Argyll Colliery Miners’ portraits by Jan Nimmo

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Portrait by Jan Nimmo of her late father, Neil Nimmo, a former Argyll Colliery worker. ©

Following on from the making of her documentary film, The Road to Drumleman, about Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish, 1947-1967, Campbeltown born artist, Jan Nimmo decided to continue working on gathering images and stories related to Kintyre’s mining past. For the TRTD community exhibition that was held at Glen Scotia Distillery, Campbeltown, she created 30 portraits. These large scale pencil drawings portray some of the men who worked at Argyll Colliery, including her father, Neil Nimmo. Two women were also portrayed: Agnes Rennie, who worked as head of catering at NCB (Scotland) in Alloa. Agnes was a regular visitor to Argyll Colliery. Agnes Stewart is also portrayed. Agnes sang her father, Willie Mitchell’s song, The Road to Drumleman, for the documentary.

As part of the exhibition, framed prints of the portraits, were given to the men and women or to their families, as some of the men, sadly, have died since the portraits were made.

More portraits and photos can be viewed here.

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Francis McWhirter with a portrait of his late brother, Dennis, who once worked at Argyll Colliery Machrihanish. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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Crawford Morans with his portrait at The Road to Drumleman Community exhibition at Glen Scotia Distillery, Cambeltown. Crawford worked at Argyll Colliery. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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Artist, Jan Nimmo, with former Argyll Colliery face-worker, Willie McIntyre, at The Road to Drumleman exhibition. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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SKDT’s The Road to Drumleman Community Exhibition at Glen Scotia Distillery

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Alex McKinven, former Argyll Colliery worker. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

The Road to Drumleman, an exhibition celebrating Kintyre’s coal Mining Heritage  was held at Glen Scotia Distillery in April 2017. This year is the 50th anniversary of Argyll Colliery, Kintyre’s last coal mine.

The exhibition was the gathering together of information and images, which started in October 2016 with drop-in sessions at Campbeltown Library. The information here on the archive/blog was digested into a slideshow of almost 400 slides which can be seen here as a PDF – it may take a wee while to load so please be patient.

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Robert Martin. Cross stitch embroidery portrait by Karen Forbes (née Hunter). Courtesy of Nanette Campbell ©

The project took former miners and coal mining into locals schools and the result of these creative workshops with artist, Jan Nimmo, at Dalintober and Drumlemble primary schools was shown at the exhibition in the form of colourful mining-themed bunting which was reminiscent of Miners’ Gala Days in Kintyre. Campbeltown Grammar School also worked with Jan to recreate a trade union banner for Argyll Colliery which was also prominently displayed at the exhibition.

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Argyll Colliery Trade Union banner recreated by 3rd year art pupils at Campbeltown Grammar School, with artist, Jan Nimmo. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

The final component to the exhibition was a series of large framed pencil drawings made by Jan Nimmo. Jan’s father, Neil, was a shot-firer at Argyll Colliery and it was he that inspired her to make the documentary The Road to Drumleman and to continue to explore Kintyre’s coal mining past through this current project with SKDT.

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Portrait of Neil Nimmo, shot-firer at Argyll Colliery. Drawing by Jan Nimmo ©

Part of the project was to give a framed print of the drawings to either the subjects or their families. You can view photos of the exhibition and some of those who attended here.

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Willie McMillan, former Argyll Colliery worker with artist, Jan Nimmo. Photo: Paul Barham ©

We would like to thank everyone who has supported to the project to date and to all of you who came along. A special thanks also to our hosts at Glen Scotia Distillery who worked hard to make the Kiln Room an excellent venue.

Here is an article published about the exhibition and project in the Sunday Herald

There is a forthcoming opportunity to view the trade union banner and the slideshow presentation, including the drawings, at Campbeltown Museum, who will set this up alongside a related display of their own artefacts. This will run from mid-May till the end of August.

The project will end with a community celebration/screening at the beginning of September at Machrihanish so look out for further information here on the blog or the Facebook page for details of that.

