A PETITION calling on Fife Council to carry out urgent repairs to an historic mining monument in Lochore Meadows Country Park has gathered more than 1,100 signatures.

Tom Kinnaird, chair of Benarty Community Council, launched a campaign amid fears the local authority may demolish the crumbling Mary pit head frame rather than pay for renovations.

The structure was completed in 1920 and stands in the Meedies as a lasting reminder of the area's rich mining heritage but is now in "serious disrepair" and has been fenced off due to "large chunks of concrete" coming loose.

Tom added: "If a large enough piece of concrete was to fall and clip a lower beam on the way down, sending it outwards, it could well deal a fatal blow to anyone standing close enough."

He said he started the 'Save the Mary' petition after five years of trying to persuade the park management and local councillors to take action and remove any danger to the public.

Tom said it became clear in 2017 that some of the steel reinforced concrete beams on the pit head frame were starting to fail but nothing was done.

He said Historic Environment Scotland (HES) carried out an inspection the following year but decided not to request remedial works.

Friends of Lochore Meadows submitted a bid of just under £5,000 to engage a chartered civil engineer to inspect and report on what work was required.

Tom said: "That application was however rejected by Fife Council, signalling their apparent lack of interest to perform their duties as owners and stewards of the Mary."

The Mary Colliery in Lochore opened in 1904 and, at its peak, had a workforce of almost 800 people and extracted more than 800 tons of coal per day.

The mine closed in 1966 and the land restored to form the country park. All traces of the colliery were removed, save for the pit head frame and winding tower which became a prominent and feature of the local landscape.

Due to falling masonry, the structure has been fenced off since June 2020 while the popular wee steam engine that sat beside it was transported to Kirkcaldy last year for renovations and repairs.

Tom said major repairs to the pit head frame must be carried out and added: "Works of this magnitude don't come cheap, however, as a scheduled monument and a historic and heritage asset to Fife which has to be one of our most visited and photographed local landmarks, it surely must justify the care and attention it needs if future generations of Fifers are to enjoy coming to Lochore Meadows to see the Mary and learn what life was like here over 100 years ago.

"With all of that in mind, we feel action must be taken now before another cycle of water penetration, corrosion, freezing, expanding and cracking takes place and the damage goes beyond the point of no return."

Park manager Ian Laing said: "Fife Council engineers have been working in partnership with the council’s archaeologist and HES to find a way forward.

"A plan to laser scan the structure and take samples for material analysis has been agreed and a general plan for the repair works has been outlined but, so far, we've been unable to secure the significant sums needed to deliver the specialist engineering and conservation works required for the winding gear.

"Unfortunately, bids to both HES and the Architectural Heritage Fund have been unsuccessful, so the monument remains temporarily fenced off until the money for the repairs can be found."