FP100: No. 32

Michael Colliery Memorial
Michael Colliery Memorial

Michael Colliery

On Sunday, September 9, 1967, a fire broke out at Michael Colliery in East Wemyss and the worst day in Fife’s mining history occurred.

Although more than 300 men escaped, the Michael Disaster claimed the lives of nine men between the ages of 36 and 64. Three of the bodies were never recovered and to this day lie entombed underground.

On that fateful night more than 47 years ago, 311 miners were working a nightshift when a seam of coal ignited and noxious fumes flooded the mine.

But although the Michael disaster was a tragic part of Fife’s mining history, there were also heroic stories of those who battled to save the lives of the miners working that night, and bravery awards were presented to those who risked their lives to save others.

The mammoth 36-hour rescue operation was carried out with teams from Cowdenbeath, Coatbridge, Edinburgh and Kilmarnock as well as the Michael Colliery Rescue team.

A special memorial to commemorate the disaster and honour those who lost their lives was created to mark the 25th anniversary in 1992 in the form of the pit’s winding gear.