Craig Ferguson points out that many monuments from the past have been preserved for us to learn from and enjoy. But not all. Some sites with more recent history, especially industrial heritage, have been neglected and allowed to decay.
He gives the example of South Cobbinshaw, in West Lothian, once the centre of a thriving oil shale industry. Now little or nothing remains of this once active community – only the shale bings stand as landmarks or tombstones.
He discusses this with John Hume of Historic Scotland while they view the massive petro-chemical complex of Grangemouth. Hume believes that increasing numbers of people are interested in industrial monuments, which contrast with more traditional monuments such as abbeys and castles. He points to the importance of Grangemouth, and how it owes its development to the oil shale companies from places such as South Cobbinshaw.
Ferguson finds out more about industrial heritage by visiting Waterside in Ayrshire and talking to Annie Joss of the Dalmellington and District Conservation Trust. They came about to record and preserve what they could of the vanished Dunaskine Ironworks and other industrial plants in the vicinity.
Now a restoration and conservation programme is in action on the site. Steve Duckworth of the Trust gives Ferguson a tour. They look at the remains of the power house for the iron works. This was where a two cylinder beam engine was once housed. This engine drove the air that was vital to the adjacent furnaces used for smelting.
Duckworth pointed out the remaining but much damaged cornicing and plasterwork, suggesting that the engine house was seen as a kind of cathedral of industry. Everything was kept immaculate and highly polished, in contrast to the dusty, dirty work elsewhere on the complex, as a kind of morale-booster for the employees.