Seafield Pit, Kirkcaldy

Owners: NCB

Seafield Pit, sunk to the west of Kirkcaldy near the shore to a depth of 1830 ft., was built with similar 'new look' structures to house the winding gear that had characterised the Rothes Colliery, near Thornton. The Seafield pit would take its coal from the vast deposits lying beneath the Firth of Forth.
Seafield opened in 1954 and after a number of years of independent existence, it merged with the Frances Colliery, Dysart, in March, 1966. The pit employed close to 2000 miners and the last day of coal production was Friday 22 January, 1988. The colliery officially closed on Friday 17 March, 1988.
Like so many Fife collieries, Seafield had its share of tragic events, the disaster on 10 May, 1973, being notable.

Two of my relatives were working at Seafield at the time of this incident.
M. Martin]

Click on Image, Map or Plan to Zoom In

Pit opened: Sinking commenced 1954 Pit closed: March, 1988
Source Date of Information Supplied
Manager / Under-Manager / Men underground / Men above ground / Coal seams worked
First sod cut to mark shaft sinking on 12 May 1954.
Vacant / ------------ / 6 / 33 / Sinking.
A. Ludkin / ------------ / 51 / 66 / Sinking.
A. Ludkin / ------------ / 148 / 94 / Sinking.
A. Ludkin / T. Barrie (Depute) / 220 / 102 / Sinking.
D. T. Paterson (Manager) : T. A. Harrison (Asst.) / J. C. Fox (Depute)
J. Glancy ; J. S. Beatson; F. Rolland; J. Soutar; D. Wilson; J. Simpson (Undermanagers)
2121 / 345 / Coal. Barncraig, Bowhouse, Dysart Main.
D. T. Paterson (Manager) : T. A. Harrison (Asst.) / J. C. Fox (Depute)
J. Glancy ; J. S. Beatson; F. Rolland; J. Soutar; D. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Miller (Undermanagers)
2121 / 345 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Bowhouse, Dysart Main.
D. T. Paterson (Manager) : T. A. Harrison (Asst.) / J. C. Fox (Depute)
J. Glancy ; J. S. Beatson; F. Rolland; J. Soutar; D. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Miller (Undermanagers)
2019 / 287 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Bowhouse, Dysart Main.
J. N. Cairns (Manager) : T. A. Harrison (Asst.) / J. Souter (Depute)
J. Glancy ; F. Rolland; D. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Miller (Undermanagers)
R. M. Wallace (Mechanical Engineer) : W. L. Philp (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
J. N. Cairns (Manager) : J. Souter (Depute)
J. Glancy ; F. Rolland; D. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Miller (Undermanagers)
R. M. Wallace (Mechanical Engineer) : W. L. Philp (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
J. N. Cairns (Manager) : J. Souter (Depute)
J. Glancy ; F. Rolland; V. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Miller (Undermanagers)
R. M. Wallace (Mechanical Engineer) : W. L. Philp (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
J. N. Cairns (Manager) : W. Miller (Depute)
J. Glancy ; F. Rolland; V. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Marshall (Undermanagers)
R. M. Wallace (Mechanical Engineer) : W. L. Philp (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
J. T. Mackie (Manager) : W. Miller (Depute)
J. Glancy ; F. Rolland; V. Wilson; J. Simpson; W. Marshall (Undermanagers)
R. M. Wallace (Mechanical Engineer) : W. L. Philp (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
George M. Caldow (Manager) : W. Miller (Depute)
J. Moran; V. Wilson; P. Tweed; W. Marshall (Undermanagers)
Vacant (Mechanical Engineer) : W. L. Philp (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
J. Souter (Manager) : J. Sorbie (Depute)
J. Moran; V. Wilson; P. Tweed; W. Marshall (Undermanagers)
J. P. Miller (Mechanical Engineer) : A. J. Thomson (Electrical Engineer)
2077 / 279 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Barncraig, Six Foot, Chemiss, Bowhouse, Branxton and Dysart Main.
1988 - as listed in Mines Report.
J. Souter (Manager) : J. Sorbie (Depute)
P. Tweed; W. Marshall (Undermanagers)
J. P. Miller (Mechanical Engineer) : A. J. Thomson (Electrical Engineer)
674 / 90 / Household, industrial and steam coals. Dysart Main, Coronation.
1988 - as clarified by J. A. Forster, Depute Manager
W. Kerr (Manager) : J. A. Forster (Depute)
P. Tweed; W. Marshall (Undermanagers)
P. Murphy (Mechanical Engineer) : A. J. Thomson (Electrical Engineer)

[J. Souter, Manager, retired in April, 1987]
[Willie Kerr appointed Seafield's final Manager.]
[J. Sorbie, Depute, appointed manager, Bilston Glen, October 1987.]
[J. A. Forster, undermanager, Bilston Glen, appointed Depute, October 1987.]
It is clear from the information kindly supplied by Tony Forster, HM Inspector of Mines (HSE), formerly Depute Manager at Seafield, that Mines Reports, printed some time ahead of the actual publication date, may not necessarily contain the most up-to-date information on colliery personnel.

["We are always delighted to receive complimentary comments for our website efforts and also to amend/supplement content where inaccuracies may exist. We were contacted in April 2012 by Tony Forster, HM Inspector of Mines (HSE), who kindly described the website as 'a wonderful testimony to the people who worked in an industry that I'm so proud of being a part of.'
The information supplied by Tony will be of interest to former Seafield workers and enabled us to update management personnel information at Seafield Colliery at the time of closure.
M. Martin & Webmasters.]


Tony wrote, "Mick, I came across your excellent site today researching powered roof supports used on D19 at Seafield. I was the Deputy Manager when the pit closed in 1988. The last entry when the mine closed in 1988 is therefore incorrect. At the time of the pit's closure, John Souter had retired and Jim Sorbie had been promoted to the post of colliery manager at Bilston Glen Colliery in Midlothian.
At the time of the closure of Seafield, Willie Kerr was the Colliery General Manager and myself, Tony Forster, was the Colliery Deputy Manager. There is a footnote to the site mentioning the sad passing of Willie Kerr, as the final manager of the mine, who was an overman at the time of the Seafield disaster and played a part in the rescue attempt, being awarded an MBE for his efforts.
I'm also sure it was Peter Murphy who was the Colliery Mechanical Engineer along with Allan Thomson, Colliery Electrical Engineer, at the time of closure. They were both superb Mining Engineers and essential to the safe running of what was one of the most technologically advanced coal faces in the world at the time. Allan Thomson was also my 'wing-man' on all things concerning Nitrogen injection, essential to contain the ever-present spontaneous combustion in the D19 waste."

In follow-up emails, Tony - with a contribution from Allan Thomson - confirmed, not only further background on colliery staffing around the time of the Seafield closure, but very interesting information on his own career.

