Penrhyn Bangor Blue® Roofing Slates have been coming into Ireland for the last 600 years. In the days pre-dating manufactured roofing materials, Blue Bangor Slates were the traditional roof covering in Ireland. Indeed if you look up at the roofs of many of the country’s pre 20th century buildings, the chances are that the roofs are slated with original Penrhyn Blue Bangor® Slates. The fact that many of these roofs are still intact and functioning, hundreds of years after they have originally been slated, is testament to the slate’s quality and durability. Many people ask were the name Bangor Blue actually comes from, and the answer is that it comes from the port from which the slates were originally shipped. The Penrhyn Quarry lies 4 kilometres from the port at Bangor and it was from this port than the slates were shipped to Ireland, and beyond.
Back in the days before modern roads and infrastructure, shipping was the main mode of transport and it was due to Ireland’s geographical proximity to north Wales which made it an ideal destination for the slates. The slates would be shipped into various ports on the east coast of Ireland and transported internally via canals.
Of course it was not only Ireland were the slates were sent to. France, Germany, the Netherlands were all major customers as was the United States and Australia. In the case of Australia the slates were used as ballast on the first settler’s boats going to Sydney and many historical buildings around Sydney harbour are still roofed in these slates.
Although the quarry has been producing and selling slates from as far back as the 13th century, it was no until 1782 that Douglas Pennant bought the leases around the area and established the quarry as a commercial entity. The quarry was owned by the Pennant family from this time right up until 1964 when it was bought out by Alfred McAlpine. McAlpine owned the business for over 40 years and, during this time, they further strengthened their grip on the Welsh Slate industry by acquiring Pen-y-Orsedd, Ffestiniog and Cwt-y-Bugail quarries from the Williams family in 1997 and re-branding as Welsh Slate. In 2007 a local Irish businessman, Kevin Lagan, bought Welsh Slate from McAlpine and Kevin has invested in this business to continue the tradition of supplying quality slates for many years to come.