Honister Slate Mine
Honister Slate Mine, which is located on either side of the Honister Pass between Borrowdale in Keswick and Buttermere in the Lakes, is England’s only working slate mine owned by The Buttermere and Westmorland Green Slate Company Limited. In the visitor centre you can follow the history of the Honister mines. There are three tours on offer, or, alternatively, why not make a whole day of it and try one of Honister’s all day pass. Although it is believed that the first slate was mined from the Honister area in the Roman era, however, confirmed records do not appear until the early 17th century. Even William Wordsworth, one of the Lake Poets, made reference to slate quarrying in his diaries.
Unfortunately, after three centuries of near continuous slate mining in Honister, the mines closed down in 1986. Any attempts to revive the industry over the next ten years were hampered by legal and financial issues.
Fortunately, due to Bill Taylor and Mark Weir, whose respective father and grandfather had worked at the mine for many years, secured the lease in 1996 and developed a plan to start up production again. This was done under the banner of a heritage enterprise that would combine commercial extraction and tourism.
Over the following year they restored the mine workings, repaired the buildings and they constructed display areas for visitors. Eleven years after the mine’s closure, slate production began again in December 1997. Thousands of visitors are welcomed every year at Honister Slate Mine, it recently won the Tourism Attraction of the Year award. This is an enjoyable attraction, which is steeped in history, for the whole family.