Memory, Mining and Heritage

Voices from Ayrshire Communities

Yvonne McFadden & Arthur McIvor

978 1 911043 20 1


Paperback, 320 pages


This book reconstructs the vibrant, rich and diverse social and cultural history of the miners’ rows and mining communities in Ayrshire over a century of turmoil and change from the early twentieth century to the present. The authors have used a range of sources, with a focus on non-documentary evidence, notably spoken oral history testimonies, supplemented liberally with visual, photographic evidence. Their starting point was the miners’ rows and what it meant to live in these unique village communities, and how this changed over time, with pit closures, depopulation and moving to new council housing in larger urban settlements. Personal accounts have deepened our understanding of what this was all like to live through. They explore patterns of leisure and recreation in the mining villages, emphasising the fundamentally gendered nature of such experiences, drawing on the many stories people told them. Their focus then turns to the working lives of women, as unpaid housewives and in the workforce, and how these lives were remembered and infused with meaning. The work of the male miners is investigated, including their embodied experience working underground and the risks and dangers they faced, as well as the changes that came with mechanisation, trade unionism and modernisation. They also explore the pit closures, the end of deep coalmining and deindustrialization, and what this meant to miners and their families. The open cast era is also examined, drawing upon workers own lived experience and memories, as well as the perceptions of deep miners towards this very different way of extracting coal. Finally, they consider the legacies and residues of the past in the present – the physical remains of the Ayrshire villages and pits, the ways that the industry has been memorialised, and reflect upon the importance of memory in preserving the past.