History Mesh

The Upper Hirst mining rig (Early 17th Century)

The Upper Hirst mining rig was George Bruce of Carnock’s innovative mine sunk into the Upper Hirst coal seam, beneath the Firth of Forth. As well as an entrance on land, the mine had a shaft sunk from an artificial island built in the middle of the Firth of Forth, which was used to load coal directly onto ships.

Relation to Power:

As demand for coal increased, surface mining was no longer sufficient. Underground mines, with tunnels braced using tree branches, were already common when George Bruce took the perhaps natural step forward of mining under the sea. Using new drainage technologies (since water constantly dripping into the tunnels), and using established Scottish techniques for building his artificial island, the mine at Upper Hirst became a wonder of early industrial Britain.

It aroused such interest that James VI visited in 1617, although when he reached the island at the end of the tunnel and saw only water around him, he panicked and accused Bruce of plotting to kill him.