"Chris, ... There was a lot of movement around that time. I was promoted to acting Colliery Manager at Killoch Colliery in July 1986 when the then manager, Willie Miller, left Killoch to take over from Willie Kerr as General Manager at Monktonhall. ... I'm not sure if Willie Kerr returned to Monktonhall for a period or moved to Seafield shortly after that?
As acting manager, I cut the ropes at Killoch (a very sad day) and moved to Bilston Glen as Undermanager on 12th January, 1987. ... When Jim Sorbie moved to Bilston Glen, I took over his job at Seafield as Deputy Manager. That was 28th October, 1987. Peter Murphy was the Mechanical Engineer when I arrived. He had come back from 'Group' where he had been working to the Production Manager - John Mackie.
I took the last cut off D19 face and once I left Seafield on 8th February, 1988, I became Deputy Head of Industrial Relations at Greenpark NCB HQ for about 6 months before joining the HSE HM Inspectorate on 1st November, 1988.
As I also recall, Jimmy (Jinky) Johnson was the Colliery Safety Engineer when I arrived at Seafield. Vic Wilson was also still working at the mine along with Peter Tweed and Willie Marshall as Undermanagers.
You might also be interested to know that the very last job I did in the NCB (as Deputy Head Industrial Relations Officer) was to get the memorial to the men who died in the Michael disaster erected. That would also be 1988. When I was out at the site overseeing the job, I saw my old friend Jackie Davie who had been (until production ceased) the backshift senior overman at Frances. He was working for the Council at that time.
My first managerial position was in September 1982 as Technical Assistant to the Manager at the 'Dubby' when Willie Kerr was Undermanager and John Souter was the Manager. I was at the Frances for exactly one year and had moved over from East Lothian to live in Burntisland. ... I moved to Killoch Colliery as undermanager later that same year (September).
Resulting from my various emails regarding my time at Seafield as Deputy Manager, I was sent these images which you might find interesting. They were taken just before the pit closed in 1988. One is an aerial view; one taken of me outside the Seafield time office; and one taken of me just about to go underground. I didn't know they existed. These photos were taken by the late George Campbell.

Click on Image to Zoom In

I have just recovered my old 'Garforth' Flame Safety Lamp (FSL) given to me when I left Seafield. It bears the number '2' (Deputy Manager) and is stamped with the Seafield logo on the 'sparker' tab. I will take a photo and attach it to a future email.
Under my desk I also have my Frances Colliery FSL. Frances Colliery used Wolf Lamps made in Sheffield. ... I also have that one, also No. 2."

Best regards,



Here are images of that 'Garforth' Flame Safety Lamp (No. 2) presented to Tony Forster, Deputy Manager, Seafield Colliery, Kirkcaldy.

Click on Image to Zoom In

[See Frances entry - East Index - for images of Tony's Wolf lamp.]


We were delighted to hear, in September 2012, that Tony has been appointed to the position of Chief Inspector of Mines in New Zealand. We wish him every success in his new role.
M. Martin & Webmasters.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 December, 1951

Seams Under Forth

... Plans to tap the coal seams lying deep under the bed of the Firth of Forth include a new sinking in the East of Fife. This projected colliery will be sunk near the coast, and access to the seams lying under the sea will be gained by driving from the new shafts long level tunnels for locomotive haulage. This new sinking will be on the coast to the south-west of the existing collieries of Frances, Michael, and Wellesley. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
14 May, 1955
Coal Boring Experiment in the Forth
Drilling Tower Soon to Leave St Davids

It is anticipated that within the next ten days the specially designed tower which has been assembled at St Davids Harbour for the National Coal Board will be floated down the Firth of Forth and finally grounded at a point over one mile offshore from the new Seafield Colliery, Kirkcaldy.
The tower will be used to prove undersea coal by drilling at sea, and represents the first development of its kind by the N.C.B. It is estimated that the tower, after its "launching," will take about two hours to reach mid-stream from St Davids, and that it's passage down the Forth to its position on the seabed opposite Kirkcaldy will take a further four hours.
The plan to bore for coal off the coast of Fife and elsewhere has been described as one of the engineering feats of the century. Drilling will take place from the platform on top of four girder legs 170 feet high. The platform of the tower includes living quarters for up to 25 men. The cost of this revolutionary venture is expected to be about £250,000.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 November, 1957
New Collieries to Feed Power Station

... Mr H. Walton, chief engineer of the Fife Area of the Board, told a Dunfermline Press representative: "The new station [Kincardine] will be powered by five generating sets which will be installed one at a time. It is hoped the first will be ready for operation in about a year. The second set is expected to go into operation in about two years. These two generators, with an output of 240,000 kilowatts, are approximately equivalent to the biggest power station in Scotland. Even the first 120,000 kilowatt set would supply enough power for the whole of Fife. We are expecting a load of about 100,000 kilowatts will be required for the whole of Fife during this winter.
"Electricity is being used to bring the coal out of the ground and that coal will be used to make electricity. Eight sub-stations have been specially built to supply power for the site workings at Balgownie. A large sub-station will supply power to the mine."
The electrification of collieries in the county is another part of future development. "All the collieries which have any length of life are being very quickly electrified," said Mr Walton. In many cases we are being asked to supply the electricity. The Coal Board will not generate it themselves. At the new colliery of Seafield, outside Kirkcaldy, for example, 4000 kilowatts are required which will ultimately rise to 9000 kw. When Seafield makes a maximum demand of 9000 kw, it will be using about the same amount of electricity as a town roughly the size of Dunfermline."
But Seafield is only one of the collieries
. Others included in the Electricity Authority's scheme are Michael, Valleyfield, Blairhall, Wellesley, and Bowhill Collieries.
Mr Walton concluded: "In the next few years, the N.C.B. in Fife will require a maximum of 50,000 kilowatts, which is half the estimated load required for all of Fife this winter."


"Dunfermline Press"
17 January, 1959

... At Seafield Colliery, the No. 2 shaft was completed and should be in operation soon for winding stone from the extensive drivages to be undertaken to reach the coals. Fourteen miles of tunnelling have to be carried out to reach the position of the Seafield reserves and high-speed mine driving equipment will be assembled and used to speed up this formidable undertaking. The No. 2 car hall at Seafield was completed and the new fan installed. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
18 January, 1964
Effect Of Pit Closures In Fife Area

... Work continued on the drivage of the 170-fathom Crosscut Mine at Seafield Colliery (Kirkcaldy). At the 300-fathom level, the twin Crosscut Mines are still being driven in the Millstone Grit, and the unconsolidated sandstone strata at both levels has been injected with special chemicals to seal off the water. In consequence, drivages have been slower than expected.
Development of the Fife Foot Seam continued in the Limestone Group, and development of the Seven Foot seam has begun. On the surface, the formation of the materials yard was completed, and work started on the permanent buildings for the Welfare Block. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
14 May, 1966
Review Of Coal Industry

