Rutherglen Heritage Society and South Lanarkshire College, proudly unveil Rutherglen town's inaugural coal mining memorial.

On Friday, September 29, Rutherglen Heritage Society, in collaboration with South Lanarkshire College, proudly unveiled Rutherglen town's inaugural coal mining memorial at a ceremony held in the Rutherglen Town Hall.

The roots of the new memorial trace back to 2014 when Bob McDonald and Colin Findlay embarked on a research journey which focused on coal mining in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.  The project was initiated as part of the South Lanarkshire Council Heritage Lottery Project titled "Pits Ponies People and Stories."

In 2015, after giving a talk about mining at Rutherglen Library, Bob was surprised by an irate David Jackson, a respected authority on Rutherglen's history, who passionately questioned the absence of a mining memorial in the town. Bob, taking David's challenge to heart, vowed to make it happen, promising to create a memorial for Rutherglen.

Despite delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Bob persisted in seeking funding and enlisted the help of South Lanarkshire College for the memorial's design, construction, and installation, and in 2023, the mining memorial project experienced a revitalisation, thanks to Bob's unrelenting determination. With the guidance of a new Principal at South Lanarkshire College and the addition of a fresh, enthusiastic team, the project gained new life and momentum.

The culmination of this renewed effort was the creation of a remarkable steel representation of a miner's flame safety lamp by Jason Paterson Fabrication & Design. This lamp holds deep historical significance, paying homage to the early days of coal mining when naked flames were the standard for illumination, albeit with the perilous risk of firedamp (methane) explosions. Sir Humphry Davy's pioneering invention of the safety lamp in 1815, later refined by Dr. William Reid Clanny, marked a turning point in miner safety. Scottish coal miners affectionately dubbed it the "Glennie," recognising its vital role in safeguarding their lives deep underground.

Bob McDonald said, “I’m pleased this memorial will remind future generations of the coal mining industry which played such a prominent part in my own early career."

South Lanarkshire College Principal and CEO, Stella McManus said “At South Lanarkshire College we were fascinated to hear Bob and David’s story, and as a community college in heart of the South Lanarkshire region felt it was vital that we played our part in bringing the memorial to fruition.  At South Lanarkshire College we have been on board since the initial concept and set to work navigating planning permissions, overseeing foundation construction, and rejuvenating the surrounding garden. We were thrilled to see the unveiling of the memorial in the heart of Rutherglen town today”. 

Sadly, David Jackson, who ardently championed the creation of the memorial, passed away in 2020, never having the opportunity to witness the realisation of his vision. Nevertheless, the unwavering dedication of Bob and the entire team behind this project serves as a profound testament to David Jackson's memory.

David's passionate advocacy for a mining memorial was the catalyst that set this endeavour in motion, and his legacy lives on through the completed memorial. This monument now stands as a poignant and enduring tribute, not only to his vision but also to the profound mining heritage that has left an indelible mark on the history of Rutherglen. Through this memorial, generations to come will have the chance to appreciate and remember the rich history and contributions of the mining community in Rutherglen.

Bob McDonald would also like to note his thanks to funders Commonwealth Fund Trades House, Scottish Coal Industry Special Welfare Fund 1 May 2018, South Lanarkshire Council, Clyde Gateway, Frank McKirgan, retired investment banker, whose grandfather was a Mine Deputy at Manor Powis Colliery and Cambuslang Housing Association to Jason Paterson from J P Fabrication & Design for designing and fabricating the memorial.