Since colonial times, natural slate roofing can simply be described as the ultimate luxury roof covering system in Melbourne.
A quick glance around Melbourne’s inner suburbs will reveal many period homes with their original slate roofs largely intact and still doing the job they were intended to do. These slates most likely arrived in Melbourne during the second half of the 19th century serving a two-fold purpose.
Firstly, as ballast on ships returning from England where they had been delivering Australian grown produce.
Secondly, supplying superior roof coverings and slate roof tiling to private and commercial buildings constructed during, and beyond Melbourne’s rapid growth era period known as the “boom years”.
Although today, most seem of grey-brown appearance and some covered in lichen, these roofs were originally installed in a vast array of colours with interwoven courses and patterns.
Generally speaking, some of the more popular varieties, named after the quarry location were:
- “Welsh Bangor”: Darkish-grey and fine grained.
- “Welsh Carnarvon”: Reddish purple, often seen shaped in a decorative pattern.
- “Welsh Portmadoc” grey blue and fine grained.
- “Welsh Penryhn” Light purple to plum colour, fine-grained and extremely durable.
- “Welsh Dinorwic” Lightish grey extremely fine texture, excellent slate.
- “English Burlington” Very dark blue.
- “English Westmorland” Green, coarse texture, thick, strong and durable.
- “English Delabole” Blue/grey, open density, commonly seen these days delaminating and having a washed-out appearance.
Early 21st century still sees Melbourne’s construction and renovation industry in the inner suburbs moving along consistently. Sitting atop many of these new houses and renovations are roofs covered with these popular types of slates:
Spanish Del Carmen Ultra:
From Cabrera mountains of North-West Spain.A deep blue to almost black-coloured slate. Its face has a distinctive but gentle texture with a longitudinal grain. Totally natural and 100% fade resistant even in Melbourne’s long harsh summer sunlight. These slates are very durable and come with a 75 year guarantee from the Quarry. Del Carmen Ultra have a very similar appearance to the ‘English Burlington’ slate when they were initially installed on Melbourne’s Victorian and Edwardian era homes. This quality makes them an ideal slate for re-roofing and renovation style homes.
Spanish Cupa 6:
Also from the North-West region of Spain, a deep blue slate perhaps a shade or two lighter than the Del Carmen. They are very finely split and have a very tight and uniform grain. As with the Del Carmen, they won’t fade, rust or delaminate in any way. Guaranteed and very durable.
Although suited to any style project, the very fine and clear line appearance of these slates have made them a very popular choice with Melbourne’s architects and builders of the French renaissance style houses currently being constructed around our inner suburbs.
Today, these slates known as “Heather Red” are identical, and indeed come from virtually the same quarry, as the Welsh Penrhyn slates used in Melbourne in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century. Their name is probably a little misleading as they are still a very beautiful light purplish-plum colour. Very hard, tight grained with lovely distinctive spalled edges they, in our opinion, deservedly earn their reputation as the finest quality roof slates available today.
There are a few other types of roof slate available in Melbourne today, some good, some not so good, some bad. The old adage “you get what you pay for” really holds true when choosing a roofing slate and contractor in today’s market.
Long Lasting – Waterproof, Fireproof, Vermin Proof
When installed correctly and professionally the above mentioned slates are waterproof, fireproof, vermin proof and will most likely last well in excess of 120+ years. They can be patterned, curved or laid in diminishing lengths and widths to create a visually stunning appearance to any style of home.
The manufacture of these natural roof slates requires no plastics, chemicals, metal composites or trees; quarried straight from the ground they are a completely natural roof solution. For the luxury home or the simple inner city cottage, a natural slate roof is typically an upgrade enhancer which is recognised and rewarded in the property re-sale value.
Throughout Melbourne, from the boom period of the latter 1800’s to the present day, slate roofing remains the absolute pinnacle in luxury roofing for Melbourne’s most prestigious period and contemporary style homes.
Abardeen Roof Slating & Tiling 66 Eglinton St Moonee Ponds VIC 3039