A Kirkby slate firm had gone ‘green’ with a revolutionary new method of extracting rock from their Cumbria quarries in 1989.

Burlington Slate had introduced new quarrying techniques that produced less waste and increased yields as part of a £500,000 million modernisation programme.

The company was using environmentally-friendly Diamond Wire Sawing.

This worked by cutting rock horizontally across the quarry face and slicing it like a cheesewire.

The method reduced waste, leaving less for dumping on spoil tips.

Burlington said that by reducing waste and increasing yield, the visual impact of working would be reduced.

It would also reduce the number of Burlington planning applications to extend quarrying in the Lake District, said the company.

The system was in use at the company’s quarries at Kirkby, Broughton Moor near Coniston, Brandy Crag on Coniston Old Man and Elterwater in the Langdale Valley.

In 1991 The Mail reported that Kirkby slate quarries had created a major new market by finding an ingenious use for stone waste.

More than 100,000 tons of crushed slate pieces rejected for roof slates or building stone would form an earthquake-proof foundation for the new gas terminal at Rampside, Barrow.

And if the new market took off, quarry owner Burlington Slate had a stockpile of ten million tons of slate waste waiting for a buyer.

An even bigger stockpile was scattered among several Lakeland quarries.

To exploit the use of this stone, a new aggregates division had been set up.

A huge slate crusher had been set up at Kirkby to grind the waste into 1,500 tons a day of saleable aggregate.

Burlington Slate managing director David Wallace said: "We are obviously delighted we have been able to find a suitable use for the material, some of which has been deposited for more than 100 years.

"In addition to bringing in extra revenue, the formation of our aggregates division has strong environmental implications.

"By finding a use for previously redundant materials we should be able to drastically alter the appearance of our quarries for the benefit of everyone."