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Prestongrange Museum
Prestongrange windinggear.jpg
The colliery winding gear
Established 28 September 1984
Location 8 miles east of Edinburgh
Type Industrial archaeology

Prestongrange Museum is an industrial heritage museum at Prestongrange between Musselburgh and Prestonpans on the B1348 on the East Lothian coast, Scotland. Founded as the original site of the National Mining Museum, its operation reverted to East Lothian Council Museum Service (the current operators) in 1992.

History of the site

For centuries Prestongrange was a place of intense industrial activity. A harbour, glass works, pottery, colliery and brickworks have all left their marks on the landscape. Monks from Newbattle Abbey first mined for coal here in the 12th century. From that a coal mining industry developed and the first shaft of Prestongrange's last mine was sunk in 1830. A beam engine, modified by Harvey and Company of Hoyle in Cornwall, and shipped to Scotland in 1874, pumped water out of the pit, in three stages, at 2,955 litres a minute. The mine was eventually closed in 1963.

Cradled by woodland with views out over the Firth of Forth the site is now a haven for wildlife where visitors are free to roam and explore monumental relics of Scotland's industrial heritage and discover giant machines such as the pit head winding gear and the Cornish beam engine, structures such as the powerhouse and a vast brick kiln, as well as coal wagons, a steam crane and more besides.

The pump house and pump is a Category A listed building The old generating house and the Hoffmann kiln are both Category B listed.

Main features

  • the Hoffmann Kiln (or, more precisely, the Hoffmann Continuous Kiln)
  • the Cornish engine (a type of beam engine) the only one in Scotland
  • the winding engine
  • the Power House
  • the 17th century glass works
  • the 18th century pottery site
  • the 19th century coal mine and brick works
  • Morrison's Haven, the 16th century harbour
  • the railway (remains) and rolling stock
  • the Visitor Centre with its exhibition

Beam engine

The beam engine is a Cornish engine, an early type of steam engine, used to pump water from the coal mine to prevent the workings from becoming flooded. It was manufactured by J. E. Mare & Co of Plymouth to the design of engineers Hocking & Loam and used in three different mines in Cornwall before being purchased by the Prestongrange Coal and Iron Company in 1874 and shipped north. It was bought from a Cornish Mine site by Harvey and Company of Hayle, who sold it on to Prestongrange complete with a new beam of their own manufacture. The engine was installed in a new engine house, whose front wall is nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) thick in order to support the main pivot bearing of the huge cast iron beam.

The engine continued operating until 1954, when it was superseded by electric pumps, only eight years before the colliery closed. The engine is the only example in Scotland.

Facilities

The Museum site is open all day every day. The Museum buildings are open between April and September, 11.30 a.m. to 4.30pm. A self-guided tour by mobile phone is available, and it is narrated by the painter John Bellany who was born in Port Seton.

The Museum is also the gateway to the annual Three Harbours Festival, jointly organised by the communities of Prestonpans, Prestongrange, Cockenzie, Port Seton and other nearby areas such as West Pans and Drum Mhor.

The Museum grounds are also used for local events, guided tours, theatrical performances, and during the re-enactments of the Battle of Prestonpans. Since the completion of the Prestonpans Tapestry in July 2010, there is a possibility that this artwork may find a temporary or permanent home at Prestongrange.

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