Dr Yvonne McFadden is Co-Director and Research Associate at the Scottish Oral History Centre, Univeristy of Strathclyde. Her main interests are in oral histories of home, family, gender and work. Her current research focuses on the impact of deindustrialisation on communities, especially women and children. Since completely her thesis at the University of Glasgow in 2016, Dr McFadden has worked at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University and is now currrently at the Univesity of Strathclyde. Her recent project, with Prof Arthur McIvor, is collecting stories from mining communities in East Ayrshire, Scotland. This project focuses on the gendered experiences of home and community as throughout the process of deindustrialisation.

Project Statement 

Lost Villages of East Ayrshire: Miner’s Rows and Deindustrialisation in East Ayrshire, Scotland

The ‘miners’ row villages’ in the Ayrshire coalfield are a remarkable and distinctive man-made feature in the landscape and transformed the upland areas where they were set. When they were built they played a vital role but could not survive the exhaustion of the mineral resources they were built to exploit. Although deindustrialisation, depopulation and open-cast mining has destroyed much of the physical evidence of these places, there are still surviving traces of them and they are of real importance not only to the Cumnock and Doon Valley area, but to the industrial history, social and cultural history and heritage of Scotland as a whole.

The Lost Villages is an oral history project by the Scottish Oral History Centre at the University of Strathclyde, led by researchers Prof Arthur McIvor and Dr Yvonne McFadden. We are looking to recover the history of East Ayrshire’s Lost Villages by collecting the stories of the families who lived in the miners’ rows. As the coal pits began to close in between the two wars, such as Grasshill near Glenbuck in 1933, the lifeblood of these villages was gone. The miners’ rows were gradually demolished during the 1940s and 1950s and the communities relocated to new housing in the local area.

We aim to reconstruct the social and cultural life of the vibrant coalfield communities that existed in East Ayrshire and the experience of pit closures, depopulation and community disintegration in these so-called ‘lost villages’. We want to tell the story from lived experience; from the memories of those who witnessed working in the coal mines and living in the miners’ rows and what it meant when the pits closed. We aim to capture the ‘intangible history’ of life in the ‘row villages’ and the impact of deindustrialisation. www.thelostvillages.co.uk