Old War Horse still going strong

1947 Andra McAnulty at Dixons unveiling the NCB flag

1947 Andra McAnulty at Dixons unveiling the NCB flag

In 1947 when the National Coal Board was launched throughout the Nation’s existing collieries, Andra McAnulty was described nicely by the now defunct Blantyre Gazette.

As he unfurled the National Coal Board flag at Dixon’s Colliery in High Blantyre, the paper said “This old war horse still going strong.” At the time Andra was 86 years old. In his address to the large crowd which had assembled there on 6th January 1947, he told them he had been in the mining industry since he was 10 years old. He went on to say how he had been associated with the pitmen’s champions like Keir Hardie, Bob Smillie and William Small. He went on to say how proud he was to be president of the union from 1920 -1924 and how proud he was to have lived long enough to see the aim of these men, the nationalisation of the mines, realised.

Andra had been particularly elated when he found out the coal mines were to be nationalised. It was an ambition of his for 70 years beforehand to see that day and it is said by his family that on the day the flag was unfurled in Blantyre, they were fearful he was so excited he would have a heart attack.  An enormous crowd turned up at High Blantyre Dixon’s collieries to see the event. The standing ovation given to Andra by what seemed to be the whole population of Blantyre, appeared to go on for an eternity. The feeling of euphoria almost caused a disaster. As Andra was being assisted from the temporary platform that had been erected for this occasion, so many people wanted to either pat him on the back or shake his hand that he was in great danger of being knocked over. Only the intervention of several burly miners prevented this calamity , as they quickly formed a protective cordon around his slight figure.

Andra died on 12th November 1949 at the home of a married daughter Mrs George Patterson, at 105 Parkville Drive, Springwells, Blantyre. Thank you to the book “A Blast from the Past” for these snippets. In our photo, Andras left hand is resting on James Kellachan’ s shoulder. On the far right of the picture, with the cigarette is Councillor Jimmy Beecroft.

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