Mining, quarrying and the qandfill legacy

The story of the Darnley area is dominated by a lengthy history of mining, which appears to date from as early as 1610. A tack (or lease) between Sir John Maxwell and John Hall and George Stevenson in the Pollock estate papers allowed Stevenson mineral rights to extract limestone at Over Darnley. Coal was mined from as early as 1615, as evidenced by a tack between Sir John Maxwell and Robert Milne (April 1615). These Pollock estate tacks show that quarrying rights were a valuable source of income. Limestone in particular was extensive within the Darnley lands.

Various old maps show how extensively the area has been quarried over the years, with small scale operations appearing on one map and disappearing or changing on the next. John Ainslie’s map (1800) reveals limestone quarries near Darnley Mill on the east side of the Brock Burn and two above Upper Darnley.

Arden Limeworks

The Ordnance Survey maps are probably the most valuable source for tracing the quarrying history of Darnley, although there are inevitable gaps in that record, as extraction activities can alter a landscape quickly. The first edition Ordnance Survey map (1858-1864) shows no active quarries within the country park area. However, the second edition map (first revision) (1896-1899) shows a quarry on the site of what is now Junction 3 of the M77, from which a ‘tramway’ extends to take the extracted lime to the Darnley Lime Works on the east side of the Brock Burn, just to the south of what is now the Ashoka Restaurant on Nitshill Road. This quarry lies in the general location of the earlier quarry recorded by Ainslie. A further ‘mineral railway’, again recorded earlier by Ainslie, travelled south from the lime works to the quarries just to the south of what is now Southpark Village. There was another quarry, just to the west of where the Aurs Burn joins the Brock Burn.

The third edition (second revision) map (1914-1920) of the area shows a huge increase in mining and quarrying activity within the country park area. On the west side of the Brock Burn, various tramways are shown serving the Waulkmill Mine, which was in Waulkmill Glen and the cement works which were just to the north of North Brae Farm. Quarrying has also been extended at the sites highlighted in the second edition map. The quarries to the south of Southpark Village are now represented on the map as Darnley Fireclay Mine and the lime works are now named Darnley Lime and Fireclay Works. Fireclay exists within the country park in seams up to eight feet thick below the limestone. This was worked at various times, particularly around 1900. Large fireclay kilns made bricks, pipes and sanitary products. The ‘mineral railway’ is still shown, but the tramway appears to have gone out of use, as the quarry it once served is now recorded as an ‘old quarry’.

The fourth edition map (or third revision) (1934-1938) does not indicate many changes in quarrying activity between this and the earlier Ordnance Survey map (1914-1920). The slightly later Ordnance Survey map from the 1:2500 County Series (1939) suggests that Darnley Fireclay Mine had become known as Upper Darnley Quarry and the Lime Works at Darnley were now known as the Arden Lime Works. The name changes to the various quarries and associated works over time may suggest there were various owners or operators at these places over the years.

While some of the limestone was used in the agricultural improvements in the eighteenth century, the main use of this Darnley lime was for rough-casting houses, for example on the Williamwood estate. Other, later uses included road construction and as its waterproofing qualities were recognised it was used more extensively. The lime was sent throughout the country and became one of the most popular limes in the UK, appearing in British Standards until the 1950s.

The landscape of the country park retains traces of quarrying and mining activities at Darnley. The legacy of what began as shallow quarrying and developed into much more extensive works is an undulating and in places unsafe ground surface in this northern part of the country park. This activity continued in the area until the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Landfill operations within the country park were largely associated with the areas that saw mining and quarrying in the past. The largest landfill site is to the east of Corselet Road, but it also extends west of the road and beyond the country park towards B&Q. The areas where the land has been filled appears coarse and undulating, with rough, mossy vegetation. In some places, obvious sinking has occurred and debris is sticking out of the ground (including bricks, metal and general construction debris). Elsewhere the landfill comes to an obvious junction with unfilled, better quality land; marked edges where the land has not been subject to any planned landscaping or design are obvious.