An important piece of history has been found by members of the National Trust in Willunga. Willunga, famous today for the farmers market and gourmet produce, was a major slate producer in the nineteenth century. A lesser-known feature of Willunga slate quarrying was the creation of slate arts and crafts such as headstones, mantle-pieces, sculptures and reliefs.

A recent auction of a property formerly owned by William Hawken, who was a significant slate carver and monumental mason in Willunga during the nineteenth century, has brought to light a slate “practice piece” believed to have been carved by Hawken’s teenage son Thomas. For some years the practice piece was part of the surround of an outdoor pizza oven on the property.

Both the old and the new owners of the property have generously agreed to donate the slate piece to the Willunga Branch of the National Trust where it will be displayed at the Slate Museum. The discovery is one of the first objects found as part of the new Slate Carving Identification Project.

Can you help?
If you have, or know of slate carvings, mantle-pieces or decorative pieces that may have been carved from Willunga slate in the nineteenth century, Willunga National Trust members Mark Staniforth and Paddy O’Toole would appreciate the opportunity to photograph and record them. Confidentiality can be provided.

Ring Mark (0408 802 198) or Paddy (0412 347 280) or email or

More information?

Come to a talk by Paddy O’Toole on Sunday 21st June at 2pm at The Hub, St Peters Tce, Willunga. Put it in your Diary now! More details later.


Search Our Web Pages