CUPA 12 slate used to maintain aesthetic at listed Welsh school refurbishment

CUPA 12 natural slate was recently specified for the refurbishment of a Grade II listed school building in Newport, South Wales. Selected as a cost effective yet authentic alternative to traditional Welsh slate, the CUPA 12 helped the project team retain the original aesthetic of the St Woolos Primary School annexe building while creating a modern working space for the local community.

Welsh school refurbishment

St Woolos Primary School was built in 1904 and is now Grade II listed due to the historic significance of the site. A two-storey annexe, which sits next to the main school building, was originally used for the teaching of vocational skills, however the needs of the school changed over time and by the early 1920s it was no longer in use. Instead, it was rented out to a local boxing club, which occupied the building for the next 96 years.

When the boxing club vacated the building, Newport City Council and its property management and maintenance partner Newport Norse embarked on a programme of refurbishment to allow the school to utilise the annexe again. The intention was for it to become a multifunctional facility, serving as both the school canteen and a space for educational and extra-curricular activities. Moving the canteen to the annexe also allowed an additional classroom to be created in the main school building, enabling class sizes to be kept smaller – a priority for the school.

Maxine White, Project Manager at Newport Norse explained:

As a listed building, the refurbishment of the annexe required a balance between retaining and restoring the traditional elements while also ensuring we created a modern space that meets the current and future needs of the school and the community.

The extensive renovation of the interior and exterior of the annexe included upgrades to the insulation to improve energy efficiency, restoring some of the original internal features, renewing the windows and fully replacing the slate roof.

St Woolos primary school refurbishment

Due to the building’s status as a listed building, a Heritage Impact Assessment had to be carried out by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. It stated that the slate roof, originally sourced from the Ffestiniog area of North Wales, needed to be replaced with a slate that matched the original aesthetic. However, the cost of modern Welsh slate meant that a like-for-like replacement was not feasible. Following a Natural Slate CPD session, the design team at Newport Norse approached CUPA PIZARRAS about the possibility of using its Spanish slates as an alternative.

Stuart Black, Area Sales Manager at CUPA PIZARRAS explained:

Our slate is an ideal replacement for many traditional British slates that are no longer mined or more difficult to source. For St Woolos Primary School, I suggested the grey CUPA 12 slate, which closely matches the colour of traditional Welsh slate and as such has been used on several listed buildings across South Wales. CUPA 12 is also approved for use within the protected Snowdonia National Park due to its similarity to Welsh slate. The physical similarity and the previous use on traditional Welsh buildings meant that it was simple to secure approval to use CUPA 12 for the school’s refurbishment.

The installation was carried out with the high-quality H selection CUPA 12 slate in 60x30cm dimensions. The ridge and hip tiles were also replaced with new red clay tiles to match those on the main school roof.

slate roof frost resistant

Natural slate  has a low water absorption and is frost resistant.

Sustainability was also an important consideration for this project. The refurbishment of the annexe implemented made improvements to the energy efficiency of the building as it included the installation of an air-source heat pump. The result of these improvements was that it became the first Newport City Council building to be carbon neutral.

The CUPA PIZARRAS approach aligns with this aim for sustainability. CUPA PIZARRAS has been certified as a carbon neutral organisation by the Carbon Trust – the first slate production company to achieve this – and holds environmental accreditations such as ISO 14001 for environmental management and LEED certification. CUPA 12 has also been certified with an A+ rating by BRE Global, an independent expert in Life Cycle Assessment.

Maxine concluded:

We are delighted with the finished roof and the use of CUPA 12 has helped us to retain the original and historic character of the annexe while providing a modern space that will benefit the school and community for years to come.