Show Navigation

Mining & Quarrying

Coal

Miner's safety lamp (3)

Period:
19th Century
Description:

This is a Wolf No7 RMBS, made by the Wolf Safety Lamp Company (William Maurice) Limited, Sheffield.  This sort of lamp was used to check for the presence of methane gas underground.  It was capable of detecting only 2% of methane.  The light either went out or changed colour if gas was present.

 

Coal has been mined in the Sanquhar and Kirkconnel area since earliest times.  In the late 1700s the Duke of Queensberry began to develop the coalfields on his estate, and in 1792 Sanquhar Town Council set up a mine to supply the townspeople with coal.  At this time the mines were not major employers, with only 40 miners in Sanquhar and 16 in Kirkconnel recorded in the 'First Statistical Account of Scotland'.

 

In the early 19th century coal was mined in the parish of Sanquhar from shallow and easily accessible seams. In 1848 the first deep pit at Gateside was sunk, and another at Bankend opened in 1857. The New Gateside Pit was opened in 1891, and five years later Fauldhead Pit, the largest in the coalfield, was commissioned. In 1903 the coal works, by now the largest in private ownership in Scotland, became a limited company, 'The Sanquhar and Kirkconnel Collieries Limited'. Tower Pit was sunk in 1916, despite war time shortages, and by 1925 over 2,000 miners were employed in the industry.  The mines were nationalised in the wake of the Second World War, and shortly after taking control the National Coal Board developed two drift mines, Rigg and Roger. The 1960s brought a decline in the industry, and although its coal reserves were predicted to last into the 21st century, Fauldhead closed in 1968.

 

Coal was also mined in the valley of the River Esk near Canonbie, on land owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. Opened in the early 1700s, initial demand came from local limekilns, but by the second half of the nineteenth century the mine was sending coal to Carlisle as well as local industry. During busy periods over 100 men were employed, and a small village grew up near the colliery. By 1915 reserves were becoming exhausted, and in 1922 the colliery
closed.

Place of Production:
Sheffield, England
Materials/Media:
metal, glass
Dimensions:
(base) diameter 94mm, height 270mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:1975.118.3
Digital Number:
DMMI018n
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council