My Dad (Neil Munro) worked as a coal miner from the day the pit [Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish] opened until the day it closed.
He was married in June 1927 to my mother Mary Polly McGown who lived at Stewarton at that time. My grandparents lived in Drumlemble.
We lived at Ashbank, right next to the pit in Machrihanish. I remember that my mum used to go down the pit to visit my dad while he was on night shift and have a cup of tea with him. We moved to Campbeltown, to the miners’ houses in Crosshill Avenue in 1950.
My father, Neil, was a golfer and was asked to represent the National Coal Board at a competition that was held in Musselburgh (I think this may have been around the late 50s). I remember he and my mother had a wonderful break and the highlight for both of them was visiting Edinburgh and seeing the floral clock!
In the winter of 1963 into the spring of 1964 my Dad was due to come off the back shift but none of the miners could get home as no buses were able to leave the town because of a heavy snowfall. As it was before the days of every home having a telephone and certainly there were no mobiles, we were at home waiting anxiously on news! My Dad ended up staying with the Gilchrist’s at Trodigal Farm, Machrihanish, as my mother had worked as the milkmaid when Mr Gilchrist Sr. had the farm. He ended up having to stay there for a whole week! I will never forget walking down Ralston Road by the Green Huts when I overheard Jackie Galbraith telling his companion the some of the miners had set off to walk the 5 miles into town but “old” Neily Munro had to stay put. I suddenly thought “My Dad is old!”. He was 60 years at the time. He was lucky that the farmer and his wife knew him well and so took good care of him.
I recall that I had to go to the Miner’s Welfare Hall one year to collect a Christmas present and I was given a wonderful turquoise and yellow sewing box full of threads etc! I can still see it in my minds eye – this beautiful cardboard box full of needles, threads of all colours and embroidery threads too!
I wanted to tell you about the miners when they stopped having Christmas Parties and instead we were all given passes to go to the Rex Cinema to see Vanishing Prairie, a documentary which was released by Walt Disney productions in 1954 (I think I may have been about 10 when I went to see it). It was marvellous – we were given a bag of sweets, lemonade and crisps and could go back for more sweets if we needed them! I remember the cinema was packed with kids, not all miners’ children, such was the generosity of the miners and it was a case of “the more the merrier!”. Looking back, it is amazing to think that the Rex Cinema was hired for an afternoon by the miners and taken over by all those kids!
Dianne Brodie ©