Located at the old Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange, 9 miles (14 km) south of Edinburgh, the National Mining Museum Scotland was established as the Scottish Mining Museum in 1984 to celebrate seven centuries of mining in Scotland. The Lady Victoria Colliery was regarded as a show-piece pit when it was opened in 1894 by the Lothian Coal Company, a joint venture between Schomberg Kerr, the 9th Marquess of Lothian (1833 - 1900), and Archibald Hood (1823 - 1902), a noted mining engineer from Ayrshire.
Named after the Marquess's wife, the 'Lady Vic' as it was affectionately known, formed the hub of Newtongrange, which was the company town, laid out to accommodate miners in a regular pattern of brick-built cottages. The miners were subject to a series of rules both at home and at work, with the notorious general manager, Mungo Mackay, running both pit and village ruthlessly between 1900 and 1939.
The colliery was located at the deepest point of the productive coal measures, which resulted in a shaft 530m (1738 feet) in depth, serviced by the largest winding engine in Scotland. The mine was unusual in having only a single shaft, but this was because it was linked underground to the nearby Lingerwood Colliery. The two also shared above-ground facilities, including pit-head baths and the Lady Victoria's famous canteen, both built in the 1950s.
The Lady Victoria was always a proving ground for innovative technologies, including new brick-lining techniques which were used to sink the shaft, steel pit-props and electricity for power and light.
Coal was transported via the Waverley Line, and the colliery was built with extensive railway marshalling yards and sidings. Road transport took over from rail in 1968, and the Waverley Line closed the following year.
Unlike most other Scottish collieries which were cleared leaving no trace, the Lady Victoria, which closed in 1981, has been preserved and is today recognised as one of the finest surviving examples of a Victorian colliery in Europe. During its life, the Lady Vic produced a record 40 million tonnes of coal and at its peak had a workforce of almost 2000 men and women.
Lottery funding has given rise to a new visitor centre with interactive displays and exhibitions, including a virtual coal face enabling visitors to experience life underground. The first guides were all ex-miners. The name National Mining Museum Scotland was adopted in 2011. The colliery buildings were used as a location for the film Doors Open (2012), starring Stephen Fry and based an Ian Rankin novel.