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The Life and Times of an Old Miner

A miner means one who works in a mine – a coal mine, since we are writing about Fife. It is not often that we can discover how miners lived in Fife a hundred years ago, but we are fortunate to have a diary kept by a miner, one John Smith, my grandfather. He was born in Muirhead, Parish of Beath, Fife on 7th March 1858. He was the son of a coal miner, James Smith who died in 1911: James was the son of John Smith who was born in 1818 and died in 1866.
In 1606 an act was passed in Scotland that made all miners into serfs, in effect slaves that could be bought and sold with the property.  This situation existed until 1775 when parliament passed an act that freed some of the miners from serfdom .  Final freedom coming in 1799 with the passing of the Emancipation Act.
Coal was carried from the coal face to the shaft bottom on the backs of men and women and to the surface up “stairs” of wooden ladders. It was not until 1842 that women were excluded from the pits. A Parliamentary Commissioner visited Fife in 1844 and noted that the miners were far better without females in the pits because they were making better wages than when the woman were “drawing” the coal.
In 1850 Government Inspectors were appointed to visit coal mines and great improvements were made in conditions. In 1862 an Act was passed compelling two shafts per colliery to allow escape in an emergency.  This legislation was enacted following the Hartley Colliery (Northumberland) disaster where the main beam of the steam pumping engine fractured, part falling into the shaft blocking the only route in and out of the mine.  The accident caused the deaths of five men who were travelling in the cage when the beam fell and 215 others who were working at the coal face, the latter by suffocation. 
In June 1870 the Fife and Clackmannan miners formed an association:  one of the membership conditions was that the men should not work more than eight hours in the pit. The average wage rose to 8/- per day and coal production increased. However, there was a glut of coal and by 1874 wages fell by 35% and by 1877 there was a further reduction of 6d per day proposed. There were strikes and lockouts. There was temporary boom in 1879 when wages rose by 30% followed by a slump in 1880 when the average wage of miners was 4/- per day.
The diary begins on 3rd June 1884, when John Smith and his family were living in Lindsay Square in Methil – long since demolished (Lindsay Square was a notorious slum with earthen floor and no internal plumbing – St. Andrew Square now stands on the site). The original spelling is shown.



3rd June 1884
Our houses were numbered today.
Acts XIII 38,39
12 June 1884
I have been idle today. The miners asked an advance of wages from there masters some time since and the masters has not complyed with the request, and the miners thought that rather than stop work altogether they would restrict there labours to 18 days per fortnight until the masters would give at least 15 per cent on the present rate of wages. the men gave the masters notice to that effect. The masters on the other hand has posted up a notice to the effect that no such restriction would be regarded and any man continuing in or excepting work at the collieries must work in complyance with the general laws, and one of then is to the affect effect that the men must work at least 11 full days per fortnight. On the 10th of June the man were asked to work the 11 days or they would not go down the pit. So most of the men went home. and the pit has been idle these last three days.
16th June 1884
There was a mass meeting held in Dunfermlineof the miners held in Dunfermline on the 12th and it was agreed on for the men to work and to enter into negotiations with the master with a view to establish a sliding scale so the men have returned to work.
1st July
I started work yesterday in No. 2 pit Leven having left No. 3 on Saturday. where I had not been earning 3/– per day for about 8 weeks. I have got a job on the repairing and am to get 3/4½ per shift.   May God lead me and guide me.
On the 18th July when sitting on the pit head No. 2 Leven along with some others going to work I saw one of the cages in No. 1 pit taken over the pulley wheels. Walter Johnson at the engine.
        On the
one th 12th August 1884
There was a heavy thunderstorm past over the district. The old people about the place dose not remember hearing anything like it. there was a deal of damage done by the lightning. in this place the public house occupyed by B. Welsh was stuck struck on the roof and a lot of tiles was turned out of there place.
On the 8th September
I saw a balloon for the first time. it was away to the west of this. it came near the Wemyss station.
10th September 1884
I started today as inspector in the est side of No2 pit Leven Colliery.
On Wednesday 17th September
The first train ran on the new railway from Buckhaven to Leven went past here with a load of coals. The bridge across the river Leven was finished that day. The train went over about 5 oclock p.m.
January 12 1885
I started work today after being off for 4 days with a sore finger.
