Leadhills Miners’ Library Collections
Although quite small by national standards our collections are diverse with some being rare.
We have 2,500 books published between the early 18th century and the mid 20th century which together comprise a reflection of the development of ordinary people’s reading over that period.
We have a varied collection of archives comprising printed and manuscript sources covering the mining and library history of the village which extend from the 18th century to 1966. We also hold over 300 photographs and postcards.
We are particularly proud of our collection of Bargain Books and Journals covering the period 1737-1854 which record contracts between teams of miners and the mine management over the period. It is the largest collection of its kind in Scotland and one of the largest in Britain.
We are also fortunate in having an unusually large collection of physical artefacts including a rare library banner, a unique library pulpit, ballot boxes and original library membership certificates.
Today 2,500 books survive from an original total of over 4000.
The period of publication covered is from the early 18th century to the mid 20th century and they represent a snapshot of ordinary people’s reading over a period of almost 300 years.
The library contains books published in the 18th century by the Morisons of Perth, The Foulis brothers (Glasgow) and Wilson of Kilmarnock, Robert Burns’ first publisher.
In addition to the book stock, the library holds archives relating to the operation of the library since its establishment and donated material relating to the history of Leadhills and surrounding area. The latter includes over 300 photographs and postcards.
The archives include the Bargain Books and Journals of the Scots Mines Company. The archives are referenced LML (Leadhills Miners’ Library) and were listed by the National Register of Archives for Scotland in 1979, part of the National Records of Scotland (Ref: NRAS 2952).
Bargain Books and Journals of The Scots Mining Company 1737-1852
By the 18th century the Hopetoun family began to lease the mines to various companies. The most successful was the Scots Mining Company founded in 1716 by Scots merchants living in London who, in 1720, gained control of the Sun Fire Office, the predecessor of the Sun Alliance Insurance Group. Consequently, the business of the Scots Mining Company was directed entirely from London.
James Stirling, mathematician and friend of Sir Isaac Newton, became manager in 1734 until 1770. Stirling reorganised the mines and put them on a profitable basis and introduced the Cornish system of bargains to the Leadhills mines.
The day-to-day working of the mines is recorded in the Journals and Bargain Books preserved in the library. These describe in detail every piece of work undertaken in the mines and the names of the miners involved.
Bargain Book No. 2, 1765-1770 (Ref. LML 30).
The left hand page describes the bargain; the right hand page records the payment received for the work.
This large and important part of our Archive Collection consists of 300 original photographs and postcards.
It represents a wonderful, visual account of the day-to-day life and work of the village and its inhabitants, in and around Leadhills from c. 1860 to the present day.
As well as objects relating to the running of the library, included in the collection are curling medals, a few mining tools, musical instruments of the Leadhills Silver Band and some mineral specimens including leadhillite.
15 Main Street,
Scotland ML12 6XP
Saturdays and Sundays
2pm to 5pm.
May to September.
Visits by appointment can be arranged throughout the year.
Leadhills Miners' Library is the World's first library for working people.
Alongside our collection of some 2500 books dating back to the 18th Century, the library contains many historical archives and photographs as well as a display of rare minerals connected to the local mining industry.
We also hold a 46 volume collection of mining journals and bargain books, recording contracts between the mine managers and miners from 1737-1854. It is the largest collection of its kind in Scotland and one of the largest in Britain.