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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In search of a lost coal mine

Beoch No. 4 mine 1937-1968

Here are some photos of Beoch No. 4 mine. OS Grid ref NS 50 09, near Dalmellington, Aysrhsire, Scotland. At 1100 feet it was the highest coal mine in Scotland. 

Photo One
 Photo One shows the mine being sunk into the hillside in 1936/7.

Photo Two
 Photo Two is an aerial photograph of the new mine and associated surface buildings.
Photo Three
 Photo three is a close up of the mine shaft being sunk.

Map One
 Map One shows the mine (compare with Photo Two) and the tramway which linked it to the Dalmellington Iron Company railway system.
Map plus recent satellite image
The last image is a modern satellite image overlaid on Map One, taken from the National Library of Scotland  digital maps section. The green areas are recent forestry plantations and the grey areas are open cast mines. Even on maximum zoom, no trace of Beoch No. 4 mine can be seen. It has become a lost mine.

Researching the history of Galloway (to the south of Ayrshire) I have spent many hours on the maps section of the National Library of Scotland website  trying to find farms and crofts which were abandoned due to agricultural improvement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I have also used satellite images to look at their locations and visited some of the sites, looking for any traces on the ground.

Apart from a few traces of old field boundaries and remnants of rig and furrow cultivation, the old farms and crofts have vanished, erased by 200 years of agricultural improvement or by more recent forestry plantations.

With mines like Beoch No. 4 which are part of living memory not ancient history, I had expected to find more surviving evidence of their existence. But- apart from the open cast mines- it seems Ayrshire's coal mining industry has vanished from the landscape as completely as Galloway's medieval farms have.   


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