Your chance to learn traditional slate building techniques at free Ballachulish training workshop

People interested in learning about slate building techniques are being invited to attend a free two-day course in Ballachulish at the beginning of December.

The course, which is part of a wider project to conserve and interpret the historic Ballachulish slate arch, will run on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th December 2015. It is open to anyone with a personal or professional interest in using slate to build features such as dykes, cairns, plinths and seating etc.  The course is free of charge but places are limited and must be booked in advance.

The programme for the two days will focus on hands-on training, including helping to build a new stone plinth which will be part of new interpretation at the East Quarry in Ballachulish. All tools and protective clothing etc will be provided. Also included is a visit to see the conservations works currently underway at the nearby slate arch and the opportunity to speak to the specialist staff involved.

Lochaber Area Leader Thomas MacLennan said:  “The course is being organised to give people the chance to learn new slate building skills as well as providing a first-hand opportunity to see and hear about the works currently taking place at the slate arch. The course will be led by a professional instructor, Euan Thompson of the Scottish Traditional Skills Training Centre, but we would also like to encourage local people with experience in working with slate to come along and share their skills. We are aiming for an informal, enjoyable day and are hoping, in particular, that the course will lead to more slate features being built in and around the quarry.”

The Ballachulish slate arch project, including this workshop, is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Highland Council and Historic Environment Scotland (formerly Historic Scotland). The £277,000 project will not only consolidate the slate arch structure but also create new interpretive materials produced in partnership with local people.  A successful community oral heritage project to gather local stories and memories about the quarries has already taken place and work is currently underway to use the information gathered to design new panels and an app. The path to the arch, along with paths within the East Quarry, will also be upgraded.

The Ballachulish slate arch, also known as the Tom Beag Inclined Plane, can be seen from the A82 trunk road close to the village of Ballachulish.  It dates back to the 19th century when it was built to transport wagons of dressed slate from the quarry down to piers on the loch-side and to transport empty wagons back up to the quarry.

For further information or to book a place, please contact Helen Smith email, tel 079 105 24037. Helen would also be delighted to hear from locals with slate building experience interested in coming along to share their knowledge and skills.

23 Nov 2015
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