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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Industry and Technology

Mines and Quarries

By Andrew Perchard

Bell's Park and Quarry Supplies of coal, ironstone, limestone and sandstone from mines in and around Glasgow over this period increased dramatically to meet the demands of new industries such as brewing, chemical works and ironworks and, with the growth in urbanisation and commercial transport, of the construction industries. Demand in the city for slate and lead was met from the slate quarries of Easdale and Ballachulish in Argyll, the Isle of Arran, and the lead mines of Leadhills, Lanarkshire. However the greatest demand was for coal to drive the west of Scotland's expanding industrial economy.

The shift of coal production, in particular, from the Eastern-Central coalfields from the 1780s saw a change in the capital structure of the industry with investment coming increasingly from commerce rather than landowners as the costs of mining increased with technical advances. The period also saw the beginnings of the great coal and iron dynasties, such as the Dunlops, Dixons and Bairds, who dominated industry in Glasgow and the West of Scotland in the 19th and into the 20th centuries. One of the largest of these concerns was the Govan colliery, which by 1805 employed 137 men. The output from mines and quarries was heavily dependent on a ready supply of labour which, until the Emancipation Acts of 1775 and 1799, was limited by the serfdom that had been imposed on Scottish mineworkers since 1641. The end of serfdom and a more competitive labour market saw a fall in mineworkers' wages. To meet this attack on their livelihoods, miners combined to form societies, such as the Glasgow and Clydesdale Friendly Association, and discontentment culminated in the strikes of 1816 and 1817.

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