Ballingry Parish - Miscellaneous

Lochore Rapid Progress - Wonderful village! an epitome of Middlesborough. Four years ago there were only one or two families at Crosshill, and some roofless cottars' houses tenantless on a run of three miles from the Lochgelly Station to the Shank of Navity. Now, right and left, by the magic touch of industry and our mineral discovery, rows of very neat miners' houses run in every direction, and smoke and puffs of steam envelope the whole district, to the very slopes of the great Benarty. A new tram road is now running from Cappeldrae to a new and successful sinking, putting out its black treasures. The whole operations have been the work of the winter, and this new road affords an easy access for the land sales. On approaching the village of Lochore - where there is now a population of above 300 - we saw the labourers engaged at another important land outlet, running directly from the village to the Kelty mineral railway. Turn your eye over the extensive area of the old loch, and the numerous engine stalks stretch for miles, tlil lost in the smoke and steam of the Kelty pita. Some 60 years ago the largest and loveliest lake in Fifeshire - Lochore, with its fine baronial castle, amidst a dump of trees still standing - stretched from the high road fully three miles westerly, and ran above two miles northerly to the base of Benarty. It was to the south of Benarty what Loch Leven is to the north of this fine picturesque hill, a sheet of water that should have remained as one of the bright jewels of Fife. There are still living in the neighbourhood the aged stane-napper who swam across its offshoots and manned the pleasure boats upon its dazzling surface. At Cappeldrae the new powerful engine we noticed some time ago is erected and in full swing, and thus the district is now completely drained for the Lochore Mining Company to push on its active operations. A week ago we had the pleasure of examining some shells and marine deposit here and at Kirkness in the immediate neighbourhood, which show that the wave on the Leven coast once washed the ancient Inch of Kirkness, and rolled over the rich mineral strath that now stretches between Benarty and Largo Law, and which will become in less than five years the great coal and firebrick district of Scotland, outstripping the old foundations too in its ironstone, lime, and sand and whinstones. [Dundee Courier 27 February 1875]


Former Fife Miner Dies in America - The hero of a Fife colliery fire drama of 40 years ago has died at Mount Olive, Illinois, U.S.A.—Hugh Thomson (80), son of the late James Thomson, Baltic Cottage Lochgelly. In 1900 the pithead of the Mary Colliery, Lochgelly, went ablaze and as the only outlet for the miners working underground was by the pithead, they were in grave danger. Thomson was working at the pit bottom and set off through the workings warning all the men, and refused to go to the surface himself until his mission was completed. Before reaching safety the miners had to dash through the blazing pithead buildings and Thomson was among the last to get clear. He sustained severe burning injuries. He was a good rifle shot, one of the old Lochgelly Volunteers, and was for long a member of the Lochgelly Rifle Team. Mr Thomson emigrated to America in 1913. [Evening Telegraph 13 March 1941]


20 September 1926

Disturbance in Fife  - Baton charge by police  - The agitation which has been on foot during the past week to stop the safety men from working at Glencraig Colliery, Fife, culminated in a clash between a band of strikers and the police early yesterday morning. The Colliery is owned by Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company, and is situated between Lochgelly and Lochore, while the miners' houses are nearby. On Friday morning last pickets were out in force, and prevented most of the safety men from descending the pit. The latter were called out for Monday morning, and at meetings held on Sunday it was resolved to prevent them from starting.

On Sunday evening and throughout the night crowds paraded the streets of the village in military formation, singing songs, but the police were alive to the situation, and considerable force was drafted to the village from Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath. They wore steel helmets.

In the darkness of the early morning, shortly after 5 o'clock, pickets came into contact with the police. The police state that stones were thrown at them. They charged the crowd with drawn batons, and quickly dispersed them. A few of the strikers received hard knocks, but nothing in the nature of serious injury was reported. No arrests have been made. Much excitement prevailed in the district yesterday. [Scotsman 21 September 1926]

22 November 1926

Fife Pit Stormed - Damaged By Miners - Police Stoned - A serious situation developed at a pit at Glencraig, a village about a mile north of Lochgelly, yesterday afternoon. A crowd of several hundred mine workers stormed the pit just after the men who had been working had reached the pit bank.

The police it in attendance at the Colliery were not insufficient force to stop the crowd, and considerable damage was done. The miners who had been working took refuge in a building, but a few who had already left for their homes were attacked and beaten, while several of the police were injured by stones and other missiles. In a short time the police were reinforced by a contingent from Lochgelly, but before they arrived the crowd had got into the engine house, put the cage out of action, broken the windows, and damaged the boilers. They dispersed when the additional police arrived.

