The Lady Victoria Colliery, home of the National Mining Museum Scotland, was opened in 1895 as Scotland’s first super-pit. It ceased production in 1981 and now serves as an example of one of the best preserved Victorian Collieries in Europe. The four-acre Midlothian site effectively captures the developments in mining over generations and highlights include the most powerful steam winding engine in Scotland; the most extensive preserved suite of Lancashire Boilers in the UK, and the only extant timber Dredger in Europe.
The public areas of the Museum occupy a small proportion of the site and are the result of successive programmes of Heritage Lottery Fund, European Regional Development Fund and Historic Scotland capital development. A Grade ‘A’ listed site, the terrain bears the scars of industrial development, environmental exploitation and exposure to the elements. The majority of the surface structures are composed of brick, steel and iron and, despite their architectural significance, some remain in a derelict state.
In 2009, the Museum embarked on an ambitious Scottish Government-funded conservation project to preserve the Tippler Floor, Picking Tables, Elevator Shed and brick-vaulted Undercroft. Each space had a vital role in the processing of coal and its preparation for delivery and use and it was vital to conserve these artefacts for those generations who have no live connection or understanding of mineworking in an increasingly electronic and digital age.
The Project was carried out by a dedicated team of architects, structural engineers, project managers and builders which includes LDN Architects; Elliott & Company Consulting Engineers; Doig and Smith Ltd; and John Dennis and Company. Their primary objective has been to stabilise the structures, rendering them safe for future access, and to make them windproof and watertight. ‘Pigeon-proofing’ has been another essential element of the scheme as successive generations of roosting birds have been responsible for the deposit of a large quantity of guano which is both damaging to the plant and its visitors!
The National Mining Museum Scotland would like to thank the Scottish Government for their invaluable support and the Project Team for their unwavering dedication and commitment, as well as all supporters and friends of The Lady Victoria for their valued and ongoing assistance.
Further information on The Lady Victoria and other Scottish collieries can be found in “Scottish Collieries”, a book written by Miles K Oglethorpe. The book is for sale in the museum’s gift shop and our on-line shop for just £10. You can download the chapter on The Lady Victoria Colliery below.
The Lady Victoria Colliery article from “Scottish Collieries” by Miles Oglethorpe can be downloaded below:-