It started off with a question: how could the existing museum building at the Fell display mine be transformed into a visitor centre which uses modern presentation formats to explain the history of the former slate mine, the underground work, and the past and present uses of slate?

A multi-purpose space for a bistro and other cultural events also had to be created – and all with a tight budget.

The solution was “enclosure”, i.e. constructing a second building on top of the original, and using the space in between for all other requirements, thereby creating an architectural gem.

Interesting documentation on the plan and construction process can be read here.


The exhibition themes are primarily geared around the particularities of Fell and its mine.

The educational format draws visitors into the world of the old miners, not only using facts about slate geology, tools used and final processing, but also combining hands-on history, adages, individual stories and saintly worship to bring the past back to life. The stories include tales of the tough underground work, accidents, landslides, and the importance of the St Barbara legend for the miners.