Memories of Mining
This project focuses on coal mining communities in the Inner Forth area. Volunteers and school children have helped investigate the history of coal mining in Bo'ness and High Valleyfield. Using documents, historic and modern images, art, exhibitions and 'Digital Stories', the project has investigated – among other things - working conditions and pay, political activities and activism, the family unit, social lives and cultural activities in mining communities.
We worked with pupils from St Serf's RC Primary School in High Valleyfield and Bo'ness Public School. Classes visited the National Mining Museum and created 'Digital Stories' (short narrated films), as part of their projects. You can view these on IFLI's You Tube channel. Films include one on the Bo'ness Fair and others that tell the story of mining from different perspectives - pit ponies, canaries and even the coal itself. One even showcases a world record!
There is an on-going associated events programme to promote the findings of the research and help communities connect with one another about this shared heritage. Each year Memories of Mining exhibitions take place in Valleyfield Community Centre on or around 28 October, the anniversary of the Valleyfield Pit Disaster. A vast array of mining memorabilia is displayed. Former IFLI trainee Paul wrote a blog post about the first exhibition, which can also be downloaded from the documents link below. The exhibition in 2016 was mirrored by one in Bo'ness. Both flagged up the shared heritage of the two communities, not least the tunnel that was constructed under the River Forth in the 1960s so that coal could be taken from Valleyfield for processing at the new Kinneil Colliery on the other side of the water.
The Valleyfield Heritage Project continue to hold exhibitions each October, as well as laying a wreath at the village memorial built to honour all those who died in the disaster.
A display at the 2017 mining exhibition. Photo: Rab Mckenzie, VHP.