Coal Bunkers


coalAnother item that may be fondly remembered. Coal Bunkers. This is mine pictured in High Blantyre just before winter set in. It gets filled every couple of months with coal and we’re used to going out in the dark to collect more coal in the scuttle as the fire gets low. (Just like my parents and grandparents did!)

These Marley concrete type bunkers were really built to last, but the lids rust something terrible.  I’d be interested to know what bunkers people had before prefabricated concrete sections. There were many types. A shed, or dry store perhaps?

Much of Blantyre went “smokeless” in October 1973 when the county council installed electric fires throughout the town. It was the beginning of the end for coal fires and a surge in electricity usage as people decided whether to put on one, two or three bars!

On social media:

Thomas Barrett We used the Anderson shelter in the prefabs.

Elizabeth Weaver So did we, Thomas, in Victoria Street.

Helen Lawson Taylor Our coal bunker was in the kitchen and many a time we hid in it playing hide and seek when we lived in Beech Place .

Moyra Lindsay The timber houses had a huge cupboard in the kitchen with a bit boarded off for coal. I expect they are all integrated into the kitchen now.

John Krawczyk I think we had to make a coal bunker. Prentice delivered our coal in the village many moons ago

Garry Lee My Di at one point kept his coal in the cupboard in the hall, however I believe that this was because of the coal shortage in the late 70s and early 80s when the miners went on strike!

People ( in Burnbank) were getting their coal stolen from their bunkers and at this point in winter there were no chimneys in Burnbank smoking due to the coal strike.

The coal for most people in Burnbank and I would imagine Blantyre and other areas in Lanarkshire had eventually ran out for a while, however my dad Gus Sillars a Blantyre man told my Di one night, when you open your coal bunker in the morning it will be full of coal.

My Di laughed it off thinking that it was Gus just being his jokey self, but true to his word the coal bunker was overflowing with coal the next morning and so was my dads mums coal bunker in Blantyre and other older relatives around the place!

He had gone to the greenfield school in Burnbank and he “knew someone” who let him help himself……the worst think about it was that my Di was too scared to light the fire as he said in his own words ” don’t be daft we can’t light the fire, we will be the only house in the Jungle with their chimney smoking, the polis will come”.

Moving on to more recent times, I now live in a wee village called Carnwath (still in South Lanarkshire) where we don’t have any gas mains, we rely on oil burners for our heating and when you walk through my village in the winter, everyone has their coal fire on, and it takes me back to my childhood in Burnbank where everyone had a coal fire, you can’t beat the smell of the smoke coming from the chimney on a cold night.

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