The Undercroft is the name of the arched area underneath the colliery builings. During the colliery’s operational life, it was a hub of activity.
One of the main reasons for the location of the Lady Victoria Colliery was its proximity to the Waverly Railway line, which ran along the perimeter of the site and made it an ideal location for transporting coal to the textile mills in the Borders and the docks in Leith.
The Undercroft contained a series of railway sidings, some of which are still visible in particular areas. Wagons pulled into these sidings and were filled with coal, once it had been cleaned and graded, through tipplers above. This coal did not just come from the Lady Victoria Colliery, but also from the neighbouring collieries at Easthouses and Lingerwood, which were connected to the Lady by branch lines.
After the Colliery’s closure in 1981, the Undercroft lay unused for many years and grew structurally unstable. However, in 2009 the National Mining Museum Scotland gained Capital funding to secure the area and make it safe. This work was completed in 2011. Although still not routinely open to the public due to the unevenness of the ground, the Undercroft may now be visited by appointment with a guide.
In 2011, the Museum was granted further funding from the Museums Galleries Scotland Recognition scheme to consolidate its large object collections, and move many of the large items previously housed outdoors into new homes in the Undercroft. This will shelter them from adverse weather and ensure that they are adequately preserved.
Among the objects now housed in the Undercroft are two railway wagons that were moved from Prestongrange Museum as part of the Recognition project. These core items from the National Mining Museum Scotland collection had resided at Prestongrange for two decades and bear the livery of the Lothian Coal Company and the National Coal Board, so are symbols of key periods in the Lady Victoria’s history.
If you would like to find out more about this project, view any of the items now housed in the Undercroft, or have a guided tour of the Undercroft itself, please contact the Curator on [email protected]
The National Mining Museum Scotland would like to thank the Recognition Fund for making this consolidation project possible.