Event to mark Michael pit fire

The 'Michael Colliery Memorial, East Wemyss - Fife  '' - FPA -
The 'Michael Colliery Memorial, East Wemyss - Fife '' - FPA -

During the early hours of Saturday, September 9, 1967, a fire broke out in a coal seam of the Michael Colliery in East Wemyss.

At the time 300 men were working underground and the maze of underground tunnels were filling up with dense, black smoke which was so thick that they struggled to keep their bearings and find their way back up to the surface.

Rescue teams, including the pit’s own one were quickly on the scene, but despite many valiant efforts and shows of bravery, nine men lost their lives in what was one of the region’s worst mining disasters.

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the terrible tragedy and it is set to be commemorated by the Fife Mining Heritage Society.

And the group is looking for support from Fifers who may recall the disaster or know people who were affected by it.

The society is planning to mark the anniversary with a special memorial service and display of mining memorabilia in a marquee next to the site of the Michael, and it is calling on other organisations and individuals to get involved.

Fred Dickson (68), vice chairman of Fife Mining Heritage Society, said: “It’s amazing the number of people who don’t realise that this big anniversary is coming up.

“It’s quite surprising and a wee bit disappointing really, and that’s why we want to help raise the profile.

“We’re planning to have a huge marquee with our display of mining memorabilia and other societies will be in attendance as well.

Mr Dickson continued: “We also hope to have a pipe band and get a Michael banner to march from the main road at East Wemyss to where the marquee will be sited as this is as close to the Michael as we can get.

“We will also be approaching the local minister to ask if he could perform a short service.”

Mr Dickson, who was born overlooking the colliery, worked at The Michael, as it was known, for two years before the disaster.

He is asking any members of the local community who may have any memorabilia of the Michael Colliery or any other mining memorabilia, or people who worked there and may have a story to tell, to contact him by email at: freddickson@hotmail.co.uk.