Wanlockhead Lead Mining Museum
Between Glasgow and Carlisle are signs for a lead mining museum — and it is brilliant: Wanlockhead has a great atmosphere and feels very remote, yet is only a few miles from the motorway.
Our interest in lead and how it is mined is because country potters used raw lead as the prime constituent of their glazes. When mixed with clay into a cream-like consistency, pots are dipped into it and then fired. The lead provides the necessary glass making qualities to make a glaze.
The Lead Mining Museum is spread throughout the village at five different sites: the visitor centre, the mine, the miners cottages, the miners library and a place you can prospect for gold.
The visitor centre is in a building that had been used as a smelter and as a blacksmiths. Robert Burns, as the visiting excise man, had his horse shod here, and paid for it with a poem.
Mannequins are used to help describe aspects of mining life. This scene shows lead ore being melted to extract the lead. The process causes poisonous fumes and was the cause of much illness and early deaths.
Miners were only paid once a year, based on how much lead they mined. This meant they and their families had to live on credit from the company stores, who had a monopoly — which meant the miners got a bad deal.
Click on the gallery to see more images from Wanlockhead, The Museum of Lead Mining.