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Lead Mining - Blackcraig

Family History


lead Ore
Galena Ore (Lead)

William Paterson - Born 2 Feb 1807 - Minnigaff, Kircudbrightshire - Grandfather of wife of great grand uncle
Elizabeth Helen McClure - Born 1807 Penninghame
William Paterson- Born 2 Feb 1829 - Mochrum, Wigtownshire. 1851 Census, Leadminer - Father-in-law of great grand uncle - wife Mary Heron - Born about 1825 - Penninghame. Lived in Craigtown with husband and family

Mining in Galloway goes back a very long way. We know that the Romans mined various minerals from the province during their stay here. Iron, copper and lead which was normally extracted and refined, also silver in the Middle Ages and a little gold here and there up in the Glenkens and on the slopes of Screel Hill in Kenton parish, are known to have been won from the ground.


Discovery of Lead in Minnigaff

Among the best-documented Galloway mines are those at Blackcraig and Machermore in the Parish of Minnigaff. The first discovery of lead in the parish of Minnigaff happened by accident. In 1763, a soldier was working on the construction of the military road from Carlisle to Portpatrick when he struck lead.

A few years earlier, an Englishman called Cuthbert Readshaw was looking to start up a lead mine in the south of Scotland. In 1755, he contacted merchants William Carruthers and George Clerk in Dumries to get advice on how to do this.

They joined forces to form a mining company in 1758. Narrowing down their search to Minnigaff, it was not until the soldier's discovery that an opportunity presented itself.


Craigtown Mining Company

Patrick Heron was the owner of this land. In 1764, he gave the company a thirty-eight year lease to mine his land with the traditional Lordship of every sixth bar or pan of lead mined being accorded to Heron.The Craigtown Mining Company was then officially established.

In the 1770s, Blackcraig mine was in full operation, but by the 1790s production was already dropping off.

In the mid 19th century, mining began again, this time for lead and zinc. It finally went out of use during World War I.

East and West Blackcraig Mines: largest and most extensively worked mines in the county. The main workings run along the crest of Blackcraig ridge for about one mile. No levels, shafts only. Main shaft is at NX 448 646. In Kirroughtree Forest you can still find the remains of a lade. This was a man-made water channel which powered the operations at Blackcraig

Between the 1770s and 1790s the Blackcraig mines were at their peak, with the most extensive shaft reaching a depth of 25 fathoms (150 feet). The Craigtown Company was eventually wound up and the mines lay dormant until the 1870s when they were revived for a decade or so, this time employing 63 men and women. The last time the mines were worked was in 1917 (possibly to exploit what was left for the war effort) but this revival was brief. All that remains of Blackcraig today is the collection of ruined houses on the hill above the road.


By 1780 the Blackcraig operation was employing 44 men and was advanced enough to involve smelting kilns, furnaces and water engines.  Its position on the river just as it flows out to the bay allowed coal for the furnaces to be brought in directly by boat.  Boats also transported the finished products of lead shot and bar lead to the London market.

An Edwardian cycling party resting outside some of the cottages at Blackcraig.? The lead mines at Blackcraig were the largest in Galloway.? They opened in the 1760s and worked intermittently until the First World War.

The miners' cottages shown here were built in the late 18th century.? They were still occupied in the 1950s.

Photo From Future Museum.co.uk

See also Hidden Treasures Museum Of Lead Mining Museum
Address: The Visitor Centre, Wanlockhead, Biggar, Lanarkshire ML12 6UT
Phone:01659 74387


The Ruins

Craig Town Ruins

From documented evidence we know that William Paterson the village Tailor and wife Elizabeth McClure lived in one of the handful of thatch cottages that resided along the bridle path to the lead mines. The ruins you see here are all that is left today of those cottages. I have never located and headstone for either William or Elizabeth.