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Current Events

Earth Day 2022 | It’s Time For Change

April 18, 2022

Here at Valley Mill we are committed to reducing the catastrophic effect man has had on our climate. We believe we all have a part to play in reducing the impact on our environment. We want to share with you not only our own beliefs but also the history of Earth Day and ways YOU can help. Together we can create a better world.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is an annual event which marks the birth of the modern environmental movement

Origins of Earth Day 

Earth Day was born on 22nd April 1970 in America.   A junior senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson was troubled by the increased impact we were having on the worsening state of the environment in the United States.  The seriousness of the crumbling effect we were having on our climate was a challenge for the activists, as this was a time of environmental change doubters.  

Watch the original broadcast of the CBS News Special Report about the first Earth Day, 1970.

Valley Mill’s Beliefs

When Valley Mill started in 2007, Kevin Thomas wanted the company to be eco-friendly and materials to be sourced locally providing a low carbon footprint.  From day 1 Kevin knew that not only do the products need to be natural but also packaging must be recyclable.  

It’s not just our own amazing products that are made from natural raw materials, but all of the new products we source are environmentally-friendly and locally made in the UK. 

Battle Green

One of the incredible companies we work with is Battle Green. They offer a range of plastic-free gifts and zero waste every day items.

Our Products

Up until early 2020 we only sold products that were made in Wales and in turn mainly supporting small local businesses.  Since then, we have branched out to UK made & UK designed and are only working with businesses who have the same ethos and beliefs as ourselves.  

Is Slate Environmentally Friendly?

Slate has a low carbon footprint due to the manufacturing and working processes. It’s a ‘green’ material due to its endurance so will last for longer than many other materials. 

We source our slate from Blanenau Ffestiniog which means delivery is much more eco-friendly than slates that have been imported from outside the UK. E.G. China and Spain.  Supporting us also means you are supporting the local economy.

Did you know that Spanish Slate is very often being passed off and sold as Scottish slate? There are several Scottish companies that use Spanish slate to manufacture their homeware products. Their homeware products will say ‘Made in Scotland’, so we all assume that it is actually Scottish slate. Sadly, this means the carbon footprint is higher without the consumer knowing.

Refill and Reuse

Since Valley Mill was founded in 2007, we have always strived to be as environmentally-friendly as possible. We’re always looking for new alternatives to non-recyclable packaging and products.

One of the worst single-use plastics for our environment is plastic water bottles. So we wanted to create and encourage an alternative solution; one that is simple and cost-effective for our customers, whilst making a positive impact on our environment.

Stay hydrated with our new environmentally-friendly water bottles

These refillable stainless steel water bottles are very durable and last longer than glass and reusable plastic options. They will help you save money long-term, whilst also helping you to do your bit for the planet. Their leak-proof screw top caps make them incredibly practical whilst on the go. Plus, their double-wall insulation keeps your favourite refreshment at the perfect temperature for longer. They are BPA and phthalate-free, so you don’t have to worry about any nasty chemicals being released into your drink.

Apart from the fragrance in the candles, all materials that we use for our products are 100% natural.  Our Welsh slate travels only 130 miles from Snowdonia. 

Recycled Wool

We also sell recycled wool blankets. These environmentally friendly blankets are created from wool that would otherwise be wasted in the textile industry. Blanket colours are completely random as they are made from recycled wool from the mill, hence why they are such a great price. No two blankets will be the same.

Packaging

We have never used plastic in our products packaging and we use mainly recycled cardboard. In 2020 we also banned plastic bags from our stores.  

Employee Incentives

At Valley Mill it’s not only our products that we want to be eco-friendly, but our staff too.  To strive for sustainable living, we offer our team a car share scheme with a monetary bonus to reduce the amount of cars used to travel to work.  We also encourage working from home whenever possible.  In May 2020 we  started a cycle to work scheme.  

Earth Day Going Global

In 1990, Earth Day went global.  141 countries with over 200 million people were assembled to boost environmental issues worldwide.  

By 2000, there were over 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries focusing on the impact our ways were having worldwide.  A clear message was now being sent and the inhabitants of Earth wanting action on global warming.  

