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Social History of Plean

Plean is known as one of the three eastern villages. Originally there were two distinct settlements, the Old Village which is situated to the east of Plean House and appears on the OS Plan of 1860, and the mining village of East Plean which grew up from the late 19th century about half a mile to the north. By the late 20th century the two had merged to form Plean.

Prior to the extraction of coal, sandstone was mined at Blackcraig Quarry. Sandstone from Plean is fine, white and hard wearing and used to build many commercial buildings in Glasgow and was also shipped to London. Cowane's hospital in Stirling was built around 1640 from stone mined at Blackcraig in Plean together with some from Dunmore.

There were two main collieries in Plean, pits no 3 and 4 from which many shafts were sunk. A newspaper article in the Stirling Observer dated 2nd January 1904 gives an account of colliery activity in Plean at the time. The article tells of the East Plean Coal Company having extensive operations, and a large number of houses having been, and still being built for workmen. it also mentions that the Caledonian Railway Company is presently engaging in making a passenger station at Plean Junction.

In a magazine article from the Stirling Journal Christmas Issue dated 1929 tiled 'Plean-It's Rise and Fall' the article includes a description of the coal bing which it describes as a huge hill of waste overhanging the village. It talks of the poor quality of the coal and goes on to say that" in 1894 Mr Wallace Thorneycroft took over the Plean Coal Company and brought a scientific mind to bear on future developments. He saw the coal was rich in by- products, and set out to obtain them. Coke ovens were built and refining machinery installed and it is largely due to this that Plean owes its prosperity."

An article in the Stirling Observer dated 26th October 1929 states that a new shaft was to be sunk at Pit No4 at Plean. "The shaft will be 16 feet in diameter and will descend 240 fathoms... When the shaft is in working order the coal will be brought to the surface by steam driven winders and taken to the by- product plant at the colliery by either an ariel ropeway or by an endless rope haulage track. 

That rope haulage track is a feature recorded on OS Plans between 1946 and 1958.

In 1958 the National Coal Board announced that twenty Scottish coal mines were to close, including Plean. An article in the Stirling Observer dated 11th December 1958 records a mass meeting of Plean miners together with branch delegate from the National Coal Board held in Plean Public Hall.

An article in the Strling Observer dated 12th February 1959 advises the outcme of a special meeting to try to halt the closure of the coke oven plant at Plean Colliery scheduled for the 28th February where 70-80 men were employed.

An article in the Stirling Observer dated 8th January records the end of coal mining in Plean. Later that month another article records that the 350 N.U.M. men who were made redundant with the closure of Plean colliery on the 25th January 1963, had found work at Manor Powis colliery,Stirling and Kinneil Colliery in Bo'ness. Surface workers had found alternative employment at neighbouring pits.