Argyll Colliery – The Pit Baths

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View of Argyll Colliery from the farm opposite. The building with the brick chimney is the baths building which was opened  at the beginning of 1953. Still from the film “Kintyre” by Iain Donnachie c. 1955. (National Library of Scotland).

The opening of the baths at Argyll Colliery in January 1953 must have made a huge improvement to miners and their families as miners were able to get showered and changed into clean clothes before getting on the bus to come home. The article below, from the Campbeltown Courier (15/01/1953), states that the bath building was the 104th of its type to be opened at mines across Scotland, 6 years after the coal industry had been nationalised. The baths manager at the mine was Jack Henderson, who moved to Campbeltown from Lanarkshire.

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Miners at Drumlemble/Machrihanish who would have worked at the previous mine (The Wimbledon Pit?) at Machrihanish – there were no such facilities as baths buildings back in those days. Photo courtesy of Campbeltown Heritage Centre.

The building also housed a new canteen which provided snacks for workers, and according to Agnes Rennie, who worked for the NCB and who was responsible for inspecting all the collieries in Scotland, the canteen at the Machrihanish mine was very well run by the women who worked there: these were: Flo McDonald (Nee Docherty), Marion McGeachy (nee McCallum) and Betty Greenlees. The canteen sold teas, snacks, sandwiches or pieces and home baking.

During the fire of 1958 the canteen was kept open 24 hours a day so that the men who were working to put out the fire, including the NCB Rescue team from Coatbridge, could have meals at any time of day.

The baths building had a good medical centre and the baths attendants, one of whom was Tommy Kennedy, doubled as first aiders who were trained to deal with with incidents underground. Apart from their practical role, the pit baths became a point of social contact for the miners working there and the locker rooms and showers were often witness to all sorts of practical jokes – some of these stories are related in the documentary, The Road to Drumleman.

The bath buildings were finally demolished in 2005 after they became unsafe.

If you have any stories or recollections about either the baths building or the canteen please contact us.

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Argyll Colliery – Opening of the pit baths. Article from Campbeltown Courier, 15th January 1953. Courtesy of  Campbeltown Library Collection.

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The demolition of the Argyll Colliery baths building in April 2005 – the structure had become unsafe. Photo: McFadyens Contractors , Campbeltown ©

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The Argyll Colliery baths building just prior to demolition in April 2005. Photo: McFadyens Contractors, Campbeltown ©

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The last of the baths building being demolished at Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish – April 2005. Photo: McFadyens Contractors, Campbeltown ©

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One thought on “Argyll Colliery – The Pit Baths

  1. Pingback: John Owen Lamb (J.O.L.) Henderson – Baths Manager, Argyll Colliery | The Road to Drumleman

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