The policy of the Scottish Division Coal Board has been to bring into production as soon as possible the potential output of the new large and reconstructed Scottish pits. According to the latest official classification published last November, in issuing their Review covering the period 1965-66 to 1970-71, the "A" pits listed in the County of Fife are as follows:- Michael, Seafield, Comrie, Valleyfield and four mines of the Longannet Group. There are two "B's" - Frances and Blairhall. The "C" pits number nine, as follows:- Wellesley, Glencraig, Kinglassie, Lochhead, Lumphinnans XI, Mary, Minto, Randolph and Fordell. The last mentioned, however, closed last month.
Two major Fife projects which fall into this category [where conditions are generally suitable for power loading] are the new large colliery at Seafield, near Kirkcaldy, and the Longannet Mines in course of construction to supply the new generating station of that name. If we take Seafield first, this is a development with very considerable potential indeed.
The Board has in recent years succeeded in proving the undersea structure of the Seafield leasehold from existing workings at Frances and Michael Collieries, supplemented by the bores put down from a special off-shore boring tower opposite Kirkcaldy, and by a seismic survey carried out simultaneously in 1952.
Shaft sinking at Seafield began in May 1954, and took three years to complete. The tunnel drivages then followed and these were organised on the most modern mine-driving principles, using high-speed equipment, and advances of up to 30 yards per week were achieved. First, the Limestone Coal seams were intersected, in 1961, and forward drivage of the main tunnels was continued eastwards undersea to intersect the True Coal Measures. Concurrently with these major mine drivages, developing roads were driven in the Five Feet Seam in the Limestone Coal Series in order to make a start with actual coal production. The steep inclination of the Seafield coals was confirmed, the Five Feet coal lying at a gradient slightly steeper than 1 in 2.
The first coalface in the Five Feet was opened out last year and has been producing coal since last August. A second face has recently started to produce coal.
Water and soft sandstone delayed mine drivages, but this was resolved in the end by the injection of a special solution to seal the strata and the mines have now reached the main seams in the True Coal Measures. These are of a very good thickness and the opening up of faces in the Dysart Main, the Bowhouse and the Barncraig seams is being effected as rapidly as possible. In this connection, a 2000-feet roadway rising at 1 in 2 is being driven to contact the upper horizon mine which forms the main ventilating return.
On the surface, work has been going ahead to link the Seafield output with the new generating station at Longannet. It is planned to draw a total of 5500 tons a day at Seafield and all the material make of 1-in. to 0 coal will be taken direct to Longannet power station in 32-ton railway wagons using special merry-go-round transport methods over a distance of 35 miles to Longannet. Special arrangements are being made for the rapid loading of these big wagons, involving the erection at Seafield of a 3750-ton hopper. The 1-in. to 0 coal will be conveyed to this bunker; by using high-speed discharge arrangements, a train carrying some 1000 tons of coal will be loaded inside 30 minutes. Special weighing arrangements will also be incorporated.
Coal of size above 1-in. will be fed into a heavy density preparation plant and sold to the industrial or domestic market.


A development programme has been worked out to ensure that there will be a steady and progressive increase in Seafield's output with, of course, a corresponding intake of manpower from pits that have reached the end of their useful lives, these operations being phased very carefully to smooth the interchange of labour as in the past. Seafield is within easy and convenient distance from the collieries of Central Fife, and all the modern amenities of a new colliery - baths, canteens, parking spaces, medical centre and so on - are being provided for the incoming men.
Underground arrangements are in hand to install manriding locomotive haulage to take men swiftly and effortlessly to their places, so that the necessarily rather long level mines will present no problem. In reverse, special facilities are being provided to take the heavy flow of coal from the Seafield faces back to the winding shaft.
There are at present around 750 men at Seafield, a figure that should be doubled by the end of the year. By June 1967, the strength should be around its final figure of some 2500. It will be seen, therefore, that Seafield's potential as a unit of secure and continuous employment is very high indeed and East Fife can confidently look forward to its mining future with every assurance that there will be work aplenty for every able and willing mineworker in the district. ...

The mammoth new generating station of the S.S.E.B. at Longannet will have a capacity at full production of some 2400 megawatts, or double the potential of their other great new station at Cockenzie in the Lothians. To cope with this vast energy output, the power station will be consuming about 6,000,000 tons of coal a year, of which the Longannet Complex will provide 2½ million tons, Seafield 1½ million tons, and the balance railed in from other N.C.B. collieries adjacent or conveniently situated to supply the new power station.
The total manpower that will be required to man up the Longannet Mines is of the order of 2800 at a productivity ratio of around 75 cwts per manshift worked overall. This Scheme, taken in conjunction with development at Seafield and at other units in the County of Fife should be ample to ensure full and steady employment for the miners in this part of the Scottish Coalfield for many years ahead.
As already indicated, the market for the Longannet coal is assured, the full output going to the new power station. On the other hand, the large coal produced at Seafield Colliery - i.e. coal of 2-in. in size - will be disposed of in the domestic market. The great bulk of the pit's output - i.e. coal under 2-in. in size - will be used by electricity stations, with a relatively small tonnage earmarked for use by local industry.


"Coal News"
May, 1968
'Teach-in' ideas to get more coal

Accurate details of any breakdown - and a wider roadway to speed-up supplies. These were two ideas given by pitmen at Scottish North Area's first coalface "teach-in" - to help get a record coal flow of 800 tons a shift.
Seafield Colliery engineer Mr Alex Drummond told 12 pitmen from Barncraig 1 North face: "If we got precise information over the phone after a breakdown on the face, we could go in with the right equipment straight away. We wouldn't have to go to the face, find the fault, then go back to get the gear to fix it."

Wrong type

Recently an engineer was told that a water pipe had burst. Arriving at the face he discovered that it was a pipe on a Gullick support, and he'd brought the wrong type. So he had to go back, wasting a quarter of an hour in machine time.
Leading man Mr Alex McLeod said that with a wider roadway supplies could be brought closer to the face. "This would speed up progress and help us get the 50 feet a week advance we need to hit our target."


Mr McLeod added that the teach-in - more are planned for the pit's other six faces - was very helpful, and most miners had some useful suggestions.
Said undermanager Mr Jim Glancy: "Better communications should lead to higher productivity."
Two and a half shears are taken off the 150-yard face every shift by an Anderton bi-directional shearer. Added Mr Glancy: "We're aiming for three shears a shift, pushing our daily output up from 700 tons to 750 or 800 tons saleable. And our output-a-manshift must go up from 130 to over 200 cwt."


Seafield general manager Mr David Paterson said: "We're holding the teach-ins to let the pitmen know our targets, and what they must do to hit them. And we want to hear their ideas for more face efficiency."
Added overman Mr Jim Rae: "It's amazing what comes up once you get everyone talking about getting more coal out of the first teach-in came a couple of good ideas. And at future meetings we'll probably come up with more."

[Clancy and Patterson - names in the above report - have been corrected to Glancy and Paterson.]
M. Martin & Webmasters.


"Coal News"
May, 1968

A pit team scored a treble "first" in Scottish North Area's junior first-aid competition - and now they'll go on to the national NCB finals at Skegness this month.
Seafield Colliery scored 355 points out of 500, beating Comrie, second, and Kinneil, third.
And as well as winning the team prize, they landed two individual firsts. Their captain, Jim Barber, 19, won the team captain's prize, and trainee miner Joe Proctor, 18, won the prize for the best No. 4.
Others in the team were trainee miner Ronnie Webster, 18, and apprentice engineer, Jim Wilson, 20. Said Jim Barber, a trainee electrical engineer: "We couldn't have done it without our instructor, Mr Jim Miller. He brought us right up to scratch."


