Tributes to Danderhall's oldest miner

Tributes have been paid to Danderhall’s oldest miner who passed away last month.

Born in Edinburgh, Jack Smythe played on the streets with Sean Connery as a child and his own life could have taken a very different path after he was offered a trial with Stoke City.

However a call up for National Service put that dream on hold and when he returned he found work in the mines as a mechanical engineer until retiring in the early Eighties.

Son Barry (59), said his dad was very proud to be part of the mining community and at his funeral, held at Mortonhall last Monday, colleagues who had worked with him came along as well as members of Danderhall community.

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Mr Smythe (92) was still involved with community efforts to mark Danderhall’s mining heritage.

Last summer he officially unveiled a new gateway sign into the village created by the Danderhall Guerilla Gardeners working with the council, which also paid tribute to its past.

Barry said “Dad was very proud of his community and the mining community in it, he was well know locally and it was lovely to see so many people come out to his funeral.”

On Monktonhall Miners 1992 Facebook page news of Mr Smythe’s death was greeted with sadness and tributes were paid.

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Last summer Mr Smythe officially unveiled a new gateway sign into the village.

One member said “An absolute gentleman, my dad worked with Jackie in the Klondyke and then Monktonhall. He was a lovely person.” Another added: “I remember Jackie well when he was in the workshop in Monktonhall. He had a great sense of humour and was a really nice person.”

Jack Smythe was born in Pitt Street, Edinburgh, in 1929 and went to Canonmills Primary School.

One of seven children he was evacuated to Inverness during the war and on his return found work as an apprentice brass finisher with William Barton and Sons.

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Barry recalled his dad talking about the late film star Sean Connery as a childhood friend saying: “When they were children they played in the street together and as they got older dad still knew him as a milkman, but they were closest when they were very young.”

Jack reached the Scottish Amateur Boxing finals three times.

A keen footballer, Mr Smythe was invited to a trial at Stoke City which he attended but before hearing if he was being signed or not he was called to National Service in 1952.

He served with the RAF for three years as a wireless operator in Hong Kong.

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During his time he carried on his interest in football but also as a boxer, a sport he continued when he returned from service reaching the Scottish Amateur Boxing finals three times.

He was offered a job at Newcraighall Colliery, known as The Klondike, through boxing contacts and in the mid Sixties moved to Monktonhall.

He and wife Thelma, who he met through a mutual love of jazz, moved to Danderhall to be closer to his work and remained there or the rest of their lives.

Mr Smythe was given early retirement in 1983 and became involved in local clubs, including Danderhall Bowling Club as well as being a member of Masonic No10 Dalkeith and Kilwinning.