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This is my objection I sent in on Friday.
I would like to object to the proposed planning application to demolish the No 2 Headgear and Winding House of the former Highhouse Colliery at Highhouse Industrial Estate Auchinleck.
Highhouse Colliery in Auchinleck was one of the most successful and productive collieries in Ayrshire, which even into the 1970's and 80's often outperformed the superpits of Killoch and Barony. Over its 88 year working life, the miners at Highhouse produced more than 12 million tons of top quality coal and such was the reputation of its highly skilled and innovative workforce, it was said that if you had been trained and worked at Highhouse pit, that you would get a job at any pit in Britain. The political, cultural, economic and social impact of the Colliery on Auchinleck and the surrounding villages is immeasurable but what can be calculated is the mineral rights royalties @ 1 shilling a ton which were paid to the Marquis of Bute at Dumfries House and Lord Boswell at Auchinleck House from Highhouse, Whitehill and Barony Collierys. In the 50 years before Nationalisation this amounted to well in excess of £2 million pounds...
The pit headgear at Highhouse, though not as grand as The Barony A-frame, is no less an iconic structure and should be preserved, as it is the last example of coal mining activity at a community colliery in Ayrshire. In the former coal mining communities - from Muirkirk to Mossblown from Prestwick to Patna, there are few traces of deep coal mining and no indications of where shafts and pit buildings were located. Highhouse and Barony are the last remains of an industry that at its peak employed 17,500 miners and many thousands more in the ancillary industries. When you stand below these structures, you are standing on top of the shafts that led to the miners’ subterranean world. It is a connection to our past that must not be lost.
The winding engine house is in a poor state and I have been told that the winding engine has been stripped of some of its parts, though the major components are still intact. The winding engine built by Grant, Ritchie and Co Ltd, Kilmarnock is very important and must be preserved and restored to its former glory. There are very few of these magnificent machines left and to rediscover a very rare, double drum steam winder in the heart of the Ayrshire Coalfield, in the county of its manufacture is very exciting indeed.
If there is little evidence of deep mining left in Ayrshire, there is even less of the great Kilmarnock Engineering workshops of the 1800's; Caldwells, Barclays, Grant Ritchie, Glenfield, Dick & Kerr etc. were world leaders in designing and manufacturing some of the most technically advanced winding engines, locomotives, pumps and valves used in the coal mining industry. There are still a number of retired highly skilled colliery craftsmen, some of whom worked at Highhouse and former senior Coal Board officials living in our communities, whose skill and expertise could be called upon if a restoration project came to be.
I'm sure there will be many objections about this planning application, as Highhouse Colliery winding gear and engine house is of special interest and is capable of repair and restoration.
I look forward to the application being dismissed and a debate started about how to turn what is seen as a liability by the Edinburgh based property company that owns Highhouse Industrial Estate, to a community asset that is owned and managed by the miners and their families who live in Auchinleck and the surrounding villages.
Johnny Templeton - Minersvoices Oral History Project.
Highhouse Colliery winding engine house and headstocks
Listed by Historic Scotland in 1992 the small engine house still contains the 1896 horizontal duplex winder by Grant, Ritchie & Co of Kilmarnock. Understood to be under auspices now of East Ayrshire Council.
The site now lies within a small industrial estate.