Trail Level (NY220140). Both are located between Bell Crags and Wet Knotts, about 1km north west of Honister Hause. A tramway — now disused— connected Honister Hause with Dubs Quarry, about 1.5km to the west .
Mining and quarrying at Honister ceased altogether in 1986 after a period of decline. However, in 1996, Bill Taylor and Mark Weir, son and grandson of former miners, re-opened the site. Production re-commenced in December 1997.
Research: PD and AJD
bibliography
www.honister-slate-mine.co.uk
Location

Honister Slate Mine