The Knockshinnoch Disaster
New Cumnock's history is filled with chapters that reflect the history of our nation. Like many
other towns we rightly cherish our association, however meagre, with those three Scottish giants,
Wallace, Bruce and Burns. It satisfies our needs to place our place on the historical map of
Scotland. But it is the stories of other Heroes and Bards that fill the most contradictory chapter of
our history. The chapter on the Knockshinnoch Disaster forces us to face loss and victory in
equal measure. The loss of thirteen souls and the dramatic rescue of one hundred and sixteen
of their comrades. The Disaster is an ever-living memory, its story is still told in the community
today, in bard-like fashion reminiscent of the Ancient Britons, with a clarity, consistency and
emotion as if it happened only yesterday.
Of course the story has been captured in many other media - books, feature film, radio and TV
documentaries, in song and poetry and recently by our own local modern-day bard, Francis
Lopez in his priceless work 'Back to the Fields'.
The following account of the Knockshinnoch Disaster is taken chiefly and directly from Sir
Andrew Bryan's report 'Accident at Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery Ayrshire', March 1951.
History of the Parish
of New Cumnock
by Robert Guthrie
Sources and Acknowledgements
Ministry of Fuel and Power 'Accident at Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery Ayrshire'
'Report on the cause of, and the circumstances attending, the accident which occurred at
Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery, Ayrshire, on the 7th September 1950'
By Sir Andrew Bryan, J.P. F.R.S.E , H.M. Inspector of Mines
His Majesty's Stationery Office 1951.
'Black Avalanche' by Arthur and Mary Selwood, (Frederick Muller Limited London, 1960)
'The Knockshinnoch Disaster' by Bill Aitken in 'Among Thy Green Braes' Ed. John Moore
Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council, 1977