January 19 1885
The price of bread was raised today from 4½ to 5d per 4lb loaf.
February 27 1885
I was of work yestar yesterday being unwell.
on the 4th March
I started to the coal, after being about 6 months on for fireman in No 2 pit Leven Colliery.
April 6th 1885
A vessel went ashore this morning to the estward of Methill called Robert Anderson Lossiemouth.
April 16
A man named Samuel Walters was killed today in No.2 pit Leven. by a part of the roof falling on him.
On the 17th June
I got my left eye cut and was more than three weeks of work. I have worked 9 days and this is our holidays. I went out yesterday for a wak walk but the heat of the day and the light affected my eye very much. it is still weak and there is dullness over the sight July 1885
on Monday 14th September
the pi price of bread was lowered from 5d to 4½ per 4lb loaf.
on October 21st 1885
I was at John Grieve's funeral. he was cousen to my wife. he died very sudden of heart diseas on Monday 18. he left an infant son only 6 month old that day.
October 22th 1885
The Leven Co operative Banking Society has again given a divident of ¾d per £. for the past six months. this is twice in Succession that they have done so
on December 18th 1885
James Wilson, miner liveing in Innerleven. got his leg broken with a fall of coal in No2 pit Leven Colliery.
January 10th 1886
I was at Wilsontown on the New Year holidays on a visit to my Both Brother William. he has been there over 2 years. and liveing with G. Weir.

I u was at Kirkcaldy on the

25th January 1886
with cheques that we had recived for the tea we had purchest from the Ludon London and Newcastle Tea Co., and I got a timepiece and some other articles.
on February 6th 1886
There was a notice posted on the pit head intimating a reduction in wages to the extent of 10 per cent. this is the fourth reduction of 10 per cent since the miners got a rise.
on 21st March 1886
after a very severe winter I was out for a walk and I pulled a (gowan) mountain daisy daisie. in full bloom.
Bother Brother James got married to Isabel Moyes on May 28 1886
David Martin. my brother-in-law died on 10th August 1886
on October 25th 1886
I was at the Exhibition in Edinburgh and enjoyed the sight well.
January 22 1887
The water let into the Dock today. and there is 22 feet of water at the gate. the Laird of Wemyss give £10 for the nivies to drink and there was plenty of dnu drunk men and a good deal of fighting in the afternoon.
February 21st 1887
The miners start today on an advance of wages to the extent of the last reduction intimated 12 months ago.
May 5 6th 1887
Methil Dock was opened yesterday. the SS Newhaven of Leath was the firs first ship to enter. the schooner Diana was then towed in. then went the fishing boat Lady Lilian KY267. The crowd of people at the dock was estimated at upwards of 15 000.
on the 19 December 1887
a young man named James Gorman was killed in No.2 pit Leven Colliery. he was lifting a hutch on the road that had got off on a wheel brae. when his head came in contact with the roof. and the hutch came on him and his neck was broken. he was about 20 years of age.
January 26 1888
The miners in Fife started today on a reduction of 10 per cent off there wages. they have given in there notice to quit there employment and take a fortnights holidays with a view to help to redua reduce the large stocks that are on hand. and to try and induce the masters to withdraw the notice of reduction
February 13 1888
Most of the miners in Fife have lifted : grathe : to take a fortnights holidays.
February 20 1888
The executive board of the Fife miners association meat today in Dunfermline and after reports from the districts were submitted. it was resolved to carry out the holidays and return to work in a body on Monday 27th.
February 21 1888
The Coal Owners had a meeting today in Dunfermline and a partial lockout was agreed upon. the men who were at work would be allowed to work on. but those who were idle would not be allowed to start on Monday. as was proposed by the miners. the masters are to meet again on tuesday.
February 22 1888
The SS "Antelope" Hartlepool going out of Methil harbour today coal laden. ran on the rocks a little to the west of the backon. there was an easterly wind and a heavy sea running at the time. She had in 1000 tons of coal altogether.
The coal masters did not meet till thursday 1st March. it was then agreed to open the pits for work on Monday the 5 inst. the men all started to work on monday on the masters terms. that is on the 10 per cent reduction. after being idle 3 weeks. sone Some of the men still think if all the men had been idle we would have got back the break.
on the 11th March
the SS Antelope was all broken up. the heavie sea that was running knocked her all to peacess. the wood and coals were strwen along the beach. the coals were a welcome sight to many. tons of which were gathered and carried away when the tide went back.
