<<< BACK to previous page

Legal actions












A Recognised Collection of National Importance

Home > Collections & Resources > International Exhibitions > Glasgow Mining Exhibition

Glasgow Mining Exhibition


1885 - Glasgow


The press representatives were on Saturday afternoon afforded a private view of the Mining Exhibition in Burnbank Drill Halls, Glasgow, which is to be formally opened by Colonel Hamilton of Dalzell, MP, tomorrow (Tuesday).  Despite the efforts of the secretaries, Messrs James Barrowman, mining engineer, Hamilton; R L Galloway, mining engineer, Glasgow; and R T Moore, mining engineer, Glasgow, the various exhibits were in a chaotic state, although the great celerity shown in the different arrangements makes it probable that everything will be in order by the opening day.  The official catalogue is prefaced with an interesting “Review of the Progressive Improvement of Mining in Scotland,” by Mr Galloway, who is the author of “A History of Coal Mining in Great Britain,” &c. It is pointed out that as early as 1200 AD collieries were being worked on the South Shore of the Firth of Forth.  About this time we hear of one at Carriden, near Blackness, a few miles from Linlithgow, and another near Prestonpans, in the Tranent neighbourhood. At both places seams or beds of coal came out to the surface, and in the latter case it appears the colliery was situated on the very shore, 'in the ebb and flow of the sea'.  These early collieries were, doubtless, mere quarries or open works. In the West of Scotland coal does not appear to have begun to receive attention quite so soon. What is, perhaps, the earliest mention of the mineral in this part of the country occurs in a charter of James the Steward to the Abbey of Paisley, wherein he grants the monks free and full power to quarry stone and lime, and dig sea coals, throughout the whole of his forest in the Barony of Renfrew.  It is dated at Blackhall, 1294.  It is mentioned that “in the infancy of the coal trade the new fuel was put to very few uses, being only employed by smiths, lime-burners, and other artisans, whose requirements it was peculiarly well suited,” but that its introduction into dwelling-houses “does not appear to have provoked so much  opposition in Scotland as it did in England”, and that “possibly it may have been the use of coal fuel in Edinburgh at an early period which procured for it the soubriquet of  'Auld Reekie' which adheres to it down to our own day.”  The social condition of the mining classes receives little attention, but it is noted that only “in the latter part of the eighteenth century the colliers of Scotland were relieved from slavery by Parliament”, and in 1842 was it made “illegal to employ any female whatever in underground labour.”  It is noted that in Scotland “the deepest pit working at the present time is the Spittalhill Pit, near Blantyre, which is 221 fathoms; scarcely half the depth of the deepest English colliery, viz. Ashton Moss, near Manchester, which is 472 fathoms.”  Dealing historically with the methods of coal-getting, he states, in conclusion, that “of recent years many highly important improvements have been introduced in the working of our mines.  Furnaces have to a large extent been superseded by ventilating fans driven by steam engines, and the volume of air has been enormously augmented.  At Blantyre Colliery, for example, where the great explosion took place in 1877, the ventilating current now amounts to fully 200,000 cubic feet per minute.  Steam engines actuating ropes or chains have also been largely substituted for horses in the haulage of coal underground.  Rectangular shafts are still the rule in Scotland, and in some of the newer fittings large dimensions have been adopted, as much as 24ft by 8ft.  For the new shaft at Niddrie Colliery the circular form has been selected, with a diameter of 17 ft.  In a few instances iron has been substituted for wood in pithead frames and other surface erections, while iron itself is being rapidly superseded by steel in many branches of colliery requirements – e.g. rope, cages, rail, wheels, axles, picks, drills &c.  Coal-cutting machinery, driven by compressed air, is in use at a number of collieries, but the progress made in the application of these machines has hitherto been somewhat slow and intermittent.  There is, however, probably a wide field before them in the future.  Electricity has been used for purposes of signalling underground for a number of years and electric lights have been introduced underground on the main roads at Earnock Colliery, Lanarkshire. There is little reason to doubt that before very long electric lights will be commonly used at collieries, both at the surface and at the pit bottom, if not in the workings as well.”


