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Springhill Mine Disaster

[ Roud - ; Ballad Index FSWB124A ; Peggy Seeger, with Ewan MacColl]

Martin Carthy sang Peggy Seeger's song Springhill Mine Disaster in 1965 on his eponymous first album, Martin Carthy. This track was also included in 2001 on The Carthy Chronicles. Martin Carthy commented in the former album's sleeve notes:

Probably the most terrifying of industrial accidents is the mine disaster. In 1958 in Springhill, Nova Scotia, there was an accident in one of the deep pits. After being trapped underground for eight days, five of them without water, a handful of the miners were finally rescued. This ballad was written shortly afterwards by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.

Julie Felix sang The Spring Hill Disaster in the 1970s on Folk with Julie Felix & Foggy Dew-O, and Barbara Dickson sang Springhill Mine Disaster in 1995 on her album Dark End of the Street.

Landless sang The Ballad of Springhill on their 2018 CD Bleaching Bones.

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings Springhill Mine Disaster

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Deep in the heart of the Cumberland Mine;
There's blood on the coal and the miners lie
In roads that never saw sun nor sky,
Roads that never saw sun nor sky.

In the town of Springhill, you don't sleep easy,
Often the earth would tremble and roll;
When the earth is restless, miners die,
Bone and blood is the price of coal,
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Late in the year of fifty-eight,
The day still comes and the sun still shines
But it's dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine,
Dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine.

Down at the coal face, miners working,
Rattle of the belts and the cutter blades;
Then a rumble of rock and the walls close round
Living and the dead men two miles down,
Living and the dead men two miles down.

Twelve men lay two miles from the pitshaft,
Twelve men lay in the dark and sang;
Long hot days in the miner's tomb,
It was three foot wide by a hundred long,
Three foot wide by a hundred long.

Three days passed and the lights gave out
When the leading man got up and said,
“There's no more water nor light nor bread,
So we'll live on songs of hope instead,
Live on songs of hope instead.”

Listen for the shouts of the bare-face miners,
Listen through the rubble for the rescue team;
Six hundred feet of coal and slag,
Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam,
Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam.

Eight days passed and some were rescued,
Leaving the rest to die alone;
Through all their lives they dug a grave,
Two miles of earth for a marking stone,
Two miles of earth for a marking stone.

Acknowledgements and Links

Transcribed from Martin Carthy's singing by Garry Gillard.

See also the Mudcat Café threads Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster and Folklore: Springhill Mine Disaster.