The month of March has been a month of heavy snow-storms. the like has not been experenced for many years.
on Oct 3rd 1888
the price of bread was raised today from 4d to 4½d and on the 22st it went up to 5d. the Leven baking Co paid a dividend of 3/3 per pound for the half year ending Oct 17th.
on October 30th
We began a small shop selling sweets a and small bread. this only went on about 3 months.
December 10 1888
The miners in Fife asked there masters for an advance of 10per cent on there wages. some time ago. owing to the brisk state of trade. and the coals has advanced 3 pence per ton. The masters took 10 per cent of the workmen when the price of coals fell 3 pence per ton. Now has been (what they consider) very good to there men. Then they have posted a notice that the wages of the workmen will be advanced 5 per cent to come into effect on the 17th of this month. they took 5d of the ton of household coal when they took off the 10 per cent and they have put it on again when they give the 5 per cent.
October 14th 1889
My father (James Smith) is 51 yar years old today
February 21st 1890
I now worked about 3 weeks after being of work for 3 welks weeks with Bronchitis and Influenza
August 5th 1890
Grand mother is 74 years old today.
on the 1st day of June 1891
I first went over the ForthBridge having gone to Edinburgh with my three boys James Peter and John. we were accompaned with my Bro. William. who was then living liveing in Leven.
January 18th 1892
The SS Raleigh of Exca Exeter went ashore today trying to take the harbour during a South est gale. The Duke of Clarance and Avondale (the Prince of Wales's oldest sone son) died on the 14 of Jan 1892.
January 25 1892
Started today on a reduction of wages to the extent of 7½ per cent on December 1888 rates
February 13th
A man called Richard Stewart was killed today in No2 pit Leven
February 19th
A lad called Peter Ostler was killed today in No2 pit Leven
February 20th
The SS Cremonia ran ashore at the Est end of Bacl Buckhaven. She got off gain Friday 25th
May 19
Started today on another reduction of 7½ per cent. the second reduction this year.
on the 28th May a man named Thomas Dobie was killed in No2 pit Leven

on January 19 1893

Brother William with his wife and family (boy and girl) left Leven for America going to the State of Missouri. they left Glasgow on the 20th on the SS State of California.
            [Mr. William Smith care of
             David McKay, Bonair Mines,
             White County
             Via Sparta
             Tennessee USA]
on December 14th 1892
I along with my Brothers William and James started in the Parrob Section in No2 pit Leven Colliery, but William only worked about 3 weeks when he went away to America.
on March 1st 1893
Joseph & W Cumming was killed in No2 pit Leven Colliery
on March 2nd 1893
Brother Thomas with his wife and child went away to America going to the same place as Br. William. Camysdin. State of Missouri
August 7th 1893
There are 30 steamers laying in the roads waiting on coal. and 9 in the Dock and the miners are agitating for an advance of wages to the extent of 25 percent. there are over 7,000 warnings in. to strick if the rise is not granted.
August 22nd
The miners are all idle today. having lifted their grath yesterday. The masters offerred an advance of 12½ per cent but it was refused. there are still 23 steamers laying off in the roads waiting on coal. beside a few in the dock.
September 6
Started to work after being idle since August 22nd. the miners by a ballot through Fife on Monday 4th decided to resume work on the masters offer of 12½ per cent. the majority in favour of work was 1868. over 3750 took part in the ballot. Windygates did not give the total number of votes but returned 8 in favour of work.
September 15
Early this morning the woodyard and shop belonging to Mr. Robert Suttie took fire and was totally destroyed. nearly all the people in Methil was turned out just to see it. A few of the people that was leaving near had all their furniture removed from the houses for fear they would also be burned. After a time the fire was got under control so that the houses were in no danger though one of them was burning in the roof. but it was put out. then the people carried their things back to their houses again.
March 29 1894
There is not a vessel of any kind in the Dock today. one steamer laying in the harbour waiting on the tide to get in.
March 4th 1894
After 8 or 10 weeks of fine weather Largo Law was this morning covered with snow. and there has been a cold north wind all day.
May 9th 1894
I was at work yesterday after being of for 4 weeks with an income in my finger. Thias morning there was a man killed in No1 pit Leven Colliery. his name is Robert Hare. he was living in Gordan Terrace.
