Cairn will re­mem­ber min­ers

Mem­o­ries of a past life

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Kenny Smith

A me­mo­rial cairn to re­mem­ber min­ers in Cam­bus­lang was un­veiled on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

A short ser­vice took place in the Dr Ann Mitchell Park in New­ton, when there was a large group in at­ten­dance for the un­veil­ing of the cairn, to re­mem­ber min­ers killed in the New­ton pit in an ac­ci­dent on March 11, 1938.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, the cairn was erected close to the for­mer home of Dr Anne Mitchell, who de­scended into the pit to tend to some of the in­jured min­ers.

The cairn was erected by Pride of Place, who pro­vide fund­ing for small com­mu­nity projects.

Lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Edgar, who grew up in New­ton, said: “It’s a great hon­our on be­half of the peo­ple of New­ton, to re­mem­ber the min­ers who lost their lives in a tragic ac­ci­dent.

“We also re­mem­ber Dr Anne Mitchell, who went down the pit to help them. She went there and stayed for three hours, do­ing what she could to help them.”

Myles McHugh was one of the speak­ers, hav­ing lost his rel­a­tives in the ac­ci­dent.

He said: “Some 77 year ago, my grand­fa­ther, and his son, Myles, headed to New­ton Col­liery, num­ber three. They were in sep­a­rate sec­tions of the mine, and were apart when the ac­ci­dent hap­pened.

“There was a fault with the elec­tic­ity and my grand­fa­ther raced to the scene and res­cued Mr Jones and Mr Bell, but on re­turn­ing to help more peo­ple, he made con­tact with the elec­tri­cal cur­rent, and died.

“His son Miles made his way to the scene, and dis­cov­ered his fa­ther had died.

“My grand­mother was left to bring up seven chil­dren.”

Flem­ing­ton Hall­side min­is­ter Rev Neil Glover and his fa­ther Bob, who was chap­lain to min­ers at Monk­ton­hall, at­tended.

Neil said: “I spent the first few years of my life liv­ing in a min­ing com­mu­nity called New­ton - although this one was 60 miles away from here in Ed­in­burgh at Monk­ton­hall.”

Bob added: “I re­mem­ber the min­ers, and how hard they worked. The first time I went into the pits, I was told this was the best-equipped mine in the world - and I was shocked at the con­di­tions. If these were the best, what were the worst like?”

John Edgar added: “I used to bor­row coal off the bings when I was grow­ing up, but I al­ways for­got to take it back!

“I’m proud to have come from New­ton, and the peo­ple couldn’t do enough for each other.

“When the pit shut in 1964, it was a sad loss, as peo­ple moved away from New­ton to Spring­hall and Half­way.”

Two peo­ple with mem­o­ries of the pit were in at­ten­dance, with Char­lie Docherty (87) and Rob­bie Camp­bell (82).

Rob­bie was back in the area vis­it­ing fam­ily, hav­ing em­i­grated to Aus­tralia many years ago, where he also worked in the mines.

He only found out about the cairn un­veil­ing af­ter read­ing about it in last week’s Re­former.

Now liv­ing in New South Wales, he said: “I worked in the New­ton pit for 15 years, and then went to work in the pits in Aus­tralia.

“It was such a big dif­fer­ence. We used to ask why we were work­ing like an­i­mals, when we didn’t get chairs, ta­bles, lights and drink­ing wa­ter, then the first time I went down the pits in Aus­tralia, it was all there, ev­ery­thing we’d been ask­ing for in New­ton.

“They had a big urn so you could smell the tea - and it smelt like a big res­tau­rant.

It was such a dif­fer­ence, as the ceil­ings were 12 feet high, noth­ing like what I’d been used to here.”

Char­lie was just 14 when he started work­ing at New­ton, and stayed there for over three years. His tale of work­ing in New­ton was tinged with sad­ness, as his sis­ter Agnes died of a heart at­tack, aged just 19, as she was sift­ing through the coal.

He said: “I was work­ing down the pits be­fore they were na­tion­alised, work­ing for AG Moore and Com­pany, New­ton. I was down at the coal­face, when you didn’t get a hel­met or a pair of boots - noth­ing. All you had was a wee cloth hel­met.

“It was the worst thing I ever did, go­ing down the pits.

“I had to leave there as I got a chill in my kid­neys, as there were no hot baths or any­thing like that, and af­ter that, I went to work at Red­path Browns. They used to al­ways say, we can tell you used to be a miner, be­cause the ex-min­ers al­ways worked the hard­est.”

Also in at­ten­dance were Cam­bus­lang coun­cil­lors Clare McColl, Wal­ter Bro­gan and Chris­tine Deanie, who all praised Pride of Place for the cre­ation of the cairn.

Pupils from St Charles’ Pri­mary School at­tended ear­lier in the day, and planted a time capsule the the cairn.

Trib­ute The plaque placed on the me­mo­rial cairn

Guest Rev Bob Glover, with two lamps which he was pre­sented with, as chap­lain to min­ers on the east coast

Fit­ting trib­ute Coun­cil­lors Chris­tine Deanie, Clare McColl and Wal­ter Bro­gan praised Pride of Place for cre­at­ing the cairn

Mem­o­ries For­mer min­ers Rob­bie Camp­bell (left) and Char­lie Docherty, at the un­veil­ing of the me­mo­rial cairn

Pay­ing trib­ute Rev Bob Glover (left) and Rev Neil Glover both spoke at the un­veil­ing of the cairn

De­scen­dent Miles McHugh spoke about his grand­fa­ther, who died in an ac­ci­dent in the pits at New­ton

Mem­ory lane Pride of Place’s John Edgar spoke about grow­ing up in New­ton

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