PictureLaigh Kirk, Kilmarnock
Alexander Campbell, my great grand uncle, was born in Carnock, just outside of Dunfermline in Fife in 1851. He was the son of John Campbell, miner, who moved his young family to Ayrshire to find work. Alexander was the elder brother of my great grandfather, Andrew Campbell. His is an interesting story.

In 1871, Alexander, like his father and his brothers, was a miner, living with the Duke (spelled Dukee in the census) family at 6, Burn Row, Kilmaurs. He was a young nineteen year old boy making his way in the world.

Ten years later, in 1881, Alexander seems to be doing well for himself. He has a wife, Annie Bulloch b. 1852 in Kilmaurs. They have three children:
  • Annie b. 1874 in Dreghorn
  • Margaret b. 1880 in Dreghorn
  • William b. 1878 in Old Cumnock

Alexander is the Assistant Colliery Manager living at McLaughland's Buildings, East Back Road, Dreghorn.

By 1991, Alexander has been promoted to Colliery Manager at the Bellfield Pit in Kilmarnock. They have several more children but their son, William, seems to have died and they have passed on the name to the new child, as was the practice:
  • John b. 1882 Dreghorn
  • William b. 1883 Dreghorn
  • Alexander b. 1886 Dreghorn
  • Robert b. 1890 Dreghorn

Being a colliery manager was a very demanding job, juggling the safety of all the miners and productivity. I'm sure Alexander must have come across some difficult and dangerous situations to deal with. Here's some examples:

April 1888
Yesterday, in the Bellfield colliery, Kilmarnock a contractor named Hutton who was making a road in the pit, was so severely crushed by a fall from the roof that he lived only a few minutes. [Scotsman 12 April 1888]

15 June 1896

The Coal Mines Regulation - At the Kilmarnock Sheriff Court yesterday, Robert Banks, colliery manager, Bellfield pleaded guilty to a contravention of the Coal Mines Regulation Act by failing to see that the main coal seam of No. 1 Bellfield Pit was properly ventilated, and not providing proper air-way, stoppings, and bratticing to convey the current to the working-places. He pleaded guilty. It was stated that, owing to the inadequacy of the ventilation, an explosion of fire-damp occurred ,in the pit, and three men were injured, one of whom died. The Sheriff imposed a penalty of £10, or twenty days' imprisonment. [Scotsman 4 August 1896]

Alexander didn't continue as Colliery Manager at the Bellfield Pit, because he had moved his wife and family to Accrington in Lancashire, England by 1901, living at 110, Richmond Street. He was a commercial traveller there and his children are listed as:
  • Annie, single, age 28: Dressmaker at home
  • John, single, age 19, Apprentice Machine Fitter, Iron Turner
  • Maggie, single, age 21, Cotton Winder
  • William, single, age 18, Apprentice Grocer
  • Alexander, single, age 15, Apprentice Draper
  • Robert, age 11, school boy
On returning to Kilmarnock, Alexander became the inn keeper at the Angel Hotel in Market Street. Robert Burns knew this hotel or tavern when it was called 'Begbie's.' A tavern in Market Street, Kilmarnock, across the Marnock Water from the Laigh Kirk. It later became the Angel Hotel. Burns refers to it in 'The Ordination'. The bridge over the Marnock was so narrow that churchgoers were forced to walk in a row on their way to the tavern after their devotions. The poet alleged that the Laigh Kirk worshippers were accustomed to go.

"Aff to Begbie's in a raw,
An' pour divine libations
For joy this day."


Alexander died on 21 June 1909 in Kilmarnock.  He was only 58 years old and died from chronic kidney failure. His wife, Annie Bulloch (1852) died form liver cancer at the age of 80 years (1932). At this time she was living at 35, London Road, Kilmarnock. At the time of his mother's death, William, their son, was living at 11, Dean Lane, Kilmarnock, heading through the railway arches and up the hill, but that's all I know. Sadly, I can't yet find out anything else about this part of the family. More work to do!

 


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