Valleyfield Colliery, Culross

Owners: Carron Iron Co.
Fife Coal Company Ltd.

The Valleyfield colliery of the 20th century lay close to Low Valleyfield, near Newmills, just to the east of historic Culross and west of Torryburn.

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Although small coalworks are known to have been here, and near Culross, since very early times, in 1873 we find records of a Valleyfield No. 1 ironstone pit in operation (Carron Iron Co.) and also a shallower coal pit, the Valleyfield No. 1 (Carron Co.).
One very old pit at Valleyfield - exact name unknown - is mentioned in a 1930 Geological Memoir as having worked a coal called the 'Tod Hole', thought to be on the same horizon as two thin and variable coals occurring in the underlying 3 fathoms of strata beneath the Lochgelly Blackband Ironstone.
The exact locations of these early coal and ironstone works are not known but they are believed to have been just to the east of Shiresmill, by the small burn which served as a boundary between the Blairhall and Valleyfield estates.

Valleyfield coal-works - 17th/18th C employees
(full service dates unknown)
Patrick Lamb, oversman, Coal-heugh of Valleyfield, Culross - died 24 Oct 1672
George Simpson, coalhewer, Valleyfield, Culross - pre 1725

See Early Mining Link for Valleyfield ironstone mining records.


"The Scotsman"
12 March, 1836.

To be disposed of, by way of SALE or SUB-LEASE,
THE whole COAL and COALHEUGHS within the Lands and Estate of VALLEYFIELD, the Lands of Newmills, and Sea opposite to them, the Lands of Overton, and part of the Lands of Woodhead and Pitsoulie, in the parish of Culross, and shire of Perth; with the power of making and erecting SALT PANS, SALT GRANARIES, and others; all as contained in a Lease granted in the year 1770, and still current for a period of 34 years from Whitsunday next, and for an indefinite period thereafter, at the tenant's option. The premises comprehend the well-known Colliery and Works of Preston Island, which, if again put in operation upon proper principles, would, it is perfectly understood, be attended with results of magnitude and importance in the present state of this trade.
Particulars will be communicated on application to Mr PAUL, W. S., 21, Hill Street; or Mr HOGG, factor, Valleyfield, by Dunfermline.


"The Scotsman"
11 November, 1863

The advancing prices of iron have given an impetus to the iron trade in the western district of Fife. We understand that the Carron Iron Company have commenced operations for working coal and ironstone on the Valleyfield estate, near Torryburn. It is also reported that the ironstone pits on the Inzievar estate, in the same neighbourhood, are to be re-opened immediately after the term by the Summerlee Iron Company.


Early Valleyfield Coal Pits

Source Date of Information Supplied
Manager / Men underground / Men above ground / Coal seams worked / Shaft Details
1873 (Carron Co.)
No. 1
James Clelland / --- / --- / "Coal Crumpie" * / D/cast 60 ft. : U/cast 48 ft.
1874 (Carron Co.)
No. 2 - pit abandoned
James Clelland / --- / 19 / 6 / D/cast 60 ft. : U/cast ---
These early Valleyfield pits would appear to have closed down completely around this time, not sharing the same success of the nearby Blairhall pits also owned and managed by the Carron Co.

* The coal given the name "coal crumpie", the coal probably worked in these early pits, was around 3 feet thick but was often foul and dirty and sometimes, in other places, it was hard and clear. However, another feature - the presence of sulphur - spoiled it as a household coal, and so it was probably wrought as a coal supply to fire the boilers of the pits that were being sunk to the main ironstone of the district.
The coal was worked by the stoop-and-room system; the stoops thought to have been 9 feet square. They were apparently left too small, and the workings eventually collapsed with the super incumbent pressure!


The 20th Century Colliery

There were eventually three shafts in the Valleyfield complex. No. 1 shaft opened in 1908 with No. 2 opening shortly afterwards. No. 3 shaft was 2250 ft. deep and was not sunk until 1954 and, in fact, was never to be used for coal production.
Valleyfield Colliery was linked by a tunnel under the River Forth with Kinneil Colliery, Bo'ness, break-through taking place on 30 April, 1964. Sadly, as with a number of other collieries, the pit name is remembered for a major disaster which occurred at Valleyfield in October, 1939, with the catastrophic loss of 35 men. (See later report.)

Pit opened: 1908 Pit closed: July, 1978
Source Date of Information Supplied
Manager / Under-Manager / Men underground / Men above ground / Coals seams worked
1908 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Thomas Borland, Manager : new pit just opening
1911 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Thomas Borland / James Twaddle / 179 / 117
Jun: Mr Thomas Borland appointed to Carron Coal Company.
Nov: Mr Ellis Barraclough, manager.
1912 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
May: Departure of Mr Ellis Barraclough, manager.
Mr William Lang appointed manager, from Mary Colliery, Lochore.
1913 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
William Lang, manager.
April: Departure of Mr Armstrong, underground manager, for Ayrshire.
1916 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Mar: William Lang, manager; Mr Alexander Paterson, under-manager.
1918 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
William Lang / John Shimmins / 267 / 97
1919 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
William Lang, manager.
1920 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
William Lang, manager. Manpower: 399 / 129
1921 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Sept: William Lang, manager, appointed FCC agent for Kelty district.
Oct: Mr James Paterson, under-manager, Benarty Colliery,
appointed under-manager at No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery.
1922 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Andrew Ramsay Lawson, manager.
1924 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Mr Andrews, manager.
1925 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
May: Mr John Fleming, manager, Blairenbathie Colliery, appointed manager at Valleyfield.
He succeeded Mr Andrews, who was transferred to the Kelty district.
1928 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
John Fleming / John Mitchell (No. 1 Pit) : James Paterson (No. 2 Pit) / 565 / 165
Steam coal. Diamond, Five Feet and Dunfermline Splint.
1930 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
March: Mr John Fleming, manager, moved to Hill of Beath Colliery
Mr Dewar, new colliery manager, appointed from Hill of Beath Colliery.
1931 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Alexander Dewar, manager.
1932 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Oct: Alexander Dewar, manager, appointed manager at Glencraig Colliery.
1934 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Feb: Robert Rae Aitchison, manager.
1939 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
19 October - John Sloan, under-manager, killed in underground accident.
28 October - Valleyfield Disaster - 35 men killed.
Robert Aitchison / John Sloan / 510 / 186
1940 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Apr: Mr Robert Aitchison, manager, retires.
May: Mr H. Black, manager of Cowdenbeath No. 7 Pit, appointed colliery manager.
1944 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
Mr H. Black, manager.
1945 (Fife Coal Co. Ltd.)
H. Black / J. Bald / 444 / 178
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
1947 (NCB)
Mr H. Black, colliery manager, presided at the N.C.B. flag unfurling ceremony - January.
G. Richardson / ---------- / 625 / 158
Coking, gas, household, navigation and steam coals.
Annual output (approx) = 199,900 tons
1948 (NCB)
G. Richardson / D. Boyd / 625 / 175
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
1949 (NCB)
G. Richardson / D. Boyd / 617 / 163
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
1950 (NCB)
W. McAllister / A. Walsh / 814 / 211
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
1951 (NCB)
Mar: Mr McAllister, manager, appointed agent, Michael Group.
Mr J. Gibb, manager, Lady Helen, appointed manager.
.J. Gibb / A. Walsh / 818 / 227
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
1952/53 (NCB)
J. Gibb / Wm. Abbot / 794 / 214
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
1954/55/56 (NCB)
Mr J. Gibb, manager, appointed manager, Blairhall Colliery.
Peter J. Weir / A. Prentice / 794 / 214
Household and steam coals. Diamond and Five Feet.
June 1956 - Departure of Mr P. J. Weir, manager, to Northern Division, Workington.
1956 - New sinking - Mr Alex. Gibson, manager.
1957 (NCB)
D. W. Davies / A. Prentice / 794 / 174
Household and steam coals. Diamond, Five Foot, Jewel, Dunfermline Splint and Milton Main.
A. Gibson / new sinking / 3 / 9
1958 (NCB)
Feb: Mr Andrew Prentice, under-manager, appointed manager at Cameron Mine.
D. W. Davies / (Vacant) / 845 / 180
Household, industrial, navigation and steam coals and Blaes. Seven Foot, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint and Five Foot.
A. Gibson / new sinking / 17 / 5
1959 (NCB)
(Vacant) / A. Bell / 877 / 147
May: Mr R. F. Young, manager at Kinglassie Colliery, appointed colliery manager.
Household, industrial, navigation and steam coals and Blaes. Seven Foot, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint and Five Foot.
A. Gibson / new sinking / 17 / 5
1960 (NCB)
Sep: Mr Norman Wallace, manager of Torry Mine, appointed colliery manager.
1961 (NCB)
N. Wallace / H. Beveridge : A. Bell / 852 / 183
Household, industrial, navigation and steam coals. Blairhall Main, Seven Foot, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint and Dunfermline Splint.
A. Gibson / new sinking / 6 / 16
1964 (NCB)
N. Wallace / H. Beveridge : A. Bell / 737 / 190
Household, industrial, navigation, steam and gas coals. Blairhall Main, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint.
1965 (NCB)
Kinneil/Valleyfield Colliery
Acting Agent/Manager: J. Smellie
Deputy Managers (Kinneil): R. Sinclair : (Valleyfield): A. Bell
Mr Norman Wallace appointed manager of Comrie Colliery.
1971 (NCB)
Kinneil/Valleyfield Colliery
Acting Agent/Manager: A. Bell (located at Kinneil)
Deputy Managers (Kinneil): Vacant : (Valleyfield): Vacant
Undermanagers (Kinneil): W. Miller; D. P. Rodger : (Valleyfield): H. Beveridge; E. O'Brien; A. W. G. Hamilton
1464 / 322 / Household, industrial, navigation, steam and gas coals.
Blairhall Main, Milton Main, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint.
1973/74 (NCB)
Kinneil/Valleyfield Colliery
General Manager: A. Postlethwaite : Deputy Manager: A. Bell
Undermanagers (Kinneil): D. P. Rodger : (Valleyfield): E. O'Brien; R. Hutchison
1369 / 289 / Household, industrial, navigation, steam and gas coals.
Blairhall Main, Milton Main, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint.
1977/78 (NCB)
Kinneil/Valleyfield Colliery
General Manager: W. Routledge
Undermanagers (Kinneil): D. P. Rodger : (Valleyfield): E. O'Brien; R. Hutchison
Mechanical Engineer: J. Millar. Electrical Engineer: A. C. Delaney.
1304 / 267 / Household, industrial, navigation, steam and gas coals.
Blairhall Main, Milton Main, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint.
1979 (NCB)
Kinneil/Valleyfield Colliery
General Manager: C. Fox
Undermanagers (Kinneil): D. P. Rodger : (Valleyfield): E. O'Brien; R. Hutchison
Mechanical Engineer: J. Millar. Electrical Engineer: A. C. Delaney.
1304 / 267 / Household, industrial, navigation, steam and gas coals.
Blairhall Main, Milton Main, Jersey, Lochgelly Splint.


1908 - 11 Mr Thomas Borland
(previously Hill of Beath and Dalbeath - afterwards to Carron Coal Co. at Airth)
1911 - 12 Mr E. Barraclough
1912 - 19 Mr Lang
1919 - 22 Mr Lawson
1922 - 28 Mr Calder
1928 - 30 Mr Fleming
1930 - 31 Mr Dewar
1931 - 40 Mr Aitchison
1940 - 46 Mr Black
1946 - 50 Mr Richardson
1950 - 51 Mr McAllister
1951 - 55 Mr Gibb
1955 - 57 Mr Weir
1957 - 58 Mr Davies
1958 - 63 Mr Young
1963 - 64 Mr Wallace
1964 - 66 Mr Smellie
1966 - 75 Mr Postlethwaite
1975 - Link-up Mr Routledge
(After the link-up, only Deputy Managers were appointed at Valleyfield)
Andrew Bell
Bob Hutchison
Hugh Beveridge
No service dates presently available for Deputy Manager appointments.


Information on coal seams worked at, or near, Valleyfield Colliery, Culross

(based on a report from 1930)

The Dunfermline Splint Coal, one of the best known in Scotland, was extensively worked locally as the Four Foot Coal. It was overlain by about 2 fathoms of blaes in which shell fragments were occasionally recorded and varied from 20 in. to 45 in. in the district. A section of the Dunfermline Splint, well known as a good navigation coal, recorded at Valleyfield had the following composition:

Blaes -
COAL 2 ft. 10 in.
Faky fireclay 9 in.
Sandstone -

Between the Dunfermline Splint and Five Foot Coals, a distance of from 13 to 19 fathoms, the strata consisted mainly of four sandstone posts alternating with a similar number of beds of blaes. At the base of each bed there was usually a coal present. The lowest of these coals was a variable seam reaching 22 in. (Wee Coal) but there was no record of it having been wrought in the Valleyfield area, where there was a rib of parrot coal on top of it. The second coal was rarely as much as 10 in. in thickness and was often absent. The third was the Two Foot Coal which varied in thickness from 11 in. to 2 ft. 7 in. It was generally associated with ironstone ribs which occurred both in the coal itself and in the overlying blaes. The Five Foot Coal which occurred from 4 to 6 fathoms above the Two Foot was as well known a seam as the Dunfermline Splint, and both were extensively worked throughout Fife. The Five Foot Coal, was a good steam coal which often had one or more stone partings and varied in total thickness from 3 ft. 1 in. to 4 ft.

A section taken at the workings at Valleyfield, 211 fathoms from the surface, had the following composition:

Blaes -
COAL 4 ft. 2 in.
Stone 2 in.
COAL 1 ft. 5 in.
Cashy fireclay 6 in.
COAL 1 ft. 1 in.
Fakes 9 in.
Faky sandstone -

The Five Foot Coal was characteristically overlain by a few feet of blaes succeeded by a massive sandstone which reached a thickness of 6 fathoms. Above this sandstone there was a bed of blaes containing a thin coal seam which sometimes occurred as ribs of coal and ironstone, although sometimes only ironstone was present. Usually it lay from 6 to 10 fathoms above the Five Foot Coal and was the horizon of the Pittencrieff Blackband Ironstone of Dunfermline.

The Mynheer Coal was usually represented in borings by a thin seam found about 30 ft. above the Pittencrieff Ironstone, and these two horizons were sometimes useful, along with the underlying sandstone, in identifying the Five Foot Coal. The Mynheer Coal, a navigation coal, had a roof of irony blaes and was worked at Valleyfield:

Blaes -
COAL 1 ft. 2 in.
Fireclay 9 in.
COAL 1 ft. 10 in.
Fireclay 9 in.
Faky fireclay -

The sequence above the Mynheer was very variable and the coals were difficult to correlate with those in the Dunfermline field and in Central Fife. The strata consisted chiefly of thick beds of sandstone alternating with blaes in which coals, fireclays, and occasional ironstone ribs occurred.

Three variable coals were present: Coal (1) 10 - 20 fathoms, coal (2) 18 - 24 fathoms, coal (3) 25 - 33 fathoms, respectively, above the Mynheer seam.

Coal (1) had been called the 'Glassee' but there was no definite evidence that this was the true Glassee of Central Fife. Coal (2) received the name 'Lochgelly Parrot' at the time of the sinking of the Valleyfield pit shafts (part of the seam was parroty in character). Coal (3) was called the 'Lochgelly Splint'.

It has, however, been shown since that the last two coal seams were too low in the sequence to be the true Lochgelly Splint and Parrot, and the highest coal seam was almost certainly the seam once worked at Torryburn as the 'Torry Four Foot', and called the Pilkin at Rosebank, Dunfermline.

The next important coal was the Jewel of Valleyfield, the lowest seam of the Main Group, and a good navigation coal. At one time, it was called the 'Swallowdrum' at Valleyfield but it is now believed to be almost certainly the equivalent of the Lochgelly Splint and Parrot of Central Fife, in the form of one seam which had the following composition:

Blaes -
COAL 1 ft. 9 in.
COAL 7 in.
Stone 3 in.
COAL 1 ft.
Stone 4 in.
COAL 7 in.
Blaes, faky -

The succession within the Main Group of coals was variable and complicated by the presence of intrusive whinstone sills nearly 120 ft. thick, which destroyed certain coals. At Valleyfield there was a difference of two fathoms in the level of the base of the whinstone in the short distance between No. 1 and No. 2 pits, resulting in a coal found in the No. 2 Pit being cut out in the No. 1 Pit. The Main Group, i.e. from the Jewel to the Diamond coals, was only about 50 ft. thick and a generalised section showed five seams. Six and seven seams were found in Valleyfield No. 1 and No. 2 Pits, respectively, but they could not all be followed throughout the Valleyfield area. The lowest seam of the Group was the Jewel (see above). Four fathoms above the Jewel at Valleyfield was the so-called 'Glassee' which was also cut in a mine and wrought to a very limited extent:

Fakes and blaes -
COAL 3 ft. 8 in.
Fireclay, faky 3 ft. 3 in.
COAL 1 ft. 4 in.
COAL, PARROT 1 ft. 5 in.
Fakes -

Five fathoms higher, i.e. 9 fathoms above the Jewel Coal, a 6 ft. coal occurred which was generally believed to be the Lower Jersey Coal. Owing to the underlying whinstone, the quality of the coal was poor and its extent was probably limited for the same reason. A 4 ft. coal, called the Upper Jersey, occurred 4 fathoms above the Lower at Valleyfield but no workings are known in the seam.

The Diamond Coal of Valleyfield was the top seam of the Main Group and appeared to be from 8 to 10 fathoms above the Jewel Coal at the colliery where it was extensively wrought as a navigation coal.

Diamond Coal Section at Valleyfield
Blaes -
COAL 1 ft. 4 in.
Brown stone 2 in.
COAL 2 ft. 4 in.
COAL, dirty 1 ft. 7 in.
COAL 1 ft. 3 in.
Blaes, coaly 3 in.
COAL 2 ft. 1 in.
Blaes, coaly -

The remaining seams of the Limestone Coal Group were all included in the Blairhall Group. Coals and ironstones were numerous but, in many cases, they exhibited such marked local variation in number, thickness and relative position that correlation was difficult.

The Milton Main or Blairhall Three Foot Coal was an important seam which lay roughly 43 fathoms above the Valleyfield Diamond (6 fathoms above the No. 3 Comrie Ironstone). It usually occurred in leaves and was frequently associated with ironstone ribs both within the coal and in the overlying blaes. The seam was extensively wrought as a navigation coal.

Milton Main or Blairhall Three Foot Coal
Faky blaes -
COAL 11 in.
Stone 1 ft. 4 in.
COAL 1 ft.
Stone 2 in.
COAL 1 ft. 2 in.
Stone 5 in.
COAL 2 ft. 6 in.
Blaes 1 ft.

This coal was the equivalent of the Ontake Coal of Comrie and Oakley and was correlated with the Rough Coal of Central Fife.

About 10 fathoms above the Milton Main there was a coal and ironstone horizon corresponding to the No. 2 Comrie Blackband Ironstone. On this horizon at Valleyfield occurred three 1½ ft. coals separated from each other by about a fathom of sandy beds, and with the top seam underlying a 6 in. ironstone. This seam was believed to correspond to the Lochgelly Blackband Ironstone.

The Blairhall Main Coal (or Oakley Main) occurred 30 fathoms above the Milton Main and about 26 fathoms below the Index Limestone. It was apparently not worked around the 1920/30s but the wastes of old workings in the seam have been encountered at Valleyfield. This is the Lowrie Graham seam of the old pits on Preston Island (see historical section). It was a 3 ft. seam, without partings, and appeared fairly constant throughout the district.

Plans of Abandoned Seams & Dates

Note: abandonment dates do not relate to individual pit closures but to the abandonment of seams which had ceased to be worked. Not worked for a period of time, it was quite normal for some coal seams to be re-opened for working at a later date or at a different location.

Plans of Abandoned Seams for Valleyfield
(with dates where available)
Pits or Mines designated
in Abandonment Plans
COAL; Milton Main Valleyfield
COAL; Glassee; seams unnamed (November, 1922) Valleyfield Nos. 1, 2
COAL; Two Feet; Small (June, 1926);
Upper and Lower Diamond (November, 1933); Smithy or Sulphur;
Mynheer (February, 1934); Swallowdrum or Jewel and Glassee (September, 1934)
Valleyfield Nos. 1, 2


"Dunfermline Press"
28 September, 1907


It is understood that the Fife Coal Company Ltd., have purchased Valleyfield, situated between Torryburn and Culross, with a view to working the minerals on the estate. The Company may also undertake the mineral development of the adjoining field, and extensive mining operations in the locality are predicted.
The estate of Valleyfield has historical associations. At one time it belonged to Culross Abbey, whose Commendator and Abbot conveyed it in 1543 to Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan. It was afterwards passed into the possession of James Preston, a grandson of whom was knighted by King James VI. Another descendant of the family had a baronetcy conferred upon him in 1637. Early in the nineteenth century the owner of the estate was Sir Robert Preston, at one time M.P. for Dover. Sir Robert, who purchased the adjoining estate of Culross and made additions to the mansion house, had the honour of a visit from Sir Walter Scott. Sir Robert died without issue, and Culross estate passed to the Elgin family; while Rev. W. Clark Preston succeeded to Valleyfield.
The most recent owner was a son of the last-named, Mr W. P. Clark Campbell Preston, who, in recent years, leased Valleyfield House to Mr George Younger, Alloa. An attempt to wok the minerals were made as long ago as the beginning of last century. A pit was sunk on Preston Island, but, after an expenditure of 30,000, the venture was abandoned on the occurrence of a fire-damp explosion, by which all the miners engaged at the coal face were killed.
Eight or nine years ago the late Mr James Hutton contemplated the reopening of the pit, in which connection it may be said that Mr Hutton was the author of the present Dunfermline - Kincardine Railway. He originated a movement for the construction of a light railway, and thereby induced the North British Railway Company to undertake the laying down of the line as it now exists.
The development of the Valleyfield minerals by an organisation with the resources of the Fife Coal Company, together with the sinking of new pits at Blairhall, and the operations at Bandrum, point to the certainty of great industrial activity to the west of Dunfermline in the near future.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 August, 1908

At the end of last week the Fife Coal Company commenced sinking operations at Lowvalleyfield. Some time ago the Company secured a lease of the minerals of Torry and Low Valleyfield. The two large pits which are to be sunk will be upwards of 200 fathoms, and are expected to take a fairly good grip of the coalfield. The Fife Coal Company's operations in this district will soon convert it from the quietness which has always characterised it to a busy centre of industry. It is expected that a good deal of water will be encountered in opening up the filed, but this difficulty will be easily overcome by powerful and up-to-date machinery with which the Fife Coal Company invariably equip their pits.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 September, 1908

The contract for the sinking of the Fife Coal Company's two shafts at Valleyfield has been let to Mr McCallum, who is at present engaged in pit-sinking at Blairhall for the Coltness Iron and Coal Company. An early start is likely to be made with the operations at Valleyfield.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 March, 1909

This issue carried the news of the appointment of Mr Thomas Borland, jun., Hill of Beath Colliery, as manager of the Fife Coal Company's two new pits at Lowvalleyfield. Mr Borland was previously manager at Townhill, Saline, Kincardine, and Lumphinnans.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 August, 1909

Now that all danger of water being encountered has been overcome, the sinking of the two pits at Lowvalleyfield by the Fife Coal Company is being rapidly proceeded with. Since the shafts are being brick-lined, the work is necessarily slower than in cases where the ordinary method is adopted. The Dunfermline splint coal lies at a depth of 225 fathoms, to which distance the shafts are being sunk. So far a depth of 56 fathoms has been reached. In that area, three seams of coal, each upwards of three feet in thickness have been struck. By way of giving an idea of the magnitude which the operations, when completed, may assume, it is expected that at least eleven workable seams will be available. Although a period of from eighteen months to two years must elapse before the shafts are completed, the preparations are already being made for the housing of the new population which will settle in the neighbourhood of Lowvalleyfield. So far, it has been left to private enterprise to provide accommodation. Quite a number of houses are in course of erection in the vicinity of the pits.


It is currently reported that the Carron Iron Company have secured a lease of the minerals on the estate of Brankstone Grange, with almost marches with Valleyfield, which is about to be developed by the Fife Coal Company. So far, no boring tests have been made. The existence of coal, however, is regarded as certain.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 September, 1909

The pit sinking operations which are being carried on by the Fife Coal Company at Lowvalleyfield were marred by an alarming accident on Thursday morning. Happily no loss of life fails to be recorded. Six men, however, had a miraculous escape from death, and four of them were injured.
The shafts, which are elliptical in shape and are being lined throughout with brick, have already been sunk to a depth of fifty-eight fathoms. It was in what is known as number one shaft that the accident occurred. The men were standing on the scaffold, which was suspended in the shaft at a distance of about twenty-eight feet from the bottom. The movement of the scaffold is regulated by means of a wire rope attached to a steam winch at the pit bank. The men who had been working during the night were about to go off duty, when, without the slightest warning, the scaffold toppled over, and four of the men were precipitated to the bottom of the pit along with other building material which they had been using. It was afterwards ascertained that the brake of the winch had become overhauled, the result, it was stated, of an unusually heavy weight on the scaffold.
Hugh Love, Martin Hanlon, James Bell, Barney O'Donnell, and Patrick Findlay, pit sinkers, and Jacob Pollock, bricklayer, were the men concerned. At a few minutes past six o'clock several men descended the shaft in order to relieve those who had been on duty during the night. When the day-shift men reached the up-turned scaffold, they found O'Donnell and Findlay clinging to one of the permanent ropes in the shaft, and they were soon apprised of what had befallen the other four men. With little difficulty O'Donnell and Findlay were rescued from their perilous position, and the day-shift men, having signalled to the engineman, afterwards proceeded to the bottom of the shaft. There they found Love, Hanlon, Pollock, and Bell in a terrible plight. All seemed to be suffering from injuries. When the men were raised to the surface the serious nature of the injuries, which at least three of them had received, was more fully realised. Acting promptly, Mr Thomas Borland, the colliery manager, and Mr William Sinclair, whose firm have the sinking contract, summoned medical assistance, and also telephoned to Dunfermline for the ambulance waggon. Dr Sinclair, Culross, did all that he could to alleviate the sufferings of the injured men, three of whom - Hanlon, Pollock, and Bell - were removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital. Love, who resides at Cairneyhill, was conveyed to his home in a cab, his injuries not being regarded as serious enough for hospital treatment. Hanlon suffered from a severe scalp wound and bruises about the ribs and lower part of the body; Pollock's injuries consisted of a scalp wound and bruises on the breast and arms; and Bell was injured about the lower part of the body.


"Dunfermline Press"
19 March, 1910

At Lowvalleyfield the Fife Coal Company's pits have been sunk to a depth of about 140 fathoms. The pits will be sunk to a depth of about 200 fathoms, at which point the Dunfermline splint seam has been struck. The Fife Coal Company have made a beginning with the erection of workmen's houses in Shore Park. It is intended to erect eight blocks, to accommodate forty-eight tenants. A shop, to be occupied by a chemist and druggist, is being erected close by the site of the dwelling-houses.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 May, 1910

Patrick Hunt, a pit sinker, employed at the Fife Coal Company's new pit at Lowvalleyfield, fell from a scaffold in the shaft on Thursday morning and sustained a fracture to one of his legs, besides minor injuries. The man was conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 May, 1910

In view of the anticipated great increase in population in the Torryburn district consequent upon the development of the Valleyfield minerals and the sinking of pits by the Coltness Company, we understand there is a probability of its being proposed that Dunfermline should supply the village with gas lighting. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
6 August, 1910

Sinking operations are being rapidly pushed forward at the Fife Coal Company's new colliery at Lowvalleyfield. Only other 38 fathoms require to be sunk, when the deepest seam will be reached. Already a number of seams of excellent quality have been tapped. The brickwork is all but finished for the screening plant. Altogether the rate of progress has exceeded expectations.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 August, 1910

The Fife Coal Company's two pits at Valleyfield have now reached a depth of 175 fathoms. On Saturday the sinkers pierced the Mynheer coal, below which there are three more seams - the two-feet, five-feet, and Dunfermline splint. As the sinking operations are expected to be finished in the course of three months, preparations are in progress for the housing of the screening plant, which will be of the most up-to-date kind. For the purpose of siding accommodation, the Company recently purchased a field on the east side of the Bluther burn, which has been bridged by a structure of concrete reinforced with metal. The railway lines are to be laid out so that the waggons on being released will run by their own gravity underneath the screens, and when filled, traverse the intervening distance to the main line by the same process, thus avoiding the use of mechanical means. It is expected that the lower coals will be particularly suitable for navigation purposes, and as they have been subjected to great heat from the superincumbent whin rock they will have a large share of the smokeless quality which is characteristic of the Welsh coal, and which is desired for the coaling of His Majesty's warships.
Employment will be afforded at the new colliery for at least 1000 men, and experts consider that, as the coal area extends well inland and also two miles under the bed of the Forth, there is sufficient mineral wealth to provide work for a period of 100 years.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 September, 1910

At the Fife Coal Company's pits at Valleyfield, Culross, work proceeds in every department in a manner calculated to meet the expectations of the most sanguine. Little more than a month ago the Mynheer seam was struck, and on Saturday the sinkers touched the Fife-Feet coal at a depth of 191 fathoms. Before the end of the year the Dunfermline Splint, or lower seam, will be struck.
Both the Mynheer and the Five-Feet are Navigation coal, and it is expected that the Dunfermline splint will be of the same quality.
The Valleyfield pits are nearer Rosyth Naval Base than any other pits in Fife county, and great importance is therefore being attached by colliery people to the discovery of seams which it is expected will meet all the conditions which the Admiralty attach to Navigation coal.
In addition to the Valleyfield coal, the Fife Coal Company have secured leases of the Torrie and Culross fields, the former from the Trustees of the Wemyss and Torrie estates, and the latter from Lord Bruce and the Burgh of Culross.
The Torrie and Culross fields adjoin that of Valleyfield, and the combined subjects therefore become a most valuable one.
With the mining operations, history is only repeating itself at Low Valleyfield and Culross. At a point a little to the east of the Fife Coal Company's pits an old shaft was struck, and about 300 yards to the east, mineral water bubbles up through a green patch of grass on the side of the Culross road. This is the site of another pit.
These were the pits in which the upper seams of coal were operated upon by the Earl of Dundonald and latterly by Sir Robert Preston.
The pits of today present a striking contrast to the Valleyfield mines of nearly a century ago, and the pits which were sunk by Sir George Bruce on the shores of the Forth at Culross.
Sir George's pits, with their Egyptian wheel system of pumping, were driven by a horse-gin, and the coals were drawn by the same kind of power. The coal output of each pit would not be more than 50 tons a day, and the shafts would not go beyond a depth of from 20 to 40 fathoms.
From a depth of from 200 to 250 fathoms the great winding engines which have been erected by the Fife Coal Company on Nos. 1 and 2 Pits will, when the seams are fully developed, each draw 1500 tons a day to the surface. The pits will be drained of water by electrical power, and electricity will be introduced on all the main roads.
On the surface in the vicinity of the pits the whole aspect of things is changed. The public highway has been diverted from the foreshore behind the pits, and a stretch of the roadway from the old toll to a point 400 yards to the west, and the foreshore, are being appropriated as sidings.
The two pithead frames are of steel, and huge buildings are being erected in connection with the coal cleaning plant.
The Newmills burn water is being impounded for boiler purposes, and rows of houses are rising up on the field to the west of the pits. Large drainage pipes are being laid in the centre of the zig-zag road running from Valleyfield to Culross burgh boundary, and an abundant supply of water has been introduced. In anticipation of the coming industrial boom, all is activity in the building trade of the district. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
24 September, 1910

On Thursday, what is known in Fife as the two feet seam was struck at the Lowvalleyfield pits which are being sunk by the Fife Coal Company. The coal, which is of a thickness of two feet seven inches, is of excellent quality, and far surpasses the seam both in thickness and market value, as found in other parts of the Fife coalfields. The contractors have another fourteen fathoms to sink before the Dunfermline Splint is reached.
It is not expected that this, the ultimate depth of the pits, will be reached until the expiry of several months. Present indications show that the coal will be drawn from the pits in the early part of next year.