Saturday 19th May 1894
This evening I was at a meeting of Police Commissioners for the first time. this was a special meeting held in the Robert Suttie's (a commissioner) of the eastern division at the regular meeting on the monday evening in Buckhaven. I was chosen by the commissioner to fill the seat that was empty through the death of Robert Welsh. I am only on for six months.
Sunday 20th
Sunday 20th was a very stormy day. a good deal of snow and hail fell during the day and a cold wind was blowing. not very like the month of May.
Monday May 28th
The miners in Fife started today on a 12½% reduction on their wages on December 1888 rates.
Saturday 2st June
We give up working the parrot Section in Leven Colliery on Wednesday. Bro. James & I are still working together in a place in the parrot. the Company has it in thereir own hand.
June 15th
I was at a meeting of the Commisioners on 4th June & on the 11th. the meeting lasted for an hour. on the 11th June the miners put in their notice to the masters to Stop work in a fortnight if they dont get back the 12½% that has been taken off their wages.
June 26th
After working a fortnights notice the miners have stopped working and are now on strike against the last reduction of 12½%. The miners in the whole of Scotland have come on strike.
June 28th
I had a walk to Cupar yesterday. I left home before 10 oclock an went to Leven and got Brother James and he went with me. We pass the Auld Kirk 12 minutes past 10. and arrived in Cupar at 20 minutes before 2 p.m. had some dinner in the Working Man's Resturant. we then had a walk through the town.   we discovered we had a cousen foreman baker in the baking society. we started home again about 3pm and arrived home again about 8 p.m. P.S. This is the first time I have been in Cupar.
July 10th 1894
Strike pay was given out to the men this evening. members who were clear on the Book got 8/- per week, half members 4/- married men got 1/- per week for each child under 12 ya years.
July 21st 1894
21st July (Saturday). the sum of 4/6 & 5/6 was given to the Non Union men this evening. this the first money they have got and some of them had much need of it. the difference of the money given was as according as they had need
July 22st 1894
July 22st Sunday. Uncle Scotland died this morning at half past 6. he has been of work fully 12 months. he has left a Wife and two children. he was quite prepared to go. knowing that he was to make a happy change. his was a case of being absent from the body present with the Lord.
July 24th 1894
July 24. Strike pay was given given out to the Union men today. 8/- per week to ful members 4/- to half members and 1/- per week for each child under 12 years.
August 21st 1894
August 21st. I was working on a steamer that was in the Dock discharging railway sleeppers and saw a frog that had come with them (from Riga Russia). it was taken on deck and a man got it with his pocket and let it away into a field.
September 12th 1894
September 12 Wednesday. Grandmother (Father's mother) died this morning at 15 minutes past 3 oclock. She was 78 years old in August last.
Uncle Scotland her younger son died on Sunday 22 July. he was 35 years old. he left a widow and two children.
October 23rd 1894
Oct 23 1894. The miners started today on the masters terms after being on strike for 17 weeks.
January 7th 1895
January 7 1895. We got notice today of a reduction of a 1d per ton in 14 days. Our present price is 1/6 per ton. this is about 6% reduction.
February 19th 1895
On Tuesday 19 February 1895 John Divine (aged 15) was killed in No2 pit Leven Colliery by a fall of a stone from the roof.
June 5th 1895
On 5th June 1895James our eldest son started with Mr. John Carins ship brocker to learn to be a clark.
February 29th 1896
On 29th February 1896 I was a t Glasgow at the 119th Quartly Meeting of the Scottish CoOperative Society. this is the first time I been at the Quartly Meeting and the second time over the FourthBridge.
February 23rd 1896
On the 23rd February 1896 the miners in Fife started on a reduction in wages to the extent of 12½ percent. on the rates payable in 1888. this brings the wages down to the same level as they were in 1888. according to the masters statement. but there has been a great many partial breaks and in many cases the wages are lower now than they were then.
June 30th 1897
The New Dock at Methil was opened tonigh at 9 oclock. Mrs. Morris named it the Jubilee Dock. the first vessel to enter was the S.S. Sir Walter of Leith.
it is about 3 years since the work of extendtion began. the entrance at present is from the old Dock. the fairway from the New Gates is not deep enough yet but there are some blasting going on and the Dredger is at work and it is expected that the fairway will be ready in a short time. there is more shipping than can be done in the old Dock at present.