Climate Heroes | Sir David Attenborough

One of the UK’s most famous naturalists Sir David Attenborough has inspired so many of us by bringing the worlds habitats in to our homes.  Broadcaster Sir David has travelled the world for decades.  He has not only captured the wonders of Earth but also been an advocate for climate change and why it’s up to us to us to save ourselves.  

Through these years of travelling, Sir David has witnessed the decline of our planet and knows first-hand the responsibility we have to slow down the decline.   

A classic quote from Sir David Attenborough’s documentary ‘Life On Earth – Life In The Trees’ that describes how dangerous man can be; “It’s really very unfair that man should have chosen the gorilla to symbolize all that is aggressive and violent, when that’s the one thing the gorilla is not and that we are”.   

Speaking on 60 minutes,  the legendary wildlife filmmaker tells Anderson Cooper why urgent action on climate change is crucial and why we need to save nature in order to save ourselves. 

How Can You Make A Change For Earth Day?

It’s your actions that can make a change. At home, work, school etc we should all be recycling.

TerraCycle

TerraCycle are an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling typically hard-to-recycle waste.  For Earth Day, TerraCycle are asking us all to take the pledge to recycle more.

TerraCycle offers free recycling programmes funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. Simply choose the programmes you’d like to join; start collecting in your home, school, or office; download free shipping labels; and send us your waste to be recycled. You can even earn rewards for your school or favourite non-profit! Find out more here.

Where Can I Recycle?

Whether your a business, household or school, we can all do our bit to help. We can drive the change for better living.

If you aren’t sure or need more information of not only where you can recycle but also how we can all minimise the effect we are having on our environment.

A great organisation who can not only tell you where you can recycle but which materials too. They are Recycle More and you find out more details for your business, home or school here.

Take Action

EarthDay.org are giving us all small examples and ways of how we can ‘Try a Simple Act of Green’. These include adding reusable eating utensils to our every day carry, always carrying a reusable bag and making your next meal plant-based.

Eat More Plants For Earth Day

There are many arguments for and against whether becoming a vegan is really better for the environment. This video explores the impact some of the most popular vegan foods have on our planet, comparing them to the farming industry.

So it’s true! Food production and consumption is pushing the planet to breaking point.

You may not be ready to become a Vegan but small changes can help. Why not make your next meal plant-based? Even in schools they have days like ‘Meat-Free Monday’.

Earth Day | Plant-Based Inspiration

Need some climate-friendly recipes? Check out these from EarthDay.org.

This video shows you 5 easy, healthy and budget-friendly vegan recipes.

Together we can make a better world.

Current Events

Six Nations Rugby 2022

January 24, 2022
six nations rugby banner

The Six Nations Rugby Championships returns on 5th February 2022. We’ve got the list of FIXTURES and where you can watch each of the matches too.

FUN FACTS & LATEST NEWS

To get the latest team news from the official Six Nations Rugby website just click on the flag of your team choice. ALSO, we give you a few facts of each of the Six Nations Rugby teams.

WALES

Wales are the 2021 Six Nations Rugby Championship title winners. Their home stadium is the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

The supporters of the Welsh Rugby team sing a variety of songs at matches. One of the popular ones is ‘Calon Lan‘ as seen on this attractive Welsh slate hanging sign.

Another huge anthem sang by the Welsh Rugby fans is Hymns and Arias. Here it is sang by the Welsh legend who wrote it, Max Boyce.

ENGLAND

England’s home stadium is Twickenham and is the largest dedicated rugby stadium in the world.

One of the most popular songs sung by the fans at Twickenham is ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’.

Did you know that rugby originated from England in around 1823? Here are some more fun facts.

Rugby balls used to be made from pig’s bladders.

England is the only northern hemisphere team to have won the Rugby World Cup.

Scotland

Scotland play at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. It has a seating capacity of 67,144. Murrayfield is not only home to the Scotland Rugby team but has also seen many stars perform there including. David Bowie, U2, The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Oasis, Madonna, Foo Fighters, Spice Girls & One Direction.

