Memories of my father, Jimmy Fowler – Elaine Haines (née Fowler)

James William Fowler (Jimmy) my father was born in Soberton in Hampshire on 22 April 1927. He was only son to Fred and Winnie Fowler and had an elder sister, Beryl.

At the age of 17 he left England bound for Scotland where he had enlisted himself to the Black Watch regiment and was based in Elgin, from there he was posted to Douglas (Lanark) where he met my mother, Grace Anderson and they married in 1948. My brother Eric was born in 1949 followed by me in 1958.

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Mum and Dad’s weeding in Glespin, 1948, South Lanarkshire. Photo Courtesy of Elaine Haines ©

When he was demobbed, he turned his hand to mining along with my grandfather John MB Anderson and my uncle James McBride Anderson, and later in years my uncle David Gibb Anderson. I believe it was around 1950 that all the Anderson/Fowler families moved to Campbeltown where the three families lived at 97, 99 and 101 Ralston Road. The menfolk were all transferred to work in Argyll Colliery.

My earliest memory of my dad working in the mine was of him going out on the night shift as I was going to bed and on day shift coming home and us having cosy nights round the fire.

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Dad with me as a baby in 1959. Photo courtesy of Elaine Haines ©

I did not know much about my father’s job as a child but I do remember all the fun we had going on miners picnics, the buses were alive with excited families all heading to Westport, Macharioch or Machrihanish beach. We had great fun together as a family and with all our mining family running races, swimming, watching the tug of war and lots more.

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Myself and some of my cousins at miners picnic (if anyone has any idea where this was taken I would love to know). Photo courtesy of Elaine Haines ©

Dad was also in the Miners football team and played in goal. He often told us about the chance he had to become a Rangers FC player but he turned down the offer as he could make far more money working in the pit as he had a family to look after and there was no money to be made in football.

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Dad once mentioned that three of the men standing at the sides had died and he was the last one standing so by process of elimination, he was next. But he survived long after his friends had passed away. (Jimmy Fowler, second left).

Another memory I have is the drama group, NCB Players. My grandfather was producer, director and sometimes acted in the plays. My mother became a pretty good actress and won a few acting awards. I loved to go to the rehearsals in Broom Brae hall. The best part was going to Victoria Hall in February for the drama festival and watching everyone dress in character and have their makeup done. It was quite a transformation. One play which I fail to remember the name of, my mother played a witch and at the end of the scene the character my grandfather played, he stabbed her through the heart with a spear, the hall fell silent as she lay dying and I as a young child shouted out from the audience, “Grandad, you killed my mummy”. I don’t think I was very popular that night.

My dad was a member of the Miners Rescue Team and was very much in the fore front dealing with the big fire, he was given special permission to leave the mine to travel to Glasgow when my mother was giving birth to me. He also looked after the canaries that were a vital part of a miner’s working day and sadly he lost quite a few over the years. But glad to say they helped save many miners lives.

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Argyll Colliery Rescue Team. Jimmy Fowler, second left. Photo form COAL Magazine.

On the closure of the mine, dad was offered jobs in Corby and Sheffield. He deliberated long and hard over this and his deciding factor to stay in the town was when a young girl was murdered on Cannock Chase which was very near to where we would have been living.

He was a very proud English man but he was also a very proud adopted Scotsman and never returned to live over the border. He loved life in Campbeltown where he had made many life- long friends through mining, football, fishing and working on building sites in and around the West Coast and beyond. He took great pride in talking about the times he worked in the mine and was honoured when Jan Nimmo asked him to take part in the making of The Road to Drumleman and always had a tear in his eye as he reminisced. Sadly he never saw the completed documentary. He lived his life in Ralston Road, Campbeltown right up until he died in February 2008.

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Jimmy Fowler 2003. Photo courtesy of Elaine Haines ©

Eliane Haines April 2017

 

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Drumlemble Football Team 1919-1920

Following on from the article written by Alex McKinven about miners and football in South Kintyre we’d like to share a photo, courtesy of Drumlemble born man, Willie McMillan. Alex describes Drumlemble as “a hot bed of mining and football”. This photo portrays the 1919 -1920 Drumlemble Football Club who were winners of the Charity Cup that year.

