Cairn will remember miners
Memories of a past life
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