In Endinburgh you can also visit some of the amazing sites. Did you know that Edinburgh Castle is built on an extinct volcano?

One delicacy to try when in Scotland is the deep-fried Mars Bar. Here’s how to make one at home.

Ireland

Dublin is home to the Aviva Stadium which is where the Irish Rugby team play all their home games.

Dublin is an incredible city and well worth the visit. Here are some facts about Dublin.

St Valentine’s remains are buried in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin.

Guinness – The factory has a 9,000 year lease at St James Gate Brewery.

The name Dublin means black pool.

Dublin Castle was the first building in Ireland to get glass windows.

FRANCE

France play all their home rugby matches in Stade De France in Paris.

Here are some French phrases you are likely to hear when in the Stade De France.

ITALY

The current home stadium for Italy is the Stadio Olympico in Rome. Before Italy joined the Six Nations tournament in 2000 they didn’t have a main home stadium. In 2000 the Italian teams home matches were played in Stadio Flaminio in Rome. The team moved to Stadio Olympico in 2012.

We love how passionate the Italian team are when they sing their National Anthem.

SIX NATIONS RUGBY FIXTURES

If you want to keep up to date with the scores and the Six Nations Table then follow this link.

SIX NATIONS OFFER

To celebrate the return of the Six Nations Championships, we’re giving you 10% OFF our Personalised Hip Flasks between Wednesday 2nd Feb and Sunday 6th Feb 2022* in our online store.  Shop online and use the code:

HIPFLASK10

*This offer starts 00:00 Wednesday 2nd February and ends 23:59 Sunday 6th February 2022 and is online only. Whilst stocks last.

Current Events Slate products Valley Mill

Is Welsh Slate The Best? We Go Behind The Scenes

August 27, 2021
Beautiful North Wales Slate Landscape which is a World Heritage Site

Here at Valley Mill we’ve been going behind the scenes of the Welsh slate business. One of the biggest questions we get asked is, is Welsh slate the best? Let’s find out!

It’s actually a well known fact within the business that Welsh slate is one of the finest quality slate in the world. Did you know that Welsh slate was quarried from North Wales from as early as the 12th century? It’s actually the toughest slate known to man. It has very few impurities and a beautiful colour and grain structure. Wesh slate doesn’t fade in the sun.

The slate itself is approximately 500 million years old and is made by the compression of clay over time. This is thanks to the movement of the tectonic plates – which helped form the Welsh Mountains.

The high quality of the slate is the result of a combination of apsect. From the quality of the clay and the precise amount of pressure & heat.

Related Products: Welsh Slate House Signs – Bespoke Door Signs Made From Authentic Thick Welsh Slate

Meet A Welsh Quarryman

We met with Andrew Jonjo who has been a quarryman for 37 years. Not only is he a quarryman, but he is actually the sixth generation in the Welsh slate business.

Slate has been his, and his families life for 6 generations. ‘Jonjo’ who now works at the Welsh National Slate Museum shows us real slate cutting techniques. He also talks about why he believes Welsh slate is the best.

Valley Mill’s Welsh Slate

At Valley Mill, we only use Welsh Blue Grey Slate, although it is in fact a dark grey in appearance. The slate that we use here in our workshop in South Wales is mined at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

It is then whisked over to our Llansamlet workshop where it is hand cut, engraved and oiled.

It is then ready to be sent to directly to your home, our Valley Mill stores & to one of over 100 stores that we supply around the UK.

Pictured below is our slate cutter Josh who shows us one of the traditional ways to cut slate.

Pictured here is Mike, who is one of our slate cutters here at Valley Mill. This image shows Mike oiling and finishing our slate heart coasters.

World Heritage Status

In July 2021 UNESCO announced that the slate landscape of North Wales had won World Heritage Status. This now puts us alongside places such as the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and the Pyramids.

This image shows why our beautiful landscape now has World Heritage Status. Isn’t it just stunning?

The incredbile view of Dinorwig Quarry which now has World Heritage Status
The Dinorwig Quarry Copyright: RCAHMW

The landscape has become the UK’s 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the 4th in Wales,. This follows the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.

The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales became the world leader for the production and export of slate in the 1800’s.

