Various public services of remembrance were held this week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Knockshinnoch mining disaster and rescue.

The 1950 tragedy took place in New Cumnock when a glaciated lake filled with liquid peat and moss flooded pit workings at the mine.

This trapped more than one hundred miners underground for several days and tragically, 13 people died as rescue teams worked tirelessly to reach the trapped workers.

The disaster was an international media event and one of the worst disasters in Scotland’s mining history, yet somehow 116 men were saved on the third day in one of the most remarkable rescues ever attempted.

Locals convened for a Memorial Service at the Miners’ Memorial Lamp to mark the anniversary of the disaster including Robert Laurie who placed a wreath on behalf of the New Cumnock Development Trust and Ian Young, President of Glenafton Athletic.

John Taylor, a former Glens secretary, was one of the 13 miners that sadly lost his life in the disaster.

Cumnock Chronicle: Glenafton President Ian Young laying a wreath.Glenafton President Ian Young laying a wreath.

In a statement on Facebook, the New Cumnock Development Trust said: “As always wonderful words from Rev Helen Cuthbert, thank you to Bobby Guthrie for giving the historical side of the disaster and rescue and to NCDT Chair Robert Laurie for the opening and closing of the service.”

The four House Captains at New Cumnock PS also carried out their first official duty at the site by representing the school at the 70th anniversary event.

Supported by Mrs McNulty, pupils laid a wreath on behalf of the school.

Inspired by the 70th anniversary, teaching staff have now gone on to introduce coal mining topics into every class from P1 to P7 - a learning activity which really incorporates the area’s history and keeps pupils engaged as to what happened all those years ago.

Cumnock Chronicle: Councillor Douglas Reid with Depute Provost Claire Leitch.Councillor Douglas Reid with Depute Provost Claire Leitch.

Councillor Douglas Reid, who attended the service with Depute Provost Claire Leitch, said: “Although so many were miraculously rescued, we remember every year, and especially on this 70th anniversary, those who sadly couldn’t be saved.

“The story of what happened at Knockshinnoch is one that not only still resonates with local people, but it has been used over the years by those who teach present-day rescue techniques.

“I was honoured to have been a part of this service along with members of the community and pupils from New Cumnock Primary School.”

After the service wreaths were moved to the Miners Cairn at the Knockshinnoch site.

A survivor’s tale: Turn to p8 for more on the disaster.