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South Lanarkshire
Leadhills


Population not known

As the name suggests, lead has been mined in the Leadhills area since the 12th century.

It is Scotland's second highest village, has the highest normally driven (adhesion) railway and the highest golf course.

The village is home to the UK's oldest subscription library and local miner John Taylor was buried in the churchyard in 1770, reputedly aged 137.

Leadhills Hall is the most southerly hall in South Lanarkshire with a main hall, meeting room, kitchen and toilets. Activities which take place in the hall include parent and toddler groups, arts and crafts classes, village drama groups and various meetings and functions.

Leadhills Miners Library was founded in 1741 and the Leadhills Reading Society is the oldest subscription library in the UK.

History

Lead has been mined in the area since the 13th century with the last shaft not closing until the end of the 1950s. Gold has also been mined here since the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the gold was even used for the 'bonnet pieces' and for the crowns of James VI and his Queen. More recently a ring of Leadhills gold was presented to the late Queen Mary. The thick band of gold around the mace for the current Scottish Parliament was donated by some of the gold panners who still 'work' the area.

In 1734 James Stirling was the manager for the Scots Mining Company and through mathematical genius and a shrewd business sense turned around the almost bankrupt company through proper management and decent welfare for the miners. As well as reduciong their hours underground to to six daily, he set up a health insurance plan, employed the services of a surgeon and encouraged everyone to build strong stone cottages and keep gardens. He also improved the local school founded the Leadhills Miners Reading Society in 1741.

William Symington, mining engineer and inventor of the steam-powered engine which powered the world's first paddle steamer, was born in the village in 1763. He became a mechanic at the Wanlockhead mines and by 1786 he had built his first working model of a steam-driven road carriage which lead to him building the first steam-powered marine engine two years later. By 1801 he had patented a more advanced engine which, with financial backing from Lord Dundas, was used the following year in the world's first practical paddle steamer, the Charlotte Dundas.

The graveyard is the last resting place of John Taylor who died in 1770 aged 137. John, who was reputedly born in 1633, arrived in Leadhills in 1732 when he was 95 to work in the mines and retired in 1751. The evidence of this apparently comes from John himself who is said to remember seeing the eclipse of 1652. A walking stick believed to belong to John hangs on the wall in the library.


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