Mining in Fife: Sheena Berry


  • Kinghorn, Fife
  • Fieldworker: Margaret Bennett
  • Audio Format: wav files, Digital mic, Edirol
  • Transcribed: Sheena Berry
  • Publication: In preparation
  • Date: Wednesday, 28 May 2014

1-Intro-Sheena-May, 28-2014  Time: 0:13

2-Sheena-reflections-Fife-mining families  Time: 8:50

3-Dad's Poems-background  Time: 9:52

4-In the Bings-poem Charles Berry  Time: 5:27

5-Dad wrote short stories. ‘The Moon-rakers’  Time: 18:37

6-Kenny Munro (just arrived) Kinghorn in 1920s
    linen mills and shipyards  Time: 5:56


 I have a book of poems my dad wrote!

Section Twel’ ‘Section Twel’ by Charles Berry, Kirkcaldy, contributed by his daughter Sheena Walker. Recorded by Margaret Bennett as part of ‘The End of the Shift’ oral history fieldwork interview, 2015. Copyrighted © Charles Berry, 2015.


Sheena: My dad was born in 1927 – his name was Charles Berry. He was born in Dysart, quite close to Kirkcaldy. When he first went down the pit, his first job was to turn the bogies when they came down … He was just thirteen!’ He worked in the ‘Frances’ and the ‘Michael’ pits when he was younger and then Bowhill, which is Dundonald, quite close to Cardenden, as an older man. And when he was older, he would reminisce and start to speak to you about things… I remember him telling me that it was a dangerous place to work and that he’d been down the mine and he said to me one day, “Do you know? People would be sitting having their piece and ehm, the next minute a stone would fall from the ceiling, and they would be killed.” He called this poem ‘Section Twel’. I don’t know which pit ‘Section Twel’ was in.


‘Section Twel’

Big Alfie’s doon the East Side, an Frankie’s ben the West.

Auld Rab an’ Jeek’s jist ow’r the Dook – thae twa aye get it best!

But me an’ Billy Boosey, we work up ‘Section Twel’ –

Whaur the nearer ye climb tae Heav’n, the closer ye gan tae Hell!

Up there, thur’s bluid oan every girder, an’ sweat in every clamp.

An’ the air’s as foul as murder – ye c’n see it wi’ yer lamp!

An’ thur’s great big rats – like pussycats, wad mak ye run pell-mell!

It’s a Hell o’ a place tae hunker doon an hae yer piece – up Twel!

Twel has a stygian blackness thit’s peculiarly its ain –

It’s a livin, elemental thing thit spears ye tae the bane.

An it maks ye think, when the Glennie blinks – an yer sittin there yrsel,

Thit if thur’s ony ghosts aboot the pit – thae’ll be up Section Twel!

Ye crawl yer wey thru Condies, wi yer backbane double-bent,

While thi damp seeks oot yer nostrils wi diabolical intent –

An the roof is always shiftin back an forrit - ye can tell

Fae the girders squeezed like cheesecake – aw thi wey up Section Twel!

A man died sairly there – wan nicht, an quit his mortal life,

Made orphans o’ his bairns, an a widdy o’ his wife,

When a monster stane – jist made fur pain, chose him when it fell –

Man, ye never ken when yer number’s up, when ye work up Section Twel.

Aye, the pittance thit thae pey ye – an that’s gien ye wi a grudge!

Jist isnae worth the taste o’ daith, nor the misery o’ drudge.

But the thocht o’ wee anes left at hame – an a lovin wife, as well!

Wad move yer hert tae bite yer lip – an gan up Section Twel.

So, it’s Alfie doon the East Side, an Frankie ben the West –

An Auld Rab an Jeek jist ower the Dook – an a holiday fur the rest!

But me an Billy Boosey – we hear the tollin o’ thi bell!

When we lift oor graith, an wander up the brae – tae Section Twel.


Charles Berry


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