Wullie Baillie / Dailly Parish

Dailly Parish

Wullie Baillie

Miner's Voices

Maxwell Colliery, Dailly. (Photograph ©Scotlandsplaces.gov.uk)

Miners Voices is a unique project dedicated to record the living history of the Ayrshire miners, their families and communities. Using modern technology and the internet, the project aims to give people the opportunity to share their life experiences with the wider community.

An old audio tape of an interview with Wullie Baillie, who was NCB area manager of the New Cumnock and Sanquhar collieries in the 1960’s has been transcribed for the website.
Mr Baillie recalls moving from Dalmellington to the miner’s huts at Hill View, Girvan and working in the Maxwell Colliery in Dailly from 1916- 1924 where he graphically describes the steep workings and underground fires that were a regular occurrence in that part of the Ayrshire Coalfield.

This brief record below draws on the rich seam of material available from’Miner’s Voices’.
For further information, please follow this LINK

Wullie Baillie: In Those Days

Steep seams and heatings at Maxwell Pit Dailly 1916

We left there [Beoch pit] and went to the pits at Dailly in 1916, the flitting was taken across by horse and lorry. The station lorry took it across through Straiton and they had a fresh pony in front for the heavy braes and it took a whole day to go down to Girvan and then they stayed overnight and came back the next day. 

I had bought a second hand bike for 10 shillings and I cycled down through Patna to Girvan. We went into the Rows and we got a new house in the Rows at Boughtreehall in Girvan, which had just been newly built.

We started in the Maxwell Pit, now it was quite a difference as where I came from in the Beoch, there were fairly flat and level workings and we were able to draw the hutches out but in the Maxwell they were very steep workings, even up to as high as 60° They were very, very steep. 

The Maxwell was an exceptionally warm pit it was on fire in several places, in fact in all my career in mining that’s the only place that I saw a fire underground. One night on the backshift, they rang for us to come out and it was like into the heart of a furnace; the fire had broke out in an old road. It was extremely hot and we just wore a pair of wee pants. Water dripping from the roof burnt you when it struck your skin. 

Your piece, this was during the war, any jam or anything melted and run into your bread. Your tea, which we carried in tin flasks, you could take it out and leave it on the pavement and it was quite warm when you went to take it at break time. Several times fire broke out in the pit while I was there and then we left there and went down to the pit at Bargany. 

I was still working with Sannie Devoy out there and we drew off him by this time I was coming up to 18 and able to take, if he wasn’t out at his work for a day, I was able to take over and work myself by this time. The wages, I was getting what we call a half ****? I was getting wages the same as him. This went on for some time and then I fell out with him one day and I left him with a stranger and from there I worked with strangers all the time I was in that particular pit.

I tried various jobs to get experience and for the by I was attending the mining classes during this period and I travelled from Girvan to Ayr, to the academy at Ayr on a Saturday afternoon and then we went from there when they transferred us all to Kilmarnock. So we had to travel from Girvan to Kilmarnock to the classes. The classes didn’t finish til 9o’clock at night and the last train leaving Ayr was at 9! So the education people put on a minibus for us and run us, it was an old tin Ford, and run us to get the train at Ayr station at 9 o’clock. We missed it several times or once or twice we got it further on at Kilkerren station but once or twice it had to run us right to Girvan from Kilmarnock.

(From Recollections by Wullie Baillie published in ©Miner’s Voices.  Reproduced with permission.)

For further information, please follow this LINK

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