|Cornish craftsman Graham Sleep has taken retirement after 50 years of loyal service to The Delabole Slate Company.
On the 13th May 2011, a commemorative gold watch was presented to him by George Hamilton on behalf of The Company in celebration and gratitude. The production team had also made a Delabole Slate plaque, to which engineering chargehand Scott had added Graham's trusty hand tools.
Born and raised in Delabole, Graham made the most of living next to the oldest and largest slate quarry in England, and from the age of 15 trained in the traditional art of slate splitting.
Roofing slate is split by hand, with bettle and chisel: a traditional method that has been passed down through generations. It is a difficult skill to master, but Graham was an expert.
During his career, he probably split over 3 million slates, roofing buildings across the UK. And before he left, he helped to pass on his skills to the next generation of splitters.
During his leaving ceremony, Graham said simply: "Well, thank you. And keep it up boys."
Commenting on the end of an era, Levi Hamilton, Director, notes:
"The importance of the slate industry in Cornish history and culture is often undervalued. Graham's career and skills illustrate a craftsmanship that has remained unchanged for generations. At The Delabole Slate Company we want to protect this sector of Cornish heritage and we actively promote products made using the same techniques that were in place hundreds of years ago. Graham Sleep is a skilled craftsman and a character that will be missed, but the tradition he embodies will continue."