In the individual section team members helped, in a series of mock accidents, a boy who fell off his bike; a man burnt by an oil heater; an injured powered saw operator; and a pitman hurt by a falling beam.
In the team section they had to help a man seriously injured by a locomotive.
Comrie and Kinneil tied for second place, but Comrie, with better individual performances, took the honours.
Prizes for best No. 2 and No. 3 went to Blairhall apprentice electrician Patrick Callaghan, 17, and Manor Powis Mine oncost worker David Evans, 19.
Bogside Mine won the Area senior competition.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 May, 1968
Lochore Man Killed

A well-known Lochore man, Mr George Duncan, 39 Loch Leven Road, was fatally injured at Seafield Colliery on Wednesday morning. Mr Duncan (46) was working at the No. 1 Barncraig section of the pit about nine o'clock when a large stone from a waste section fell and killed him.
Mr Duncan had worked at Bowhill, Lumphinnans No. 1 and the Mary Pit in Lochore, from which he was transferred to Seafield on its closure in the autumn of 1966. He was employed as a power loader operator.
In his younger days Mr Duncan played football with Lochore Bluebell, Lochore Welfare, Crosshill Hearts and Blairgowrie Juniors. He was also a keen golfer.


The Seafield Disaster - 10 May, 1973

The Fife Free Press
Friday 18 May, 1973

Five miners were killed following a massive roof fall.  Four others were injured and rushed to hospital. while a number had narrow escapes as the roof caved in without warning.
The disaster occurred at a new coal face 1600 feet under the Firth of Forth some three miles from the pit bottom. Of the nine miners trapped, four were brought out alive but five men perished in the fall. The names of the dead men follow:

Names of the deceased

Name Age
Robert Henderson 59
James Holmes 53
James Comrie 49
Thomas Kilpatrick 38
Angus Guthrie 20

The Seafield seams dipped steeply (around 1 in 1.5) as did many of the coal seams in the Fife Coalfields. The men were moving the roof supports forward after the shearer had made its cut, but before the supports could be pressurised, the roof started to collapse, knocking over the supports one by one. There was no warning before the cave-in close to where twenty two miners and officials were at the coal face. The time of the fall was shortly before seven o'clock on Thursday night, when a huge part of the roof came down, covering a stretch of 60 yards.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 May, 1973

The body of 20-year-old Angus Guthrie, 73 Carden Castle Park, Cardenden, was recovered from the Dysart seam of Seafield Colliery at the weekend.
He was one of five miners killed in the pit disaster caused by a roof fall on Thursday, 10th May. Three of the bodies were recovered the following day, but two were buried deep underneath the fall. Rescue teams had worked round the clock all last week to recover the bodies and young Guthrie was finally brought to the surface on Saturday.
His funeral was held to Bowhill Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon when there was a large attendance of mourners including relatives, colleagues, and representatives from the NCB and the NUM.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 July, 1973

The Seafield Colliery Disaster Fund stood at £31,962.22 this week as donations from all over the country continued to arrive at the Department of the Town Chamberlain in Kirkcaldy.


The following account has been sent in by Peter Wishart, one of our site visitors

The D:22 section area in Seafield was positioned close by to a cross-cut roadway both in the two levels at Seafield, one level at 170 fathoms and the other at 300 fathoms. The X-Cut was part of the original plans to create lateral roadways to get easy access to all the viable coal.

The section was an advancing faceline heading towards the south-side from the main lateral roadway. The tailgate was on the 170 level and the maingate near the 213 fathom level. As the section was advancing, it came across a faulting which was an over-throw of 'post' coming from the pavement and unforeseen 'burnt coal' in the seam. To try and eradicate the problem, the boring and firing into the pavement, to allow the shearer to travel, took place. The face pans over this fault, however, had to be lifted over the fault to allow easy haulage of the shearer as well, but with the fault, the shearer was cutting higher into the roof causing the roof to weaken as it was breaching the solid roof. To allow the supports to advance, it was proving difficult for the relay bars to push the pans without them lifting into fresh air. To combat this, the pans, when being advanced, were 'stelled' with trees to sit off the pavement. When trying to advance the supports, it was proving to be almost impossible as the relay bars were in a jack-knifing position. In order to advance the supports, the relay bars were replaced by chains for the chocks to be brought forward. Once in place, wooden chock blocks and 10' boards were used to allow the chocks to be pressurised correctly onto the roof. With the culmination of the relay bars not offering proper stabilisation of the pans in relation to the chocks, and the broken roof over the chocks not being completely secured to the roof, this was a main contribution to the collapse of the chocks in the way it was found. There was no proper support in the area of the accident, with no support over the face-line and the chocks, the shearer coming down the face taking another 'cut' caused a further load of pressure with an extra 3 ft. of open ground unsupported. With stelled tress being left on the floor along with other wooden materials, the chocks were sitting on broken strata from the firing of the fault and the unwanted trees. This also made the supports unstable. It was all these factors that contributed to the disaster.

I believe this was the case, having being told by older men and my dad, who volunteered along with everyone to help and try and get the poor souls out of the faceline.

Many years after the accident, I was working in a newly-developed section in the 170 level. In this area, right into the furthermost seam, a lot of retreat sections were developed. One particular section in the Coxtool Seam, we encountered the same geological conditions of D:22, we were heading in the same exact south direction. The section was known as S:25, the main gate was in the 170 level and the tail gate was further up a heading then into a roadway that was being developed further than the known fault. We had to bore 6-inch holes above the face-line to allow reamer channels to be placed above the advancing chocks as we came across burnt coal that literally fell onto the pans, the shearer only had to cut the pavement coal, as the face-line was falling perhaps 8 or 9 feet in advance, the roof was very weak and had to be supported as soon as possible. It proved to be unsuccessful and never produced much. All attempts to develop that area were abandoned due to the problems.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 October, 1974
Forth coal probe

The National Coal Board is to put down bore holes in the Firth of Forth, off Seafield Colliery, Kirkcaldy, to prove an extension of reserves to the south of the pit.
Current developments in the area have met geological troubles with whin intrusions and faults.
The boring will be done by a drilling ship, Wimpey Sealab, owned by George Wimpey & Company. The bores will go down 1800 feet, the first time this depth will have been reached in this type of drilling.
The bores will be about four miles offshore and half a mile and 1½ miles respectively to the south of current workings.
They will cost about £350,000 and are expected to yield valuable information on the geological conditions, gradients and the development of the many seams in this part of the reserves.
Over the next five to six years the NCB plans to spend £1 million a year on the development of Seafield Colliery, which, as the largest single pit in Scotland, employs 2400 men.