"Dunfermline Press"
12 November, 1910

It is now within the bounds of probability that at no very distant date the Fife miner may shake hands with the Lothian miner in the bowels of the earth far below the bed of the Forth. For years the Lothian miner has been winning coal that has lain for untold ages beneath the waters of the firth, and in a month or so a beginning will be made by Fife men to work the same seams from the north side.
At the Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., a commencement will be made in the near future with the winding of coal. This colliery is destined to be one of the largest not only in Fife but in Scotland; and, as the bottom seam has been pierced, the moment is opportune for an examination of the great undertaking and for reflection as to what the establishment of it means for the locality.
Valleyfield is situated on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, about five miles to the west of Dunfermline. Long ago it enjoyed, like neighbouring Culross, a reputation for the manufacture of girdles, and many a year and day after that trade had been ruined it had a glimpse in another direction of industrial prosperity. A century ago Sir Robert Preston sank three pits on Preston Island, which lies in the Forth about a mile directly south from Valleyfield Colliery, and for a time the experiment looked as if it would be crowned with success. The occurrence, however, of a disastrous explosion of firedamp caused an abandonment of the scheme.
The field which was tapped then will now be wrought with all the vigour that is characteristic of the Fife Coal Company. A straggling little village will evolve into a big, important, mining community in a few years time, for when the colliery is in full swing there will be over 1000 men employed.
There are two pits, officially known as No. 1 and No. 2, and when regard is had to the fact that both shafts are built with brickwork throughout, the work has been carried on very expeditiously. A start was made in March 1909. The depth is roughly 217 fathoms, and in their downward progress the sinkers have proved the usual workable seams to be in splendid condition.
What is known in Fife as the five-feet seam was discovered at Valleyfield at a depth of 190½ fathoms, with a thickness of 7 feet 3 inches. As to quality, it is of the navigation standard; and, as to thickness, it has turned out beyond expectation.
It has a splendid roof, and should be a profitable working. It has been affected to such an extent by whinstone that it will possess the smokeless qualities that are desired by the Admiralty; and looking to the proximity of Rosyth, the Company naturally except to secure orders from the Government Department.
From the first seam struck, Diamond, Cairncubie, or Duddy Davie, at 108 fathoms, will be won fine household coal; and the Swallowdrum seam will also produce a good quality of coal for gas-making purposes.
Both shafts are elliptical in shape, No. 1 Pit measuring 28 ft. by 15 ft., and the smaller pit 18 ft. 7 in. by 12 ft. 6in. As already indicated, they are brick-lined throughout, the larger having a wall with a minimum thickness of 18 inches, and the other a wall with a minimum thickness of 14 inches.
Along with the other pithead machinery, the cages are designed to draw over 2000 tons a day; this being the expected output when the colliery is fully occupied. The cage of No. 1 Pit will be capable of drawing eight hutches, holding at least 10 cwts. of coal each; and the cages of No. 2 Pit are constructed to carry four hutches of the same carrying capacity.
No expense has been spared in the equipment of the colliery. Every machine is of the most modern construction, and every detail at the pithead suggests that the management have no fear as to the result. The winding engine of the bigger pit has 36-inch cylinders, a six-feet stroke, and works with a steel-built drum 18 feet in diameter. It is fitted with a steam reversing engine, a steam brake, and a new apparatus for preventing overwinding. This apparatus, which has been introduced by Mr Landale, of Messrs Douglas & Grant, engineers, Kirkcaldy, is positive in its action, and good results are expected from its adoption. It is so arranged that the cage cannot possibly go higher than from 3 to 5 feet above the landing stage, nor is it possible for the engineman to start his engine in the wrong direction. Capable of lifting a net load of 10 tons, the winding engines of No. 1 Pit are fitted with automatic cut-off Corliss valves, which undoubtedly economise steam, and are one of the special features of the colliery.
The winding engines of No. 2 Pit are less powerful machines, their lifting capacity being a net load of five tons. The cylinders are 28-inch, with a stroke of 5 ft. 6 in., and they operate on a steam-built drum 16 feet in diameter. Its fittings include a steam brake and equilibrium piston valves. Both pairs of engines are capable of drawing their respective loads up the 217-fathom shafts in 30 seconds.
The electric engine is of the Willans & Robinson three-crank type, which means nine steam cylinders in all. These are coupled direct to a three-phase alternator, having a capacity of about 800 K.V.A. This machine is capable of generating all the energy required for the electrical pumps, electrical haulage, and coal-cutting machines that will be utilised for years to come.
There are nine boilers of the Lancashire type, 30 feet by 8 feet 6 inches in diameter, fitted with dish ends and corrugated tubes, all coupled together, and working at the pressure of 160 lbs. to the square inch. They are fed by a Weir steam pump, and two large injectors are maintained as a standby.
Over the Bluther burn has been erected a concrete bridge for the purpose of carrying empty waggons into the sidings to the east of the burn. Here the waggons will be stored, and from this storage ground the waggons will feed the pit by gravitation, the ground having been formed to give a fall of 1 in 60.
At present the permanent railway for this siding is being laid by Fife Coal Company's employees. Besides this bridge, a dam has been formed the effect of which will be to keep out the sea water of the Forth, as it would have an injurious effect on the boilers and condensers. As in the case of the other appliances, the screening plant, which is now being fitted up, will be of the most up-to-date description, and will permit of the handling of the large output that is expected in the most approved fashion.
The ventilating fan is a Walker Indestructible. Its diameter is 18 feet, and by means of it 300,000 cubic feet of air will be sent whirling through the workings every minute.
The buildings on the pithead are of brick, and as an average of 30,000 bricks per week from the various brick works of the Fife Coal Company have been transported to Valleyfield for a long time now, it is not surprising to learn that over two million bricks have been used at the colliery during the last eighteen months.
Having regard to the dangerous nature of the work and the number of men in employment, some 150, of whom half are sinkers, it is remarkable that not one fatal accident has occurred. The shaft sinking operations have been carried through under the supervision of Mr Borland.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 December, 1910

To mark the completion of sinking operations at Valleyfield Colliery, the Fife Coal Company on Saturday entertained one hundred sinkers and other workers at dinner in the engineering shop. Mr Thomas Borland, jun., manager of the colliery, presided.
Dr Gordon, Culross, proposed the toast of "The Fife Coal Company." Mr Borland, in replying, stated that the Fife Coal Company on an average paid higher wages than any other Company in Scotland. Notwithstanding the murmurings about the Fife Coal Company swallowing up smaller concerns, the Company did not act in an autocratic fashion.
It did not use its power to coerce men, and money was no object to the Company where the safety of men was concerned. (Applause.)
Within a short period there would be more men employed at the Valleyfield Colliery than at any other in Fifeshire, if not in Scotland. (Applause.)
Mr William Brown, oversman, proposed the toast of "The Contractor Sinkers, Messrs Wm. Sinclair & Son". He said that the Messrs Sinclair were the most up-to-date sinkers that he knew. They had carried the work out all through with an eye to the safety of their servants, combined with the speedy execution of the work. (Applause.)
Mr Wm. Sinclair, senior partner of the firm, in replying, said there had been more difficulties to overcome at Valleyfield than at many pits in Scotland. In proof of that, he might say that since commencing work at Valleyfield in April 1909, they had sunk 860 yards, about 96 yards of which was hard whin; they had driven 70 yards of lodgement; built two and a quarter million bricks; burned 19½ tons of explosives; fired 59,300 shots, and for over two months they barrelled to the surface at least 4000 gallons of water per hour. That was surely a record, and he would have been disappointed if it had not been a record, when one considered the able co-operation they had received from Mr Borland, and the willing service which had been given by the men. If they took off five months' time for building that enormous quantity of bricks, they would find that there was not much time left for sinking. (Applause.)
"The District and Trade" was proposed by Mr George Kirk, and Dr Gordon asked the company to pledge the health of the manager and Mr John Sturrock.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 January, 1911

Contrary to expectations, it is improbable that the dwelling-houses for the accommodation of the men who will be employed at Blairhall when the pits are in full operation will be erected at Shiresmill. At all events ground at Fernwoodlea, to the east of the colliery, has been surveyed on behalf of the Coltness Iron Company, with the view, it is understood, of erecting between 200 and 300. This site will have an advantage over that of Shiresmill inasmuch as it is more convenient so far as railway facilities are concerned, being within ten minutes walk from the North British Railway Company's station at Oakley.
To some extent the Fernwoodlea site would relieve the anxiety of Culross School Board, who, as formerly pointed out, are face to face with the provision of extended educational facilities. Negotiations are still in progress between the Board and the Fife Coal Company with a view to the acquisition of Valleyfield House, which, it is felt, might be easily adapted to school purposes, and thus solve the problem of providing for the children of the large population which will, in the immediate future, be located in the neighbourhood of the Fife Coal Company's pits at Valleyfield.
Rapid progress is being made with the opening up of the Valleyfield Pits. Roads are being formed in the Dunfermline Splint seam, which is the lowest measure to be worked. Close upon eighty tons of coal have already been brought to the surface. The greater portion of the mineral has been sent abroad in the form of samples to prospective customers. It is a coal of first-class quality.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 January, 1911

Phil McKenna, a pit sinker, residing at Back Causeway, Culross, met with his death at one of the Valleyfield Pits on Tuesday. He had been ill for some time, and had just returned to work. While standing on a scaffold, engaged in putting in slides in the new shaft, he overbalanced himself and fell to the bottom, a distance of forty feet. His skull was fractured, and death was instantaneous. Deceased was unmarried.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 February, 1911

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Philip McKenna, pitsinker, Culross, who on 24 January, was killed in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield, by falling down the shaft from a scaffold which was suspended in the shaft. Those giving evidence included:- Thomas Borland, colliery manager; Robert Marshall, pitsinker, Silver Street, Kincardine-on-Forth; and Daniel Sinclair, a son of the pit sinking contractor.
The jury returned a formal verdict, to which was added a rider to the effect that no one was responsible for the accident.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 February, 1911

The new town which has followed the sinking of the two pits at Valleyfield by the Fife Coal Company, Limited, is gradually assuming large proportions. Already various merchants have established themselves in the place. A law office has been opened by Mr J. B. Davidson, solicitor, Dunfermline.


"The Dunfermline Journal"
9 March, 1911



A disaster occurred at Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday afternoon, resulting in the loss of three lives. As is probably well-known, the colliery is situated by the side of the highway between Dunfermline and Culross, immediately to the west of the historic Newmills Bridge, The colliery is the latest and most important of the Fife Coal Company ventures. It is also the last word in mining engineering. No finer equipment exists at any colliery in Scotland. The coal seams are thick, and of the very best quality. But the pits are fiery. Unpleasant evidence of the existence of the dangerous firedamp was had when the shafts were being sunk. The result was that the concluding portion of the sinking operations had to be undertaken with the use of safety lamps only.
The disaster occurred in what is known as the lower Five feet seam, which lies several yards above the Dunfermline Splint (the lowest seam). At the time of the disaster there were only twelve men in the pit. Some of the men were working at the coal face, which is about 100 yards from the shaft. What actually happened is not likely ever to be known. Conjecture will require to take place of solid fact. The three workers who have met their death were the only ones in the place at the time, although some of the others were not far from them. Those workers were James Jamieson, Newmills; John Peden, miner, Eden Villa, Low Valleyfield; and his brother, George Peden, residing at the same address. The other men were not far from them. They felt the concussion, heard the terrible crash of debris, and experienced for a brief period the effects of the gas impregnated atmosphere. By a happy stroke of mental readiness, one of the workers, William Anderson, Newmills, burst through some brattice cloth in the place where he was, and at once gave vent to the fresh air. This prompt, timely act probably saved his own life and the lives of his brother and a comrade, John McNeill. All three had been bowled over by the force of the escaping air. Anderson, knowing that his brother was in peril, went further into the works, and in the darkness dragged him in a semi-conscious condition to a place of safety. All the three were more or less dazed as the result of their terrible experience, but they soon recovered when they reached the pithead.
  Rapidly the news of the disaster spread. Mr Borland, the colliery manager, was in the vicinity, when tidings reached him. Without seeking to change a stitch - he was not attired in working garb - he immediately organised a rescue party, consisting of James Twaddle, under-manager, James Williamson, fireman, and John Hamilton, but their efforts to reach the imprisoned men were futile, in consequence of the obstructions caused by the fall resulting from the outburst. The force of the escape had carried away about 50 tons of material, the most of which had been shattered almost to powder. Another party descended later, but they were no more successful, notwithstanding the most determined efforts. The rescue work could not be rushed. Nature in a moment's work had accompanied what men could not overtake in half a day.
  The district manager of the Company, Mr Henry Rowan, Cowdenbeath, was apprised of the occurrence, and he arrived on the scene, practically simultaneously with Mr C. L. Robinson, H. M. Inspector of Mines, who motored from Kirkcaldy, and Mr J. S. Soutar, Procurator-Fiscal, Dunfermline. Doctors Gordon and Tolmie, the colliery physicians, were also summoned, and as it afterwards turned out they had a long weary vigil. The suggestion having been made that the rescue party from the rescue station at Cowdenbeath might be of service, they were motored to the scene, along with their apparatus. Unfortunately, their first summons to practical work did not prove to be one to test the efficacy of their training and appliances, and after descending the shaft they found that the occasion was not one demanding their services. They returned home early in the morning. Mr Rowan and Mr Robinson made straight for the shaft as soon as they arrived. Below ground they directed the operations, and remained till yesterday at midday. The rescue work was continued without a moment's cessation throughout the night. Although not immediately dangerous, that work had to be undertaken with great caution. A second outburst would have been a calamity. The first object was to clear the air, and carry the purified atmosphere along with them as they proceeded. With this object in view the pumps at the bottom were unfastened and the steam was permitted for a time to penetrate the road for the purpose of driving out the firedamp. Another precautionary measure which was taken was the covering of the workmen's mouths and noses with wet handkerchiefs in order to clarify the air as much as possible before its inhalation into the lungs. When a rescuer became faint from exhaustion, he was taken to the pit bottom, where he soon recovered in the pure air coming from the bottom of the companion shaft. About six o'clock in the morning the rescuers discovered the bodies of Jamieson and the younger Peden lying together. Jamieson's body partly covered that of his unfortunate companion. Both, it is believed, had had an instantaneous death. A hutch which had been blown on to the top of the victims had to be removed before the bodies could be got. The faces of both were perfectly pleasant, but they bore terrible evidence of the force of the blast. Eyes, ears, noses and mouths were inled with coal dust, which had come from the face. Jamieson had also had one of his legs fractured, in all probability by the fall resulting from the concussion. On being brought to the surface the bodies were examined by the doctors, and were afterwards reverently conveyed on stretchers to the respective homes.
  Throughout the whole of the night the large crowd which had assembled remained on the ground eager to hear the tidings. By midnight the general impression was that the men could not be got alive. The scene at the pithead was a weird one, the sickly illumination of the glaring electric arc lamps in themselves suggesting something awesome in the circumstances, in consequence of the deathly pallor reflected on the countenances of the bye-standers. The moaning of the water of the firth as they fell on the shallow shore afforded another melancholy note. Women wandered in and out among the men discussing the circumstances and occasionally seeking more comfort from the shawls in which they were enwrapped by drawing them firmer around them. Men stood on all points of vantage to gain a possible sight. On the metal framework of the pithead, and on the stairs and gangways they swarmed like bees. But the occasion was not one provocative of disorder, and the police officers on duty had little difficulty in keeping too eager ones back from the pit mouth where men were continually ascending or descending. A pathetic though composed figure in the crowd was the father of the Peden's. This kindly looking old man seemed to be consuming his own grief, for he bore his terrible trial bravely.
   Jamieson lived with his widowed mother and sister, and he intended in the course of a few weeks to join his brother in Regina, Canada. He was the mainstay of his mother's support. The elder Peden was a pleasant mannered, intelligent young man, quite a favourite with everyone, and his younger brother, a promising lad, who had just gone to the pit within the last few weeks. The Peden's had just recently shifted their home from Hill of Beath.
  The cause of the disaster was an outburst of gas. A distinction has to be drawn between an outburst and an explosion. There was no explosion in the sense that the firedamp had been ignited by means of a light. Only safety lamps were used in the pit, and probably the only possible cause of an explosion could have been the spark from the point of a pick. But the bodies of the two men did not afford any evidence of that. These bore no terrible burns, such as were seen on the victims of the Mary Pit disaster three years ago. The cause of the disaster was simply the force of the pent-up gas overcoming the obstruction in front of it and carrying all before it, as water in a reservoir does when it obtains mastery over the embankment retaining it. Such a cause has rarely, if ever, been known before, and certainly no one has had experience of it in so terrible a fashion as that at Valleyfield. Another, therefore, has been added to the list, already too lengthy, of mining dangers. Thursday's disaster suggests that every possible precaution which human experience and ingenuity can be devised should he put into operation at the colliery.


  Up till midnight the body of the elder Peden had not been got. As the party advanced they found the difficulties in front of them increasing. The terrific force of the outburst was more realised. The roof was shattered to slivers, and required careful timbering. Moreover, the air became fouler. During the operations the party discovered the lamps of the victims, together with some articles of clothing. Since morning the party have cleared through ten yards of the fall, but they have still six yards to go before they reach the coal face. It is not expected that Peden's body will be recovered for several hours. A considerable number of people were hanging around to await the recovery of the body. Among those who have been rendering assistance during the day have been Mr Charles Carlow Reid, manager of Donibristle Colliery; Mr John Gray, manager at Lumphinnans; and Mr Gilbert Morrison, manager for the Coltness Iron and Coal Company at Blairhall.


"The Scotsman"
11 March, 1911

At the Fife Coal Company's pit at Lowvalleyfield, where three lives were lost on Thursday night, an all-night vigil was kept by officials and others. Untiring service was rendered by the company's officials, including Mr Henry Rowan, the general manager of the western pits, and Mr Charles Carlow, the chairman and managing director of the Fife Coal Company. Mr Walker, the divisional inspector of mines, was from home, and his place was taken by Mr Robinson, one of his chief assistants, who was in close attendance at the pit. Testimony ought also to be borne to the devotion displayed by the local medical gentlemen, Dr Gordon and Dr Tolmie. It was practically an established fact by ten o'clock on Thursday night that no one could be alive below ground in the atmosphere which it was ascertained had prevailed. Only by the inhalation of a liberal supply of oxygen could life have been maintained. Yet, acting on the supposition that there might be hope, the doctors refused to desert their post. Singled out for distinction, not only by the management but by their fellow-workmen, are James Turnbull [Twaddle], the under manager of the Valleyfield Pit, and James Williamson, the night fireman. It was through their exertions that succour was rendered to three men who were brought in a semi-animate condition to the daylight, where they gradually recovered.
Early yesterday morning the remains of George Peden, the young drawer, who perished by the side of his brother John, were conveyed from the pit along by Torryburn Ness to his father's home.


As to the cause of the accident, theories are abundant. Our correspondent had a conversation yesterday with a gentleman who has expert as well as practical knowledge of mining operations in Fife and other Scottish counties. There was, this gentleman explained, no explosion in the ordinary sense of the word. At all events there was no resultant light. There was an accumulation of noxious gas. It was in a confined area, and its force, although it cannot now be distinctly stated, might be one hundred pounds to the square inch. An illustration of this, it was pointed out, could best be found in the case of a boiler which had become so worn by the effects of incrustation that the shell burst when the steam pressure was too high.
Up to a late hour last night the bodies which had been recovered were those of George Peden and James Jamieson. They had been found underneath a hutch which had been projected outwards by the force of the gas.
The name by which the fatal gas is technically known is "C. H. 4." It is an admixture of carbon and hydrogen - one part of the former and four of the latter.
Mr Charles Carlow had planned a short holiday some time ago, and had, in fact, left his Edinburgh house. It was in England that he learned yesterday morning of the occurrence, and he has been in constant communication by telegraph or telephone with the Company's head office at Leven.


"The Scotsman"
13 March, 1911

THE FIFE PIT ACCIDENT. - Not only among practical miners, but skilled engineers, the question is being discussed as to how the accident occurred at the Fife Coal Company's pit at Valleyfield, by which three lives were lost. That there was an outward burst of coal there is no doubt. What caused it is another matter, and a satisfactory explanation has not yet been given. Asked yesterday by our Dunfermline correspondent if he could give any explanation, Mr Henry Rowan, the Fife Coal Company's general manager in the western district, said that he could add little to what had already been published. All that he ventured to say was, "We cannot say anything until we get the whole place cleared up, and it will be a day or a day and a half before that is done." The gas, he said, was pent up at a very high pressure in a place that was not suspected to be dangerous, and the outburst was as sudden as It was unexpected. All the bodies have now been recovered.


"The Scotsman"
28 March, 1911

THE FIFE PIT DISASTER. - The accident which occurred at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Pit on 9th March, by which three lives were lost, and a number of men narrowly escaped death, was the subject of an inquiry before Sheriff Umpherston and a jury at Dunfermline yesterday. The victims of the disaster were:- James McLean Jamieson (27), John Peden (27), and George Peden, Junior (14). Evidence was given by Henry Rowan, the Company's general manager or agent for the pits in the western district, and other witnesses. Although invited to retire to consider their verdict, the jury did not leave the box, and after a brief consultation, they returned a formal verdict, finding the time, place, and cause of the accident, but making no recommendation.


"My grandfather was James Williamson, fireman. The above photo is of his Hero Fund Citation which is in the Carnegie Museum. Other names shown with him are Thomas Borland, James Twaddle, William Anderson, William Brown and John Hamilton."
Douglas Williamson,
Crossgates, Fife.
October, 2006.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 May, 1911

In Hamilton Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff Shennan handed over to Mr James Twaddle, late under-manager, Valleyfield Colliery, a cheque for 10 awarded by the Carnegie Hero Fund Trustees in recognition of the heroism he displayed at the recent Valleyfield disaster.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 June, 1911

Mr Thomas Borland, jun., manager of the Fife Coal Company's new pits at Lowvalleyfield, has received an important appointment under the Carron Coal Company. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
17 June, 1911

On Saturday afternoon a deputation of the workers at the Fife Coal Company's pits at Valleyfield, and friends, waited upon Mr Thomas Borland, jun., the manager of the colliery, and presented him with a parting gift in the shape of a purse of sovereigns. Mr Borland leaves Valleyfield for Airth, Stirling, to superintend the sinking of two pits by the Carron Company.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 July, 1911

Thomas Fairlie, a pitheadman, employed at Valleyfield, was the victim of a nasty accident in the course of his duties on Tuesday evening. He was looking after a hutch, which was being carried on a moving chain from one part of the pithead to another. Falling amongst the machinery controlling the chain his right leg was lacerated from the thigh to the knee. Dr Tolmie, Culross, ordered the injured man's removal to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital. He was conveyed to the institution in the Dunfermline Ambulance waggon.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 November, 1911

No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, was the scene of a fatal accident on Sunday, the victim being Thomas Sim, a shaftsman, residing at Lowvalleyfield. Sim, who was engaged with a squad carrying out repairs in the shaft, is supposed to have overbalanced himself and fallen from a cage which was suspended at a distance of 130 fathoms from the pit bottom. The body, which was found to have been terribly mutilated, the possibility being that death ensued as a result of the unfortunate man coming in contact with iron girders a short distance down the shaft from where the cage was resting. The deceased was 45 years of age, and leaves a widow and one child.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 November, 1911

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Thomas Sim, shaftsman, lately residing at Lowvalleyfield, who, on 29 October, in No. 1 Pit, Lowvalleyfield, was killed by being crushed between the side an ascending cage and the shaft timber and then falling down the shaft. Those giving evidence included:- Ellis Barraclough, colliery manager; Walter Walker, bricklayer, Tollhouse, Culross; James McMeekan, fireman, Dundonald Terrace, Culross; John Terris, haulage engineman; and Alexander Terris, winding engineman. The jury returned a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 December, 1911

On Wednesday evening, James Lister, miner, son of Mr David Lister, retired publican, Crossford, was admitted to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital suffering from injuries received while at work at the pithead of Lowvalleyfield Pit. Lister, who miraculously escaped falling into the shaft, was caught between the side of the shaft and the cage. When he was taken out it was found that he had received severe internal injuries.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 May, 1912

Mr Barraclough, the manager at Valleyfield Pits, leaves at an early date to take up an appointment elsewhere. It is understood that one of the managers from the Mary Pit will take his place.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 May, 1912

M. Mooney, a miner employed at Valleyfield Pits, met with an accident on Friday. He received injuries about the head, and had his hand severely crushed. He was taken to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 June, 1912

Mr Lang, late manager of the Mary Pit, has commenced his new duties as manager of Valleyfield Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 June, 1912

A representative committee of the workmen at Valleyfield Colliery waited upon their late manager, Ellis Barraclough, at his house, and presented him with a pocket-book and purse of sovereigns.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 October, 1912

An alarming accident occurred in the Fife Coal Company's No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Monday afternoon. While working at one of the faces, James Gray, miner, Lessell's Buildings, Torryburn, was suddenly overwhelmed by a fall from the roof. The accident was observed by a number of men, who at once set about clearing the material, which weighed between twenty and thirty tons. The removal of the fallen coal proved a protracted task, and as the time passed fears of a fatal result began to be entertained. After six hours' strenuous operations a passage was cleared. To the surprise of everybody the entombed man was found alive.
He had had a miraculous escape from death. A bar of wood lying in a slanting position against the coal face had saved his life, as this had served to break the great pressure of the fall. On being conveyed to his home Gray was examined by Drs Wallace and Tolmie, who found that he had escaped with a bruised thigh and some minor injuries. He also suffered from shock.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 October, 1912

James Hettrick, Torryburn, had his ankle broken at Valleyfield pit on Thursday through an iron girder falling from the roof upon it.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 March, 1913

A miner named James Mann had one of his legs fractured through a fall from the roof while at work in Valleyfield Colliery on Tuesday. He was removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
19 April, 1913

Mr Armstrong, underground manager at Valleyfield Colliery, was presented with a purse of sovereigns by some of his friends on the occasion of his leaving for Ayrshire.


"Dunfermline Press"
10 May, 1913

Over 100 men have been suspended at Valleyfield Colliery owing to some of the contracts being finished.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 September, 1913

On Friday last week at No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, a young man, Hugh McMillan, who is employed as a roadsman, was engaged repairing a road when a stone weighing about a hundredweight, fell from the roof and struck him on the head. The injured man was conveyed home, where it was found that he was also suffering from a severe scalp wound and also from shock.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 October, 1913

The employees of Valleyfield Collieries have subscribed the sum of 22 13s, which has been equally applied to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 December, 1913

A number of the workmen employed at Valleyfield Colliery met on Tuesday evening to do honour to Mr George Kirk, foreman platelayer, who has left the colliery. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
20 December, 1913

A number of the workmen employed at Valleyfield Colliery met on Saturday evening to do honour to Mr David Binnie, surface foreman, who has left the colliery. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
26 September, 1914

On Thursday afternoon, Robert Slater (45), labourer, residing at Valleyfield Workmen's Home, met with severe injuries which necessitated his removal to hospital. He was attending to a hoist on the pithead at Valleyfield Pit, when he was knocked down by a moving hutch. His scalp was fractured, and he was also injured internally.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 August, 1915

A fatal accident took place at Valleyfield Colliery, belonging to the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., on Monday. The victim was William McDade, miner, residing at 4 Beaumont Terrace, Lowvalleyfield. He was working in the three-feet seam, Daly's Dook, when there was an unexpected fall of stone from the roof. McDade was struck on the head, and killed practically instantaneously. He was between thirty and forty years of age.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 September, 1915

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of William McDade, miner, lately residing at 4 Beaumont Street, Lowvalleyfield, who died on 9th August in No. 1 pit, Valleyfield Colliery, in consequence of a fall of material from the roof. Those giving evidence included:- William Lang, colliery manager; William Sneddon, pit fireman; Patrick McCoy, miner; and Henry Daly, miner, Main Street, Culross. The jury returned a formal verdict, adding that, in their opinion, cross bars ought to have been needed at both ends.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 September, 1915

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Stephen McGuire, High Valleyfield, Culross, who died on 11 July in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from injuries received on 25th May in No. 1 Valleyfield Pit, of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., by being crushed between the roof and a loaded hutch in which he was riding. Those giving evidence included:- Police Constable Charles Summers, Lowvalleyfield; Mr Lang, colliery manager; Alexander McLuckie, oversman; and Robert Anderson, bogeyman.
The jury added to their verdict a finding to the effect that deceased must have been riding on the top of the hutch when he met with his death.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 January, 1916

A fatal accident occurred at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery on Tuesday forenoon. Martin Tracey (21), miner, residing at Preston Crescent, Upper Valleyfield, was engaged uncoupling a hutch, when a heavy fall of material from the roof unexpectedly took place. Tracey was struck by the falling material, and killed almost instantaneously.

"Dunfermline Press"
4 March, 1916

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Martin Tracey, pit worker, lately residing at Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, who died on 25 January in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, in consequence of a fall of material upon him from the roof of a haulage road. Those giving evidence at the inquiry included:- John McDade, clipper, Low Valleyfield; Alexander Paterson, under manager, Burnside Cottage, Newmains; George Allan, pit contractor, Culross; William Pellow, miner, High Valleyfield; and Robert Hall, colliery foreman, Low Valleyfield. The jury passed a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 July, 1916

Annie Kelly, nineteen years of age, daughter of James Kelly, miner, 40 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Sunday from the effects of injuries which she received on Thursday, on the pithead at Valleyfield Colliery, where she was employed. The girl was struck on the back by a loaded hutch, which jammed her against a tumbler. She was badly bruised and injured internally. Dr Tolmie, who was called, ordered the girl's removal to hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 July, 1916

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Annie Kelly, pithead worker, lately residing at Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, who died on 25th June, in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, from injuries received on 22 June at Valleyfield Colliery, by being crushed between a loaded hutch and a coal tumbler. Among those giving evidence were:- William Lang, colliery manager; Adam Lindsay, jigger engineman; Jane Jarvie, pithead worker; George Burrell Walker, washer attendant; and Dr Robertson, hospital doctor. The Jury returned a formal verdict to which was added an expression of opinion that the accident was due to a hutch being allowed to run down the incline to the tumblers without being snibbled.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 September, 1916

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Andrew Daly, lately residing at Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield, who died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on 12th July from the effects of injuries received on 3 July in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, by a burst of coal from the roof.
William Lang, the colliery manager, stated that when he visited the locus of the accident he found that the place had been properly wooded, and everything in order according to the regulations. A piece of coal, weighing about one cwt., fell while deceased was holing at the face, and he was crushed before he had time to get out of the way. The coal fell because of a lipe which could not be seen previously. It was a pure accident. A formal verdict was returned.


"Dunfermline Press"
7 October, 1916

David Bell Dawson, oncost worker, Main Street, Torryburn, was removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Monday, suffering from injuries he received while at work in the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Pit. A hutch loaded with coal, while descending a short incline, collided with Dawson, who was at the time hanging on a hutch a short distance from the bottom of the incline. His right leg was fractured in two places, and he was bruised about the body. Dr Tolmie attended to the injured man.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 January, 1917

On Thursday afternoon, James Kelly (51), miner, residing at Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, was fatally injured in the Fife Coal Company's No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. He was working at the face when a large stone unexpectedly fell from the roof. The material, which almost completely covered Kelly, weighed close upon a ton. One of the first to reach the scene of the accident was a son, who assisted in removing the material. The man succumbed to his injuries on being conveyed to the pithead.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 January, 1917

On Monday morning, while James Williamson (42), a miner, residing at Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, was at work in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, a burst of coal took place from the face and pinned him to the pavement. When the coal had been removed it was found that Williamson had been severely injured internally. He was conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where his condition for a time was regarded as critical.


