National Mining Museum Scotland, in Midlothian receives regular requests from people researching their family history who have discovered connections to the Scottish mining industry.
National Mining Museum Scotland is based at the Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, near Edinburgh and has been rated a five star visitor attraction by the VisitScotland. The museum is situated at one of the finest surviving examples of a Victorian colliery in Europe. Visitors can examine the engineering behind the machinery used in the colliery and retrace the footsteps of the thousands of miners and their families in the story of Scotland’s mining history.
The museum offers visitors information about the history of coal, the lives of the men who worked in the mines and a guided tour of the pithead, experiencing the noise and atmosphere of a working pit, with anecdotes from the tour guides who are all ex-miners.
Crucially, the museum also houses a reference library with mining books, journals and the archive of the Lothian Coal Company. There are more than 20,000 photographs from the working times of the pit featuring the miners who worked there and the lives of the local community. This information is proving to be popular amongst people looking to trace family who worked in the mine and the community.
The Marketing and Events officer at the Museum said: “We receive many specific requests about workers from the mine. Unfortunately, as virtually no detailed employment records exist, we’re rarely able to fill in dates and other specific details. What we can do, however, is help establish what people did and how they lived, including conditions in the work place, living conditions at home, social life and wages.
“Birth, death and marriage records may refer to mining as a person’s occupation, and address details can usually identify a mining district involved, however this doesn’t necessarily identify a colliery that the person worked at. Often miners would travel considerable distances for work.”
Those first links can often lead to more information utilising the books, photographs and Coal Board records held within the vast reference library at the museum and bring the next crucial step to people searching for family information in the industry. As well as a fun day out for the family, the museum is proving to be a vital source of historical information for thousands of families.
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