Hood Family and Coal Mining

Lasswade Parish - Old Statistical Account

Old Statistical Account for the Parish of Lasswade , Midlothian


Note - Only those parts relating to colliers or coalmining have been included here



Minerals.—The minerals come under the general denomination of coal metals, viz. sandstone, (or freestone,) clays of great variety, having different names according to their colour and degree of induration, a very great number of distinct seams of coal, and three beds of limestone. These extend over the whole of the parish; nor has there as yet been discovered within its bounds, any granite or basalts (here termed winstone,) in any solid mass, or even contained in any fracture, (or dike as it is called), excepting a small corner on the east end of the ridge of Pentland Hills.-The rolling stones, found occasionally in the channel of the river, are brought down in floods from the hills, lying without the bounds of the parish.
On the north west side of the River North Esk, the metals stand much on edge, forming in some places and angle of about 65 degrees with the horizon; and in other places (though not in this parish) standing perfectly perpendicular, for which reason the coals in this district are distinguished by the name of the edge coals. They consist of different seams, small and great, almost innumerable; but in the barony of Loanhead, about the middle of their course through the parish, they amount to twenty-five in number, of workable seams from two to ten feet in thickness. By a cross level mine from the river, they are wrought from the grass downwards to the depth of 90 yards perpendicular.- these edge seams, from the sea side in the lands of Duddingston in the line of their direction (or streak,) extend in a body towards Linton in Tweeddale, about 12 or 13 miles, of which the part in this parish is about four miles in length.
On the southeast side of the river, the metals have so small a dip or declination, that the coal there, of which seven or eight seams have already been discovered, has got the name of the flat broad coals. Their dip is about one in seven or eight; their extent within the parish from S.W. to N.E. from 7 to 8 miles in length.
The whole of these metals within the parish, and on both sides of the river, dip to the S.E. , but towards the S.E. Boundary, in crossing a certain supposed line, extending up the country from the sea side near Musselburgh, the several strata are known to take a rise towards both sides; and this general line on the face of the country before, corresponding with the position of the strata below, as formed what may be called a trough. That some of the uppermost seams of coal, which are known to have a rise towards both sides, may be preserved entire or unbroken, in their passage through this trough, is not to be doubted; neither is it to be doubted, that some of the edge coals, after sinking on the N. To rise again on the south side of this trough, but that they keep entire and unbroken in their passage below this trough is held to be improbable.
The coal is distinguished by the terms of splint and rough only, and possess little of the caking quality of the Newcastle coal. The the damps are of the mephitic kind, which extinguishes the candle. Inflammable air was never seen in our pits. It is not known at what time these coals were first begun to be taken out, but, in the lands of Pendreich, it must have been above 200 years ago.
The annual produce has fluctuated much; at an average, it may be stated that 30,000 tonnes, valued, at the pit heads, between 6000 l. And 7000 l. The price, when delivered in Edinburgh, will amount, including carriage, to 12,000 l. or 14,000 l. There are from 90 to 100 Colliers, (pickmen). Women are still employed as bearers below ground; their number may be from 130 to 150.
On the boundary betwixt this parish and Libberton, one of the edge coals has been on fire for 20 years past. A farmer to clear his land of rubbish, which had remained after an old pit had been filled up, had it gathered together, and burnt upon the top of the pit. Two or three years thereafter, it was discovered that the fire had continued down the pit, through the coal rubbish with which it had been filled up, and was found burning into the wastes or excavations below. Many endeavours have been made to have it extinguished, but hitherto (It is feared) without effect, for neither can air be perfectly excluded, nor can the places on fire be any how laid under water.


[ footnote at end of section on 'Poor']

*this parish is connected with several charitable societies. The nature of these associations, is this; the paper makers, carters, and colliers, belonging to different adjacent parishes, have a fund belonging to each profession. Every person, who chooses to enter, pay so much quarterly into this common stock, and, in return, is entitled to a weekly allowance when disabled from working, by sickness or any accidents. The societies are useful not only for the purposes of charity, but also for preserving good morals amongst their members, since it is one of their established rules, that no person, who lies under the imputation of any crime, can receive aid from their fund.



© 2012   A Russell