TRTD presentation for the community exhibition at Glen Scotia Distillery April 2017

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Sandy Smith (Winding House), Willie Durance (Electrician) and Gus McDonald (Fire man) at Argyll Colliery. Photo courtesy of Willie Durance ©

A presentation/slide show was put together for The Road to Drumleman’s Community Exhibition which took place at Glen Scotia Distillery in April 2017 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the closure of Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish. The slide show is effectively a digest of what is already here on the archive blog.

The presentation has since been updated and is now available to view online. It will also be possible to view it at Campbeltown Library and at Campbeltown Museum. I may update it from time to time but here is the current version

Please feel free to contact me if you wish to either add something to the slide show or to the archive.

Thanks,

Jan Nimmo

 

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An angling story from 1959

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Angling competition at the Lussa Loch, Near Campbeltown. Second from the left: Willie McKinlay. Photo courtesy of the late Willie McKinlay.

Oor angling lads, they aw’ went fishing
Tae hae their annual competition
Some took hook and bait and line
But Wullie Kinla’ took VP wine
Without delay they set their task
But Wullie lay upon the grass.

He had a swim and then his tea
But aw’ the while he drank VP
As time went by, he heard a shout
When every expert caught a trout
But treated this with sheer contempt
Until his VP wine was spent.

The keenest man was Hugie Lee
Although he’s only five foot three
To get first prize wis his ambition
He spent his whole life at Crosshill fishing
Wi’ expert hand he cast his line
he knew that it was nearly time.

When all at once he got a bite
His reel began to take its flight
Wi’ skill and brawn he fought this bout
No doubt this was the heaviest trout
He’d show them all, he’d stop their bounces
He landed it, it weighed twelve ounces.

Then Wullie staggered tae’ his feet
This canny lot his he’d hae tae to beat
As time was short, he’d really try
And tak’ the auld wife hame a fry
He staggered in and cast in line
Ow’ bleary eyed and foo’ o’ wine.

The trout then queued up for his bait
They knew that he had left it late
He took eight fish and left the rest
The prize was his, he’d done the best
Still Hughie Lee runs round and bounces
I wis only beaten by fifty four ounces!

Many miners who worked at the Argyll Colliery were keen anglers and fished the lochs, reservoirs and burns around South Kintyre; The Lussa, Crosshill Loch, Aucha Lochy, The Backs Water and the Machrihanish Water. Some, according to John McNaughton, a former oncost worker at Argyll Colliery, also did some sea fishing. I imagine that it must have been an enjoyable pastime where miners, who were stuck down the mine all week, were able to enjoy fresh air and relaxation.  The above poem is thought to have been written by Sandy Smith, who worked in the winding house at the Argyll Colliery. Sandy wrote various poems which we hope to be able to publish here on the blog.  This humorous poem was written about an angling competition in 1959 and relates the story of coalface worker, Willie McKinlay, who won the competition that year.

Listen to the late Willie McKinlay read the poem…

Jan Nimmo

You can read another poem by Sandy here.

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A man’s ambition…

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Sandy Smith, Willie Durance and Gus McDonald, Argyll Colliery, Machrihanish, Kintyre. Photo courtesy of Willie Durance ©

Sandy Smith, who worked in the winding house at Argyll Colliery, was well known amongst the local miners for his humorous poetry. Willie Durance, a former electrician at the mine, wrote down this poem written by Sandy for me to share.

A man’s ambition must be small,
And great must be his need,
To creep in here when all is quiet,
To steal the wee birds’ feed.

Sandy Smith

Sandy looked after the 20 or so canaries that were kept on site and used to detect gas in the mine. Willie told me that Sandy wrote this poem when he discovered that someone was stealing the bird seed. He left the poem in the kist with the bird seed and the pilfering stopped!

Priceless!

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Detail of mining themed bunting made by the children at Drumlemble Primary School. When they heard about the role that the canaries played at the mine, the children were inspired to create images of them to put on their bunting. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Jan Nimmo