An appeal has been launched to refurbish a memorial to eight men killed in one of the region’s worst mining disasters before its 120th anniversary next year.
A plaque bearing the names of those who died in the Donibristle disaster was erected in their honour 24 years ago but much of the wording is no longer legible.
Donald McArthur, who created the cairn on which the plaque stands, is appealing for help to raise enough money to have the memorial regilded.
The 65-year-old Cowdenbeath man’s great-grandfather James McDonald was one of those killed in the Donibristle Colliery’s Mynheer seam in August 1901, when it was flooded by thousands of tonnes of moss and water, trapping many men underground.
It sparked one of the most daring rescue missions ever carried out by the close knit mining community.
Despite the heroic efforts of all involved, the disaster claimed the lives of miners William Forsyth, George Hutchison, David Campbell and Alexander Smith and the rescue party which went underground in a vain bid to find the trapped men, William Hynd, Thomas Rattray, Andrew Paterson and Mr McDonald.
Mr McArthur’s cairn was built on the outskirts of Cowdenbeath, a mile south of the colliery at Mossmorran Moor, and a poignant ceremony was held there in 2001 to mark the incident’s centenary.
He would like to see it refurbished to its original condition in honour of those who died but has had trouble applying for the necessary funds.
“The difficulty I face is that I am not an organisation or registered charity, I am a descendant of one of the men who died and is named on the memorial.
“Our local community council cannot provide funds for someone in my position and I am unable to approach trusts and other organisations for the same reasons.
“The gilding on the memorial has deteriorated to the extent that anybody who wants to research local history will find around 40% of it is unreadable.”
Mr McArthur has been quoted between £500 and £600 to bring the plaque back up to scratch by Co-op Memorial Services in Dunfermline.
Given he has been unable to apply for funding as an individual, he hopes to find an organisation willing to take the project on in time for next year’s anniversary.
“I think there must be a group out there interested in returning the cairn back to good condition.”
Anyone who thinks they can help can contact Mr McArthur by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.