COAL magazine – an extract from a feature about Argyll Colliery and Campbeltown

Another interesting extract from COAL magazine which relates to Campbeltown and to Argyll Colliery. It was published August 1950. We are grateful to George McMillan, Campbeltown for letting us scan and publish these cuttings. You can read the PDF version here.

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COAL magazine, August 1955. Courtesy of George McMillan, Campbeltown.

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COAL magazine, August 1955. Courtesy of George McMillan, Campbeltown.

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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.

Lines to memory of James McArthur: Killed at Drumlemble Coal Pit

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Kilkivan Cemetery, between Drumlemble and Machrihanish, Kintyre, with the Oa of Islay in the background (2007). Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Lines to memory of James McArthur: Killed at Drumlemble Coal Pit

‘Twas a lovely Spring morning in April
And the lark sang his song loud and clear
When we miners set out on our way to the pit
With light hearts and full of good cheer

We laughed and we joked, as we strode on our way
Not a thought of the mine and it’s dangers
For sport was the topic, as usually the case
On the merits of Celtic and Rangers.

When we reached the pit head in the corner we saw
“auld Jamies” swing his lamp to and fro
He was melting his wax, and preparing his light
Ere he’s start on his labours below.

The signal bell rang, and the cage lowered away
Sinking silently out of the light
But little we thought as we watched him go down
Of what was to happen ere night.

Our work down below but two hours begun
When news came in whispering breath
That a fall had occurred at Jamie’s coal face
And we feared he had met with his death.

The doctor was ‘phoned for, and soon he appeared
Anxious to do his best
But alas! our poor comrade had passed away
And lay in Eternal Rest.

We laid our tools and hurried away
Our work for that day at an end
By custom thus showing the respect that we held
For our poor, unfortunate friend.

Our thought flew to his aged mother
Of ten and four -score years
When we thought of her feeble old frame
Our eyes dimmed with tears

He was called away while at his post
No warning was given
But we hope to meet some other time
At the Golden Gates of Heaven.

James MacArthur was crushed under a coal fall in April 1914, whilst working for the Campbeltown Coal Company. The poem was composed by John Lambie who died in an accident, in 1926, at the Wimbledon Pit.