Station bell returns to Dalkeith Museum

Dalkeith Museum is within the Corn Exchange building
Dalkeith Museum is within the Corn Exchange building

It’s back. The Dalkeith Station Bell is on display again at Dalkeith Museum after a spell away for refurbishment.

The bell had previously been recovered from a museum warehouse after being lost to Midlothian for more than 50 years.

Members of Dalkeith History Society joined Rotarian adopters of Eskbank Station to view the Dalkeith Bell before onward transit to Dalkeith Museum.  L to r:- Alan Mason, Ralph Warwick, Brian Scott, Lauchlan MacLean, Albert Jaster, Bob Christie.

Members of Dalkeith History Society joined Rotarian adopters of Eskbank Station to view the Dalkeith Bell before onward transit to Dalkeith Museum. L to r:- Alan Mason, Ralph Warwick, Brian Scott, Lauchlan MacLean, Albert Jaster, Bob Christie.

An eagle-eyed history fan had spotted the bronze item in an archive photograph of the railway station that once stood on the site of what is now Morrison’s supermarket.

“Dalkeith History Society are delighted the 19th century relic will again have pride of place at the heart of Scotland’s rail and mining heritage,” said secretary Brian Scott.

“We are just so pleased and excited to welcome back so iconic an object. It‘s looking and sounding just great.”

Before transfer to the west of Scotland, the bell had been removed for safekeeping to an office in Edinburgh’s Waterloo Place following closure of Dalkeith station to passenger traffic in 1942.

It’s thought the piece would have been sounded to mark departure of trains due to join the then Innocent Railway at Glenesk Junction about half a mile out of the town.

Return of the bell coincides with an exhibition of memorabilia and mapping of the former rail network that stemmed from the coal industry around Dalkeith.

Monks of Newbattle Abbey were the first to mine coal in Scotland, a stone’s throw from the former market town. Local lore has it the bell was made at the instigation of land and minerals magnate the fifth Duke of Buccleuch in 1838.

Its new home occupies a mezzanine floor in the refurbished Dalkeith Corn Exchange, visited by around 2000 people since opening to the public in May 2016.

Museum and restoration of the building are funded through Heritage Lottery and Historic Scotland money managed by Melville Housing Association. – Alistair McNeill