Champion of the working class and one who spent a lifetime fighting for better conditions for the mining industry, Mr. Andrew McAnulty, died on Saturday night at the home of a married daughter, Mrs George Paterson, at 105 Parkville Drive, Springwells, Blantyre, Lanarkshire.
So far as the working class people were concerned “Andra’s” career provided a colourful chapter. For years he was the champion of those whose circumstances were such that they always seemed to be struggling with adversity and the good work which he achieved in this direction would be impossible to relate. Twenty or thirty years back it was a common thing for people in need or contesting a trade union matter to seek advice from the old “warhorse” who at an early age made it his policy to champion the cause of the workers.
IN DIXON’S EXPLOSION.
Mr.McAnulty was not a native of Blantyre. He was born at Craigneuk, Wishaw on 24th. November, 1860 but came to Blantyre when he was about fifteen years old. He had started work in the pit when he was only a boy (ten years old) and was employed at Dixon’s Colliery when the disastrous explosion occurred on the morning of 22nd. October, 1877 causing the death of 216 men and boys. His father Peter was killed in the explosion and he himself only avoided being involved because, at the time, he was off work recovering from serious burns as well as the loss of sight in one eye and the loss of several toes in his right foot – sustained in a fire damp explosion on the 22nd. August in the same pit. His brother Joseph was killed in this explosion and another brother, William, escaped with minor injuries.
While still in his ‘teens’ Mr.McAnulty began to show a very live interest in the trade union movement and became one of the pioneers of the old Lanarkshire Miners’ Union. He was a contemporary of other such miners’ stalwarts as Bob Smillie, Duncan Graham, Willie Small and Joe Sullivan and was elected as first president of the Union in 1920.
In 1942 the L.M.U. recognised his work on behalf of the miners in the county by presenting him with a pioneers’ diploma. The diploma, which hangs on the wall in the house where he died, contains a picture of himself and those mentioned above, together with John Robertson, Jimmy Tonner and James Murdoch. “Andra” was the last survivor of this illustrious group of laymen who between them gave years of service for the benefit of the men in the pits.
|When the pits were nationalised in January, 1947, Mr.McAnulty was called upon to unfurl the N.C.B. flag at Dixon’s Colliery. He had by then reached the age of 86 but took the greatest pride in carrying out this ceremony which he described on that occasion as one of the greatest events in his lifetime. “Andra” had worked for years to see the coal pits pass from private enterprise to the control of the State and was happy that another historic chapter had been reached in the mining industry.|
A month later, Mr.McAnulty was paid a unique tribute by The National Union of Mineworkers (Scottish Area) when they agreed to pay him a pension of £2 weekly during the remainder of his lifetime as a tangible token of appreciation for his work on behalf of the miners during a period of sixty years.
It is interesting to recall the terms of the letter which the Blantyre veteran received at that time from the general secretary of the union, William Pearson. It read –
“Dear Andrew, My Executive Committee had your position under discussion and I have been asked to convey their gratitude for the splendid work which you have done on behalf of the miners and to express our best thanks for the part you played in bringing about the nationalisation of the industry.
We trust that you will be long spared to come amongst us and you will always be welcome within our movement. I am sure it will be very pleasing for you to know that in a questionnaire which we sent out recently to almost 200 young miners, in connection with a mining school, almost everyone gave the name of Andrew McAnulty as being one of the old pioneers of the movement.
You will see, therefore, that you have not been forgotten, and I want you to accept the gift from the Executive Committee in the spirit in which it has been made.
William Pearson, General Secretary.
At one time Mr. McAnulty took a keen interest in parochial affairs and was, for a period, Chairman of the old Parish Council in Blantyre. He had already reached what many people look on as the veteran stage when the great miners’ strike of 1921 swept the country, bringing untold misery and hardship, and was the leading figure at that time in organising soup kitchens from which the miners’ children and others whose fathers were unemployed were supplied with meals at local schools.
Hunger Marches in Blantyre
Night Spent in Co-operative Hall
About 400 of the men and a number of the women who took part in the huge demonstration in Glasgow on Sunday against the Employment Assistance Bill, left Blantyre en route to the City shortly after 10 o’clock that morning. The contingent, headed by a few pipers and a drummer, was a very orderly one, and conspicuous at the head of the column was the veteran miners’ leader, Andrew McAnulty, who stepped it out gamely alongside District Councillor Beecroft. “Andra” did not march the whole way to Glasgow, but he headed the column until Blantyre was left well behind, when he was persuaded that he had marched far enough. Three hundred of the men from various parts of Lanarkshire had spent the Saturday night in the Co-operative Hall, arriving about 7.30 that evening led by Mr James Beecroft, and escorted to the hall where a hot supper was provided. A fund-raising concert was held afterwards and in the morning each of them received a substantial breakfast and a meat sandwich (to provide sustenance on the march) before setting out for Glasgow.
Blantyre Gazette, 30th March 1935
Also in ‘A Blast from the Past’, by Andy Paterson.
The funeral of the veteran leader took place from his daughter’s home to High Blantyre Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon. About 200 people walked in the funeral procession, prominent amongst whom were Mr. William Gallacher, M.P. for West Fife; representatives of the Communist Party in Blantyre and from the District Headquarters in Motherwell; officials of the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers and representatives of the local pit union branches.
Amongst others present were Provost Alex Hunter, Hamilton, a life-long friend of deceased, County Councillors Jas. Beecroft and Edward Daly and people from many walks of life who had known “Andra” and respected him in his lifetime.
The coffin was lowered to it’s last resting place by deceased’s son William, and eight grandsons and, at the graveside, a glowing tribute was paid to Mr. McAnulty by another of his great friends and associates, Mr. Gallacher M.P.
The banner is in The Scottish Mining Museum, Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Midlothian.
Submitted by his grandson Andrew McAnulty Paterson.
Author of “Blast from the Past” Edited extracts from The Blantyre Gazette – 19th. Nov. 1949.
|Stonefield Park in Blantyre has been renamed in honour of Andrew “Andra” McAnulty. Councillor Handibode kindly invited Andrew McAnulty Paterson to do the honours and unveil the plaque.
The size of the park is nine hectares and includes: –
a skateboard park, children’s play area, two full size football fields, a red ash football pitch, and numerous footpaths.
A gala is also held at the park every year.
I’m sure Andra would be so proud to be honoured in this way.
To find out more about Andra read Andrew McAnulty Paterson’s great book A Blast from the Past. Ordering details are available at, A Blast from the Past.
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