Art’s in the frame at the Barony A Frame

The Barony A Frame, an iconic former colliery site in East Ayrshire, has hosted a brilliant celebration of art, created by local school pupils.

Using the A Frame and mining legacy as an inspiration, the pupils were asked to come up with a series of artworks – and the results were spectacular!

Giant carved canaries, colourful drawings, stepping stones and panels of creative mosaics were proudly on display, as Barney Menzies, Chair of the Barony A Frame Trust welcomed pupils, teachers, parents and Council officers to the site.

Officially opening the event, Mr Menzies said: “There’s hardly a pupil in this area who doesn’t have a connection with mining, so it’s important to us that they learn about their heritage and take part in the work of the Trust.

“These superb artworks and sculptures do exactly that. They look absolutely fantastic and full credit to our young people for their imagination, vision and talent.”

During the last two years the Trust has been working with local pupils giving talks, helping with research and providing resources, inspiring them to produce a range of art and other artistic works, linked to mining and the A Frame.

Nicole Brown, a senior pupil at Auchineck Academy said: “When designing the mosaic I learned a lot more about our local history and how mining has played a huge part in it.

“I learned new skills and techniques and feel that working on this project has given me more confidence and self-esteem.”

Caitlin Mawhinney (S4) from Cumnock Academy added: “I liked the wood carving when making the canaries as it was challenging. It was hard to start, but got easier.”

Alan Ward, East Ayrshire Council’s Head of Education added: “Working with the Barony A Frame Trust has helped pupils make new and significant connections with the local community and broadened their academic horizons through inter-disciplinary working. It’s been a very successful collaboration.

A further, welcome development for the Trust was the development of an App, written and recorded by pupils, offering a spoken, guided tour of the site and information on points of interest.

The free App weaves together recordings of the pupils’ script with reminiscences from people who once worked at the Barony Colliery.

Mr Menzies added: “The App is a great addition to what we’ve achieved with the project and uses technology and software to best effect in promoting and enhancing what we have to offer at the Barony A Frame.

“The App and the art have far exceeded our expectations and with the passion and interest being shown by our next generation, I’m confident the Barony A Frame has a long and secure future ahead of it.

Please visit our Gallery page to view pupils working tirelessly on this project.

Design a Marker School Competition Winner – Sorn Primary School

Over the last two years the Trust has been working with local community members, schools and a range of voluntary organisations to deliver a project to expand interest and use at the former colliery site. The project has seen the construction of considerable footpaths and cycle tracks, a cycle skills park for younger cyclists, installation of new items of memorabilia and interpretation, wildlife habitats and artworks.

DSCF0289A big part of the project has been work with local schoolchildren and their teachers to produce a range of artwork which has been installed around the site plus an App which can be downloaded on smart phones by visitors to the site.

In response to public requests, the Trust decided to also run a competition to involve local children, through their schools, in the design of a marker for the location of 1 and 2 shafts.

The competition was open to all Primary Schools in the area during March 2016. Several schools requested visits and guided tours of the site and subsequently entered designs for the competition. Photos of the pupils gathering information on site are posted in the Gallery page.


The Chair of the Barony A Frame Trust, Barney Menzies, presented the prize to the winner of the competition. The winning entry was designed by Ashlyn Dobie, age 10, from Sorn Primary School.  Ashlyn’s original design depicted a miner in the cage ready to go down the shaft to start his day of work. The Trust is currently seeking funding to construct the winning Marker and will continue to update on progress.

You should be very proud of your excellent work Ashlyn..

As an unexpected bonus we also received poetry written by some of the pupils of Sorn Primary School which we felt we had to share. (below) We have so much talent in our local area!!  A big well done to all who took part.

Fraser Maxwell, 11 years, Sorn Primary 7 Excellent work Fraser”

fraser Sorn Primary1


Ellie Rawding, 10 years, Sorn Primary 6 – “Good job Ellie well done”

Ellie Sorn Primary


Heritage Walk Project

Over the last three years the Barony A Frame site has seen considerable changes courtesy of the hard work of board members and grants in excess of £400,000, from the Big Lottery Community Spaces Fund, the Minerals Trust, Score Environment and Ayrshire Leader.

The grants awards funded a three year, two phase project to create extensive footpath and cycle connections, a cycle skills park and additional interpretation on site.DSCF0139

Visitors can now leave their cars at the newly extended car park at the Barony and walk or cycle on one track to Dumfries House/ Cumnock or Ochiltree via public and private footpaths. Creating this network was at the heart of the Heritage Walks project to encourage more local people to use the site for exercise or education purposes. Young cyclists can take advantage of the cycle skills park to hone their cycling skills – there’s even a maintenance table for those who need space to give their bikes a once over.

To complement the walk the Barony A Frame Trust has installed additional interpretation relating to mining and railways, and wildlife on the site, (the site is home to some rare and very rare wildlife populations). There is also additional landscaping plus a natural regeneration area on the site for wildlife enthusiasts.

The construction works were commenced in 2013 and were fully completed in June 2015 (phase 1 – limited footpath connections and drainage works – were completed in March 2013) and are the end result of a series of consultation exercises with the local community. During the consultation period, the Trust went to great trouble to gather the opinions of children – what they wanted to see at the site, why they used the site (or not). The responses from the surveys were collated and initial drawings produced – these were also consulted on with local people before planning consent and grant applications being taken forward.

The project has been a long and, at times, difficult one which has taken more than five years to bring to fruition. It has also been very rewarding.

The Trust hopes you enjoy the site and will treat the area with respect. Photographs of the works can be viewed in the gallery page HERE

We would be delighted to share your experiences when visiting the Site. If you have any photographs taken on Site please send them to 0r and we will be happy to upload them on to a public gallery page with your permission.


Wildlife of Barony

The grounds of the Barony A-Frame and surrounding post-industrial land are rich in wildlife. Infertile, often compacted, substrates prevent grasses taking over allowing wildflowers to thrive. These in turn are a pollen and nectar source for insects such as butterflies that also appreciate warm bare surfaces on which to bask. Spiders and beetles ambush prey from stones and plant tussocks. Apply named mining bees forage on the flowers and make nest in the spoil material. Birds feed on insects or seeds depending on the time off year.

The Barony site is a favourite haunt for wildlife enthusiasts as you are sure to see a good range of species and possibly encounter something a bit unusual. Only recently, the rare and endangered yellow bird’s-next plant was found in good numbers on both the A-Frame site and the wider bing area. This strange looking, harmless parasite of trees needs a fungus to connect it to its host. Other interesting plants of the A-Frame site include water figwort, wintergreen and broad-leaved helleborine. Butterflies such as ringlet, small heath and common blue are usually seen in good numbers but look out for a small brown one with a darting flight. It could be the dingy skipper, a UK priority butterfly known to occur here.

Hipopitys monotropa – yellow bird’s-nest: this strange looking plant is an indirect parasite of trees, using a Hipopitys monotropafungus as an intermediate connection to host. It has a perennial underground stock and flowers sporadically in July to be pollinated by an insect. There are no green leaves because, as a parasite, it does not need to photosynthesise. Rare and endangered in Scotland (there are only 4 other known locations, none elsewhere in Ayrshire). Found both on the A-Frame site and the wider bing area in 2014.


Dingy skipper butterfly – of UK importance (UKBAP priority list, Scottish Biodiversity list). A small butterfly with low darting flight. A moth-like butterfly that likes open bare habitat such as post-industrial sites.

Dingy skipper butterfly






Click HERE to see more wildlife of the Barony





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