We can’t deny that modern roofing is both functional and elegant. You also have a wide range to choose from. Maybe you prefer clay tiles over concrete tiles or love slate due to their authentic appeal. Whichever your choice, one thing we can acknowledge and appreciate is that the roofing industry in the United Kingdom is very vibrant. However, the growth and innovation in this sector didn’t just happen overnight. It took many centuries for the industry to be what it is today. In fact, the earliest forms of roofing were pretty basic and natural. They weren’t as sturdy, durable, stylish or as reliable as modern types, but they influenced the modern types. The transition can briefly be summarised as follows;
This was the earliest form of roofing found in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It consisted of natural materials that were readily and easily available from the environment. The most common were grass, reeds, leaves which were joined or twined together to form a shelter. According to studies, the first thatched roof in the region appeared in 735 AD and remained in existence for the next 300 or so years. It was a popular choice for its simplicity, readily available materials, and affordability. Unfortunately, it was very combustible and easily caught fire. This was evident in the great Fire of London that took place in 1666 and led to this roofing being discouraged.
Wood shingles appeared much later than thatch. It’s believed that it appeared on the scene around 1035 AD and continued to co-exist with thatch. The rise of shingles was mainly driven by the interaction between the region and its neighbors which led to the locals adopting the roofing. It was viewed as a better option than thatch because it could last for a very long time, was more waterproof and also more elegant. Nonetheless, it required more labour and time to install the roofing and could also catch fire.
Slate was popular in North West England and Wales where it was readily available. The natural slate could easily split into thin pieces and was less-labour-intensive to produce compared to alternatives like wood shingles. It was also loved for its strength, durability, waterproof nature and aesthetic appeal. But due to its weight, it required sturdier and stronger support. It also was very heavy and since the transport system hadn’t developed, it only thrived in the regions mentioned above. Compared to wood shingles, it was harder to produce uniform pieces from slate. It was only after the industrial revolution that the use of slate spread to other parts of the UK since it was now easier to transport it.
Historical data shows that the Romans were the first to introduce clay tiles in Britain. This first took place in 100 BC where the natives were shown how to get the clay soil from rivers, mould it, shape it and bake it in a kiln. This produced well-shaped, compact and durable tiles. Clay tiles, like slate, were only available in the region they were produced and couldn’t be transported due to their heavy and bulky nature. In fact, following the disappearance of the Romans, this sector was greatly affected. However, it made a resurgence in the 12-13th century and coexisted alongside slate tiles. In the 12th Century, clay tiles received a boost after King John decreed that clay tiles should replace thatch and reed as the preferred roofing material in London. This made clay tile the main roofing material. Clay gotten from Thames was used for rebuilding, following the Great Fire of London in 1666 that destroyed much of the city.
Clay was susceptible to warping, frost damage, and leakage compared to slate. The two materials coexisted for a very long time but slate became a preferred choice following the industrialisation of the rail industry. The inability for the UK to match up to the quality from their neighbours saw an increase in importation of foreign-made clay tiles. In fact, by 1950s, the clay pantile industry in the region had disappeared because of being unable to keep up with the foreign standards.
Concrete was first introduced in the region in the 1920s. It was stronger, easier to produce from anywhere, and provided uniform results. Nevertheless, it wasn’t immediately accepted. Pundits believe that it was because of its heavy nature, uninteresting design and lack of elegance. It’s only after the Second World War that it made a comeback and this was attributed to the thriving rehousing programme. Also, the automation of the manufacturing process greatly aided the acceptance and popularity of concrete tiles. By 1960’s, the industry had really grown and could compete with the foreign markets who had pretty much killed the clay and slate industry. However, cheaper concrete tiles from foreign countries were and are still its biggest threat.
There is no doubt that roofing in the UK has come a long way. You now have the privilege of using top notch roofing that is reliable, long-lasting, energy efficient, elegant and readily available. But, with so many types, brands, designs and unique demands, it can be a hard task finding the best product.
Roofers Bristol UK 01172 900264
Roofers Bristol UK is your partner when it comes to roofing in Bristol and finding the best tiles. We not only help you select the right product but also help you install, repair as well as maintain it. Our team of professional contractors is always at hand to listen to you and offer you the best solution whether residential, commercial or industrial. Why don’t you drop by our offices in Bristol from 8.00am to 6.00pm from Monday to Saturday for a chat?
You can also send an email at email@example.com or call us through 01172 900264 for a free roofing quote.
Alternatively, you can visit our website at https://roofersbristoluk.co.uk to learn more about the history of roofing, roofing services, tiles and related services.