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FOCUS ON….Cotswold Stone Tiles

Since Roman times, natural stone has been used as a roof covering and today many areas of England use their local stone for this purpose. The Cotswold stone tile is a particularly recognizable material, seen throughout the picturesque villages of the area. Laid in diminishing courses, these tiles add texture and, being exposed to the elements more so than the building itself, weather to a darker colour; naturally picking up lichens and moss.

Originally use don all buildings from manor houses to pigsties, these limestone slates or ‘slats’ as they were locally known, were produced throughout the Cotswolds. From the Collywestons found up in Northamptonshire to the thinner Stonesfield slates, the production of stone roof tiles was prolific from as early as the sixteenth century. The main difference amongst these tiles, apart from slight regional variants in the stone itself, is the way in which they are produced. A Stonesfield slate is made by letting the newly quarried stone tiles or ‘presents’ frost and naturally split creating a generally thinner, flatter tile whereas the Forest Marble slates would be split by hand giving a heavier, rougher trimmed tile such as those found in the Tetbury area. Over time, ‘Stonesfield slates’ has become a generic term to refer to all thinner stone tiles and ‘Tetbury tile’ is commonly used to describe those of a heavier nature.

Cotswold stone slates are laid in diminishing courses, decreasing in size towards the ridge of the roof. Timber laths / battens are fitted along the roof and the tiles would be hung from these; traditionally using handmade oak pegs. Slates were originally sorted by their size against a ‘Slatters rule’ or ‘Whippet stick’ – a handmade timber rule with notches cut out to show both tile lengths and thickness of stone. All sizes of stone slates had their own colloquial names such as ‘cussoms’, ‘long becks’, ‘short becks’ or ‘short cocks’. The larger tiles (cussoms) are those found at the base of the roof and their overhang was ideal for throwing water clear from the building – an effective method before the introduction of guttering. ‘Short cocks’ were the smallest size tiles, available in large numbers and used at the highest points of the roof elevation. Some of our ‘Older’ customers may still occasionally refer to Cotswold slates using such names but today these tiles are generally measured in inches from the peg hole (found aprox 1” from the top of the tile) to the base.

As owners of traditional Cotswold properties will know, the maintenance and repair of a stone roof can be costly and where the slates are badly laminated or decayed, the issue of replacement arises.

Quite often as much as 40 – 50% of the roof tile will be unsalvageable so there are two main options available: either find a suitable reclaimed tile to match and make good the roof. Or re-roof with new materials. Commonly, the decision will come down to cost and, unless restricted by planning, the stone tiles are sold with the money paying towards the re-roof.

At Winchcombe Reclamation, we try our upmost to conserve this traditional material; re-dressing those second-hand slates to make them usable again.

We are specialist suppliers of reclaimed stone tiles with a strong knowledge of this material and its uses and aim to keep consistent stocks available, complete with suitable runs of stone ridge.

Our approach may be different to other suppliers. Rather than selling the reclaimed stone tiles as they come off the roof (mixed sizes / varied quality) we take the time to hand sort, measure, re-dress and re-drill our stock. This means that work on very little to no waste and generate less labour for your roofer, preventing them from having to spend time sorting through amixed box to determine what they have on site. Depending on availability, we can supply just the tile required for your project whether this is for repairs or for a complete re-roof. A free site visit and consultation will enable us to provide a full quote and a course schedule can be provided to the roofer.

We also purchase stone tiles that are due to be removed, stripping the tiles ourselves if needed.
To discuss further, please call us on 01242 609564.