11th June 1928

Miners organise a march on Edinburgh

By the end of the 1920s, the situation for Scotland’s miners had been getting worse for several years.

South Midlothian and Peebles MP, Joseph Westwood, addressing a meeting at Dalkeith on 10 June 1928 and referring to answers given in the House of Commons, revealed that the number of men actively employed in Scotland’s mines had fallen by almost 40,000 over the previous four years.

This was despite the miners having been told, in 1926, that if they accepted wage cuts and shorter shifts the industry – and its workers – could be saved. With a third of all Scottish miners out of work it looked, in 1928, as though they’d been strung along.

Unemployed youth

“Then there is the further question of school children in the mining districts leaving school at 14 or 15 years of age and finding they had no work to go to, and were being flung into an already overcrowded market,” reported the Dalkeith Advertiser on 14 June 1928. “In such cases it was the duty of the State to train young men for industries other than mining, rather than that they should become competitors of their fathers as happened to be the position at the present time.”

By the end of the week, the Motherwell Times was reporting on a planned march to Edinburgh to raise the miners’ plight in the public consciousness. On 15 June, it recorded that at a meeting of the unemployed men of Motherwell, “a report was made of a recent national conference held in Glasgow, when plans were under consideration of a march of unemployed miners to Edinburgh… it is understood that the object of the march is to call public attention to the claims of the unemployed miners.”

Miners’ gala day

This would certainly not be the first march of its type. On 9 June, the Fife Free Press and Kirkcaldy Guardian had written about the recent miners’ gala day at which “the march of unemployed miners from Lochgelly, Cowdenbeath, and the West of Fife created great interest. The procession, several hundreds’ strong, headed by bands and with banners of all kinds, marched on to the Links in time for the [miners] meeting and the large column of men suffering unemployment undoubtedly made a deep impression upon local people.”

Neither was it to be the last. The Dundee Courier of 24 September that year covered a miners’ march to the Scottish capital the previous Saturday. With red rosettes and flowers in their buttonholes, 300 men and 100 women and children arrived in the city. “All the demonstrators wore their pit clothes, while one boy stepped out proudly in the ranks dressed in miner’s attire and carrying pick-axe and lamp.” Another 300 miners joined them in the Haymarket and, of the 700 or so assembled there, half a dozen were received at the Board of Health and Ministry of Labour to put forward their case.



Other events that occured in June

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