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


Kames Colliery Disaster Audio Project

Peter Fyfe's Story

At my usual time, about ten past two, I left the house to go to the pit. Went into the baths got changed and picked up my gelignite can with my neighbour. I went down the old pit, the intake airway and then had to go through the airdoors. We went forward to the two doors and one of the doors gave a bang and it was these boys coming off the shift. There were two in front of me - Rab Lowe and another fellow. These boys gave the door a bang and it nearly hit me in the face. Rab shouts "Steady up boys, steady up boys" and the boys said "Haw Rab tell me it's a good day up there" they said to Rab and Rab said "Aye it's a good day" the boys said"C'mon back up Rab, c'mon back up" and Rab said straight away "Aye its just a good day to go back up, we could just go back up fine"  Well I wasn't with Rab. I was behind him, he was along with another two. So we went in the road right in. Well I left Rab and he went in the pony road away down the dook. I went inbye into the 9ft. It was all level going in but the ground rises. The Ell coal, 7 ft, 9 ft 30 inch and 6 ft that's how they run. I went into my own work way in about two hundred yards and turned into the left.

I think it was Wull Broadfoot, they cried him the Fiddler that was our shotfirer and he had fired our shots. The reek went back and forward, I saw the reek going back and forward. So I said to my neighbour "Away out and see what's wrong". We heard a thud too, we heard a thud. I thought maybe it was a fall. So he goes away, comes back and says no the airs coming in alright Peter. I said there's something wrong. We got word in just a wee while after that, we've to get our graith out to the the 6ft. I knew there was something wrong, I knew there was something wrong. So we gathered up our graith to go out and word came in "You've never to mind your graith" and we went out.  We got to the pony road where they boys got out. The fellow Mclaren and wee Jock Bennie, the pony driver and by lucky enough, they got the horse, the wee pony and the two of them got between in the full ones going out and tim ones coming in the return airway and there was space between them and they horse just led them all the way out to the stables to get into the fresh air. That's how they were saved too. 

They kept runnin' but wee Archie wasn't fit to run, he just got planked down at the return airway. Whenever I saw the lights above, I could hardly see them for the brown smoke and the smell of burnt thingby and that. I couldn't see it. I took a wee walk round through our own doors and back up over and looked down the airway. Were the air was leading down to the boys, but there was nobody there. So I went back round and saw wee Archie lying and got him happit up and on a stretcher. We took him away out back up over the airway and into the fresh air base. The intake all the way out. About two hundred yards we met Ben Hill, Davy Hill the Under manager and another two along with him. He cried me over "Haw Peter c'mere" So I telt one of the other boys to take my bit, carry wee Archie and he says "What's it like in there" Ah said "Davy, atween me and you there's 17 men away. I had a look down the airway and I never seen anybody. So there's nobody came up there that I knew of" "Oh Peter" he says and he went away inbye.

I just left him and about thirty or forty yards by,Dr Weir was standing and I telt him that I didn't think that we'd need anybody the night. He was standing there frozen. Come on out to the Turbine house were it's a bit warmer. It supplies the electricity it keeps everything going the big turbine. Dr Weir went in there. So I goes out to the pit bottom, wee Archie was laid out on the plates on the bottom and it wasn't nice him lying there in the cauld air.  So I waited a wee while  and said to Davy Dow " Its time this man was up the pit" So I chapped three and the cage and the cage came down and we shoved a tim one off. Shoved another tim one off and got wee Archie on the top deck and the cage lifted away steady.

So we got to the pithead and it was stoud, women and men were there, kids were there too. So I got wee Archie off and carried him to the engine house on the pithead and the other Dr was there, Dr Duke was there. I laid him next to the engineman on the floor and the Dr asked me what kind of injuries he had. I don't think he's got any injuries. So I asked wee Archie "Are you alright Archie" I said he says "No to bad" I mine him saying I think it's more of a shock than anything else. So I go away out and there's a big fellow comes running over. In fact the big fellow had two good brothers - Timmy Dalton and Jock Dalziel, big Jock was at the top of the dook. He was the roadsman up at the topside and I think Timmy was at the bottom and they were good brothers. Brander him that asked me, Brander came running over after I made my way to the baths and says what it is like Pete. "Well Davy I'm going to tell you the same as I told the Undermanager. But between you and me, you don't tell any of them, what I'm telling you is between you and me. I think there are 17 men away. He says it's as bad as that, he said that to, surely no. I think that Davy, its only my own opinion.

I got a letter the next morning saying that I had to go to the pit the next morning. Over to the other side of the pit, there had been a heating. I had to go in and fill sandbags, me after coming up the pit. That where I landed, over at the East side of the pit. That was my work. I got paid for that - the men who were off for a couple of weeks they never got paid.


Audio Memories

Peter Fyfe
Peter Fyfe

  1. Going to work that day at the Kames
  2. Hearing the explosion
    and going out to the road
    The smoke
    Jock Bennie

  3. Taking Archie Smith up the Pit
    Ben Hill the Under Manager

  4. Going up the pit and
    meeting the Doctor and the men
    on the pithead

More Audio Memories

Gerry Boland

Tommy Mackin

Nally Murray

Robert Lowe

Dick Boland