Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum

Beam Engine, Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Beam Engine, Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum

Located at Morrison's Haven, 1¼ miles (2 km) west southwest of Prestonpans on the coast road to Musselburgh, the Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum occupies the site of the former Prestongrange Colliery. Opened in 1993, the museum charts the development of local industries from the mining of coal, which first took place nearby in the 12th C., to brick and pipe making, pottery, brewing, salt and soap manufacture, all of which depended on the local coal industry. The Prestongrange Colliery opened around 1852 on a site which had been an industrial centre since the 16th C. Operated initially by the Prestongrange Coal and Iron Company, under lease from the Grant-Suttie family who owned the Prestongrange Estate, the colliery was acquired by the Summerlee Coal and Firebrick Company (of Coatbridge) in 1895 who brought in many Irish workers who were housed at Morrison's Haven. The Summerlee Company operated the pit until the industry was nationalised in 1947.

The historic beam engine is unique in Scotland. Built to a Cornish design and brought from a lead mine in Devon, it was installed here in 1874 and pumped water from the mine at the rate of 4100 litres (900 gallons) per hour until it was withdrawn from service in 1952 and replaced by electric pumps.

The colliery itself closed in 1962 but many of its structures remain, including the winding engine, power-house and the pit-head baths that now serve as a visitor centre.

A brick and tile works opened in the early 1870s utilising the clay that formed in close association with the coal measures. The circular bases of eleven beehive kilns which once fired bricks and clay drainage pipes remain extant. An immense and unusual Hoffman Kiln, which produced bricks continuously using a system of twenty-four adjacent chambers that were fired in turn, remains virtually intact. This was built in 1937 and operated into the 1970s.

Other exhibits include several items of industrial machinery and a steam locomotive which can be seen running.

Nearby are the remains of a 17th-C. glassworks, which produced window-glass, bottles and delicate domestic glassware. This was redeveloped as a pottery in the mid-18th C. On the opposite side of the road, are the remains of Morrison's Haven - a 16th-C. harbour.

The site is open continuously, although the museum is only staffed in the summer months. It is run by the East Lothian Council.

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