Archibald McLean, Shotfirer.

At our second drop-in session at Campbeltown Library we had a visit from Catherine Harvey (nee McLean). Cath very kindly brought in some things that belonged to her father, Archibald McLean, who worked as a shotfirer at Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish. Archie was married to Christina McLean (nee McLean). The family lived at Drumlemble but moved from there to the “miners” houses, to 45 Meadows Avenue in Campbeltown. Cath remembers other miners’ families living nearby – the Duffy family, (Charlie Duffy), the Barrs (Joe Barr) and the Steele family. The Duffys and the Barrs moved to England when the mine closed and the Steeles moved to Canada.

Catherine brought this wonderful photo of a group of Argyll Colliery workers to share with the project.


A group of Argyll Colliery miners. Top Row: Alan Jones, Eddy Same, Joe Barr, D. McArthur, J. McPhail, T. Ritchie, B. Smith, J. McGeachy, M. Brodie, A. Gilchrist, K. McKenzie, A. McPhee, A. Brodie, J. McTaggart. Bottom Row: A. McDonald, Jock Kerr, Archie McLean, Charlie Duffy, Coventry Paton. Photo: Courtesy of Catherine Harvey ©

Catherine also brought in her father’s shotfirer’s certificate and some paperwork from his pension.


Shotfirer’s certificate from the Ministry of Fuel and Power belonging to the late Archibald McLean. Courtesy of Catherine Harvey ©


Mineworkers Pension Scheme Notification belonging to the late Archibald McLean. Courtesy of Catherine Harvey ©

Catherine recalls Miners’ Gala Day, and was photographed by the Courier with her sister: The photograph was captioned, “Two little girls eating their buns”. Miners at Argyll Colliery all donated money from their weekly wages towards Christmas parties at the Miners’ Welfare Hall in Bolgam Street, Campbeltown. Initially these events were set up for miners’ children but then they soon became community-wide events where all the local children were welcome.

Catherine remembers that when she was very young, pre-school, that her father was once brought home in an ambulance after having had an accident at the colliery.


Employees at Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish. Left to Right – John Downie(?), Dougie Girvan, Hugh Sinclair (Surface Foreman), Willie McKinlay and Catherine’s uncle, Tommy Mitchell, who worked maintaining the belts underground. Photo Courtesy of Catherine Harvey ©

The photo above is of the coal lorry drivers from Argyll Colliery. The coal was taken to Campbeltown in lorries; Albions, such as the one pictured here, and Leyland Hippos, to the Old Quay where coal was transported by boat to Ballylumford power station in Northern Ireland. Coal was also distributed around the area to homes and businesses. On the far right of the photograph we can see Catherine’s uncle, Tommy Mitchell, who emigrated, along with this family, to New Zealand. Tommy died a couple of years ago but he is survived by family who still live there. Catherine is currently asking around for the names of the other men so if you can help, please contact me. We’ll update the caption for the photograph as soon as we have verified the other names.

Jan Nimmo