Tuesday, November 19 1957. A day that changed the course of the mining industry across the UK after 17 men were killed in an explosion at Kames Colliery near Muirkirk.

Kames was one of the safest mines in Scotland and, as a result, miners were allowed to smoke in the pit however, a naked flame somewhere in section six lead to the worst mining disaster in the country.

On the 60th anniversary of the disaster, the local community came together to remember the victims and the impact it had on the village.

Survivors, their families and the relatives of other men involved in the disaster gathered for a joint remembrance service at Muirkirk Parish Church on Sunday led by Rev. Fr Philip Kitchen and Rev. Stan Kennon.

Muirkirk Primary School pupils Amber Riddicks and Robert Bradford lit a candle for each of the 17 men who died in the disaster before a memorial service was held at the Miners Memorial in Muirkirk Heritage Garden.

Al McCann, who survived the explosion, laid the first wreath at the memorial following a two-minute silence. Other survivors and their relatives also paid their tributes before wreaths were laid by East Ayrshire Provost Jim Todd, Ballochmyle councillor Jim Roberts and Kilmarnock and Loudoun MP Alan Brown.

The event had been organised by Muirkirk Community Council and they were praised by Provost Todd for ensuring the disaster isn’t forgotten.

He said: “I was absolutely delighted to get an invitation to come up to the commemoration of the 60 years anniversary. It’s one of these things where we really need to ensure children know what happened in their communities. There will be children alive today at school who won’t even know that they had relations in this disaster probably.

“It’s really important to make sure that these children do know what their history is, the history of their area, the history of the menfolk, the women and how the communities came together on that fateful evening.

“I noticed two years later another two died as well. I’ve worked all my life, and you fully expect to get up in the morning, go to you’re work and come home and it must be terrible for families that the husband or the wife doesn’t come home.”

Community council chairman Jim McLatchie was proud of the village’s efforts. He said: “I was delighted to be involved in the organisation of the 60th commemoration of the Kames disaster. We had a small group who met about four times to get the organisation. The service was organised by the two churches which I thought was excellent and I was actually delighted with the turnout.

“I think the tea was excellent as well and I think it has been a great success. It was a total community effort that put it together.”

MP Alan Brown added: “I thought it was great turnout and it’s good to see the community coming together to remember the disaster of 60 years ago. It was humbling to the survivors there as well, to see the emotion of some of the people that laid the wreaths. It shows how important it was to the community, how devastating it was and how people still remember so I’m glad to have been part of the commemoration.”