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Mining Industry

Coal Mine

The earliest records concerning coalpits appear to be the charters granted, towards the end of the 12th century, to William Oldbridge of Carriden in Linlithgowshire, and in 1291 to the abbot and convent of Dunfermline conferring the privilege of digging coal in the lands of Pittencrieff.

The monks of Newbattle Abbey also dug coal at an early date from surface pits on the banks of the Esk. Aeneas Sylvius (Pope Pius II.), who visited Scotland in the 15th century, refers to the fact that the poor received at church doors a species of stone which they burned instead of wood; and although the value of coal for smith’s and artificer’s work was early recognized it was not used for domestic purposes until about the close of the 16th century.

In 1606 an act was passed binding colliers to perpetual service at the works where they were employed, and they were not fully emancipated till 1799. An act was passed in 1843 forbidding the employment of children of tender years and women in underground mines.

In 1905 there were 492 coal and iron mines in operation, employing 109,939 hands (89,516 below ground and 20,423 above). The total output in that year amounted to 35,839,297 tons, valued at £10,369,433. The total quantity worked up to the end of 1898 was 1,514,062 tons, the quantity then remaining to work being estimated at 4,634,785,000 tons. The quantity of coal exported in 1905 from the principal Scottish ports was 7,863,511 tons, and the quantity shipped coastwise to ports of the United Kingdom amounts annually to about 2 million tons in addition.

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