Birkhill Caverns Clay Mine

Birkhill Fireclay Mine

Useful Information

Location: Bo'ness, West Lothian, Scotland.
Open: Open on Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway operating days between April and October.
Fee: Railway Return: Adults GBP 4.50, Child (5-15) GBP 2, Concessions over 60 or disabled GBP 3.50, Family (2A + 2C) GBP 11.00.
Railway & Fireclay Mine: Adults GBP 7, Child (5-15) GBP 3.50, Concessions over 60 or disabled GBP 5.30, Family (2A + 2C) GBP 17.50.
Fireclay Mine: Adults GBP 3, Child (5-15) GBP 1.70, Concessions over 60 or disabled GBP 2.20, Family (2A + 2C) GBP 7.50.
Classification: MineClay Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=11°C
Guided tours: D=60min.
Bibliography: Descent 101 Aug/Sept 1991 25.
Tourist Brochure 2001
Address: Birkhill Caverns Clay Mine, Bo'ness Station, Union Street, Bo'ness, West Lothian EH51 9AQ, Tel: +44-1506-822298. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1932 mining started.
1980 mining abandoned.
1987 developed as a show mine.



Bo'ness is situated on the foreshore of the River Forth, 8 miles west of Edinburgh, the visit to the mine is part of a short railway journey, from the town of Bo'ness to the mine and back again.

On the surface is a large three storey building, and the clay is hauled from the mine by old trams and then up a steep incline to the processing plant. From the railway station at the mine, the trip consists of walking down a stairway at the side of the incline and following the rails into the lower of 3 adits. This adit was started in 1932. Two other adits were driven, one for the haulage and the other for ventilation.

During the 1950s and 1960s work rapidly expanded and by the 1970s there were 6 miles of tunnels going 900 yards into the hill. The last mining took place in 1980 and for 7 years the mine stood empty. The conditions at the mine deteriorated and clay fell from the walls into the roadway and the deeper workings flooded. For many years the fireclay with its high alumina content was in demand for the production of fire bricks but as demand for this product decreased so the mine fell into disuse and in 1980 it closed. Many of the old tools were left in place and are on display today.

There is also a walk through Birkhill Woods and meadow. Although the mine is not suitable for wheelchairs the railway, the woods and meadow are. The guided mine tour lasts about 1 hour and free car parking, souvenirs, and refreshments are available at Bo'ness station.

Text by Tony Oldham (SEP-2001). With kind permission.