Lead Mine in Wanlockhead

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Crisp Monster

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Jun 23, 2006
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Took a wander up to this place tonight, situated in Scotland's highest village at 1563 feet above sea level. I was debating whether this should go under Rural or Industrial, but since Krela has been good enough to create a new forum for rural stuff I thought I had best use it.

Wanlockhead is a funny little place, hit quite hard when the lead mining ceased in the 50's but has kept going nontheless. It was starting to look really tatty a few years ago with lots of derelict houses etc, but has been tidied up a lot recently. Unlike a lot of former pit villages it is in a nice location, so a lot of places have been bought as holiday homes. You don't get that in Rossington.

There are a lot of remnants of the mining era still scattered about, and there is quite a good museum which has a section of mine that you can go down. The village has a strange, wild west feel to it; very few gardens are fenced as not much will grow up there. You get houses sitting cheek by jowl with derelict mine workings, and yet it doesn't look totally out of place. It is definitely a frontier town, which even has it's own trained paramedics as the ambulance service can't guarentee to be able to service it when the weather is bad, and believe me it gets bad. The workings were drift mines, ie they were walk in types carved into the hillside rather than shafts sunk downwards, so there are no wheelhouses as with a lot of workings, but there are still a lot of derelict and abandoned buildings scattered about the place. This is just one of them...

This was apparently some sort of grading point, where the rough ore was sorted before transport to the smelters. There are a number of slag heaps surrounding this works, the most spectacular looking a bit like the Matterhorn:

The concrete thing in front of the heap is some kind of large hopper, through which the material would fall and be sorted; when abandoned, it was still half full and has sat there ever since:

It is quite hard to visualise how it must have been when active, as fifty odd years of abandonment and demolition have left the place in a real mess. An industrial archeologist might be be able to work it out; me, I just wander around taking pictures.

There was another hopper like arrangement lower down from the one above, with a water filled tunnel running under it and surrounded by the remains of some sort of machinery:

Sort that one out, Dibnah.

The least inviting tunnel I have ever seen.

A number of buildings still stand, varying in age. The most recent appears to date from the forties or fifties, and looks to have been offices of some sort:

This stands next what was once a coal store of some kind, still full of slack and nuggets:

While I was there, a couple of blokes drew up in a car and started helping themselves. They weren't bothering me, so I didn't bother them.

Further up the hill stands an older building, purpose unknown. It is just a shell, and its interior is full of concrete trenches and mounts for machinery of some kind. Boiler house maybe?

The obligatory shot of sun setting through empty window. Sorry, it had to be done.

Further up the hill away from the other buildings were what I'm told were dynamite and detonator stores, seperate from one another for obvious reasons. The dynamite store smelled strangely of kippers.

Given that this place has been abandoned for so long, it was not surprising that there were so few reminders of man's passing here. Only the hardiest material remains;

Every derelict place has it's own atmosphere; some are sad, some menacing, some unhealthy and some whimsical. I don't know how to place this one; I think the only way I could truly describe it is Wasted. A lot of hard work has taken place here, and now it's finished and will never come back. There is nothing left to mine, and nobody will ever spend the money to remove the detritus. It is simply too far out of the way to bother about, and it seems to be in the nature of the place to just live with it. Strange.