Paisley Snapshots , Mineral Extraction

Mineral Extraction

Greenstone, or blue whinstone, sandstone, ironstone, aluminous schist (used in the manufacture of sulphurets of alumina and iron), magnesia, fire-clay, bitumous shale, limestone and coal were extracted locally, with the related mines and quarries employing several hundred men.  Working conditions were dangerous and injuries and fatalities were fairly commonplace, particularly where men worked in highly flammable conditions underground.  For less serious injuries, many of the workers used a salve made from the blue whinstone quarried at Elderslie and at Ladykirk, near the Seedhill.

Interestingly, it was discovered that the rocks and minerals were frequently covered by several feet of diluvium, which contained water-worn pebbles and beds of sand containing sea shells of the same species as those then found in the Firth of Clyde.  Enormous amounts of similar shells were found by workers digging the new Canal from Glasgow to Johnston and experts concluded that the area must have once been under the sea.  At Hurlet, o the south-east of Paisley, fossilised vegetable remains were found, including two petrified trees, which were later placed at Househill; one of the trees was 10 feet high and 5 feet in circumference at the bottom; the other was 5 feet high and 5 ½ feet in circumference.  Meanwhile, a fossilised fern was discovered at Levernshields.  The fern was more than 11 feet in length and had a circumference of 3 feet at the bottom; other ferns were destroyed during quarrying.

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Working with heritage professionals from the Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde, the Paisley People’s Archive is creating an accessible and user-friendly oral history archive of Paisley's rich industrial past.
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