Blairadam and Blairenbathie Colliery
Generations of the Adam family managed Blairadam estate to be both beautiful and useful. Today you can explore Blairadam Forest for evidence of how they achieved both.
Mining for coal
In 1733, the famous Scottish architect William Adam (1689-1748) bought the estate of Blair Crambeth and neighbouring lands, naming the estate Blair Adam after himself. A businessman, William bought the estate with the intention of making money. One way he did this was to mine for coal.
There was a history of coal mining in the area. In the 13th century, monks from Dunfermline recorded mining shallow seams of coal along the small burn that still runs through Blairadam Forest. The Adams increased the level of coal mining.
In 1895, Sir Charles Adam Bart leased land to Peter Harrower and Alex Thomson for the colliery. They sank two deep mine shafts. Fife and Kinross Coal Company took over the lease in 1897 and then the Fife Coal Company in 1901. In its heyday, the colliery employed 300 men.
Problems with the operation of the colliery and low trade in coal led to the closure of the colliery in 1925.
As the 19th and 20th centuries developed, coal became an important local industry. At its peak, Kelty had ten pits and a population of eight thousand.
Throughout Blairadam Forest, you can discover evidence of its industrial heritage. Follow the Blairenbathie Mine trail and you will find the remains of Blairenbathie Colliery.
Historic woodland use
William Adam not only invested in coal mining but he also introduced trees to his estate. His motives were not solely commercial. He wanted to improve the look of his new estate, a purpose taken up by both his son and grandson.
He faced a bleak scene on buying the estate in 1733:
"All, except the 20 or 30 Acres of the infield were a wild uncultivated Moor......with the exception of the two small pieces of infield, there was not a vestige of culture, nor a tree, except one accidental Ash Tree....." written by his grandson, William Adam (1834).
His son John Adam (1721-1792) moved away from the formal layout of his father's rectangular tree plantations. He planted a mixture of trees on ground unfit for other purposes, for example rocky hills. This gave the estate a more natural appearance.
John's son, The Right Honourable William Adam (1751-1839), continued the work in the early 19th century. He was good friends with Sir Walter Scott, who had similar ideas about designing the landscape of an estate to combine "usefulness and profit with enjoyment and ornament".
Visiting Blairenbathie Colliery
The exact location of Blairenbathie Colliery is grid reference NT 123 952.
For access to the forest see the Blairadam web page. The waymarked Blairenbathie Mine Trail passes by remains of the pits.
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.