Five patterns of Penrhyn Heather Blues adorn the steeply-pitched roof.

A derelict Grade II listed cemetery lodge in West Yorkshire is being repurposed with the help of a multi-patterned Welsh Slate roof.


The Victorian building at Edgerton Cemetery in Huddersfield was built as a home and office for John Edward Sinclair Cousins, the registrar and superintendent of the new Edgerton Cemetery when it opened in 1855.

Designed by leading architects JP Pritchett and Sons, it is now being refurbished by the local council at a cost of £250,000, to include a complete re-roof, external repairs including new windows, and treatment of dry rot.

The original Welsh slates, which had been on the roof since it was built – some 165 years – required replacing like-for-like and so some 850 of Welsh Slate’s Penrhyn Heather Blues now adorn the gothic-style building.

To match the originals, they were cut into five different shapes by two experienced craftsmen from Welsh Slate distributor and natural roofing slate specialists Yates & Company using a portable slate guillotine (which they have produced and sell to contractors) in their yard at Clitheroe, Lancashire.

These were used on the visible elevations, each of which had its own sequence. Standard rectangular slates were used on inner elevations.

Founder and director Chris Yates was sent a photo of the original pattern slates and produced plywood templates to best replicate this, given the original slates were different sizes but the replacements had to be dressed from standard-size 500mm x 300mm County-grade slates.

He said: “There were five different patterns with various degrees of difficulty. Two of the patterns were relatively straightforward, two required different cutting actions which is time-consuming, and one (with the concave cuts) was very time-consuming and required even more patience.

“But we are used to complicated slate applications. We carry out coursing and holing and provide a battening plan for random diminishing course slate as increasing numbers of contractors outside the traditional random slate areas are either unsure of how to tackle random roofs or have not got the space on site to perform this operation.”

The task at Edgerton Cemetery involved a total of some 30 to 40 man hours.

Chris added: “Roofs with this amount of detailed patterning are unusual these days but I understand the building is listed and as such the original design had to be replicated as near as possible. The council and architect are apparently over the moon with the appearance.”

The 200m2 of slates were installed over 16 weeks in adverse weather using two copper nails per slate over replacement joists, membrane and battens by specialist sub-contractor Harwood Roofing based in Batley near Leeds.

Managing director Steve Harwood said: “Due to the 50° pitch of the roof we had to take extra care when carrying out works on site. Alongside our foreman we had two apprentices on the job and this was very challenging for them.

“All the slates were different shapes and patterns and required two nails each and had to be graded to ensure they sat flush on the roof. The fleur de lys ridges were bedded on in mortar and we had to use a ladder laid on the slates to access the ridge line and this was particularly challenging, getting the slates up on a 50° pitch.”

But he added: “The Penrhyn Heather Blue slate is a beautiful slate to look at, very eye catching, and worked well on this English heritage building.”

The local council has yet to decide the future use of the lodge.