The Blantyre Explosion: A Song

This song commemorates a coal mining disaster, in the Scottish town of Blantyre, in the vicinity of Glasgow in 1877. The explosion was a firedamp, or methane, explosion. It beggars belief that this initial disaster, killing 207 men and boys, some as young as 11, was followed by others, in 1878 and 1879. Equally unthinkable… Continue reading The Blantyre Explosion: A Song

The Price of The Coal: Climate Change

Here is an adaptation of a song written by Wendy Richardson. The original song focuses on the price of the coal in the context of the lives of the miners. This version of the song, with verses written by members of the Illawarra Union Singers, focuses on the price of the coal in terms of… Continue reading The Price of The Coal: Climate Change

The Appin Tragedy

The night of Tuesday, July 24, 1979, shook not only the small mining community of Appin but the entire Illawarra, with the region’s families dependent on their men going underground day after day (Cox 2009).  This song uses words from a poem by Sid Wright, and music written and arranged by Sarah De Jong. This… Continue reading The Appin Tragedy

Which Side Are You On?

Arrangement 1 Arrangement 2 Arrangement 3 Arrangement 4 This seminal song was written by Florence Reece in 1931, in Harlan County, Kentucky.  These  arrangements for  a mixed voice choir, the Illawarra Union Singers, by Doug McPherson. “In 1931, the miners and the mine owners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle… Continue reading Which Side Are You On?

Windy Gully

-A song by Wendy Richardson, remembering the Mount Kembla Mining disaster of July 1902.  Arranged by Doug McPherson, from a previous arrangement by Florence Rankin. “She’s gone up!!” The shout could be heard across the mountain as the peaceful hamlets of Mt. Kembla were shattered by a loud explosion.!the-disaster/p99e1 “Mount Kembla from Mount Nebo” by… Continue reading Windy Gully

Blackleg Miner: Arranged In Two Parts

Blackleg Miner is a 19th-century English folk song, originally from Northumberland (as can be deduced from the dialect in the song and the references in it to the villages of Seghill and Seaton Delaval). Louis Killen writes, “At the height of the miners’ union struggles of the 1880’s and ’90’s, labourers were brought in from… Continue reading Blackleg Miner: Arranged In Two Parts