My Working Day

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Poems about Miners

This poem is about the time I spent in the early 1960’s working on a conventional, hand filled, undercut, “pick and shovel face” stent 8 yards long , 4’6″ to the back of the cut, 3’3″ maximum height, wooden props and flats.

My Working Day

My Working Day

Ten past five and the bedside clock
rings out its dreadful din,
I stumble wearily down the stairs;
my day is about to begin.

A quick cold swill and a hurried cup of tea,
no time for any fuss,
Then off I go with my “Tommy box”
to catch the workmen’s bus.

Six o’clock at the pithead baths,
my clean clothes all are shed,
Now there’s heavy boots on my feet
and a hard hat on my head.

I take my lamp it’s been fully charged,
in the lamp-room over night,
The battery hangs down from my belt;
on my hat I fix the light.

Half past six and I’m on the bond,
descending at great speed,
Crammed in tight with all the rest,
to hold on there’s no need.

We hit pit bottom with a bump
and set off for the face,
The walk is long and arduous
to reach our working place.

Seven o’clock I’m at the face,
the conveyor belt is filling,
Blast-picks hammer at the coal,
the dust they make is killing.

Pick and shovel I use in turns,
until my arms are tired and ache,
And bending over in the low,
my back feels like it will break.

Ten o’clock it’s time for our food,
with hands all sweaty and black,
But the cheese and onion goes down a treat,
a miner’s favourite snack.

All too soon our short break is done
and it’s back to work we must,
Once more unto the breach dear friends
and the ever present dust.

One o’clock the days last coal’s all shifted,
I’m sat here blacker than tar,
The roof is made safe and supported
and the tools are back on the bar.

I stretch as I get in the heading;
it’s nice to stand straight for a change,
Though tired I’m feeling light-hearted,
for the end of the shift is in range.

Two o’clock in the pithead baths,
I’m washing away the grime,
Now clean and refreshed I head for home,
the bus it arrives on time,

On the table my dinner is waiting
and it’s devoured without delay,
Then, with heavy eyes I slump in my chair,
at the end of my working day.

J. H. Smith


Painting by Darren Thomson – Pickaxe is part of a series of paintings depicting any type of hard labour. Coal Mining fits into that category very easily. The pickaxe was one of earliest tools used by miners. Rather than trying to catch the historical accuracy, I try to convey the emotion of working these gruelling jobs.

$ 120.00 USD 12 x 16 oil on linen SOLD


Anthony Smith commented: “I can still remember my father coming home from the pit and having to wash in the sink. No Pithead baths where he worked, in the early 50’s. The 2 room house was a back bedroom with 2 bedding alcoves off the living room, an open fire with kettle on to heat water and the sink in front of the window. Cold water only. And a shared outside toilet. But it did flush. Bairds [Craighead]Raws in the early 50’s. Craighead Colliery.

The Tumblers, Craighead Colliery

The Tumblers, Craighead Colliery

Area called the Tumblers. My dad, Anthony Smith on the right, 1936, when he was only 18 years old.


Jane Johnstone: I remember my Grampa coming home black and all the miners walking up the road with white rings around their eyes like Pandas. I was scared of them as the walked on mass when I was a wean…lol!

Janette Brown: To be a miner must have been 1 of the most dangerous and back breaking jobs to do. I don’t think the youth of today would be able to do it.

If you have any Poems… Send them to Bill

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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