On the 7th September 1950, over one hundred men were trapped and thirteen men lost their lives at Knockshinnoch colliery in one of the worst mining disasters in British history. Lady Victoria Colliery opened the countries first mining memorial centre in 2013 on the anniversary of the disaster. The 1932 category A-listed re-washer building had been derelict until Purcell repurposed it for the National Mining Museum Scotland.
The Lady Victoria Colliery was opened in 1895 as Scotland’s first super-pit. It ceased production in 1981 and now serves as an example of one of the best preserved Victorian collieries in Europe.
We were appointed in February 2013 and the centre had to be complete by the anniversary of the Knockshinnoch disaster. In this time, we obtained planning, listed building and building warrant consents, tendered the contract and completed on site within budget in time for the opening on 7th September.
The memorial centre is spread across 4 floors and each level was given a different use. The entrance and introduction is located at ground level.
The first floor comprises the exhibition space. Purcell produced the interpretation in-house and created panels which were sympathetic to the space and designed to integrate interpretation, electrics, movable secondary glazing and solar blinds in a reversable manner with minimal impact on the historic fabric.
Second floor is a storytelling space for school groups and minimal intervention took place to allow the building patina to remain and contribute to its story. Original open staircases were non-compliant with today’s regulations; we considered it would be inappropriate to remove them as they describe the original building circulation. Glazed panels were installed above and metal cages around to contain them. Exhibits are displayed on one and pit canaries are housed in another.
The third floor comprises flexible space for events and memorial space. A rough-hewn lump of coal forms the memorial table and was donated from a colliery close to Knockshinnoch.
A memorial wall rises vertically through the building connecting the spaces and displaying images of 80 mining memorials throughout Scotland.