Fife was one of Scotland’s main coal mining areas for hundreds of years and the industry had a massive impact on people’s working and social lives. A wide range of material from collieries and mining communities is held by Fife Council Museums. Most of the collection is from the coalfields in west and central Fife from the late 19th century to the 1990s.
The working life of a miner was a dangerous one and many items are concerned with health and safety. We have numerous underground signs, lamps and mines rescue equipment. Pit checks come from a variety of mines and some of these are hung on two large check drums from Comrie Colliery. Other items include stretchers from the Michael Colliery, where one of the worst mining disasters took place in 1967.
A large part of the collection is mining photographs – from pitheads to underground images. More recent ones include a series taken at Fife’s last deep coal mine at Longannet Colliery in 2000, as well as images of the 1984/85 strike. A collection of archives, badges, banners and placards was collected at the time of the dispute. Other banners come from Seafield and Comrie Collieries.
Some of the most unusual objects are ones made out of coal itself! These are small ornaments and larger furniture carved out of parrot coal that you can see on show in Kirkcaldy Museum & Art Gallery.
Our most recent donation is a ledger from the Michael Colliery in the1930s which lists details of hundreds of miners at that pit – a wonderful family history resource.
In Fife Council Libraries collections there are 1,000 photographs, books and documents relating to the mining industry. Also held in Dunfermline Carnegie Library is the Fife Mining Memorial Book which lists miners killed at work in Fife.
Information on other Scottish coal collections is at www.coalcollections.org