Slate quarried in the area has been used to build parts of the Roman fort in Segontium in Caernarfon and Edward I’s castle in Conwy. However it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that demand surged as cities across the world expanded with slate from the mines at Gwynedd being widely used to roof workers’ homes, public buildings, places of worship and factories. 

Welsh Slate Industry

By the 1890s the Welsh slate industry employed approximately 17,000 workers. It produced almost 500,000 tonnes of slate a year, around a third of all roofing slate used in the world in the late 19th century.

The industry had a huge impact on global architecture. Welsh slate has been used on a number of buildings, terraces and palaces across the globe. This includes Westminster Hall in London’s Houses of Parliament, the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Australia and Copenhagen City Hall, Denmark.

In 1830, half the buildings in New York had roofs made of Welsh slate. Centuries of mining in the area transformed the landscape on a monumental scale. This reflects the important role this region played in ‘roofing the 19th century world’.

National Slate Museum

If your idea of a museum is based on glass cases and dusty exhibits, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise when you visit the National Slate Museum Llanberis

This museum-with-a-difference is based in the original Victorian Engineering Workshops at Dinorwig Slate Quarry. The quarry was in its heyday in the 1870’s and closed in 1969.  The site was opened as a Museum in 1972 – and was the world’s only national slate museum. The National Museum Wales – attracts over 140,000 visitors a year!

We met with Lowri Ifor who told us more about the museum and the amazing World Heritage Status.

All the staff at the museum are Welsh speaking so, it’s a great place to practice your Welsh.

What Is Slate?

Slate is essentially mud that has first been compressed and compacted, and then squeezed and heated by the Earth’s forces.

The main components of slate are the minerals sericite mica, quartz, chlorite, haematite and rutile.  Tiny variations in the proportion of some of these minerals can lead to a rainbow of variations in the colours of the slates themselves. From different shades of green through grey and blue to a deep, rich red.

Slate Names

Nine layers of slate run through Elidir mountain and the different slates bear such lovely names.

Green & wrinkled

Redwood

Red

Old quarry blue

New quarry blue grey

New quarry blue grey mottled

Sage green

Willow green

Bronze

Purple red

Pictured below is our blue grey Welsh slate wine rack. As you can see the appearance is more dark grey in appearance.

Blue grey Welsh slate wine rack with two bottles of wine glistening in the sunshine

How Is Slate Formed?

Dinorwig Quarry slates originated as mud deposited in the sea during the Cambrian era of the Lower Paleozoic Era. This was about 500 million years ago!

At this time much of Wales was the floor of a very large sea or lake, covered by layers thousands of feet thick made up of mud and silt deposited by rivers. 

Slowly this mud was turned to clay and was squeezed and compacted until they all faced the same direction. This is what has caused the rock to become splittable slate.  

Spectacular changes in the geological history of Wales followed:  land movements brought the sea bed upwards to become dry land, which was then squeezed and shaped by lateral forces as a result of volcanic activity.

Did You Know?

  • Welsh slate slab switchboards were used in the Engine rooms of Cunard Ships Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.                                                                                                                                         
  • Welsh Slate Quarries inspired the construction of some of the earliest railways in Wales e.g Penrhyn Tramway (1801)                                                                                                                                      
  • Narrow gauge Steam locomotives were first used on a line built specifically to carry Welsh Slate. E.g the Ffestiniog Railway from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog.                                                                                                           
  • Slate Quarrying resulted in immense wealth – evidence can still be seen at Penrhyn Castle or at Y Faenol estate, Gwynedd.                                                                                                                                       
  • Prince Charles investiture at Caernarfon took place on a ‘dais’ made of Welsh Slate.                                                         
  • The world’s best snooker tables are made from Welsh Slate.                                                                                               
  • Llechwedd Slate Quarry saw the first commercial generation of electricity in north Wales at the beginning of the century.                                                                                                                                      
  • The North Wales Quarrymen’s Union, established in 1874, was one of the earliest working class unions in the United Kingdom.                                                                                                                            
  • The Penrhyn Strike, from November 1900 to November 1903 is one of the longest ever United Kingdom Industrial Disputes.                                                                                                                               
  • King Edward 1st’s architects used Welsh Slate as part of the construction of his chain of castles around Gwynedd.

