A lasting legacy of Fife’s coal mining heritage looks set to be saved following interest from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.
Concerns have been growing about the worsening state of the iconic Mary Pit Head Frame within Lochore Meadows Country Park, with large chunks of concrete reportedly coming loose and falling from high up in the crossbeams in recent times.
A ‘Save the Mary’ petition calling on Fife Council to carry out urgent repairs has also gained more than 1600 signatures, but the sizeable cost of undertaking long-lasting work to preserve the 102-year-old structure has so far proved prohibitive.
However, councillors on the Cowdenbeath area committee have now instructed officers to work with Heriot-Watt University academic professor Demetrios Cotsovos with a view to presenting a report on the condition of the winding wheel structure and thereafter exploring options available to restore it to its former glory.
The move comes after professor Cotsovos, a civil engineering expert, revealed he would like to examine the Mary Pit Head as a full project for students, make use of it for students’ dissertations, and potentially come up with ways to future proof the structure.
Councillor Lea McLelland tabled a motion to get the exciting collaboration with Heriot-Watt formalised, and it was backed unanimously by colleagues.
“This is a very emotive subject in this area because it’s our touch back to our history, our fathers and our forefathers,” she stressed.
“It’s a relevant reminder for us, our children and our grandchildren about where our community came from, and we really need to do what we can to preserve it.”
Several Fife councillors have added their names to the online ‘Save the Mary’ petition, and a report detailing the state of the structure and what can be done to preserve it will go before a relevant council committee after the elections in May.
Councillor Mary Lockhart commented: “It is a scheduled monument, and a part not only of our community’s identity but of the mining history of Scotland.
“Historical Environment Scotland, not just the council, should be restoring this before it is too late.
“But perhaps the history of the working class matters less than that of kings and queens, and knights and landowners?”
Lochore Meadows Country Park manager Ian Laing said Fife Council engineers have been working in partnership with the council’s archaeologist and Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on the project for some time.
“A plan has been developed to manage and maintain the Mary Pit Head in an appropriate manner,” he concluded.
“We welcome any specialist support Heriot-Watt would be able to provide to support the expertise within the council.”