"Dunfermline Press"
24 February, 1917

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of James Williamson, lately residing at 18 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, who died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on 20 January from injuries received in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, by a piece of coal falling upon him from the face.
Those giving evidence included:- William Lang, colliery manager; John Nelson, mining contractor; David Todd, fireman; and Andrew Ross, fireman. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 April, 1917

On Friday last week a serious accident took place in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. The victim was Peter Martin, miner, Ness View, Low Valleyfield. He was employed at his working place when a piece of coal, weighing about three cwts., burst from the face and struck him on the head, which was cut and badly bruised. A shot had been fired in the place some time before the accident occurred. Dr Henderson examined Martin, and afterwards ordered his removal to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
12 May, 1917

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Peter Martin, lately residing at Ness View, Low Valleyfield, who died on 8 April in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, from injuries received on 6 April in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, Fife Coal Company, Ltd., by a piece of coal falling on him from the face. Those giving evidence included:- William Lang, colliery manager; Peter Martin, junior (14), drawer, son of the deceased; William Lessells, miner, Low Valleyfield; and Richard Smith, fireman, Main Street, Low Torrie. The Jury returned a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 September, 1918

Mr William Horn, surface foreman, on leaving the Valleyfield Colliery, on Tuesday was made the recipient of a handsome timepiece, from the surface workers, as a token of the esteem in which he is held. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
30 August, 1919

A distressing accident occurred at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday morning, resulting in the death of Alexander Gordon (37), miner, Main Street, Lowvalleyfield, and the narrow escape of his brother Joseph Gordon (39), also a miner, residing at the same address.
In course of their employment, the necessity arose for the use of nails. In search of a quantity of those, Alexander entered a heading which had been shut off for some time. His prolonged absence caused his brother uneasiness, and he set off for the heading. He had not proceeded far when he came upon the prostrate form of Alexander, who had evidently been a victim of poisonous gas. Joseph, too, was affected by the gas and collapsed.
The disappearance of the brothers was observed by a number of workmen, who at once organised a search party. Equipped with respirators the heroic miners groped their way into the gas-laden atmosphere. Soon they came upon the missing men, who were in an advanced stage of unconsciousness. At the main road it was found that Alexander was beyond aid. Artificial respiration was applied in the case of Joseph, who, after half-an-hour's treatment, was restored to consciousness. A number of the men of the rescue party were considerably affected by inhalation of the poisonous fumes.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 September, 1919

SIR, - We have become so accustomed to misleading and inaccurate reports, that it seems almost impossible now to get the actual truth in newspaper reports.
For instance, in your report of the Valleyfield asphyxiation accident, your correspondent says that "the heroic miners equipped with respirators groped their way into the gas-laden atmosphere, etc."; evidently, as usual, he has ignored facts and drawn upon his imagination, for his report is a gross distortion of the truth.
The actual rescuing party consisted of James Lessels and David Munro, who plunged into the gas-laden and deadly atmosphere, fully conscious of the risks and dangers, unequipped with respirators or any other safety apparatus.
As a matter of fact, Munro also partially collapsed, and but for the coolness and resource of Lessels, he also would have succumbed. If it be heroism of a high standard for men to act, as your correspondent reported, with respirators, etc., what pen or tongue could describe the sublime and unselfish heroism of men who could act as Lessels and Munro did in the gloom and dolour of a mine, with neither cheers nor applause from an admiring crowd, and equipped, not with respirators, but with only courage and loyalty to their fellow-workers in distress.
Had they waited on respirators, a widow today would have been mourning the loss of two sons instead of one.
My only motives in writing are to correct your report of last week and to give honour where honour is due.
Yours, etc.,
Newmills, 3/9/19

[Mr Philip Hodge is unnecessarily violent in his contradiction. The fact that the miners were described as heroic shows that there was no intention to do anything else than give "honour where honour is due." The names of the rescuers were not available when the report was written; otherwise they would have appeared. As the result of a fairly extensive knowledge of mining accidents in the West of Fife, we have an unbounded admiration for those brave miners who have risked their lives (and sometimes lost them) in endeavours to save their fellows. That admiration has been expressed time after time in unstinted fashion in the Press. - Ed. D. P.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 October, 1919

The circumstances under which Alexander Gordon, miner, Main Street, Low Torrie, met with his death in the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery on 28 August disclosed acts of real heroism on the part of Joseph Duncan, a brother of deceased; David Munro, miner, Kilbaggie Street, Kincardine-on-Forth; and James Gray Lessells, miner, Lessell's Buildings, Main Street, Newmills.
Deceased had gone into a disused heading in search of nails. His absence creating concern, his brother went up the heading in search of him. He found his brother lying in an unconscious condition, suffering from firedamp poisoning. He, too, was overcome and was subsequently rescued by Munro and Lessells, both of whom suffered severely from the effects of the poisonous fumes.
The Procurator-Fiscal thought the Jury should commend the action not only of Joseph Gordon, who tried to help his brother, but of Munro and Lessells who, according to the evidence, not only ran great risks themselves, but did so knowing the risks they were running. They were happily successful in getting Joseph out, otherwise there might have been a double fatality.
Mr Malcolm S. Macgregor, solicitor, who represented the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., associated himself with what the Procurator-Fiscal had said. It was fortunate that these men did not lose their lives in this very brave effort to rescue a comrade. It was most regrettable that life should have been lost at all, but it was just another example of how necessary it was to observe the rules in working underground (deceased having gone into a heading which was fenced off, and upon which a notice was posted bearing the words "no road this way").
The Sheriff homologated the views of the Procurator-Fiscal that the Jury should add to their verdict a rider commending these three men for their efforts to save life. The Jury acquiesced.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 December, 1919

At a public meeting in the Carnegie Library Hall, Torryburn, on Wednesday evening last week, Mr Joseph Gordon, Main Street, Newmills, was presented with a certificate and £15, and Mr James Lessells, Lessell's Buildings, Newmills, and Mr David Munro, Kilbaggie Street, Kincardine, with a certificate and £10 each by the Trustees of the Carnegie Hero Fund for conspicuous bravery in attempting to save the life of Alexander Gordon, who was overcome by gas in Valleyfield Colliery on 28 August 1919.
Mr Philip Hodge, who was called to the chair, expressed the sympathy of himself and the meeting towards the relatives of the deceased, who had been taken away in his early manhood. The presentation, he said, was the first of its kind in the neighbourhood, and he hoped it would be a long time before they required to have another.
Mr William Lang, colliery manager, presented the gifts to the recipients, and stated that he joined with Mr Hodge in expressing sympathy for the relatives. He was pleased to be able to state that the three men who were first at the locus of the accident rushed in regardless of danger to themselves, and brought out Alexander Gordon, but were too late.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 September, 1920

It was found that a breach of regulations had caused the death of William Minford, drawer, lately residing at 10 Forthview Cottages, Low Valleyfield. Minford died on 17th July from injuries received as far back as 19th November last year, by being crushed between a moving hutch and a roof girder in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery.
The evidence showed that deceased and others had, contrary to regulation, ridden on a bogey in a haulage road while the haulage was in motion. Deceased, who was in front of the rake, came to a low place in the roof, where he was caught and badly squeezed.
By the direction of the Sheriff, the jury expressed the view that the accident was caused by a breach of the regulation against travelling on the dook while the haulage was in motion.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 December, 1920

The underground firemen at Valleyfield Colliery met in a social capacity on Saturday evening. A lecture was delivered by Mr Wm. Lang, colliery manager, on "Precautions against Coal Dust, as set forth in Statutory Rules and Orders, 1920". The lecturer said this new Order would come into force at the New Year, and in dry and dusty mines it would be no easy task to comply with its requirements. He proceeded to explain the Order in detail, the difficulties that must be overcome in the various sections, and what he considered might be the easiest and most effective methods to adopt. An interesting discussion followed. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
2 July, 1921

... Valleyfield pit bottom is reported to be clear of water. At this colliery, however, water has never been a problem which has required the serious consideration of the management. In normal times, it is found possible to draw all the water by means of boxes attached to the hutches during the course of the shift. It is a certainty that water will have accumulated to some extent in the deep seams, and it may be necessary to instal temporary pumping apparatus before these seams are drained sufficiently to permit of a resumption of work. Gas has been found a more serious proposition at Valleyfield. During the stoppage, gas accumulated in heavy volume in all sections of the pit. Already the ventilation apparatus has dissipated the poisonous gases, and almost a general resumption is anticipated next week. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
9 July, 1921

... At Valleyfield Colliery, where a large accumulation of gas had to be dealt with, coal getting was begun on Monday. On that day, the output was 3½ tons. Tuesday's production was 37 tons, and on Wednesday 96 tons were sent up the shaft. ...


"The Scotsman"
27 August, 1921

FATAL ACCIDENT IN FIFE PIT. - Yesterday morning Daniel Banks (15), drawer, son of George Banks, miner, Dundonald Terrace, Lowvalleyfield, was accidentally killed in the Fife Coal Company's No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. He was crushed between a moving hutch and the end of a bench at which he was working. The boy's father was an eye-witness of the accident.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 August, 1921

A fatal accident took place in No. 2 Valleyfield Colliery, yesterday morning. The victim was Daniel Banks (15), who was employed as a drawer with his father, George Banks, miner, Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield. The boy was engaged at a bench in what is known as Cowan's Brae, when he was caught between a moving hutch and the end of the bench. He was severely crushed internally, and death took place almost instantaneously.
A tragic feature of the accident was that it occurred within sight of the boy's father, who was unable to render assistance.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 August, 1921

Mr Lawson, Bothwell Park Colliery, Lanarkshire, has been appointed manager of the Fife Coal Company's colliery at Low Valleyfield in succession to Mr Wm. Lang, who has been promoted to an agency in the Kelty district. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
3 September, 1921

Mr Lang, manager of Valleyfield Colliery, has been appointed agent of several collieries in the Kelty district. On Friday evening of last week he was met by a number of friends in the Mission Hall, High Valleyfield, and presented with a barometer (suitably inscribed), a gold albert, a pocket book, and a sum of money. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
24 September, 1921

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Daniel Banks. The methods adopted for braking hutches in haulage roads in the pit came up for some criticism in the case of Daniel Banks (15), drawer, 19 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield, who was fatally injured in No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, by being struck by a runaway empty hutch. Mr Lang, the colliery manager, admitted that in addition to the usual stop-blocks, there might have been introduced in the road what were known as thief catchers for the purpose of stopping runaway hutches. The jury, in returning a formal verdict, homologated the views of the Sheriff that it was quite evident that many devices might be adopted under similar conditions, any one of which would prevent a similar accident happening. The Jury's rider was to the effect that they were of opinion that the cause of the accident was the detaching of the hutch from the haulage rope before the stop-block was securely fixed, and that it was an accident of a nature which might be easily avoided, either by mechanical arrangement or by giving and enforcing the necessary instructions to the wheeler.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 October, 1921

... Mr James Paterson, who was formerly under-manager at the Fife Coal Company's colliery at Benarty, has been appointed to a similar position at No. 2 Pit, Low Valleyfield. Mr John Skimming has been appointed under-manager at No. 1 Pit. ...


"The Scotsman"
16 September, 1922

FIFESHIRE PIT ACCIDENTS. - A fatal accident occurred at No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, early yesterday morning. Daniel McQuade (20), a machineman, was at work at the coal face, when about two tons of material fell upon him, fracturing his skull and killing him instantaneously. He had been residing in lodgings at 37 Dundonald Terrace, Lowvalleyfield. He belonged to Lochgelly. ...


"Cowdenbeath & Lochgelly Times"
11 October, 1922

The circumstances surrounding the death of Daniel McQuade, machineman, lately residing at 12 Landale Street, Lochgelly, who died on 15th September, in No. 2 Pit of Valleyfield Colliery, from injuries received by a stone falling on him from the roof, was the subject of an inquiry before Sheriff Umpherston and a jury, in Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Witnesses giving statements included: Andrew Ramsay Lawson, manager; David Shimmins, oversman, Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; Patrick Gleckin, brusher, Mid Causeway, Culross; Felix McCairnie, brusher, Forth View Cottages, Low Valleyfield; and, Bernard McClinden, 44 Hall Street, Blantyre, who formerly worked at the Valleyfield pit. According to Sheriff Umpherston, "... the accident might have been prevented if a temporary prop had been set under the stone."


"Dunfermline Press"
8 December, 1923

Thomas Bond (32), pumpsman, residing at Main Street, Torryburn, died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Saturday night as the result of injuries received in an unusual accident in No. 1 Pit at Valleyfield Colliery. Bond was working a pump in the colliery during Friday night, when a coil of wire rope, weighing several hundredweights, which had been dislodged from the level above, came hurtling over the embankment. Bond was caught before he could get out of the way and hurled against his engine. His skull was fractured.


"Cowdenbeath & Lochgelly Times"
25 March, 1925

Valleyfield Colliery, near Dunfermline, was the scene of a distressing accident on Saturday, which resulted in the death of Samuel Anstis, a 15-year-old pithead boy. The lad fell through a fence at the side of a creeper road, to the ground beneath - a distance of about 20 feet. When picked up he was found to be suffering from severe injuries to the head, from which he died before reaching the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital. Anstis resided with his father at 8 Main Road, Crombie.


"Cowdenbeath & Lochgelly Times"
13 May, 1925

Mr John Fleming, who has been colliery manager at the Fife Coal Company's Blairenbathie Colliery, has been promoted to the important charge of manager at Valleyfield. He succeeds Mr Andrews, who has been transferred to Kelty district.


"The Scotsman"
15 May, 1925

DEFECTIVE PIT FENCING - YOUNG COLLIER'S DEATH. - The circumstances of a fatal accident at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery were investigated at Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday. The victim was a boy of 15, Samuel John Anstis, who was employed as a pithead worker, and who was fatally injured by falling from a scaffold at the screening plant. It was elicited that deceased slipped on the scaffold and fell through an aperture in the fencing from which the middle spar was amissing. Several boys who worked with deceased declared that the spar had been amissing for three weeks, although they had not reported the matter. Colliery officials, however, affirmed that all the pithead fencing was regularly inspected, and one of these, an engineer, declared that the scaffold fencing was intact at least two days before the accident. The jury added to a formal verdict an expression of opinion that the accident was due to a defect in the fencing, which ought to have been repaired.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 December, 1925

A serious accident took place last Saturday in the No. 2 Pit, Low Valleyfield. Thomas Lamond, Cairneyhill, while proceeding to the pit bottom at the end of the shift was overtaken by a runaway hutch, receiving severe injuries. First aid was rendered to the unfortunate man, who was speedily conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, suffering from broken ribs and a crushed jaw bone.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 February, 1926

William Fitzsimmons, jun., (24), cleek hunter, who resided at Bessiebar House, Culross, was the victim of a gas poisoning fatality on Tuesday morning in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, belonging to the Fife Coal Company, Ltd.
At an early hour in the morning, it appears, Fitzsimmons had received orders to take a message to another man's working place. The sender of the message, on arriving later at the working place himself, was surprised to hear that Fitzsimmons had not turned up.
A search was made and the unfortunate man was found lying unconscious in an airway, where he had evidently been overcome by carbon monoxide gas.
Richard Smith, fireman, who resides at Main Street, Newmills, made heroic efforts to rescue Fitzsimmons. Twice he was overcome on entering the airway, and had to be pulled out. No sooner did he recover than he made a third attempt, and was at last able to drag Fitzsimmons out of the affected area. Artificial respiration was then applied, but without success. Deceased, who was unmarried, was a son of Baillie Fitzsimmons, Culross.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 February, 1926

Another of those "lightning" strikes which have brought the Fife coalfields into unenviable notoriety in recent years occurred at Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company, Limited, this week. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
27 February, 1926

The death took place, suddenly, at Gullane, on Sunday morning, of Mr William Lang, who had for many years been a prominent official of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd. Receiving his early training in the Lanarkshire coalfield, Mr Lang came to Fife as manager of the Wellsgreen Colliery.
From there he was transferred to the Company's Mary Pit at Lochore. From 1912 to 1921, he was manager of the Valleyfield Colliery which he left to become agent of a group of the Company's pits in the Kelty district.
In Lanarkshire, and to a lesser extent in the East of Fife, he had a long experience of gas conditions underground; and it was because of the knowledge he possessed of these conditions that he was called as manager to Valleyfield Colliery. ...


"The Scotsman"
Monday, 1 March, 1926

In accordance with the decision come to at a meeting on Friday, a ballot of the men employed at the Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company (Ltd.) was taken on Saturday. The ballot, which was confined to the members of the Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan Mineworkers' Association, showed that 193 men were in favour of resuming work, to permit of negotiations being opened with the Fife Coal Company representatives for discussing the grievance which gave rise to the stoppage, and 43 were against a resumption. The Association claims to have a membership of 430 men employed at Valleyfield, and the Reform Miners' Union, which has not so far proposed a ballot, claims a membership of 210. As a result of Saturday's ballot, arrangements were made for the night shift men returning to work last night; and it is expected that the men on the other shifts will resume work underground today. The pit, which normally employs between 700 and 800 persons, had been closed since Tuesday of last week.


"The Scotsman"
12 March, 1926

In presence of Sheriff Umpherston and a mixed jury at Dunfermline yesterday an inquiry was held in connection with the death of William Fitzsimons, jun., pitworker, who died on 16th February in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, Fife Coal Company (Ltd.), from asphyxiation by fire-damp.
It was elicited that deceased had entered a road which had been fenced off in consequence of an accumulation of firedamp, and at each end of which there had been displayed "no road" notices in chalk. Part of the road was only about 18 inches square. It was at this point that deceased had been jammed, possibly by a hammer which he carried in his pocket.
Among the witnesses were Richard Smith, pit fireman, Main Street, Low Torrie; Alexander Terris, miner, Main Street, Newmills; Duncan Paterson, miner, Culross; and Laurence McArthur, miner, Newmills. These men described their attempts to rescue deceased from his perilous position. Twice Smith penetrated the gas-laden road, and having been overcome, was dragged back to safety by his comrades. On a third attempt, he managed to attach a piece of brattice cloth to Fitzsimons' feet, by means of which he was dragged to the end of the road. By this time death had taken place.
Mr E. H. Frazer, H. M. Inspector of Mines, called the attention of the jury to the heroism displayed by the four men, and more particularly by Smith, whose action, he said, was worthy of special mention.
The jury found that Fitzsimons' death due to a breach of the regulations made for his own safety. They added an expression of their admiration of the work of Richard Smith and the other three men who tried to rescue Fitzsimons and to recover the body.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 March, 1926

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of William Fitzsimmons, junior, cleek hunter, lately residing at Bessiebar House, Culross, who died on 16 February in No. 1 pit, Valleyfield Colliery, Fife Coal Company Ltd., from asphyxiation by firedamp.
Those giving evidence included:- John Heggie Bell Fleming, colliery manager; Frederick McGahey, fireman; Alexander Terris (27), miner, Grieve Street, Newmills; Duncan Paterson (27), rescuer; David Millar, oversman, High Valleyfield; Laurence McArthur, miner; and Richard Smith (39), fireman, Main Street, Low Torrie.
The Sheriff addressing the jury, suggested that they should add to their verdict a rider to the effect that Fitzsimmons' death was due to a breach of the regulations made for his own safety. His Lordship said he also agreed with the Inspector of Mines in proposing that the jury should add an expression of the admiration of the work of Richard Smith and the others, who tried to rescue Fitzsimmons, and to recover his body. The jury adopted the Sheriff's suggestion.


"Dunfermline Press"
10 April, 1926

Five men were injured by an ignition of gas at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield colliery early yesterday afternoon. The victims of the ignition were Bernard Canavan, 3 Chapel Street, High Valleyfield; Thomas Canavan, 30 Carnegie Street, Dunfermline; Francis Patrick Canavan, Allan's Villa, Low Valleyfield, all stone miners; John Walker, bricklayer, Toll House, Newmills; and Robert Boyce, bricklayer's labourer, Rose Lane, Torryburn.
The men were engaged driving a stone mine at a point about 180 fathoms from the surface. Firedamp had been for some time detected in the place, and the usual steps were taken for clearing it away.
Yesterday, the presence of the firedamp was not suspected. There must have been, however, a fairly large accumulation of gas, probably in the roof. Ignited, it is believed, by a spark from the point of a pick which was being applied by Bernard Canavan, to a hard piece of rock, the flames instantaneously filled the place where the men were working. But for the fact that the place was high - roughly about nine feet - and that there was an ample current of ventilation, an explosion, with appalling consequences, would have resulted. As it was, all the men received burns to exposed parts of the body - faces, arms, and hands - which required to be medically treated at the pit surface by Dr Reid and Dr Shanks, who had been hastily summoned to the colliery. Those of the injured residing near the colliery were able, after treatment, to walk home. The others were conveyed to their residence in ambulances.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 April, 1926

The five men who were injured last week by an ignition of gas in Valleyfield Colliery are progressing favourably. In addition to the medical men whose names were mentioned in last Saturday's issue, Dr J. B. Cook was present at the colliery immediately after the accident, and rendered valuable service to the injured men.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 September, 1926

The breakaway in the mining area of West Fife is gaining strength. In the early part of this week, the Fife Coal Company's pit at Valleyfield was opened. Thirty-three men resumed work underground. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
2 October, 1926

MINERS AT WORK. - The breakaway at the Valleyfield Colliery, which took place last week, is still being maintained, and every day the numbers are being augmented. Pickets are trying everything in their power to persuade the men to cease working but have failed to do so. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
11 December, 1926

... Conditions at Valleyfield Colliery are improving slowly as the number finding employment is increasing. Efforts are being made to re-open the closed areas in the pits, which are meeting with much success. With a view to giving employment to as many men as possible, the colliery is working three shifts as before the strike, and upwards of 300 men are at present employed underground.


"Lochgelly Times"
Wednesday, 27 July, 1927
Fife Mining Officials Killed

Two men lost their lives on Monday in trying to discover the cause of an accumulation of gas in Valleyfield Pit, situated to the south of Dunfermline. The deceased, who were both married, were William Cousin, colliery foreman, and Neil McNeil, colliery oversman, and both resided in High Valleyfield.
A third man, Robert Clark, who accompanied the deceased, had a narrow escape.
Valleyfield Pit belongs to the Fife Coal Company, and overlooks the Forth. Every precaution is taken to deal with accumulation of gas, and when the presence of carbon monoxide was reported on Monday, McNeil and Cousin, being the responsible officials, went to investigate. It was thought that during the holidays last week there had been a fall between the main heading and the companion heading, causing an obstruction in the air course.


Leaving their lamps behind, the two men went into the heading. McNeil led the way, and soon collapsed. When he did not return, Cousin made a dash into the working-place, but he also was overcome. Realising the gravity of the situation, Clark, the third man, made a heroic attempt to reach his companions, but felt himself "going" before he went half a dozen paces. He drew back, and before he collapsed he was able to give the alarm to others in the vicinity.


A rescue squad was quickly on the scene, and several workmen made gallant efforts to reach their comrades, only to be frustrated by the choking gas.
Higher officials attempted to rescue McNeil and Cousin, but the majority of them collapsed. They were revived before the bodies of the unfortunate men were reached and extricated, extra air currents being meantime directed through the passages.
The affair aroused much sympathy in the neighbourhood, as both men were well-known. McNeil, who was married only last year, had returned during the weekend from a holiday in the Isle of Man. Cousin leaves a widow and two of a family.


"Lochgelly Times"
24 August, 1927

Hugh McMillan, an oncost worker, employed at the Fife Coal Company's No. 2 Valleyfield Pit, died in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Saturday from injuries he received in the pit on the previous day. He was caught by a runaway hutch on a haulage road, down which he was carried a distance of fifteen yards. He was injured about the head, breast and arms.


"The Scotsman"
23 September, 1927

At an inquiry in Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday into the death of Neil McNeil, colliery oversman, lately residing at 69 Woodhead Street, and William Hunter Cousin, fireman, lately residing at 48 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, who were asphyxiated by fire-damp on July 25 in No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, tribute was paid to the heroism of a number of miners and officials who endeavoured to rescue their comrades.
H.M. Inspector of Mines (Mr E. H. Frazer), addressing the jury, pointed out that David Jarvie, miner, Forthview Cottages, Low Valleyfield, crawled up the gas-filled heading, and managed to reach the first of the bodies, that of Cousin, and dragged it down a few feet. In doing so he was overcome by gas himself, and would have shared the same fate as the other two men if his comrades had not at once rescued him. A few minutes later they managed to get out the body of Cousin. It required courage to go into the gas, knowing that one was likely to be overcome, the only chance of being brought out depending on a length of shot-firing cable. Nevertheless, James Paterson, Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield, the under manager, crawled up on two occasions, and was overcome, and Frank Mackay, another worker, also went up, and was rendered unconscious by gas.
An agent, on behalf of the Fife Coal Co. (Ltd.), expressed their regret at the loss of two trustworthy and valued employees, and associated himself with H.M. Inspector's remarks regarding the heroism of the other workers.
Sheriff Umpherston, addressing the jury, said that one of the objects of these inquiries was to suggest means which would prevent similar accidents happening in the future. But when they found men of long experience and great practical knowledge going into such a danger as this of fire-damp in the mine and being overcome by it, it was obvious that nothing a jury could add to their verdict would have any effect in preventing accidents of a similar kind in the future.
The jury concurred with his Lordship's suggestion, and added to their formal verdict an expression of their admiration for the efforts of the men who tried to save the lives of their comrades.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 August, 1928

... On Saturday morning Thomas Hutton (41), a brusher, who resided at Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, was at work in the north-west splint in No. 1 Pit of Valleyfield Colliery when a dry "lipe" came away from the roof. The falling material struck Hutton on the back of the head, causing a fracture of the skull. Death was practically instantaneous. ...


"The Scotsman"
16 August, 1929

Hope Cairns (43), miner, Preston Street, High Valleyfield, has died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from injuries received as a result of a roof fall in the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Pit. Deceased had just returned to work on recovery from the effects of an accident which he received in the pit two years ago.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 August, 1929

On Monday afternoon, while at work in Lessell's section of No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, Hope Cairns (43), miner, Preston Street, High Valleyfield, met with an accident which proved fatal. While in the act of making safe his working place, he was struck down by a fall of material from the roof. He was speedily conveyed to the ambulance room on the pithead, where he was attended to by Dr Rae. Thereafter he was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where he died shortly after admission. Deceased had only been at work a week after having been off for upwards of two years as the result of an accident in the pit.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 October, 1929

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Hope Thomson Cairns, lately residing at 27 Preston Street, High Valleyfield, who died on 12th August, at Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, from injuries received that day in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, Fife Coal Company, Ltd., caused by a fall from the roof of his working place. Those giving evidence included:- John Moodie, miner, 32 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield; Duncan Watson Paterson, miner; and Robert John Simpson, colliery fireman, 1 High Street, Kincardine-on-Forth.
The jury added to their formal verdict a rider in accordance with the Sheriff's suggestion.


"Dunfermline Press"
30 November, 1929

A public meeting was held in the Miners' Welfare Institute, Valleyfield, on Sunday afternoon, for the purpose of discussing the proposed erection of baths at the colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 December, 1929

On Tuesday forenoon, while working in the 5 ft. section of No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, Thomas Duffin, Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, had a miraculous escape from serious injury. He was caught and buried beneath a large fall of material from the roof. For upwards of an hour a rescue party strenuously worked to release him. In this they were eventually successful. They conveyed Duffin to the first-aid station, where it was found that, apart from the severe shock received, his bodily hurts were not very extensive. After attention by the attendant he was taken home. Duffin owes his escape to the fact that a large tree supported the loose pieces of roof.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 January, 1930

COLLIERY APPOINTMENT. - The friends of Mr John Shimmins, who was for several years under-manager at the Valleyfield Colliery, will be pleased to learn of his appointment as manager with the Summerlee Iron and Coal Company. ... Mr Shimmins will be best remembered at Valleyfield for his work under the late colliery manager, Mr Wm. Lang, with whom he served for many years. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
25 January, 1930

PITHEAD BATHS. - Following the decision of a public meeting held recently of the workers at the Valleyfield Colliery balloted on Monday on the question of pithead baths, the vote resulted as follows:- For, 380; against, 192.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 February, 1930

While at work in the five feet section of No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Monday afternoon, Frank Short, Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield, met with a serious accident, as a result of which he received a severe scalp wound and injuries to the shoulder and back.
The accident was caused by a runaway hutch travelling at a very high speed. He was attended to by Dr Rae, Culross, at the ambulance station, where it was found necessary to put several stitches into the wound on the head. He was afterwards conveyed home in the ambulance waggon.


"Dunfermline Press"
Saturday, 22 February, 1930

James Martin (23), a miner's drawer, who resided at 9 Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield, met with a fatal accident on Tuesday morning in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company, Limited.
While at work at the foot of an incline in the five foot section, he was struck by a runaway loaded hutch. Suffering from severe abdominal injuries he was conveyed to the ambulance station, and after being attended to by Dr Rae he was removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where he died at about five o'clock the same day.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 March, 1930

The miners employed at the local colliery are experiencing short time, as they were idle on Friday and Saturday last week and again on Wednesday this week.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 March, 1930

A change of officials has taken place at the Valleyfield and Hill of Beath Collieries, the managers exchanging positions. Mr J. Fleming, Valleyfield, goes to Hill of Beath and Mr Dewar to Valleyfield.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 March, 1930

PIT ACCIDENT. - While at work in the Valleyfield Colliery on Tuesday, Andrew Drysdale, miner, met with a serious accident through a piece of coal falling upon him. He was attended to by Dr Cook, Newmills, after which he was conveyed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital suffering from a broken arm and other injuries.


"The Scotsman"
21 March, 1930
Jury's Comments in Two Inquiries

Unusual circumstances were disclosed in two inquiries in Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday with regard to fatal accidents which had occurred recently in West Fife pits. ...
Comment was made on the method of erecting haulage props in course of an inquiry regarding the death of James Martin, coal miner, 9 Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield, who received fatal injuries by being struck by a runaway hutch in No. 1 Pit of Valleyfield Colliery.
It was stated that immediately after the haulage prop was erected, a loaded hutch was sent down an incline. It had only travelled about four yards when the haulage tree became displaced, with the result that the hutch ran down the incline and injured Martin.
The jury added to their formal verdict a rider to the effect that Martin ought not to have been on the haulage road at the same time the haulage was running; and that, if a safety tree had been used in front of the haulage tree, the accident would not have happened.


"Dunfermline Press"
22 March, 1930

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of James Martin, coal miner, 9 Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield, who died from injuries received that day in No. 1 Pit of Valleyfield Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company, Limited, by being struck by a runaway hutch.
Those giving evidence included:- Robert Ross, miner, 9 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Joseph Fleming, colliery roadsman, 64 Chalmers Street, Dunfermline; David Stewart, miner, 44 Chalmers Street, Dunfermline; and John McVickers, underground fireman, Kerr's Buildings, Newmills.
Sheriff Umpherston said he thought there were two matters to which the jury might refer. One was that Martin ought not to have been on the haulage road at the time the haulage was running; and the other was that, if a safety tree had been used in front of the haulage tree, the accident would not have happened. To their formal verdict the jury added a rider to that effect.


"Dunfermline Press"
22 March, 1930

COLLIERY IDLE. - The workers at Valleyfield Colliery are again experiencing idle time, the pits being closed on Wednesday. This continued idle time is causing some uneasiness and hardships among the workers, this being the third week out of four during which idle days have been experienced.


"Dunfermline Press"
21 June, 1930

IDLE PITS. - The pits at the local colliery were idle last Saturday, the stoppage affecting upwards of 400 men.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 July, 1930

IDLE PITS. - During the past week, idle time has been again experienced at the local colliery when the pits were closed for two days. The recurrent idle days are causing much uneasiness locally.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 October, 1930

Thomas Reid, miner, 55 years of age, residing at Chapel Street, Kincardine-on-Forth, met with a serious accident while at work in the north mine section of No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. A large piece of coal fell upon him, fracturing his right leg in two places. After being attended to at the pithead by Dr McDougall, he was conveyed by ambulance to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 October, 1930

On Monday forenoon, Wm. Johnson, Woodhead Street, and John Hodgson, Preston Street, High Valleyfield, while working in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, met with a serious accident. They were caught by a fall of material from the side of the roadway where they, along with several others, were at work. Both received severe wounds and also suffered from shock.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 November, 1930

ASSISTING COLLIERY WORKERS. - At a "free-and-easy" held in the Valleyfield Tavern on Saturday evening, three colliery workers were made the recipients of monetary gifts from their fellow-workmates of the Valleyfield Colliery. The gifts were handed over by ex-Councillor Pat Flood, who made reference to the high esteem in which the guests are held, and expressed sympathy with them on being numbered among the others who are being dismissed from the colliery at the present time.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 January, 1931

There is a possibility of extensive developments taking place in the near future at the Fife Coal Company's large and up-to-date colliery at Valleyfield. Hitherto the development of the colliery has been restricted owing to the absence of electrical power, which, according to the mining regulations, cannot be operated underground in mines where there is danger arising from fire-damp. It is now hoped that, with the introduction of certain mining methods, permission may be granted for the installation of electrical power underground. If such permission is given, a rapid development in the work of the colliery is anticipated, with a consequent increase in output and in the number of men employed.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 January, 1931

On Saturday morning, John Sneddon, miner, Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield, met with a serious accident while working in the five-foot section of No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. While engaged along with others in righting a loaded hutch which has been derailed, he was crushed against a roof support by a hutch. Sneddon, who was speedily extricated, was taken to the ambulance room, where he was attended to by Dr McDougall, Newmills. Suffering from injuries to the lower part of the body, he was removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
21 February, 1931

During the last few weeks the workers at Valleyfield Colliery have been experiencing much idle time, having only four days' work per week. This week all the workers have been given fourteen days' notice to terminate their employment. It is not the intention of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., to close down altogether at Valleyfield, but a very large number of men will be thrown idle at the end of the fourteen days, as the colliery will only be worked one shift, instead of two as at present. Meantime, the men are being asked to apply for re-engagement prior to the end of the fourteen days. A concession is being offered to the occupants of the Company's houses, to whom a first preference will be given for employment available.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 March, 1931

At the termination of the dismissal notices issued to the workers at Valleyfield Colliery by the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., the pits were reopened with a 200 reduction of employees. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
11 April, 1931

On Thursday evening, a serious accident befell Charles Park (17), son of Mrs Park, Main Street, Newmills, in course of his employment in No. 2 Pit Valleyfield Colliery. He was operating a steam winch, when his right hand slipped from the lever and became entangled in the pinion wheels. He had the presence of mind to apply the brake to the winder, but before he could extricate his hand two of the fingers had been badly lacerated. After being attended to at the pithead by Dr Cook, Newmills, Park was conveyed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where it was found necessary to amputate the injured digits.


"The Scotsman"
30 May, 1931

Notices have been posted at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery, near Dunfermline, to the effect that the Diamond section of No. 2 pit will be closed shortly. This will affect upwards of 100 workers. Following upon the recent curtailment of work involving the suspension of the whole of the back shift men, the intimation is creating some anxiety in the villages adjoining the colliery. The management have indicated that they will endeavour to find employment for as many men as possible in other sections of the colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 July, 1931

Four men were injured as the result of an ignition of gas in No. 2 Pit Valleyfield Colliery, on Thursday afternoon.
The accident occurred in the North Mine Section of the pit shortly after the backshift men had begun work.
Four of the men received burning injuries about the face and body, and they were immediately conveyed to the surface, where they were attended to by Dr Cook and Dr McDougall.
The most seriously injured was David Strathie, miner, 42 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield. He was found to be suffering from extensive burning injuries from the waist upwards. The other three men were:- Joseph Morrison, miner, 44 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, who had burns about the face, head, neck, arms, and back; Thomas Shimmins, fireman, 12 Forthview Cottages, Low Valleyfield, who was burned about the face, head, hands, and wrists; and William Dobbin, drawer, 26 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, whose face and left shoulder were burned.
Strathie, Morrison, and Shimmins were removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, and Dobbin was assisted to his home. On inquiry last night, it was learned that the condition of the three men in hospital was still regarded as serious.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 July, 1931

David Strathie, miner, 42 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield, who received extensive burning injuries as the result of an ignition of gas in the No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Thursday of last week, died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Saturday morning. The other two men, who were removed to hospital after the accident - Joseph Morrison, miner, 44 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, and Thomas Shimmins, Low Valleyfield - are reported to be progressing favourably.
Upwards of 200 of deceased's workmates attended the funeral, which took place on Tuesday afternoon. The service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. J. Y. Stewart, St Kentigern's Church, Culross.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 October, 1931

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of David Strathie, 42 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield, who died on 11th July in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from burning injuries received by him on 9th July in No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company, Limited, in course of his industrial employment as a miner.
Those giving evidence at the inquiry included:- Colin Morrison, underground fireman, 18 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Robert Muir, oversman, 67 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Thomas Shimmins, underground fireman, 12 Forthview Cottage, Low Valleyfield; Joseph Morrison, miner, 44 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; William Dobbin, drawer, 26 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Sergeant Park, Newmills; Alexander Dewar, manager; and Harold Taylor Foster, H. M. Senior Inspector of Mines. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
24 October, 1931

At the Valleyfield Colliery, Harry Arthur, miner, had a very narrow escape through being overcome by gas. When discovered by his mate, who had only left him for a short time, he was lying unconscious. With great presence of mind, his fellow-worker bent down and dragged him into purer air. In spite of first-aid treatment Arthur remained unconscious, and was hurriedly conveyed to the pit bottom, where he was attended to by Dr McDougal, Newmills, who had descended the pit in response to an urgent call. After examination Arthur was raised to the surface, and at the ambulance station was revived by the pumping of oxygen into his lungs. After recovering sufficiently he was conveyed home by ambulance.
Arthur is a prominent member of the local Football Club and other associations.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 November, 1931

FIREMEN'S EXAMINATION. - At a recent examination for colliery firemen in Valleyfield Colliery, conducted by Mr J. Ford, safety inspector, Fife Coal Company, Ltd., the following were successful:- James Crombie, George Marshall, Alexander Ross, sen., Wm. Ross, Duncan Paterson. Mr Ford complimented the Valleyfield firemen on their high standard of efficiency with regard to matters pertaining to firemen's duties as far as gassy mines were concerned.


