Promissory note, 1920

This is an example of the promissory notes that were issued to miners at the Bowhill pit, Fife, during a month-long strike in summer 1920.

promissory-note.jpg

No strike pay

This local strike, called by the Bowhill Miners' Committee, focused on issues relating to wages and working conditions in the pit. The Fife Miners' Union Central officials in Dunfermline refused to recognise the strike, and no strike pay was available for the Bowhill miners.

Paper notes

The local branch Committee, of which John Bird was a prominent member, decided to print their own money which could be used in the local shops. The notes were signed by the four branch officials, including John Bird and the Secretary Jimmy Galloway.

Eventually, the strike was recognised by the Fife Miners' Union, and it was agreed to award the strike pay retrospectively. The local branch members collected the promissory notes from the shopkeepers, and paid what was due from the funds awarded by the Union.

After the strike, most of the paper notes were destroyed following rumours of an enquiry into the forging of money. Few of these notes still survive today.

 

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