31st July 2020
Apprentices of the past recall when the black diamonds ruled
Dear Billie, May I on behalf of those who arrived at the former NCB Workshops and the people of Cowdenbeath and Central Fife thank the Company for allowing the visit to take place and yourself for your effort and assistance in making the visit the success it was, also please pass on our regards and thanks to Mr Jim Ross and his contribution to making the visit a success, he enjoyed hearing the visitors talk about the Workshops and their experiences in working there. All those who attended enjoyed the visit and old acquaintances were renewed as memories were shared. Once again many many thanks to all involved for a great day. Iain Chalmers
PLEASE SEE BELOW WHAT THIS MUCH APPRECIATED THANK YOU LETTER REFERS TO:
31st July 2020 Central Fife Times & Advertiser - Jim Stark
THE rain might have been falling steadily but none of the 45 former NCB workers minded as they reminisced at length on their visit to the place where most of them started their working lives.
They all gathered at the former Central Workshops, in Church Street, on Thursday, to have a last look at the historic Cowdenbeath industrial site.
As guests of the owners of the now Thistle Industrial Estate, In-Site Property Solutions, they were shown around the sprawling Workshops site by the long serving Jim Ross, who has been 25 years with the In-Site team in Cowdenbeath.
The visitors went around it in groups of eight and as they walked in the heavy drizzle a lot of memories came flooding back to them.
Some of the visitors to the Workshops had started there in the late 50s.
One of them, Alex Anderson, said that three members of his family had worked there and he started in 1958.
Alex added: “I remember seeing the Pug engine coming up the track into the Workshops, it came all the way from the No7 Colliery, at Central Park to Church Street, having come across the High Street. It was quite a sight.”
Another, Stuart Watson, recalled that he started his apprenticeship in 1980 and he said that what he learned there had held him in good stead throughout his working life.
The Workshops, which were opened in 1925 by the Fife Coal Company, served their pits of which there were many in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area, but under nationalisation after the Second World War, the NCB started to see pits all over Scotland receive key maintenance from staff at Cowdenbeath, and as time went on their spectrum spread and at its peak the site employed more than 1,000 people.
The Central Workshops contained an extensive office building, a laboratory, an engineering works and a central materials and equipment store. It covers an area of 17¾ acres.
The visitors learned from Jim Ross that the larger buildings at the site needed major improvements to let them continue to operate and In-Site had to take the decision to demolish some of these and that would be taking place when the Covid-19 crisis eases, and currently it looked like it would be 2021 before the work could start. The visit was organised by Cowdenbeath mining history guru, Iain Chalmers, who was very pleased with the way things went on Thursday: “I felt it would good to give people the chance to see the Workshops as they were when they worked there, before the demolition takes place.
“I felt we might get a dozen or 15, but to get 45 was superb and I think everyone had a great time remembering their days at the Workshops.
“I would like to thank In-site Properties and Jim Ross for their assistance in making it possible.”