Lamington loves Welsh Slate

The new Lamington Primary School features like-for-like Welsh Slates.

Pupils at Lamington Primary School have a new Welsh Slate roof over their heads.

For the Penrhyn Heather Blue Welsh Slates which had been on the original roof of their school for 150 years have been replaced with almost 12,000 new Celtic-grade 500mm x 300mm ones on the 750m2 roof of their new £1.3million building.

A new school for the Conservation village near Biggar in South Lanarkshire was required because it would not have been big enough to cope with increasing pupil numbers which necessitated an increase in footprint of 355m2.

The building had already doubled in size with extensions which were a mix of its original vernacular and flat, felt-roof structures but although it occupies a prominent position at the southern entrance to the village, it was decided to demolish and rebuild.

This demand for a dedicated 21st Century teaching environment in terms of teaching spaces, support services, energy efficiency, environment and architecture required an additional 355m2 of neighbouring agriculture land, and a departure from the local development plan.

And given the remains of a Roman temporary camp within the immediate area, this required a desk-based archaeological assessment which concluded that the potential for buried archaeological remains within the 1,920m2 development area was high. However, a watching brief during excavations failed to turn anything up.

The 11-month build by main contractor McLaughlin & Taylor resulted in a steel and timber frame structure with feature glulam roof truss to the two classrooms and gym/dining hall, complemented by ancillary accommodation for staff and services. The roof was designed with a pitch to suit minimum falls for slate and was installed by Heritage Roofing.

Architect Jonathan Wilson, of South Lanarkshire Council’s housing and technical resources department, said: “The fact that the school is in a Conservation Area required that we use scale, features and materials similar to the surroundings, and the existing Conservation Area slates were purple.”

Welsh Slate’s Scottish technical sales representative Alex Grant was called in to clarify the original slate and confirmed it was the company’s Penrhyn Heather Blues, seemingly reinforced by the cottage next to the school also being called Penrhyn Cottage.

The council’s supporting design statement said: “The proposal aims to use a number of traditional materials like slate, stone and smooth render in a contemporary manner which draws its language from the traditional and local; vernacular but avoids being a slave to it.”

Mr Wilson had not previously used Welsh Slate, which is guaranteed for 100 years, but said the council was “very impressed” by its use on the school.