What Is Welsh Slate Used For?

Due to the unique qualities of Welsh slate, it has become the best and only choice for many homeware products. This include placemats, coasters, cheese boards, wine racks, clocks, house signs and many others. Indeed, slate home and tableware has become increasingly popular over the last decade.

Interior designers, hotels & restaurants and of course, the everyday consumer want something a little bit more stylish and eco-friendly.

Welsh slate cheeseboard adorned with a stunnning selection of cheeses

Is Welsh Slate The Best?

Let’s take another quick look at the reasons why WE believe Welsh slate really is the best.

Why Choose Welsh Slate?

There are so many benefits of buying products made from locally mined Welsh slate.  We take a look at why.

Why Is Welsh Slate Better?

Roofing companies all over the world recommend genuine Welsh slate as the best slate.  The strength and lasting quality of Welsh slate make it one of (if not the best) slate in the world.

Welsh slate serving tray with chicken and pepper kebabs placed on top

Is Welsh Slate More Expensive?

The answer is yes it is, but there are many reasons for this.  The benefits of Welsh slate really surpass its cousins.  There are not only fewer impurities in 100% Welsh slate but, it also needs less maintenance.

Welsh slate has less fade and is stronger than other slates.  

This means that it lasts so much longer and there’s no need to continually repair and replace like many other products. So our natural slate products should cost you less in the long run.

Is Slate Environmentally Friendly?

Slate has a low carbon footprint due to the manufacturing and working processes. It’s a ‘green’ material due to its endurance so will last for longer than many other materials. 

We source our slate from Blanenau Ffestiniog which means delivery is much more eco-friendly than slates that have been imported from outside the UK. E.G. China and Spain.  Supporting us also means you are supporting the local economy.

Welsh slate heart hanging on a wall with hemp rope.

Imported Slate

As with any product, there are alternatives to Welsh Slate when it comes to homeware products.

At the lower end of the quality spectrum, Chinese slate is very hard and brittle. Even worse, it is full of unsightly impurities. This means any products made from Chinese slate will be sold pretty cheaply because of the low quality. It will be pretty obvious what you are going to get for your money. It’s not a bad option however, if quality is no real concern and you have a tight budget.

Spanish Slate Vs Welsh Slate

The other most widespread slate currently being used for homeware products is Spanish Slate. Indeed, it is very nice to look at in comparison to the Chinese Slate as it has very few impurities. It is also very flat and you can easily cut quite complex shapes from it.

It’s important to remember the reason Spanish slate cuts so well is that it is a very soft slate. This means Spanish slate is not as hardwearing as Welsh slate.

When cut, Spanish Slate leaves you with a very evenly dressed edge, which looks almost machine-cut in quality. It is also cheaper than Welsh slate and much more readily available.

Remember Welsh slate lasts longer and there’s no need to continually repair and replace like many other products. So our natural slate products should cost you less in the long run.

The Truth About Scottish Slate

Did you know that Spanish Slate is very often being passed off and sold as Scottish slate?

There are several Scottish companies that use Spanish slate to manufacture their homeware products. Their homeware products will say ‘Made in Scotland’, so we all assume that it is actually Scottish slate.

However, the last Scottish slate quarry closed in the 1950s!

The only Scottish slate still available is reclaimed slate from the old mines and quarries.

With this in mind, if you see the phrase ‘Made in Scotland’ attached to slate homeware, it is highly unlikely that it is actually Scottish slate – that is unless it has come from someone’s old roof!!

Don’t Just Take It From Us

You may think that we are biased when it comes to our slate (we TOTALLY are). However, this is the reason why we visited the experts so you could hear it from them. In fact, you are always leaving us lovely reviews when it comes to our slate. Take a look at just a few mentions.

Welsh slate review which compliments Valley Mills slate items
Welsh slate review which compliments Valley Mills slate items
Welsh slate review which compliments Valley Mills slate items

Our Slate Products

So, now we’ve whet your appetite for a Welsh slate item for your home. Let’s take a look at some of our best selling products.

