Sunday, 27 December 2015

'Floating Bob'

Firth of Forth
    It was a cold morning, walking along the north shore of the Firth of Forth. The sun was trying, desperately, to burn off the haar that hung over the estuary.

North shore of the Firth of Forth
    I was following the sign that said, Preston Island, anticipating that a small land mass would come into view at any moment. However the path continued for some distance before turning slightly inland and although there was no island there were a group of buildings up ahead that were definitely worth investigating.

Ruins of the buildings used for mining and salt panning
    These now ruins are what is left of the 18th century site and indeed the island where, Sir Robert Preston, Tory MP, friend of Sir Walter Scott, carried out his business of salt panning and coal-mining. Both businesses worked hand in glove as the fires used for the salt pans were fuelled by the coal extracted from beneath the river.

    But, centuries after Preston's enterprise ceased to produce salt and coal, the ash slurry that was piped out of the nearby, Longannet Power Station, engulfed the water course. This reclaimed land inclusive of the island, is now part of a nature reserve and although man altered the landscape with this contamination, nature has been allowed to return and flourish.

Brief history of Sir Robert Preston, nickname 'Floating Bob'

    Longannet itself will close by March 2016, the end of another era in Scotland's industrial history, and of which Sir Robert Preston was a contributor. 

Longannet Power Station

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