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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 16:03 GMT
Hidden works reveal mining past
Tree being lifted by helicopter
Up to 2,000 trees will be airlifted as part of the project
Thousands of trees are being airlifted by helicopter to reveal the remains of an ironworks hidden for 30 years.

About 2,000 trees will be removed during the next five days as part of the Wilsontown Iron Works Heritage Project.

The trees had been planted in the 1970s on top of a large group of bell pits, preventing public access to the site in Forth, South Lanarkshire.

The unusual lifting method was chosen to prevent damage to the mines.

Forestry Commission Scotland are leading the project to restore part of the mines.

Industrial heritage

Commission spokeswoman Emma Stewart said: "Usually we would use machines to fell the trees and move them to the roadside, but we knew that this could damage the mines and wouldn't be safe for forestry workers.

"We decided to use a helicopter to airlift the trees out. It will take about five days to left the trees away and this will provide a great opportunity for the local people to see the landscape as soon as the trees are airborne."

men watching tree being lifted by helicopter
The trees are being airlifted, rather than felled

The Wilsontown Iron Works were considered unique because its employees lived in a village in a small valley alongside the works.

It was established in 1779 and closed its doors in 1842, although coal mining continued until 1955.

Forestry Commission Scotland said they decided to go ahead with the project in response to interest about the area's industrial past.

Ms Stewart said: "Once the trees have been removed, the bell pits will be restored and people will get a better idea of the sweat and toil spent here in the past. The area will be one of the most wonderful places in Scotland to view this kind of industrial remains."



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