The Lady Victoria Boiler House
National Mining Museum Scotland wishes to preserve the Lady Victoria Colliery’s historic Boiler House and its suite of boilers. This year we have been awarded a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund to conduct a survey of the building and to talk to our community to see what they would like the building to be used for. This Blog will follow the project.
We would like to do something really new and exciting with the space. It might be a new restaurant, an interactive classroom, a ballroom… we’re soon going to be asking for your ideas about what you think it should be.
However, no matter what happens, we are going to ensure that historic elements of the building are cared for and that they are made available for everyone to see and learn about. They are an important part of the history of the Colliery, of Newtongrange and of Scotland’s mining industry.
The boilers are called Lancashire boilers. This type of boiler was developed in 1844 by a Scottish engineer called William Fairbairn. They were more efficient than other boilers that were used at the time and quickly became used in industry throughout the UK.
Twelve of these boilers were installed at Lady Victoria Colliery in 1924 and eight of them are still there today. The Lady Victoria Colliery boilers are not only significant because they are industrial icons and symbols of Scottish engineering, but also because of their interesting history.
Before coming to Newtongrange, they were used in His Majesty’s Munitions Factory at Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway. The factory opened in 1916 to produce Cordite, which is a substance similar to gunpowder that that was greatly in demand during World War I. The factory became the largest producer of Cordite in the UK. It also employed very large numbers of people who were housed in specially built villages nearby. More than 11,000 women and 5,000 men worked there.
The factory closed when the War ended and very little of it has been preserved. The boilers that went on to power the Lady Victoria winding engine are almost all that is left of this important part of Britain’s war history.
We want to be able to tell this story properly as well as explain the function and importance of the boilers at Lady Victoria and what it was like to work in the boiler house at the heart of the colliery.
Stoking the boilers.
We’re going to be updating this blog regularly in the coming months to let you know how our project is going and how you can get involved with our community consultation. Check back soon to find out more.