Victorian and Edwardian era homes slate roofs
Many people are surprised to learn that original old Melbourne slate roofing tiles were installed with many different types, colors and sizes of slate.
It’s pretty easy to understand I guess as today due to natural weathering, lichens and pollution, they all look a very similar grey-brown color. At first glance they all appear to be the same in every respect. If you look closely you’ll soon see the slight difference of color from one roof to the next indicating different types and colors of slate.
The color can even vary slightly on the same roof, from the front faces to the rear ones. This is mainly due to different levels of exposure to pollution sources, such as main roads and railway lines. In the old days steam trains were notorious for polluting all types of roofs where the homes were built close to railway lines.
The most prolific style of home built in Melbourne’s 19th century were the mid and late Victorian style homes. Still around but in much smaller numbers and really only seen close to the CBD are the early Victorian era homes.
Both of these Victorian era styles were originally installed with Welsh roofing slates. Towards the end of the century though there were slates from Europe starting to find their way onto the late Victorian style home.
Early 20th century saw a shift to the Edwardian era style homes. Welsh slates were still common but there was also an English green colored slate starting to be used more commonly on some homes. It was also this period that the European slate was becoming more and more popular … I suspect due to the very dark almost black color they were available in.
You need to remember that many of these homes are now around 115 to 160 years old. That’s pretty impressive service from a roof I’d have to say.
Old Melbourne slate roofing colors
Original colors included purple, black, green and many shades of blue; very dark through to very light and pale.
Many roofs were installed with two and sometimes three contrasting colors either in their normal rectangular shape or in bands of different shapes.
Slate color isn’t man-made, it is completely natural as quarried from the ground. Generally speaking different areas around the U.K. and Europe were known for their different colored slate. For example some still commonly seen today are :- Welsh Penryhn, a purple plummish color ; English Westmoreland, a beautiful green slate ; Welsh Portmadoc, a nice grey-blue color.
Sizes of Melbourne’s old slate tiles
Although it’s difficult to see when looking from the ground, old Melbourne slate roofing tiles were also originally supplied in a variety of sizes.
There were small – 18×9 slates – right up to the huge 24×12 slates often seen on larger government buildings of the era. To avoid confusion amongst quarries overseas where most of these slates were manufactured, they were even given picturesque names to denote their size. Some of the common named sizes that I have seen and used over the years in Melbourne are, in inches: – Viscountess 18×9, — Wide Viscountess 18×10, — Countess 20×10, — Wide Countess 20×12, Marchioness 22×11, — Small Duchess 22×12, and Duchess 24×12. There are other sizes that I come across occasionally but these are relatively rare.
You may find any size slates on the most common pitch angle roofs [25 to 35 degrees] and again, generally speaking, and what I have found, is the steeper the roof the smaller the slate. Conversely, the lower the pitch the wider the slate. This is most likely to allow for more angle of creep for the water as it wont run off as quickly as the steeper roofs.
Old Melbourne slate roofing tiles in all their different colors, shapes, sizes and types, on many homes are still performing admirably. Others are perhaps getting a little tired and worn out but I guess that’s understandable considering their age.
Modern day foot traffic seems to be taking its toll on these old roofs as well.
Never before has there been as many home services installations on top of old Melbourne slate roofing.
Solar hot water panels, pool heating tubing, electricity generating cells, satellite TV dishes and normal TV antennae installations.
Add to this wall abutment painting maintenance and air conditioning unit installations. It’s understandable with all this added damage why many of these old roofs now need replacing.
If you need assistance with your old Melbourne slate roofing : Contact us on 0403022137
We supply our Melbourne slate roof services to all the following suburbs :
Glen Iris, Vic | Moonee Ponds, Vic | Fairfield, Vic | Nth Mebourne, Vic | Coburg, Vic, | Flemington, Vic | Williamstown, Vic | Port Melbourne, Vic | Strathmore, Vic | Albert Park, Vic | South Melbourne, Vic | Middle Park, Vic | South Yarra, Vic | Elsternwick, Vic | Brighton, Vic | Carlton, Vic | Ivanhoe, Vic | Collingwood, Vic | Northcote, Vic | Thornbury, Vic | East Melbourne, Vic | Richmond, Vic | Kew, Vic | St Kilda, Vic | Toorak, Vic | Canterbury, Vic | Camberwell, Vic | Malvern, Vic | Brunswick, Vic | Hawthorn, Vic | Clifton Hill, Vic | Balwyn, Vic | Windsor, Vic | Armadale, Vic | Caulfield, Vic | Ascot Vale, Vic | Surrey Hills, Vic | Alphington, Vic | Essendon, Vic | Footscray, Vic | Kensington, Vic | Fitzroy, Vic | Balaclava, Vic |