The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

After a lifetime at sea, my father found employment in the pits of West Fife. Growing up in a mining village the talk was mostly about coal and the pit. Many of the stories I heard during those days would be humorous, this is one such story.

Pits had adequate pumping facilities for removing water from the working, pumping it from the pit bottom to the pithead. However during development work you might get ingress of water and if pumps and pipes could not be installed quickly enough this would result in lost production. Comrie was a particularly wet pit and wet money would be paid on a regular basis, as an incentive to keep production going whilst pumps and pipes were installed.

During the driving of a new road ingress water had been pouring in, so bad was it that working conditions had become unbearable. At the end of the day-shift and start of the back-shift the men held a meeting to decide what action should be taken. The Union Convener was having difficulty keeping control of the situation, the workforce were demanding to see the Agent.

During the quickly arranged meeting extra wet money was offered, but not enough to satisfy the miners, they wanted more. The Agent, unsympathetic to the men’s demands, suggested they draw ‘Skins’ (waterproofs) from the store. This did not go down well and a dissenting voice rang out from the crowd.

“Skins! Its fins we need”

More money was forthcoming and the men returned to work.

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