Mood Maker

Set the mood for the evening for a catch up with friends and family with Valley Mill’s ranges of candles and candle holders. Not only do they look fantastic but our huge variety of scents will really set the mood too.

Welsh slate tealight holder which holds 5 tealights

Daily Reminders

Do you have a busy life? Our Welsh slate chalkboard family planner is perfect for busy homes and workplaces.

Whether it’s meal planning, tasks, a weekly planner for all of the children’s activities, a family planner or just a list of all the fun stuff you’ve got coming up. We handcraft each board from the highest quality Welsh slate.

A Gift For Your Garden

Welcome your guests with a Valley Mill Welsh slate hanging sign. We have ready made designs or you can personalise them with your very own design.

Make It Personal

If it’s a personal touch you’re looking for then look no further than our amazing personalised Welsh slate serving trays.

Why not serve up some treats on our Welsh slate trays ? These can be personalised to your design right here in our workshop.

Pictured below is Mike one of our slate cutters showing one of the many ways we cut and prep our slate.

Competitions Current Events Valley Mill

WINNER | Back to School Competition

August 6, 2021

Thank You for entering the Valley Mill Back to School competition. This competition is now closed and our winner is Seren!

Lucky Seren has won a Back To School chalkboard, a personalised stainless steel water bottle AND a Family Chalkboard planner.

“I’m going to be Spider-Man when I grow up” – Buddy aged 6

“I want to be the coalman on The Flying Scotsman” – Caiden aged 8

*T&C’s Apply.

Back To School Fun

Mark your child’s first day back to school each year with a Welsh slate first day chalkboard. Capture the memories that will last forever.

As parents, we all have hundreds if not thousands of photos of our kids on our phones. So why not make the first day back to school special?

Just think of their faces in a few years when you show your children all of these pictures and they see how much they’ve grown through their school years.

As parents, we know that our children’s growing up years goes so quick. Why not make this a new family tradition in your household?

Do you have a busy life? Our Welsh slate chalkboard family planner is perfect for busy homes and workplaces.

Whether it’s meal planning, tasks, a weekly planner for all of the children’s activities, a family planner or just a list of all the fun stuff you’ve got coming up. We handcraft each board from the highest quality Welsh slate. Our natural slate is locally sourced which not only supports the local economy but also has a low carbon footprint.

Back To School Personalised Water Bottle

Keep the kids hydrated at the school with this eco-friendly water bottle. Back to School with their own personalised water bottle. Did you know that our water bottles are triple-walled and can keep any drink cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to 12 hours? Plus, they look awesome too!

“You Can Be Anything”

Terms and Conditions

  • This competition runs from Monday 9th August 2021 00:01 until Sunday 22nd August 2021 2021 23:59.
  • We will announce our winner on Wednesday 25th August 2021. The winner will win 1 x Back To School Chalkboard, 1 x personalised water bottle, 1 x chalkboard family daily planner.
  • One entry, per person.
  • One winner will be chosen at random from all of the entries.
  • Grown Ups: It is your responsibility to send your child’s entry via the competition page on our website. 
  • By entering this competition you give full consent to Valley Mill using any images/text you have sent to us for our promotional purposes.
  • Any information submitted to us will not be distributed to any third parties.
  • This offer is not valid in conjunction with any other promotions and discounts.
  • The above terms and conditions may be altered without prior notice.
  • This competition is only applicable to persons living in the UK.
  • Choice of designs or colours of products dependent on stock availability.
  • All entries and copyright in them automatically become the property of Valley Mill.
  • All entrants to competitions and offers are deemed to have accepted these rules and agreed to be bound by them and agree to co-operate in any publicity that may arise.
  • By providing your email address and entering this competition you agree to receive relevant email communications from Valley Mill including news, events, offers and competitions.
  • If a prize is declined or unclaimed by a selected winner, or if a selected winner cannot be contacted from the details supplied within 2 weeks of first attempting to notify a selected winner, the prize will be forfeited. In such circumstances, Valley Mill reserves the right to select another winner at random from the eligible entrants.