"Dunfermline Press"
23 January, 1932

A mechanical breakdown, which took place at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery on Sunday, has temporarily thrown out of employment a large section of the miners. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
20 August, 1932

James Fox (54), miner, 7 Valleyfield Avenue, High Valleyfield, lies in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital suffering from serious injuries received in the accident in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Friday of last week. Fox was working in No. 6 heading of the Dean Section when a fall of coal occurred near the top of the heading. The coal slid down the gradient on top of Fox, causing injuries to his head, fracturing two of his ribs, and amputating the middle finger of his left hand. He was conveyed by ambulance to hospital, where he is progressing favourably.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 October, 1932

A fatal accident occurred in No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Thursday afternoon. The victim was Robert Duff (55), miner, residing at 24 Rumblingwell, Dunfermline.
He was working along with his son, Donald Duff (210, in the five feet section when, without warning, a large portion of the coal face burst. The younger Duff, who was engaged near the outer edge of the fall, had time to step clear, but he had the terrible experience of witnessing his father being buried beneath a quantity of coal and stone, estimated to weigh about ten tons.
A rescue party, one of whom was Duff's son, was soon at work, under the supervision of Mr Alexander Dewar, manager of the colliery, and Mr John Sloan, the under-manager. It was in circumstances of grave danger that the rescuers performed their arduous task. Their lives were repeatedly threatened by subsequent falls from the roof, but they completely disregarded their personal safety, and redoubled their efforts in the hope that they would be able to rescue their comrade from his perilous position. At the expiry of a couple of hours the debris had been sufficiently cleared to enable Duff to be located. By that time he was beyond human aid, death having evidently taken place instantaneously with the fall. The body had just been recovered and was being conveyed to a roadway when another heavy fall took place.
Others besides the manager, under-manager, and Donald Duff who took part in the heroic rescue operations were John Dinwoodie and Alexander McGowan, miners.
When, shortly after eight o'clock, the rescue party reached the pithead, the manager, in conversation with a Press representative, said that the work of the rescue party in their endeavour to reach their comrade was beyond all praise.
Following the accident, work was entirely suspended for twenty-four hours in both Nos. 1 and 2 Pits.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 December, 1932

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Robert Duff, 24 Rumblingwell, Dunfermline, who was killed on 13th October in the underground workings of No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company, Limited, by a fall from the roof of his working place. Those giving evidence included: Henry Duncan, miner, 39 Parkneuk; Donald Duff, miner, 24 Rumblingwell Street, Dunfermline, son of the deceased; and Thomas Guthrie, fireman, 12 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 January, 1933

While at work in the five-feet section of the No. 2 Pit at Valleyfield on Monday afternoon, Thos. Stevenson (16), wincher, son of Mr Chas. Stevenson, Grieve Street, Low Valleyfield, met with a serious accident as a result of which he has lost three fingers of the left hand. The unfortunate lad was attending to the machine when his hand was caught by the wheels. He was speedily conveyed to the first aid station, where medical aid was given by Dr Cook, Newmills, who ordered his removal to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 April, 1933

MINING RECORD. - On Saturday, a large number of mining students visited the local colliery and made a tour of the pits. The chief attraction was the great stone mine being driven by Mr Thos. Myles. Here the students saw the latest methods of stone mining and roof supports, the latter being of steel girders. The party was accompanied by the colliery officials, and it was learned that the mine is being constructed at a rate of eleven fathoms per day. It is understood that at the present rate of boring, Mr Myles is setting up records never before reached in that class of work.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 September, 1933

John Laing (33), stone miner, residing at 10 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, met with a serious accident in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Friday of last week. While engaged dressing the side of the mine, preparatory to the insertion of a girder, he observed a small stone hanging from the roof.
He was in the act of clearing the stone and had stepped back to permit it to come away, when a larger stone, weighing almost five cwts fell from the side of the mine. He was in the act of jumping clear of the falling stone when his foot slipped, and, falling, he was struck by the stone.
Dr Cook, who examined Laing at the pithead, found that the left leg had been badly fractured. The doctor ordered the man's removal to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where it was found necessary to amputate the injured leg at a point below the knee.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 October, 1933

John McCrae, miner, Main Street, Newmills, lies in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital suffering from a fractured leg and injuries to his head and arms, as a result of an accident in No. 2 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. He was at work in the Jewel section, when he was accidentally crushed between two moving hutches. Before being removed to hospital, he was attended to by Dr MacDougall, Newmills.


"The Scotsman"
22 December, 1933
Rescue Party's Long Rescue Efforts in Fife

Distressing circumstances were associated with a fatal accident which occurred yesterday morning in the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery, near Dunfermline. The victim was William Ross (36), a colliery fireman, who resided at Main Street, Newmills. At about three o'clock in the morning Ross was making an inspection, when there was an extensive fall of coal, completely burying him. A rescue party immediately set to work in an endeavour to extricate him, but it was not until one o'clock in the afternoon that Ross was located. When the body was partially cleared, he was found to be dead. The rescue party had to continue their operations for some time before the body could be extricated.


"Dunfermline Press"
23 December, 1933

A colliery fireman, William Ross, who resided at Main Street, Newmills, met with his death under distressing circumstances in Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday. In course of his usual round of inspection, Ross was in the five foot seam at about three o'clock in the morning when an extensive fall of coal took place, completely burying him. Hugh Grattan, a Valleyfield miner who was working in the vicinity, narrowly escaped being caught by the fall.
Although a rescue party immediately set to work to extricate Ross, it was not until one o'clock in the afternoon that he was located, and when the fall was partially cleared away it was found that the unfortunate man was dead. The men had to continue their operations for a considerable time before the body could be extricated. Deceased, who was 36 years of age, leaves a widow.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 February, 1934

Near the end of his shift in Valleyfield Pit, on Wednesday afternoon, William Trafford, Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield, met with a serious accident. While he was performing his usual duties as an oncost worker a large stone fell from the roof and struck him, causing injuries to the head and abdomen. After medical attention he was conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"The Scotsman"
23 February, 1934
Fife Men's Heroic Rescue Efforts

At an inquiry in Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday into the death of William Ross, colliery fireman, Low Torrie, Newmills, who was killed by a roof fall on December 21, 1933, in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, H.M. Inspector of Mines (Mr H. C. W. Roberts) paid tribute to the heroism of a squad of miners who worked under dangerous conditi Ross, after examining a heading, warned several miners that it was not safe, and they went to work elsewhere. Later, he returned to make a further examination of the heading, and had proceeded a short distance, when the roof burst, and there was a fall of about 120 tons of coal. The roof continued to fall, and in order to get to Ross, a squad of men had to cut another road.
H.M. Inspector said the work of recovery was really very dangerous, and the men taking part in it were to be congratulated on what they did. He mentioned particularly Hugh Gratton and James Myles. Gratton narrowly escaped being caught by the fall, but carried on for the whole period of ten hours until the body was recovered. The jury returned a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
24 February, 1934

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of William Ross, colliery fireman, Low Torrie, Newmills, who was killed on 21st December in the underground workings of No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, as the result of a roof fall.
Those giving evidence included: Hugh Gratton, miner, 41 Preston Street, High Valleyfield; Robert Rae Aitchison, colliery manager; and H. M. Inspector of Mines Mr H. C. W. Roberts. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
30 June, 1934

Jacob Pollock, bricklayer, Torryburn, met with a serious accident while at work at Valleyfield Colliery last week. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
11 August, 1934

A proposal to install pithead baths at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery was revived at a meeting of the men employed at the colliery held in the Miners' Welfare Institute on Sunday afternoon. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
15 September, 1934

Ralph Stewart, miner, Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield, met with a serious accident while at work on Wednesday forenoon in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery. While employed at the creepers at the pit bottom he had his left arm fractured and received injuries to the right leg. After being attended to at the ambulance station by Dr MacDougall, he was conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 October, 1934

David Beveridge, machineman, Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield, met with an accident while at work in the Preston 5 feet section of the Valleyfield Pit. The accident, as a result of which Beveridge's right leg was broken, took place shortly after he had started work on the backshift. He was assisting in setting in motion a coal cutting machine when a wire rope struck him on the leg. After being medically attended to by Dr Cook, Newmills, Beveridge was conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"The Scotsman"
31 October, 1934

Arthur Brunton (41), stone miner, Preston Street, High Valleyfield, received fatal injuries in a shot-firing accident at Valleyfield Colliery yesterday. He was found in the Milton Mine after a shot had been fired, and he succumbed to his injuries while being conveyed to the pithead. Brunton is survived by his widow and two children.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 December, 1934

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a stone miner named Arthur Brunton, 21 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, who died on 30th October, at No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company, Limited, from the effects of injuries sustained by him through being struck by material projected by a shot of explosive. Those giving evidence included: Colin Morrison, fireman, 18 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, and William Playfair, stone miner, Backmuir, Carnock Road. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
12 October, 1935

While working at the pithead at Valleyfield Colliery on Wednesday morning, Thomas Hutton (15), 6 Dunimarle Street, High Valleyfield, received a fracture of the right arm as a result of its being caught between two hutches. He also suffered from shock, and had to be removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"The Scotsman"
16 October, 1935
About 1700 Men Affected

About 1700 miners were idle in Fife yesterday as a result of strikes at two pits.
At the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery negotiations have been proceeding for some time on the question of deductions from wages in respect of extraneous material in the hutches filled by the men. The negotiations had not been successful, and, as a result, work was suspended, without notices having been lodged. The position is that negotiations will not be resumed until the men, numbering about 800, return to work. This is in accordance with the policy adopted by the Fife Coal Company.


At Blairhall Colliery, belonging to the Coltness Iron Co., a strike, which brought the pit to a standstill, began yesterday morning, the notices of the men having expired on the previous night. At this colliery, which employs 900 men, the grievance of the men is that strippers and certain grades of oncost workers are inadequately remunerated.


"The Scotsman"
19 October, 1935
Work at Blairhall to be Resumed
Majority of Men Accept Terms

Yesterday a ballot of the men employed at the Coltness Iron Company's Blairhall Colliery took place with regard to an offer by the Company to increase, by one shilling per shift, the wages of certain grades of underground workers.
The ballot showed a large majority of the men to be in favour of accepting the terms offered.
Work, which has been suspended at the colliery since the beginning of the week, will be partially resumed tomorrow, and there will be a complete resumption on Monday. Eight hundred men are normally employed at the colliery.
At the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery, where a "lightning" strike took place on Tuesday, the question in dispute still awaits settlement. The grievance of the men at this colliery is as to the amount of deductions made in respect of extraneous material sent up the pit with the coal. The colliery employs approximately 900 men.
The dispute will be one of the subjects of discussion at a special meeting of the Executive Board of the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union today.


"The Scotsman"
23 October, 1935
Short Stoppage at Blairhall

There was an unexpected stoppage of work yesterday morning at the Blairhall Colliery, Fife, of the Coltness Iron Co. (Ltd.), where the pit employees had returned to work on the previous day after a strike lasting for a week. It was alleged by the men that one of the miners had been victimised, and a strike was resorted to.
In the course of the forenoon a deputation of the men met the manager of the colliery, and the matter was satisfactorily adjusted. Work was resumed by the back shift men in the afternoon, and there will be complete resumption of work today.


The miners at the Fife Coal Company's colliery at Valleyfield were still idle yesterday, notwithstanding a recommendation by the Executive Board of the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union that work be resumed pending negotiations with the Company's officials to settle the dispute, which arose over the question of the amount of deductions from miners' wages in respect of "dirt" filled with the coal. Nine hundred men have been idle since Tuesday last week.


"Dunfermline Press"
22 February, 1936

The boys attending the Mining Safety First Evening Class at Torryburn School visited Valleyfield Colliery on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. They were conducted through the underground workings and shown the different machines by their teacher, Mr Hugh H. Russell. Much valuable information was gained.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 April, 1936

When Charles Robertson, miner, 22 Mid Beveridgewell, Dunfermline, was descending the iron stair from the pithead to the ground level at the end of the shift at Valleyfield Colliery on Wednesday evening, he slipped and fell a considerable distance receiving head injuries and badly bruised ribs. He was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 August, 1936

Lindsay McKenzie (56), a brusher who resided at 73 Main Street, Townhill, died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Tuesday morning as the result of injuries received in an accident in Valleyfield Colliery last Friday night. He was struck by a fall of material from the roof of his working place, and was crushed about the lower part of the body. He was taken to his home and later removed to hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 September, 1936

Peter Jaap, a young pitworker, residing at Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield, was injured in an accident in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery on Wednesday. He was uncoupling a chain between two races of hutches when the hutches bumped together, fracturing his left wrist. After his injury had been attended to at the ambulance room, he was taken to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, and later allowed home.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 September, 1936

Frances McGowan, miner, 125 Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, had one of his arms fractured through being caught by a fall of coal from the face in the Milton main section of Valleyfield Colliery on Monday. After being attended to in the ambulance room by Dr McDougall, McGowan was conveyed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
31 October, 1936

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Lindsay Ramsay McKenzie, 73 Main Street, Townhill, Dunfermline, who died on 25th August in the underground workings of No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., as the result of a roof fall. Those giving evidence included David McIntyre (48), contractor brusher, 121 Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
31 October, 1936

COLLIERY. - Thirty employees of Valleyfield Colliery were thrown idle due to a "fault" in the workings of Culross, No. 5 Section. The "slip" in the strata is believed to be of considerable depth.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 May, 1937

While carrying out an examination of No. 2 shaft of Valleyfield Colliery on Monday night, three men - Alexander Guthrie, shaftsman, 29 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, and John Green and J. Pickersgill, employees of the firm at present sinking the shaft at Comrie Colliery, were descending the shaft, now used mainly as an escape, in a "kettle" suspended from the bottom of the cage. The cage stuck, and when it became clear, all at once dropped a distance of forty feet. The men were badly bruised, and received severe shock.
Although suffering great pain, Guthrie assisted Pickersgill to climb to the landing stage, returned with a rope to pull up Green, and went down a third time to remove the "kettle".


"Dunfermline Press"
1 May, 1937

James Fox, 7 Valleyfield Avenue, High Valleyfield, was crushed by a fall of coal in the Preston Dip section of Valleyfield Colliery on Monday. He was found to be suffering from head and shoulder injuries.


"The Scotsman"
16 June, 1937
Fife Pit

Lord Rockley. chairman, Sir Malcolm Delevigne, Mr David Grenfell, M.P.; Mr E. O. Forster Brown, and other members of the Royal Commission on Safety in Mines paid a visit yesterday to Valleyfield Colliery, belonging to the Fife Coal Company (Ltd.) The deputation spent about three hours underground examining the various methods of working.
The members of the Commission were accompanied by Mr C. Augustus Carlow, managing director of the Fife Coal Company; Mr K. H. McNeill, agent; Dr William Reid; Mr Robert Aitchison, manger of the colliery; and the chairman and secretary of the local branch of the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union.
When the members of the Commission returned to the surface they were met by Mr James Cook, general secretary, and two of the agents of the Fife Miners' Union, who discussed with them informally some aspects of the work upon which the Commission is engaged.
Lord Rockley, on behalf of his colleagues, expressed thanks for the courteous and helpful manner in which they had been received by the Fife Coal Company representatives, and Mr Carlow briefly replied.


"Dunfermline Press"
7 August, 1937

Alexander Scott (30), miner, West Green, Culross, was seriously injured as the result of an accident on Tuesday forenoon while at work in the Dunfermline Splint seam in Valleyfield Colliery. Scott, who was employed as a stripper in the Preston Section, was in a sitting position with his left leg under him. While he was in that position there was a gradual crush - down from the roof, and Scott, unable to move, shouted for help. He was partly buried by the fall. On being extricated, he was taken on a stretcher to the pithead, where he was examined by Dr Menzies. Suffering from severe injuries to his back, Scott was removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 November, 1937

Alexander Scott (30), West Green, Culross, who, on 3rd August, was seriously injured as the result of an accident while at work in the Dunfermline Splint seam of Valleyfield Colliery, died in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Saturday.
Mr Scott took a great interest in sport and played for several years for the Valleyfield and Torrie Juvenile Football Clubs. The funeral to Culross Cemetery on Wednesday was largely attended. Deceased is survived by his wife and four children.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 December, 1937

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Alexander Scott, West Green, Culross, who died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on 30th October from the effects of injuries sustained by him on 3rd August in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery, by a fall from the roof.
Those giving evidence included: James Hendry (38), miner, Parleyhill, Culross; Colin Morrison (49), colliery underground fireman, 18 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Alexander Ross, junior (33), colliery underground supervisor, Main Street, Torryburn; and Elizabeth Sinclair (23), a nurse in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 March, 1938

David Duncan (32), surface worker, Low Causeway, Culross, received injuries to his back on Monday evening when struck by a piece of falling material at Valleyfield Colliery pithead. He was conveyed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
21 May, 1938

... The last inquiry was in regard to the death of David Wilson Morgan, railway surfaceman, The Mansions, Main Street, Cairneyhill, who was killed on the 5th April on the Kincardine Railway, near Valleyfield Colliery signal cabin, through being run over by a train of waggons.
Those giving evidence included: Joseph Hunter, colliery shunter, 31 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield; James Morgan, 10 Preston Street, High Valleyfield (driver of a shunting engine); John Howie, 42 Whirlbut Street, Dunfermline; and Constable G. H. Dakers, Low Valleyfield. The jury returned a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 June, 1938

For several hours on Tuesday, miners struggled to extricate two pit workers who were buried under a heavy fall of material from the roof in Valleyfield Colliery. When they were eventually released, one of them, James Gillespie (68), pit repairer, West Green, Culross, was found to be dead. His companion, William Morris (29), stripper, escaped with injuries to his legs. He was working his second shift at Valleyfield. Previously he was engaged at Blairhall Colliery.
Gillespie and Morris were working in the Preston Splint Section when an extensive fall occurred. Morris failed in an effort to drag Gillespie clear, and both men were caught by the fall, Gillespie being completely buried. A stone which had fallen at an angle protected Morris's head, but his legs were pinned under fallen debris. He was able to shout directions to the workers who came to the rescue. Two further falls occurred and some time elapsed before the men could be released.
Gillespie was a well-known figure in Culross district. For a number of years he was Burgh Officer of Culross and served for a spell as a member of the Town Council. He is survived by his wife and a grown-up family.
Among the large numbers of mourners at the funeral to Culross West Kirkyard on Thursday were Bailie Macdonald, Hon. Treasurer Yates, and Messrs Paterson and Beveridge, members of Culross Town Council. Many beautiful floral tributes were laid on the grave. The officiating clergymen were the Rev. J. Y. Stewart, St Kentigern's Church, and the Rev. J. M. Gow, Culross Abbey.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 June, 1938

It was intimated at a meeting of Valleyfield miners, held by the Miners' Union on Sunday, that the officials had been notified that the Fife Coal Company had decided to cease working operations in the Preston splint section, and to proceed with the withdrawal of all machinery in that section immediately.
This will result in about one hundred men being thrown idle, but the Company have signified that the period of idleness will be of a temporary nature as arrangements will be made to accommodate the men in other parts of the colliery.
Mr Dan McKeeman, president of the branch, fully explained the position.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 July, 1938

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named James Gillespie, West End, Culross, who was killed by a roof fall on 14th June in the underground workings of No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd. Those giving evidence included: William Morris (29), miner, 153 Rumblingwell, Dunfermline; John Cowan (28), miner, Gallowridge Cottage. Low Valleyfield; and Alexander Ross, jun. (34), colliery supervisor, Main Street, Torryburn. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
7 January, 1939

On the occasion of his retirement, Mr Thomas Borland, mining manager to Scottish Oils, Ltd., at West Calder, has been presented with parting gifts. A son of the late Mr Thomas Borland, himself a well-known colliery manager in Fife, Mr Borland was manager at the old Tulliallan Colliery and was later one of the first managers at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
28 January, 1939

A breakdown in the electricity generating plant at Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday evening caused a black-out lasting about two hours. Valleyfield Miners' Welfare Institute and Newmills Kinema, which are supplied with current from the colliery, were also affected. At the Institute candles were put into use, while at the picture house, where the entertainment was about to commence, patrons had their money refunded.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 February, 1939

James Strathie, machineman, 51 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, had a remarkable escape from serious injury when involved in an accident in the Preston Dip section of Valleyfield Colliery, on Tuesday evening. He was moving a coal-cutting machine to a lower part of the steep brae, when it unexpectedly gathered speed and crashed into and dislodged woodwork supporting the roof. Part of the roof fell on his legs, but by the prompt action of two workmates - Bernard Canavan and Richard Smith - he was extricated before a further fall took place. After attention by Dr McDougal, at the colliery ambulance room, he was removed to his home suffering from torn back muscles and a badly bruised right arm.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 April, 1939

Mr Hugh H. Russell, Rosehill House, Newmills, died on Saturday following a long illness. He was a recognised expert in mining survey work, and for fourteen years as surveyor at Valleyfield Colliery his services were highly appreciated. He was previously engaged at the Newmains and Blairhall Collieries of the Coltness Iron Company. An ardent supporter of safety-first methods in mines, he acted as teacher of the class for youths on that subject at Torryburn continuation classes. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
3 June, 1939

Charles Irvine (19), pithead worker, 19 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, who was injured in an accident at the pithead died in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital at the weekend. Irvine fell from a platform leading to the screening plant on to the railway line, and received head injuries.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 June, 1939

James Reid, packer, 25 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, had a terrifying experience at Valleyfield Colliery on Monday evening. Along with his mate, John Moodie, 21 Preston Street, High Valleyfield, he was engaged repairing the roof in the Culross 5-feet section when all at once it gave way, and although Moodie was able to reach a safe position, the lower parts of Reid's legs were pinned to the ground and he was fixed in a crouching position.
Rescuers were quickly on the scene, and under the supervision of the manager and under-manager, Messrs R. Aitchison and J. Sloan, commenced their dangerous task. Great care had to be taken to prevent a further fall.
Despite the ordeal, Reid kept remarkably calm and talked to the workmates around him. He was provided with restoratives during the operations.
After fully four hours he was extricated and carried to a waiting bogey, specially constructed for conveying stretchers, and removed to the pit bottom. At the pithead he was attended to by Dr McDougall and afterwards taken by ambulance to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital. An X-ray examination showed that no bones of his legs were broken, and he is now making satisfactory progress.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 July, 1939

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Charles Irvine, jun., (19), pithead worker, 19 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, who died on 26th May in the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from the effects of injuries received by him on 15th May at Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., caused by his falling from the pithead gantry to the ground. Those giving evidence included: Adam T. Berwick (16), 12 Grieve Street, Low Valleyfield; William Hunter, 1 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield; Thomas Dawson Watt, labourer, Kerr's Buildings, Main Street, Newmills; George H. Dakers, police constable, Low Valleyfield; and William Pender (17), pithead worker, Braeside Cottage, Low Valleyfield.
After the jury had had a consultation, the foreman intimated that they desired to add to their formal verdict a suggestion that the railing should be at least six to twelve inches higher, and netted.


"The Scotsman"
20 October, 1939

Yesterday forenoon a fatal accident occurred at the Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd. The victim was John Sloan, the pit under-manager, who was caught and almost instantaneously killed by a large stone which fell upon him from the roof in the Diamond section. Sloan, who was married, and resided at Woodneuk, Low Valleyfield, was a well-known personality in the village, in most of the social and other organisations of which he took a great interest.


AT ABOUT 10.10 a.m. (5th Hour.)


INJURIES:- Asphyxia caused by compression of trachea and chest; fracture of left humerus.

CAUSE:- Fall of roof in No. 2 Diamond Section.


John Sloan met his death when returning to investigate the results of a shot which he had personally fired in a badly faulted area at the face of No. 2 Diamond Unit, Culross Area, Valleyfield Colliery, just after 10 a.m. on Thursday, 19th inst. In order to ensure sufficient clearance for the new belt track, he decided it was necessary to blast down a portion of a V-shaped slickenside which projected about 2 ft. below the normal height and across the new belt track. He charged the shot-hole himself with 4 oz. of "Polar Viking" and, after making certain that all men in the vicinity had taken adequate shelter, personally fired the shot. When returning to the locus of the shot, crawling on his hands and knees, a portion of the slickenside suddenly slipped out and pinned him to the floor. While his head was clear, the heavy stone had so compressed his chest and windpipe that he died almost instantaneously. The distressing circumstances associated with his death were typical of the courage, zeal and leadership which he had always displayed in contending with the numerous adverse geological features he had to face in the course of the ten years he had acted as undermanager at Valleyfield Colliery.

A plan of the district and plans and sections of the locus of the accident are given in the appended drawings.

No. 2 Diamond Unit was opened out in April, 1939. It is 320 ft. in length and machine-cut to a depth of 4½ ft. While the full thickness of the seam varies about from 7 to 10 ft., only the upper 5 ft. of coal is being extracted at present. Normal conditions prevailed until about two months ago when an upthrow fault of 5 ft. was encountered at the top end of the face. This fault is associated with a complexity of slickensides and igneous intrusive whin sills, the barren ground consisting of what is locally termed "cashy blaes" - most treacherous ground which has necessitated constant vigil by the officials concerned. Before this troubled ground was met, the face was entirely supported by tubular steel props and steel straps. Ten-feet wall packs are built with 36 ft. intervening spaces; in the spaces three hardwood chocks are erected and nightly carried forward behind the conveyor-belt track - in all, a sound system of support. Since the faulted ground was met, wooden supports, have of necessity, had to be used.

At present, the complex area of faulted ground is being met at about 120 ft. from the Main Gate. Thus, the upper 200 ft. length of the face has been successfully exploited through the bad ground. To add to the many difficulties, the inclination of the face had also varied. The upper 2/3rds of the face dips at about 1 in 10 to the faulted area, while the lower 1/3rd also dips at about 1 in 40 towards the same area. Further, the seam is dipping slightly towards the line of advance. The faulted region is thus at present located in a small trough in which water percolates from the roof.

During the early part of the shift, R. Aitchison, Manager, J. Sloan, Undermanager, J. Hendren, Oversman and M. Riddell, Surveyor, visited the area to inspect the troubled region and confer as to the methods to be adopted in maintenance of the line of face. At 9.40 a.m., the Manager and the Surveyor left the section to return to the Surface; they assumed that the undermanager was to accompany them as far as the pit-bottom. The latter, however, remained in the district and returned to the troubled ground at the face. After conversation with the three strippers - David Lessells (45), John Thomson (36) and John Gratton (32) - who were employed at the faulted area, John Sloan decided to blast down a portion of the projecting slickenside where it crossed the path, of the new belt track.

The details of this operation, which he personally carried out, have already been described. When the shot was fired by Sloan, he and the oversman, Hendren, were sheltering on the upper side, while the three strippers named sheltered at the low side. Having waited for over a minute after the shot had been fired, Sloan crawled down the face to inspect the result. Sloan had just arrived at the locus of the shot, when a large portion of the slickenside, which had apparently been disturbed by the blast, fell without warning on his back. The men in the vicinity heard him emit a groan. They hastened to his assistance. Despite their heroic efforts under difficult conditions, 20 minutes elapsed ere they succeeded in extricating him.

The Manager, who had just reached the surface, received the telephone message about the occurrence and at once returned, accompanied by the Surveyor. Mr. McNeill, agent, soon followed and brought the F. A. Room Attendant, Alex. Campbell, with him and the "Novox" reviving apparatus. Artificial respiration was given to Sloan for about 20 minutes but without success. Death had been almost instantaneous.

John Sloan gave loyal and zealous service to the Company, and his place will indeed be difficult to fill. He is survived by his widow, three sons and three daughters; the youngest son is still at school.




28 October, 1939

The Valleyfield Colliery was one of a group of fourteen collieries owned by the Fife Coal Company. It was situated about five miles west of Dunfermline, at Newmills, in the Parish of Culross. There were two shafts at the colliery which were sunk about 1908. The coal output was about 850 tons per day. The general manager of the Fife Coal Company was Mr. C. C. Reid and the Company's operations were so extensive it was impossible for him to exercise a working control over the fourteen pits in the group which produced three and a half million tons of coal per annum. The system was to appoint agents with each agent supervising a group of collieries and then reporting directly to Mr. Reid at frequent intervals. The agent responsible for Valleyfield Colliery was Mr. K. H.. McNeill; the manager was Mr. Robert Aitchison and both agent and manger were well qualified. Oversmen were appointed by the managers to supervise the work during the shifts. The colliery was well laid out and equipped with some of the latest and the best in mining and electrical equipment. The Company even had a Safety and Research Department and an appointed Safety Engineer. At each of the fourteen collieries there was a Safety Officer and some collieries even had a Safety Committee. The Company was also trying to educate its officials and men in the object of the Regulations and their responsibilities under these Regulations. These voluntary efforts had led to a considerable decrease in the accident rate. During the night shift on 28th October, 1939, work in the Culross District was proceeding in the No. 2 Diamond Section at a longwall face which was about 730 feet in length. Three development headings which were named after the contractors whose men worked in them, McKeeman's, Cairn's and Dodd's were also being worked in the coal to eventually form another longwall face. Dodd's Stone Mine was off McKeeman's level and this was standing at the time of the disaster. It had been worked by Dodd's men until 18th October when they succeeded Cairn's and his men in the development of what became known as Dodd's Heading. At the time of the explosion there were also men in the Culross Five Foot Section. The explosion originated in the Culross District of the mine in Dodd's Heading and spread extensively and violently to other parts of the mine. Thirty three men died instantly and two others were seriously injured. One of these men, George Toal, was able to give evidence to the inquiry though seriously injured. A further twenty four men were affected by the afterdamp.

Rescue Party Area of Disaster
Click on Photo or Plan to Zoom In

"The Scotsman" newspaper published several photographs (below).

Click on Images to Zoom In

Can you recognise any faces in the photographs?


The men who died.

Those working in Dodds' Heading:

Name Age Occupation
E. Link 24 Oncost
T. Kerr (Jnr.) 28 Fireman
A. Gauld 34 Brusher
D. Baillie 36 Brusher
P. Martin 42 Brusher
M. Murray 33 Brusher

Those working in McKeeman's Heading:

Name Age Occupation
R. Nicholson 32 Brusher
A. Doohan 39 Brusher

Those working in McKeeman's Level and Crosscut:

Name Age Occupation
J. McFadzean 28 Oncost
D. Ewings 27 Brusher
M. Tinney 25 Oncost

Those working in Cairn's Heading:

Name Age Occupation
W. Ramage 52 Brusher
J. Brown 21 Brusher
R. Wright 48 Brusher
D. Cairns 35 Oncost
P. Gilliard 21 Brusher

Those working on No. 2 Diamond face:

Name Age Occupation
H. Toal 29 Machineman
W. Devlin 30 Machineman
A. Anderson 43 Brusher
A. Lawrie 32 Brusher
R. McFarlane 39 Repairer
A. Christie 61 Supervisor
J. Spowart 44 Brusher
R. Lang 22 Engineer
J. McIntyre 21 Electrician
B. Keegan 55 Brusher
C. Morrison 51 Fireman
A. Paterson 32 Brusher
J. Irvine 38 Packer
D. Hogg 49 Packer
T. Clark 47 Brusher
T. Campbell Hutchison 57 Brusher
E. Glass 28 Oncost

The following men later died in hospital:

Name Age Occupation
T. Kerr (Snr.) 58 Oncost (Telephone)
A. Banks 65 Oncost (Haulageman)

The Conclusions of the Inquiry into the Valleyfield Disaster

The origin of the explosion was an ignition of gas by the firing of a shot in the face in Dodd's Heading. When the explosion occurred, the place was 12 feet wide and 8 feet 6 inches high which was being driven to the rise in the coal. The method of bringing down the coal was to fire five or six shots in the bottom of the coal and then one or two shots in the top coal. Examination of the face after the disaster disclosed that the last shot in the top coal had caused the explosion. There were two unusual fractures in the coal seen after the shot but there was no evidence that these were visible before the shot was fired.
The question was whether the gas was liberated and ignited as the last shot was fired, or an explosive mixture was present when the shot was fired, which had been liberated from the firing of the shots in the bottom coal. The expert witnesses thought that the latter was the case. At the place where the explosion originated, the signs of violence were very slight. Stemmers were left standing up but the explosion increased in violence as it went across the heading and spread extensively and violently to other parts of the mine. The main force of the explosion travelled outbye from Dodd's Heading and reached the junction of the Heading and McKeeman's Level. It then divided into three. One blast went down the Diamond Dook, one down the No. 2 Unit Loading Road, causing a heavy fall, and another down McKeeman's Level, the Compressor Road, and into McKeeman's Heading. The force also travelled inbye into the Culross Five Foot Section where doors were blown inbye in the Top Road No. 1. In the whole of the Diamond Section, arches and girders were displaced and tubs overturned. The overcast across the Culross Five Foot Dook, which was about 900 yards from the Dodd's Heading, was disrupted and dust was raised at the downcast shaft more that 1500 yards away.

(1)   That the initial cause of the explosion was an ignition of firedamp during the firing of a shot in the top coal.
(2)   That the spread of the explosion was caused by coal dust which had accumulated in certain roads.
(3)   That certain roads, through which the explosion spread, were insufficiently stone dusted.
(4)   That, had the discovery of gas after the firing of almost every round of shots in the headings been reported as it ought to have been in accordance with the Regulations, it is possible that steps might have been taken which would have prevented the explosion.
(5)   That a number of other breaches of the Regulations, in relation to shot firing, were alone connected with explosions. But in my view they suggest an absence of proper supervision over the work in the headings. The Investigation has not, in my opinion, disclosed that it is necessary, or that it is desirable, that the existing regulations should be amended or supplemented. Suggestions were made by Mr. W .T. Miller, who appeared for the Federation of Colliery Deputies, that ventilation by means of auxiliary fans was undesirable, and that stonedust should be suspended in shelves near the roofs of the roads. But the evidence led at the Investigation was not sufficiently directed to these points to enable me to express a concluded view upon them.