More men at work  - In the Lochgelly pits fully thirty more men were at work yesterday, including those who were assaulted on Saturday. A procession of strikers visited the various pits as the men came off work, but no untoward incident occurred. [Scotsman 23 November 1926]

23 November 1926

Fife mining disorders  - 48 men charged - Arising out of the disturbances at Glencraig and Bowhill on Monday, the Fife County Constabulary arrested 48 men, who were conveyed to Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday under a strong police escort. The arrival of the prisoners, who were followed by a considerable body of sympathisers, excited great interest, and a large crowd assembled out side the court buildings. The proceedings, however, were of a private nature, and the public were not admitted to the court room.

The prisoners, who were divided into two groups - 30 from Glencraig and 18 from Bowhill - were judicially examined on charges of mobbing and rioting. Among the offences complained of in the charges were assault on the police, by the throwing of stones and the use of catapults; malicious mischief at the pit head at Glencraig; and the smashing of windows of houses occupied by miners who have resumed work. The accused were admitted to bail, which was fixed at £4 in each case. [Scotsman 24 November 1926]

6  December 1926

Fife miners strike - Dispute over Re-engagement - The miners employed at Glencraig Colliery, near Lochgelly, came out on strike yesterday. The Colliery normally employs fully 1500 men, and about 75 per cent had resumed last week. The cause of the renewed stoppage is connected with the re-engagement of some of the workers. [Scotsman 7 December 1926]

7 December 1926

Fife Coal strikers returned to work  - The miners who went on strike on Monday at Glencraig Colliery, near Lochgelly, belonging to Messrs Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company, after an interview with the manager last night, decided to resume work this morning. [Scotsman 8 December 1926]

30 March, 1927

Miners on trial - Strike scenes in Fife  - A remarkable account of disturbances in West Fife in the last week of the mining dispute was given in Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday, when, before Sheriff Fenton, K C, and a jury, the trial was begun of 29 miners on an indictment charging them with mobbing and rioting at Glencraig on 22nd November, 1926. There were five counts in the indictment relating to assault on the police and men who had returned to work, and window smashing and other damage at Glencraig Colliery. The Crown case is being conducted by the advocate depute (Mr J R Dickson) and Mr R Gibson, advocate and Mr R W Currie, solicitor Dunfermline appear for the defence.

Police witnesses who gave evidence yesterday stated that when the workers were due to leave Glencraig Colliery, a large picket march up the road, and one section went into a quarry and fortified themselves with stones. Escorted by the police, two workers left the pit, but they were driven back by a fusillade of stones. As they were being driven back, they saw that the other section of the picket was coming up the road, and they were likely to be caught between the two crowds. Accordingly they retreated into the pit road, and at this point the two crowds joined forces and rushed into the Colliery grounds. Twice the police charged with their batons drawn and cleared out the crowd. After a lull, the crowd received considerable reinforcements and forced their way into the pit.

Damage was done to the pit property, and the winding machinery set in motion. As a result the cage was raised above its proper stopping place and the winding rope came off the pulley wheel. This appeared to alarm the crowd, who then cleared out of thecolliery premises. Several police constables spoke to having been severely injured by stones thrown by the mob. The Crown case had not been concluded last night when hearing was adjourned until today. [Scotsman 31 March 1927]

31 March 1927

Fife miners trial  - Damage to pit machinery  - At the adjourned hearing, in Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday - before Sheriff Fenton, K C, and a jury - of 29 Glencraig miners on charges of mobbing and rioting, officials gave evidence with regard to damage done by the mob at Glencraig Colliery on 22nd November last.

Andrew Crowe, the manager, stated that the crowd rushed into the pit premises, throwing stones, and smashed all the windows of the Colliery buildings, and broke the electric globes. Finally, some of them operated the winding engine, which caused some damage to the pithead gear. The cage was standing 3or 4 fathoms from the pit mouth, and steam was applied to the engine and the cage raised. The rope became detached from the cage, and fell through the roof of the building. If the cage had gone down instead of up, it would probably have wrecked the shaft. There were pumpers working underground at the time.

Firemen who had been working at the pit stated that they were attacked by the crowd on their way home.

The hearing was adjourned until today. [Scotsman 1 April 1927]

3 April 1927

Glencraig miners trial  - There were still a large number of defence witnesses to be examined at the close of the 4th day of the trial in Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Saturday, before Sheriff Fenton, K C, and a jury, of 29 miners on charges of mobbing and rioting at Glencraig on 22nd November last. The evidence led on Saturday was in support of the Special Defence of alibi which had been stated on behalf of six of the accused men.