July 15th 1897
The thermomerter in the house was at 76 Deg. I took it to the door in the sun and it rose to 100 Deg. I bought a new watch (English Lever) from Mr. Grige watchmaker main treet in the month of March 1897. the number is . I was 39 years old on 7 March.
March 8th 1900
Brother Andrews wife died at Burntisland this morning at 3 oclock.
June 1st 1904
June 1st Wednesday 1904. The Laird of Wemyss had a meeting in the co-operatve cooperative hall tonight. he has a scheam in view to sink a pit make a road from Methil to Buckhaven and put in a Tramway system from Kirkcaldy to Buckhaven. he asked the ratepayers of the Burgh to agree to close the present road from Methil to Bick Buckhaven and he would give them the road he was going to make. all the ground in the Links would be required for sidings etc. for the new works. the Proprieters in Links would get a Fue the same size. at the same price on top of the hill near where he is building a lot of New houses. he promised to give fair market value for the houses in the Links so that the owners would be at no lose.
A vote was taken and a majority voted in favour of the Lairds Scheam.
A number of quistions were asked which received very good answers.
June 15th 1904
I started to work today in No4 pit Leven Colliery in a heading in the 8 foot seam with Alexander Campbell and Andrew Gullard. the price per ton is 1/6½ (coals and small coals all filled together & 18/- per fathom. average county wage 5/6 per day.
November 3rd 1904
I palnted 4 apple trees an & 1 one Plumb tree today. these trees are grown from seed sown 3 years ago.
September 19th 1905
I was at Earlseat mines on Sunday afternoon to see the coal Bing that is on fire. the bing was estimated at 13,000 tons and the loss was £7000.
March 8th 1906
The rails of the Wemyss Tramway was laid past the top of Methil Brae today.
June 23rd 1906
1906 June 23 Saturday. I and my wife were att Crieff today there being a excursion from Buckhaven. we were at DrummondCasselGardens which were a pretty sight.
July 25th 1906
1906 July 25 Wednesday. A tramcar drawn by 3 horses went past Methil Brae between 6 and 7 oclock this evening. trying the road.
July 13th 18906
Friday 13 July 1806. John sailed to Gottenberg today for a fortnight holidays
August 8th 1906
August 8th 1906. A tramcar was run from Aberhill to Denbeath this evening wth electric power to test the road before the inspection of the System by the Board of Trade.
August 25th 1906
August 25. The Tramway System was opened today for Passenger traffic.
October 19th 1906
Friday October 19th. The Fund of the Methil Yearly Society were distributed this evening being the end of the first year.
February 28th 1907
1907 Thursday 28 February. Rev. Alexander Robertson Kilwinning was ordained in Methil Parish Church.
March 3rd 1907
Sunday 3rd March. Mr Robertson preached in the afternoon his text being the 10th Ch. Acts. The meeting of Peter and Cornelius.
July 31 1907
July 31 1907. The miners in the Aitken Pit Kelty started work today after being on strike for three weeks. they objected to their coal being weighed by Billy Fairplay. and wanted to be paid on the gross weight instead of so much for coal and so much for small. they have started on a three months trial without Billy.
13th July 1908.
At the half yearly General Meeting of the Methil Co-operative Society Ltd I retired from being Secretary after being 12 years and 8 months in office. I was 3½ years Chairman previous to that being the first chairman and the second secretary. the secretary's work was to much for me to do on spare time.
Wednesday 22nd July 1908.
The Laird of Wemyss was buried today a West Wemyss. he died in London on Friday 17th.
November 19 1908.
At the Annual Social Meeting of the members of the Methil Cooperative Society on Nov 19 1908. I was presented with a Rolltop Desk and a Marble Clock. My wife got a Rose Bowl and a pair of silver fruit dishes in consideration of my long service to the Society.
13 April 1909
            No4 Pit Leven Colliery worked 11 days for the pay. the first time in 4 months owing to dull trade.
18 September 1910 1909
I started work today in Pirnie Pit in a section contracted by D. Dryburgh at 2/6 per ton and 8/- per fathom.
