Jack MacCallum worked at Argyll Colliery as a mining engineer. He started there around 1957 and left in 1964 to start up his own marine engineering business. He married Vina (nee McMillan) and they had a family of three; Lorna, John and Willie. The family lived Crosshill Avenue, Campbeltown, in a scheme of houses known as the “steel houses” which were built to house miners and their families.
The MacCallums were friendly with the Lee family who lived round the corner on Ralston Road and Hugh Lee also worked at “the pit”.
Willie, Jack’s son remembers that, at the age of 5 or 6, his father took he and his brother, John, for a trip down the mine on the trolleys. Willie describes this as “a great adventure”. Willie also recalls Miners Gala days “I remember the mining gala days very well, going away on the bus full of streamers, just brilliant. – I remember they held sack races, egg & spoon races, etc. I also vividly remember each child received their own “Goody bag” with sandwiches, sweets and lemonade”.
In one of Jack’s pay slips from 1964 we can see that miners at that time were paying 6 shillings a week toward the gala days as well as paying into a fund for Campbeltown Old Pensioners Association, and Argyll Benevolent Fund.
Sadly, tragedy struck in 1966 when on Monday 23rd May, Jack and seven other men were drowned whilst on a trip on the pleasure boat, MV.Quesada. She sank in the Kilbrannan Sound on the east coast of Kintyre, not far from Davaar Island.
The names of men lost in the disaster are as follows:
Jack MacCallum 40,
John McMillan 48,
Archibald Gillies 49, (Archie also worked at Argyll Colliery).
Kenneth Copping 16,
John Paterson 24,
James Wallace 28,
Anthony Kennedy 42,
Angus McGeachy 16.
For the full wreck report on the Quesada click here
Though Jack was no longer an employee at Argyll Colliery, on hearing of his untimely death, the NCB sent the following letter of condolence.
Although the sinking of the Quesada had a profound effect on the families and the wider community there was no monument to honour the lives lost until, after a two year campaign, Willie succeeded in having a commemorative cairn built which was unveiled for the 50th anniversary of the disaster. The cairn was built by local craftsman, Will Ross. Here is an article about the memorial cairn on the BBC website.