Chinnor Community Church, High Street, Chinnor, OX39 4DH

Coffee Pot – October dispatches

CCC Coffee Pot and Pastor Kenn leaves

After a chat and a cuppa and still more conversation, plus consuming all the biscuits, we managed, eventually, to bring some decorum to the morning meeting. Pastor Kenn, the minister at CCC for just over four years, was speaking at his last Coffee Pot meeting before returning to somewhere in his native Scotland. In his first meeting at CP he revealed something about himself. At this, his last meeting, we learnt about some of his family history.

It might have started, “Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a far distant land, there lived a coal mining family….” but it is there that the story changes. Kenn came from mining stock in the coal mining area of Lanarkshire, Scotland. Kenn’s granddad was an underground fireman, who died in a pit explosion when Kenn was only ten years old. The pit has gone now and the surface landscaped, but the bodies of many of the men still lay where they died, deep down in the colliery.

Kenn’s great, granddad was a rail worker, laying track and maintaining it, again deep underground.

This was in the 1880’s and the family lived in a two room miners cottage, with five children, one window, no running water, no electricity and very little else. Ten years later, the situation was still the same, only now there were ten children living in the same, dark, dingy squalid cottage. The better off side of the family still lived in small cottages, but somehow, they managed to fit a lodger in, plus they had two windows.

Kenn went back another 100 years, to the 1790’s. Most miners at that time were bonded men, virtually slaves to the mine owners. There were no unions and no welfare, and definitely no sympathy. If a miner died underground, either by a rock fall, gas explosion, drowning, fire damp, pit collapse or some other gruesome situation, the miner’s widow and family would be out on the streets by nightfall. Slavery in the coal-mines of Scotland is well recorded. In just one mining disaster, at the Blantyre Pit, on the 22 October 1877, Scotland’s worst ever mining disaster, 207 miners were killed. The accident left 92 widows and 250 fatherless children. Blantyre was also the scene of two further disasters in 1878 and 1879.

What a terrible situation to live and work in, unlike today’s modern technological breakthroughs, living conditions and the comforts that go with the times. Whilst Kenn returns to Scotland, it is to continue as a minister, preaching the Gospel and telling of God’s work in this modern day and age.

We wish him well for the future.

Peter Brown

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