20 May 1910
There was a joined service in the Methil Parish Church today. this being the Funeral Day of King Edward 7th VII. MrRobertson ParishChurch give out Hymn 477. Mr. Ingles Innerleven UF Chuch read the 90th Psalm then offered prayer. Hymn 130 13 to 18 V2 given out by Mr. Ingles. Mr McLeman UF Church Methil read from 1 Car 15ch 13 to 57 ver. and engaged in prayer. Sermon by Mr Robertson all the 90th Psalm with special reference to verses 12 & 17. the 53 Paraphrase given out by Mr. Gill. he also engaged in prayer then gave out Hymn 226. Mr Robertson pronounced the Benediction.
A number of Free Mason's and Policemen were at the service.
January 29 1911
The Communion of the Lord's Supper was dispenced in the Methil Parish Chuch today. I and my wife with our three sons and two daughters were at the forenoon service. our daughters there for the first time.
February 5 1911
I took a class in the Sunday Scholl today.
September 21st 1911
The Prince of Wales visted Methil Docks. he came ashore from H.M.S. Hindustan.

Saturday September 23

Started to dig a well in garden. water supply had been shut off for two days. I got a good supply of water at about 11ft. down. water good
16 January 1912
The SS Ashgrove was driven ashore at the back of Breakwater between 8 and 9 oclock in evening. two men drowned. the vessel went all to pieces in a short time.
February 9 1912
My Father in law Peter Anderson got the old age pension for the first time today. he was 78 years of age on May 8 1910 and only stopped working at the end of 1911.
February 13
The Coaltrimmers at Methil Dock came on strike this evening. The strike only lasted 50 hours when work was resumed on the conditions asked for by the trimmers.
March 1st
The miner(s) have entered on a National Strike for an individual minimum wage.
March 11
The Railway companys have stopped all trains on branch lines.
There are thousands of Iron workers idle for the want of coal and thousands of Factory workers idle owing to the railway coys. not taking away their material.
April 10 The pits were opened for work.
April 11
            The majority of the miners at work but a large number will not get work this week owing to roads being out of repair.
April 13 Saturday
There was a limited railway service to Methil today
April 15 Monday
Working today. my first start since March 1st.
22 August 1912
            Our house was lighted with gas for the first time this evening.
December 1912
            I was at a farm Daft Mill near Ladybank looking for a horse for Methil Coal Coy. with D. Martin Methilhill. when we were coming home we saw two sunsets. when we were between Ladybank and Falkland Road Station the sun set over Lomand Hill (Est) and after we passed Falkland Road we saw the sun past the side of the hill and it set again.
September 1913
I got three young trout from Pratis Burn (Archie Ritchie got them for me) and put them into the well in the garden

War Scare                                                       

Sunday August 2 1914
Ten men left Methil at five oclock this evening for Portsmouth. They are in the Naval Reserve. All the Reserves called out.
Wednesday 5, 1914
All the Army Reserve called out.
War declared against Germany last evening at 7 oclock. Germany declared war against Briton at 7 oclock on the 4th August.
June 25 1917
My son John was called to the Army today. had to close his business - Tailor and Clother - Est High Street Methil. he is in the Black Watch. his wife and children are living in Leven.
August 1917
I was at work today after being of work since June 6 with an injured toe.
August 9. 1918
 I took out the last of the dead this evening
31 July 1918
I was off work from 1st July to 18 with a bruised ankle August 10 1918. Filled in the well today.
August 18 1918
John was discharged from the army on 14 June 1918 unfit for further service. he had been six weeks in France.
17th August 1918
Agnes and Mary started at the Government Works Crail on 17th August.
September 22 1919
Got one apple of an apple tree in the garden. it is 15 years come November since I planted the tree grown from the seed. here are other two trees the same age but I have not got anything off them yet.
19th July 1920
Yesterday afternnon about 3.15 a hail storm pased over here and did a lot of damage to the garden. Cabage, Ruhberb leeks and Berry bushes were destroyed. the hail stones were about the size of pigeon's eggs. the storm lasted between 15 and 20 minutes. nobody rembers anything like it.
Monday October 18 1920
All the miners are idle today in a national strike for an advance of wages. the county wage is 17/- per day 7 hours day and 2/- advance is asked.
Friday 29th October 1920
Strike pay today 12/- per man and 1/- for each child under 14 years of age.
Wednesday 3 October 1920    [Probably November - not October]
Miners strike declared off
Friday 5 Octo Oct 1920  [November]
Strike pay again today again 12/- . union fund almost exhausted. a number of men were at work yesterday. a full start expected on monday.