The Wimpey Sealab will arrive in the Firth of Forth at the end of this month and boring operations will begin at once. They will take about two months.
The ship will operate in 80 feet of water. One hundred feet of the bore will be in mud, sand and boulder clay until rock is struck.
Bores were made for Seafield Colliery in the 1950s, from towers set on the sea bed. The sinking of Seafield began in May 1954 and production started in April 1965. It cost £15 million.
The Wimpey Sealab, 6000 tons, was converted for sea drilling from a bulk paper carrier.
A 23 foot x 27 foot section of the ship's hold was removed so that the drills enter the water through what marine engineers call a "Moonpool." The rig rises 108 feet above the ship's deck.
To maintain stability, while drilling operations are underway, six anchors on the seabed are linked by wire hawsers to 40-ton winches on the Sealab which will be serviced by tug and helicopter.
The Sealab drilled in the English Channel to help plot the course of the proposed Channel tunnel.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 March, 1975
Record breaking miners

... Seafield Colliery mined its millionth ton of coal in just over 11 months on Wednesday. This is the fourth unit in Scotland to reach a million tons this year.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 October, 1978
Commitment to colliery link-up

The multi-million pound link-up under the Forth, which will lead to coal being produced from the doomed Michael Colliery, is to go ahead as planned.
Seafield Colliery, Kirkcaldy, and Frances Colliery, Dysart, pits at which many Central Fife miners work, will be joined up with some 160 men transferred from the Dysart pit to Seafield.
The National Coal Board have spelled out their commitment to the project which will tap the reserves of the Michael Colliery which was closed 11 years ago after a fire which caused the deaths of many men.
Kirkcaldy MP, Mr Harry Gourlay, said the fears that the long-term development plans were in doubt were unfounded.


He said, "There has been no change in the NCB's plan for the link-up. "With the massive reserves of coal under the Forth, which can be reached from Seafield, it would be criminal to suggest the closure of any pit."
Mr Gourlay made a tour of Seafield and saw the site underground where the drivage will be starting shortly to link-up Seafield and Frances and subsequently with the Michael reserves.
He said the best description of the project was a pit within a pit. "The excavations to accommodate the machinery and a bunker to hold about 1000 tons of coal are massive and all this is part of the £7 million scheme to link-up the Frances, Seafield and Michael reserves, he went on.


"The target date for the link-up of Frances and Seafield is March, 1980, and the first face at the Michael reserves should be producing coal by September of that year.
"There has been no change in the Board's long-term plan for this linkage. What has changed is that there will be one mine driven from Frances instead of two. But with the improved facilities for bringing coal to the surface in Seafield, the need for a second mine is not so pressing."
He concluded, "It has been generally agreed that while there had been some doubt recently regarding the future of both Frances and Seafield, the position has now been clarified to a considerable degree and it is generally accepted that if productivity and performance in the drivage keep to schedule the future can be assured."


Connecting the Frances and Seafield Pits Underground.

We are grateful to Bob Johnston, Cowdenbeath, ex surveyor, for his personal account of this feat.
M. Martin & Webmasters.

"I was deputy surveyor at Seafield from 1965 until its closure. By this time, I was Colliery Surveyor in charge of both collieries. Both pits were connected underground on 20th March, 1980, the connection being 'spot on'. This was one of the largest connections undertaken in Scottish pits. Underground surveying was in excess of 10.5 miles under very difficult conditions. The in-line drivage being 1200m using laser beams for direction. This was surveying to a very high standard - I might be a wee bit biased, as I was the surveyor involved! However, this did not prolong the life of the collieries as expected, and dams were put in at the Frances and both collieries flooded. Hope this helps to update your magnificent web site."
Kind regards,
Bob Johnson
Ex-Surveyor Seafield/Frances Collieries


"Dunfermline Press"
26 January, 1979
The rescuers

Castlehill Colliery have won, for the second year in succession, the national annual Mines Rescue Competition, held at Loanhead, on Saturday.
Run for the 21st year, since its inception in 1958, the inter-station competition is fought out by the four mines rescue stations in Scotland.
Twenty-five brigades started out in this contest last year, but, after a series of knockout heats, only eight teams were left in the finals on Saturday.
Cowdenbeath Mines Rescue Station had two teams in the event - Castlehill and Seafield - and Castlehill took the major award, plus the Gallery Trophy and three individual awards.
Seafield took the runners-up position, with a close second place to the winning team, making it a first for the competition which has never seen the top places taken by one station - Cowdenbeath.
The Castlehill team - David Forbes (captain), Nap Smith (No. 2), David Barclay (No. 3), David Gardiner (No. 4), vice-captain Dennis Maddox (No. 5) and Robert Wilson (reserve).
[The Cowdenbeath Mines Rescue Station superintendent was Mr E. Savage.]


"Fife Free Press"
4 April, 1980
Miner dies after roof fall.

A 46-year-old Kirkcaldy miner, John Hutt, of 3 Muirfield Street, died last Thursday, following a roof fall at Seafield Colliery.
Mr Hutt, a power loader, was working underground at the Dysart Main Seam, when the fall occurred. He was brought to the surface about 10.45 a.m. and taken to Victoria Hospital, where he died later in the day.
Mr Hutt is survived by his wife, son Kenneth (20), a student at St Andrews University, and daughter, Jacqueline (17), a prefect at Kirkcaldy High School.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 November, 1982
Longannet named in Scargill 'hit list'

Despite the names of Longannet and Seafield being mentioned on the "hit list" of pits "revealed" by NUM President, Mr Arthur Scargill, on Tuesday, both the West Fife Complex and the Kirkcaldy pit are "safe".
A National Coal Board spokesman told the Press yesterday (Thursday) that the Board considered the Longannet Complex and Seafield as areas of the Scottish Coalfield with a future.
He said: "The performances of all pits are under constant review, that is true, but, because a pit has one bad year, it does not mean it is going to close. And, as far as the Longannet Complex and Seafield are concerned, we have just made major investments at both and that is hardly a sign that they are to close."
A leading Fife NUM official said on Wednesday that Coal Board moves to close any pits in the Region on an "alleged economic" basis would be strongly opposed.
Following Tuesday's announcement of the result of the miners' ballot on pay and pit closures, Mr Scargill claimed that he had obtained an NCB document threatening the closure of 75 pits. These pits could be closed within seven years, it was said.


The document, he said, contained five pits in Scotland, but, on Wednesday, Mr William Clarke, a Fife Regional Councillor, and a member of the Scottish Executive of the NUM, made it clear that, if the Fife Coalfield were to be hit by any closures, the Union would fight all the way.
Mr Clarke said that any move for early closure of Seafield Colliery, or Longannet, would be strongly resisted.
These two parts of the coalfield employ over 5000 men.
He went on: "We have heard nothing officially about early closures. However, any moves prematurely to end production at any of these two places I have mentioned would be fought. The Union met with the Board in May and discussed closures and it was agreed that, where pits were becoming exhausted, closures would have to take place. That is only common sense. However, at Seafield and Longannet, there is plenty of coal to be mined in the years to come, so exhaustion would be no reason for closures. The Board could only close them for what they would allege as economic reasons."
He concluded, "The Union does not foresee any early closure at Seafield or Longannet, but certainly this document cannot be ignored."


