Bairds & Dalmellington sunk Barony Colliery No.1 & 2 shafts between 1906 and 1910, with No.3 sunk and colliery reconstruction started in 1937. The NCB completed this in 1949, planning that Barony would employ displaced miners and replace lost output from other closing Ayrshire pits. Barony was one of only two Scottish collieries that adjoined a power station (opened in 1953). In 1948, the colliery employed 1,264 and produced 1,520 tons per day, with the workforce hailed from Auchinleck, Catrine, Cumnock, New Cumnock, Ochiltree, and Sanquhar.
The 1962 Shaft Collapse and Campaign against Closure
On 8 November 1962 Barony’s No.2 shaft collapsed, entombing four men. Set against widespread closures across the Scottish coalfields – with 60,000 jobs lost in the Scottish coal industry between 1947 and 1969 – a concerted broad-based community campaign and political intervention saved the colliery from closure. Barony No.4 was sunk in 1965. Sam Purdie, a former Cumnock Trades Council official, described how significant the threat of closure against Barony was for the area.
Interview with Andrew Perchard, 25 March 2019, Transcript
The collapsed No.2 shaft at Barony Colliery, 1962 (Crown Copyright)
Visit of Alex Eadie MP at Barony Colliery, c.1970s. From L-R is Tom Miller (deputy manager), Alex Timpany (NUM delegate), Alex Eadie MP, David Greig (NUM Branch treasurer) and Crawford Dow (Colliery General Manager). (Crown Copyright, thanks to Nicola Moss, National Mining Museum Scotland)
Barony and the 1984–85 Miners’ Strike
Concerns about Barony’s long-term future translated into relatively lower vote for NUM industrial action in 1982. During 1984–5, the union membership held firm until December 1984 but saw a steady drift back to work thereafter.
Cumnock Strike Centre (Mr Jim McBlain with thanks to Mr Rab Wilson)
Rab Wilson, a Barony miner and poet, kept a diary during the strike. Later he published a series of poems in Scots from the testimony of miners' families. The following extracts are reproduced with his permission.
Rab Wilson diary, (Rab Wilson) Transcript
Ah wis juist nine at the time o the Strike,
Ah tocht it wis great, cause we goat free meals,
But money wis ticht, fowk suffert fir real,
Ah wis juist a wean though, nevvir knew like.
Ah couldnae unnerstaun, we'd nae new claes,
When ither yins wir gettin new trainers,
Ah caa'd fowk 'Scab,' but ye ken whit weans are
Like, ah regret some things ah uised tae say.
Ah mind ma dad in the kitchen greetin,
Ah asked 'Whit's wrang? an he said they wir beat,
Nou things are worse, and they nevvir wir great!
It's aa changed roond here since they goat beaten
Ah'm nineteen nou, wi a wean o ma ain,
Ah've seen enough anger, seen enough pain.
Rab Wilson, Accent o the Mind: Poems, cheifly in the Scots language, Luath press, 2006. (Reproduced with permission)
Barony was beset by geological difficulties and understaffing throughout the 1970s and 1980s, affecting output and leading to losses. Barony Colliery eventually closed in 1989. Margaret Glover described how much working at Barony had meant for her husband.
Interview with Andrew Perchard, 26 March 2019, Transcript