KW-22 Kirky Miners

Mining provided employment for the people of East Dunbartonshire for a long period of time. There were mines right across the area, from Baljaffray in the west to Twechar in the east. Coal was the most common mineral found locally, but limestone and ironstone were also mined extensively. The presence of alum shale led to the establishment of an important chemical works at Campsie to process the alum for use in the textile industry. The ‘Secret Works’, as it was known, was a major employer in Lennoxtown for most of the nineteenth century.

The earliest mines were created by following an angled seam inwards from its outcrop on the surface, extracting the minerals at progressively deeper locations. Vertical pits were also sunk from an early date, with primitive winding gear to raise the minerals to the surface. Several modern collieries were established during the second half of the nineteenth century, some of them employing many hundreds of men. The most important coal-owner was the firm of William Baird & Company, which came to the Twechar area about 1860 and developed extensive mining operations there.

The last colliery in East Dunbartonshire, at Gartshore, closed in 1968. After that date there were still many miners living in the area, who travelled each day to collieries in neighbouring districts, such as Bedlay, near Chryston, and Cardowan, at Stepps, but this came to an end in 1983 when Cardowan closed.

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