1930 Auchinraith Pit Disaster Poem

1930 auchinraith pit poemBlantyre Project reader Moria Lees kindly showed me this wonderful poem about the 1930 Auchinraith Pit disaster.

Written by Tom Penman of Airdrie, its shared here telling the story of yet another significant pit explosion in Blantyre, which happened on Saturday 30th August 1930. I have to admit though, Tom’s frustration and even anger comes across towards the pit owners, to whom clearly the poem was intended to shame or show resentment of. The poem also ends with an open call for miners to fight for their cause with the Unions.

On the 30th August, on a Saturday morning,
Those brave Blantyre miners went out to their calling.
They never thought when they left their homes, for they left without a dread,
They knew they had to go down the mine, to earn their daily bread.

Those men worked hard from morn till night, far from God’s light of day,
If anyone knew the dangers they face, they’d give them a bigger pay.
Mothers and children rushed to the pit, when they heard of the explosion in the mine,
They were weeping for their loved ones, as they stood at the mouth of the mine.

1930 Relatives gather at the pithead for news

1930 Relatives gather at the pithead for news

As the cage came up with its toll of death from the depth of the burning pit,
It smote the heart of masters, for those men who worked down the pit.
We’ve seen these disasters galore in the past, we’ve seen the blood on the coal,
How long are these horrors going to last, how far are we from our goal?

Must we stand silently by, must we face death for the boss?
The taker of profits, who loudly declares, “We’re working our mines at a loss!”
He lives in a mansion, and you in a slum,
He is the elite, and you are the scum.

Hunting for pleasure and in gaudy dress,
The hunger in your eyes, bespeakes of distress,
He drives his car, smokes Havanna cigar, while you’re content to stay,
In a room nestling in the slums, contented with your old clay.

Regaling in champagne, whilst water is your fare
The sun is his light and yours the gloomy sphere,
His sons go to college, become doctors, lawyers or such,
Yours go down the pit to handle a hutch.

If another disaster perchance takes place,
The fathers, the sons, perchance get caught,
It wont be unusual, just another disgrace,
On those whom the boss describes as naught,
Such things the miner must face,
The Boss? Oh no! He’ll not!

If you’ve respect for the dead,
and wish disasters to stop,
Get under the banner that’s painted red,
and fight till you drop.

You can read all about the Auchinraith 1930 Pit disaster here

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  1. My father Jimmy Russell was badly burned in the Auchinraith explosion. His lungs were also damaged by the blast. I was only sixteen then he went to his grave aged 52 and the effects of explosion on his body were a lot to blame for his early death. . Wilma Bolton

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