Opencast Coal Mining, Kirkconnel

This photograph shows three Kirkconnel miners with picks and shovels, standing by a barrow at the cliff face.  Lengths of rail litter the area.   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 Kirkonnel 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 Scoltand, 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. 
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Drumbuie, Kirkconnel
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length 108mm, width 152mm
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Dumfries & Galloway Council
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