Tensions ran high during the 1926 miners strike. In Blantyre Auchenraith Colliery was instrumental in breaking the strike there and returning people to work and controversially sell coal again from the pithead.
The largest meeting of miners ever seen in Blantyre took place on Thursday 21st October 1926 in a field adjoining Auchinraith Colliery, which belonged to Merry & Cunningham, Ltd.
The crowds of striking miners could be seen as far as the eye could see. Around 5,000 people assembled (thats like nearly a third of the people in modern Blantyre!) and for an hour before the meeting, the principal streets of Blantyre were a living mass, heaving with bodies and many miners were present from outside districts.
The meeting was promoted by the local Strike Committee, and it had for its object movement to compel the colliery manager from producing coal selling again at the pithead.
Mr W. B. Small, secretary of the Lanarkshire Miners’ Union, was the principal speaker. Afterwards Messrs Stodart and MaeKerrel went over to the the colliery office to interview Mr John Hogg, the general manager, Mr D. C. Gemmil, the manager, and after half an hour’s absence the deputation returned the meeting and Mr Small intimated the result of their interview.
He said that Mr Hogg told the deputation that the whole matter of whether coal was to be sold from the pit, an unusual circumstance during the protracted long strike, was left entirely in the hands of Mr Gemmil. Continuing, Mr Small said that the manager refused to stop men who were working or to stop selling coal at the pithead, preferring at least some small attempt at conducting normal business. The manager was going to carry on as he had done since the pit started working the previous Monday. “That is the managers decision.” said Mr Small, “and there was going to nothing further done but the future line of the campaign would be left in hands of the District Committee.” The crowds were asked to dismiss quietly. There was a large posse of police, but thankfully peacefulness prevailed, the decision of the colliery respected and police were not required to provide any service.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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