“Father was a Miner” by William Holman

Something that will be familiar to many families in Scotland and beyond….

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Father was a Miner

My father was a miner,
He worked deep underground;
The rush of drams and clanking chains.
They were his daily sounds.

He worked so far below the ground,
Where coal was hewed by pick,
The work so hard and wages small,
He didn’t dare go sick.

He crawled upon his belly.
In drifts so low and narrow,
The wind it whistled down the shaft.
It chilled him to the marrow.

He ate his food from a Tommy box,
Shaped like a slice of bread,
While squatting down upon the ground,
Where spit and crumbs were shed.

His water, it was in a Jack,
to wet down clouds of dust,
That gathered in his throat and lungs.
Where it formed a deadly crust.

We would listen for his footsteps,
He then come into sight:
This man, our Dad, as black as black,
just like the darkest night;

His bath was always ready,
Set down in front of fire,
My mother then would wash his back,
and tell us to retire;

Right down his back white rivers ran
amongst the dirt and grime,
But you cannot wash away blue scars.
That you get down in the mine.

Years now have passed. My father gone,
But I am proud to say,
My father was a Miner,
Until his dying day.

by William Holman

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,:

Elaine Speirs Thank you for this.My Pappa was a miner and live din Blantyre. His lungs were severely impacted by the coal dust. Blantyre is built on men like him and the women who kept their families going on so little.
Blantyre Project HI Elaine. I couldn’t agree more. There must be many families out there that this poem will be extremely personal to, even more so at Christmas time, remembering back to those loved ones. Merry Christmas.

Hugh Waugh Most of my family were miners my brother and I worked in Cardowan. My father was a deputy in Cardowan tragically killed there in Dec 72. This poem is a great tribute to all who worked underground. Thank You!

Ann Hartman Remember as a wee girl snuggled up in bed with ma gran waiting on ma papa coming in aff a backshift he would open the bedroom door and a don’t have a clue were he got them as this was over 50 yrs ago but he would toss a packet of crisps to me for school next day what a man he was worked all his days despite being torpedoed at Dunkirk and came home a broken man for a number of years don’t make them like that now they were special all of that generation deserve our respect
Hugh Waugh Most of my family were miners my brother and I worked in Cardowan. My father was a deputy in Cardowan tragically killed there in Dec 72. This poem is a great tribute to all who worked underground. Thank You!

Jane Maxwell My grandfather was a miner Jim Copland he worked in many mines. He also traveled down to England and worked in the mines there in Coalville. He also went to Africa to work in the gold mines. He was never out of work if work was scarce he moved to where it was not. He cycled to England and back many times. I am proud to say that he is my Grandfather.
Terry McMahon We also are from a long line of coal miners, with my Grandfather put down the mines before age 10. Shocking to even contemplate. My Grandmother didn’t want that life for her sons; the family emigrated to Canada for better opportunity, though they certainly didn’t find it for many years.

Jessie Caldow Wonderful poem, so poignant for many of us hearing stories of family experiences “doon the pit”. Thank you William!
Helen Allan My grandad and my dad were both miners I remember my dad coming home and he was black as night all you could see was the white of his eyes even his clothes were wet .

Orlando Ancilotti My great grandfather was killed in the pit, my great uncle was retired due to injury sustained underground (after being wounded three times in WWI). Hard men.

Eoan Kerr Ditto my Great Grandfather, although injured twice in WWI before dying from lung disease through mining. Hard act to follow

Elizabeth Bradley My Dad was the miner that set and blew up the dynamite when it was safe.
Andy Callaghan I’m proud to say my Dad and both my grandfathers worked in the mines. Dad worked in Cardowan for many years before being badly injured in a roof fall in the 60s. Initially we were told he had been killed until one of his workmates who had helped rescue him told us he was in the Royal Infirmary with a suspected broken back. He did eventually recover and walk again but he was never the same man. His lungs were badly damaged by coal dust and he died aged only 64.

John Whitelaw I had a couple of male relatives on my mother’s side of the family who worked down the pits in Shotts and in Fife.
Marian Maguire In memory of my dad who worked in cardowan, and father in law, who worked in Blantyre ferme and bothwellhaugh.

Joseph Mccue My dad was a miner for 42 years we stay in Blantyre and my dad finished up in Cardown pit it brings a tear to my eye when I read it lost him this year and he is sorely missed

Anne Mckillop My Father was a miner and the blue scars were there to see, great poem thanks

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  1. Both my grandfathers worked in the mines. Both at cardowan at one time. My grandad and another man were in an accident at cardowan when the roof fell on him. He was trapped doubled over for hours on end. They presumed he was dead as his brother was summoned to the pit head and his neighbour was arranging a lie in as they they thought my grandad wouldnt make it. He survived tho had sugeries and was in hospital a long time. He lived to the age of 80. They are both sorely mossed by all who knew and loved them!! I am so prpud to say my grandads were miners!! x x

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