Europe's oldest handmade roof tile manufacturer, Keymer, has warned it may be put out of business over a row between rooftile manufacturers about the definition of "handcrafted" roof tiles.
Neil Tobin, managing director of Keymer, said the "handcrafted" description is meaningless as it can refer to tiles beaten into a mould by a machine, not by hand. He said: "The public is being hoodwinked into thinking handcrafted tiles are the same as handmade."

David Graham, chairman of the Clay Roof Tile Council and managing director of rival tile maker Eternit, said that the word "handcrafted" did apply to his product.

Graham confirmed that Eternit used to beat extruded clay batts into a tile mould by hand but now uses machines, "to comply with the concerns of the Health and Safety Executive". However he added that all the other parts of the process were still done by hand.

Graham said that following the change the company had been advised by the British Standards Institution to change the description of their tile range from handmade to handcrafted.

Tobin said that tiles that are beaten into a mould by machine can cost up to £100 less per 1000 and are a threat to his company, which has been making clay roof tiles by hand in Sussex since 1740.

Tobin said other manufacturers that were also CRTC members were working on producing handcrafted ranges and so were not sympathetic to his concerns.