Hood Family and Coal Mining

Newbattle Parish - New Statistical Account

New Statistical Account for the Parish of Newbattle , Midlothian

Written by the Revd. John Thomson in September 1839


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



Geology and Mineralogy. — Coal mines have been wrought in this parish to a very considerable extent on both sides of the hill, on the range of the Roman Camp, by means of levels brought up from the bed of the Tyne on the south-east side, and from the river South Esk on the north-west side; and they will in future be more extensively wrought, in consequence of a direct communication having been opened from the field of coal to Edinburgh, by means of a railway. The Marquis of Lothian has, at his own expense, completed a railway from the mines, one mile and a half in length and, to Dalhousie Mains, where it forms a junction with the Edinburgh Company's Railway. By this mode of conveyance, the minerals, coal, limestone, and sandstone, will in future be carried from the mine or quarry to the Depot at St Leonards. In the progress of this operation, a valley of 1200 feet in breadth had to be overcome. This has been done by means of a bridge, consisting of three main arches of cast-iron that in the Gothic style, each 65 feet span, and the one that crosses the river is 70 feet in height at the centre of the arch from its bed. The other two are not so high above the ground. These arches have stone piers, built from the quarries of the proprietor. Besides these, there at 18 stone pillars, 10 of which are joined at the top by a horizontal iron beams, and eight by beams of wood; the whole the design of Mr John Williamson, Newton Grange, the manager of his Lordship's colliery.
Limestone has been but partially wrought to serve a limited demand, by skirting the outbursts or crops, and tirring the superincumbent deposits; but as these in future will be increased, it is the intention of the proprietor to work it undercover, and to a much greater depth. Quality of the lime has been generally acknowledged to be excellent, and it everywhere abounds in the field.
Sandstone is also in great abundance, and 2 of 3 quarries have been wrought to a considerable extent, by tirring the surface only. One quarry has been wrought many feet below the surface without tirring, and stones drawn up by or a horse power along an inclined plane. The quality is fit for all ordinary purposes. During the progress of the railway the manager wrought it 30 fathoms under cover, of excellent quality.


Geology. — The geology of the parish cannot be better explained by stating the breadth of the Midlothian mineral field, as resolving itself into two hills or wings; the one resting northwards on the old red sandstone of the Craigmillar range; and that again on the secondary rocks of the Salisbury Crag. The foot of its base southward, rests at the river South Esk, where the other commences, rising upwards to its summit, the Roman Camp, and descending downwards again to the foot of its base, at the River Tyne. Beyond Ford, it will again be found resting on the old red sandstone, and that on a greywacke, amygdaloid, and porphry of the Moorfoot range, in which range no granite or primitive rocks are found.


Mineralogy. — The minerals of Newbattle parish comprise about one-half of that breadth, viz. From the river South Esk at Newmills, to near the Tyne at Ford; and the position of this part of the mineral field may be represented as a great cone of from ten to twelve miles round the base, and whose apex is the Roman Camp. The base of the whole will everywhere be found to be the magnesian limestone, with the coal and its concomitants completely encircling it; and everywhere bursting or cropping out towards its apex, and dipping towards the valleys, at an angle varying from 15 degrees to 30 degrees. Rising at such an acute angle, it is generally found that coal concomitants are thrown off before they reach the summit of the hill, and the limestone base appears; and with such a sharp dip to the valley at Newmills, the foot of the base, the coal and it's concomitants, would be at 2400 feet, at least, in thickness, in intersecting which from 30 to 40 working seams of coal would be cut through, and varying from eighteen inches to eight feet in thickness. From this it appears that the parish of Newbattle, for extent of minerals, will be found to equal, if not surpass, any parish in Scotland. The coal concomitants consist of little variety, and are an alternation of sandstone, red and white, of different texture and hardness, grey faikes, or slaty limestone, slate clay, sometimes with ironstone bands and balls of undefined texture and quality; indurated clay, &c. The dikes, fissures, and dislocations are of pretty frequent occurrence, and in some cases of formidable dimensions, and this jointing the strata up and down, some forty, some twelve, some six, and some five fathoms, although upon the whole, it may be said to be a clean field.


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