BY Ryan McDougall | November 16 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

5-MINERS

Rsearchers seek info on memorials to Catholic victims of mining disasters

Researchers are urging Scots to come forward with any knowledge of memorials dedicated to Catholics who lost their lives in the mining industry.

The National Mining Museum Scotland (NMMS), based just outside Newtongrange, a former mining community, is compiling an archive of every mining memorial in the country, including those dedicated exclusively to the Catholic workers who lost their lives in the job.

The group believes it has compiled information about the majority of mining memorials, but is reaching out to the public to ensure they have not missed anything.

One memorial dedicated to Catholic miners can be found in Dalbeth cemetery in Glasgow, following a catastrophe which has gone down in history as Scotland’s worst ever mining disaster.

It took place on October 22 1877, where pits one and two of William Dixon’s colliery in Blantyre exploded due to firedamp set alight by a naked flame.

207 people were known to have died, a tragedy that meant 250 children became fatherless and 92 women became widows.

Another memorial noted by the researchers is in St Kentigern’s Roman Catholic cemetery in Glasgow, placed in honour of Catholics who died on August 3, 1913 in the Cadder mining disaster.

22 men died out of a total of 26 present when a fire broke out in the pit, meaning only four people were rescued.

The researchers are planning to release a handbook at the museum detailing all the mining memorials in the country, a piece of work that they have spent several years on.

Jim Henry, a volunteer with the NMMS, is one of the team members leading the research. “I’ve found about 150 to 160 memorials so far,” he said.

“What I’m trying to track down is just in case there are other memorials that I’ve maybe missed in churches or church halls.”

Mr Henry added that most of the memorials he has found have been in cemeteries, but he is unsure of how many memorials there are within church buildings, so he is appealing to Catholics for more information.

He said: “I’d be delighted if Catholics come forward to me with any info.”

Explaining the idea behind the handbook, he added: “The idea is to produce a booklet to place in the memorial room at the museum so that people can go and take a look and learn about all the mines.

“I was hoping to finalise it soon, but I’m hanging fire because there’s a new memorial to be unveiled soon.”

He continued: “Any money made from the booklet would be donated directly to the museum.”

To date, Mr Henry has travelled across Scotland to conduct his research, a project he has worked on for around five years.

He explained: “The whole thing has been very interesting because I’ll read something on the internet and try to track it down, so when I go to visit it I’ve got a rough idea of what it will look like.

“When I saw the memorial dedicated to the Blantyre 1877 disaster, I thought it would be quite nice if there was a way to clean up or restore it and get it sitting upright again.

“Three of the sides are quite good, but the one on the front’s in quite bad condition.

“I like to call it my own personal pilgrimage when I visit these mining memorials.

“Despite the challenges of finding some of them, the whole thing has been outstanding.”

 

If you have any information regarding Catholic memorials that may be of interest to Jim or the NMMS, contact him via jamesjhenry@yahoo.co.uk

 

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