The Miner

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Miner' page
Photo:Sam at the Central

Sam at the Central

Photo:Sam entertaining on a coach trip

Sam entertaining on a coach trip

Photo:Sam with his brothers and sisters.

Sam with his brothers and sisters.

Photo:This is Sam recuperating in Bangour Hospital. Sam is in the bed on the left.

This is Sam recuperating in Bangour Hospital. Sam is in the bed on the left.

Sam Woods

By Billy Kane

My Dad, Sam Woods, was born on the 17th October 1919 to a family of four brothers and three sisters. He went down the pit at Breich aged 14, caught T.B. in May 1945 and spent two years in Bangour Hospital. While there, he wrote this poem after he heard someone criticising the miners. He had a family of ten - six girls and four boys and too many grandchildren to mention . He lost his wife (my mum), Susie Donaldson Woods, at the age of 43 in 1976. He was a great pianist and played in many bands, one being the Jamieson Trio with his brothers Tommy and James. He died in May 2006 aged 86.

Written by Susan (Woods) Wilson.

As Sam's daughter Susan confirms, Sam wrote this poem in response to a "Colonel Blimp" who was critical of the miners. After reading the poem, I would suggest there was only one winner in this debate. The poem is on display in the lounge area in Loganlea Miners Club- a fitting tribute to Sam. As Susan says, Sam loved his music and he accompanied many a singer in "Dykes Club" over the years.

Billy Kane


The Miner

In these gim days of battles fought

By Britain's worthy sons,

Let's not forget another lad

Who fights, but not with guns.

His weapons are a saw, a mash,

A shovel and a pick.

Just simple tools in clever hands.

A brain alert and quick.


His war is waged to win us coal

From underneath the soil.

No ray of sunshine strikes his brow

To brighten up his toil.

His foe is Mother Nature,

A friend, at times, I own.

But when you meet her down the pit,

Her heart is made of stone.


She fights with mud and blood and dust

Foul air reeking hot.

Lack of light, restricted height,

It's not a pleasant lot.


And this lad's battle doesn't last,

For one year, two or ten.

He's facing danger all his life,

Escapes death again and again.


So when you hear him criticised by

Folks who think they're finer,

Just look into your cheery fire...

And bless the British miner.


By S. Woods



This page was added by Billy Kane on 29/10/2012.
Comments about this page

My dad also played in a band with his brothers called the Havana Four. They played in all the dance halls during the Second World War and at Kirknewton Air Base when the Americans were there. They tell a story about my dad (I can't confirm it), but the story goes that when he won the domino competition at Dykes' club in the late sixties, he got a mention in The Courier. It went like: the winner of the dominos at Dykes' club last week was Sam Squeeze Box Woods. Well my da took umbridge to this and fired off a nasty letter to the editor the next week. He had an apology in the said paper the following week. He could be a carnaptious auld toerag at times but we all loved him and still miss him very much

By Tommy Woods
On 30/10/2012

What a great poem, it brought tears to my eyes. My uncle Henry Foley was killed in Dykes pit; he was a young man and many mining families were affected by sudden deaths at the pit. In those days there was no National Coal Board and therefore no compensation for the families left behind- the Coal Owners could not have cared less. I remember many years later a scroll was sent to my Grandad Tommy Foley, stating he had given 50 loyal years to the Coal Mining Industry- he threw it in the fire immediately; after fifty years and all you got was a piece of paper. I often hear men here in Barbados saying the hardest job in the world is cutting sugar cane by hand and it undoubtedly is hard work in the searing hot sun. I soon tell them they are so lucky to work in the daylight, the sun shining and not down a Scottish Coal Mine. I am extremely proud of my coal mining background and proud of all those miners who slaved in the bowels of the earth.

By Catherine Alleyne
On 30/10/2012

That is a beautiful poem. I am going to print it and get it framed to hang in my house. Coal Mining is a subject close to my heart and I read everything I can find about it. I am very proud to tell people that my father and grandfather were coal miners. It takes a brave man to go down a pit, especially in war time when bombs are being dropped above you. Good for your Dad.... put the "Colonel Blimps" of this world in their place.

By Anne Cassidy Hamilton
On 30/10/2012

This brought a tear to my eye, what a superb poem, you were the best accordian player papa woods xx

By pauline woods
On 30/10/2012

Henry Foley: I have looked for articles about my Uncle Henry Foley being killed in the mine and I cannot find one. I have looked up all of the Scottish Coal Mining disasters and deaths and there are actual lists year by year, but he was not on any of them. I did read that the biggest dangers were from fire and floods and seems like most were explosions. It must have been terrifying to be down under the ground when an explosion happened and yet I read numerous stories of men as young as 20 years old carrying others out and going back for more. Like my cousin Catherine Cassidy Alleyne, I am very proud of my coal mining heritage. We were raised to be proud of it. To do the best we could in life but never forget where we came from. If anyone has any information on Henry Foley's accident I would really appreciate it if they would send it to me. I would like to do an article on him, but I don't have enough information.

By Anne Cassidy Hamilton
On 30/10/2012

Anne, it was a cave-in that broke Uncle Henry's back but he died in Bangour; maybe that is the reason it is not mentioned under any of the fatal accidents. He was a great favourite of all the family: they all loved him. He was only a young man and my mother told me he was working an extra shift to get money to go to Wembley and support Scotland against England.

By Catherine Alleyne
On 31/10/2012

Thanks for all the lovely comments about our Dad, especially from his beautiful grand daughter Pauline

By Tommy Woods
On 31/10/2012

I always tear up every time I read this poem I think only the mining communities and the miners and their families would really understand it lovely ?? 

By Marie Brogan
On 05/05/2020

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