Slate roofs are one of the most durable building structure elements in the world, sometimes outliving the buildings they are on. No wonder they were used for some important sites and monuments, where one can still admire their elegance and durability. We have gathered a few examples of the most famous slate roofs around the world, to give you the best in terms of architecture, culture, and history.
Depending on the type of slate, this roofing material can last from 75 to even 400 years. The most famous sources of slate in Europe are quarries in Spain and North Wales (like Bethesda, Wales), with many of them being exploited heavily in the 19th century, when slate roofs were used for churches, cathedrals, and other landmarks. Spanish slate and Welsh slate are still the most sought after roofing slates, providing for most of Europe and for many other parts of the world.
The slate roof on Cambridge University was in great need of replacement after its slate roofing tiles were corroded by condensation from the central heating unit. For the reconditioning, one of the oldest slate mines in Britain was reopened, after they were all abandoned in the 1950s. The slate quarries in Collyweston provided the magnificent, pale limestone slates that adorn one of the roofs at the Cambridge University.
The Cathedral Church of St Colman, known as the Cobh Cathedral, is located in the town of Cobh, Ireland. Its building started in 1868, and it was finished over 50 years later because of budget problems. It has one of the largest carillons in Europe, with over 49 bells, and a beautiful slate roof that lasted over 100 years with no issues. A decade ago, it was found that it was leaking water, so it was redone through a 4 million pounds restoration project.
Walt Disney Residence
One of the most famous buildings to have slate roofing is the Walt Disney Residence in downtown Los Angeles, California. This huge mansion remained almost untouched for decades, and it still looks amazing, dominating the landscape with its tall structure. The slate roof both protects and adorns the building, and its recent restoration work left it looking at it best.
Rockefeller Mansion, Tarrytown, NY
An extraordinary example of the beauty and durability of slate roofing can be seen on the New York Rockefeller mansion called Kykuit, which was home for four generations of the oil tycoon family. The architectural style is an eclectic mix of influences, but its second form, rebuilt after a fire, is dominated by the elegant Colonial style. Its slate roofs complement the stone walls and give the mansion an indestructible look.
Oxford University, Oriel College
The Oriel College, part of the Oxford University, is one of the most notable examples of how slate roofs are one of the best choices for historic buildings. Its walls and their dressings are made of local Oxfordshire stone, and the slate roof uses Welsh slates, most likely.
These are a few examples of magnificent slate roofs on landmark buildings, representing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how slate roofing was used historically. It can be seen all over the world, from Japan to Europe, North America or Australia. And it proves that slate is both durable and a pleasure to look at, even if it hasn’t changed from centuries ago.