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This Land is Ours: Miners of yesterday attract visitors of today

Jan Wilkinson Co-Owner of Honister Slate Mine, climbing the mine

Jan Wilkinson Co-Owner of Honister Slate Mine contributes to a new exhibition ‘This Land is Our Land’ at Wordsworth House and Garden.

The exhibition which opened on the 9 March focuses on the different relationships we have with the landscape of the Lake District. Since being awarded the Word Heritage Status there has been increasing debate around this subject.

The curators of the exhibition invited multiple – often contradictory – voices share their passion for the Lake District and their thoughts on its future.

Honister Slate Mine is the last working slate mine in England. Quarrying for Westmorland green slate has taken place in the area since the early 1700’s with the stone being transported from the quarry workings on Honister and Yew Crags to the road below by hand-sledges.

As technology developed tramways and an aerial flight were introduced to bring the slate down the mountain more efficiently. Today visitors can see the old workings around the site and inside the mine itself which is open to the public via guided multimedia tours.

There is also a viewing window from the cafe into the saw shed where visitors can see Honister’s stone masons using modern day heavy duty industrial equipment to cut the large blocks of raw slate to the size needed for the wide range of products they make.

This Land is Ours exhibition contributors including, writers Robert Macfarlane, Sarah Hall, Hunter Davis and George Monbiot, artist Julian Heaton Cooper, Jan Wilkinson and others living and working in the Lakes, explore nature’s power to mould us and the impact humans, in turn, have on the environment.

Jan Wilkinson Co-Owner Honister Slate Mine says; “I was delighted to be asked to contribute to this project. My brother-in-law and I are caretakers of the beautiful environment we work in at Honister. For over 400 years it has been home to men working the quarries and the mines. We have great respect for what they did and the harsh conditions they worked in.

“They changed the landscape as they lived and worked on Fleetwith. Today we are proud to be part of the family that brought this industry back to life after a decade of it being closed down, but also for developing the heritage and adventure tourism side of the business.

“This brings visitors up close to the heritage skills in our workshop and to the awe-inspiring landscape that we have the daily privilege to live and work in. We hope to inspire a love of the landscape particularly in our younger visitors which will stay with them for life.”

‘This Land is Our Land’ will be open daily, except Friday, from 9 March to 8 September at Wordsworth House & Garden, Cockermouth.

Wordsworth House & Garden, Main Street, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9RX

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