The effects of
on "The Moss" "A remarkable place between Airdrie & Coatbridge"
IRON AND STEEL
Coatbridge, which was later nicknamed "The Iron Burgh", started working Iron & Steel. The Waverley Iron Works commenced operations in 1881 and by 1901 had reached a peak of 23 puddling furnaces employing over 380 men. The 12 acres of ground was part of Colonel Buchanans lands of Kipps.
Across the road, in a field south of Kipps Farm, the Sun Tube Works was established in the 1880s. It was a branch of the Clyde Tube Works and employed around 50 men in the manufacture of all kinds of malleable iron pipes and tubes.
In 1912 the owners of the Waverley joined with other independent malleable iron works to form the Scottish Iron & Steel Company usually known as "The Combine". During the First World War the Combine, supported by the Ministry of Munitions, set out to build its own steelworks. Construction started in 1916 but production did not start until after the war.
The Northburn Iron & Steel Works. completed in 1920, was the last steelworks to be built in the Monklands. It had three 40-ton open-hearth furnaces and housed the first electrically driven reversing mill to be erected in Scotland. The cooling towers were fed by water drawn from the Virtuewell Burn.
The demand for Iron and steel increased the demand for fuel and raw materials (coal and
ore) which increased mining activities in the surrounding areas. A survey carried out in
1862 showed that up to 200 miners worked in five mines on or near "The Moss".
The Railway expanded to carry the coal and ores to feed the furnaces and to transport the finished goods. In the first half of the 20th century there were two major railway junctions and a locomotive works at Kipps.
Coal and Ironstone mining began in the area around 1810. There were at least four Ironstone Mines on the Moss - one of them was near the site of the Penny Pond. Some ten coalpits were located in the area, one was at the site of the future Gasworks on Burnbank Street, on the site of Northburn Industrial Estate and one was at the small part of the Penny Pond.
At the north end of "The Moss" was Kippsbyre or Kippbyre Colliery owned by James Nimmo. it opened in the latter half of the 19th century. On the first day of No 6 pit, the colliers, being very superstitious and having a grim sense of humour, nicknamed the pit - "The Lady in the Park".
The mine workings extended right under "The Moss" and were susceptible to flooding. Pumping operations were inadequate and eventually the mine flooded. The owners gave up and the colliery closed in the early 1920s.
To the east of "The Moss" near Garden Square, was McLeans Mosside Mine, turning out tons of coal per day. The mining system used was "Stoup and Room" - The Stoup" was a wide pillar of coal left in place to support the roof while the "room" was the chamber left between the pillars after coal extraction.
Mining today is a rough job but in those pre-war years it was even rougher. The conditions at McLean's mine were very poor and the miners often worked in 2 sets of oilskins in water up to their knees. See Mosside Mine Disaster
NEW HOUSING In the 1930's Garden Square was demolished. The old quarry to the east was filled in and later converted into a football pitch. Extensive ground re-contouring was created, the North Burn was culverted, the area was levelled, the slopes were removed, the Anderson's cottage and the Wee Well at the corner of Burnie Brae were literally buried - almost intact.
The Anderson's Cottage at the corner of Burnie Brae in Airdrie c1900
New houses were built at Thrashbush, Burnfoot, Mavisbank and Whinhall. The Woodbine Park
was used to accommodate part of the new housing estate of Whinhall (named after the local
manor house Whin Hall that was at the North end of what is now Wilson Street).
Yet another estate, Greenhill, was being built at the Coatbridge end of "The Moss" on East Raw farm. New estates were being built, in both towns, to replace hundreds of houses that were quickly and shoddily built during the Industrial Revolution. They were now being condemned by the Sanitary Inspectors and classed as unfit for human habitation.
During the 1939-45 war (and for a few years after) the railway yards provided a source of attraction and a place for the local children to play. They had great fun playing on the railway wagons at Kipps (unknown to their parents). They looked for treasure on the "dung wagons" - while the trains waited to be shunted to the tip. Others managed to "salvage" old ornaments, swords, ice skates and other attractive metal objects - before they could be melted down for the war effort.
There was a "bing" near Cameron Street, known as "The Black Sand", that caused havoc with local parents. The children were always sliding down it in shovels or trays or anything suitable that came to hand. This often resulted in the children going home with "black bottoms", with holes in their apparel. One look and the parents knew they had been at the Black Sand again!
In 1938 the Waverley and The Northburn were part of the merger with Bairds Gartsherrie interests to form Bairds and Scottish Steel. All the old malleable works became rerolling works for Northburn steel, but The Waverley retained one puddling furnace the last in Scotland.
In 1967 both works were due to close along with the Gartsherrie but at the last moment Colvilles bought the Waverley and managed to keep it going for a few months. The Steel Industry left the area and was followed shortly afterwards by the railway.
The Moss" was reduced in size, again, in the 1970's when houses were built to the North and West of and adjacent to the General Hospital. The North Burn once more went underground for part of its length and emerged from under the estate and headed north. Soil displacement from the construction of the General Hospital and the housing development created new wetlands at the bottom of the western slope of the hill.
Around 1973 "Belter" Walker, a former boxer and brother of Jimmie Walker who was lost in the Mosside Disaster, was unfortunately drowned in the Penny Pond. The local council quickly filled this crater and in doing so the "old" Penny Spring was re-routed to the " new" Penny Pond. Until this time the new pond was seasonal and dried up during the summer and was often occupied by "Travellers". It now became less seasonal and combined with rainfall and seepage from the wetland it maintained a good depth all year round.
"The Moss"" remained quiet for a few years. The Steel works were demolished and the old permanent way was dismantled. In the 1980's Monklands District Council and the Scottish Development Agency invited the Central Scottish Countryside Trust to carry out an ambitious land reclamation project.
