On the Track of the Polar Express

Fauldhouse's Victoria pit and Crofthead No.7

F17046, first published 12th December 2017

At around the turn of the 20th century, a further coal pit was sunk in the Crofthead estate by Fauldhouse coalmaster Peter Thornton. Crofthead No.7 lay about half a mile north-west of Thornton's Victoria Pit (Crofthead No. 5 &6) in the remote and boggy lands of Fauldhouse Moor. This wild and distant place became known by all as “the North Pole”.

The North Pole was connected to coal washers and other amenities of the Victoria pit by a rope-hauled tramway which struck off on a dead straight route across the moss. Whether or not officially condoned, it might be imagined that the hundred or so folk employed at the North Pole would be tempted to hitch a ride on the tramway, to and from their work.

Both Victoria and North Pole pits closed in 1926, however ruins remain of the site of both pits, and the route of the tramway continues to provide a safe causeway across the moor. The wild open moorland that once surrounded the North Pole has changed considerably however. Substantial areas were worked for moss litter during the middle part of the 20th century, and a little distance to the east, the landscape has been fundamentally changed by opencast mining and reclamation a part of the Heartlands project. Many other areas are now planted as conifer forest.

Despite these changes, on a cold trek on an icy December day it remains clear why the old miners of Fauldhouse knew this isolated and exposed spot as “the North Pole”.

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