A Lost Heritage
Formerly this website belonged to the Dunaskin Heritage Center in which was located in Ayrshire. Unfortunately, Dunaskin Open Air Museum closed to the public in June 2005 and
Dalmellington & District Conservation Trust, the charitable company that operated it, went into liquidation shortly afterwards. However, the good news is that after the closure the Ayrshire Railway Preservation Group (ARPG) which had been partially located at Dunaskin for many years and fully located there as the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre obtained the rights to extend their steam-hauled brake van rides in the region where the heritage was. This has enabled to preserve the various machines used during the industrial revolution in Scotland.
The Dalmellington Iron Company established ironworks in Dunaskin in Ayrshire, Scotland in the 1840s and successfully ran the company for the better part of the 20th century before it was shut down sometimes in 1921 after which a brick making center was established.
The Iron Works established earlier were meant for the sole purpose of producing pig iron which was vital for metal casting works. The region became famous for iron smelting because of its rich deposits of coal, ironstone and limestone. All these resources are vital in the production of quality pig iron. Also the demand of pig iron was high. Thus, the region attracted numerous attentions from investors such as the Coltness Iron Works (Houldsworth family) who settled in the place as they sought to exploit these resources.
The setting of the Dalmellington Iron Co so many changes in this rural area where the natives were farmers who prior to this time practiced agriculture. With the establishment company who set up smelting furnaces to mine iron in River Doon (also referred to as the Doon Valley), so the creation of a railway system which was meant to transport raw material from the mining area to the furnaces.
Their works blossomed first and by 1848, they were able to produce the first iron. As further production took on, there was need to bring up drawn wagons which could help in carrying their goods to Ayr where a market for iron was established. With all these progresses, it was paramount that there was the need for more people to work on the mines and in the iron works company and hence hundreds of people came to settle in this region.
By the 1870s, the business had already flourished. It had already established eight furnaces and employed hundreds of people. However that was short-lived and by the 1880s the company as well as others in the same industry suffered a big blow and eventually lost their competitive edge. This happened because at the time, the local supplies of black band ironstone we diminishing very fast and the only way to obtain the ore and remain in business was to import it from Spain hence incurring extra costs of production.
At the start of the 1900s, the company was almost winding up and were it not for the First World War and the steady demand for iron, it couldn’t make it up to 1921 when it shut down all its operations of producing iron. Yet still, three were vast deposits of coal left on the site and the company decided to exploit them in the production of brickworks, a new lineage of products that they came up with. However all that was short-lived and the company went into liquidation a decade later in 1931.
After several attempts by other companies to mine coal there, the site was later taken into the custody of Dalmellington and District Conservation Trust which was established in 1982 with the objective of designating the site into a national heritage which would preserve the industrial and social history of the Doon Valley. The heritage center was later established in Dunaskin in the 90s.
However all that was too short-lived and by 2005, the local authority which was providing the funds to run the heritage center withdrew the funding. Today, the maintenance of the heritage center is under the Ayrshire Railway Preservation Group who has renamed the heritage center to Scottish Industrial Railway Centre.
I have decided to bring the lost glory back to life. There is a lot to learn about the industrial revolution and this can be a starting point to many people who love heritage. There are some post that i recovered form the site and re-published them here. You can access them by clicking through various topics below.