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Leadhills


South Lanarkshire

A village of upper Clydesdale, Leadhills is situated at an altitude of 395m (1296 feet) in the Lowther Hills, 6 miles (10 km) southwest of Abington. One of the oldest lead mining areas in Scotland, lead was mined here from the 12th century. The land here became part of the Hopetoun Estate, and it was the Hope family who developed the industry on a large scale in the 16th century. By the mid 1800s large smelting complexes were in operation in Leadhills and nearby Wanlockhead, which is now the location of the Museum of Scottish Lead Mining. Much of this lead was transported as 'pigs' by cart to Leith for export to the continent. By 1850 there were railway stations at Mennock and Abington, and in 1896 the Light Railway Act allowed the Caledonian Railway to build a branch crossing the Hillhead summit from Elvanfoot, which opened in 1901. The mining of lead, silver and gold eventually ceased in the late 1920s, although the scars left by the industry due to arsenic poisoning the vegetation can be seen on the hillsides surrounding the village. Above the village is Scotland's highest golf course (at 456m / 1500 feet above sea level) and a revived railway established by the Lowthers Railway Society on part of the old line which had closed in 1938. The Miner's library here was established in 1741, making it the oldest subscription library in the world. The poet Allan Ramsay (1686 - 1758) and engineer William Symington (1764 - 1832) were born in Leadhills. John Taylor died here and is remarkable because, according to his gravestone in the cemetery, he was 137 years old!


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