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Drumlemble Football Club – Charity Cup Winners 1919-1920. Photo Courtesy of Willie McMillan, Campbeltown. ©

The inset photo is of Donald McArthur. Back row: L-R Hector Thomson, Hugh Sinclair, ? McPhail, Red McGougan, Donald McGougan and the handyman from the Argyll Hotel (Machrihanish). Middle row: L-R David Thomson. Ryal (?) Munro, Jim Munro, Black McGougan, ? McLean and Angus Brown. Front row – David Craig and Jimmy McArthur.

Coventry Paton – Oncost worker at Argyll Colliery

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Back row kneeling Joe Barr, Malcolm Milloy, standing – Gus Morrison, John Girvan, kneeling Jock Givan and Charlie Smith. Front row. unknown, Danny Michell,  John Brown, , unknown, Stuart Hamilton, Coventry Paton and Kenny McMillan. Photo courtesy of Andrina Sandler ©

I was given the following information by Maggie Allen, daughter of Argyll Colliery on-cost worker, Coventry Paton. It was written by Maggie’s brother, Archie Paton.

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Miners football team, Argyll Colliery at Kintyre Park – Coventry Paton, top, second right. Photo courtesy of Maggie Allen (nee Paton) ©

Hi – My name is Archie Paton. My father, Coventry Paton, worked at Argyll Colliery but left Campbeltown with his wife, Anne Jane McArthur, and their two young children, to work in mines around Wakefield, West Yorkshire. They had three more children. I was born in 1957 and followed my father into mining and enjoyed a good few years in the job with him. Mum and Dad retired back to Campbeltown where my sister Maggie married a local man, Dave Allen. My parents enjoyed their retirement there. 

Archie Paton

Archie’s sister, Maggie adds:

“Sadly my brother, Archie,  passed away last year. Father and son are back together again in the Miners’ Memorial Garden in Wakefield – once a miner, always a miner. Hardy men at rest”.

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Coventry  and Archie Paton’s memorial discs at the Miners’ Memorial Garden, The National Mining Museum of England, Wakefield. Photo: Maggie Allen ©

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Archie Paton, miner and campaigner for miners’ welfare and rights. Photo courtesy of his sister, Maggie Allen ©

After working at Wakefied with his father, Archie went on to work at the New Selby coalfield at Wistow Mine and then at Whitemoor Mine. Archie died on the 11th Sept 2016. He was well loved and known in mining circles as a passionate campaigner for miners’ welfare and rights. Archie was a keen follower of  the TRTD Facebook page and his contributions will be missed.

Jan Nimmo

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Maggie Allen (nee Paton) with a photo of her father, Coventry Paton. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

 

The Miners’ Boys Team, 1959

Whilst we await an article by author of Kit and Caboodle: The Story of Football in Campbeltown, Alex McKinven, about the story the Argyll Colliery miners’ teams I’ll post this photo from Calum McLean, Campbeltown. There have been quite a few football related photos submitted to the project so I’ll add them when and as we can.

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The Miners’ Boys Team, 1959 (Argyll Colliery). Photo courtesy of Callum McLean, Campbeltown ©

Miners’ Boys Team, Glenside 1959 – Champions.

Back row
Charles Duffy (Manager) R. Rafferty, Sandy McPherson, W. McCormack ?

2nd Row
H. Colville, W. Hume, J Cochrane, L. Gilchrist, D. Thomson.

3rd Row
Lindsey Brown and davy Graham

Front Row
M. Mc Gougan, R Campbell, D. McMillan, A.M.  McEachran, R MacLean, D. McLean.

Argyll Colliery – Grand Dance and Challenge Match

These announcements from Campbeltown Courier, which date back to 19th of March 1953, give us an insight into the important role that Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish, once played in everyday Campbeltown life. Miners contributed hugely to the community in the 1950’s and 1960’s and here we see how they organised children’s Gala Days each year for not just miners’ but for all local children. Dances were held at the Miners’ Welfare Hall in Bolgam Street (formerly the Old Courthouse), at the Victoria Hall, The White Hart Hotel and the Templar Hall.  Football matches, like this one, where the Argyll Colliery team played against Shotts Bon Accord, Lanarkshire, were used as opportunities to raise funds for local good causes, in this instance for the Cottage Hospital  TV Scheme. Football was an integral part of miners’ leisure time, whether as a spectator or as a player.