It is the Mining Institute of Scotland that the community is indebted for the exhibition, which originated in a suggestion thrown out by Mr Henry Aitken, Falkirk, in the course of a discussion at one of the meetings of that body in the spring.  The coal and iron masters heartily responded to the call made upon them and about fifty of them provided a guarantee fund of £530; and the makers of colliery appliances and machinery is cordially agreed to become exhibitors, and between 160 and 170 stances have been secured.  In order to carry out the various arrangements to a satisfactory conclusion a General Committee was formed, with Lord Provost M'Onie of Glasgow, as Chairman; Colonel Hamilton, who, as already stated performs the inaugural ceremony.  Mr Wm Alexander and Mr Ralph Moore, both Government Inspectors of Mines, as vice-presidents. The heavy part of the work has fallen, however, upon the Executive Committee, of which Mr James S Dickson, the managing director of Bent Colliery, is convener, and the three gentle mentioned, secretaries.  In consequence of the efforts put forth there has been gathered in and around the Drill Halls a splendid collection fully illustrative of the present position of Scottish mining, and the educative value of it is greatly enhanced by the fact that a considerable proportion of the machinery is in motion, the propelling forces being steam, water and gas. The steam is supplied by means of one of the duplex furnace steel boilers of Messrs Penman & Co., Glasgow, lent by the makers; and the water and gas from the Corporation mains free of cost.  During the hours of darkness when the exhibition is open the place will be illuminated with electric light, different systems being in use at various portions of the space utilised.  The large hall will be lit by the Simplex Electric Light and Plant Company (Ltd) with 120 incandescent lamps; the small one by Messrs Norman & Son, Glasgow, from storage batteries; and the grounds by Messrs Henry Bennett & Co Glasgow with four 3000-candle arc lamps.  Difficulty has been experienced in grouping the exhibits according to any method of classification making claims to anything like scientific accuracy.  It may be roughly stated, however, that in the large hall the north-west corner is occupied with steam machinery, the north-east with gas and hydraulic engines, the south-west with minerals and mineral products, and the south-east with fire-clay, ropes, &c.  The small hall has been devoted entirely to models, print, drawings, and the like.  On the greensward around the building are to be seen endless rope haulage in operation, several appliances in motion, and sections of workable minerals from Scottish coalfields.  The visitor on passing within the precincts of the exhibition will have his attention drawn to the endless rope haulage.  It has been erected under the direction of the Executive, in order to show the system employed in the Hamilton district, and it is furnished with motive power by a pair of coupled horizontal engines by Messrs Kesson & Campbell, Glasgow.  The Carron Company, Falkirk, show a model of a pit shaft, with wire-rope guides, double-decked cages, and metal hutches, having at the side of it the hutch tipper used in their mines.  Doubtless a good deal of time will be spent in the inspection of a Capel patent fan and engine shown by Messrs Richard Lloyd & Co., Birmingham.  The invention of the rector of Stoney Stratford, whose name it bears, the ventilator is novelty in Scotland, where there is not a specimen in operation, although one is being place in a Fifeshire mine, Mr John Morison, Dalkeith, has a working model of patent reciprocating pumps. The coal-cutting machines of Winstanley & Barker and Galloway & McPherson are display by Mr John Galloway, Ayr, who has also several other exhibits.  Messrs Clarkson Brothers show the “champion” direct double-acting ram or bucket steam pump; and Messrs Grant, Ritchie, & Co. have also a mine pump. The “Stevenson” patent multiple furnace water tube boiler is staged by Messrs Dick & Stevenson, Airdrie.  One exhibitor from the other side of the Atlantic, Mr J A Jeffrey, Columbus, Ohio, has the Legg coal mining machine, and also the rotary power coal drill of the same inventor. Hutches, rails, &c, are sent by the Clyde Coal Company, Hamilton; the Bent Colliery Company Ltd, in the same district; Mr John Watson of Earnock Colliery, Messrs Dickson & Mann, Bathville Steel Works, Linlithgowshire; and Messrs William Cook & Sons, Glasgow.  Perhaps the most interesting of the outside exhibits is a large collection of mineral specimens illustrative of the workable minerals of the coal measures in the counties of Lanark, Edinburgh, and Fife, which shows the full thickness of the seams, and which is arranged in stratigraphical position.  It is to be regretted that Ayrshire is not included in the collection, but the omission arises from the fact that the meeting where arrangements were made for obtaining the specimens no representatives from that county were present. 