"Dunfermline Press"
4 March, 1983
Miners split on strike call

Miners in West Fife collieries seemed split yesterday over Monday's strike-call. Voting at the pitheads began on Wednesday and, while there was a reported strong "Yes" vote for the strike-call at Castlehill Mine, miners elsewhere were not so keen to strike.
At Bogside and Solsgirth Collieries, with the back-shift workers still to vote, the mood appeared to be 50-50.
Meanwhile, at Comrie Colliery, the men are believed to have refused to vote, opting instead for a ballot.
At Seafield Pit there was a reported 2-1 vote in favour of a national ballot.
The men had been urged by the NUM's Scottish Executive to strike as from Monday, in response to South Wales miners' campaign to save the Lewis Merthyr pit, near Pontypridd.
At a special delegate meeting in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the 19 delegates voted unanimously in favour of indefinite strike action from Monday.
Those delegates voted 12-7, in December, in favour of allowing Kinneil Colliery in West Lothian to close and miners being moved to work at other pits, including those in the Longannet Complex.
Yesterday (Thursday) staff at the NUM's Scottish Headquarters in Edinburgh declined to confirm the outcome of pithead voting so far, saying that there were no NUM officials available for comment.
A meeting of the Scottish NUM Executive was due to be held last night in Edinburgh to discuss the results of the voting, and yesterday afternoon local executive member, Mr William Clarke declined to comment in advance of the talks.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 February, 1985
Jobs crisis in Fife coalfield

As Kirkcaldy's Seafield-Frances complex suffered a massive 800 job losses this week, the NUM gave assurance that there was no danger to pits in West Fife.
Chairman of Dunfermline's Woodmill Strike Centre, Mr Bob Young, accused the board's Scottish area director, Mr Albert Wheeler, of intransigence in his handling of the dispute.
Mr Young flatly denied that the director's claim of a rapid deterioration at the Fife pits applied to those in the west of the region - Comrie, Solsgirth and Castlehill.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 May, 1985
Recovery cash for coalfield

The clearest indication yet of the National Coal Board's future plans for the industry in Fife and Scotland came after a meeting with unions on Friday. Area director, Mr Albert Wheeler, announced that the flooded Polkemmet Colliery was to be abandoned, but the bad news for West Lothian was sweetened with some good news for Fife.
The board plans to invest £20 million in the Scottish area this year - with a "reasonable share" coming to the pits of the Longannet Complex, Comrie Colliery and the Frances/Seafield complex, near Kirkcaldy. ... Fears that the Frances/Seafield complex would be abandoned were also lifted. The pits suffered badly from fire damage during the strike, and the two main production faces were lost. Two new coalfaces are to be developed at Seafield, with a promise of even more investment in future, depending on productivity.


June 1985


On returning to Seafield, as General Manager, I have now had time to study the colliery and its prospects. Having lost one third part of the pit during the strike we have had to drastically reconsider Seafield's future.

To this end and a very important meeting took place at Seafield on Tuesday 7th June 1985, attended by our Director and Deputy Director. Also in attendance were the union's full time officials including Mr. M. McGahey, N.U.M. President and his Secretary, Mr. E. Clarke. Local officials of the union and members of the management team were also present. Important decisions relative to Seafield were intimated to the meeting and it is right and proper that I tell my workforce, who are affected by these decisions, what the main points were.

A 5-year plan has been drawn up for Seafield but it was made clear that the results over the next 2 years would decide if the rest of the plan came to fruition.

There had been a slight improvement in Seafield's O.M.S. but it was still well below the national average.

We were also on the right course for cost savings but as much remains to be done.

Losses at Seafield have been horrendous and, indeed, in the present financial year we are estimating a £19m deficit.



We have to produce efficiently and safely to survive. To this end the Board propose replacement faces for L11 and D17. It was imperative that we get L15 operational by October and a new face in the Chemiss Seam shortly after. Sometime after the commencement of the new financial year, a third face, D19, would be commissioned. New faces require massive investments and unless we are able to produce in excess of 2.5 tonnes per manshift, we have no future. It was pointed out very strongly, that D51 face at the Frances, with 4-hour working day at the face, regularly produced over 2,000 tonnes per day. In that respect Seafield was not being asked to do anything spectacular - just regular and consistent achieving of our face tasks.

In a wide sphere, we must diversify our markets and move away from concentrating only power station fuel.

We need to expand our sales in the domestic and industrial markets. At present we import 300,000 tonnes for this market from England. Our aim is to double our sales in this side of the market and to this end we must be able to compete favourably with gas, electricity, oil, etc. local authorities can play their part in the mining areas and protect jobs by converting to coal.

Again everything depends on our ability to produce at a price the customers will pay.

In the discussion that followed, no one disagreed on the main points of the meeting and Mr. McGahey, Scottish Miners President, pledged his members co-operation and commitment to make Seafield a viable proposition. This would assist the unions in their campaign to achieve an expanding industry in Scotland.


Concluding the meeting, it was evident that a future can exist for Seafield but only if we are strong enough to want it. Coal at the right price is the answer.

The only people who can lose Seafield is the men, union and management at the pit.

Similarly the only ones to save Seafield are the people at the pit - not in Green Park, not in London.

The coal is there for 100 years production - together let's go and get it out.

Continuing my policy of maximum communication, I will be arranging to meet as many men as possible on our return from the Annual Holidays.




By Max Meharry, Personnel Manager.

Achieving the production targets as necessary to survive could be done by making more use of the dead time in our faces and major developments.

At present there is a 3-hour gap from the time the dayshift leaves until the backshift gets in. The same gap exists between backshift/nightshift and nightshift/dayshift.

This means our faces are lying dormant for 9 hours in every 24 hours. There is no other business or industry in any country in the world who would spend millions of pounds on a project then have it lying unproductive for 40% of the working day.

It is even more ridiculous in our case where we are fighting for a future for ourselves, our sons and their sons. Its like buying a pub in a busy High Street, but only opening in the morning session and closing every evening.

We must organise ourselves to continuously mine coal and drive roadways 24 hours a day every day. This will protect and create jobs.

We have approximately a 4-hour working shift and, if we changed over shifts at the face, we can achieve 6 working shifts at the coal face (i.e. 6 shifts of 4 hours duration). This could mean 5 production shifts and 1 maintenance shift every 24 hours.

The same would require to be done on our major development as well.

This policy would increase our productive capacity by over 60% and with this kind of effort the national average production figure of 2.5 tonnes per manshift would easily be overtaken and in this way consolidate our future.

It would completely transform the whole climate for Seafield and the East Fife Coalfield.

When the Director and Deputy Director go to London they would not need the begging bowl when they plead for investment for Seafield. They would be able to DEMAND money for a pit with ample reserves and a proven record of production levels, success and profitability.

Similarly the union campaign to expand our industry in Fife has more chance of success if they are able to show what the Fifers have achieved by their own efforts.

Multi-shift working will eventually be necessary as our coal faces get further away from the pit bottom and I'm sure all thinking miners appreciate this. Unless we multi-shift, you would arrive at the face for piece-time then start to make your way back to the pit bottom, and you know how silly that would be.

There is a great deal of work to be done to introduce multi-shift, transport, shift times, underground races, manpower, team members etc, but we must make a start now. If we are serious about wanting a successful pit, we will take multi-shift in our stride.

Frankly, I don't think we have any alternative.


We are very grateful for the above article which was contributed by Peter Wishart, Coatbridge. Peter has also kindly sketched layouts (see images below) to remind us of Dysart No. 1 North Tail Gate [L image], C24 Tail Gate [C image], and the outbye end of the D12 maingate [R image].
M. Martin & Webmasters.

