muirkirk in the hills of ayrshire - from the muirkirk enterprise group


Kames Colliery Disaster Audio Project

Gerry Boland's Story

We went tae our work that morning' as usual and the shift went on. Three of us were going out the road an the 1st person we met was Donald McGarry. We asked him how many hutches were in the lye. Then we met Tam Casey and Andrew Findlay, just the same questions, came up the pit tae a fine day. The night went on to about 8 o'clock when there was a chap at the door. It was Peter Tate, he was a firemen at the pit and he asked for my brother to come down to the pit as he was captain of the rescue brigade. That's when we knew something was wrong. The night went on , the pit horn went . We all arrived at the pit, it was full of men and women - all the women were there as well. It was very sorrowful. The 1st three men down the pit were my brother Dick, Terry Moreland the assistant at Kilmarnock Rescue Brigade and Wull Shaw, they went down the pit first. Then after that the Rescue Brigade teams had arrived. Then they went down the pit to assess how many men had been killed. They came back up the pit and I'll always remember Dick looking over at me and we knew there was something wrong.

We all went to the manager ; Jock McKenzie, Jim Bell, Tommy Rae, David Blyth all the men who worked down the pit in the 6ft section of the West mine and asked if we could go down the pit tae help carry the men out. At about 2 am in the morning we were allowed to go down. We were carrying fire extinguishers to place so many yards in the 6ft. When we came across all the men's bodies that was at number 3 dook, that's were the rescue Brigade laid them all out, wrapped up in pack sheet. The 1st man we carried out was Jock McKean. Jock McKean was a neighbour of ours and he lived three doors down from us on the Midhoose Row. We Jock. his nickname was "Sugar" McKean. We carried him out what we called the horse road, that was the intake airway and it was about 2 miles to the pit bottom. We came back in and carried out big Bill Smith. Bill Smith was a great big man and we took different relays to get him into the pit bottom. We took Bill to the bottom and that would be about the 10 o'clock mark and they thanked us for what we had done and said that they would get in touch with us as when to start work after that. So we all got washed and went home.

I went roundabout with the deputies; Tam Hazel and Jim Brady and they took samples every two hours and I had to go out the Horse road and up the old pit, the intake shaft and take the samples to the laboratory. There was one of the times, when I was along with Jim Brady and he was taking his sample and I saw a glint on the floor, my lamplight caught it. Here it was a watch, so I told Jim what I had found when he came back round and he said that he would inform the manager and keep a hold of the watch in the present moment but he thinks its Jock Dalziels considering the situation it was found in.

About two weeks after I got word to go up the pit for 1pm to go to the managers office. So I went up the pit at 1 o'clock and sitting in the manager's office was Mrs Dalziel and she examined the watch, after I gave it to her, and said it was Jocks and thanked me very much for looking after it. Well I was a bit close to the edge, but the look on her face. It just made my day.


Audio Memories

Gerry Boland
Gerry Boland

  1. Meeting the Men Down the Pit
    The chap at the door

  2. Meeting the Manager
    Taking the Men up the Pit
    Going Home

  3. The Watch

More Audio Memories

Tommy Mackin

Nally Murray

Robert Lowe

Dick Boland

Peter Fyfe