Valentia Slate Quarry was first opened in 1816 to supply slates mainly for roofing and flooring. It also supplied gravestones to all the local cemeteries and because of the excellent quality of the slate (non porous with no impurities), these memorials can still be seen today as perfect as the day they were erected as far back as the 1820’s.
When the great municipal buildings were being erected in London in the mid 19th century, Valentia Slate was used extensively. These included the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral and many of the Underground Railways such as Waterloo, Charing Cross, Liverpool St., Black Friars. It was also used in the Paris Opera House.
George Magnus became a shareholder in the Quarry and he set up an enamelling business in London and one of his finest products was white enamelled Valentia Slate Billiard Tables made entirely of Slate and one of these can still be seen in the Isle of Wight.
During its best years in the 1850’s the quarry employed up to 500 workers and built up a world renowned name for its quality products. However, with the cheaper and softer Welsh Slate coming on the market, a decline set in at Valentia and a rock fall at the mouth of the Quarry was the final straw. The Quarry closed in 1911.
However, the Quarry was reopened in 1999 and went into business once more. It wasn’t easy as all the slate tradition and knowledge had died out after 88 years of inactivity.