On entering the large hall one of the first stands in view is that of Mr James White, Glasgow, which contains numerous instruments connected with the surveying department of mining activity.  The Glenfield Company, Kilmarnock, have a large variety of valves, pillar-fountains, water engines, &c.  Vertical and horizontal gas engines by Magee are shown by the Glasgow Gas Engineering Company, Messrs Dron & Lawson, Glasgow, have staged an excellent assortment of screwing machinery.  The hydraulic pump of Mr David Johnston, Glasgow, already described in the Scotsman, is shown by the inventor.  Messrs Crossley Brothers Ltd have forwarded a couple of “Otto” gas engines. The St Mungo Chemical Company exhibit specimens and products of shale and coal from tar to pigments for artistic work made from aniline dyes. Another Glasgow company, the Carbon Cement Company, show their cement and algin boiler fluid. Tangyes (Ltd), Birmingham have one of the most extensive stands covered with mining machinery of a varied description.  Messrs Archibald Baird & Son, Glasgow, display a large collection of Steel castings and colliery furnishings.  Dynamite and other blasting agencies are exhibited by Messrs Hunter & Fotheringham, Glasgow.  Safety lamps in considerable variety are to be seen at the stands of Messrs Routledge & Johnson, Sunderland; Messrs John Mills & Sons, Newcastle; Mr Richard Johnson, Clapham; and Mr James Ashworth, Derby.  In addition there is on view a portion of the collection of North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, which is a remarkably complete one, Mr William Corbet, Edinburgh, has various models made of iron, tin, and fireclay.  The Hardy Patent Pick Company, Sheffield, show picks, boring machinery, &c.  In the rope department there are numerous specimens in steel, wire and hemp, for winding, haulage, and other purposes.  The principal makers represented are Messrs R S Newall & Co, Glasgow. T&W Smith, Newcastle; George Craddock & Co, Newcastle; James Brown & Co Manchester, John Shaw, Sheffield, and J Williams & Co. Wishaw.  Nobel's Company, Glasgow, exhibit their explosives at different stages of manufacture.  Mr James Brown, Glasgow, has surveying instruments, electrical apparatus, &c.  Messrs Morison Brothers, Glasgow, show drawing materials, and Douglas Fraser & Sons, Arbroath, mining shoes,  Fireclay material is admirably represented by the exhibits of the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Gartsberrie Fireclay Company, Glenboig; Blochairn Sand and Fireclay Company, Glasgow, Messrs John Young Sons & Co,  Heathfield and Cardowan Works; and Messrs James McNaughton, Son & Co, Heathery Knowe,  Messrs Love & Stewart, Glasgow, have a varied assortment of foreign and home wood for props, and Messrs Robertson & McGill, Glasgow, an extensive collection of colliery furnishings.  By an Edinburgh exhibitor, Mr Charles Robertson, a series of turntables and hutch-weighing machines is staged.  On the east end of the hall there is an interesting display of technical drawings by Mr R T Moore, Glasgow, and Mr J M Ronaldson, Pollokshields.  The samples of minerals are exceedingly interesting, and will certainly form one of the most attractive features of the Exhibition.  By the Niddire Company ather is forwarded a great block of their Virtuewell better known as the Benhar coal. The Carron Company display specimen sections of coal and limestone from their pits, blackband and ironstone from Cadder, and hematite ore from Cumberland, as well as char, pig-iron and the ranges from which they have become noted.  Indeed, the collection makes patent the different stages from the raw material to the finished article.  The Westburn Colliery Company show their upper, cannel, splint and main coal washed-out coal, and fireclay, and the Fife Coal Company a section of Leven cannel coal; while Mr Henry Aitken, Falkirk, has samples of Boghead coal & c.  Mr R D Thomson, Motherwell exhibits spire coal for gas making.  Mr Thomas Thornton, Leshahagow, blocks of main and wee cannel coal from Auchinheath Colliery; and Mr J Galloway, Ayr, a large core obtained from a bore.  The Birkenshaw Coal Company have foundry, melting, and shale coke, house coal, &c. the Pumperston Oil Company, shale and shale products; Messrs Colin Dunlop and Co, pig-iron manufactured by the firm, together with specimen-minerals raised by them at Quarter, Auchlochan, Crossbasket, Drumoyre, and Hillington.  Blocks of the Duke of Hamilton's main Leshmahagow cannel coal, and pieces of blackband ironstone calcined are sent by the Nitshill and Leshmahgow Coal Company.  Mr Henry Aitken, Falkirk, has samples of timber subjected to his napthaline process of preserving.  In the lesser hall there are many models, prints, drawings &c. of an interesting description.  One of the features of the collection is a number of fossils illustrative of the flora and fauna of the carboniferous system, chiefly from the Lanarkshire coal basin. It is supplied by Mr Robert Dunlop, Airdrie, who has a large assortment of fossils of this kind. In the gallery adjoining the small hall the Cadzow Coal Company exhibit Cornish Clacks used in their huge pumps; and the Legbranock District Collieries Company, Holytown, a couple of mining machines.

The exhibition opens on the 1st, and remains open till the 24th prox.

The Scotsman, 31st August 1885


creative commons

We are happy to licence use of many images, extracts, and other resources of this website under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial licence (Scotland). See full copyright statement. Such material should be attributed to Almond Valley Heritage Trust and, where practical, a hyperlink provided to www.scottishshale.co.uk.