A traditional Cumbrian slate company is celebrating 12 months since it was bought out of administration – by taking on another apprentice.

Coniston Stonecraft has secured a big new order to create exclusive lounge lamps from Lake District slate for export to America.

Now, in the week of its first anniversary, it is looking for an apprentice to help cope with the extra demand and help the business grow.

Owner Brendan Donnelly said: “The country may be in lockdown but an Essex lighting company has fallen in love with our Westmorland Green slate and asked us to help craft designer lamps for them.

“They say the lamps will go down well with their high-end American customers.

“We’re obviously very happy to fly the flag for Cumbria.

“It’s fantastic that slate from Elterwater Quarry, only five miles from our workshop, is heading for America.

“However, for us, it’s a big order.

"They want hundreds of lamps – and they want them quickly.

“So, we need a new apprentice to spread the load.”

Coniston Stonecraft on the radio

Coniston Stonecraft on the radio

Stonecraft was founded in the 1970s but was bought by Carlisle-born businessman Mr Donnelly and his wife Cherry in February last year – 19 days before the first lockdown.

Since then, despite the pandemic, orders for its handcrafted signs, placemats, cheeseboards and other slate pieces have increased steadily.

This week, the company joined with Furness College to find an office apprentice to add to its four-strong workforce.

The new apprentice will go to college one day a week.

Duties at Stonecraft will include office admin, light manufacturing in the workshop and handling the company’s social media accounts online.

The apprentice will also help run Stonecraft’s famous shop-in-a-shed outside its workshop on the path up to Coniston Old Man.

Last year, Stonecraft took on its first apprentice stonemason, Liam Walker, in its 44-year history.

Coniston Stonecraft working on a carving

Coniston Stonecraft working on a carving

Mr Donnelly said the company is a ‘great’ place to work, with opportunities to learn many new skills while becoming a part of a locally-loved establishment.

He added: “Customers love the fact that we’re in a rickety old workshop on the side of a mountain and have craftsmen with chisels weaving their magic.

“But we love it too.

“This is a great place to work – and a great opportunity for someone to learn.”

More details of the apprenticeship can be found on the GOV.UK website here