Mosside Mine Disaster
Coal and Ironstone mining began in the area around 1810. There were at least four Ironstone Mines on the Moss - one of them was near the site of the Penny Pond. Some ten coal pits were located in the area, one was at the site of the future Gasworks on Burnbank Street, on the site of Northburn Industrial Estate and one was at the small part of the Penny Pond.
At the north end of "The Moss" was Kippsbyre or Kippbyre Colliery owned by James Nimmo. it opened in the latter half of the 19th century. On the first day of No 6 pit, the colliers, being very superstitious and having a grim sense of humour, nicknamed the pit - "The Lady in the Park".
The mine workings extended right under "The Moss" and were susceptible to flooding. Pumping operations were inadequate and eventually the mine flooded. The owners gave up and the colliery closed in the early 1920s.
To the east of "The Moss" near Garden Square, was McLeans Mosside Mine, turning out tons of coal per day. The mining system used was "Stoup and Room" - The Stoup" was a wide pillar of coal left in place to support the roof while the "room" was the chamber left between the pillars after coal extraction.
Mining today is a rough job but in those pre-war years it was even rougher. The conditions at McLean's mine were very poor and the miners often worked in 2 sets of oilskins in water up to their knees.
MOSSIDE MINE DISASTER
Sadly, disaster struck on Friday, 22nd September 1939. It is believed that part of the old Kippsbyre No 6 pit was accidentally breached allowing an inrush of water to the Mosside mine. Five men escaped death by " being at the right place at the right time".
Isaac Greig, the fireman, was at an upper level and avoided the worst of the flooding. John Young, who was just 19 years old, saw the water coming and warned his "neibours" (workmates). Jock Baird, Andrew Mitchell and Ginger Lynch reached safety and helped John Young to the surface. Joe Lynch, being quite a short man, was panicking in water up to his neck until his brother, Ginger, grabbed him by the hair and pulled him up to safety.
Joe was the last man out and unfortunately, three miners: Tom Lang, Alex Kinnaird and Jimmy Walker were trapped as the mine was flooded.
Thomas Whelan known as Tammy, a worker at the mine, lived in Wilson Street at the time. When he was told of the accident he ran to the mine and helped with the pumping for three whole days. Pumping operations continued for some time but the mine was later abandoned.
Relatives and local people waiting anxiously at the pit head for news of the trapped men.
In 1985 a cairn was erected nearby to commemorate the disaster, to the
memory of the three miners who lost their lives there and whose bodies were never
recovered. Below is a photograph of the only survivor John
Young at the dedication ceremony.
Footnote: The Second World War started just a few weeks before the disaster. John Young didn't wish to go back to mining again so he joined the army. In a cruel twist of fate John was captured by the Japanese and spent over three years as a prisoner of war in mining camps. Conditions in these mines were much worse than Mosside - John describes them as a "Living Hell". The first three years were spent in a copper mine in Taiwan and he spent the remainder of the war in a coalmine near Nagasaki. He was released when the Atom bomb was dropped at Nagasaki and the war ended. When John was captured he weighed just over thirteen stone but when he was released he weighed six stone nine pounds.
Eric Burns, formerly Provost of Monklands Council and later councillor with North Lanarkshire Council, assisted the Penny Project to obtain funding for the restoration of the Memorial in 1998. Sadly Eric died before the restoration was completed.
7 Oct 2009 ... A CALMNESS came over the place and the next thing you knew a wall of water came crashing towards us. Nothing could escape its path.
MOSSIDE MINE DISASTER
On the Twenty-second of September
In Nineteen Thirty Nine
Three able men went to their doom
Down in the Mosside Mine
When they left home they little knew
Their toil on earth was done
The water rushed upon them
Like a shot from out ‘a gun
A lad of twenty named John Young
First warned them of their fate
He tried in vain to save them
But, alas, it was too late
Their friends and their relations
Have suffered grief and pain
They went into a death trap
Ne’er to come out again
"May God have mercy on their souls"
That is the prayer we pray
He takes the good and leaves the bad
Too bad to take away