When Coal Was King

When Coal Was King

A celebration of the mining heritage of Dunfermline and West Fife.

A series of events to celebrate the history of mining in Dunfermline and West Fife will be taking place in and around the Kingsgate Centre from Wednesday 17th until Sunday 21st May.

A series of events will be taking place in and around the Kingsgate Shopping Centre between the 17th and 21st May entitled ‘When Coal Was King’, highlighting the importance that mining played in the history of Dunfermline and the surrounding areas. With the Dunfermline Press as Media Partners it will feature exhibitions on the story of an industry that once dominated Dunfermline and West Fife and include the story of events such as the Valleyfield disaster in 1939 that claimed the lives of thirty-five men, and the Lindsay disaster in Kelty in 1957 when nine men were killed in an underground explosion.

Deputy Manager of the Kingsgate Centre, Karen Davidson, is looking forward to hosting the event, which is also funded by the Scottish Coal Industry Special Welfare Fund and the Mining Engineering Institute, and explained the reasoning behind having it in the Shopping Centre: “The story of mining is slipping from people’s minds and many young people in particular have little or no idea of what mining was all about. As we have such a large footfall in our centre we felt that we were an ideal venue in which to bring some of the stories to a wider audience. With Britain last week having its first day without coal contributing to its energy needs for over 130 years, it’s a timely occasion to look at what a vital role it once had in Fife. It will feature storytelling, an art exhibition, historical displays, a participative painting installation, displays by the Mines Rescue Service and many other elements”

The event will be launched at Fire Station Creative on Tuesday evening of 16th May with a Panel event entitled ‘Mining Past Present and Future’ that will include among others the President of the National Union of Mineworkers Nicky Wilson.

Alan Kenney, ex-Fife Councillor and Mining Engineer, who will be appearing alongside Nicky Wilson is keen to share some of the stories from his own long and ongoing career in the industry; “While working on pulling this event together with the wide variety of mining organisations that will be taking part, such as the Fife Mining Heritage group, the Coalfields Regenerations Trust, Carlow Miners Home and the West Fife Mining Heritage Group I’ve been reminded of many of the colourful characters I was involved with over the years and I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with the audience at the Fire Station. We will also be providing members of the public who visit the various exhibitions in the Kingsgate with information on benefits available to ex miners and also holidays in the Carlow Miners Home in Culross” he said.

Kate Walker of ‘Chatterbox Stories,’ in conjunction with the National Mining Museum of Scotland, will be working with local schools Townhill, Belleyoman and Inverkeithing Primaries in advance of the event and will then be hosting the pupils in the Kingsgate Centre where she will regale them with tales about the ‘Treasures and Dangers’ associated with mining. She will also have storytelling sessions for visitors to the Centre at other times throughout the week. Local artist Alan Grieve will be outside Starbucks where he will curate a ‘Colouring-in Wall’ on a mining theme which members of the public, young and old, can take part in.

Taking pride of place will be a ‘Miners House’ on the upper floor outside Debenhams, an exhibit showing what the inside of a miner’s home would have once looked like, including the tin bath that was used in the times before running water, hot or cold, became a feature of life that is now taken for granted.

‘When Coal was King’ will be open between 10.00am and 5.00pm from Wednesday to Saturday, and 11.00am until 3.00pm on Sunday. It will draw to a close on Sunday 21st May with a concert in Fire Station Creative featuring the ‘Bowhill Players’ in an evening of poetry song and music about the Cardenden miner and playwright Joe Corrie.


The Bowhill Players

The Bowhill Players are a multi-instrumental group founded by Fife poet and songwriter Willie Hershaw to celebrate and perform the songs and poems of the legendary Cardenden playwright Joe Corrie (1894 – 1968). Corrie wrote about the struggles of the mining communities in central Fife during the years of the General Strike of 1926. He became a world famous playwright after he wrote In Time Of Strife. The Bowhill Players have continued Corrie’s legacy with their acclaimed live performances and the stunning recording “Cage Load Of Men”.

Tickets for the concert are sale at the Fire Station in Dunfermline and from 07748736042

Watch out for details on the full programme coming soon


The Colouring-In Wall

(c) David Wardle

Supported by the Dunfermline Press as Media Partners, the event will bring the story of mining to a modern-day audience and include exhibitions from a wide variety of mining organisations throughout the Kingsgate.

Visitors will be able to handle many of the everyday items used underground such as safety lamps and the equipment used underground to give them an understanding of what life was like in an industry that no longer exists in Scotland.

Alan had help from Harris Grieve and Hannah McRitchie and enjoyed trialling the mural:
“I will be outside Starbucks every day during the exhibition and will have a much bigger version of the Colouring-in Wall for people to come and contribute to. All ages are welcome. Mining played a big part in my own family’s history, as well as many of my friends and colleagues, and I’m very much looking forward to being part of this event”.

‘When Coal Was King’ will be launched at Fire Station Creative on Tuesday 16th May at 7.00pm with a Panel event entitled ‘Mining Past Present and future’ that will include among others the Presdident of the Natonal union of Mineworkers, Nicky Wilson. Alan Kenney, ex-Fife Councillor and Mining Engineer, who will be appearing alongside Nicky Wilson is keen to share some of the stories from his own long and ongoing career in the industry:

“While working on pulling this event together with the wide variety of mining organisations that will be taking part, such as the Fife Mining Heritage group, the Coalfields Regenerations Trust, Carlow Miners Home and the West Fife Mining Heritage Group I’ve been reminded of many of the colourful characters I was involved with over the years and I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with the audience at the Fire Station. We will also be providing members of the public who visit the various exhibitions in the Kingsgate with information on benefits available to ex miners and also holidays in the Carlow Miners Home in Culross ” he said.

Kate Walker of ‘Chatterbox Stories,’ in conjunction with the National Mining Museum of Scotland, will be working with local schools Townhill, Belleyoman and InverkeithingPrimaries in advance of the event and will then be hosting the pupils in the Kingsgate Centre where she will regale them with tales about the ‘Treasures and Dangers’ of working underground.

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