1881-Oct-06: Bank Pit

1.David Stevenson35fall from roof

David Stevenson was born in 1845 at Beith in north Ayrshire, son to David Stevenson and Ann Dean. The family lived at Wardrope Street in the town and his father worked in the local coal mines.  Sometime later they moved to Kilwinning where they lived at Benslie Square near Montgreenan on the outskirts of the town by which time 13-year-old David was working as a drawer in the local coalmine. From there they later settled at Dalry and it was at that time that David was married to Janet Trotter in her home town of New Cumnock by the Reverend Matthew Hutchison of the Reformed Presbyterian Church on the 1st July 1870.

Janet was the daughter of Robert Trotter and Margaret Middleton, the couple from Dumfriesshire having settled at New Cumnock in the early 1840’s. Robert found work as a pit labourer and the family lived at Pathhead where Janet and all her siblings were born.

David Stevenson and his new wife Janet lived in a miners’ row at Little Acre in Dalry, also known locally as “The Creepies”, a Scots term for the hedge sparrow.  It was here their children David (I) and Margaret (I) were born, but sadly David (I) died in infancy.

The couple and their daughter moved to Pathhead, New Cumnock probably living at the Trotter family home with David finding work in the local pits. At Pathhead three sons were born David (II), 1874 and Robert, 1876 followed by Archibald in January, 1879 – sadly a week before his birth, his six-year-old sister Margaret (I) had died.


Further tragedy hit the family that year when David’s father, 63-year-old David Stevenson, was killed on 5th April 1879 by a fall of the roof at the Todhill No. 3 ironstone pit of the Eglinton Iron Company while conducting his duties as a fireman.

David, Janet and their three children moved from Pathhead to Peesweep Row, Craigbank, owned by the Bank Coal Company.  It was here in January 1881 that daughter Margaret (II) was born.

Map 1  Craigbank | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Tragically, nine months later David Stevenson met the same fate as his father following a fall of coal from the roof of the Bank pit on the 30th Sept 1881. He died from his injuries six days later at his home in Peesweep Row. David was laid to rest  in the Auld Kirkyard alongside his two children David and Margaret who had died in infancy.

Widow Janet brought her four children up in New Cumnock living at a number of addresses before settling at Mossview Coattage, Leggate where she shared the home with her brother-in-law John Nisbet, widower of Margaret Trotter, and his family.

Janet Stevenson (nee Trotter), Mossview, Leggate | Photo Courtesy of D’Arcy Hande
Nisbet & Stevenson family | Photo Courtesy of D’Arcy Hande

Seated (left to right) are John “Jake” NIsbet (1849-1904), widower of Margaret Trotter (1842?-1892); his daughter Mary Nisbet (1883-1906) and Janet (Trotter) Stevenson (1845?-1935)]. Standing (left to right) are Margaret Middleton Stevenson (1881-1917), David Stevenson (1874-1959) , Archibald Dean Stevenson (1879-1963), Robert Stevenson (1876-1950), Robert Trotter Nisbet (1880-1963) and Margaret Nisbet (1877-1950).

In later years Janet’s daughter Margaret moved to Galston while eldest son David settled in Glasgow. Brothers Robert and Archibald travelled further afield and settled to a new life in Canada.

Janet Stevenson lived to the grand old age of 90 years old and passed away in 1935 at home in Moss View Cottage, Leggate and rests with her husband in the Auld Kirkyard where nearby is the family lair of her brother Martin Trotter.

Headstone of David Stevenson, Janet Trotter & family Auld Kirkyard, New Cumnock                                  |            Photo Robert Guthrie

Coal-miner Martin Trotter was one of the founder members of the New Cumnock Co-operative Society and in 1889 it leased premises at Ladeside in the Castle. His son John learned his trade as a draper and in 1910 acquired the Anderson and Gold business in the Castle. Within 10 years he had twenty people working on his sewing machines as well as staff in the front shop, to which later was added a showroom and Trotter’s Shop became a well loved fixture in the town for many years to come.

Trotter’s Shop, Castle, New Cumnock
John & Betty Trotter at Trotter’s Shop Ca, 1940 |Photo Courtesy of D’Arcy Hande 


D’ARCY HANDE | Saskatoon, Canada
Many thanks to D’Arcy Hande for permission to use photographs from his marvellous collection of Trotter familty photos that can be veiwed on Flickr here
National Library of Scotland
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Craigbank
Scotland’s People
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Scottish Mining Web-site
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