Abe Moffat was Pit Inspector

In the Scottish coalfields, the opening months of the Second World War were darkened by a serious disaster which occurred in Fife. On October 28th, 1939, the first raid over Britain took place on warships lying in the Firth of Forth where several sailors were killed. That very same day, nearby underground, there was an explosion in which thirty-five men were killed. There were only two survivors, both seriously injured. It was on a Saturday morning, in the No. 2 Section of the Diamond Seam in the Valleyfield Colliery, Culross, Fife. One Abe Moffat, who had been elected pit inspector by the men, even though he had been blacklisted, was largely responsible for discovering the cause of the explosion. He charged the leading officials of the Fife Coal Company to their face with the major responsibility for the disaster.
Among the charges laid were that the management was responsible for:

(a) Excessive explosives and detonators.
(b) No proper provisions for regulating the use and storage of the explosives.
(c) No proper check on the supply or the kind of explosives issued in the pit. (20 lbs. of samsonite found on 6th November, 1939, stored in the pit, was not permissible under the Coal Mines Act.)

Other observations of breaches of the law included: failure to appoint a competent person from the contractor's men to test for gas; an example of insufficient ventilation in view of the gassy nature of the coal.
The manager of the Valleyfield Colliery, and the agent of the Fife Coal Company supervising the Colliery, were both prosecuted and fined.



The most tragic village in Scotland to-day is the mining community of Valleyfield, on the north shore of the River Forth near Rosyth. By the disastrous explosion yesterday morning in Valleyfield Colliery, which resulted in the deaths of 35 men and serious injuries to two others, no fewer than 25 heads of families in the village, which comprises 500 households, have lost their lives.
While the rescue work was proceeding the sound of anti-aircraft guns to the north could be heard by those who were keeping a lonely vigil at the pithead.



In connection with the disaster the King sent the following telegram to the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine.
Lord Lieutenant of Fifeshire:- "The Queen and I are deeply grieved to hear of the disaster at Valleyfield Colliery. Will you please convey our heartfelt sympathy to those who have been so sadly bereaved and keep us informed of the condition of the injured and of the progress of the rescue work."


The following message was sent from the Prime Minister to the Fife Coal Company:- "I have just heard this morning of the heavy loss of life in the explosion at Valleyfield Colliery and I wish to express my profound sympathy with those so suddenly and tragically bereaved."


"The Scotsman"
1 November, 1939
Ten in Culross New Cemetery

There were touching scenes yesterday at Culross New Cemetery, when the public funeral took place of ten of the victims of the Valleyfield Colliery disaster. The widespread sympathy with the bereaved was shown by the large concourse of mourners and members of the general public, fully 2000 people visiting the cemetery in the course of the afternoon.
Altogether twenty of the miners who lost their lives in the calamity were buried yesterday, a number of them being interred privately at other cemeteries and churchyards.
All of the men buried at the public funeral in Culross New Cemetery had been resident in High and Low Valleyfield, and there were poignant scenes in the two villages yesterday afternoon as relatives assembled at the homes to convey their condolences. In one street alone, Abbey Crescent, there were no fewer than five funerals, one household having suffered the loss of both father and son.
The names of those buried at the public funeral were:- Duncan Ewing, 22 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield; Thomas Clark, 34 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; John Brown, 8 Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield; Edmund Link, Braeside Cottage, Low Valleyfield; Thomas Kerr, sen., and Thomas Kerr, jun., 36 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; Peter Gilliard, 39 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; David Cairns, 39 Preston Street, High Valleyfield; Michael Tinney, 4 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; and James McFadzean, 33 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield.


Hundreds of mourners lined the village streets as the separate funerals left the individual homes and converged to form one long cortege. Culross New Cemetery is situated about a mile and a half west of High Valleyfield, and as the cortege proceeded slowly, west-bound traffic on the main Dunfermline-Kincardine road was held up for about an hour.
Among the mourners were the Earl of Elgin, Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Fife; Mr C. Augustus Carlow, chairman of the Fife Coal Company; Mr C. C. Reid, general manager of the Company, and officials at Valleyfield Colliery; Mr Ebenezer Edwards, general secretary of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, who had visited the colliery earlier in the day; Mr Andrew B. Clarke, president of the National Union of Scottish Mineworkers; officials of the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union, who made the funeral arrangements, and representatives of several other District Miners' Unions throughout Scotland.
Officiating clergymen were the Rev. J. M. Gow, Culross Abbey; the Rev. J. Y. Stewart, St Kentigern's Church, Culross; the Rev. T. Donaldson, Airth; Canon Maguire, Father Fahy, St Serf's, Valleyfield, and Father McFarlane, Oakley.
Many of the womenfolk steeled themselves to the ordeal of attending at the graveside, but although all showed visible signs of their grief, few broke down completely under the severe strain. First-aid men who were in attendance had to deal with only a few cases of fainting.


The other victims of the disaster, who were buried yesterday, were:- Robert Wright, 1 Dunimarle Street, High Valleyfield; Alex. Paterson, 19 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; Thomas Campbell, Main Street, Newmills; David Baillie, The Ness, Torryburn; Colin Morrison, 18 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Edward Glass, 14 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield; Alexander Banks, 6 East Avenue, Blairhall; David Hogg, Hawthorn Cottage, Carnock; Wm. Ramage, Blairwood Terrace, Oakley; and Aubrey Gauld, Mid Row, Hill of Beath.
Arrangements are being made for a joint memorial service to be held in Culross Abbey on Sunday afternoon.


Click on Photo to Zoom In

(Compiled from notes kindly supplied by Mr. Eddie Martin, Newmills)

In the early days of sinking the Valleyfield No. 1 and No. 2 shafts (sunk without loss of life) part of the coal seams cut through were those worked by the Earl of Dundonald and the Prestons in the eighteenth century (or earlier) at the Milton Engine Pit which was only 50 yards east from the site of the new shafts. Interestingly, the engines, made by Douglas & Grant, Kirkcaldy, and both engine houses were built before the sinking commenced in April, 1909. No. 2 engine was not so heavy and was constructed in 1905; No. 1 engine being completed in early 1909.

The steel pit frames were 76 ft. high and the chimney measured 90 ft. Water for the steam boilers and the washery was pumped from a brick-built spray pond filled from the Bluther Burn using a dam and sluice to regulate the water level. This burn already supplied water for the Bleach Works at Newmills. The screening plant, which dealt with the fine coals, was supplied by Messrs. Dixon and Mann, Armadale.

Sinking, by Messrs. Wm. Sinclair, began in April, 1909, and the Dunfermline Splint Coal seam was struck in 1910 at a depth of 217 fathoms (1,302 ft.). Workmen had pierced 860 yards of rock, 66 yards of hard whinstone, completed 70 yards of lodgements, assembled 2¼ million bricks, used 19½ tons of explosives, fired 59,300 shots and barrelled 4,000 gallons of water per hour.

Commercial coal production began at the pits in 1911, with the miners being paid fortnightly. The creation of the village of High Valleyfield on the site of Valleyfield House (demolished in 1941) and estate, in the same year, was to house miners of Valleyfield Colliery. The coalfield which could be tapped from the shafts was enormous and the coal proved to be of the best coking and navigation quality in the country.
Coal seams worked included the Dunfermline Splint, Mynheer, Glassee, Preston, Milton, Dip, Kelty Main or Diamond, Jersey, Blairhall Main and Culross Diamond. [The Woodhead section was the only one worked to the north-west and No. 20 Kelty Main was the last section producing coal at the closure of the pit.]

Sadly, the first year of coal production also saw the first five fatalities. The first death had resulted from a fall from scaffolding down the shaft; followed by three deaths after a "blow out" of coal and gas, closely followed by another caused by a fall from a cage.

All underground lighting at the Valleyfield pits was by Clanny Safety Lamp (known as the "Glenny") until the introduction of hand-carried electric lamps in the 1920s. There were over a dozen pit ponies used underground at the colliery. They were allowed a break of only one week in July of each year to graze in the field behind the village. The ponies were replaced by rope haulages in 1930.

A surface drift mine had been driven down through the bing some 300 yards from the pits, the drivage being undertaken by the Myles stone-mining family, with Mr. Andrew Myles in charge. On completion, this mine, known as the Surface Mine, was used for both men and materials. Access to the Jersey section was by this route and, much later, following some reconstruction, it became the main up-cast ventilation shaft, a large fan and auxiliary fan being housed next to the Mine. A man-haulage system operated and there was no direct coal output from this Mine.

The workings of the nearby ancient Milton Engine Pit extended under the winding-engine houses at Valleyfield pit and became a serious threat to their stability. So much so that, in the early 1940s, two miners at Valleyfield Pit were employed to stow up these old workings. Access to the old workings was gained by descending No. 2 pit and then entering via the Colliery Fan drift.

Mrs. James Barbour performed the turf-cutting ceremony on 11th August., 1954, for a new No. 3 shaft which unfortunately had one fatality during its sinking. No. 2 pit was also to be sunk to the 375 fathom level and widened. This entailed filling the shaft with ashes from the bing before the work commenced. These operations were contracted by the Cementation Co. Ltd. and, on completion of the sinking and reconstruction work, there was an anticipated daily output of 3,600 tons of coal between the No. 1 and No. 3 Valleyfield shafts.

Torry Mine was developed around this time and would also feature in the reconstruction, conveyer belts bringing the coal for processing at the Valleyfield pithead. This was carried out successfully until the closure of the Torry Mine in the mid 1960s.

The Valleyfield shafts were later abandoned in favour of mines driven under the River Forth to Kinneil Colliery, near Bo‘ness, which was, at that time, under threat of closure. This was a life-line for Kinneil Colliery and, despite reassurances, Valleyfield almost lost its identity as it became Kinneil/Valleyfield Colliery operating from Kinneil. The last of the mine-cars of coal was brought to the surface at Valleyfield Pit in April, 1964, when the linking of the two pits under the Forth was carried out successfully on Thursday 30th April at 10.33 am. The old Victorian idea of a tunnel under the Forth could be said to have been fulfilled when Martin Shaw of Kinneil Colliery and Andrew Drysdale of Valleyfield Colliery holed through both tunnels. There to shake hands were the respective managers, David Archibald (Kinneil) and Norman Wallace (Valleyfield). The required £2 million for the new washery at Valleyfield Colliery had been denied in favour of Kinneil and proved to be the end for Valleyfield within thirteen years.

After the pit closure, during borings for the District Council's sewage works, Eddie Martin was present when workmen hit a pocket of gas in the wastes of the Earl of Dundonald's workings. The drill operator was understandably "greatly alarmed" when the gas was released with a "great, gushing sound".

The total number of fatalities at Valleyfield Colliery during its working life was 83; 1 woman and 82 men; this latter figure including 35 miners killed in the 1939 disaster. Pithead girls "at least a dozen" were employed on the picking belts 'tables' and tiplers and it was on one of these devices that Annie Kelly, the only female fatality, was killed in 1919. Her father had lost his life at the pit in 1914.


The last living survivor of the women who worked at Valleyfield Colliery is Bett Harrower (nee Anderson), of Newmills, the sister-in-law of Eddie Martin, who lost three relatives to accidents at this pit over the years.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 November, 1939

A dispute has arisen between the workers in the Preston Rise section of Valleyfield Colliery and the Fife Coal Company regarding the method of mining the coal in the section. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
23 December, 1939

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Umpherston and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of John Sloan, colliery undermanager, "Woodneuk", Low Valleyfield, who was killed in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery of the Fife Coal Company, Ltd., by a fall from the roof of the place where he was working. Those giving evidence included: John Henderson, 16 Forthview Cottages, Low Valleyfield, and David Lessels, stripper, Smithy Cottage, Main Street, Newmills. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 February, 1940

The recent cold spell of weather has led to an unusual position at Valleyfield Colliery. Thirteen oncost workers, several of whom are engaged at the pit bottom, complained about the intensely cold air in which they were working and lodged a claim with the Fife Coal Company for an increase of a shilling a day as compensation for the discomfort. The Company undertook to supply leather jerkins to certain of the men to keep them warm, but these were not accepted. When the men did not turn out on Wednesday, their places had to be taken by supervisors.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 March, 1940

Samuel Little (52), oncost worker, 27 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, one of the men injured in the Valleyfield Colliery disaster on 28th October last year, in which 35 men lost their lives, died at his home on Monday. Little was at work in the Culross Section when the explosion occurred in the Diamond Section, and with the assistance of other workmen he was able to reach safety. He is survived by Mrs Little and a family.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 April, 1940

It is announced that Mr Robert Aitchison, manager of the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery, is retiring at the end of this month.
Mr Aitchison has completed twenty-seven years as a manger with the Company, holding such positions at Donibristle, Frances, Leven, and Kinglassie, before going to Valleyfield seven years ago. He is to be the recipient of presentations from the officials of the Company, as well as from the workmen and various organisations with which he was connected in Valleyfield district.
As from 1st May, Mr Aitchison will be succeeded at Valleyfield Colliery by Mr H. Black, manager of No. 7 Colliery, Cowdenbeath.
Mr Black is to be succeeded at Cowdenbeath by Mr Wm. Reid, at present an under-manager at Bowhill Colliery.
Mr Reid was for a time under-manager at Mossbeath Colliery, and later gained experience at Frances and Bowhill collieries. He is well-known in Cowdenbeath district.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 May, 1941

James Livingstone (31), coal stripper, Main Street, Newmills, was seriously injured in an accident in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, on Friday of last week. While he was taking down coal in his working place, a large stone fell on him from the roof. He sustained injuries to the back and forehead and a double fracture of the right leg. After receiving attention at the colliery, he was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.


"The Scotsman"
4 August, 1941

Settlement of the compensation claims of the dependants of victims of the disaster at Valleyfield Colliery, on October 26, 1939, in which 35 men lost their lives, was reported by the compensation secretary at a meeting of the Executive Board of the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union at Dunfermline on Saturday. Altogether, a sum of £82,936 had been received by the widows and other dependants. In the case of 21 men who were overcome by gas as a result of the explosion, a sum of £6560 had been paid in compensation. During the incapacity of these men, and pending the settlement of their compensation claims, the Union made weekly payments to them. The sums so advanced had been recovered by the Union and repaid into the Valleyfield Disaster Relief Fund, which, amounting to £19,000, was being disbursed among widows and dependants by the trustees of whom the Earl of Elgin is chairman.


"Dunfermline Press"
22 August, 1942

In his capacity as Regional Controller (Scotland) of Fuel and Power, Lord Traprain has had his first meetings with Pit Production Committees.
He paid a visit to Valleyfield Colliery, and had a meeting with the Pit Production Committee.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 March, 1943

About thirty pitworkers employed at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery have received summonses to appear at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Monday. The men, who are stated to have taken part in a recent stoppage of work at the colliery, are charged under the Essential Work Order.


"Dunfermline Press"
Saturday, 24 April, 1943

Walter Banks, miner, 13 Preston Street, High Valleyfield, was fatally injured on Tuesday morning when he was caught by a fall of material from the roof in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery. He was conveyed by ambulance to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries that afternoon. He was 37 years of age, and leaves a widow and a family of two children.


"Dunfermline Press"
Saturday, 15 May, 1943
Four Colliery Deaths

Before Sheriff MacLean in Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Thursday, inquiries were held with regard to four fatal accidents in collieries, due in each case to falls of coal or stone. The inquiries were conducted by the Depute Procurator-Fiscal (Mr W. S. Heatlie.)


The third inquiry was in regard to the death of Walter Banks, miner, 13 Preston Street, High Valleyfield, who died on 20th April in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from injuries received that day in his working place in Valleyfield Colliery, caused by a roof fall.
William Terris, colliery fireman, Forthview Cottage, Low Valleyfield, said he inspected the place before the accident and thought it was perfectly safe. When he inspected it again after the fall, he found that a wooden batten had been broken in the centre and was left hanging by the two ends. He examined it before the accident and it appeared to be sound. After it was broken, a flaw could be seen, but that flaw was not visible before. The Sheriff recorded a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
28 August, 1943

A demand by fourteen boys for what is known in the industry as "dust money", resulted in a stoppage of work at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday. The boys, whose ages range from 14 to 16 years, stopped work on Wednesday afternoon, and on Thursday transport workers ceased work in sympathy with their demand, throwing the whole colliery idle. Fully 400 men are employed at Valleyfield. The youths concerned are paid the full national rate for boys which was accepted by the industry in 1941, but they are seeking extra remuneration because, they allege, they are working under abnormally dusty conditions. This contention is disputed, and the strike is not recognised by the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union.


"Dunfermline Press"
8 January, 1944

Mr William Stewart, who has been employed on the Fife Coal Company Aitken Colliery staff for a number of years, has been appointed cashier at the Company's Valleyfield Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 January, 1944
Awards to Five Miners

Five pit workers at Valleyfield Colliery have received congratulatory letters and awards from the Fife Coal Company in appreciation of their heroism and presence of mind in rescuing a fellow worker in the colliery.
The heroes of the rescue are:-
John Baillie, Erskine Brae, Culross;
David Drummond, 1 Preston Street, High Valleyfield;
James Connelly, 1 Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield;
James Cook, 35 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; and
Thomas McPhillips, Erskine Brae, Culross, the oversman on duty at the time of the occurrence.
An outburst of gas occurred in a development heading, and James Pearson, Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, one of the workmen, was partly buried by eight tons of small coal which suddenly erupted. His mate, Joe Paterson, Burns Street, High Valleyfield, ran for assistance. In the first attempted rescue operations John Bain, fireman, 1 Forthview Cottages, Low Valleyfield, was overcome by gas. Baillie and Drummond, using a compressed-air hose to clear a path through the blanket of fire-damp, led the subsequent rescue operations. With the assistance of Connelly and Cook, they succeeded in freeing Pearson and carried him to fresh air, where artificial respiration was applied.
Still unconscious, Pearson and Bain were transported on stretchers to the surface. On the way, the affected men were treated with the "Novox" reviving apparatus by Alexander Campbell, Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, the colliery first-aid room attendant, who met the stretcher-bearers about 1500 yards from the pit-bottom. Both men were taken by ambulance to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital where they recovered.
The official who made the presentations on behalf of the Company stated there could be no doubt that the courage and pits sense of Baillie and Drummond in particular saved the life of Pearson. It was their idea, after Bain, the fireman, had ordered their retreat when his lamp filled with gas, to make another attempt by using the compressed-air supply to "blow" a fresh air passage through the blanket of fire-damp in the heading. These two men were the real leaders of the rescue work which resulted in getting Pearson released. Their courage and persistence were worthy of recognition, both by the Ministry of Fuel and Power and the Carnegie Hero Fund Trustees.
It is understood that the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross Miners' Union propose to recognise the heroism of the five rescuers.


"Dunfermline Press"
19 February, 1944
One Man Killed; Another Injured

As the result of a blow-out of gas, one man was killed and another injured on Wednesday morning in the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery.
The men, James Williamson (44), miner, 51 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, and Michael Ginnelly (41), miner, 36 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield, were working in the Preston Dip section of the colliery where development is taking place. At about 10.30 a.m. there was a blow-out of gas from the coal face, and both men were buried under a quantity of coal and "redd" which was dislodged. Williamson was dead when he was extricated, death being due to suffocation. Ginnelly, who was buried up to the waist, was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, where he is making satisfactory progress. Williamson leaves a widow and seven of a family.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 March, 1944

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday, - before Sheriff MacLean and a Jury - into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named James Williamson, 51 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, who was killed on 16 February in Valleyfield Colliery by being buried by a fall of coal in his working-place. Those giving evidence at the inquiry included:- Michael J. Ginnelly, developer, 36 Dundonald Terrace, Low Valleyfield; George Pagan, developer, 12 Erskine Brae, Culross; George Terris, mining developer, The Bungalow, High Valleyfield; Daniel McKeeman, developer, 13 Burns Street, High Valleyfield; Duncan Paterson, oversman, 10 Erskine Brae, Culross; and Arthur Daly, underground fireman, West End, Low Valleyfield. Sheriff MacLean recorded a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 March, 1944
Royal Commendation

The King has ordered publication in the "London Gazette" of an expression of commendation of John Baillie, miner, Erskine Brae, Culross, and David Drummond, miner, 1 Preston Street, High Valleyfield, for brave conduct when rescuing a man overcome by fire-damp in Valleyfield Colliery, belonging to the Fife Coal Company, Ltd.
Their heroism was recognised at the time by the Company, who made presentations to Baillie and Drummond, and also to James Connelly, 1 Beaumont Street, Low Valleyfield; James Cook, 35 Abbey Crescent, High Valleyfield; and Thomas McPhillips, Erskine Brae, Culross, who assisted in the rescue.
The circumstances were that an outburst of gas occurred in a development heading, and James Pearson, Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, one of the workmen, was partly buried by eight tons of small coal which suddenly erupted. His mate, Joe Paterson, Burns Street, High Valleyfield, ran for assistance. In the first attempted rescue operations John Bain, fireman, was overcome by gas.
Baillie and Drummond, using a compressed air hose to clear a path through the blanket of fire-damp, led the subsequent rescue operations. With the assistance of Connelly and Cook, they succeeded in freeing Pearson, and carried him to fresh air, where artificial respiration was applied.
Still unconscious, Pearson and Bain were transported on stretchers to the surface. On the way, the affected men were treated with the "Novox" reviving apparatus by Alexander Campbell, Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, the colliery first-aid room attendant, who met the stretcher bearers about 1500 yards from the pit bottom. Both men were taken by ambulance to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital where they recovered.
The official who made the presentations on behalf of the Company stated there could be no doubt that the courage and pit sense of Baillie and Drummond in particular saved the life of Pearson.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 September, 1944

Work at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery has been at a stand-still since Wednesday. The men in one of the sections refused to descend the pit because of a wages grievance. Men at the colliery, numbering between 500 and 600, ceased work in sympathy with their comrades. A deputation of the strikers had an interview at Dunfermline with union officials, who, it was stated yesterday, are dealing with the dispute.


"The Scotsman"
12 September, 1944

PIT STOPPAGE ENDS. - After a stoppage which began on Wednesday of last week, the men employed at the Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery - numbering between 500 and 600 - returned to work yesterday morning. A wages dispute in one of the sections resulted in a strike of the 20 men employed there, and the remainder of the miners struck work in sympathy with them. The dispute is now the subject of negotiation between the coalowners and representatives of the Miners' Union.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 January, 1945

Under-Manager's Death

The under-manager of Valleyfield Colliery, Samuel McGuire, "Penbryn", Main Street, Newmills, died in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital last Friday night from injuries received earlier in the day in an accident in the Preston Dip Section of the colliery. He was knocked down and received head injuries as the result of a breakage in the main haulage rope. McGuire, who was 59 years of age and married, was employed in collieries at Hamilton and Cardenden before going to Valleyfield.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 January, 1945

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday - before Sheriff Hamilton and a jury - into the circumstances attending the death of Samuel McGuire, Main Street, Newmills, under-manager of Fife Coal Company's Valleyfield Colliery, who died on 12 January in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from injuries received that day in the underground working of Valleyfield Colliery as a result of being knocked down by a runaway hutch. Those giving evidence at the inquiry included:- Alexander McNair, motorman, 43 Preston Street, High Valleyfield; Henry Welsh, roadsman, 5 Preston Street, High Valleyfield; Hugh Jack, colliery fireman, 19 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; William Fotheringham Erskine, colliery rope splicer, Cook's Buildings, Cairneyhill; and Henry Black, manager. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 January, 1947

Installations at Valleyfield and Kinglassie

With the excavation work completed, the contractors are expected to make a commencement with the erection of the pithead baths at Valleyfield Colliery this month. It is announced that the next colliery on the priority list for pithead baths is Kinglassie. Sites are being viewed prior to the preparation of sketch plans for an installation which will provide accommodation for 700 men, and will include such facilities as medical treatment centre, canteen, and cycle store.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 March, 1947

On Saturday, twenty-six strippers employed on the day shift at Valleyfield Colliery, went on strike in protest against the working conditions in the Diamond section.


"Rosyth and Inverkeithing Journal"
2 April, 1947

Dunfermline Hero Dies

Hero of the Valleyfield pit explosion of 1911, James Williamson, 126, Appin Crescent, Dunfermline, died yesterday morning from injuries received the previous night when he fell from the platform of a bus at the turnabout near the Public Park, Dunfermline. The accident occurred when he was returning to his home in Appin Crescent. He was removed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital suffering from cerebral haemorrhage, but did not regain consciousness.
During the gas explosion at Valleyfield Colliery in March 1911, when three men lost their lives, Williamson, along with three other rescuers, distinguished himself by bringing two of the rescued men to the pit bottom despite the section being filled with gas. Williamson's heroism was recognised by the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust the same year when the Trustees made awards to six of the rescuers.

[Sent in by his grandson, Douglas Williamson, Crossgates..]


"Dunfermline Press"
5 April, 1947

Click on Image to Zoom In

[Photo by Norval, Dunfermline]

Valleyfield Colliery were the winners in the Fife Miners' Junior First-Aid Competition. Team:-
Seated (left to right) - James Duffy, James Reddie (captain), Mr H. Black (colliery manager),
A. Campbell (first-aid instructor).
Standing - Walter Blyth, Andrew Rhind, Andrew Woodrow, Louis Henderson.


"Dunfermline Press"
10 January, 1948

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Thursday before Sheriff Hamilton and a jury into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named Joseph McGlinchey, formerly residing c/o Stupart, West Green, Culross, who died on 27th September 1947 in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital as a result of injuries sustained to his left leg when it was caught in a coal-cutting machine in Valleyfield Colliery. A formal verdict was returned by the jury but they added the observation that the machine was not fitted with a guard, as it should have been, but it was not proved that the presence of the guard would have avoided the accident. Those giving evidence included: John Irvine (48), machineman, Miners' Hostel, Townhill, Dunfermline; and James Duffy (41), colliery oversman, 32 Woodend Street, High Valleyfield.


A formal verdict was also returned by the jury in the inquiry held into the circumstances of the death of George Mitchell (50), c/o Donnelly, Back of Tolbooth, Sandhaven, Culross, who died on 30th October 1947, in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, from injuries sustained while he was engaged in coupling and uncoupling hutches on the haulage road in Valleyfield Colliery, by his being struck by two runaway hutches.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 January, 1948
Thirty-five Strippers Involved.

An "unofficial" strike, involving thirty-five strippers employed on the back shift in the Diamond Rise section of Valleyfield Colliery, occurred on Thursday afternoon. The stoppage, which, it is stated, is due to a wages dispute, brought production in the section to a complete standstill, and it was estimated that 350 tons of coal were lost on the one shift.
Yesterday, it was reported that there was a full turnout on the day shift.


"Dunfermline Press"
24 January, 1948

The thirty-five strippers employed in the Diamond Rise section of Valleyfield Colliery, who took part in a lightning strike on Thursday of last week, returned to work on Monday morning.
The dispute arose over the men's dissatisfaction with the tonnage rate paid, and their return to work enabled negotiations of their claim to take place. The loss of output, resulting from the strike, was between 700 and 800 tons.


"Dunfermline Press"
11 June, 1949

It was announced at a meeting of the Fife Miners' Welfare Committee on Wednesday, that Lord Balfour, chairman of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board, will perform the opening ceremony at the new Valleyfield pithead baths on Saturday, 25th June. ... Mr Robert McAllister, the oldest working man at Valleyfield Colliery, will reply on behalf of the workers. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
2 July, 1949
Opening Ceremony by Lord Balfour

Erected at a cost of £67,000, a new welfare block, comprising pithead baths, canteen, and medical centre, was opened at Valleyfield Colliery, on Saturday, by Lord Balfour, chairman, Scottish Divisional Coal Board. ...


Coal from Valleyfield Colliery was used in the boilers at Guardbridge Paper Mill, near St Andrews. William MacLeod, former chief engineer at the mill, has kindly sent analysis details on the incoming coal which was evaluated on its arrival.

Fuel: Valleyfield
Supplier: N.C.B.
Laboratory Reference: 25/49
Sampled ex: Wagon No. 180
Remarks: Red ash with buff patches
Date received: 10.8.1949
Date Tested: 11.8.1949
Calorific Value: 10,700 B.T.U's/lb.
Evaporative Power: 11.1 lbs
Moisture: 10.0 % Volatile Matter (less Moisture): 24.3 % Fixed Carbon: 48.5 % Ash: 17.2 %


"Dunfermline Press"
11 February, 1950

Mr George Mullin, general manager of the Fife and Clackmannan Area of the National Coal Board, released information on some of the planned developments for Fife collieries at a Press conference held in the Central Workshops, Cowdenbeath, on Tuesday. ... In addition, Mr Mullin gave the information that reconstruction schemes were in progress for the purpose of increasing output and efficiency. ... at Valleyfield Colliery, envisaged increased output was from 1000 to 1500 tons per day; ...


"Dunfermline Press"
29 July, 1950

Although some absenteeism was reported, the turn-out of Fife miners to work on Monday after the holiday period was described as "fairly good." Valleyfield Colliery miners also returned to work after their pre-holiday strike in support of the claim for increased wages for lower-paid workers in the coalfield.


"Dunfermline Press"
30 September, 1950

David Miller (68), haulage worker, 13 Dunimarle Street, High Valleyfield, was the victim of a fatal accident in Valleyfield Colliery on Wednesday evening. Miller was working on the 5-feet slope dook when a race of 14 tubs broke away and collided with him. He was instantly killed.


"Dunfermline Press"
4 November, 1950

... The jury [at Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday] also returned a formal verdict that David Miller, miner, 13 Dunimarle Street, High Valleyfield, died on 27th September at Valleyfield Colliery from crushing of the chest and other injuries and shock, sustained by him when struck by runaway tubs.


"The Scotsman"
30 November, 1950
Valleyfield Miner Awarded £375

Lord Mackintosh in the Court of Session yesterday concluded the trial of an action in which William Martin, residing at 8 Preston Street, High Valleyfield, Fife, sued the National Coal Board for payment of £1500 as damages for personal injuries. On February 11, 1949, the pursuer, who is a steel drawer, but who had been employed as a miner at the coal face in the Valleyfield Colliery, was on his way to the pit bottom when he was asked to assist another employee of the defenders in lifting two derailed bogies back on to the rails. When he was doing so the whole race of bogies suddenly started to move.
Before pursuer could get clear the leading bogie was stopped by the chain attached between the leading bogie and the haulage rope becoming taut. The middle and rear bogies continued moving and crushed the pursuer's right leg between the first two bogies. As a result the pursuer sustained a fracture of both the tibia and fibula of his right leg. He had yet only considerably restricted movement of the leg.
He attributed fault to the defenders in respect of the negligence of their servant who was in charge of the race of hutches in failing to ensure that when two bogies were replaced on the rails none of the bogies would move down the gradient.
Defenders denied liability and said the accident was solely caused by the fault of the pursuer in not taking proper precautions for his own safety.
The jury found unanimously that the pursuers and defenders were equally to blame for the accident. They assessed damages at 750. Pursuer therefore receives an award of 375. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
3 February, 1951
Cowdenbeath Football Player Killed

Cowdenbeath Football Club reserve goalkeeper, William Moodie, signed from Airdrieonians only some six weeks ago, was the victim of a pit fat in Valleyfield Colliery last Friday night. Moodie, who was 24 years of age, resided at 50 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield. While at work underground in the diamond South Section of the Colliery, he was attempting to clear a fault in a retarding chain conveyor when it apparently slipped, leading to fatal injuries. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
10 February, 1951
Valleyfield Fatality

Returning a formal verdict after a public inquiry in Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Thursday into an underground fatality at Valleyfield Colliery, the jury added a rider that they were of the opinion that the accident was caused through the faulty signalling system.
The jury found that William Morrison Moodie (24), colliery engineer, 50 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, died on 26th January 1951, in No. 1 Pit, Valleyfield Colliery, from a crushed and fractured skull when he was struck by a conveyor chain.
Those giving evidence included: John Moodie, colliery packer, father of deceased; Joseph Warden (39), loading pan man, Stone Cottage, Bank Street, Culross; John Morgan, colliery fireman, 15 Erskine Brae, Culross; David Japp (24), pan engineman, 5 Forthview Cottages, Low Valleyfield; Henry Murray, pan shifter, 21 Valleyfield Avenue, High Valleyfield; and James Fraill, back brusher, Old Schoolhouse, Torrie.
In his guidance to the jury, Sheriff Hamilton said that on the evidence as he saw it, it was quite impossible to say what was the signalling system in force, and whether anyone was to blame or not for the accident. There was a direct conflict of evidence.


"Dunfermline Press"
19 May, 1951

Valleyfield Colliery was idle yesterday following the spreading of a wage dispute. On Thursday, 30 men employed on the back shift stopped work, and a further 34 came out on the night shift. Yesterday the day shift did not report for duty. The colliery employs about 960 men.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 May, 1951
Valleyfield Miners Return to Work

Valleyfield Colliery resumed production on Monday after the miners decided at a meeting on Sunday to allow negotiations to take place to settle their grievance. The colliery was completely idle last Friday following strike action by men employed on the back and night shifts on Thursday over a wages dispute.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 December, 1951

... At a number of collieries in the district, reconstruction schemes have been started during the year, and work is proceeding at Valleyfield, Blairhall, Glencraig, and Fordell collieries. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
23 February, 1952
Pension Book Presented

The completion of 56 years' service in the mining industry was recognised by a brief ceremony at Valleyfield Colliery on Tuesday, when Mr John Savage (68), 5 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, was presented with his retirement pension book under the new scheme for miners. Mr Savage is the first workman in the Valleyfield Group of collieries to benefit from the pension.
Mr John Gibb, manager and chairman of the Consultative Committee, who made the presentation, referred to Mr Savage's 40 years' service at Valleyfield, first underground and latterly as a surface watchman.
Mr H. Black, agent for the Group, spoke on behalf of the National Coal Board, and Mr A. Flynn, delegate, on behalf of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Mr Savage, who has grown-up sons in the mines, said in reply that he hoped the scheme would prove successful.


