It is not so long ago that coal had a place in everyday life in Central Scotland. At its peak in the post-war period, the industry employed around 140,000 workers and met roughly 90% of the Nation’s demand for fuel.
The local landscape of the colliery towns and villages were dominated by the bing, the headstock, colliery buildings, the railway sidings and the associated housing, clubs and bowling greens. Rapid decline from the 1960s brought closure, demolition and subsequent repurposing and/or redevelopment of the colliery sites that erased much of the industrial archaeology of one of Scotland’s foremost industries.
The aim of the project is to establish official and unofficial landscape biographies of these ex-colliery sites. How they have been re-purposed and redeveloped, how the industry has been remembered or commemorated, or not as the case may be, and how the sites have been understood, experienced and used by the local communities from closure to present day. It combines archival research, historic maps and images, oral histories, industrial archaeology and on-site observations.
Catherine Mills (History) and Ian McIntosh (Sociology) lead the project.
Although often hard to discern, visible traces of coal mining do still remain in the landscape today, ranging from sunken hollows, patches of colliery waste and piles of building rubble through to communication networks reclaimed bings and repurposed buildings.
We also aim to identify, record and celebrate this often hidden but valuable legacy in a series of heritage walks that narrate the story of coal through the physical remains left.
These are available to download as a free mobile app available on both Android and Apple platforms. Three routes: Devonside; covering the Devon and Tillicoultry Collieries and the Meta Pit and Brickworks, Polmaise; covering Millhall and Fallin and Alloa Waggonway Walk One; featuring the old Coal Road and the first waggonway 1767-68 are currently available. Search 'Landscape Legacies of Coal' on your mobile app store or use the app store buttons below.
Two further routes are currently being researched and are under construction as dissertation projects (part of the MSc Environment, Heritage and Policy programme). Rebekah Salem Dalgety is working on the Gartmorn Dam route covering Zetland, Jellyholm, Sheriff Yards Collieries, and Meadowhill open cast site as well as the industrial history of the Dam itself. Matthew Roud is working on the ‘East Stirlingshire Villages route’. This will cover Carnock, Plean and Bannockburn collieries. A third route Harvieston to Dollar mine is in the early stages of development and preparation is underway for a route centred on Lady Victoria Colliery at the National Mining Museum and featuring the colliery village of Newtongrange.
We are also working in collaboration with the Clackmannanshire Field Studies Society to include their Alloa Waggon Road Trails (four in total) on the app. These will depict the development and decline of horse-drawn coal wagonways and guide users round some of the best-preserved sections of the routes.
The long-term aim is to expand coverage of the curated heritage trails across the Scottish coalfield. Take a look at the map overview of locations for the current and proposed routes.
Downloading the app will allow you to not only explore but to connect and engage with local and historic coal mining sites. Users are also encouraged to share their stories and images, discover additional features in the landscape for inclusion on the app and suggest ideas for new routes.
The ‘coal app’ was formally launched on 18th April 2019 at Creative Stirling (44 King Street). Miles Oglethorpe Head of Industrial Heritage at HES opened the event with a talk entitled ‘Losing Our Mines: Remembering the Scottish Coal industry. This was followed by Julie Ellen, the Artistic Director at MacRobert Arts Centre. Julie presented the origins of the project in ‘How Coal Created Heat: a fire starter to partnership’. This was followed by Catherine Mills, from the University of Stirling, who introduced the app, its aims, the content and how local communities can get involved.
To download the app for free, visit your mobile store and search for 'Landscape Legacies of Coal'
The app is dedicated to Alastair Ross who passed away suddenly and never saw the project fully accomplished. The app was generously supported by Macrobert Arts Centre as part of their creative community heritage project in September 2017 that was based around the theme of coal.