In 1984 the area was landscaped, embankments were lowered, paths were created or improved, bridges were built, disused quarries were filled. Some 16,000 trees and bushes were planted on the site of the Northburn Works (the remains of the steelworks were covered over to form a huge mound) and the former Ballochney Railway line which now forms part of the proposed long distance cycle path from Coatbridge (Summerlee) to Boness. The trees included: Alder, Larch, Wild Cherry (Gean), Hawthorn, Silver Birch, and Dog Rose.1994-1998
In 1994 a mining developer surveyed the area and applied for planning permission to carry out opencast mining, to scrape the top of "The Moss", extract the coal, consolidate the land and then build up to 600 houses. The developer negotiated options from the landowners.
Residents from Whinhall, Burnfoot and Mosside in Airdrie, Burnbank, Greenhill and Red Bridge in Coatbridge, got together to stave off the threat of losing "The Moss". They all agreed to develop an alternative plan to turn the area into a Community Park. The project was to be known as The Penny Project and the park was given the interim name Northburn Community Park.
Local residents lodged objections to the opencast and housing developments and campaigned vigourously to retain "The Moss". On September 1996 the North Lanarkshire Council Planning Committee refused planning permission for the opencast and housing developments.
On February 1997 the developer appealed to the Scottish Office. A Public Enquiry was scheduled for late November 1997. The developer abandoned their appeal at the end of September 1997, thus clearing the way for the Project to plan and develop the Community Park. On 4th August 1998 the Planning Committee of North Lanarkshire Council gave the go-ahead by granting Outline Planning permission to develop the Park.
Leaend Farm c1930 from a sketch by the late Andrew MuirTree Planting
The proposed Community Park falls within the Airdrie Woodlands area. In May 1997, representatives of the Penny Project were invited by the CSCT to participate at the official launch of the Airdrie Woodlands initiative in the Caldervale High School in Airdrie. They joined other community groups and exhibited the story and pictures of the Penny Project. Later they were presented to HRH Princess Anne who showed quite an interest in the Penny Project.
Princess Anne meets some members of The Penny project at the launch of Airdrie Woodlands
As part of the ceremony, Princess Anne sent participants, from various organisations, off on a "woodland dash". This involved taking trees to plant at selected sites. The team from North Lanarkshire Council "dashed" to the Northburn Community Park and planted an oak tree at the Leaend Glen. Their theme was "Forests for Future Generations" and the team carried three infant members of the next generation in backpacks.
The proposed Park extends to over 150 acres of grassland, mixed with scrub, marsh, raised bog, woodlands and hedges. It provides a wide range of habitats varying from the natural to the man made.
Members of the Penny Project have identified a number of AIMS, which help to determine future policies and strategies. They have set out a brief prospectus to assist in the initiation of a Modular Development Strategy coupled with an implementation plan.
The Development Strategy will explore all the options for Park design and implementation; it's long term management and the funding requirements. It will examine ideas and projects to determine the practicality, the need, the benefits, the sustainability, the cost and the best possible sites. The strategy will also examine how the Park is to be administered the need for office and storage areas, any health and safety requirements and improvements in access. It will take cognisance of the existing wildlife habitats and the need to protect them. The completed strategy will form the basis of a Final Development Plan and implementation schedule. It is intended that the Park will be a place where people can co-exist with wildlife.
Projects being considered include: Theme Areas e.g. Butterfly Garden, Miners Memorial Garden, Recycling Centre, Garden Nursery, Industrial Heritage Centre, Visitor Centre, Urban Farm, Wildflower Meadows, Safe Play areas....
The story continues...........
A brief look at main salient events:
1. I n 1984 the SDA, in partnership with Monklands District Council , carried out major landscaping works and successfully recovered the area from the ravages of the Industrial Revolution. They restored the area into a very attractive Greenbelt site.
2. In 1997 Northburn Community Park Development Committee objected strongly to the Planning Application by Banks & Co , who wished to carry out Opencast Mining followed by a Housing development.
3. In 1997 an Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out by a Landscape Conservation consultant and presented as part of our objection. Our objection was also supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, Central Scotland Countryside Trust, and Scottish Wildlife Trust .
4. In 1997, Banks & Co were refused planning permission for Opencast Mining and Housing , on the grounds that the area was zoned as Greenbelt.
5. In September 1997 Banks withdrew a planning appeal to the Scottish Office and cited the Scottish Natural Heritages stance against housing in the area.
6. On 4 th August 1998 Northburn Community Park was granted outline Planning permission to develop the area as a Community Area and Recreation Park.
7. In 1999 CSCT carried out tree and wildflower planting works with the involvement of a local school, in co-operation with the Northburn Community Park Development Committee .
8. In 1999 Central Scotland Countryside Trust completed a major landscaping project funded by the Forestry Commission ( Woodlands Improvement Grant estimated value 60,000+). This included tree thinning, planting up thickets, footpath construction, scrub cutting, removal of 4,000 meters of dilapidated fencing, and 2,500 trees planted to enrich felled coups. Footpath works involved clearance and preparation for completion by NLC. The CSCT are continuing a 4 year maintenance plan until 2004.
9. A Capital allowance of 30,000 was made available by North Lanarkshire Council during 1998-99 and Landscape Services drew up a plan of infrastructure improvements and upgrades. Much of this work was carried out during 2000/2001. This included: Re-s urfacing on most important paths, Landscaping of entrances, Landscaping/resurfacing at Hammerhead entrance (Northburn Road), Drainage works, Alteration to Miners Memorial, Fencing repairs, New planting at potentially dangerous banking, Initial feasibility study (desk exercise) into pond creation.
10. On 21 st February 2002 we were granted Full Planning Permission to develop the area as a Community Area and Recreation Park.
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