"Dunfermline Press"
12 July, 1952
Valleyfield Colliery Development

The considerable activity which is to be found in and around Valleyfield Colliery is part of development and construction schemes which the National Coal Board have recently embarked upon.
A beginning has been made with the driving of the surface mine at Torry, half a mile to the north of Valleyfield Colliery. When the mine is ready to begin production, it will be linked by tunnel, which will pass over the Bluther Burn, and underneath the main Dunfermline-Kincardine highway before entering the yard at Valleyfield Colliery.
The coal, in two-ton mine cars, will be drawn through the tunnel by 65 h.p. Diesel locomotives, and in the colliery yard the coal will be belt-conveyed into the screening and preparation plant.
Torry Mine is expected to have an output of 400 tons per day, and production is earmarked to commence in 1954.

Reconstruction Work

Simultaneous with this development work, a scheme of reconstruction is taking place at Valleyfield Colliery itself. The main purpose of this work is to introduce two-ton mine cars and thereby improve the efficiency of the transport methods above and below ground.
The new method will replace the present tub-circulation process, and the cars will be handled on transporter carriages at the shaft mouth, and the coal will be conveyed to the screening plant by belt conveyors.
Underground reconstruction work has been going on for some time. A surface mine was driven from the bing at the colliery, through the bing to the underground workings - an achievement which was regarded as a triumph for mining skill.
A fan house has now been erected as part of the same scheme, which, when completed by, it is anticipated, July of next year, will result in increased efficiency and greater output from the colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 September, 1952
Valleyfield Pit Accident

After an accident in Valleyfield Colliery on Monday, Neil Seath, Mid Street, Culross, was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital suffering from internal injuries. Mr Seath, who is a member of the local Gala Committee and the Old Folks' Committee, was run over by three bogies in the five-foot section of the pit.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 December, 1952
Collieries Will Be Reconstructed
Modernisation Schemes at Blairhall and Valleyfield

Blairhall is one of the collieries in West Fife which the National Coal Board have earmarked for reconstruction work. Together with Valleyfield, it will also be the scene of experiments in mechanisation. To the west of both Valleyfield and Blairhall important boring developments will take place.
This was announced this week by the N.C.B. who, in the course of a statement, said:-
"A start will shortly be made with the reconstruction of Blairhall Colliery. The initial planning work has been completed. The scheme eliminates the existing steam raising plant and provides for the complete electrification of the colliery. The present pithead buildings will be replaced and a new coal preparation plant built. On the surface two-ton mine cars will be introduced, controlled by pneumatic decking equipment and transporter carriages. Coal will be belt conveyed from the tipplers to the preparation plant.


"The Lord Bruce Pit bottom is to be reconstructed to deal with mine cars. A new pit bottom will be made 10 fathoms below the existing one in the Lady Veronica shaft. In both pit bottoms suitable equipment will be installed to control the mine cars with the minimum of labour. A virgin area of coal about two miles to the west of the shaft will be developed, and long stone mines driven to contact the seams in this area. Diesel locomotives will be used to move the coal in mine cars on the level, while balanced rope haulage will deal with coal from the dip workings. The ultimate output at Blairhall Colliery will be in the region of 2000 tons daily and approximately 1100 workmen will be employed.
"Experiments in continuous mining are to be conducted at Blairhall where an armour type panzer conveyor and an experimental Huwood slicer will be installed. The slicer machine is mounted on and is an integral part of the conveyor. The machine, moved along on the tail end, takes off a slice of coal up to 12-inches thick and deposits it into the moving conveyor. Special props and bars will be used to support the face. At this colliery, also, experiments will be conducted with a curved jib along with the python conveyor."


The statement went on to say:-
"The scheme for the introduction of mine cars at Valleyfield Colliery has been progressing steadily underground for some time and in the new year the main portion of this work, including the enlargement of the pit bottom and the main avenues to the central loading points, will almost be completed. Diesel locomotives are already in use underground. Balanced rope haulage will be used to deal with the coal from the dip workings and labour saving devices (including pneumatic decking equipment) installed in the pit bottom.
"In order to increase the quantity of air passing to the working faces a new surface mine was driven to contact the inbye workings. Work is now well advanced in the building of a new fan house. Early in 1953 the new fan will be installed. This fan will be capable of delivering 220,000 cubic feet of air per minute into the mine.
"The contract for the reconstruction work on the surface has been placed and work will be started sometime next year. The two-ton mine cars will be transported between the cages and the tipplers by transporter carriages and the coal belt conveyed to the screening and preparation plant. It is expected that this scheme will be completed in 1954 when mine cars will be wound to the surface. Output will then be increased to 1600 tons daily and employment for an additional 200 men provided.
"At Valleyfield a Beien retarder conveyor and a Wedge Planer will be installed in another series of experiments."


The N.C.B.'s statement also refers to the development of Torry mine, with its many interesting features and to the fact that the mine will have a life of 20 years, producing 400 tons of coal daily and giving employment to approximately 230 men when in full production.
"With a view to greater efficiency and labour saving detailed examination of steam-raising plants took place at various collieries, and it has been decided to install automatic chain grate stokers at Valleyfield, Blairhall, Minto, and Nellie collieries. Contracts for these boilers have been placed. The introduction of the chain grate stokers will cut coal consumption considerably.
Pneumatic rams have been installed on the surface at Aitken Colliery, Kelty, with good results. The installation of pneumatic rams at other collieries is now under consideration. Orders have been placed for several compressed air creeper rams and for tub vibrating platforms to be installed at main tub landing points underground. These will be delivered early in the year and if successful will be more widely applied where conditions are suitable in other pits in the Fife area.


Developments in the Culross-Valleyfield area are foreshadowed by the N.C.B. statement which states:-
"The Fife coalfield has been extensively worked from Valleyfield and Blairhall collieries in an easterly direction, and while it is known that the seams exist in a westerly direction, the depth, thickness, inclination, and quality are at present only conjectured over a large area.
"Coincident with the deep bores being put down at Grangemouth and Airth, across the Forth, another bore is now being drilled at Culross. The results from all these bores will give valuable information as to the extent of the coalfield still to be worked. During the year the Culross bore has been drilled to a depth of 254 fathoms and has already proved a rich seam of coal 7 ft. thick, lying at 195 fathoms. A heavier boring is now being erected and boring will soon be resumed. To prove all the seams in the lower coal measures it is anticipated that the bore will ultimately extend to a depth of 600 fathoms. The method of working the coal revealed by this bore, at 195 fathoms, is now being actively investigated.
"It is also intended to put down another bore to prove the seams lying in a virgin area approximately 2 miles west of Blairhall Colliery. If this bore proves the thickness and quality of the seams, as is anticipated, the life of Blairhall Colliery will be greatly extended."


Development and reconstruction work is also proceeding at Bowhill Colliery, where since the sinking of the new No. 3 shaft began on 6th August, the excavation for the shaft collar has been started. The reinforced concrete shaft collar will be completed shortly after the New Year. The contract for the sinking has now been placed, and the firm is now busy on the site preparing for the temporary workshops and concreting batching plant, etc. The sinking headgear and winder will be installed early in the New Year and sinking proper will start immediately thereafter. The new shaft will be 24 feet in diameter, concrete-lined, and sunk to a depth of 460 fathoms.
Considerable progress has also been made with the work of reconstruction at Glencraig Colliery. The N.C.B. states that -
"On the surface the dirt disposal arrangements were completed and are now working satisfactorily. The contract for the complete reconstruction of the surface has been placed. Work will start during 1953 and be completed during 1954. The transporter carriage system will be used to transport mine cars from the cage to the tipplers and the coal will be belt conveyed to the preparation plant. Pneumatic decking rams will be used.
"Satisfactory progress has been made with the enlarging and regarding of the main roadways to make them suitable for locomotive haulage. Reconstruction of the pit bottom and siding is nearing completion."


"Dunfermline Press"
25 April, 1953
Experiments at Valleyfield
Extraction of Methane Gas at Colliery

Experiments involving the extraction of odourless inflammable gas - methane - from Valleyfield Colliery are to be continued by the National Coal Board.
Several months ago apparatus and equipment were installed near the pithead, and the experiment has been conducted under the supervision of the N.C.B. headquarters' staff, Edinburgh. It is understood that the experiment will be continued for some time, and that at the moment no indication can be given as to the results of the tests.
Methane has immense industrial possibilities. Provided the gas can be collected in sufficient quantity, methane can be used for a variety of purposes. It can be utilised, for instance, for the firing of boilers, the running of gas turbines, and for augmenting and enriching a town's gas supply.
The drainage of methane has beneficial effects underground in that a section which has been cleared of the gas provides safer working conditions for those employed in the pit.
Methane is contained in fire-damp to an extent ranging from 77.5 to 98.2 per cent.


"Dunfermline Press"
2 January, 1954
New Shaft at Valleyfield

Considerable progress has been made with the extensive reconstruction scheme at Valleyfield Colliery, where plans are also well advanced for the sinking in 1954 of a new shaft and the deepening of the existing No. 2 shaft.
The Scottish Division of the National Coal Board, in a statement reviewing the progress made with various major reconstruction schemes in West Fife, forecasts that the reconstruction work at Valleyfield Colliery will be completed during 1954. The change-over to mine cars is to be made during the July holiday period, an operation which will ensure that no working time is lost at the pit. Similar methods were successfully adopted at Bowhill last year. This major change-over in the transport system entails a large amount of work on the surface and underground.
Dickson & Mann, engineers, Armadale, have undertaken the structural work and car control equipment. The concrete foundations for the new steel structure are almost completed.


The transport carriage system, similar to the Bowhill scheme, for handling mine cars at the shaft mouth, will be installed. Cars will be decked into the cages and tipplers by compressed air rams. The coal will be belt conveyed from the tipplers to the existing screening and preparation plant.
Load cars will be hauled from the dip workings by large balanced rope double drum haulages, and on the level roadways Diesel locomotives will be used to transport them to the pit bottom. The cars will then be controlled by creepers prior to being decked into the cages by pneumatic rams.
When the scheme is completed a considerable number of men will be relieved from transport duties and upgraded to face work, thus allowing additional development work to be undertaken. The output will ultimately be increased from 1000 tons to 1600 tons daily. To increase the ventilation a new axial fan capable of delivering 220,000 cubic feet per minute has been installed. The new development work and the additional production faces will be adequately ventilated. ...


The development of Torry Mine, which is situated to the north of Valleyfield Colliery, will be completed and in production towards the end of 1954. One of the dip mines driven from the surface has made contact with the Blairhall Main seam at a depth of 72 yards. The driving of the companion mine to the surface is now proceeding.
The tunnel underneath the main Kincardine-Dunfermline public highway near Valleyfield Colliery has been completed. The coal will be belt conveyed from the face and loaded into two-ton mine cars, which will be hauled up the dip mine in sets of six by a 250 h.p. balanced rope hauler and transported along the level tunnel to Valleyfield Colliery by Diesel locomotive. The coal will be tippled into a 20 ton hopper and conveyed to the existing screening plant. The reinforced concrete pit which contains the hoppers will be completed this year. Thereafter a start will be made with the installation of the conveying and car control equipment manufactured in the Cowdenbeath Workshops. ...


The mechanisation schemes proposed for Valleyfield and Blairhall Collieries failed to materialise during the year due to the very extended delivery period from the manufacturers.
The Ritchie wedge planer, complete with haulage and other equipment, has now been delivered to Valleyfield, where it is being assembled on the surface to give the personnel at the colliery an opportunity of becoming familiar with it before installing it underground. This equipment works in conjunction with a Beien retarder conveyor, and consists essentially of a number of planers and ploughs, which, on being drawn up the coal face, cuts or peels the coal and ploughs the fallen coal on to the conveyor.
A Harmann scraper box system will also be introduced at Valleyfield. In this system a number of scraper boxes, fitted with cutting blades and spaced at approximately 40 feet intervals, are drawn up and down the face by a haulage specially designed for the purpose. On the upstroke the boxes act as a cutting medium and on the downstroke they serve as a means of transporting the coal along the face to the gate conveyor.
At Blairhall Colliery a Huwood slicer is to be installed. The slicer will be mounted on top of a python chain conveyor, which is kept close to the coal face by pneumatic air pushers. It is hauled up and down the face on top of the conveyor by special haulage gear, taking 2 feet of coal which then falls into the conveyor.
In all these schemes special yielding type steel props will be used to support the roof at the coal face.
Chain grate stokers for colliery steam raising plants have been installed at Minto and Nellie Collieries and are in course of being installed at Valleyfield and Blairhall Collieries.
The installations will result in a reduction in the amount of coal consumed in steam raising and will improve the overall efficiency of the plant.


In order to prove the coal seams to the west of Valleyfield and Blairhall a deep bore is being drilled at Culross. Similar deep bores have also been put down at Airth and Grangemouth. The results from these bores will provide valuable information as to the depth, thickness, quality, and inclination of all the seams, and will enable decisions to be made as to the possibility of future new sinkings in the area.
Culross Bore, which has been drilled to a depth of 410 fathoms, encountered some difficulty resulting in the loss of a diamond boring crown at a depth of 350 fathoms. To prove all the seams the bore will require to be drilled to a depth of 600 fathoms.
Another bore has been started at Righead to prove the coal seams in a virgin area approximately two miles west of Blairhall Colliery. The bore, now down 140 fathoms, proved the Jenny Pate seam to be 7 feet thick at 95 fathoms, will probably be drilled to a depth of 500 fathoms to contact the lower seams.


"Dunfermline Press"
31 July, 1954
Ceremony Next Month to Mark Sinking of New Shaft

An inaugural ceremony to mark the commencement of work on the sinking of a new shaft at Valleyfield Colliery, which will constitute another large West Fife development, will take place at Low Valleyfield on 11th August.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 January, 1955
60 Years in the Mines

To mark his retrial from Valleyfield Colliery, Mr John Waddell, Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield, was the guest of the manager, oversmen, and deputies of Valleyfield Colliery at a social evening held in the lounge of Valleyfield Tavern, Newmills, on Saturday evening. Mr Thomas Guthrie presided.
Mr Peter Weir, manager, who handed over a wallet of notes to Mr Waddell, now 72 years of age, had spent 60 years in the mines, and for 42 years had been employed as an oversman at Valleyfield Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 February, 1955
Two Men Injured by Fall of Stone from Roof

Two Valleyfield Colliery workers were removed to hospital yesterday morning suffering from injuries sustained when they were struck by a stone which fell from the roof of the underground workings.
James Oliphant (34), hole borer, 17 Wardlaw Way, Oakley, and Daniel Breen (25), stripper, 51 Rintoul Avenue, Blairhall, were walking with other workers along the main road on their way to work when a stone fell from the ten-foot high roof.
Breen sustained a fractured arm and was taken to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital. Oliphant, whose foot was badly smashed, was removed to Bridge of Earn Hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 November, 1955
Young Miner Struck by Falling Stone

A young Valleyfield miner, Ebenezer Miller, 6 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, was fatally injured in an accident which occurred at Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday morning.
Miller, a face worker, was employed in the Rise Section of the Colliery when he was struck by a stone which fell from the roof. He was killed instantly.
Miller, who was 26 years of age, resided with his mother. Three of his brothers work in Valleyfield Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 December, 1955
51 Years In the Mines

Valleyfield Colliery Officials' Social Club held their annual outing to Edinburgh on Saturday, when a company of 41 attended a pantomime performance.
Mr Robert Copland, Crossford, who has retired after 51 years in the mines was presented with a clock from the Club members. Mr Prentice, colliery undermanager, made the presentation.
Also present were Mr P. Weir, colliery manager, and Mr John Martin, colliery cashier. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
21 January, 1956
63 Years in Mining

Mr Andrew Harrower, Tinian Crescent, Newmills, has retired from his employment in Valleyfield Colliery where he has worked for the greatest part of his 63 years service in the mining industry. He is 77 years of age.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 June, 1956
Presentations to Colliery Manager

Mr P. J. Weir, manager of Valleyfield Colliery, who is leaving to take up the position of group manager, "B" Group, No. 4 Area, of the Northern Division of the N.C.B. at Workington, was entertained at a supper held in the Crown Hotel, Newmills, on Saturday. Mr A. Hunter presided. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
27 October, 1956
West Fife Mining Developments
No Cause for Alarm About Subsidence at Culross

An assurance that subsidence resulting from developments in the Valleyfield area would not effect buildings in Culross was given by Mr George Mullin, manager of the West Fife Area of the National Coal Board, when he answered questions at a Press conference at the Area headquarters at Cowdenbeath on Tuesday.
After outlining the plans for Valleyfield Colliery where a new sinking and reconstruction are well advanced, Mr Mullin was asked about alarm expressed by local residents regarding possible damage to ancient properties in Culross.


He replied that he had had a meeting with the National Trust for Scotland, who own many of the properties in the burgh, and had given them an assurance that there was "no need for them to worry their heads about it."
Mr Mullin added: "We are quite interested in the preservation of old landmarks and monuments. I asked the Trust to agree to a special investigation by mining engineers. The Trust sent the engineers over here and I have not heard another word since. The new shaft will go down to nearly 400 fathoms and at that depth it does not matter very much, because any subsidence movement is dissipated by the time it gets to the surface. The proof of that is that we have taken out coal from under the houses in High Valleyfield and the people did not even know."


The Valleyfield developments which, with other projects undertaken in the West Fife area will cost in the region of £10 million, provide for the sinking of a third shaft and the reconstruction of the present colliery, which, when complete, is expected to give an output of almost one million tons annually, with a manpower complement of some 2000.
Reconstruction at No. 1 shaft is completed and No. 2 shaft is being sunk along with No. 3 to a depth of 375 fathoms. No. 1 shaft will work the coal in the upper horizon, and Nos. 2 and 3 will work the lower horizon levels. The plan provides for the construction of a new preparation plant to handle the colliery's entire output, the diversion of the shore road for construction of new railway sidings, offices, workshops, and pithead baths extension, and complete electrification of the colliery.
Underground work will involve the making of two pit bottoms and the driving of stone mines having a total distance of over 14,000 yards.
At Torry Mine, from which the output is transported by diesel locomotives to Valleyfield Colliery, the two drifts from the surface are being extended to maintain an annual output of 96,000 tons and employ 230 men.


Mr Mullin said that one of the main reasons for the development at Valleyfield was that it could supply coking coal of which there was no potential elsewhere in his area.
The existing manpower of 14,500 should increase slightly in the West Fife area by 1960, but thereafter should slightly decease. At present he had 21 pits under his control and that figure would reduce to 17 or 18 in five years' time.
A substantial increase in the number of miners would be necessary in the Valleyfield, Comrie, and Blairhall district, and while many of them would travel from Dunfermline and the Cowdenbeath area more houses would be required in the Blairhall and Valleyfield districts to ensure that the necessary labour force would be available.
Mr Mullin added that since the manpower situation was likely to remain steady generally in his area, they would not require a great many transferred miners from the West of Scotland.


Mr Mullin agreed that since the modernisation of the transport system at the pithead and pit bottom at Valleyfield there had not been the degree of increase in production anticipated. This was partly due to labour troubles and conditions at the coalface, but he had no doubt that Valleyfield would come "up to scratch" at the end of the day. He stated that there had been many unofficial stoppages in the Valleyfield, Comrie and Blairhall area.
Dealing with long-term developments in this area, Mr Mullin said that he had completed two deep bores near Culross and near Valleyfield, one of which had shown a six-foot seam at about 100 fathoms level. Shallower bores had been made in the area between Comrie and Alloa and they had found the faults greater than had been expected.
In the new sinking at Valleyfield they had encountered several old workings, believed to date back to the 17th century, and operations had been somewhat delayed while they filled these up. He did not anticipate that they would have any water trouble until the shaft reached the 200 fathoms mark.
Mr Mullin said that the Valleyfield project, together with the similar developments at Bowhill, accounted for almost half of the total expenditure of £10 million. The installation of modern mine cars and transporters in the existing colliery had reduced the squad of about forty men employed at the pithead and pit bottom to two, thereby increasing the available manpower for production work. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
2 February, 1957
Oldest Pit Employee Injured

Andrew Galloway (78), Main Street, Torryburn, the oldest employee at Valleyfield Colliery, was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Tuesday suffering from injuries received in an accident while at work.
Galloway, a surface worker, was pinned against a wall by a waggon. After receiving treatment at the pithead, he was taken to hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
23 March, 1957
Pit Sinker Trapped in New Shaft
Valleyfield Colliery Fatality

A 31-year-old Dunfermline pit sinker, William O'Brien, 169 Baldridgeburn lost his life when part of the wall of a new shaft at Valleyfield Colliery caved in on Monday as he and six other men were at work 1500 feet below the surface.
The accident occurred shortly after 7 o'clock in the morning in the new No. 3 shaft which is being sunk to work coal under the Firth of Forth, and on which sinking operations commenced about two years ago.
The team of seven men had been working for about an hour when a part of the wall broke in near the bottom of the shaft. As it caved in the men ran for the opposite side but O'Brien was caught and trapped by the falling redd which buried him almost up to the neck.


The others, who included George Walker (35), 16 Carlyle Street, High Valleyfield, and Ian Macfarlane (30), 261 Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, heard his shout for help.
They began working desperately to free him despite the danger to themselves. The water was rising and the men's efforts to keep it in check were unavailing. Soon after the first cave-in there was another heavy fall which completely buried their trapped mate completely.
The other men had to abandon their efforts at rescue and get clear of the shaft.
News of the accident was received within minutes at No. 2 shaft where development work is proceeding, and the men there came to the surface and raced across the railway line to the top of No. 3 shaft, hoping to be able to help in the rescue work.
Mr Walker, after going to the surface, returned to the shaft where preparations were being made to clear the bottom and recover O'Brien's body.
When news of the fatality spread through the pit the men decided to stop work for the day.
O'Brien who was a brother of George O'Brien, the Dunfermline Athletic footballer transferred to Leeds United last week, was married and had two daughters.


A meeting of Union representatives, N.C.B. officials, and representatives of the Inspector of Mines was held at the colliery on Wednesday forenoon to consider the recovery operations in the shaft.
It was attended by local and county officials of the National Union of Mineworkers and their technical representative; a representative of the National Association of Colliery Oversmen, Deputies, and Shotfirers; two representatives of H. M. Inspector of Mines; and officials of the Cementation Company., Ltd., who are sinking the shaft.
The following statement on the meeting was issued by the West Fife Area headquarters of the N.C.B.: "After hearing reports from the technical representatives the position in No. 3 shaft was fully considered. It was unanimously agreed that, in the interests of safety, the part of the shaft which collapsed should be filled in and re-sunk before the bottom of the shaft could be reached.
"This is essential in order not to endanger the lives of workmen engaged in recovery operations."
There was a partial resumption of work at the colliery on Wednesday, and on the following day the colliery was in normal working operation.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 April, 1957
Body Recovered from Pit Shaft
Accident Occurred Five Weeks Ago

Five weeks after being buried when the wall of a new shaft being sunk at Valleyfield Colliery collapsed, the body of William O'Brien, a 31-year-old Dunfermline pit sinker, was recovered in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
On Monday, 18th March, O'Brien was leading a team employed on the construction of the wall of the new shaft when it collapsed. He was buried underneath the debris and, despite frantic efforts by his colleagues to release him, rescue operations had to be abandoned in the interests of the safety of the rescue workers.
Later, the National Coal Board representatives of the National Union of Mineworkers and of the Inspector of Mines met to consider recovery operations. Also in attendance were a representative of the National Association of Colliery Oversmen, Deputies, and Shotfirers and officials of the Cementation Company Ltd., who are sinking the shaft. ... The recovery operations were started after darkness had fallen on Monday night and O'Brien's body was brought to the surface shortly after midnight. The recovery work was carried out by employees of the Cementation Company.
O'Brien, who was an elder brother of George O'Brien, the former Dunfermline Athletic and Leeds United footballer, lived at 169 Baldridgeburn, Dunfermline.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 June, 1957

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Friday before Sheriff R. R. Kydd and a jury into the circumstances attending the death of William O'Brien (31) who was killed in No. 3 shaft of Valleyfield Colliery on Monday 18th March. Those giving evidence included: David McKinnon, Cowdenbeath, medical officer, West Fife Area, N.C.B.; David Morrison (36), Rosecroft, Greenbank, Falkirk; and George B. Walker (35), 16 Carlyle Street, High Valleyfield. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.


"Dunfermline Press"
31 August, 1957

Thomas Cunningham O'Neill (23), coal miner, 10 Forest Road, Townhill, Dunfermline, was fatally injured at Valleyfield Colliery early yesterday morning. O'Neill was working in the No. 1 section of Milton Main when he was struck by a runaway coal-cutting machine.
He sustained a fractured skull and died instantaneously. The men at the colliery immediately stopped work and the pit was idle yesterday. O'Neill is survived by his wife and child.


"Dunfermline Press"
9 November, 1957
Fire Down Shaft At Colliery
Blaze Fought for Four Hours

Firemen from Dunfermline fought an outbreak of fire at Valleyfield Colliery for four hours on Tuesday morning while a rescue squad stood by in case of casualties. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
4 January, 1958
Pit Developments in West Fife

A progress report on reconstruction and modernisation schemes at several West Fife collieries, which have been estimated to involve expenditure of £10 million, has been issued by the Scottish Divisional headquarters of the National Coal Board.
The report deals with the major reconstruction projects at Valleyfield, Blairhall, Glencraig and Bowhill Collieries, and concludes by stating that the work being carried out in the West Fife area will make provision for the stabilisation of the present output position as several pits will be closed, due to exhaustion in the next few years.


The development scheme for Valleyfield Colliery provides for the reconstruction of the present colliery, the re-sinking of one of the shafts, and the sinking of a new shaft. A new preparation plant, railway sidings waggon handling equipment, duplicate ventilating fans, workshops, administrative buildings, complete electrification of the colliery and an extension to the pithead baths are all to be provided. In order to make room for the new railway siding layout the public highway has been diverted, and, following the policy of complete electrification, work has commenced on the electrification of No. 1 Shaft steam winding engine.
The reconstruction at No. 1 Shaft has been completed, and this pit will work the seams from the 215 fathoms horizon. No. 2 Shaft, formerly elliptical in shape and sunk to a depth of 210 fathoms, has been infilled and enlarged to 22 feet diameter to a depth of 220 fathoms. This shaft will be used to wind men and materials.
No. 3 Shaft, also 22 ft. in diameter, has been sunk to a depth of 300 fathoms and will be equipped with 10½-ton skips for coal winding. The shaft is fitted with a prestressed concrete headgear on which a house for a multi-rope friction winding engine will be erected.
The main horizon mines in No. 2 and No. 3 Shafts will be driven at the 288 and 375 fathoms positions and to expedite this work preparations are being made to drive these mines from No. 1 Pit.
Three deep bores have been put down in the landward area west of Culross to prove the depth, thickness and inclination of the various seams. A further deep bore is being put down 4000 feet off-shore in the Firth of Forth south of Culross village. To facilitate drilling operations, eight piles were driven into the sea bed on the site of the borehole and a barge carrying the drilling superstructure was floated between them. The barge sea valves were opened, allowing it to rest on the river bed with the superstructure left above high water. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
8 February, 1958
Presentation to Pit Under-Manager

Mr Andrew Prentice, under-manager at Valleyfield Colliery, has been appointed manager at Cameron Mine, East Fife Area of the National Coal Board. He took up his new duties on Monday. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
17 January, 1959
750 Fewer Miners in West Fife

The overall manpower in the West Fife Area of the National Coal Board is now 14,000, showing a total reduction of 750 since the beginning of 1958. A standstill in recruitment has been maintained during the year, with the exception of Comrie and Valleyfield Collieries.
This is revealed in the annual survey of the West Fife Area, which also states that the output position at the end of November showed a reduction of 360,000 tons compared with the same period in the previous year. No Saturday working has taken place since the end of April, and all the collieries have operated on a five-day week basis. Ten per cent of the Area output is now power-loaded, and steps are being taken to increase this proportion. ...

The survey, after reporting progress on the sinking of new shafts at Bowhill and Valleyfield Collieries, and drilling operations in the Firth of Forth near Culross, refers to other developments in the Area. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
17 January, 1959
Development at West Fife Collieries

Substantial progress in colliery development at Valleyfield and Bowhill are recorded in the 1958 survey of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board. ...
At Valleyfield, the new No. 3 shaft reached a depth of 372 fathoms and should be completed by 1960. Mines are being driven from No. 1 shaft in readiness to link up with Nos. 2 and 3 shafts next year, and so accelerate the development work necessary to bring the new shaft shafts into operation at the earliest moment. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
7 February, 1959
Looked After Miners' Lamps for 45 Years

Chief attendant at Valleyfield Colliery lamp cabin for the last thirty years, Mr David Arnott, 53 Main Street, Bowhill, has retired at the age of 68. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
21 March, 1959
Cowdenbeath Men "Treated Like Displaced Persons"

Allegations that Cowdenbeath miners are being treated like "displaced persons" and have suffered drastic cuts in wages in Blairhall and Valleyfield Collieries to which they were recently transferred were made at a protest meeting held in the Miners' Institute, Cowdenbeath, on Saturday. The Coal Board were also criticised for refusing permission for the transferred men to seek alternative employment at the two other big developing pits, Rothes and Seafield. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
30 May, 1959
New Manager for Colliery

On Monday Mr R. F. Young, who has been manager at Kinglassie Colliery for the past eighteen months, goes to Valleyfield Colliery as manager. Before going to Kinglassie as manager, Mr Young was the N.C.B.'s West Fife Area safety engineer for a number of years. He was formerly the Scottish safety engineer with the National Union of Mineworkers.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 November, 1959

... Although only two Fife pits are marked down for closure in the latest list, other collieries in the county will be affected by the Coal Board's plans for the next year. Developments at Valleyfield and Rothes will be curtailed. Pits likely to be single-shifted include Bowhill and Glencraig. Pits whose sections now producing are likely to stop include Dundonald and Lumphinnans. In two East Fife pits - Michael and Wellesley - manpower will be cut. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
12 December, 1959
Men Are Trapped Down Pit Shaft
Rescued After 26-Hour Ordeal On Scaffold

Three men trapped close on half a mile below the surface in the new shaft which is being sunk at Valleyfield Colliery joked about beating the long-distance marching record as they moved gingerly about their tiny, tilted platform to keep themselves awake during their 26 hours' ordeal. Had they fallen asleep they risked plunging into the deep mud and water at the bottom of the shaft, water which kept steadily rising until, before their rescue on Thursday evening, it was almost lapping the platform.
The three trapped men were Tom McGovern (47), a Cementation Company master sinker, 19 Keir Hardie Terrace, Dunfermline; John Sutherland (34), a sinker, 32 Forth Crescent, High Valleyfield; and Tom Dingwall (52), an N.C.B. deputy, 17 James Hog Crescent, Oakley.
At 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon they had gone down the new shaft to make a routine inspection of the cement lining from a 20-ft. wide platform 2200 feet below the surface. The shaft itself is 24 feet in diameter. About 8.30 that evening the winch-operating staff at the shaft-head noticed the ropes had twisted and the platform had jammed.
A drop into the 90 feet deep water-filled sump of the shaft faced the men, should they lose their footing on their platform which had tilted slightly. Throughout the night they had only their helmet lamps to light up their narrow prison.
Immediately it was discovered that the winder was jammed rescue operations began. Food, blankets, and hot-water bottles were lowered to the men. Early on Thursday morning a portable telephone was also lowered, and at ten minute intervals officials at the shaft-head spoke to the men.


Mr John Brown, Fife area secretary of the National Coal Board, told Pressmen who had gathered at the scene that the men were in good spirits, but it was very cold. This was because fresh air was being pumped down to them by a fan. After a while, when it became too cold for them to bear, they asked over the telephone for the fan to be shut off for a while.
"They had a lamp to test the air," explained Mr Brown, "and when it became foul they asked for the fresh air to be turned on again.
"Tom McGovern is a bit of a wit and he kept them in good spirits all the time."
Sutherland and Dingwall did a bit of chaffing of McGovern, alleging that his girth - he is a fairly stout man - made it difficult for them to pass him on the small platform and so reduced their chances of getting that long-distance marching record.
A mobile winder was brought from the Rescue Centre at Cowdenbeath and the rescue got underway. Mr Alex. Gibson, pit manager, telephoned the trio every five minutes to let them know how things were going. It took three hours for a team led by Andrew Brogan, Lochore, to descend on the end of the emergency rope. With him were James Sinclair, Dunfermline, and William Hunter, Oakley.
Sinclair and Hunter loaded the three exhausted men into the bucket - or "kettle" as the miners call it - attached to the emergency rope and a long, slow haul to the surface began. Brogan was with them.
For nearly an hour and a half they stayed in the narrow "kettle" while the hoist was made. Shouted instructions from Mr Gibson directed the hoistmen as the slow lift began.
At 6.15 on Thursday evening they reached the surface, blinking in the glare of the high-powered lamp set up at the shaft-head. Crowds of miners collected round with shouts of "Are you all right?" and "Well done." A car hurried the three men the 200 yards to the pit medical centre, where each was given a careful examination.
Then the doctor told them he was satisfied that they had suffered no real ill effects from their ordeal. He ordered that they should have hot baths and then a good warm meal. When they went home they should go straight to bed.