Click on Images to Zoom In

Peter's accompanying notes re his sketch plans stated:- "I have attached Dysart No. 1 North Tail Gate Plan. The main gate was placed on the 256 fathom level and the tail gate was on the 213 fathom horizontal level. This faceline was worked well before I started in Seafield, my Dad says that this was the first of many Dysart Main sections to have worked in the Colliery.
I have also attached a drawing of C24 Tail Gate. This section was in the Chemiss Seam that I worked in. This faceline was a retreat faceline. The Main Gate was in the 170 fathom level and the main gate ran right onto the 170 level main roadway. The coal was transported along this roadway onto a heading that ran down to the 300 level. The heading or dook was in the Barncraig Seam and was known as the 'Barncraig Heading'.
I worked in a lot of retreat sections in this area. A lot of the Bowhouse, Chemiss, Coxtool, Six Foot and Barncraig Seams were worked in this area on a retreat system. The last section to have worked in this area was in the Six Foot Seam. I worked on the chocks in a lot of these seams. The last two Six Foot seams, S23 and S25, worked in advance on a southward direction from the 170 level. These two seams proved to be very hazardous as they both advanced to a known fault. S23 only produced coal for about 8 months then we hit the fault and the tail gate advance face lost the coal. S25 was being developed at this time. When S23 finished, we were transferred en bloc into S25. The tail gate was advancing through the fault. After driving through the fault it was found to have been one huge overturn. Once through the fault, the Chemiss seam was to be found on the same horizontal level as the Six Foot was found 150 yards beforehand

Peter's comments on his third sketch plan were:- "See (B) - Manriding Dook - this was the main transport link. It comprised an endless rope haulage with two sets of man-riding bogies, each train had 5 carriages carrying 20 men on each carriage. The men then followed the roadway out of D12 Main Gate outbye end onto the (C) Material Dook and followed the dook down to their respective work places ( L.15, D17 or D19 development at the time). D12 was sealed off around 1980."


"The Glasgow Herald"
2 September, 1986
Miners return

Seafield colliery, Fife, has returned to normal after a 24-hour strike on Monday by more than 800 miners. After talks yesterday with general manager, Mr John Souter, National Union of Mineworkers delegate Mr Johnny Neilson said a further meeting would be held today. "We don't expect any more problems," he added.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 January, 1987
Fire raises fears over miners' jobs

The 800 workforce at fire-ravaged Seafield Colliery - many of whom live in Dunfermline District - faced an uncertain future this week.
After the disastrous fire which wiped out one of its two faces, the future of the Kirkcaldy pit is to be reassessed and British Coal has given no guarantees on future manning levels.
Miners returned to work on Tuesday after the pit was declared safe - six days after the fire broke out. Consultations between the coal board and the unions are due to begin next week, and a new plan for the colliery's future will be based on the surviving face.
The NUM had hoped that the board would bring forward proposals for the development of the Frances end of the complex, which would allow entry to the Michael colliery reserves.
An inquiry into the fire will start as soon as the immediate problems have been sorted out.
It is not known how many men from Central and West Fife work at Seafield, but it is understood to be a fair number. Some of them had been switched to the Kirkcaldy mine when Comrie closed.
Seafield will no doubt be high on the agenda when a national organisation set up to protect the interests of coalfield communities meets in Fife for the first time on Friday.
The South Yorkshire-based Coalfields Communities Campaign, launched by concerned local authorities following the long miners' strike, will meet at the Lomond Centre, Glenrothes.
It has close links with the mining trade unions and increasingly with British Coal.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 January, 1987
Miners await job losses

British Coal officials, unable to attend a meeting with unions at Seafield Colliery on Wednesday, were to have announced job losses, a union delegate revealed this week.
Mr John Neilson, NUM delegate at the Kirkcaldy pit, told the Press that the coal board has decided there would be a reduction in manning levels following the disastrous fire at the start of the year.
He said, "We are not aware of the precise figures but they will be conveyed to our members as quickly as possible."
Following a meeting of British Coal officials on Monday, a meeting was arranged for Wednesday, with senior union representatives at the pit. Due to bad weather this meeting had to be cancelled.
Mr Neilson commented, "We recognise that we lost half of the pit's coal face in the fire and we expected some redundancies. The most important thing is that the pit is still working and we will now push for investment."
Mr George Bolton, a senior NUM official, refused to comment on the redundancy situation at the moment, saying that it was more important to gain a guarantee about the pit's future for the 800 workers presently in employment there.
A British Coal spokesman was unavailable for comment.


Nitrogen used to stop heatings

Contributed by Peter Wishart, one of our many regular site visitors

Now that the colliery has made such a good recovery from the fire everything possible is being done to prevent a recurrence. Because of the ever-present risk of heatings it was decided to introduce nitrogen into the D17 faceline to cut the oxygen and thus reduce the risk in an area where a heating could occur.
"By reducing the oxygen in the airflow we should prevent any spontaneous combustion in the D17 Area which could put our only face at risk," said manager John Souter. "We have a problem with spontaneous combustion and that's why it is important that we do everything possible to protect out coaling operation." He stressed that the nitrogen is not a hazard to anyone working underground. "The gas is delivered by tanker to a surface tank and is taken by a series of pipes to the D17 area. Controlled quantities are released into the airflow which passes along D17. This has the effect of reducing the oxygen content in that area and should prevent any heatings occurring," added Mr Souter. "The nitrogen is actually passing away from the D19 airflow and any minute quantities reaching that area will be so diluted to be totally harmless. Every possible step is being taken to try and ensure the future of our pit and this should remove a lot of worry."

" Tanker delivers nitrogen to the surface"
Click on Image to Zoom In

National Coal Board
Scottish Area, Green Park, Greenend
Edinburgh EH17 7PZ
Telephone: 031 664 1461
Director’s Office

February 1987
Dear Colleague,

With the serious fire at Seafield now sealed off, it is time to reflect on the intense activity that took place in the early days of the new year to save the entire colliery from being lost.

I am aware that, without the magnificent efforts of a large team working long hours both night and day, we would now be facing a much more serious position.   Many of you willingly sacrificed the seasonal holiday with your family to devote your attention to the job of saving the pit. This was truly an example of all the best qualities of the Scottish mining industry.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for your particular contribution to the Seafield operation. Needless to say, the loss of a major coal face is a setback to the industry at a time when we are looking forward to meeting our objective of making the Scottish industry viable. But given the spirit that was shown over these vital hours at the pit, I know we have the will to overcome this loss and move forward to future success.

Sent by Peter Wishart, Coatbridge.
Yours Sincerely,

G. McAlpine


"Dunfermline Press"
10 July, 1987
Pitmen dig deep for a new high

Fife pits have made a substantial contribution to a new productivity record set up by Scotland's coal workers.
Scottish pitmen hit a new productivity high of 3.49 tonnes-a-manshift for the week ending 6th June, beating the previous best set up the month before, of 3.33 tonnes.
The area's top performer was the C67 face at Scotland's newest colliery, Castlebridge, which headed Britain's faces of more than 209 cm. In the five weeks to 13th June, the Fife face notched up an average of 3522 tonnes a day - fifth top in Britain.
Seafield's D19 came seventh in the same list, with 2292 tonnes a day. ... At Seafield Colliery, preparatory work is continuing on a £10m face replacement development.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 January, 1988
Miners on the move

An unspecified number of miners from Seafield Colliery, Kirkcaldy, will be transferred on its closure to the Longannet Complex.
The decision on the future of the remaining miners, who have been assured that there will be no compulsory redundancies following the closure announcement earlier this week, will be made at a meeting between British Coal and local trade unions on Monday.
The 640 men employed at Seafield have already been offered redundancy terms or the possibility of transfer to another colliery.
The displaced men, who failed to meet production targets of 14,000 tonnes a week to keep their colliery open, were given a glimmer of hope in the announcement by Mr George McAlpine, British Coal's Scottish director, that £¾ million had been authorised for work to explore the possible re-opening of the neighbouring Frances Colliery.


