These photos are from a visit I made with about 20 other photographers yesterday to the National Mining Museum Scotland, which is based at the Lady Victoria Colliery at Newtongrange, south east of Edinburgh.
The Creative Photographers Meetup Group were able to arrange access to the tangle of abandoned buildings behind the museum that were left standing after the colliery shut down in 1981.
Although I am a member of the group for a while, this was the first meetup that I have been on and it was interesting to go photographing with such a large number of people.
At one point in the afternoon I took a step back to see other members of the group bent with their cameras over this or that object or setting up their cameras and tripods, or scanning the scene for things to photograph.
I felt like we were a group of archaeologists who had travelled through space to document the remains of an ancient civilisation.
As you can see, I captioned the photo at the top of this article, ‘Abandoned Hope’. I imagine the building was a manager’s office and that the people who worked there would look down and survey the industry going on around them while making decisions about what was to be done next.
Flowers and Abandoned Buildings
It’s a long time since I have photographed anything unattractive. I mean, I don’t go out of my way to photograph abandoned buildings and the wreckage of times past. I don’t do it because I find it very hard to produce anything worthwhile.
What’s more I get such a kick out of ‘reading’ flowers and photographing them, that I find it hard to even know what to look for in a scene such as that at the colliery.
I looked for graphic lines, but it didn’t really help. Maybe the iron steps in the shot below are graphic in the way I wanted, but it still doesn’t necessarily make for a good photograph.
In the end, I kind of found a way in by making the images gritty and unnatural, but I am not sure about them.
What Was This Used For?
One of the feelings I had as I walked around, was that I knew next to nothing about what the buildings were used for.
I could see that there was a boiler house and the pit head, but what was the purpose of this cute little corrugated shed sitting on a rotunda of concrete?
I guess I could have asked someone, but it just didn’t occur to me at the time.
So if anyone knows…
The Pit Head
Here’s a shot of the pit head. On a purely personal level there is something wonderful about the fact that I have visited a colliery in Scotland.
The reason is that when I was boy of maybe seven years old at school, our teacher was ill one time.
The temporary teacher was Scottish and he described a pit head and how the wheel at the top of the scaffold whirled around to raise and lower the coal and the miners.
Except that to my Yorkshire ears, I thought he was describing the edifice itself and I dutifully marked up the wheel at the top as a ‘worl’.
Dating from the 19th century, Lady Victoria Colliery ceased production in 1981 and is now the home of the Scottish Mining Museum. The colliery was named in honour of the wife of the Marquis of Lothian, who also built the neighbouring village of Newtongrange to house the miners from the pit. Originally, the shaft was sunk to a depth of 530m and, for a while, it was the deepest pit in Scotland. Later in its working life, the colliery also served as an engineering centre for the area.