Scottish National Mining Museum Chronicles Mining Heritage

Based at the Lady Victoria Colliery near Newtongrange, Midlothian, the Scottish National Mining Museum has a number of features to educate and entertain visitors of all ages. The museum offers insight into the natural processes of coal formation and the history of human efforts to extract this precious commodity from the earth. Visitors can join an ex-miner in a guided tour of the pithead to experience first-hand what it was like to work in a coal mine, and can discover what life was like for coal mining communities from the 13th century through to modern times. Other features of the museum include the interactive operations center, winding engine, mining machinery, and archives.

The Scottish Mining Museum’s collection exceeds 60,000 items, including photographs, books, archive materials and objects directly related to coal mining. Among the collection of objects visitors will find tools, lamps, safety equipment, models, trophies, clothing, banners, art and geological specimens. A touchscreen computer displays almost all of the 18,000 photographs in the museum’s archive, allowing visitors to view underground scenes, surface images, aerial views of collieries, pictures of miners working, village scenes and gala days.

The “Big Stuff Massive Mining Machinery Tour” takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays, giving visitors the opportunity of viewing items such as the 40 ft coal shearers, underground cages, carriages and locomotives. With coal mining being an integral part of Scotland’s history and heritage, educational tours and activities are arranged for schools, where learners can discover interesting facts about the mining industry in a fun and entertaining way.

A recent installation at the museum uses state-of-the art techniques to light up various features of the Lady Victoria Colliery, making them visible at night from all over Midlothian. Through the innovative use of light, the old pit wheel appears to be turning, with the main gantry giving the impression of crowds of miners heading toward the pit. Known as the “Night Time National Landmark”, this new project is part of a wider plan to build on the reputation of the Scottish National Mining Museum as one of the country’s most popular attractions, with the aim of keeping Scotland’s mining heritage alive.