"The Fife Free Press"
10 September, 1999

The National Coal Board announced in 1983 that Seafield was on course to break even that year and then to go into profit for the first time in its history. (The coal board's accounting methods were always held by miners to be politically rather than economically based.)
But everything changed in 1984, when the National Union of Miners was manoeuvred into a position where it felt forced to strike, despite the strength of the Government's position.

" The underground scene at Seafield during the strike"
Click on Image to Zoom In

The Conservative Government had set itself the task of breaking the NUM's power and, over the course of the next year, it gradually did so.
Coal, of a notoriously poorer quality, had to be brought in from overseas as the vast majority of miners stuck together but, eventually, solidarity crumbling at the edges, the NUM was broken and miners were forced to return.
They went back with their heads held high but their time back underground was short.
Towards the end of the strike, during which Kirkcaldy miners had almost unanimously stayed away (apart from safety workers), British Coal announced the closure of the Frances Pit and of the main production face at Seafield, both due to underground heatings which had got out of control.
Five hundred jobs went at the Frances and 300 at Seafield, which limped on with management/workforce relations at an all-time low.
By June, 1987, British Coal's Scottish area director announced that Seafield was on its way back into the black, with miners beating both Scottish and national production averages.
But just six months later the same area director announced the closure of the colliery, claiming huge losses.
By that time the pit, which was to have employed 2500 men for 150 years, had only 640 miners and was just 34 years old.
The last visible trace of Seafield was removed in September, 1989, when the two massive winding towers, landmarks in the town and a potent symbol to all involved in mining, were demolished.

Click on Images to Zoom In


"The Courier and Advertiser"
24 April, 2003
Mining disaster remembered

Five miners who lost their lives when the roof of a Fife pit collapsed on them are set to be remembered 30 years on.
The men had been working on a new seam at Kirkcaldy's Seafield Colliery on May 10, 1973, when disaster struck and they were trapped beneath tons of rubble.
Now former colleagues have joined forces to create a memorial plaque in their honour which will be unveiled at the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) Club, in Glenrothes, on May 10.
The unveiling will be performed by 80-year-old former Seafield miner Sandy Burnside. Also in attendance will be Scottish NUM president Nicky Wilson and Fife councillors Willie Aitken and Willie Clark, both of whom were NUM officials at the Kirkcaldy Pit.


"The Courier and Advertiser"
Monday, May 12, 2003

A plaque commemorating five Fife miners who lost their lives in in a pit disaster 30 years ago was unveiled at the weekend.
The five men died at Kirkcaldy's Seafield Colliery on May 10, 1973, while they were working on a new seam three miles out beneath the Firth of Forth.
As a team of miners toiled 1600 feet underground, part of the roof suddenly gave way and nine men were buried under tons of rubble.
Rescue teams battled for seven hours to reach the trapped men - sometimes digging with their bare hands and on one occasion having to flee a further roof fall - and brought four men out alive.
But Robert Henderson (59) and James Comrie (49), from Buckhaven, Methil men James Holmes (53) and Thomas Kilpatrick (38), and Angus Guthrie (20), from Cardenden, perished.
The tragedy rocked the tight-knit mining communities, but despite various memorials placed to commemorate every other mining disaster in Fife, their deaths have not been publicly marked until now.
Members of the Fife Miners' Community Group got together and decided to mark the 30th anniversary of the disaster by placing a plaque at the CISWO (Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation) Club in Glenrothes.

(From left) National Union of Miners Scotland president
Nicky Wilson, Dan Imrie, Councillor Willie Clark
and Sandy Burnside.
Click on Image to Zoom In

Saturday's unveiling was performed by 80-years-old ex-miner Sandy Burnside, who was a workmate of the dead men but was on a different shift on the fateful day, while former industrial chaplain Hugh Ormiston performed the dedication ceremony.
Relatives of the men, MSPs, MPs and councillors were among those who attended the unveiling.
Culture Group spokesman Dan Imrie, who worked at the Frances Pit in Dysart when the disaster happened, explained, "We decided to erect the plaque at the CISWO Club because memorials at the sites of some disasters have been vandalised. Many miners at the Seafield and other pits came from Glenrothes and a lot of them still come to the Club."


"The Courier"
29 September, 2004

A commemorative plaque to mark the site of the old Seafield Colliery in Kirkcaldy has been unveiled. The special tribute which features in Seafield Playpark, was arranged by Kirkcaldy Civic Society and Fife Mining Heritage Society. Chairwoman of Kirkcaldy Civic Society, Ann Waters, said that because the playpark is on the site of the shafts of the colliery, it was felt the area should have some memorial to this historic industrial site of the past where so many men from Kirkcaldy and nearby worked.

Click on Image to Zoom In


11 June, 2005
Pit hero Mr Willie Kerr

A Fife man who was honoured for his bravery during a pit disaster more than 30 years ago has died at the age of 63. Willie Kerr, who came from Dundonald, spent all his working life in the mining industry. He joined the then National Coal Board in 1956 and stayed with the organisation for 40 years, before joining IMC Consultants in 1996.
For many years Mr Kerr worked at the former Seafield and Frances Collieries in Kirkcaldy, and was general manager of the joint complex when all operations finally ceased. He came to Seafield as a deputy oversman in 1967 and had been promoted to senior oversman when a roof fall at the colliery killed five miners in May, 1973.
Mr Kerr, who is survived by his wife Moira and daughter Karen, was actively involved in helping to save two men trapped 1600 feet below the Firth of Forth. He was later awarded the British Empire Medal. He left Seafield for Monktonhall Colliery in 1982, but later returned as general manager.
Mr Kerr was a keen motorcyclist, refurbishing and rebuilding old racing machines. He was also an enthusiastic hill walker with several Munros to his credit.


The Mining Institute of Scotland Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 2, May 2010

John T Mackie CEng FIMMM (1938-2010)
John was an undermanager at Barony Colliery, then Deputy Manager at Killoch Colliery before becoming Colliery Manager at Barony Colliery. Moving to Fife, John was Colliery Manager at Seafield Colliery and then a Production Manager. He then moved to HQ to be Head of Technical Services before becoming Opencast Director for Scotland. John was President of The Mining Institute of Scotland in 1987/88.

George M Caldow CEng FIMMM (1930-2010)
George was an undermanager and then Deputy Manager at Castlehill Mine. He became Colliery Manager at Comrie Colliery and then moved to Seafield Colliery. George was Senior Mining Engineer, Scottish Area, when he retired.


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