At home on Thursday night, as their husbands slept, the wives talked of their ordeal.
Mrs Sutherland said: "When my husband did not come home I was worried. It is dangerous in the shaft, and he has told me so. I telephoned the pit and they said he was stranded, but made no explanation. I kept the children from school to keep me company." Her husband has worked with the Cementation Company for over ten years. He has been working at the Valleyfield shaft for over three years.
Mrs McGovern said: "Tom is very careful about telling me when he will be home. He is a 12-hour a day man and never misses a shift. I felt there was something wrong, and I wanted to have a good cry before I knew it was simply a matter of waiting."
Mrs Dingwall did not know until early on Thursday morning that her husband was down the shaft.
"My son, Billy, who works at Valleyfield, didn't want to alarm me," she said, "so he came in last night and asked for another piece for his father as he said he was working a 'doubler.' Then he came back again this morning about seven, and he asked if his father was home. When I told him he wasn't, he said: "Well, you may as well know, you will be in for a long wait. He is stuck down the mine shaft."
Dingwall's son was released from his shift at Valleyfield Colliery to stand by the pit-shaft on Thursday while rescue operations went on.
On his way to the medical centre after the rescue, Mr McGovern said: "We did not sit down very often. We kept walking round and round the platform to keep warm. It was very cold and we did not want to go to sleep. We kept testing for gas with the lamp."
So high was the morale of the three men that they helped in directing the operations which were being carried out for their own rescue. Mr McGovern was on duty at 9 o'clock yesterday morning as alert and dynamic as ever. Mr Sutherland also was on the dot when his shift was due to start. Yesterday coincided with Mr Dingwall's rest day.


"Dunfermline Press"
10 September, 1960
Colliery Manager Honoured

Employees of Torry Mine held a presentation dinner and social evening in Torryburn Public Hall on Saturday to mark Mr N. Wallace's appointment as manager at Valleyfield Colliery. Mr Charles McLennan presided. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
15 October, 1960
Methane Extractor

Preliminary work has commenced on the construction of a methane extractor at Valleyfield Colliery. The plant, when in operation, will extract methane from underground and pump it into the gas main. It will be the first of its kind to operate in the East of Scotland.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 December, 1960
Retiral Gift For Surface Foreman

Mr Peter Scott has retired after 35 years' service as surface foreman at Valleyfield Colliery. To mark his retiral he was presented with a clock by Mr James Forrester and Mr Owen Breen on behalf of the surface workers and officials at the colliery. Apart from a period on active service during the First World War, Mr Scott has worked continuously at Valleyfield Colliery for 49 years. He is a native of Dalmeny.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 January, 1961
Report On Collieries

In West Fife Area last year one pit ceased production, coal output fell by just under ¾ million tons, but productivity went up by over ½ cwt per manshift. This is revealed in the annual report of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board issued recently.
This will be the last occasion on which the West Fife Area will receive separate mention in the annual report. The area went out of existence on New Year's Day. Several of the pits in the extreme west of the county were merged with the Alloa Area, and the remainder joined with East Fife to form the new Fife area.
The report goes on:- The proportion of output produced by power loading increased from 10 per cent to 16 per cent during the year; by the end of December the proportion was 24 per cent.
At Valleyfield Colliery, the sinking of Nos. 2 and 3 Shafts was completed and work is proceeding with the electrification of the steam winding engines at No. 2 Shaft. It is planned to begin shortly driving the main locomotive transport mine from the 387 fathom pit bottom at the new shafts to connect up with the dip workings of No. 1 Pit. It will probably take about two years to complete this major mine.


During the year power-loading was successfully applied in the Jewel and Blairhall Main seams facilitated by the application of methane drainage - that is, by boring the strata above the coal seams to release the methane (firedamp), which can then be drawn off in pipes. At the moment, the gas is being diluted in the return air courses, but a scheme is in hand for piping the methane to the surface and feeding it into the main distribution line of the Scottish Gas Board.
While no other major reconstruction work was carried out in the Area during the year, a considerable amount of mechanisation was undertaken, particularly in connection with the installation of continuous-mining machines for the more rapid drivage of new roadways in coal to develop new reserves. At Blairhall, Comrie and Lumphinnans No. 11 these machines have made a very valuable contribution in extending the face room available for production, upon which, of course, the continuity of mining employment must depend.
During the past year, the Area recruited all the juveniles fit for employment underground who presented themselves and in the later months of the year ex-miners and new entrants ("green" labour) as well. There should be a continuous demand for men and boys for the mines in Fife during 1961.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 August, 1961
47 Years' Service At Colliery

Mr John Lessells who has retired after 47 years' service as joiner at Valleyfield Colliery, was presented with gifts by his fellow-workers at a social gathering last Friday. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
16 September, 1961
N.C.B. Area Manager Warns Pit Men
Of Possible Consequences

Falling output at Valleyfield may considerably shorten the working life of the colliery. So serious is the position that a blunt talk given by the Area general manager to the Consultative Committee in the Miners' Welfare Institute has been issued as a typewritten statement to every employee at the colliery. Its purpose is to bring home to every miner the gravity of the problems and to make plain what will require to be done to solve it. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
27 January, 1962
Output Of Pits

The West Fife pits of the Alloa Area of the N.C.B. made their contribution to the increase of around 1800 tons for the week ending 20th January over the previous week.
Last week's production figure for the area was 58,169 tons, giving an output per manshift of 30.7 cwts. The four West Fife pits made the following contributions:- Blairhall, 7652 tons; Comrie, 8861 tons; Torry, 1008 tons; and Valleyfield, 3939 tons. Their output per manshift was as follows:- Blairhall, 33.4 cwts; Comrie, 32.9 cwts; Torry, 22.3 cwts; and Valleyfield, 16.5 cwts.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 February, 1962
Output Of Coal Has Increased

A report for 1961 on the Alloa Area of the National Coal Board, points out that, taking into account the merger of the Valleyfield Group into the Alloa Area, coal output during 1961 totalled 2.35 million tons, an increase of 120,000 tons compared with 1960. Productivity at 24.2 cwts per manshift showed a marked increase compared with the 1960 average of 22.2 cwts; largely due to a further increase in power loading.
On 1st January 1961, as part of the reorganisation of Areas in the Scottish Division by which the number of Areas was reduced from eight to seven, the Valleyfield Group of pits consisting of Blairhall, Comrie, Valleyfield and Torry Mine was transferred from the former West Fife Area to Alloa Area, bringing the number of operating collieries in the Alloa Area up to 15. Subsequently, the closure of Brucefield Colliery in April and Harviestoun Mine in August reduced the number of operating collieries to 13.
During the second half of 1961, the report continues, the additional power-loading facilities that had been made available were reflected by steadily improving productivity figures, and towards the end of the year the average weekly productivity figure for the Alloa Area was 31.9 cwts per manshift worked overall. This encouraging trend was in part attributable to the record high rates of productivity achieved at Dollar and Bogside Mines, where outputs of as much as 90 cwts per manshift worked overall were secured. The Area's end year output per manshift of 31.9 cwts is the highest in the Scottish Division and above the national average for Britain.
Average daily output rose from 9000 tons per day in the early months of the year to nearly 12,000 tons per day in December. Of this total 5000 tons per day was produced from the Hirst Seam for supply to the Kincardine Electricity Generating Station.
Two collieries were closed during the year, Brucefield Colliery in April and Harviestoun at the end of August. The manpower released from these closures was redeployed mainly at Bogside, Dollar and Manor Powis.


During the year the Area accepted 408 new entrants, including 238 juveniles, and in addition 1080 men previously employed in the industry were re-engaged.
Notwithstanding this intake, overall manpower decreased by 586. The Board's scheme for training indentured craft apprentices continued to function during 1961, the number of entrants being 44, an increase of 12 over 1960. With the intensification of mechanisation there is an increasing need for skilled craftsmen and more boys are being trained with this object in view.
Training of boys other than craft apprentices for underground work continues at the Board's Juvenile Residential Training Centre at Sauchie and at the Training Centre at Muircockhall, near Dunfermline. At Sauchie 114 boys were trained during the year and 48 boys were trained at Muircockhall.
The drive for concentration on production of coal by power-loading methods continued. During the year 60 per cent of the total output was produced by these methods, representing a substantial improvement over the previous year. Blairhall, Bogside, Dollar, Bannockburn, Polmaise 3/4, and Plean Colliery are now all fully mechanised. Treble shift working has been introduced in Dollar Mine and, as a result, output reached as high as 1700 tons per day from a single face in December. This method of working will be extended to other suitable pits during this year. A further development in methods of working has been the introduction of self-advancing hydraulically-operated roof supports at Blairhall, Bogside, Bannockburn, and Manor Powis Collieries.
Major projects during the year included:- Blairhall - The Lochgelly Splint Seam is now fully mechanised and by the end of the year the colliery's overall productivity had reached 30 cwts.
Comrie - Mechanisation is gradually being extended and by December two mechanised faces were in production, both showing considerable promise for the future.
Valleyfield - After a good start in the early months of 1961 the colliery suffered a set-back as a result of a marked deterioration in the geological conditions. A new face in the Kelty Main Seam is scheduled to commence production this month, and present conditions in this seam give grounds for reasonable expectations.
Bogside - Powered supports were introduced in January 1961, but at the same time difficult geological conditions were encountered. These conditions improved in June with a resulting improvement in productivity which was maintained until the end of the year. During that period output per manshift frequently exceeded 80 cwts.
Dollar - Dollar Mine came into normal revenue production at the beginning of the year and after encountering initial geological difficulties, conditions improved with a corresponding steady rise in output which reached 850 tons per day during the month of September. In October, three shift working was introduced and by December, average daily output had been raised to 1570 tons. On occasions over 1700 tons has been produced in the cycle of 24 hours.
Polmaise 3/4 - The reorganisation was completed and the changeover made in July. Since then the output has been concentrated in the Hirst Seam and increased steadily to 800 tons per day in September and by the end of the year it was averaging nearly 1000 tons per day.
Kinneil - Geological difficulties continue to restrict production. A completely new district is now being developed and an improvement is expected in overall results during 1962.
Glenochil - Continuing heavy losses have been incurred with little prospect of improvement and this comparatively new colliery is scheduled to close at the end of May this year.
Manor Powis - Drivage of the Cambus Mine was commenced in September 1961 to improve facilities for working the high quality, anthracitic Bannockburn Main Seam. This mine will be 1700 yards long when completed by the end of 1962.
A report from the Area gives output to 27th January this year as 60.315 tons with an overall output per manshift of 31 cwts. Of this total, the Valleyfield Group's production was 22,298 tons.


At Bowhill Colliery the surface and underground reconstruction is now complete and all machinery and equipment operating satisfactorily, states the progress report for 1961 on the Fife Area of the N.C.B. In July an "Eickhoff" plate conveyor, 190 yards long, was installed in the Diamond Seam to bring coal up a gradient of 1 in 2.3.
Further mechanisation is being introduced into the colliery, and approximately 50 per cent of the output now comes from power-loading units.
The report recalls that, for reasons of efficiency and economy, the Board decided to amalgamate the former East Fife Area with the major proportion of the former West Fife Area to form a new "Fife Area."
This amalgamation took place on 1st January 1961, and throughout the past year work in amalgamating posts, departments and branches has gone ahead steadily. Substantial progress has been made.
Production for the year from 18 collieries, amounted to 3,877,000 tons as against 4,055,000 tons in 1960 - a drop of 178,000 tons. Productivity, on the other hand, rose from 21.9 cwts per manshift in 1959 to 22.5 cwts per manshift in 1961.
At Fordell Colliery last year, a mine 200 yards long was driven to the surface to improve ventilation of the Glassee district.
Fresh progress was also made with the installation of power-loading machinery in the pits in the Fife Area last year. The percentage of power-loaded tonnage increased from 47 per cent in 1960 to 56 per cent at the end of last year.
Throughout last year recruitment was maintained at a level sufficient to meet vacancies at the collieries. Where juveniles, fit for employment underground, presented themselves, all were engaged.
Vacancies arising towards the end of the year were held open at a number of pits to provide places for the men becoming redundant at Blairenbathie Mine, which was scheduled for closure by exhaustion at the end of the year.


"Dunfermline Press"
17 February, 1962
Ambulance Team's Success

Valleyfield Colliery No. 1 ambulance team won the Alloa Area Senior Ambulance Trophy at a competition held on Saturday at Abercrombie School, Tullibody. This is the first time the Colliery has won a senior trophy for ambulance work. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
24 March, 1962
Coal Output

Unofficial stoppages in three of West Fife's four pits in the Alloa Area of the N.C.B. lost an estimated total of 7810 tons during the week ended 17th March. Three Clackmannanshire pits were also involved in unofficial stoppages, so that the estimated loss of coal for the last week was 15,720 tons. The amount of coal produced by the 13 pits in the area totalled 44,770 tons, giving an output per manshift of 28 cwts.
The production and output per manshift for the West Fife pits were as follows:- Blairhall, 4152 tons and 24.9 cwts; Comrie, 6277 tons and 29.6 cwts; Torry, 961 tons and 25.2 cwts; Valleyfield, 2873 tons and 16 cwts.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 November, 1962

Mr Daniel McKeeman has retired from employment at Valleyfield Colliery. Mr McKeeman, a former Councillor, has been a prominent trade unionist at Valleyfield for many years and was chairman of the local branch of the N.U.M. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
9 February, 1963
Sudden Death

George Smart (53), roadsman, 18 Blair Drive, Dunfermline, collapsed and died on Saturday forenoon while on the locomotive road of Valleyfield Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 April, 1963
Tunnel Under The Forth
Will Carry Coal Express

A tunnel under the Forth, through which electrically powered locomotives draw trainloads of coal mined in Valleyfield Colliery to the pit bottom of Kinneil Colliery at Bo'ness on the other side of the river, is no science fiction dream of some miner turned author. It is the carefully worked-out plan of mining engineers and is actually now in the first stage of execution. Once this bold plan is completed the Valleyfield miners will continue to go underground on the north bank of the river but the coal they win will be processed on the south bank. A mine is to be driven from the Kinneil workings for 1000 yards to a central loading point. Simultaneously, a road approximately 900 yards in length will be driven from the Valleyfield workings to the loading point. Then conveyor belts will take the coal mined in the Valleyfield seams to the loading point for transference to electrically-powered coal trains for the journey under the river to the Kinneil shaft.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 August, 1963
Killed In Pit Accident

A Dunfermline miner, George Johnston (60), pipe-layer, 41 Aberdour Road, died in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Thursday evening after an accident at Valleyfield Colliery. While he was working on the backshift, Johnston was crushed by a piece of coal, weighing approximately one ton, which fell away from the coal face. He sustained serious injuries and died shortly after being admitted to hospital.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 November, 1963
Inquiry Into Colliery Fatality

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Wednesday into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named George Anderson Johnston (60), 41 Aberdour Road, Dunfermline, who died on 1st August in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from multiple injuries sustained by him at Valleyfield Colliery on the same day when he was struck by coal falling from a coal face in the underground workings. Johnston had worked at Valleyfield since 1947.
Those giving evidence included: John Paterson (36), 47 Burns Street, High Valleyfield, and Andrew Wood (48), oversman, 38 Woodmill Crescent, Dunfermline.
After hearing evidence, the jury retired for ten minutes and returned a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 January, 1964
Injuries Prove Fatal

James Guthrie (44), underground bricklayer, 1 Johnston Crescent, Dunfermline, who was struck by a diesel locomotive in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery last Monday, died in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital on Saturday morning.


"Dunfermline Press"
2 May, 1964

A sandstone barrier, two feet thick, was ripped apart in a few minutes by pneumatic drill, and at 10.33 on Thursday morning, Valleyfield Colliery was linked with Kinneil Colliery at Bo'ness by a four-mile tunnel 1800 feet below the waters of the Firth of Forth. This unique achievement - the linking of two collieries by a tunnel under a wide seaway - was conceived by Mr William Rowell, Alloa Area General Manager of the National Coal Board just two years ago. Work on this project has been in progress for less than 18 months. To link the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery, on the north side of the Firth, with those of Kinneil Colliery on the south side, a tunnel one and a quarter miles in length had to be driven 1800 feet below the sea-bed at a cost of £40 a foot. But this costly tunnel gives the Coal Board access to one of the vastest mineral reserves in Scotland - 200 million tons of good quality coal. It also adds half a century, or perhaps even a century, to the working life of both collieries.
The connecting tunnel giving access to the treasure chest beneath the sea is level, and continues level to the pit bottom at Kinneil. But the Valleyfield shaft goes down only 1200 feet, as against the 1800 feet of the Kinneil shaft. The rise from the connecting tunnel to the main transport roadway at Valleyfield is a long steep slope, set at a gradient of 1 in 2½. Up this slope the coal and transport rakes are drawn by haulage rope.
From their respective workings miners at Valleyfield and Kinneil tunnelled towards each other. From Valleyfield a roadway advanced 3800 feet through the coal - the Lochgelly Splint Seam - to connect with a 15 feet wide by 11 feet high locomotive mine driven from Kinneil through 2800 feet of rock. The mine from Kinneil had to cross a 600 feet fault in the strata where water, mud and shattered rock were encountered. At this stage the tunnel had to be carried forward by piling in advance of the drivage yet such was the determination and skill of the Kinneil squads that the delay did not exceed a month.
Teams of four, working in three shifts, drove the road from Valleyfield Colliery through the coal at the rate of 60 feet a week. Three squads, each of five men, carried out the mine driving from the Kinneil workings. As directed, the Valleyfield squads, halted three weeks ago, leaving the Kinneil squads to drive through a 160 feet wide barrier of sandstone to the link point.
By Thursday morning the stone barrier had been reduced to a wall roughly two feet in thickness. Press reps from all parts of the country gathered with Coal Board officials on the Kinneil side of the wall to witness the historic "break-through." By happy chance the squad who started the driving of the mine were there at its completion. To their leader, Martin ("Tiger") Shaw, aged 27, of Bannockburn, fell the honour of breaking down the wall.
In the brilliant glare of dozens of lights on the helmets of every member of the assembled company, and to the whirr of a television camera, "Tiger" thrust his pneumatic drill at the wall of rock. This was at 10.25 am precisely. With a series of skilful jabs with the drill he cracked and shattered the wall, and then began tearing away at the pieces of stone with a pick.
Those watching caught glimpses of helmet lights of the Valleyfield men on the other side of the barrier. Within a minute or two a large hole was torn in the wall and "Tiger" leaned forward and shook hands with his opposite number from Valleyfield, Andrew Drysdale, aged 34, of 51 Pentland Terrace, Valleyfield. The time of the historic link up was 10.33 am.

"Tiger" Shaw (27), of Kinneil (left), and 34-year-old Andrew Drysdale, of Valleyfield, meet after making the break-through.

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Then Mr Norman Wallace, manager of Valleyfield Colliery, and Mr David Archibald, manager of Kinneil Colliery, shook hands across the pile of rubble of which the barrier was now composed. In a moment the reporters and officials were crawling over the rubble to shake hands with the Valleyfield men, and to acclaim the achievement of the two sets of tunnellers.

Manager David Archibald of Kinneil (left) and Manager Norman Wallace of Valleyfield shake hands as break-through is made.

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The company then set off on the march, in a humid 75 degrees of temperature, to the distant rope haulage. Thankful they were that "toast rack" cars were waiting to take them up the haulage slope. At the top of the slope the party transferred to enclosed cars which carry the Valleyfield men along wide main roads to and from their work places. These cars are drawn by electric locomotive, and travel at a speed of 10 miles an hour. The four-mile journey from pit bottom to pit bottom had taken an hour and a quarter, including the halt of some 15 minutes at the "break-through."
Within a month from now coal will begin to flow through the tunnel from the Valleyfield workings to the Kinneil shaft. Valleyfield coal will be going up the Kinneil shaft in larger quantities by August, and by the last quarter of the year the combined output from both collieries will be ascending the Kinneil shaft at a rate of about 2500 tons to 3000 tons a day. This is the output for which a £6 million reconstruction scheme was carried through at Kinneil Colliery in 1951. In the course of initial underground development at Kinneil, geological conditions proved to be much worse than expected, severe faulting and igneous intrusions being dominant features. To date it has not been possible to produce from Kinneil more than 50 per cent of the 3000 tons of coal a day which could be wound in the shafts and prepared on the surface.
As the dip haulages at Valleyfield were approaching the limit of their efficiency and as geological conditions at Kinneil showed few signs of improvement, it was decided that there would be a considerable advantage in linking the two collieries. Through the 1¼ - mile long linking tunnel, which has now been driven to connect the collieries, the output from the deep seams at Valleyfield Colliery will be transported by conveyor belt to a loading station on the locomotive road at Kinneil. The tunnel, of course, also gives access to the tremendous reserves lying below the centre of the river.
The link-up on Thursday morning took place almost directly below the middle line of the river. The Forth is more than 120 feet deep in mid-stream.
The new tunnel not only gives access to vast reserves, it gives the management of both collieries flexibility. From the ten seams of coal lying under the sea, and which vary in thickness from 30 inches to 6 feet, coking, household, or power station coal can be drawn as the market requires. Coal will continue to be sent up the Valleyfield shaft, but, with the diversion of the main output to Kinneil preparation plant, the existing Valleyfield shafts will be freed for the possible production of coal from shallow seams for the new power station at Longannet.


Mr David Johnston

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A Lochgelly man, Mr David Johnston took over in 1958 as group manager of the Valleyfield Group, which comprises Valleyfield, Comrie, and Blairhall Collieries and Torry Mine. Starting his career with the Lochgelly Iron and Coal Company, he worked in most of that company's pits and studied mining technology at Cowdenbeath Mining College. He has held managerial posts for the past 20 years, coming into the western sector of the county in 1949 as manager of Blairhall Colliery. Five years later he took over the direction of Comrie Colliery.



"You are the first men to have walked underneath the Forth. People have sailed across the Forth, gone by rail across the Forth, flown over the Forth, and recently even walked above the Forth, but nobody except you has ever walked under the Forth."
So Mr R. W. Parker, Chairman of the Scottish Division of the N.C.B., told the assembled company at lunch in the Viewforth Hotel, Bo'ness, after the "break through" ceremony.
This was not a long awaited thing. This was not something that had been in the mind and on the drawing board for years and years. It was not more than two years ago that the conception came to Mr Rowell of the advantages which would follow the linking up of Valleyfield and Kinneil. "Two years isn't a long time to carry out a project like this, or to plan it," said Mr Parker, "and it was made possible only through co-operation, drive, and help from everybody. And first the management and the men of the two collieries because all the planning in the world does not get you far unless you have fellows on the job who can carry it through."
"Here is a job, a conception on the grand scale. There is nothing small about this, and in less than two years you carried it through."


Mr William Rowell

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Mr William Rowell, Area General Manager of the Alloa Area, is the former head of the old West Fife Area. He has had considerable experience of divisional and national administration.
A native of Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, he was educated at Allan Glen's School, Glasgow, the Royal College of Science and Technology, Glasgow, and Glasgow University. He is a Bachelor of Science, a member of the Institute of Mining Engineering and a qualified mine manager and mine surveyor.
Mr Rowell served as an apprentice for five years with a Glasgow firm of Civil and Mining Engineering Consultants. He gained his early mining experience in pits in Ayrshire and in Germany, and after serving as a colliery manager, he became manager of the Bathgate and Forth Sub-Area of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board.
Subsequently appointed Scottish Divisional Planning Engineer, he became in turn Deputy Director (Reconstruction) of the Scottish Division, Deputy Director-General (Reconstruction) at National Headquarters and Area General Manager of the West Fife Area. In January 1961 with the concentration of the two Fife Areas and the transfer to Alloa Area of pits in West Fife, Mr Rowell became Area General Manager of the extended Alloa Area.
Married with two daughters, Mr Rowell's hobby is gardening, and his sports are golf and ski-ing.


Mr Norman Wallace

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A student of industrial relations as well as of mining technique, Mr Norman Wallace, on becoming manager of Valleyfield four years ago, set himself the twin task of overcoming difficult strata and a record of industrial strife among the men. He has succeeded in both tasks. For the first time for a long while the colliery made money last year and was free of industrial disputes.
Years ago it was the rule that the mine manager was chairman of the local Social Welfare Committee. Under the new licensing laws, where a committee is responsible for the running of licensed premises, the chairman has to be elected at the annual general meeting "from the body of the hall."
Mr Wallace was so elected to the committee of the Valleyfield Miners' Welfare Hall, a testimonial to his popularity. And the welfare organisation of which he is head is a big business, with a turnover of around £30,000 a year.
A native of Hamilton, Mr Wallace came from the Lanarkshire Coalfield to Fife in 1948, and worked in Wellesley Colliery until 1954. Appointed under-manager at the Nellie, he was after two and a half years there made manager of Torry Mine. In August 1960, he "crossed the road" to the managerial chair at Valleyfield Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 September, 1964
Coal Board Appointment

Mr David M. Archibald, elder son of Mr & Mrs John Archibald, 91 Halbeath Road, Dunfermline, who has been agent-manager of Kinneil Colliery, Bo'ness, for the past six years, takes charge next month of a revolutionary Coal Board project for the supply of coal to the £100 million Longannet Power Station.


"Dunfermline Press"
21 November, 1964
Miner Killed

A Dunfermline man was killed late on Saturday evening after an accident at the Valleyfield Colliery. He was John Cummings, a 48-year-old miner, 60 Craigmyle Street, and he died after runaway mine tubs had collided with a diesel engine he had been driving.
The accident occurred at approximately 10 pm during the night shift at Valleyfield. Mr Cummings was driving the diesel engine underground when about 19 runaway tubs crashed into his vehicle.
Another miner, who saw the tubs racing past, went to his assistance but Mr Cummings was killed instantaneously.
He was a married man with no family.


"Dunfermline Press"
2 January, 1965
Pit Link-Up Managerial Team

As from the beginning of the year the managerial structure at Valleyfield Colliery is changed, and Valleyfield becomes one operating unit with Kinneil Colliery, Bo'ness, with which it is linked by a four-mile tunnel under the Forth.
Agent-manager of the new operating unit is Mr J. Smellie, who, up to the New Year, was manager at Comrie Colliery. Mr Andrew Bell, under-manager at Valleyfield, is now depute manager at Valleyfield, and Mr Robert Sinclair, under-manager at Kinneil, is made depute manager at Kinneil.
Mr David Archibald, the Kinneil manager, takes over duty as resident engineer in charge of the new Longannet Mines' project.
Mr Norman Wallace goes from Valleyfield to take charge of Comrie Colliery, and Mr George Wilson, from Torry Mine, takes over the managership of Blairhall Colliery, the post recently vacated by Mr Raymond Tucker, who is now employed on special duties in the Production Department at Divisional headquarters in Edinburgh.
Mr John Quinn, oversman of Torry Mine, becomes acting manager temporarily at Torry Mine.
Alterations also take place above Colliery level, and Mr David Johnston, who has been Group Manager of the Blairhall, Valleyfield, Torry and Kinneil pits, assumes responsibility for the Comrie and Blairhall Collieries and the Torry Mine.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 March, 1965

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Monday, into the death of John Hart Cummings, 60 Craigmyle Street, Dunfermline. The jury returned a formal verdict that Cummings died on 14th November, 1964, in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery, from multiple injuries to the head and thorax, including a fracture at the base of the skull, sustained by him, when, in the course of his industrial occupation as a miner, a number of loaded mine cars ran away from the loading point and collided with two empty mine cars which were being pushed from the pit bottom by a diesel locomotive driven by him. Those giving evidence included:- Francis McGeever (46), diesel locomotive driver, 35 Sligo Street, Oakley; George B. Walker (42), colliery depute, 16 Carlyle Street, High Valleyfield; John W. Lindsay, chief engineer, 1 Rintoul Avenue, Blairhall; James C. Arnott (38), diesel locomotive driver, 61 Bernard Shaw Street, Dunfermline; and James Reddie (50), pipe fitter, 2 Burns Street, High Valleyfield.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 March, 1965
Record Outputs At Collieries

Last week the Alloa Area of the Scottish Division of the N.C.B. produced a total output of 71,475 tons of coal at an overall output-per-man-shift of 44.6 cwts. These are both new records for Alloa Area. Alloa's previous best weekly output was 68,024 tons, obtained in February 1964.
The O.M.S. overall - the yardstick of productivity - at 44.6 cwts was the highest ever recorded by any Area in Scottish Division, and is 2.5 cwts better than Alloa's previous best (42.1 cwts in the week ended 5th March 1965).
Bogside Mine, also in the Alloa Area, again established a fresh new record output last week of 13,136 tons of coal, the previous best weekly output from Bogside Mine being 12,554 tons for the week ended 5th March 1965.
Last week's output was achieved at an overall o.m.s. of 108 cwts in the week ended 5th March 1965 by no less than 4.3 cwts. This is a new record o.m.s. overall for any Scottish pit or mine. It is also a new British record.
The new integrated mining unit, Valleyfield-Kinneil at Bo'ness (in the Alloa Area) has again surpassed all previous performances at this colliery by producing last week 15,010 tons of coal at the substantially improved o.m.s. (overall) of 35.3 cwts. These are the best figures so far attained by this unit. The output and o.m.s. both exceeded all previous by Valleyfield-Kinneil.


"Dunfermline Press"
24 April, 1965
Torry Mine To Close

The first pit to use closed-circuit television in Scotland is to close down. Torry Mine will cease production on 7th May, but there will be no redundancies.
Most of the 158 men at present employed at Torry will be transferred to the adjoining Valleyfield Colliery. The remainder will find employment in other pits in the neighbourhood, most probably at Comrie.
For some time after 7th May a number of the men will remain on at Torry to carry out necessary salvage work. When that task is completed, they too, will be redeployed to other pits. Torry was due to close on 22nd March, but it was decided that production would continue so long as the pit could pay its way. A fortnight ago the men received the legal 28 days' notice of the closure.
A year ago there were 188 men on the books of the mine, which then had a daily output of 300 tons-plus of large, saleable coal. Since then, a number of men have been transferred to Valleyfield and to Longannet Mine.
Although it draws its personnel from a wide area - from Kelty, Lochgelly, Crossgates, Cowdenbeath and Ballingry - harmony has always reigned there, the mine being strike-free and with the reputation of being a happy place of work.
Torry Mine opened a little over a decade ago, being one of a series of small mines sunk in the area to meet the then tremendous demand for coal. It is the last in West Fife of these small conventionally-worked drift mines. It is run independently of the adjoining Valleyfield Colliery, but its output goes by tunnel, which passes under the main road, to the Valleyfield plant for treatment.
Torry Mine slopes a distance of a mile to a depth of about 200 fathoms. There the 6-feet thick Blairhall Main seam is worked, the coal being Grade 4 household.
Mining experts claim that Torry Mine has one of the finest set-ups for a drift mine to be found anywhere. Coal is machine-cut and hand-loaded, and is brought up the mine in two-ton mine cars with double-drum haulage of 800 yards distance in rakes of five. Diesel locomotives pull the cars through a tunnel to Valleyfield Pithead where they are tipped into either of two bunkers - one for redd (debris), the other for coal.
Torry Mine was linked with Valleyfield by driving a half-mile long, level tunnel through a hill, bridging a burn, and underpassing a highway.
Its pioneer television installation released two or three men at the pit from the boring job of watching a vibro-feeder. An "eye" must be kept on the vibro-feeder to see that it does not become blocked, as it transfers from a chute to a conveyor belt, so the process is monitored by a television camera, set above and a little to one side of the feeder.
Camera, floodlights, etc., cost £700, but it paid for itself within nine months of installation.


"Dunfermline Press"
10 July, 1965
Craftsmen's Strike At Collieries

A strike of nearly 400 craftsmen has put over 2500 miners out of work at collieries within the Alloa Group of the National Coal Board this week. The stoppage, which is unofficial, has stopped production in four pits - Bogside, Comrie, Valleyfield and Kinneil, although the output in the others within the Group is not so far affected.


"Dunfermline Press"
20 November, 1965

A 31-year-old Dunfermline miner was crushed to death in a haulage accident in Valleyfield Colliery on Monday afternoon when the derailed mine car he was attempting to right overbalanced and pushed him against the side of the dook.
He was George Forman, 62 Don Road, Dunfermline, who was employed as a developer at the Colliery. The accident occurred at 4.30 pm during the back shift at the pit and Forman is believed to have been killed instantly. He was attempting to raise back on to the road a mine-car which had become derailed in the Kelty Main District dual dook when the car toppled over and crushed him against the bricked side of the dook. Forman was married and his wife is expecting their second child.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 January, 1966
Miner Who Died Was 'Very Unlucky'

Under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, an inquiry was held in the Sheriff Court, Dunfermline, on Wednesday into the circumstances attending the death of a miner named George Forman, 62 Don Road, Dunfermline, who died on the 15th November 1965 in the underground workings of Valleyfield Colliery from asphyxia and multiple chest injuries in the course of his industrial occupation as a coal miner in the employment of the National Coal Board.
Those giving evidence included: George Ross Hutchison, colliery pumper, 20 Erskine Brae, Culross; Robert McArthur, colliery oversman, 43 Woodhead Street, High Valleyfield; Andrew Barnes, colliery developer, 38 East Park Street, Cowdenbeath; and Pc Thomas Wilson, Newmills.
The jury returned a formal verdict.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 February, 1967
Fire Danger Halts Work at Colliery

All production at the 'link' collieries of Valleyfield and Kinneil stopped after the normal day shift on Thursday and 2,000 miners were sent home and told not to report back to the mines until Monday as a "precautionary measure" against over-heating in an old section of Valleyfield mine which had not been worked for ten years. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
25 February, 1967
Ambulance Competition Winners

Last week the ambulance team from Valleyfield Colliery won the National Coal Board's (Alloa Area) senior ambulance competition held at Tullibody. This is the second time in five years that a Valleyfield team has been successful in this competition, and they now go on to the Divisional finals in Glasgow next Saturday.
The Valleyfield team is:- William Dingwall (captain), 17 James Hog Crescent, Oakley, the colliery's dust suppression officer; Charles Blamey, 12 Gordon Street, Lochgelly, medical room attendant; John Dingwall, 84 Erskine Wynd, Oakley, underground deputy; and Edward Martin, 5 Carlyle Street, High Valleyfield, head lampman. The reserve was Harry Lessells, 97 Dunimarle Street, High Valleyfield, surface worker.
Mr Martin also won the individual award in the practical and oral sections. In 1962, when Valleyfield went to the Divisional finals, they were disqualified because their team captain was injured and they did not have enough men to make up the team.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 August, 1967
New Reserves Of House Coal At Comrie

... Within the "near future" coal will no longer be treated and dispatched from Valleyfield Colliery, the output of the Forth-side colliery being sent, via underground tunnel to be washed and screened at the linked colliery at Kinneil. "In effect, it is an economy measure," a Coal Board official explained.
"The plant at Valleyfield is incapable of dealing with the coal properly, while at Kinneil there is good, modern plant which is able to deal with vast quantities in a most modern manner. Any economies such as this which can be practised enhance the future of the pit. It is not expected that there will be any redundancy problems at Valleyfield, if the coal is taken out at Kinneil. There are jobs underground and at other places to which men can go if they are displaced."
A management unit will be retained at Valleyfield and the men will continue to use the pithead at the colliery. ...


