A new book looking at the Ayrshire's mining heritage and the history of the old miners' rows in the area has just been released.

Memory, Mining and Heritage, Voices from Ayrshire Communities, by Yvonne McFadden and Arthur McIvor, is the latest local history book to be released by Carn Publishing.

The 300-page book reconstructs the vibrant, rich and diverse social and cultural history of the miners’ rows and mining communities in Ayrshire over a century of turmoil and change from the early 20th century to the present.

It includes a fascinating collection of accounts of growing up in local mining rows, such as those at Glenbuck, Darnconner, New Cumnock and in the Doon Valley.

The work is the culmination of the 'Lost Villages' project.

The authors used a range of sources, with a focus on non-documentary evidence, notably spoken oral history testimonies, supplemented liberally with visual, photographic evidence.

Their starting point was the miners’ rows and what it meant to live in these unique village communities, and how this changed over time, with pit closures, depopulation and moving to new council housing in larger urban settlements.

The personal accounts help to deepen the understanding of what this was all like to live through.

Ayr Advertiser: Book cover

The authors explore patterns of leisure and recreation in the mining villages, emphasising the fundamentally gendered nature of such experiences, drawing on the many stories people told them.

Their focus then turns to the working lives of women, as unpaid housewives and in the workforce, and how these lives were remembered and infused with meaning.

The work of the male miners is investigated, including their embodied experience working underground and the risks and dangers they faced, as well as the changes that came with mechanisation, trade unionism and modernisation.

They also explore the pit closures, the end of deep coalmining and deindustrialization, and what this meant to miners and their families.

The open cast era is also examined, drawing upon workers own lived experience and memories, as well as the perceptions of deep miners towards this very different way of extracting coal.

Finally, they consider the legacies and residues of the past in the present – the physical remains of the Ayrshire villages and pits, the ways that the industry has been memorialised, and reflect upon the importance of memory in preserving the past.

Dr Yvonne McFadden is a lecturer at the University of Strathclyde, where she is co-director of the Scottish Oral History Centre.

Yvonne supports oral history projects working with community groups and heritage organisations. Her research focuses on gender, work, housing and everyday domestic life in Scotland.

Arthur McIvor is professor of social history at the same university and is Dr McFadden's co-director at the Scottish Oral History Centre at the University of Strathclyde.

Amongst his published books are Jobs and Bodies: An Oral History of Health and Safety in Britain, Working Lives and Miners’ Lung (with Ronald Johnston).

Based at Lochnoran House near Auchinleck, Carn Publishing's other local history books include works on the histories of Auchinleck, Mauchline, Ochiltree and Sorn, all written by Dane Love, as well as pictorial looks back at years gone by in Cumnock, Dalmellington, Girvan, Irvine and at Ayrshire farming. 

Carn Publishing's catalogue also includes A Life Worth Living, the story of Cumnock community champion Nan McMurdo, who died in 2020.

For more on Carn Publishing, visit www.carnpublishing.com/.