4th July 1921
No4 pit Leven Colliery was partly open for work today. the miners all over the country have been idle since 1st April over a wage dispute. Settlement has now been got and the stoppage declared off. not more than half of the men will get started now and it will be some monlhs months before all the pits are open for work owing to damage from flodding.
I got start in No4 pit Leven Colliery as high bottomer on the back shift.
1922 May 22
I saw some blossoms on an apple tree in the garden this morning. it is 18 years since the tree was planted. this the first bloom.
January 5 1923
We (my wife and I) were at a social meeting in Masonic Hall Leven this evening. the gathering was in connection with the Jubilee of the Fife Coal Company. all the workers with 25 years service got gift of £5 five pounds. those with longer service got a liitle more. up to £10 ten pound for fifty years service.
There has been other such meeting in the west of Fife and the Chairman Mr. C Carlow said they given away 965 envelopes each one containing £5 and over.
January 8 1923
I planted a Pear Tree in the garden this morning.
1925 February 11
No 4 pit Leven Colliery has been closed down all the plant has been drawn to the pithead. I and some others were at Leven Labour Exchange signing on for unemployment benefit. I have been on the back shift since 4 July 1921.
Oct 1 1925
My watch no 9/1647 has got a new main spring and cleaned cost 7/6
25 January 1926
There was a thunderstorm over here in the afternoon with a heavy shower of hail.
22nd April 1926
The New school at Methilhill to accommodate 800 scholars was opened today.
2nd May 1926
On Saturday first May the miners in the country came on strike against a reduction in wages and longer hours. for some time the miners have been working seven hours per day and the employers wants then to go back to the eight hours day which they refuse to do. A General Strike of all the other trade unions is threatened at mid night tonight.
4 May
Railways and traw tramways and Motor Buses all idle today.
12 May
The General Strike declared off as from midnight. There is no settlement for the miners yet.
June 9 Wednesday 1926
The new bell on the New Church Methil was wringing today for the first time.
13 October 1926
We saw an aeroplane after darkness. it was over Methil Dock and went away to sea again. this is the first time we have seen one at night.
December 2 1926
The miners strike off on Saturday 27th November . all the pits were open for work on November 29th. Eight hours day wages the same as befor the strike till 30 April 1927 the new agreement to be arranged for 1st May will be 3 years agreement between coal owners and miners.
29 June 1927 Wednesday
My three Grandsons John Thomas and Peter were on the top of Largo Law at 6 oclock this morning to see the Eclipse of the sun and did not see it for clouds and mist.
5 October 1927
The clock that we got 42 years ago was at the watchmakers for repair. this the first time it has got any repair.
9 October 1927 Sunday
The first communion by the Rev A H Forbes was held in Methil Parish Church. The forenoon text was from Corinthians 13 ch 14 ver. The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.
4 November 1927
Replanted a pear tree. the tree is six years old and put it in another part of the garden.
31st December 1927
Got a new main spring in my watch.
5 January 1928
We got our old age pension for the first time today under the 65 years of age arrangement.
On 22nd June 1929
My beloved wife Mary Henderson Daughter of Peter Henderson and Agnes Carins died at 12.30 in tghe morning. not lost but gone before.  but we will meet again.
9 January 1929 [1930?]
James planted 6 apple trees a plum tree and a cherry tree 6 Black currant bushes and 6 Red currant bushes and 6 gooseberry bushes.
25 January 1930
We put in 5 steel clothes poles in the garden Jim & I. The poles cost £2-5-3.
8 December 1931
New Gas Burners fited in today. it is 19 years since the gas was put in.
January 30 1932.
The Wemyss Tramway System was closed today. The road was opened on 25 August 1906.
March 31 1933
The Prince of Wales passed through Methil today on a tower through Fyfe.
The Prince was in Methil on September 21 1911
27 May 1933
Our old clock gota new mainspring. it is 47 years since we got it.
21 April 1934
Our house was lighted with Electric light last night for the first time. The fittings were put in by my Grandson Peter. The fittings cost £12-11-5
                                    Father died 17th May 1935 at 7.30pm
                                                                                                John Smith        [Son]
                                    Copied from the diary by John Smith (Grandson)
                                                                                                27th April 1980.