1935 Closure of Whistleberry Colliery

1936 Whistleberry Colliery

1936 Whistleberry Colliery

Whistleberry Colliery, Blantyre, owned by Archibald Russell and Company. Ltd., closed down on the evening of Monday 27th May 1935 after a working life of forty years. The decision to close down the colliery was forced upon the owners by a rush of water. Trouble has been experienced by water at Whistleberry Colliery for a number of years beforehand due to the closing down of neighbouring pits.

Pumping at the derelict collieries had by that time ceased, but by Summer 1935 the water was not just seeping, but rushing into Whistleberry Colliery. It was recorded that ten days prior to the closure,  the water had reached a depth of seventy feet in one of the shafts. Nearly two hundred men lost their employment. The majority of those men resided in Burnbank, at homes tied to that particular colliery and it is very likely they lost their homes too.

Whistleberry Colliery used to exist exactly where modern Macklin Motors and the garages are, just off Whistelberry Road.

I’ve been looking into what became of the mine and found this additional story. The closure of the mine, came up in the Commons. An MP asked, “With so much water at Whistleberry, is there not a danger to other adjacent mines?“.

It would appear nobody wanted to take responsibility for the actions of the water, blaming the exhaustion of coal, despite rumours there was plenty more coal at Whistleberry. A Mr. E Brown, responded, “I am informed that Whistleberry Colliery forms one mine with Greenfield Colliery, which was abandoned last February 1935, and that it is likely to be closed down finally in the near future. I understand that the reason for the closing of both these collieries is not the inflow of water, but the exhaustion of the seams. The stoppage of Auchinraith Colliery, a year or two ago (actually this was 1931), to some extent increased the flow of water to Whistleberry, and the discontinuance of pumping at Whistleberry may affect the amount of water to be pumped at neighbouring mines. This possibility, however, has, I am informed, been foreseen and prepared for already by the provision of additional pumping plant; and in any case the amount of water to be dealt with is comparatively small. With reference to the last part of the question, there does not appear to be any ground for action on the part of my Department. No issue of safety is involved.

The Whistleberry Colliery was sunk in 1894, and for many years was prosperous and provided work for 600 men, but by the 1930’s not more that 100 men were working. Only a few oncost men were to be retained until the underground plant and machinery had been removed to the surface.

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