Danderhall Guerrilla gardeners frustrated by developer

A community group battling to create a memorial to children forced to work in local mines has called on developers of a massive new housing estate to honour their pledge to support the project.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 3:00 pm
The Danderhall and District Guerrilla Gardeners.

Danderhall and District Guerrilla Gardeners uncovered part of an old colliery wagon way while tackling weeds in their community in the summer.

The discovery of the Edmonstone Coilliery wall saw representatives of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and neighbouring development Shawfair LLP head to the village in July.

But while Shawfair LLP said it would support the group as it carried out work to restore the wall and create a memorial to the young miners, the group says it has been frustrated by a lack of action.

Helen Graham, from the group, said that Midlothian Council had stepped up to provide new gateway signs at the wall and surrounding area while the volunteer gardeners worked to clear the front of it as they race to get work done before winter sets in.

The group has also raised more than £800 from a book it produced detailing its journey from a gardening group to community campaigners and the mining history of the area.

And it has found a stonemason to restore the wall, using the funds raised to start his work.

But Helen said the stonemason cannot start the work until soil behind the wall is removed – something she says Shawfair LLP agreed to do.

She said: “We have had representatives come and visit the wall and talk about what needs done, but we are still waiting for the work to be done.

“Last month a man was sent to clear some of the overhanging trees on top of the wall and was expected to return with a digger the next day.

“The stonemason was onsite ready to work with him as he cleared the soil but he never turned up.

“It is incredibly frustrating when everyone else has done their part.”

Shawfair LLP said it remains committed to supporting the community project.

Nick Waugh, Shawfair LLP, said: “We have a good relationship with the community and we support the work to restore the former mine wall undertaken by the Danderhall Guerrilla Gardeners.

“We are committed to the project and provided a letter commending the project and supporting the group’s funding application to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. We have also had vegetation cleared from the site.

“We understand the frustration of volunteers as they want to progress the project quickly. However, we are concerned that all the restoration works need to be done properly to protect the stability of the wall. Shawfair is prepared to provide a digger and operator to help the removal of roots in and at the base of the wall.

“Any removal work would need to be done under the supervision of the stonemason, commissioned by the group, to help protect the wall’s integrity.”

The guerrilla gardeners group was initially established to take over the maintenance of public land after the local authority reintroduced the use of glyphosate weedkiller sparking concern about its safety.

However the group’s work led to the discovery of the old colliery wall which had been lost in undergrowth and has sparked renewed interest in the community’s history.

The discovery of the old buffer wall attracted the interest of the Coalfield Regeneration Trust who are expected to announce funds for the project in the next few weeks..

The guerrillas were also inspired to research the history of the mine where nearly 200 years ago nine men and four women were trapped after the shaft collapsed.

It took 36 hours for rescuers to get to them and, despite fears the noxious air would have already killed them, they all survived.

The research also revealed how young some of the miners who worked there were, revealing child slaves forced into the mines.

The group is determined to restore the wall as a memorial to the children and all those who mined in the community.