Owing to the fact that today is a public holiday in Dunfermline the hearing was adjourned until Tuesday morning. [Scotsman 4 April 1927]

6 April 1927

Fife pit strike riot  - More miners sentenced  - Twenty Glencraig miners were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from three to 12 months at Dunfermline Sheriff Court last night, on being found guilty, after the trial which has lasted six days, on charges of mobbing and rioting at a Glencraig on 22nd November last. 29 were indicted, and of these, two were found not guilty, and in the case of the remaining seven the charges were found not proven.
The indictment charged the men with having formed part of a riotous mob at a Glencraig on 22nd November last, and, acting with common purpose, assaulted police officers and miners who had returned to work by throwing stones at them, and striking several of them with their fists; broke windows at Glencraig Colliery, set the engine in motion and caused the cage to be raised above its proper stopping place, and damaged the winding gear; and threw stones at and broke the windows of a house occupied by a police pensioner. The prosecution was conducted by advocate depute Mr G R Dickson; and Mr R Gibson, advocate, and Mr R W Currie, solicitor, appeared for the defence.

Sentences appalled imposed on the convicted men wear as follows: -
12 months imprisonment - James Holland, Lochore, and George Armstrong, Crosshill. 

9 months - Thomas Malcolm and Peter Aird, South Glencraig, and James Ogle, Crosshill.

8 months - Michael Cooney, Joseph Wilkinson Stewart, Charles Marcinkowitch (Mitchell), James Moffatt, Donald Shoolbread Fraser, South Glencraig; John Hunter, Crosshill; Robert Fleming, James Keicher, and Augustus Keicher, South Glencraig; William Maguire and William Menzies, North Glencraig. [Scotsman 7 April 1927]

3 May 1927

Ejection actions against Fife miners  - Sheriff Umpherston had before him, in Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday, actions by the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company Ltd and the Fife Coal Company Ltd in which ejection was sought from their dwelling houses of 30 miners at Glencraig and Lochore. In every case it was pleaded that the men had not been reinstated in their former employment, and that each was prepared pay the arrears of rent due as soon as they found work. In one case the arrears was stated to be £15 6d and in another £25. After hearing a statement by the law agent of the Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan Mine Workers Association, who pointed out that Mr Adamson, MP for West Fife, was still in negotiation with the Colliery proprietors, the Sheriff gave decree of ejection in five of the cases, the decrees in four cases not to be operative for a month, and in one case not to be enforced for a fortnight, the time being allowed in order that some arrangement, if possible, might be come to between the Colliery owners and the tenants. Continuation was made in the other cases. [Scotsman 4 May 1927]

November, 1927

Following soon after the steps taken by Lochgelly Iron and Coal Company (Ltd), at Dundonald, a notice posted at Glencraig Colliery by the Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company Ltd has caused something like consternation in the village. The announcement is to the effect that owing to the depression in the coal trade and the difficulty in getting coal sold, notice is given that 14 days' from 29th November (yesterday) all agreements with workmen will terminate.

It is understood that for some time the management have been considering the advisability of re organising the present system of shifts, making it a single shift Colliery instead of a double. The change will, in the first instance, affect between 300 and 400 workers. The management hope that the day shift will have six days per week, unless unforeseen circumstances crop up. The feeling in the district is depressed. [Scotsman 30 November 1927]

10 October 1932

Strike At Fife Pit - During the weekend unsuccessful efforts have been made to extend the strike of miners at the Mary pit, Lochore, belonging to the Fife Coal Company (Limited) by bringing out the workers employed at their Bowhill and Kinglassie Collieries. Meetings at these places yesterday, were addressed by members of the Lochore Strike Committee. At both meetings no more than 15 per cent of the men employed voted. The decision at Kinglassie was that in the event of the other collieries belonging to the Fife Coal Company coming out on strike, they would also cease work. At Bowhill the decision was in favour of a ballot vote being taken at all the collieries. The strike, which involves 850 miners, has lasted for nearly five weeks. [Scotsman 10 October 1932]

14 October 1932

Fife Pit Stoppage - Following their unsuccessful efforts at the weekend, the strikers at the Mary pit, Lochore, which belongs to the Fife Coal Co. (Ltd.), partially succeeded yesterday in extending the stoppage to the Company's Bowhill colliery, at which 1100 men are employed. At a meeting of Bowhill miners held in the Picture House in the morning, 166 miners voted for strike action and 45 against it. As a result of the decision only 120 men were working on the back shift, on which 350 men are normally employed. The strikers are confident of effecting a complete stoppage at the colliery. The Lochore strike committee now propose to make an approach to the other Fife Coal Co. pits with a view to extending the strike still further. The dispute at Lochore arose over a loader's wage, which the men maintained was too small for the type of work being performed. Since then they have increased their demands to include a wage of 10s. 5 3/4d. per day for strippers, for which they unsuccessfully negotiated for ten months previous to the stoppage. The strike at the Mary pit has been in progress for over five weeks, and in the event of a complete cessation of work at Bowhill, over 2000 men will be affected. [Scotsman 14 October 1932]