In pictures: Pinkie Marchers gather to honour workers’ freedom

The annual Sir William Wallace Grand Lodge of Free Colliers parade took place on Saturday. Pictures: Alan Murray
The annual Sir William Wallace Grand Lodge of Free Colliers parade took place on Saturday. Pictures: Alan Murray

It’s one of the longest-held traditions in the Falkirk district and a reminder of the continual struggle for workers’ rights around the world.

The annual Sir William Wallace Grand Lodge of Free Colliers parade took place in Shieldhill, Redding, Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone on Saturday.

The marchers link their pinky fingers to show solidarity between workers

The marchers link their pinky fingers to show solidarity between workers

The event is known affectionately as the Pinkie March as participants collectively link their pinkie fingers in a defiant gesture of freewill for workers.

The Free Colliers - which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 - honours the achievements of miners who secured their freedom in the 18th century from tyrannical pit owners - a time when men were effectively bound to their place of work and unable to seek employment elsewhere.

Since 1924, the Pinkie March has also commemorated the 40 miners who were killed in the Redding Pit Disaster by laying a wreath at the village’s memorial.

The event on Saturday attracted around 200 people and was dedicated to the group’s former grand chaplain Charlie Penman from Shieldhill, who died earlier this year.

The march passed through Shieldhill, Redding and Wallacestone

The march passed through Shieldhill, Redding and Wallacestone

Redding miners gained their freedom in 1798 and the pinkie march was first held in the years after, before becoming an organised annual gathering.

Workers would march from pit to pit in the Braes, before gathering at the Wallace Stone - the traditional site where Sir William Wallace is said to have watched the English army’s advance before the first battle of Falkirk in 1298.

The Reddingmuirhead lodge was the first to be founded by free colliers in Scotland and the last of 65 to remain.

The parade stopped at the Redding Pit Disaster memorial to lay wreathes in memory of the 40 miners killed

The parade stopped at the Redding Pit Disaster memorial to lay wreathes in memory of the 40 miners killed

Raymond Beekman, grandson of Redding Pit Disaster victim John Beekman, lays flowers at the memorial

Raymond Beekman, grandson of Redding Pit Disaster victim John Beekman, lays flowers at the memorial