Free Colliers Braes march a tribute to Charlie

The Free Colliers 'Pinkie March' will feature a tribute to a former member who died earlier this year
The Free Colliers 'Pinkie March' will feature a tribute to a former member who died earlier this year

Free Colliers will dedicate Saturday’s annual march to one of the organisation’s members who passed away this year.

The parade by the Sir William Wallace Grand Lodge of Free Colliers of Reddingmuirhead will feature a poignant tribute to the group’s former Grand Chaplain Charlie Penman from Shieldhill.

The walk, which makes its way round the villages of the Braes area where there used to be a number of pits, will also start earlier than normal at 11am in Shieldhill.

The lodge’s Grand Master Willie Allardyce said: “The march will stop at the entrance to Charlie’s street where a brass band will play Abide With Me for him. He was a great servant to the Free Colliers and will be sorely missed by us all.”

There will be speeches at the Redding Pit Disaster memorial at Redding Cross at 11.50am and historian Ian Scott will make a speech at 5pm at the monument in Wallacestone.

A wreath is also laid at the pit disaster memorial to commemorate the 40 men who lost their lives in one of the worst incidents in Scottish mining history on September 25, 1923.

Affectionately known as the ‘Pinkie March’, the event marks colliers’ rights as free men and participants dress in formal wear and link pinkies to symbolise their unity. It has taken place on the first Saturday of August since the 19th century.

The Reddingmuirhead group is the first and last one of its kind which continues the time-honoured tradition of marching to demonstrate their forefathers’ rights as free men.

In the 18th century miners were treated as slaves and could be bound, along with their children, to pit owners for the duration of their lives and the march is significant in local history.

After winning their freedom from owners in around 1798, miners in Redding and the surrounding villages started the annual march to the Wallace Stone from colliery to colliery