Remembering Joe Corrie, Cardenden’s people’s poet

An adaptation of Joe Corrie's In Time O Strife was staged at Pathhead Halls in 2013
An adaptation of Joe Corrie's In Time O Strife was staged at Pathhead Halls in 2013

Joe Corrie was a miner who went on to become a unique poet and playwright telling the no-holds-barred stories of early 20th century working-class people.

He grew up in Cardenden and worked in the pits where he took the material for his raw and thought-provoking writing.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of his death in 1968, an exhibition about the author’s life and work will be put on display at the Lochgelly Centre from May until August this year.

Entitled ‘Hewers of Coal and Verse’ the exhibition will also feature the work of local pitman poets Peter “Pindar” Leslie and Robert McLeod.

Fife Cultural Trust, which is sponsoring the event, is also asking anyone in the area who has memorabilia, photographs, posters or publications relating to the authors to take part. All items donated will be fully acknowledged and returned at the end of the exhibition.

Gillian Parsons, programming and engagement officer, said: “Already, a number of people have been in contact and there has been a terrific amount of local interest – within the community there will be people who have memories of Joe Corrie and the Bowhill Players and their dramatic performances.

“If anybody has books, pictures belonging to relatives or even reminiscences, we would love to see them, hear them and include them.”

Lochgelly poet William Hershaw, who recorded Corrie’s songs on the CD ‘Cageload of Men’ said: “Joe Corrie was internationally famous in his day – his play ‘In Time of Strife’ which deals with three mining families trying to cope during the General Strike and the lockout of 1926, was performed in London, Leipzig and Prague.

“But younger folk don’t know about him. It is important that we celebrate the man and his work. With Joe’s daughter Morag’s permission I reconvened the Bowhill Players as a musical ensemble in 2012 to perform his songs and poetry.”

‘In Time of Strife’ had its Fife premiere at Pathhead Halls in Kirkcaldy in October 2013, when the National Theatre of Scotland staged its adaptation of the play which had its roots set deeply in Fife.

Joe Corrie

Joe Corrie

In addition to Corrie’s original script, the show included fragments of his other plays, poems and songs into the production, with a live four piece band.

The exhibition will start with a free concert in the town centre on Saturday, May 4, and there will also be an exhibition of mining drawings by artist Les McConnell.

Anyone who can contribute to the exhibition should contact Gillian at: gillian.parsons@onfife.com, leave a message at the Lochgelly Centre, Bank Street. Lochgelly, or telephone (01592) 583303.