"Dunfermline Press"
2 September, 1967
Coal Board Chief at Valleyfield

Mr R. W. Parker, Chairman of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board, paid a forenoon visit to Valleyfield Colliery on Thursday. An N.C.B. spokesman yesterday described his visit as "purely routine."
The Coal Board chief also visited Kinneil Colliery, which is linked with Valleyfield by an underground tunnel beneath the Forth.
In the near future all of Valleyfield's coal output will be washed and screened at Kinneil, the cages at Valleyfield being used only for men and materials.
In August, Mr Parker paid a visit to Solsgirth, one of the new mines to feed the multi-million pound power station at Longannet.


"Dunfermline Press"
15 June, 1968
Collieries Link Is Completed

The final phase in the four-year operation to link Valleyfield Colliery with Kinneil Colliery on the southern bank of the Forth has now been completed. The two pits were first linked in 1964, when a roadway from Valleyfield was advanced half-a-mile through the Lochgelly Splint seam to connect with a roadway driving through the three-quarters-of-a-mile of rock from Kinneil.
A mile of conveyor belting under the River Forth has helped to open up new coal reserves to last 30 years. The final link-up coincides with the start of production in the new Milton Main No. 3 section at Valleyfield, where an estimated 750 tons per day is expected from the face.
Valleyfield's 860 underground workers will continue to use the pit shaft there, although the coal will be brought to the surface at Kinneil and handled by a new coal preparation plant. This plant will handle the full production of 2,700 tons a day.


"Dunfermline Press"
26 October, 1968
Pit Deputy Honoured

The third annual presentation dinner and dance of Valleyfield Colliery Officials' Retiral Fund was held in the Miners' Institute on Saturday. Mr Robert Mitchell presided over a large company of members and their friends. Guests of honour were Mr and Mrs James Hepburn, Woodhead Street.
Mr Hepburn has retired from Valleyfield Colliery after 46 years' service. For 25 years he was a deputy underground. Mr Hepburn had to retire due to an injury received in the pit. The presentation was made by the deputy manager, Mr Andrew Bell.
A programme of dancing followed the presentation, and Mr William Spowart and Mr William Akers were M.C.s.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 September, 1969

A few hours after this accident [Castlehill Mine - John Sneddon] two men were injured in an accident at Valleyfield Colliery. At about 10.30 am that day, Thomas Kidd (40), 5 Preston Crescent, High Valleyfield, and Daniel Breen (40), 7 Woodlands Terrace, Blairhall, were working underground when a haulage rope broke and two mine cars ran away.
The rope, in breaking, struck the two men who were both taken to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital.
Kidd was detained suffering from a dislocated shoulder and lacerations to his face and wrist and Breen was treated for lacerations to his leg and elbows and then allowed home.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 March, 1970
Colliery cashier retires

Mr John Martin, "Pen Bryn," Newmills, has retired as cashier, at Valleyfield Colliery, after 22 years' service.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 April, 1970

A presentation dinner took place in the Lea Park Hotel, Grangemouth, last Wednesday to mark the retiral of Mr James Smellie as agent manager, Kinneil/Valleyfield Collieries. He served four years at Comrie Colliery before being appointed agent manager, Kinneil/Valleyfield, in 1965. Mr Smellie will continue to reside at Bo'ness.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 December, 1970
Colliery safety quiz

The National Coal Board Safety quiz for workmen and officials was held in Valleyfield Miners' Welfare Club.
Question-master was Mr Lance Johnston, full-time workmen's inspector, National Union of Mineworkers. Mr Andrew Bell, acting agent manager, Valleyfield/Kinneil Colliery, was assessor.
Winning teams were:- Seniors - Eddie Lynch, Eddie Martin, John Richmond, Pat Callaghan and James Paton (reserve); runners-up - Bill Akers, John Fern, Pat Kane and Ian McLay.
The awards for mining apprentices went to John Paterson, John Fotheringham, William Stewart and Ken Kelly. Runners-up were John Whelan, Billy Shields and Tom Devlin.
Entertainment was provided by the Abbe Lane trio.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 August, 1971

The future of Valleyfield Colliery, one of the few remaining pits in West Fife, could well be determined in the coming weeks, with the opening up of new faces in a bid to boost production.
It is understood that the fate of the Colliery could hinge on the pit's labour force stepping up production to a target figure of 2000 tons per day.


"Dunfermline Press"
18 August, 1972
Major plan for modernisation of linked mines

A £750,000 scheme to modernise Valleyfield/Kinneil Colliery has been announced by the National Coal Board.
The project involves the construction of a new man-riding system which will save miners one hour's travelling time daily, and a new roadway with a conveyor system to move supplies to the face and coal to the pit bottom.
The two mines, which were linked beneath the Forth in 1965, employ 1700 men. The men at present have to travel 4800 yards to their work places, using the haulage systems and walking twice.
"Management and Unions in the industry are working together to do all they can to increase output and productivity," said Mr William Sheppard, NCB Deputy Chairman, with special responsibility for Scotland. "The Board will continue to see that the collieries are fully equipped to achieve the best possible results."
Scottish North Area Director, Mr William Rowell, said that this was a considerable investment.
"It will enable men to ride to the coalface quickly and comfortably; cut out arduous walking on steep inclines and get the machines cutting coal longer.
"The new supplies system will end bottlenecks which have hampered production.
"In these and other ways, the Collieries will be fully equipped to improve results. Its objective is to overcome the geological problems which are mainly caused by seam faulting."


Both projects are in the pit's Kelty Main district which possesses rich coking coal which is low in sulphur content.
The new shorter route will mean extending the existing man-riding roadway from Valleyfield shaft to the new driveway from the Jersey Dooks.
The man-riding cars hauled by a locomotive travelling at up to 20 mph will cover more than 3000 yards.
The remaining 1330 yards of steep gradient will be covered by special cars using wire rope haulage.
This will mean only a short walk at the end of the coalface and travelling time will be reduced by half-an-hour at each end of the shift.


Work on the scheme will start soon and it will take more than a year to complete. The new coal roadway will be equipped with a horizontal bunker for underground storage to keep coal flowing from the face when there are any hold-ups in the coal clearance system.
There are also two vertical bunkers to ensure the accurate blending of coking coal. A joint extended Colliery Consultative Committee meeting last week welcomed the new proposals.


"Dunfermline Press"
22 September, 1972
Gifts for retired Colliery official

Mr Hugh Beveridge, recently retired manager at Valleyfield Colliery, was the guest of officials and staff at a social and dance held in the Torrie Hotel last Friday.
Presentations were made to Mr and Mrs Beveridge by the Colliery General Manager, Mr A. Postlethwaite.


"Dunfermline Press"
22 September, 1972
Colliery at standstill

Production at the Valleyfield/Kinneil Colliery complex was halted this week by overheating in the No. 13 Kelty Main Section, resulting in a large number of miners being sent home.
On Wednesday, 300 men at the day shift were sent home and yesterday about 180 men.
A mobile laboratory has been set up in the Colliery to overcome the problem, although it is understood that the area where the fire occurred was due to close down in any case in a few weeks' time. A rescue team is standing by as a precautionary measure.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 September, 1972
Production resumes at pit

Work resumed at Valleyfield Colliery on Tuesday, following the closure caused by the outbreak of fire. The section, in which the fire occurred, has been sealed off.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 September, 1972
Crushed by runaway mine cars

A miner was killed by two runaway mine cars, after a signalling system at Valleyfield Colliery had failed to operate, a fatal accident inquiry was told at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Friday.
The inquiry was into the death of David Spowart Jackson (52), 56 Leighton Street, High Valleyfield.
The jury returned a formal verdict, after hearing that Mr Jackson sustained multiple injuries as he was crushed by the runaway mine cars on 6th July.
Mr David Bogie (50), 108 Craigside Road, Cardenden, said that he and two colleagues had been moving the two mine cars from No. 13 Tail Gate at the Colliery to No. 12 Main Gate. Mr Thomas Macauley was operating the haulage and he and another colleague were at the cars.
They were being moved to make way for other cars. In order to couple the rear chains, it was necessary to move the mine cars and, to do this, Mr Macauley went to operate the haulage.
At this point, he could not see the cars from where he operated the haulage. As everything was ready, Mr Macauley said that he would start to move the mine cars, without a signal.
"I signalled him to stop the mine cars, but nothing happened. The signal did not operate," he said. "Sometimes they are inclined to stick and both of us tried, but, eventually, the wire broke."
Mr Bogie said that the mine cars did not stop and went over a "nap" and down a steep gradient. They saw a light ahead and shouted a warning. Although there was not much noise where they were working, there was further down.
Cross-examined by Mr A. C. Macbeth, solicitor, Mr Bogie agreed that, if a Warwick block had been in place near the top of the steep gradient, the accident would have been prevented.
Mr Thomas Macauley (41), 114 Barclay Street, Cowdenbeath, said that it would have been impossible to manhandle the mine cars.


Everything was set when he left his two colleagues to go and operate the haulage and he told them that he would start the haulage without a signal, move the mine cars an estimated 20-25 feet, then stop them and await a further signal.
Witness said he moved the cars what he thought was about 20-25 feet then stopped them. He waited for some time, thinking that they were taking a long time with the chains when someone came and said there had been an accident.
Mr Martin Wallace (52), 46 Malcolm Street, Dunfermline, said that he had been working near where the accident happened.
He heard an unusual noise, one with which he was not familiar, and he was able to jump out the road, but Mr Jackson was struck by the mine cars.


Mr Peter Craig (57), Briar Cottage, Low Valleyfield, the Colliery's Safety Officer, said that the signal, an electric belling system, went the whole way round the roadway. It was found that a junction box was rusted up and this had made the signal ineffective at this particular point.
Asked if there was any system whereby this junction box was checked, he said that it was the electricians who did this.
He agreed, under cross-examination, that it was mandatory that a signal be given before haulage was started and that, if this procedure had been followed in this instance, the fault in the signalling system would have been discovered before the mine cars had been moved.


"Dunfermline Press"
29 June, 1973
Colliery Scheme is modified

The National Coal Board's ambitious man-riding system for Valleyfield Colliery has been suspended due to geological difficulties and a modified system has been adopted.
The new system will have a number of slight modifications from the original, which worked by means of man-riding cars on a conveyor system pulled by rope haulage.
Originally, it was expected that 57 minutes walking time would be saved, but the modified system will save only 30 minutes.
A spokesman for the National Coal Board told the Press that it was not yet known when the system would be put into operation.


"Dunfermline Press"
5 October, 1973
Retires from personnel post

Mr James McKeeman, assistant manager, personnel, at Valleyfield/Kinneil Colliery for the past three years, has retired. He resides at 3 Keir Hardie Terrace, Dunfermline.


"Dunfermline Press"
25 April, 1975

Over 900 Valleyfield miners are to fight to save their pithead from closure. For the National Coal Board want to close Valleyfield Colliery and transfer 600 face workers to Kinneil Colliery, on the south side of the River Forth. Up to 300 surface workers face redundancy. Both collieries are linked under the river and the Coal Board decision means face workers will have to travel three hours a day over Kincardine Bridge to work the same coal faces.


"Dunfermline Press"
2 May, 1975

Fife miners have this week stepped up their campaign to save Valleyfield Colliery from the National Coal Board axe which could mean redundancy for up to 300 men.

  • Today (Friday) Mr Graham Steele, the areas top NUM official, is to visit the Colliery to see the reserves of coal that lie there and consider the geological faults which the NCB claim make Valleyfield a financial loss.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 May, 1975

Valleyfield miners have won their battle to keep their Colliery open. But the National Coal Board is insisting on trimming the workforce at the Colliery by 250 men.
They are to do this by transferring 120 miners to other collieries in Fife and retiring 130 men over the age of 60.

  • Jubilant miners after a meeting yesterday (Thursday) between Coal Board officials and miners' leaders, in Valleyfield Miners' Institute, expressed their determination to carry on the fight. For they are not convinced that this is a long-term solution for the men. Said one miner: "The officials have stated that they will now review the situation in six months time. Our job is to impress on them that this end of the joint Valleyfield-Kinneil Mine has a viable future for some considerable time to come."


"Dunfermline Press"
23 May, 1975

High Valleyfield miners are this week wondering how they came so close to losing their pit, after they had been told there were enough coal reserves to keep it open for the next 50 to 100 years.
And, despite last week's victory, when the National Coal Board rescinded its decision to close Valleyfield and transport the miners to Kinneil, the men have kept their Action Committee alive.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 February, 1976
New question mark over future of colliery

Geological difficulties could place a new question mark over the future of Kinneil-Valleyfield Colliery - and the jobs of the 1200 men who mine coal from the combined colliery beneath the River Forth.
Faults in the Kinneil-worked Blairhall Main Section were the main focus of discussion at top-level talks last Thursday, when senior NCB officials and Union delegates were locked in conference over proposals to overcome the difficulties and sustain targets.


"Dunfermline Press"
13 February, 1976

Total redundancy - that stark threat to the 1200 jobs at Kinneil-Valleyfield Colliery has reactivated the Campaign Committee, which, in May, forestalled an NCB plan to wind up pithead operations at Valleyfield and work the coal faces - deep under the Forth - from the linked colliery of Kinneil in the Lothians. Geological difficulties in the Kinneil-worked Blairhall Main Section have placed a question mark over the future of the combined colliery, which was first linked beneath the river in 1964.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 July, 1977
Men laid off at Valleyfield

A dispute by nearly 70 tradesmen at Valleyfield Colliery, has caused lay-offs among several hundred miners every day this week.
The strikers, members of SCEBTA, the colliery tradesmen's union, are in dispute with the National Coal Board over the use of "flying squads."
They claim the squads, also SCEBTA members, who are employed to do special jobs in Fife collieries, are carrying out work at Valleyfield which can be done by the men already employed there.
The four-day strike has affected the routine safety checks at the Colliery and several shifts of underground miners had to be sent home daily.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 March, 1978
Shock shutdown

Valleyfield Colliery is to close - and its 620 men redeployed or retired early. This was agreed, in principle, yesterday (Thursday) by top National Coal Board officials and Union officials at a Joint Consultative Committee meeting in Bo'ness.
The NCB plan is to shut Valleyfield and invest £8 million in driving two mines from the linked colliery at Kinneil to tap a 20 million-ton bed of Hirst coal, lying under the River Forth, and to feed it straight into Longannet Power Station.
The NCB officials, headed by Mr James Cowan, Director of the Scottish Area, say the quality of the coking coal mined by both Kinneil and Valleyfield men had been deteriorating in quality and geological difficulties have plagued the operation for some time. Their new plan would assure the future of Kinneil Colliery and the jobs of Valleyfield miners - in other collieries.
A spokesman for the NCB said that the troubles of the British Steel Corporation - a big customer for coking coal - had not helped the plight of the two collieries.
He said that, under the new plan, which would come into operation within a few months, no coking coal would be mined at all and no coal would be brought up at Kinneil Colliery.


"Dunfermline Press"
10 March, 1978
Pit's place in history

Valleyfield Colliery was sited amongst the ancient heughs and pits of the Prestons and Lord Dundonald, in a bid to tap the northern boundary of the largest remaining reserves of coking coal in Scotland.
Work began on the new colliery in 1906 by sinking two shafts to what became known as the Dunfermline Splint, 1300 feet below the surface.
Even then, vast quantities of methane gas impeded progress, though, through the years, miners harnessed the gas.
Instead of allowing it to escape, they used it to fuel the pithead heating system and provide them with hot water.
They were probably among the first people to realise the full commercial value of coal gas - a commodity which has long been an embarrassment and a source of danger in mines.


In 1933, the old workings were shut down and new ones opened - the five-foot seam and the Dunfermline Splint towards Culross. Target was for 1200 tons of coal a day but, yet again, considerable difficulties were encountered.
Had it not been for the finding of the rich Diamond seam at the foot of Culross dook, the economic future of Valleyfield could have been held in question. However, the finding of the seam in 1938 improved the prospects of the Colliery.
Then intrusions were encountered - nature's way of telling the hard-working miners that she was not giving up her rich store of coal so easily.
Nevertheless, the mining engineers were determined to press on to reach and exploit the vast resources of coal that lay tantalisingly almost within reach under the River Forth.


By the mid-1950s came another massive reconstruction scheme at Valleyfield with the object of achieving a daily output of 3500 tons of saleable coal. All transport arrangements on the surface and underground were reorganised. Underground, the pit bottom was enlarged and so were the main haulage roadways.
It was under this new plan to revitalise the Colliery that the third shaft was sunk to exploit the 100 million tons of coking coal that were known to lie offshore under the River Forth.
This shaft was an advance in mining technology itself, for it had a headframe of pre-stressed concrete to resist the corrosive action of sea and air and it was sunk 2300 feet below river level.
So many difficulties were met in sinking this shaft that it took eight years to complete. By this time, the entire national economy was changing and mining was in the doldrums.


To make the shaft operational would need a further investment of £2 million. Funds were not available and the National Coal Board reluctantly put it under wraps. To this day, Shaft No. 3 has never been used.
Instead, in 1964, Valleyfield and Kinneil miners dug their way towards each other in a historic bid to link up under the River.
The roadway they dug became the route for all Valleyfield coal. It was hauled up at the Kinneil side for processing at the Bo'ness Colliery's modern pithead plant.
The multi-million pound tunnel - almost three miles long - gave for Collieries on both sides of the River an extended life.
This unique mining feat was immediately followed up by full mechanisation of the coal face, backed by power installations, which could ram in steel supports while coal-getting was in progress.
Genius seemed ever to the fore in Valleyfield; it had to be, for, despite all the ingenuity of man and all his powered equipment, easy access to the vast reservoirs of coal was not to be.
Continually, geological faults were encountered which time and time again baulked the miners from making record targets. Nevertheless, by the mid 1960s seven seams were being worked and they varied in thickness from three feet to 17 feet.
The quality of the coal at that time was regarded as highly saleable and the Gas Board and British Steel were among the pit's best customers.
Right through until the mid 1970s few people outside the coal industry realised that the pit, which had twice pioneered mining technology, was running into serious trouble.
This time, the geological faults, coupled with the lack of coal-processing facilities on its surface, brought top men from the Scottish Area in with a proposal to close down the Valleyfield pithead.
They proposed redeploying the men to Kinneil on the south bank and to other Fife pits. Valleyfield miners vigorously resisted the move and sought the aid of MPs, Union officials and others.
They were successful in getting the NCB plan shelved at that time, But time itself proved no friend and, Valleyfield-Kinneil losses were latterly to reach £4 million a year.
Even hardened campaigners knew that, though they could fight geological faults and cut coal on the incline, they could not overcome continuing financial losses.
To the delegates to last week's top level meeting in Bo'ness, it was a bitter pill they had to swallow. For the tunnel they helped dig under the River Forth had indeed given Kinneil Colliery extended life - more than Valleyfield had got from it.


Nevertheless, some delegates felt that, to raise the standard now, could result in both Valleyfield and Kinneil being closed with all jobs being lost.
They were also selling great quantities of methane gas to the Gas Board, thus cashing in on a hazard that that had bedevilled miners for a long time and which had cost the lives of 35 men in the underground disaster of 1939.
Valleyfield village itself sprang up around its Colliery at the turn of the century. For long it could be classed with any other mining community; tight knit, even bleak, with the minimum of shops, and life centring chiefly around its Miners' Institute. Its very appearance reflected the hard lives of the working men.


But, by the 1960s, the expansion of Valleyfield was noticeable. Not all the families living in the village could depend on the pit to provide their living. Indeed, many breadwinners were now travelling to Rosyth, Dunfermline and Edinburgh for work.
Today, with a population of just under 3000, the impact of the closure of Valleyfield Colliery is limited - for only 260 of the Colliery's miners live in the village.
Though most people say it is "a shame," they do not believe it will have a traumatic effect on the community. They point out that there are jobs for the pit's 620 miners at other collieries a "mere 10 minutes" away.


This means, they say, that take-home pay will not be affected and that it is not necessary for men to uproot their families and leave. Some old miners hint that closure is a good thing.
One put it: "The conditions underground at Valleyfield are nowhere as good as those in Bogside. It is all flat working, you see, whereas, in Valleyfield, you were working on steep gradients."
Shopkeepers, too, believe the closure will have no effect on business, since, under the conditions of redeployment, as outlined by the National Coal Board, it will be unlikely that miners will want to move to another area.


Thus, in the days following the announcement of the pit's closure, there were no groups of people in shop doorways or gathered round garden gates whispering of impending doom.
The streets of the village were busy with housewives and men going about their routine business, each apparently aware that the future was secure.
As one man put it: "Of course, there is a future for all of us. How long do you think it takes to howk out 20 million tons of coal? It is still there, and that is our future."


"Dunfermline Press"
17 March, 1978
Union's stance on pit closure

A mass meeting of miners at Valleyfield Colliery voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to accept an NCB scheme that will mean the closure of the 72-year-old pit by the summer.
In an £8 million scheme, the NCB propose to shut down the existing sections of the Valleyfield-Kinneil Unit - linked since 1964 by an underground tunnel beneath the Forth - and to develop, from Kinneil, two new mines to tap the Hirst seam and feed directly into the Longannet network.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 April, 1978
Colliery closure transfers agreed

Miners at the soon-to-be-closed Valleyfield Colliery are to be transferred to other pits in the area on a "last-in, first-out" basis.
At a meeting with NCB officials on Wednesday, agreement was reached on the system of transferrals.
The National Coal Board will begin interviewing the miners as soon as possible, in preparation for the moves. Men would be transferred to Comrie, Solsgirth, Castlehill and Bogside Collieries, in that order.
The transfers would begin in about a week and be completed after the annual holiday. A salvage team would, however, remain at Valleyfield, to remove valuable equipment and secure the pit.


"Dunfermline Press"
14 July, 1978
Winding up colliery

The systematic run-down of Valleyfield Colliery completed its penultimate stage this week when over 60 men were moved to other pits in the area.
Now, only a token force of 48 workers remain at the 72-year-old colliery. They will carry out salvaging and make the workings safe, before the pit is closed in early Spring.
In the manner of the phase-out to date, the men who form the token force will themselves either voluntarily retire or be redeployed.
Despite the frantic objections from some quarters when the National Coal Board announced the closure, four months ago, the controlled flow of miners from Valleyfield has gone virtually according to plan, and within the Board's intended timetable.
Of the 620 men who were employed at the Colliery, around half have been siphoned off to other collieries. Those at Bogside, Castlehill, Solsgirth and Comrie accepted most of the Valleyfield men, but jobs were made available in collieries elsewhere, to suit miners who lived outwith the area.
This left 227 men, who accepted redundancy terms before their age of retirement - men aged over 55, but who would otherwise have had to work out their working lives at Valleyfield.
The Chairman of the Colliery's branch of the National Union of Mineworkers, Mr Michael Ginnelly, said this week that he was satisfied that, after a volatile start, "men came to accept the inevitability of the closure. The early consternation was understandable, but is all in the past now," he said. "The phase-out has been conducted fairly, from the Coal Board's side, and rationally, on the part of the men."
As was planned, miners, redeployed this week, are going to their new workplaces only a few days before their summer holidays start, giving them time to settle in before the break.
The entire face of the West Fife coal industry gets a new look under the development of which the Valleyfield closure forms a part. The NCB are to invest £8 million in driving mines from Kinneil, on the south side of the Forth, and Bogside, on the north.
These will tap a 20-million ton bed of Hirst coal, under the Forth, which will be fed directly to Longannet Power Station.
Many of the redeployed men have gone to Castlehill, which itself is to reap the rewards of a £22 million investment. A new shaft will be driven there, providing not only job security for the existing workforce, but jobs for a further 200 men.


"Dunfermline Press"
6 April, 1979
Mine of memories

On the black Saturday 40 years ago, when an explosion killed 35 men at Valleyfield Colliery, it was down the pit as usual for Willie Aitken.
The horrific Valleyfield disaster, the worst mining accident in Fife's history, did not deter the 19-year-old from going back underground.
"I was in another shaft at Valleyfield until 6 o'clock on that Saturday," he recalled. But the disaster didn't stop me from going back down the pit. The chance of something like that happening was just something you had to live with."


It's something that William Aitken and his mate, William McFadden, have lived with since they were teenagers. And this week, as the two oversmen carried out salvage work at Valleyfield, in preparation for the pit closing down in a few weeks' time, they looked back on a total combined service of 85 years service at the colliery.
William Aitken, who is 59 and considering opting for voluntary early retirement later this year, has been at Valleyfield all his working life.


He first went down the pit at the tender age of 14. "There was no real choice. It was either the pit or the farms. I just followed my father down the mines," said Willie, who resides at 141 Woodmill Road, Dunfermline.
Now, as he prepares to be transferred to Solsgirth Colliery, he admits to being a "wee bit sad" to see Valleyfield shut down. The place is full of memories of a life's work, and of the strong friendships which inevitably grow among men who spend such a big part of their life together underground.


Despite the fact that coal-mining has played a vital role in Willie Aitken's family for generations, he laid down one rule with his two sons they would never go down the pit. "I just decided there were enough miners in our family."
Willie McFadden (56), who has worked at Valleyfield since 1940, did not have any choice either when it came to starting work.
In contrast, Willie McFadden's son, Ronald, has, in typical mining tradition, followed his father down the pit.
"It was a simple matter of economics. You went down the mines or you didn't work." He recalls that his first wage was four shillings (20p) a day and that's a good bit more than Willie Aitken made when he started out six years earlier.
"Conditions down the pit are first-class now, compared with what they were like then," said Willie McFadden, whose home is at 60 Blairwood Terrace, Oakley. Working in the coal mines nowadays is far removed from the conditions in which the two miners sewed their formative years.
For one thing, they agree, the work is not nearly as hard. "And today, the coalface is usually only about five minutes' walk from the shaft."
When they first went down the pit, they faced an hour's journey before they even started work.
And, once underground, if it was discovered there were no wagons available to transport coal back along the mine, the men had to go home without pay. But then came nationalisation and with it, job security and protection. Nationalisation of the coal industry was the best thing that ever happened to the miner," they agreed.


But did it compensate for the pressure of living with the knowledge that disaster could be just around the corner?
"It means absolutely nothing to us," said Willie McFadden. "It's something you live with, and, after going down the pit for so long, you don't even think about it."
"Everybody who visits a coal mine leaves with the words that they would never work down the pit because of the dangers," added Willie Aitken. "But it's something that doesn't cross our minds."
It's not that these men are extraordinarily brave, fearless, or even foolhardy. For, they freely admit they would never, for example, go out on a deep sea trawler. "And, even in the event of an accident, miners are the best men in the world to have helping you."


Both men accept that Valleyfield Colliery is being run down because of its economic non-viability. But they find it hard to take that there are still millions of tonnes of reserves at Valleyfield, while Britain is importing coal from Australia and Germany.
Now Willie Aitken will go to Solsgirth Colliery - all Valleyfield's workforce were given jobs in other mines - and, if he does not settle there, he will opt for voluntary redundancy in August.
Willie McFadden, who is off to Castlehill, seems to have decided already that he will retire early - in four years' time. It seems they will miss Valleyfield Colliery more than they care to admit.


"Dunfermline Press"
1 February, 1980
Progress report on the pit site

Plans to pump industrial life back into the disused Valleyfield Colliery site are reaching a vital stage, it was revealed last week.
After a meeting between representatives of Dunfermline District Council and the National Coal Board, earlier this month, an industrial development and environmental facelift scheme is proposed for the site.


"Dunfermline Press"
12 November, 1982

National Coal Board experts were this week examining the site of the former Valleyfield Colliery, after a fire alert on Monday.
The NCB specialists moved in after jets of flame were seen gushing from the infilled pit near Low Valleyfield. The cause of the blaze was methane gas, seeping to the surface from the former workings. And, according to an NCB spokesman, it had probably been set aflame deliberately.


"Dunfermline Press"
16 September, 1988
Colliery disaster memorial planned
Villagers launch fund-raising appeal

Click on Image to Zoom In

From left are: back row - Willie Callaghan and Tom Douglas;
front - Mrs Susan Reekie, secretary of the fund-raising committee,
the Rev. Alison Norman and Dunfermline West MP, Mr Dick Douglas.

Valleyfield Community Council have launched a special memorial fund to erect a fitting monument to mark the 50th anniversary of the Valleyfield Pit disaster.
Thirty five men lost their lives on 28th October 1939, in an explosion which deprived many West Fife families of husbands and fathers.
And to mark the disaster, members of the fund-raising committee hope to raise enough money between now and next June to install a large-scale working model of a Davy lamp on a piece of land, gifted by Dunfermline District Council, at the entrance to High Valleyfield.
The campaign coffers have been given an initial boost of £600 - residual funds from the now-closed Valleyfield branch of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Mr Thomas Douglas, chairman of the community council who also sits on the fund's committee told the Press that when Valleyfield Pit had shut down 10 years ago, he had been made trustee of the branch money.
The memorial fund was further boosted on Friday when the parish minister, the Rev. Alison Norman, presented the committee with a cheque for over £80.
The sum represented the proceeds of a collection by Miss Norman, who is on the fund's committee, among the congregations at Culross, High Valleyfield and Torryburn.
Miss Norman told the Press, "If you look down the list, you will find an awful lot of my flock died in the disaster, and I still have some of their dependants in my congregation. That is reason enough to carry out a collection."
The committee are to ask a number of local organisations for a donation, as well as British Coal.
The villages of Valleyfield, Blairhall, Oakley, Torryburn and Newmills - the West Fife communities which lost men in the disaster - will all be involved in the fund-raising venture.


"Dunfermline Press"
27 October, 1989
Remembering mining village's blackest day

As the Forth felt the force of Britain's first mainland bomb, only miles away another explosion was to devastate the village of Valleyfield. It was Saturday, 28th October 1939, when a blast at number one shaft of the Valleyfield Pit left 35 men dead, many injured and 42 children without a father.
On Sunday there is a chance to recall the events of 50 years ago, and remember the men who perished in the disaster.
A service will be held in Culross Abbey at 1.30 pm, the preacher being the Very Rev. Professor James Whyte, last year's Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He will be accompanied by the Rev. Alison Norman, of Culross and Torryburn; Father John Robertson, local parish priest; and the Rev. Hugh Ormiston, industrial chaplain.
This will be followed at 3 pm by a statue unveiling by Mr George Bolton, NUM president for the Scottish Area, at the old Miners' Institute in High Valleyfield.
The poignant sculpture - by Fife artist Tom Doyle - depicts a young woman with baby in arms and young son by her side, waiting for her husband who will never return from the pit.
And at the former pithead, a 16-foot memorial obelisk has been erected with contributions from the Company-operative Society and the SSEB.
Mining artefacts have been on show this week at Valleyfield Community Centre's arts and crafts room and the exhibition will finish on Sunday.


"Dunfermline Press"
3 November, 1989
Sole survivor's pilgrimage

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Fifty years after the Valleyfield Colliery disaster, a lasting tribute has been officially unveiled.
But as the speeches of distinguished guests faded into the past, a quiet, unassuming 72-year-old walked anonymously away from the commemorative statue, harbouring his own vivid memories of a nightmare come true.
George Toal not only lost friends and relatives in the disaster but is the long-forgotten lone survivor of the Diamond Section where the explosion took place.
The belief at the time was that all 33 working in that section must have perished. Not so - and George still has the scars to prove it. George was standing talking to fellow miner Thomas Kerr when he was blown against a wall.
"It was like getting hit by an express train," recalled George, who then lived in Woodhead Crescent, High Valleyfield. "There was no flame, just intense heat. The place was black and I couldn't see through the coal dust even with my light. The rescue team had to scramble their way through rubble and had to lift me over the scattered tubs. I was three months in hospital. I had a broken shoulder and burns to the face, arms and legs. A nurse said at the time that I must have had the constitution of a horse to survive."
Thomas Kerr was not so lucky, later dying in Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital from his injuries.
Also lost in the disaster were George's brother Henry, who left a widow, Sarah, one child and another on the way; his sister Catherine's husband, James McFadzean, who had one child; and Henry's brother-in-law, Michael Tinney.
The same pattern of tragedy ripped through other families from High and Low Valleyfield, Newmills, Dunfermline, Carnock, Saline, Torryburn, Hill of Beath, Culross, Oakley and Blairhall.
"They had a corridor full of beds ready for the casualties, but they weren't needed, so few survived," said George.
In all 35 died and 26 were injured, with newspapers of the day reporting that all in the Diamond section had perished.
"I later got my call-up papers and a man at the employment exchange said that I was supposed to be dead."
Unfit to take up arms, George worked in Perth at an Army supply depot, and then returned to Torryburn to run the Rose Tavern with his father, George.
When that didn't work out, he once again went to work in Valleyfield pit.
"I was a bit shaky going back, but a lot of people have gone through what I went through in other places."
Six years back in Valleyfield, George suffered a heart attack, after which he headed for Harlow in Essex with his Irish wife, May, in 1969.
Back home for Sunday's anniversary of the disaster, Mr Toal concluded, "We were very impressed. They couldn't have done much more. At least now those who lost their lives will never be forgotten."


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