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Argyll Colliery and Children’s Gala Day Association Grand Dance at the Templar Hall. Challenge Match – Argyll Colliery F.C. versus Shotts Bon Accord. Campbeltown Courier, 19th March 1953. Courtesy of the Campbeltown Library collection.

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The former Miners’ Welfare Hall, Bolgam Street, Campbeltown. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

 

Kenny McMillan

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Argyll Colliery F.C. card which belonged to the late Kenny McMillan. Courtesy of Morag McMillan

J.K.B. McMillan, known as Kenny, was born in 1926 in Campbeltown and as a young man was called up for the the army and served with the Royal Engineers. His first job after serving in the army was at the Argyll Colliery. In 1948 he went to be trained in Doncaster and returned to work at Argyll Colliery for the next 20 years, until the pit closure in 1967. In 1950 he married Agnes Girvan, whose father was one of the hall-keepers of the Miners’ Welfare in Bolgam Street, Campbeltown. They had five children and their lives were consumed by the various activities organised by the wider mining community.

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Kenny McMillan. Photo courtesy of Morag McLean (nee McMillan)

Mum, Agnes, was the prompter for the successful miners’ drama group and Dad, Kenny, played and later managed the football teams. The miners’ football team was formed in July 1951 and according to records kept by my father, they were a fairly successful team playing in the Scottish Junior Cup. Dad was a Motherwill supporter which is why the Argyll Colliery Team played in “Amber and Claret”.

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Argyll Colliery F.C. This photo was first published in Coal Magazine and was taken at the back of the Miners’ Welfare Hall in Campbeltown. This is where the team held their tactical meetings. Kenny is pictured here at the far right. Photo Courtesy of  Morag McLean (Nee McMillan).

Kenny became the union steward for the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) and was very involved in settling disputes and ensuring his colleagues were treated fairly. He eventually went on to serve as a local Labour councillor in South Kintyre.

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Photos of a group of Argyll Colliery workers which was taken in 1965.  Top row L-R: Unidentified, Archie McKerral, Robert Brown, Neil Munro, Angus McKinlay, Sandy Smith, Unidentified, David Mitchell, Robert Martin, ? Livingston, Tommy Woodford. Bottom row: L-R: Hamish McNeil, John Kerr, Jackie Galbraith, Malcolm Milloy, Kenny McMillan, Jock McGeachy. Photo: Courtesy of Morag McLean (nee McMillan).

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Labour Party Councillors, Campbeltown. Top L-R: Duncan McMillan, Alistair McKinlay, Kenny McMillan. Bottom L-R: Neil McCallum, unidentified,  John B. Anderson. Photo courtesy of Morag Mclean (nee McMillan) and thanks to Hamish McMillan for providing the other names.

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Leaver’s certificate from 1966, which belonged to the late Kenny McMillan. Courtesy of Morag McLean (nee McMillan).

Unfortunately in the latter stages of the pit before its closure  he was unwell and died in 1970 of kidney disease. He left behind a number of diaries which sometimes detailed the dangers the miners encountered in their daily lives. That said, Kenny enjoyed the camaraderie of his colleagues and the everyday challenges.

Here are some excerpts  from Kenny’s diary which relate to the time running up to the closure of Argyll Colliery:

15/2/1967

Pit flooded. Manager, Mr Welsh, arrives to discuss closure.

3/3/67

Given one month’s notice 

8/3/67

Discussed cases with manager and arranged the withdrawal of welfare fund

24/3/67

Majority of  miners left the pit today

25/3/67

Divided benevolent and welfare fund to contributors

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Drawing girders in the mine.

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Last day of work at Argyll Colliery. 

and going back to the fire of at Argyll Colliery 1958:

Production was halted because of the fire for nine weeks and T McFarlane was gassed.

Morag McLean (nee McMillan) ©

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We are currently trying to identify the men in this photo so will update this caption when we have some verification… Photo courtesy of Morag McLean (Nee McMillan).

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Morag McLean (nee McMillan) and her granddaughter, Hollie and Kenny McMillan’s Argyll Colliery diaries. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©