Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 16:51 UK

Scots mining disaster remembered

Auchengeich Colliery
Auchengeich was Scotland's worst mining disaster of the last century

Events are taking place this week to commemorate the 47 men killed in Scotland's worst mining disaster of the last century.

It is 50 years to the day since an underground fire at Auchengeich Colliery in Lanarkshire.

A total of 41 women were widowed and 76 children lost their fathers as a result of the tragedy.

On Sunday a special remembrance service will be held and a new memorial statue will be unveiled.

First Minister Alex Salmond will attend the service along with local politicians, schoolchildren, church leaders and families of the deceased.

He will help unveil a life-sized bronze statue of a miner in the new memorial gardens at Auchengeich Miners' Welfare.

The tragic fire was caused by an electrical fault and smoke from the blaze quickly overcame the men working at the coal face.

The 18th September 1959 was one of the saddest days for all miners and people of Scotland
Bill Adair
Musician

When rescue attempts failed, the decision was taken to flood the pit in order to extinguish the flames.

Just one miner working on that shift survived the fire.

The disaster will also be remembered in words and music at a special event held later at the Scottish Mining Museum.

The concert will be lead by musician Bill Adair who grew up in Moodiesburn.

He said: "My grandfather was a miner at a neighbouring colliery, and so the family shared the loss with the other families in the area.

"The 18th September 1959 was one of the saddest days for all miners and people of Scotland. The effect on our community was devastating."

'Devastated families'

Labour MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Elaine Smith, has lodged a special motion in the Scottish Parliament urging her colleagues to recognise the anniversary of the disaster and the impact it had on the local community.

She said: "This tragedy devastated families and continues to be significant to the people of the area.

"Commemorating the disaster allows us to reflect on the hard work and sacrifice of the working class in this area over hundreds of years.

She added:"We can remember the difficult circumstances in which those people worked and lived.

"Scotland's prosperity was built on their blood, sweat and tears and that should never be forgotten."



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