In the meantime we are still looking for any information, photos or stories you may have for the archive/blog so please feel free to contact us.

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Jim Kelly, and Margaret Kelly (née Morans) – both their fathers, Jim Kelly and Cawford Morans, worked at Argyll Colliery. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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Glen Scotia and SKDT’s The Road to Drumleman Exhibition

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Glen Scotia Distillery: The venue for SKDT‘s The Road to Drumleman Exhibition. Jan Nimmo ©

As many of you already know we will be holding SKDT’s The Road to Drumleman exhibition (dates here) at Glen Scotia Distillery, Campbeltown. The project is very grateful to Iain McAlister and his team at the distillery for all their support and hard work –  it’s been great to see what they have done to transform the Kiln Room in preparation for the exhibition. We are looking forward to setting up!

And now a word from Iain…

It is a great pleasure and indeed privilege to host the forthcoming  SKDT’s The Road to Drumleman Community Exhibition at Glen Scotia Distillery, which is due to mark the 50 years since the closure of the Argyll Colliery at Machrihanish. The lead artist of this project, Jan Nimmo, has put in considerable time and effort to make this exhibition a success and this is in part due to her desire to recognise the history of the mine and all the miners; past and present, who worked at the colliery and the arduous conditions that they had to endure. Historically, Glen Scotia Distillery itself has utilised this local coal mined at the colliery and this power source undoubtedly created many a fine dram around the wee toon!

Best wishes to SKDT and Jan, and to the success of the exhibition.  

Iain J McAlister

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Iain McAlister, distillery manager at Glen Scotia Distillery, Campbeltown. Photo: Jna NImmo ©

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The Kiln Room at Glen Scotia Distillery last year… Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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The Kiln Room at Glen Scotia Distillery last year… Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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The Kiln Room at Glen Scotia in February 2017. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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Paul Barham – The architect measuring up for SKDT’s TRTD exhibition plan. Photo; Jan Nimmo ©

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Iain McAlister, Glen Scotia, Calum McKinven, builder and Paul Barham. Photo: Jan Nimmo

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The new disabled toilet being built in the Kiln Room by Calum McKinven. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

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The exhibition layout – plans by Paul Barham ©

 

A history of coal mining in Kintyre

 

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Miners in South Kintyre (Drumlemble/Machrihanish). Photo courtesy of Campbeltown Heritage Centre, Campbeltown.

When I was researching the film, The Road to Drumleman, about Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish, both George McMillan, Campbeltown, a former collier at Argyll Colliery and Donald Irwin, Drumlemble, the son of a collier, gave me copies of a document which traced the history of coal mining in South Kintyre. It was put together by former Argyll Colliery manager, David Seaman M.I.M.E. C.ENG. In his introduction, Seaman names the Rev. Father Webb, Campbeltown and Duncan Colville, Machrihanish, as important contributors to the this document.

The history begins in 1494 when King James IV visited his castles in Tarbert, Dunaverty and Kilkerran and ends with the closure of Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish in 1967. It contains often detailed information which helps bring alive Kintyre’s industrial past.

For instance instance in 1879…

“A cargo of Drumlemble coals was shipped this week by the schooner ‘Julie’ for Denmark; several cargoes have been shipped this season for Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Prussia”.

This document will be useful to anyone with an interest in coal mining in South Kintyre. It has been typed up from a poor quality, photocopied version and so we now have the electronic version online which can viewed publicly. Many thanks to Morag McMillan of SKDT and Elizabeth McTaggart for their time and effort in typing this up for the project. Thanks also to George and Donald for making this important historical record available to us all. To view the full document 

Jan Nimmo

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Coal miners at “Lone Creek” an illegal mine at Tirfergus Farm, near Drumlemble – 1920’s. Photo courtesy of Campbeltown Heritage Centre, Campbeltown.

First shipment of Coal from Argyll Colliery

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“First shipment of coal from Argyll Colliery”, Campbeltown Courier, 16th February, 1950. From the Campbeltown Library Collection.