An unprofitable mine

After the Scots Mining Company shut down at Tyndrum in 1791, a friend of the Earl of Breadalbane wrote

"I suspect there is little chance of Tyndrum ever turning out to profit, even if adventurers can be found to speculate upon it"
Letter written by Mr Campbell of Lochard, dated 6 of February 1791, quoted by T.C. Smout (1967) in "Lead Mining in Scotland"

Campbell did not know how true his words were, however, many adventurers still tried their luck to mine at Tyndrum over the following decades. They failed, due to the difficulty of mining enough lead to cover the costs of their activities.

Tyndrum heritage

The 1st edition Ordnance Survey 6-inch map (1864-67) shows the location of the old Tyndrum mines.


The 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane

One of the strangest examples was in 1838, when the landowner, the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, re-opened the mines himself. Over twenty-seven years the mines made a total loss of over £36,500; this would be over 30 million today.

He kept the mines working, despite making a loss, to create jobs for locals. Yet at the same time, he treated staff badly. His German mine managers did not approve of the treatment of the workforce.

"It may look very well on the books, [but] it is only an illusion that a man will work with too low wages," from letters from S. Rechtendrop and H Odenheimer written in 1847, quoted by T.C. Smout (1967) in Lead Mining in Scotland.

The German managers believed that he saw the mine as an expensive ornament to show off.  He could use it to demonstrate that he was doing something noble for the people who had no jobs on his land.