Neil Munro and some memories from his daughter, Dianne Brodie

GroupMinersClean.jpg

Neil Munro – top row, fourth from the left. Photo courtesy of Dianne Brodie

My Dad (Neil Munro) worked as a coal miner from the day the pit [Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish] opened until the day it closed.

NeilMunroWife

Neil Munro and his wife, Mary Polly McGown. Photo courtesy of Dianne Brodie (nee Munro).

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!

DianaNeilmum

Neil Munro, his wife, Polly and their daughter, Dianne. Photo courtesy of Dianne Brodie ©

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 ©

NeilMunroKintyrePark.jpg

Mr Jamieson, Neil Munro, Diane Brodie (nee Munro) , Jimmy Huie and Duncan McGown. Photo: Courtesy of Dianne Brodie. ©

Advertisements

Donnie McLellan oncost worker, Argyll Colliery

P1170388.JPG

Donnie McLellan’s mining training certificate for, amongst other things, the use of coal cutting machinery. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Donnie McLellan was born in Campbeltown and brought up in the Glenside area of the town. Donnie started work at Argyll Colliery in Machrihanish in 1954. He completed three weeks of underground training at the Muircock Hall Colliery, near Dunfermline. He worked at Argyll Colliery as an oncost worker, shifting mining machinery, “trees” and girders underground. He often worked night shifts. His brothers John and Hughie also worked at the mine. He married Sheena Mitchell of Kilkivan, Drumlemble, in 1958 and they moved to the “Steel Houses“, a scheme of houses on the south side of Campbeltown which were built for miners and other key workers. Two of Donnie’s brothers-in-law also worked at Argyll Colliery, Dan Stalker and Willie Colville.

p1170440

L-R Donnie McLellan and his brothers, John and Hugh, Glenside, Campbeltown. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

On his first day at the mine Donnie met John Anderson (Snr.),  John McAllister and Bob Todd – his other contemporaries at the mine were: Andy McShannon, Andy and Maxie Brodie, Dick Brown, a union delegate, Ian Duncan, Hector Thomson, “Joardie” Thomson, “Seterday Sannie“, a Glaswegian, Bobby Hamilton, the Woodcocks, Donnie McArthur, Sandy Munro, who later left for Corby, John McVicar and Archie Crossan. The manager at the time was Ian Thom.

Donnie remembers the colliery fire, which broke out in 1958 and described it as “Amazing to look at… it was like heather on fire. I can remember it to this day”. Donnie worked full time at the time of the fire, alongside the Mines Rescue Team which had come down to Machrihanish from their base in Coatbridge. He also witnessed the effects of total extraction at Argyll Colliery and what was known by the miners as “The Big Crush” – where the coal walls were all removed to extract more coal and which led to coal falls and parts of the mine literally imploding. “The arched girders that supported the roads, which should have be curved, became “V” shaped – you could hear the trees and the roof cracking”.

Donnie like, like many of the miners, was a keen golfer and recalls golfing outings with Malcolm Hamilton and Neil Munro.

When Donnie left the mine in 1961 he went to work for Tarmac and then Melville. Donnie misses his days at the mine “There was great camaraderie – I would go back there today if it was open”. He now lives in Machrihanish.

donnie

Donnie McLellan with the carbide lamp he used whilst working at Argyll Colliery. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Hugh Sinclair, Surface Foreman.

I received the following information, photo and painting from Hugh Sinclair, about his grandfather, whom Hugh is named after. It’s great to see the painting of Hugh’s grandfather by the well known landscape artist, Maude Parker and to know a bit about his connection with mining in Drumlemble and Machrihanish.

Jan Nimmo

maudeparker

Painting of Hugh Sinclair, as a boy at Machrihanish. The painting is by landscape artist, Maude Parker. Courtesy of Hugh Sinclair ©

My grandfather, Hugh Sinclair, lived all his life in Drumlemble, a near neighbour of your great uncle Neily Brown and your grandmother Bella. When he left school in the early 1900’s I believe he worked at Coalhill mine above Drumlemble until he served in the Argyll’s during World War I and beyond. When he retired from the army he worked as golf professional and Greenkeeper at Machrihanish Ladies Golf Club. He and my grandmother, Elizabeth (nee Thomson) had five daughters: Margaret, Jean, Betty Maureen and Elsie (my mother).

When the Argyll Colliery opened in the late 40’s he worked there as Surface Foreman until he retired in 1963. Times must have been good working at Machrihanish Colliery as he was 69 years old when he retired. He died in 1971 aged 77 years and 7 months.

Hugh Sinclair

image1

Hugh Sinclair starting a golf competition at the Ladies’ Golf Club, Machrihanish, Kintyre. Photo courtesy of Machrihanish Golf Club ©

miners_0002_sml-adjust

Hugh Sinclair, centre, at Kilvivan. Photo courtesy of Helen Bapty, Hugh’s granddaughter ©

miners_0001_sml_clean

Hugh Sinclair, standing, top left. This photo is was taken at “Lone Creek’ High Tirfergus Farm, Drumlemble. Photo courtesy of Helen Babty (neé Hamilton) ©