1978 Mining Museum Proposals


1930s Blantyre Priory by Rev Chas H Dick

Blantyre Priory 1930s by Rev Charles H Dick.

Whilst researching 1978, I noticed a newspaper article that caught my eye.

It told of a return to mining in 1978, some 20 years after Blantyre’s last pit had closed. However, this was not a return to those “bad old days” of hard labour at the pit face. This was to be a tourist boost by a proposal to re-open one of the old shallower mines and turn it into a museum attraction!

The idea had come from local minister and Blantyre Community Council member, Rev John Silcox of High Blantyre’s Old Parish Church. Meg Johnston , Public relations officer at the Hamilton District Council also was very keen on this project.

The idea at that time was just a pipedream but there was hope it could be done. The idea if a shallow mine could be found, was to hollow it near the surface and built a museum around it, showing people what it would look like to be underground, or see pit ponies and stables below ground. It was noted it would need big local investment for the plan to go ahead and with so much redevelopment going on in Blantyre that year, it would be a nod to the past.

The National Coal Board were unwilling to help. They stated they already had one mining museum in Scotland and that was enough. The issue, unable to get off the ground due to finances was parked by the Community Council, never to get off the ground again. Mr Silcox had also been instrumental in setting up the mining disaster monument in High Blantyre the previous year.

Another idea the Community Council had, was to try to uncover the site of the old Blantyre Priory. It was stated that the Priory had become buried by the nearby Priory Colliery Bing and that excavation work was needed to uncover it again.

Pictured is one of the earliest ever photos of Blantyre at the Priory. You won’t have seen this before anywhere online shared exclusively with permission to Blantyre Project. (It was taken by Rev.Charles H. Dick, 1879 -1922. It comes from the copyrighted book “Rambles Round Glasgow” by Hugh Macdonald and a copy of which was published in 1910, but it has a copy of the original foreword dated 26th July 1854. Mr Macdonald had read up on all the ruins and places of interest within a ten mile radius of Glasgow and had first visited Blantyre Priory on the 19th of July 1851 and then visited Dechmont on August the 2nd. The 1910 version is, I think, a tribute edition from the family to their father’s memory.)

Today, nothing remains of the building, except for part of the outer perimeter wall next to the gorge

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

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